Essays are relatively short literary compositions that need to be written in a prescribed format. No matter what you are going to talk about or what course you are writing for, all academic essays have a similar standard structure.
So whether you are in high school, university, or college, these guidelines will provide you with a great recipe for writing and help you boost your coursework grades.
In this article, we will show an appropriate conceptual map that allows you to fashion a coherent, acceptable essay.
The standard format of essays
Every basic essay can be divided into three major parts: introduction, body, and conclusion. This three-part pattern serves as the skeleton of your writing and gives a comprehensive plan to your work. Below, each of these parts will be discussed in detail.
The introductory paragraph is the first part of your writing that usually begins with a hook and ends with a thesis statement.
The initial sentences of the introduction introduce the subject, attract the readers’ attention, and prepare them for the thesis. You should adopt a general-to-specific approach. Start with a broad opening sentence, present the issue, and gradually let the readers into your main point to address the issue.
After accomplishing the main goals of the introduction (i.e., hooking and providing the topic), you can offer a quick explanation of the following subsections and guide your audience into the next paragraphs.
Note 1: All of these tasks should be completed within only one paragraph for short essays. However, for longer papers (more than ten pages), it’s suggested to include two introductory paragraphs.
Note 2: although the introduction is the very first part of your essay, it’s recommended to write it at the end of the writing process.
The thesis statement is the central constituent of the introduction. It places limits on the broader topic and leads the readers straight to your point. The length of the thesis depends on the length of the whole essay, but it typically takes one or two sentences.
The body, which is the most significant part of your writing, allows you to defend the thesis by giving some reasons, examples, statistics, or evidence.
Every essay should consist of at least three body paragraphs, each of which carries a certain topic sentence. Every topic sentence is about a point that you want to make to support the thesis. Remember that two topics can’t fit into a single paragraph, because much like the essay overall, paragraphs need to follow an formation.
Form a ‘main idea’ for each paragraph and support it with a robust persuasive rationale. Depending on the subject and the type of the essay (e.g., argumentative, analytical, or expository), the arguments you make could vary from quotations and numbers to your own experiences.
At the end of each paragraph, use a transition sentence to have a smooth link between the sections and orient the readers with the upcoming topic. Transition sentences improve the coherence and fluidity of your script.
The concluding section usually includes a single succinct paragraph that accounts for about ten percent of the entire essay.
It is a brief reiteration of what you just told the readers. So you’re not supposed to introduce any new ideas here. This section is mainly supposed to reword the thesis statement and concisely elaborate on previously discussed nuts and bolts.
Without a proper summary, your essay leaves much to be desired. If you don’t cover this part, you will leave your readers saying, “so what?” - this is not their responsibility to draw conclusions out of your writing. It’s yours!
This paragraph is also your chance to leave the reader with a thought-provoking idea that will impact their mind. According to research, the human brain tends to remember the first and the last parts of a text better. In this regard, using an impressive closing sentence enables you to create “a recency effect”. This is an effect that causes readers to keep in mind ‘recent’ details of your writing.
General writing tips
- Include in-text citations: you can cite the essay based on MLA (Modern Language Association), APA (American Psychological Association), or the Chicago format. Each of these styles has particular rules and requirements, and choosing among them depends on the field course.
- Create an outline beforehand: Don’t rush to open your writing as soon as you identified the appropriate structure of the essay. First, create a comprehensive visual roadmap (outline) and then try to extend it.
- Make a draft and then edit it: Don’t think of your first draft as a finished essay. Read out loud your writing, edit ruthlessly, and come back to it several times to ensure you’ve done your best.
- Keep the essay question in mind: This helps you stay in the right direction and doesn’t let you move away from the main argument.
- Set a limited time: instead of attempting to carve out several hours of your day, set some fixed hours (preferably in the morning, or whenever you have the best performance boost). It will help you come up with fresh ideas and avoid getting exhausted.
- Don’t cheat: teachers are no fool. When you copy whole sentences from various websites, the result would be a mixture of inconsistent forms of writing that are not even in line with your writing level.
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