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Mastering the art of essay writing – a comprehensive guide.

How write an essay

Essay writing is a fundamental skill that every student needs to master. Whether you’re in high school, college, or beyond, the ability to write a strong, coherent essay is essential for academic success. However, many students find the process of writing an essay daunting and overwhelming.

This comprehensive guide is here to help you navigate the intricate world of essay writing. From understanding the basics of essay structure to mastering the art of crafting a compelling thesis statement, we’ve got you covered. By the end of this guide, you’ll have the tools and knowledge you need to write an outstanding essay that will impress your teachers and classmates alike.

So, grab your pen and paper (or fire up your laptop) and let’s dive into the ultimate guide to writing an essay. Follow our tips and tricks, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a skilled and confident essay writer!

The Art of Essay Writing: A Comprehensive Guide

Essay writing is a skill that requires practice, patience, and attention to detail. Whether you’re a student working on an assignment or a professional writing for publication, mastering the art of essay writing can help you communicate your ideas effectively and persuasively.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the key elements of a successful essay, including how to choose a topic, structure your essay, and craft a compelling thesis statement. We’ll also discuss the importance of research, editing, and proofreading, and provide tips for improving your writing style and grammar.

By following the advice in this guide, you can become a more confident and skilled essay writer, capable of producing high-quality, engaging essays that will impress your readers and achieve your goals.

Understanding the Essay Structure

When it comes to writing an essay, understanding the structure is key to producing a cohesive and well-organized piece of writing. An essay typically consists of three main parts: an introduction, the body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Introduction: The introduction is where you introduce your topic and provide some background information. It should also include your thesis statement, which is the main idea or argument that you will be discussing in the essay.

Body paragraphs: The body of the essay is where you present your supporting evidence and arguments. Each paragraph should focus on a separate point and include evidence to back up your claims. Remember to use transition words to link your ideas together cohesively.

Conclusion: The conclusion is where you wrap up your essay by summarizing your main points and restating your thesis. It is also a good place to make any final thoughts or reflections on the topic.

Understanding the structure of an essay will help you write more effectively and communicate your ideas clearly to your readers.

Choosing the Right Topic for Your Essay

Choosing the Right Topic for Your Essay

One of the most crucial steps in writing a successful essay is selecting the right topic. The topic you choose will determine the direction and focus of your writing, so it’s important to choose wisely. Here are some tips to help you select the perfect topic for your essay:

Choose a topic that you are passionate about or interested in. Writing about something you enjoy will make the process more enjoyable and your enthusiasm will come through in your writing.
Do some preliminary research to see what topics are available and what resources are out there. This will help you narrow down your choices and find a topic that is both interesting and manageable.
Think about who will be reading your essay and choose a topic that will resonate with them. Consider their interests, knowledge level, and any biases they may have when selecting a topic.
Take some time to brainstorm different topic ideas. Write down all the potential topics that come to mind, and then evaluate each one based on relevance, interest, and feasibility.
Try to choose a topic that offers a unique perspective or angle. Avoid overly broad topics that have been extensively covered unless you have a fresh take to offer.

By following these tips and considering your interests, audience, and research, you can choose a topic that will inspire you to write an engaging and compelling essay.

Research and Gathering Information

When writing an essay, conducting thorough research and gathering relevant information is crucial. Here are some tips to help you with your research:

Make sure to use reliable sources such as academic journals, books, and reputable websites. Avoid using sources that are not credible or biased.
As you research, take notes on important information that you can use in your essay. Organize your notes so that you can easily reference them later.
Don’t rely solely on one type of source. Utilize a variety of sources to provide a well-rounded perspective on your topic.
Before using a source in your essay, make sure to evaluate its credibility and relevance to your topic. Consider the author’s credentials, publication date, and biases.
Make sure to keep a record of the sources you use in your research. This will help you properly cite them in your essay and avoid plagiarism.

Crafting a Compelling Thesis Statement

When writing an essay, one of the most crucial elements is the thesis statement. This statement serves as the main point of your essay, summarizing the argument or position you will be taking. Crafting a compelling thesis statement is essential for a strong and cohesive essay. Here are some tips to help you create an effective thesis statement:

  • Be specific: Your thesis statement should clearly state the main idea of your essay. Avoid vague or general statements.
  • Make it arguable: A strong thesis statement is debatable and presents a clear position that can be supported with evidence.
  • Avoid clichés: Stay away from overused phrases or clichés in your thesis statement. Instead, strive for originality and clarity.
  • Keep it concise: Your thesis statement should be concise and to the point. Avoid unnecessary words or phrases.
  • Take a stand: Your thesis statement should express a clear stance on the topic. Don’t be afraid to assert your position.

By following these guidelines, you can craft a compelling thesis statement that sets the tone for your essay and guides your reader through your argument.

Writing the Body of Your Essay

Once you have your introduction in place, it’s time to dive into the body of your essay. The body paragraphs are where you will present your main arguments or points to support your thesis statement.

Here are some tips for writing the body of your essay:

  • Stick to One Main Idea: Each paragraph should focus on one main idea or argument. This will help keep your essay organized and easy to follow.
  • Use Topic Sentences: Start each paragraph with a topic sentence that introduces the main idea of the paragraph.
  • Provide Evidence: Support your main points with evidence such as facts, statistics, examples, or quotes from experts.
  • Explain Your Points: Don’t just state your points; also explain how they support your thesis and why they are important.
  • Use Transition Words: Use transition words and phrases to connect your ideas and create a smooth flow between paragraphs.

Remember to refer back to your thesis statement and make sure that each paragraph contributes to your overall argument. The body of your essay is where you can really showcase your critical thinking and analytical skills, so take the time to craft well-developed and coherent paragraphs.

