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The Beginner's Guide to Writing an Essay _ Steps & Examples
  • Sep 2022
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The Beginner's Guide to Writing an Essay _ Steps & Examples

14th September 2022

An academic essay is a focused piece of writing that uses facts, analysis, and interpretation to build a concept or argument.

As a student, you may be required to write a variety of essays. The length and content of an essay are determined by your level, subject of study, and course requirements. Most essays at the university level, on the other hand, are argumentative: they seek to persuade the reader of a certain stance or perspective on a topic.

The essay writing process is divided into three stages:

  • Preparation: Choose a topic, conduct research, and write an essay outline.
  • Writing: Begin with an introduction, then establish your argument with evidence in the main body, and finish with a conclusion.

  • Check your essay's substance, organization, grammar, spelling, and layout.

Using paragraphs from our interactive essay example, we walk you through what to include in the introduction, body, and conclusion of an academic essay.

Essay writing process

The writing process of preparation, writing, and revisions is the same for all essays and papers, but the amount of time and work spent on each stage varies depending on the type of essay.

For example, if you've been assigned a five-paragraph expository essay for a high school class, you'll probably spend the most time on the writing stage; however, if you've been assigned a college-level argumentative essay, you'll need to spend more time researching your topic and developing an original argument before you begin writing.

1. Preparation

  • Define your essay topic

  • Do your research and gather sources

  • Come up with a thesis

  • Create an essay outline

2. Writing

  • Write the introduction

  • Write the main body, organized into paragraphs

  • Write the conclusion

3. Revision

  • Evaluate the overall organization

  • Revise the content of each paragraph

  • Proofread your essay for language errors

  • Use a plagiarism checker

Preparation for writing an essay

Before you begin writing, make sure you know exactly what you want to say and how you intend to convey it. There are a few crucial actions you can take to ensure you're ready:

  1. Understand the purpose of your assignment: What is the purpose of this essay? What are the assignment's length and deadline? Is there anything else you want to discuss with your teacher or professor?

  2. Define a topic: If you are allowed to choose your topic, attempt to choose something that you are already familiar with and that will hold your interest.

  3. Conduct research: Read primary and secondary materials and take notes to assist you to determine your perspective and angle on the subject. These will serve as evidence for your points.

  4. Create a thesis statement: A thesis statement is a fundamental point or argument that you want to express. A precise thesis statement is vital for a focused essay, and you should return to it as you write.

  5. Outline: In an outline, sketch out the general framework of your essay. This makes it easy to get started and keeps you on track as you write.

You're ready to start writing once you've decided what you want to discuss, in what order, and what evidence you'll utilize.

Writing the introduction

The tone of your essay is established in the introduction. It should attract the reader’s interest and tell them what to expect. The introduction often accounts for 10-20% of the content.

1. Hook your reader

The first sentence of the introduction should pique the interest and curiosity of your reader. This sentence is sometimes referred to as the hook. It could be an intriguing question, a surprising fact, or a forceful remark underlining the topic's importance.

Assume we're writing an article about the evolution of Braille (the raised-dot reading and writing system used by visually impaired people). Our hook can make a powerful statement about the topic:

2. Provide background on your topic

Following that, provide background to help your reader grasp your argument. This could include presenting background information, summarizing major scholarly works or disputes on the subject, and explaining difficult words. Don't go into too much depth in the beginning; you can go into more detail in the body of your essay.

3. Present the thesis statement

Following that, you should draft your thesis statement, which will be your main argument. The thesis statement gives the topic focus and conveys your viewpoint on it. It usually consists of one or two sentences. The following could be the thesis statement for our Braille essay:

Braille was a game-changing new accessibility tool since it was the first writing system built specifically for the requirements of blind people. It not only brought practical benefits but also aided in changing the societal perception of blindness.

4. Map the structure

In larger essays, you might end the opening by quickly explaining what each section of the essay will address. This leads the reader through your structure and provides a preview of how your argument will go.

Write your essay introduction

Writing the main body

The body of your essay is where you present facts, make arguments in support of your thesis and develop your thoughts. Its goal is to present, interpret, and analyze the facts and sources you' ve acquired to back up your claim.

Length of the body text

The length of the body varies according to the genre of the essay. The body of your essay should make up 60-80% of its whole length. This could be three paragraphs for a high school essay, but for a 6,000-word graduate school essay, the body could be 8-10 pages.

Paragraph structure

It is critical to organize your essay into paragraphs to give it a clear framework. Each paragraph should be focused on a single key argument or theme.

A topic sentence introduces that notion. In general, the topic sentence should continue from the previous paragraph and introduce the point to be stated in this paragraph. To provide explicit connections between sentences, transition words might be employed.

Present proof such as data, examples, or quotes from relevant sources after the topic sentence. Make careful to interpret and explain the evidence, as well as how it contributes to the development of your broader argument.

Writing the conclusion

The final paragraph of an essay is the conclusion. It should occupy no more than 10-15% of the text. A powerful essay conclusion:

  • Back to your thesis

  • Connect your primary points.

  • demonstrates why your argument is important

A strong ending should end with a memorable or striking line that leaves the reader with a lasting impression.

What not to include in a conclusion

There are a few things you should avoid to make your essay's conclusion as strong as possible. The most common errors are:

  • Including new arguments or evidence

  • Undermining your arguments (e.g. “This is just one approach of many”)

  • Using concluding phrases like “To sum up…” or “In conclusion…”



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