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How to Write an Academic Essay

Updated on February 21, 2011

After two years of college I still cannot believe how many of my fellow students bemoan their inability to write even a B grade academic paper. So many students seem to find themselves struggling in their basic General Education English class, and this is quite understandable. Many young adults haven’t touched on the basic principles of essay writing since early elementary school, and believe me, this is a HUGE disadvantage no matter what classes you might be taking at the college level.

So after hearing the pleas of my classmates I knew that many students would benefit from a back-to-basics crash course, a Guide to Writing an Academic Essay.

Now, you might be wondering what my credentials are when it comes to academic writing, so not to brag or anything but here they are. I have taken all of my required English courses such as “Introduction to Writing” and higher level courses such as “Intermediate Writing Humanities Social Sciences” and “Creative Writing”, all of which I achieved full A’s in. I also know the value of achieving an A level essay in those classes that I might not be so good at. For many of my science classes there were research papers that counted for a whole 20% of our final grade, allowing me to get A’s in those classes to, and this made me very glad indeed. So read and follow my guide and I wouldn’t be surprised if you too got the hang of writing A+ essays.

What is Academic Writing?

Basically there are only two distinct forms of writing that should concern a student. First is the academic form or “closed-form” of writing. In closed form writing the author states his or her thesis in the first paragraph and then follows with details that support the argument, then concluding by summarizing the information. This is the format used in most scholarly works and this is exactly what most of us who are bound for desk jobs will be doing for a living. A five paragraph essay is an example of closed form writing, being a strongly structured and outlined type of report. The second type of writing is the “open-form”. Open-form writing is much more loose than closed-form, often having no structure or obvious thesis statement. Examples of this form could be found in autobiographies, blog entries, and fiction. The job of the writer is to decide what form is appropriate for his or her paper, and in a majority of cases the preferred essay form will be closed-form academic writing.

The Skeleton of the Essay: A Five Paragraph Essay

The Five Paragraph Essay is simply the best tool for those students who just cannot figure out where to start with their essay. This is a simple framework that beginning writers can simply use by filling in the blanks. In latter hubs I will give much more in depth examination to the content of each paragraph, so don’t panic.

The structure is simply First Paragraph: Catch interest, state your thesis, and give three supporting ideas that support your thesis.

Second Paragraph: Lead with your first supporting idea, write at least three sentences about your supporting idea and why it is true.

Third and Fourth Paragraphs: Repeat same as Second Paragraph with each idea.

IMPORTANT: At some point within the second and fourth paragraphs, where it is appropriate to insert it, you must address the opposing view to your thesis; many teachers will doc points if you ignore this step.

Fifth Paragraph: Wrap up your essay by restating your thesis in a way that brings together all of your evidence or at least the most important point.

So in conclusion (remember Fifth Paragraph!), if you follow this structure for your essays then you should meet almost all of the basic requirements for a good essay (excluding good grammar, spelling, content, ect…). So good luck to you! Next I will cover each paragraph in more detail.


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    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Interesting ideas for writing an essay

    • erumkhan profile image

      erumkhan 6 years ago from Pakistan

      This is indeed a very useful article on essay writing, I have written on this topic as well, do read that!!!!