Perfecting Your Essay with Editing and Proofreading

Perfecting Your Essay with Editing and Proofreading

Editing and proofreading are essential steps in the essay writing process to ensure your work is polished and error-free. Here are some tips to help you perfect your essay:

  • Take a Break: After writing your essay, take a break before starting the editing process. This will help you look at your work with fresh eyes.
  • Focus on Structure: Check the overall structure of your essay, including the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Make sure your ideas flow logically and cohesively.
  • Check for Clarity: Ensure that your arguments are clear and easy to follow. Eliminate any jargon or confusing language that might obscure your message.
  • Grammar and Punctuation: Review your essay for grammar and punctuation errors. Pay attention to subject-verb agreement, verb tense consistency, and proper punctuation usage.
  • Use a Spell Checker: Run a spell check on your essay to catch any spelling mistakes. However, don’t rely solely on spell checkers as they may miss certain errors.
  • Read Aloud: Read your essay aloud to yourself or have someone else read it to you. This can help you identify awkward phrasing or unclear sentences.
  • Get Feedback: Consider getting feedback from a peer, teacher, or writing tutor. They can offer valuable insights and suggestions for improving your essay.

By following these editing and proofreading tips, you can ensure that your essay is well-crafted, organized, and free of errors, helping you make a strong impression on your readers.

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The Beginner's Guide to Writing an Essay | Steps & Examples

An academic essay is a focused piece of writing that develops an idea or argument using evidence, analysis, and interpretation.

There are many types of essays you might write as a student. The content and length of an essay depends on your level, subject of study, and course requirements. However, most essays at university level are argumentative — they aim to persuade the reader of a particular position or perspective on a topic.

The essay writing process consists of three main stages:

  • Preparation: Decide on your topic, do your research, and create an essay outline.
  • Writing : Set out your argument in the introduction, develop it with evidence in the main body, and wrap it up with a conclusion.
  • Revision:  Check your essay on the content, organization, grammar, spelling, and formatting of your essay.

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Table of contents

Essay writing process, preparation for writing an essay, writing the introduction, writing the main body, writing the conclusion, essay checklist, lecture slides, frequently asked questions about writing an essay.

The writing process of preparation, writing, and revisions applies to every essay or paper, but the time and effort spent on each stage depends 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; for a college-level argumentative essay , on the other hand, you’ll need to spend more time researching your topic and developing an original argument before you start writing.

1. Preparation 2. Writing 3. Revision
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Before you start writing, you should make sure you have a clear idea of what you want to say and how you’re going to say it. There are a few key steps you can follow to make sure you’re prepared:

  • Understand your assignment: What is the goal of this essay? What is the length and deadline of the assignment? Is there anything you need to clarify with your teacher or professor?
  • Define a topic: If you’re allowed to choose your own topic , try to pick something that you already know a bit about and that will hold your interest.
  • Do your research: Read  primary and secondary sources and take notes to help you work out your position and angle on the topic. You’ll use these as evidence for your points.
  • Come up with a thesis:  The thesis is the central point or argument that you want to make. A clear thesis is essential for a focused essay—you should keep referring back to it as you write.
  • Create an outline: Map out the rough structure of your essay in an outline . This makes it easier to start writing and keeps you on track as you go.

Once you’ve got a clear idea of what you want to discuss, in what order, and what evidence you’ll use, you’re ready to start writing.

The introduction sets the tone for your essay. It should grab the reader’s interest and inform them of what to expect. The introduction generally comprises 10–20% of the text.

1. Hook your reader

The first sentence of the introduction should pique your reader’s interest and curiosity. This sentence is sometimes called the hook. It might be an intriguing question, a surprising fact, or a bold statement emphasizing the relevance of the topic.

Let’s say we’re writing an essay about the development of Braille (the raised-dot reading and writing system used by visually impaired people). Our hook can make a strong statement about the topic:

The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability.

2. Provide background on your topic

Next, it’s important to give context that will help your reader understand your argument. This might involve providing background information, giving an overview of important academic work or debates on the topic, and explaining difficult terms. Don’t provide too much detail in the introduction—you can elaborate in the body of your essay.

3. Present the thesis statement

Next, you should formulate your thesis statement— the central argument you’re going to make. The thesis statement provides focus and signals your position on the topic. It is usually one or two sentences long. The thesis statement for our essay on Braille could look like this:

As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness.

4. Map the structure

In longer essays, you can end the introduction by briefly describing what will be covered in each part of the essay. This guides the reader through your structure and gives a preview of how your argument will develop.

The invention of Braille marked a major turning point in the history of disability. The writing system of raised dots used by blind and visually impaired people was developed by Louis Braille in nineteenth-century France. In a society that did not value disabled people in general, blindness was particularly stigmatized, and lack of access to reading and writing was a significant barrier to social participation. The idea of tactile reading was not entirely new, but existing methods based on sighted systems were difficult to learn and use. As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness. This essay begins by discussing the situation of blind people in nineteenth-century Europe. It then describes the invention of Braille and the gradual process of its acceptance within blind education. Subsequently, it explores the wide-ranging effects of this invention on blind people’s social and cultural lives.

Write your essay introduction

The body of your essay is where you make arguments supporting your thesis, provide evidence, and develop your ideas. Its purpose is to present, interpret, and analyze the information and sources you have gathered to support your argument.

Length of the body text

The length of the body depends on the type of essay. On average, the body comprises 60–80% of your essay. For a high school essay, this could be just three paragraphs, but for a graduate school essay of 6,000 words, the body could take up 8–10 pages.

Paragraph structure

To give your essay a clear structure , it is important to organize it into paragraphs . Each paragraph should be centered around one main point or idea.

That idea is introduced in a  topic sentence . The topic sentence should generally lead on from the previous paragraph and introduce the point to be made in this paragraph. Transition words can be used to create clear connections between sentences.

After the topic sentence, present evidence such as data, examples, or quotes from relevant sources. Be sure to interpret and explain the evidence, and show how it helps develop your overall argument.

Lack of access to reading and writing put blind people at a serious disadvantage in nineteenth-century society. Text was one of the primary methods through which people engaged with culture, communicated with others, and accessed information; without a well-developed reading system that did not rely on sight, blind people were excluded from social participation (Weygand, 2009). While disabled people in general suffered from discrimination, blindness was widely viewed as the worst disability, and it was commonly believed that blind people were incapable of pursuing a profession or improving themselves through culture (Weygand, 2009). This demonstrates the importance of reading and writing to social status at the time: without access to text, it was considered impossible to fully participate in society. Blind people were excluded from the sighted world, but also entirely dependent on sighted people for information and education.

See the full essay example

The conclusion is the final paragraph of an essay. It should generally take up no more than 10–15% of the text . A strong essay conclusion :

  • Returns to your thesis
  • Ties together your main points
  • Shows why your argument matters

A great conclusion should finish with a memorable or impactful sentence that leaves the reader with a strong final impression.

What not to include in a conclusion

To make your essay’s conclusion as strong as possible, there are a few things you should avoid. The most common mistakes 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…”

Braille paved the way for dramatic cultural changes in the way blind people were treated and the opportunities available to them. Louis Braille’s innovation was to reimagine existing reading systems from a blind perspective, and the success of this invention required sighted teachers to adapt to their students’ reality instead of the other way around. In this sense, Braille helped drive broader social changes in the status of blindness. New accessibility tools provide practical advantages to those who need them, but they can also change the perspectives and attitudes of those who do not.

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Checklist: Essay

My essay follows the requirements of the assignment (topic and length ).

My introduction sparks the reader’s interest and provides any necessary background information on the topic.

My introduction contains a thesis statement that states the focus and position of the essay.

I use paragraphs to structure the essay.

I use topic sentences to introduce each paragraph.

Each paragraph has a single focus and a clear connection to the thesis statement.

I make clear transitions between paragraphs and ideas.

My conclusion doesn’t just repeat my points, but draws connections between arguments.

I don’t introduce new arguments or evidence in the conclusion.

I have given an in-text citation for every quote or piece of information I got from another source.

I have included a reference page at the end of my essay, listing full details of all my sources.

My citations and references are correctly formatted according to the required citation style .

My essay has an interesting and informative title.

I have followed all formatting guidelines (e.g. font, page numbers, line spacing).

Your essay meets all the most important requirements. Our editors can give it a final check to help you submit with confidence.

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An essay is a focused piece of writing that explains, argues, describes, or narrates.

In high school, you may have to write many different types of essays to develop your writing skills.

Academic essays at college level are usually argumentative : you develop a clear thesis about your topic and make a case for your position using evidence, analysis and interpretation.

The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.

The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.

Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:

  • An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
  • Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
  • A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.

The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

  • It gives your writing direction and focus.
  • It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.

Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the main point of a paragraph . Everything else in the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence.

At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).

Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

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what do you learn from writing an essay

How to Write an Essay

Use the links below to jump directly to any section of this guide:

Essay Writing Fundamentals

How to prepare to write an essay, how to edit an essay, how to share and publish your essays, how to get essay writing help, how to find essay writing inspiration, resources for teaching essay writing.

Essays, short prose compositions on a particular theme or topic, are the bread and butter of academic life. You write them in class, for homework, and on standardized tests to show what you know. Unlike other kinds of academic writing (like the research paper) and creative writing (like short stories and poems), essays allow you to develop your original thoughts on a prompt or question. Essays come in many varieties: they can be expository (fleshing out an idea or claim), descriptive, (explaining a person, place, or thing), narrative (relating a personal experience), or persuasive (attempting to win over a reader). This guide is a collection of dozens of links about academic essay writing that we have researched, categorized, and annotated in order to help you improve your essay writing. 

Essays are different from other forms of writing; in turn, there are different kinds of essays. This section contains general resources for getting to know the essay and its variants. These resources introduce and define the essay as a genre, and will teach you what to expect from essay-based assessments.

Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab

One of the most trusted academic writing sites, Purdue OWL provides a concise introduction to the four most common types of academic essays.

"The Essay: History and Definition" (ThoughtCo)

This snappy article from ThoughtCo talks about the origins of the essay and different kinds of essays you might be asked to write. 

"What Is An Essay?" Video Lecture (Coursera)

The University of California at Irvine's free video lecture, available on Coursera, tells  you everything you need to know about the essay.

Wikipedia Article on the "Essay"

Wikipedia's article on the essay is comprehensive, providing both English-language and global perspectives on the essay form. Learn about the essay's history, forms, and styles.

"Understanding College and Academic Writing" (Aims Online Writing Lab)

This list of common academic writing assignments (including types of essay prompts) will help you know what to expect from essay-based assessments.

Before you start writing your essay, you need to figure out who you're writing for (audience), what you're writing about (topic/theme), and what you're going to say (argument and thesis). This section contains links to handouts, chapters, videos and more to help you prepare to write an essay.

How to Identify Your Audience

"Audience" (Univ. of North Carolina Writing Center)

This handout provides questions you can ask yourself to determine the audience for an academic writing assignment. It also suggests strategies for fitting your paper to your intended audience.

"Purpose, Audience, Tone, and Content" (Univ. of Minnesota Libraries)

This extensive book chapter from Writing for Success , available online through Minnesota Libraries Publishing, is followed by exercises to try out your new pre-writing skills.

"Determining Audience" (Aims Online Writing Lab)

This guide from a community college's writing center shows you how to know your audience, and how to incorporate that knowledge in your thesis statement.

"Know Your Audience" ( Paper Rater Blog)

This short blog post uses examples to show how implied audiences for essays differ. It reminds you to think of your instructor as an observer, who will know only the information you pass along.

How to Choose a Theme or Topic

"Research Tutorial: Developing Your Topic" (YouTube)

Take a look at this short video tutorial from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to understand the basics of developing a writing topic.

"How to Choose a Paper Topic" (WikiHow)

This simple, step-by-step guide (with pictures!) walks you through choosing a paper topic. It starts with a detailed description of brainstorming and ends with strategies to refine your broad topic.

"How to Read an Assignment: Moving From Assignment to Topic" (Harvard College Writing Center)

Did your teacher give you a prompt or other instructions? This guide helps you understand the relationship between an essay assignment and your essay's topic.

"Guidelines for Choosing a Topic" (CliffsNotes)

This study guide from CliffsNotes both discusses how to choose a topic and makes a useful distinction between "topic" and "thesis."

How to Come Up with an Argument

"Argument" (Univ. of North Carolina Writing Center)

Not sure what "argument" means in the context of academic writing? This page from the University of North Carolina is a good place to start.

"The Essay Guide: Finding an Argument" (Study Hub)

This handout explains why it's important to have an argument when beginning your essay, and provides tools to help you choose a viable argument.

"Writing a Thesis and Making an Argument" (University of Iowa)

This page from the University of Iowa's Writing Center contains exercises through which you can develop and refine your argument and thesis statement.

"Developing a Thesis" (Harvard College Writing Center)

This page from Harvard's Writing Center collates some helpful dos and don'ts of argumentative writing, from steps in constructing a thesis to avoiding vague and confrontational thesis statements.

"Suggestions for Developing Argumentative Essays" (Berkeley Student Learning Center)

This page offers concrete suggestions for each stage of the essay writing process, from topic selection to drafting and editing. 

How to Outline your Essay

"Outlines" (Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill via YouTube)

This short video tutorial from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill shows how to group your ideas into paragraphs or sections to begin the outlining process.

"Essay Outline" (Univ. of Washington Tacoma)

This two-page handout by a university professor simply defines the parts of an essay and then organizes them into an example outline.

"Types of Outlines and Samples" (Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab)

Purdue OWL gives examples of diverse outline strategies on this page, including the alphanumeric, full sentence, and decimal styles. 

"Outlining" (Harvard College Writing Center)

Once you have an argument, according to this handout, there are only three steps in the outline process: generalizing, ordering, and putting it all together. Then you're ready to write!

"Writing Essays" (Plymouth Univ.)

This packet, part of Plymouth University's Learning Development series, contains descriptions and diagrams relating to the outlining process.

"How to Write A Good Argumentative Essay: Logical Structure" (Criticalthinkingtutorials.com via YouTube)

This longer video tutorial gives an overview of how to structure your essay in order to support your argument or thesis. It is part of a longer course on academic writing hosted on Udemy.

Now that you've chosen and refined your topic and created an outline, use these resources to complete the writing process. Most essays contain introductions (which articulate your thesis statement), body paragraphs, and conclusions. Transitions facilitate the flow from one paragraph to the next so that support for your thesis builds throughout the essay. Sources and citations show where you got the evidence to support your thesis, which ensures that you avoid plagiarism. 

How to Write an Introduction

"Introductions" (Univ. of North Carolina Writing Center)

This page identifies the role of the introduction in any successful paper, suggests strategies for writing introductions, and warns against less effective introductions.

"How to Write A Good Introduction" (Michigan State Writing Center)

Beginning with the most common missteps in writing introductions, this guide condenses the essentials of introduction composition into seven points.

"The Introductory Paragraph" (ThoughtCo)

This blog post from academic advisor and college enrollment counselor Grace Fleming focuses on ways to grab your reader's attention at the beginning of your essay.

"Introductions and Conclusions" (Univ. of Toronto)

This guide from the University of Toronto gives advice that applies to writing both introductions and conclusions, including dos and don'ts.

"How to Write Better Essays: No One Does Introductions Properly" ( The Guardian )

This news article interviews UK professors on student essay writing; they point to introductions as the area that needs the most improvement.

How to Write a Thesis Statement

"Writing an Effective Thesis Statement" (YouTube)

This short, simple video tutorial from a college composition instructor at Tulsa Community College explains what a thesis statement is and what it does. 

"Thesis Statement: Four Steps to a Great Essay" (YouTube)

This fantastic tutorial walks you through drafting a thesis, using an essay prompt on Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter as an example.

"How to Write a Thesis Statement" (WikiHow)

This step-by-step guide (with pictures!) walks you through coming up with, writing, and editing a thesis statement. It invites you think of your statement as a "working thesis" that can change.

"How to Write a Thesis Statement" (Univ. of Indiana Bloomington)

Ask yourself the questions on this page, part of Indiana Bloomington's Writing Tutorial Services, when you're writing and refining your thesis statement.

"Writing Tips: Thesis Statements" (Univ. of Illinois Center for Writing Studies)

This page gives plentiful examples of good to great thesis statements, and offers questions to ask yourself when formulating a thesis statement.

How to Write Body Paragraphs

"Body Paragraph" (Brightstorm)

This module of a free online course introduces you to the components of a body paragraph. These include the topic sentence, information, evidence, and analysis.

"Strong Body Paragraphs" (Washington Univ.)

This handout from Washington's Writing and Research Center offers in-depth descriptions of the parts of a successful body paragraph.

"Guide to Paragraph Structure" (Deakin Univ.)

This handout is notable for color-coding example body paragraphs to help you identify the functions various sentences perform.

"Writing Body Paragraphs" (Univ. of Minnesota Libraries)

The exercises in this section of Writing for Success  will help you practice writing good body paragraphs. It includes guidance on selecting primary support for your thesis.

"The Writing Process—Body Paragraphs" (Aims Online Writing Lab)

The information and exercises on this page will familiarize you with outlining and writing body paragraphs, and includes links to more information on topic sentences and transitions.

"The Five-Paragraph Essay" (ThoughtCo)

This blog post discusses body paragraphs in the context of one of the most common academic essay types in secondary schools.

How to Use Transitions

"Transitions" (Univ. of North Carolina Writing Center)

This page from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill explains what a transition is, and how to know if you need to improve your transitions.

"Using Transitions Effectively" (Washington Univ.)

This handout defines transitions, offers tips for using them, and contains a useful list of common transitional words and phrases grouped by function.

"Transitions" (Aims Online Writing Lab)

This page compares paragraphs without transitions to paragraphs with transitions, and in doing so shows how important these connective words and phrases are.

"Transitions in Academic Essays" (Scribbr)

This page lists four techniques that will help you make sure your reader follows your train of thought, including grouping similar information and using transition words.

"Transitions" (El Paso Community College)

This handout shows example transitions within paragraphs for context, and explains how transitions improve your essay's flow and voice.

"Make Your Paragraphs Flow to Improve Writing" (ThoughtCo)

This blog post, another from academic advisor and college enrollment counselor Grace Fleming, talks about transitions and other strategies to improve your essay's overall flow.

"Transition Words" (smartwords.org)

This handy word bank will help you find transition words when you're feeling stuck. It's grouped by the transition's function, whether that is to show agreement, opposition, condition, or consequence.

How to Write a Conclusion

"Parts of An Essay: Conclusions" (Brightstorm)

This module of a free online course explains how to conclude an academic essay. It suggests thinking about the "3Rs": return to hook, restate your thesis, and relate to the reader.

"Essay Conclusions" (Univ. of Maryland University College)

This overview of the academic essay conclusion contains helpful examples and links to further resources for writing good conclusions.

"How to End An Essay" (WikiHow)

This step-by-step guide (with pictures!) by an English Ph.D. walks you through writing a conclusion, from brainstorming to ending with a flourish.

"Ending the Essay: Conclusions" (Harvard College Writing Center)

This page collates useful strategies for writing an effective conclusion, and reminds you to "close the discussion without closing it off" to further conversation.

How to Include Sources and Citations

"Research and Citation Resources" (Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab)

Purdue OWL streamlines information about the three most common referencing styles (MLA, Chicago, and APA) and provides examples of how to cite different resources in each system.

EasyBib: Free Bibliography Generator

This online tool allows you to input information about your source and automatically generate citations in any style. Be sure to select your resource type before clicking the "cite it" button.

CitationMachine

Like EasyBib, this online tool allows you to input information about your source and automatically generate citations in any style. 

Modern Language Association Handbook (MLA)

Here, you'll find the definitive and up-to-date record of MLA referencing rules. Order through the link above, or check to see if your library has a copy.

Chicago Manual of Style

Here, you'll find the definitive and up-to-date record of Chicago referencing rules. You can take a look at the table of contents, then choose to subscribe or start a free trial.

How to Avoid Plagiarism

"What is Plagiarism?" (plagiarism.org)

This nonprofit website contains numerous resources for identifying and avoiding plagiarism, and reminds you that even common activities like copying images from another website to your own site may constitute plagiarism.

"Plagiarism" (University of Oxford)

This interactive page from the University of Oxford helps you check for plagiarism in your work, making it clear how to avoid citing another person's work without full acknowledgement.

"Avoiding Plagiarism" (MIT Comparative Media Studies)

This quick guide explains what plagiarism is, what its consequences are, and how to avoid it. It starts by defining three words—quotation, paraphrase, and summary—that all constitute citation.

"Harvard Guide to Using Sources" (Harvard Extension School)

This comprehensive website from Harvard brings together articles, videos, and handouts about referencing, citation, and plagiarism. 

Grammarly contains tons of helpful grammar and writing resources, including a free tool to automatically scan your essay to check for close affinities to published work. 

Noplag is another popular online tool that automatically scans your essay to check for signs of plagiarism. Simply copy and paste your essay into the box and click "start checking."

Once you've written your essay, you'll want to edit (improve content), proofread (check for spelling and grammar mistakes), and finalize your work until you're ready to hand it in. This section brings together tips and resources for navigating the editing process. 

"Writing a First Draft" (Academic Help)

This is an introduction to the drafting process from the site Academic Help, with tips for getting your ideas on paper before editing begins.

"Editing and Proofreading" (Univ. of North Carolina Writing Center)

This page provides general strategies for revising your writing. They've intentionally left seven errors in the handout, to give you practice in spotting them.

"How to Proofread Effectively" (ThoughtCo)

This article from ThoughtCo, along with those linked at the bottom, help describe common mistakes to check for when proofreading.

"7 Simple Edits That Make Your Writing 100% More Powerful" (SmartBlogger)

This blog post emphasizes the importance of powerful, concise language, and reminds you that even your personal writing heroes create clunky first drafts.

"Editing Tips for Effective Writing" (Univ. of Pennsylvania)

On this page from Penn's International Relations department, you'll find tips for effective prose, errors to watch out for, and reminders about formatting.

"Editing the Essay" (Harvard College Writing Center)

This article, the first of two parts, gives you applicable strategies for the editing process. It suggests reading your essay aloud, removing any jargon, and being unafraid to remove even "dazzling" sentences that don't belong.

"Guide to Editing and Proofreading" (Oxford Learning Institute)

This handout from Oxford covers the basics of editing and proofreading, and reminds you that neither task should be rushed. 

In addition to plagiarism-checkers, Grammarly has a plug-in for your web browser that checks your writing for common mistakes.

After you've prepared, written, and edited your essay, you might want to share it outside the classroom. This section alerts you to print and web opportunities to share your essays with the wider world, from online writing communities and blogs to published journals geared toward young writers.

Sharing Your Essays Online

Go Teen Writers

Go Teen Writers is an online community for writers aged 13 - 19. It was founded by Stephanie Morrill, an author of contemporary young adult novels. 

Tumblr is a blogging website where you can share your writing and interact with other writers online. It's easy to add photos, links, audio, and video components.

Writersky provides an online platform for publishing and reading other youth writers' work. Its current content is mostly devoted to fiction.

Publishing Your Essays Online

This teen literary journal publishes in print, on the web, and (more frequently), on a blog. It is committed to ensuring that "teens see their authentic experience reflected on its pages."

The Matador Review

This youth writing platform celebrates "alternative," unconventional writing. The link above will take you directly to the site's "submissions" page.

Teen Ink has a website, monthly newsprint magazine, and quarterly poetry magazine promoting the work of young writers.

The largest online reading platform, Wattpad enables you to publish your work and read others' work. Its inline commenting feature allows you to share thoughts as you read along.

Publishing Your Essays in Print

Canvas Teen Literary Journal

This quarterly literary magazine is published for young writers by young writers. They accept many kinds of writing, including essays.

The Claremont Review

This biannual international magazine, first published in 1992, publishes poetry, essays, and short stories from writers aged 13 - 19.

Skipping Stones

This young writers magazine, founded in 1988, celebrates themes relating to ecological and cultural diversity. It publishes poems, photos, articles, and stories.

The Telling Room

This nonprofit writing center based in Maine publishes children's work on their website and in book form. The link above directs you to the site's submissions page.

Essay Contests

Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards

This prestigious international writing contest for students in grades 7 - 12 has been committed to "supporting the future of creativity since 1923."

Society of Professional Journalists High School Essay Contest

An annual essay contest on the theme of journalism and media, the Society of Professional Journalists High School Essay Contest awards scholarships up to $1,000.

National YoungArts Foundation

Here, you'll find information on a government-sponsored writing competition for writers aged 15 - 18. The foundation welcomes submissions of creative nonfiction, novels, scripts, poetry, short story and spoken word.

Signet Classics Student Scholarship Essay Contest

With prompts on a different literary work each year, this competition from Signet Classics awards college scholarships up to $1,000.

"The Ultimate Guide to High School Essay Contests" (CollegeVine)

See this handy guide from CollegeVine for a list of more competitions you can enter with your academic essay, from the National Council of Teachers of English Achievement Awards to the National High School Essay Contest by the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Whether you're struggling to write academic essays or you think you're a pro, there are workshops and online tools that can help you become an even better writer. Even the most seasoned writers encounter writer's block, so be proactive and look through our curated list of resources to combat this common frustration.

Online Essay-writing Classes and Workshops

"Getting Started with Essay Writing" (Coursera)

Coursera offers lots of free, high-quality online classes taught by college professors. Here's one example, taught by instructors from the University of California Irvine.

"Writing and English" (Brightstorm)

Brightstorm's free video lectures are easy to navigate by topic. This unit on the parts of an essay features content on the essay hook, thesis, supporting evidence, and more.

"How to Write an Essay" (EdX)

EdX is another open online university course website with several two- to five-week courses on the essay. This one is geared toward English language learners.

Writer's Digest University

This renowned writers' website offers online workshops and interactive tutorials. The courses offered cover everything from how to get started through how to get published.

Writing.com

Signing up for this online writer's community gives you access to helpful resources as well as an international community of writers.

How to Overcome Writer's Block

"Symptoms and Cures for Writer's Block" (Purdue OWL)

Purdue OWL offers a list of signs you might have writer's block, along with ways to overcome it. Consider trying out some "invention strategies" or ways to curb writing anxiety.

"Overcoming Writer's Block: Three Tips" ( The Guardian )

These tips, geared toward academic writing specifically, are practical and effective. The authors advocate setting realistic goals, creating dedicated writing time, and participating in social writing.

"Writing Tips: Strategies for Overcoming Writer's Block" (Univ. of Illinois)

This page from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Center for Writing Studies acquaints you with strategies that do and do not work to overcome writer's block.

"Writer's Block" (Univ. of Toronto)

Ask yourself the questions on this page; if the answer is "yes," try out some of the article's strategies. Each question is accompanied by at least two possible solutions.

If you have essays to write but are short on ideas, this section's links to prompts, example student essays, and celebrated essays by professional writers might help. You'll find writing prompts from a variety of sources, student essays to inspire you, and a number of essay writing collections.

Essay Writing Prompts

"50 Argumentative Essay Topics" (ThoughtCo)

Take a look at this list and the others ThoughtCo has curated for different kinds of essays. As the author notes, "a number of these topics are controversial and that's the point."

"401 Prompts for Argumentative Writing" ( New York Times )

This list (and the linked lists to persuasive and narrative writing prompts), besides being impressive in length, is put together by actual high school English teachers.

"SAT Sample Essay Prompts" (College Board)

If you're a student in the U.S., your classroom essay prompts are likely modeled on the prompts in U.S. college entrance exams. Take a look at these official examples from the SAT.

"Popular College Application Essay Topics" (Princeton Review)

This page from the Princeton Review dissects recent Common Application essay topics and discusses strategies for answering them.

Example Student Essays

"501 Writing Prompts" (DePaul Univ.)

This nearly 200-page packet, compiled by the LearningExpress Skill Builder in Focus Writing Team, is stuffed with writing prompts, example essays, and commentary.

"Topics in English" (Kibin)

Kibin is a for-pay essay help website, but its example essays (organized by topic) are available for free. You'll find essays on everything from  A Christmas Carol  to perseverance.

"Student Writing Models" (Thoughtful Learning)

Thoughtful Learning, a website that offers a variety of teaching materials, provides sample student essays on various topics and organizes them by grade level.

"Five-Paragraph Essay" (ThoughtCo)

In this blog post by a former professor of English and rhetoric, ThoughtCo brings together examples of five-paragraph essays and commentary on the form.

The Best Essay Writing Collections

The Best American Essays of the Century by Joyce Carol Oates (Amazon)

This collection of American essays spanning the twentieth century was compiled by award winning author and Princeton professor Joyce Carol Oates.

The Best American Essays 2017 by Leslie Jamison (Amazon)

Leslie Jamison, the celebrated author of essay collection  The Empathy Exams , collects recent, high-profile essays into a single volume.

The Art of the Personal Essay by Phillip Lopate (Amazon)

Documentary writer Phillip Lopate curates this historical overview of the personal essay's development, from the classical era to the present.

The White Album by Joan Didion (Amazon)

This seminal essay collection was authored by one of the most acclaimed personal essayists of all time, American journalist Joan Didion.

Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace (Amazon)

Read this famous essay collection by David Foster Wallace, who is known for his experimentation with the essay form. He pushed the boundaries of personal essay, reportage, and political polemic.

"50 Successful Harvard Application Essays" (Staff of the The Harvard Crimson )

If you're looking for examples of exceptional college application essays, this volume from Harvard's daily student newspaper is one of the best collections on the market.

Are you an instructor looking for the best resources for teaching essay writing? This section contains resources for developing in-class activities and student homework assignments. You'll find content from both well-known university writing centers and online writing labs.

Essay Writing Classroom Activities for Students

"In-class Writing Exercises" (Univ. of North Carolina Writing Center)

This page lists exercises related to brainstorming, organizing, drafting, and revising. It also contains suggestions for how to implement the suggested exercises.

"Teaching with Writing" (Univ. of Minnesota Center for Writing)

Instructions and encouragement for using "freewriting," one-minute papers, logbooks, and other write-to-learn activities in the classroom can be found here.

"Writing Worksheets" (Berkeley Student Learning Center)

Berkeley offers this bank of writing worksheets to use in class. They are nested under headings for "Prewriting," "Revision," "Research Papers" and more.

"Using Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism" (DePaul University)

Use these activities and worksheets from DePaul's Teaching Commons when instructing students on proper academic citation practices.

Essay Writing Homework Activities for Students

"Grammar and Punctuation Exercises" (Aims Online Writing Lab)

These five interactive online activities allow students to practice editing and proofreading. They'll hone their skills in correcting comma splices and run-ons, identifying fragments, using correct pronoun agreement, and comma usage.

"Student Interactives" (Read Write Think)

Read Write Think hosts interactive tools, games, and videos for developing writing skills. They can practice organizing and summarizing, writing poetry, and developing lines of inquiry and analysis.

This free website offers writing and grammar activities for all grade levels. The lessons are designed to be used both for large classes and smaller groups.

"Writing Activities and Lessons for Every Grade" (Education World)

Education World's page on writing activities and lessons links you to more free, online resources for learning how to "W.R.I.T.E.": write, revise, inform, think, and edit.

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The Write Practice

Essay Writing Tips: 10 Steps to Writing a Great Essay (And Have Fun Doing It!)

by Joe Bunting | 118 comments

Do you dread essay writing? Are you looking for some essay tips that will help you write an amazing essay—and have fun doing it?

essay tips

Lots of students, young and old, dread essay writing. It's a daunting assignment, one that takes research, time, and concentration.

It's also an assignment that you can break up into simple steps that make writing an essay manageable and, yes, even enjoyable.

These ten essay tips completely changed my writing process—and I hope that they can do the same for you.

Essay Writing Can Be Fun

Honestly, throughout most of high school and college, I was a mediocre essay writer.

Every once in a while, I would write a really good essay, but mostly I skated by with B's and A-minuses.

I know personally how boring writing an essay can be, and also, how hard it can be to write a good one.

However, toward the end of my time as a student, I made a breakthrough. I figured out how to not only write a great essay, I learned how to have fun while doing it . 

And since then, I've become a professional writer and have written more than a dozen books. I'm not saying that these essay writing tips are going to magically turn you into a writer, but at least they can help you enjoy the process more.

I'm excited to share these ten essay writing tips with you today! But first, we need to talk about why writing an essay is so hard.

Why Writing an Essay Is So Hard

When it comes to essay writing, a lot of students find a reason to put it off. And when they tackle it, they find it difficult to string sentences together that sound like a decent stance on the assigned subject.

Here are a few reasons why essay writing is hard:

  • You'd rather be scrolling through Facebook
  • You're trying to write something your teacher or professor will like
  • You're trying to get an A instead of writing something that's actually good
  • You want to do the least amount of work possible

The biggest reason writing an essay is so hard is because we mostly focus on those external  rewards like getting a passing grade, winning our teacher's approval, or just avoiding accusations of plagiarism.

The problem is that when you focus on external approval it not only makes writing much less fun, it also makes it significantly harder.

Because when you focus on external approval, you shut down your subconscious, and the subconscious is the source of your creativity.

The subconscious is the source of your creativity.

What this means practically is that when you're trying to write that perfect, A-plus-worthy sentence, you're turning off most of your best resources and writing skills.

So stop. Stop trying to write a good essay (or even a “good-enough” essay). Instead, write an interesting  essay, write an essay you think is fascinating. And when you're finished, go back and edit it until it's “good” according to your teacher's standards.

Yes, you need to follow the guidelines in your assignment. If your teacher tells you to write a five-paragraph essay, then write a five-paragraph essay! If your teacher asks for a specific type of essay, like an analysis, argument, or research essay, then make sure you write that type of essay!

However, within those guidelines, find room to express something that is uniquely you .

I can't guarantee you'll get a higher grade (although, you almost certainly will), but I can absolutely promise you'll have a lot more fun writing.

The Step-by-Step Process to Writing a Great Essay: Your 10 Essay Writing Tips

Ready to get writing? You can read my ten best tips for having fun while writing an essay that earns you the top grade, or check out this presentation designed by our friends at Canva Presentations .

1. Remember your essay is just a story.

Every story is about conflict and change, and the truth is that essays are about conflict and change, too! The difference is that in an essay, the conflict is between different ideas , and the change is in the way we should perceive those ideas.

That means that the best essays are about surprise: “You probably think it's one way, but in reality, you should think of it this other way.” See tip #3 for more on this.

How do you know what story you're telling? The prompt should tell you.

Any list of essay prompts includes various topics and tasks associated with them. Within those topics are characters (historical, fictional, or topical) faced with difficult choices. Your job is to work with those choices, usually by analyzing them, arguing about them, researching them, or describing them in detail.

2. Before you start writing, ask yourself, “How can I have the most fun writing this?”

It's normal to feel unmotivated when writing an academic essay. I'm a writer, and honestly, I feel unmotivated to write all the time. But I have a super-ninja, judo-mind trick I like to use to help motivate myself.

Here's the secret trick: One of the interesting things about your subconscious is that it will answer any question you ask yourself. So whenever you feel unmotivated to write your essay, ask yourself the following question:

“How much fun can I have writing this?”

Your subconscious will immediately start thinking of strategies to make the writing process more fun.

The best time to have your fun is the first draft. Since you're just brainstorming within the topic, and exploring the possible ways of approaching it, the first draft is the perfect place to get creative and even a little scandalous. Here are some wild suggestions to make your next essay a load of fun:

  • Research the most surprising or outrageous fact about the topic and use it as your hook.
  • Use a thesaurus to research the topic's key words. Get crazy with your vocabulary as you write, working in each key word synonym as much as possible.
  • Play devil's advocate and take the opposing or immoral side of the issue. See where the discussion takes you as you write.

3. As you research, ask yourself, “What surprises me about this subject?”

The temptation, when you're writing an essay, is to write what you think your teacher or professor wants to read.

Don't do this .

Instead, ask yourself, “What do I find interesting about this subject? What surprises me?”

If you can't think of anything that surprises you, anything you find interesting, then you're not searching well enough, because history, science, and literature are all brimming   over with surprises. When you look at how great ideas actually happen, the story is always, “We used  to think the world was this way. We found out we were completely wrong, and that the world is actually quite different from what we thought.”

These pieces of surprising information often make for the best topic sentences as well. Use them to outline your essay and build your body paragraphs off of each unique fact or idea. These will function as excellent hooks for your reader as you transition from one topic to the next.

(By the way, what sources should you use for research? Check out tip #10 below.)

4. Overwhelmed? Write five original sentences.

The standard three-point essay is really made up of just five original sentences surrounded by supporting paragraphs that back up those five sentences. If you're feeling overwhelmed, just write five sentences covering your most basic main points.

Here's what they might look like for this article:

  • Introductory Paragraph:  While most students consider writing an essay a boring task, with the right mindset, it can actually be an enjoyable experience.
  • Body #1: Most students think writing an essay is tedious because they focus on external rewards.
  • Body #2: Students should instead focus on internal fulfillment when writing an essay.
  • Body #3: Not only will focusing on internal fulfillment allow students to have more fun, it will also result in better essays.
  • Conclusion: Writing an essay doesn't have to be simply a way to earn a good grade. Instead, it can be a means of finding fulfillment.

After you write your five sentences, it's easy to fill in the paragraphs for each one.

Now, you give it a shot!

5. Be “source heavy.”

In college, I discovered a trick that helped me go from a B-average student to an A-student, but before I explain how it works, let me warn you. This technique is powerful , but it might not work for all teachers or professors. Use with caution.

As I was writing a paper for a literature class, I realized that the articles and books I was reading said what I was trying to say much better than I ever could. So what did I do? I quoted them liberally throughout my paper. When I wasn't quoting, I re-phrased what they said in my own words, giving proper credit, of course. I found that not only did this formula create a well-written essay, it took about half the time to write.

It's good to keep in mind that using anyone else's words, even when morphed into your own phrasing, requires citation. While the definition of plagiarism is shifting with the rise of online collaboration and cooperative learning environments, always  err on the side of excessive citation to be safe.

When I used this technique, my professors sometimes mentioned that my papers were very “source” heavy. However, at the same time, they always gave me A's.

To keep yourself safe, I recommend using a 60/40 approach with your body paragraphs: Make sure 60% of the words are your own analysis and argumentation, while 40% can be quoted (or text you paraphrase) from your sources.

Like the five sentence trick, this technique makes the writing process simpler. Instead of putting the main focus on writing well, it instead forces you to research  well, which some students find easier.

6. Write the body first, the introduction second, and the conclusion last.

Introductions are often the hardest part to write because you're trying to summarize your entire essay before you've even written it yet. Instead, try writing your introduction last, giving yourself the body of the paper to figure out the main point of your essay.

This is especially important with an essay topic you are not personally interested in. I definitely recommend this in classes you either don't excel in or care much for. Take plenty of time to draft and revise your body paragraphs before  attempting to craft a meaningful introductory paragraph.

Otherwise your opening may sound awkward, wooden, and bland.

7. Most essays answer the question, “What?” Good essays answer the “Why?” The best essays answer the “How?”

If you get stuck trying to make your argument, or you're struggling to reach the required word count, try focusing on the question, “How?”

For example:

  • How did J.D. Salinger convey the theme of inauthenticity in  The Catcher In the Rye ?
  • How did Napoleon restore stability in France after the French Revolution?
  • How does the research prove girls really do rule and boys really do drool?

If you focus on how, you'll always have enough to write about.

8. Don't be afraid to jump around.

Essay writing can be a dance. You don't have to stay in one place and write from beginning to end.

For the same reasons listed in point #6, give yourself the freedom to write as if you're circling around your topic rather than making a single, straightforward argument. Then, when you edit and proofread, you can make sure everything lines up correctly.

In fact, now is the perfect time to mention that proofreading your essay isn't just about spelling and commas.

It's about making sure your analysis or argument flows smoothly from one idea to another. (Okay, technically this comprises editing, but most students writing a high school or college essay don't take the time to complete every step of the writing process. Let's be honest.)

So as you clean up your mechanics and sentence structure, make sure your ideas flow smoothly, logically, and naturally from one to the next as you finish proofreading.

9. Here are some words and phrases you don't want to use.

  • You  (You'll notice I use a lot of you's, which is great for a blog post. However, in an academic essay, it's better to omit the second-person.)
  • To Be verbs (is, are, was, were, am)

Don't have time to edit? Here's a lightning-quick editing technique .

A note about “I”: Some teachers say you shouldn't use “I” statements in your writing, but the truth is that professional, academic papers often use phrases like “I believe” and “in my opinion,” especially in their introductions.

10. It's okay to use Wikipedia, if…

Wikipedia is one of the top five websites in the world for a reason: it can be a great tool for research. However, most teachers and professors don't consider Wikipedia a valid source for use in essays.

Don't totally discount it, though! Here are two ways you can use Wikipedia in your essay writing:

  • Background research. If you don't know enough about your topic, Wikipedia can be a great resource to quickly learn everything you need to know to get started.
  • Find sources . Check the reference section of Wikipedia's articles on your topic. While you may not be able to cite Wikipedia itself, you can often find those original sources and cite them . You can locate the links to primary and secondary sources at the bottom of any Wikipedia page under the headings “Further Reading” and “References.”

You Can Enjoy Essay Writing

The thing I regret most about high school and college is that I treated it like something I had  to do rather than something I wanted  to do.

The truth is, education is an opportunity many people in the world don't have access to.

It's a gift, not just something that makes your life more difficult. I don't want you to make the mistake of just “getting by” through school, waiting desperately for summer breaks and, eventually, graduation.

How would your life be better if you actively enjoyed writing an essay? What would school look like if you wanted to suck it dry of all the gifts it has to give you?

All I'm saying is, don't miss out!

Looking for More Essay Writing Tips?

Looking for more essay tips to strengthen your essay writing? Try some of these resources:

  • 7 Tips on Writing an Effective Essay
  • Tips for Writing Your Thesis Statement

How about you? Do you have any tips for writing an essay?  Let us know in the  comments .

Need more grammar help?  My favorite tool that helps find grammar problems and even generates reports to help improve my writing is ProWritingAid . Works with Word, Scrivener, Google Docs, and web browsers. Also, be sure to use my coupon code to get 20 percent off: WritePractice20

Coupon Code:WritePractice20 »

Ready to try out these ten essay tips to make your essay assignment fun? Spend fifteen minutes using tip #4 and write five original sentences that could be turned into an essay.

When you're finished, share your five sentences in the comments section. And don't forget to give feedback to your fellow writers!

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How to Write Like Louise Penny

Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris , a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.

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This page continues from our page: Planning an Essay , the essential first step to successful essay writing.

This page assumes that you have already planned your essay, you have taken time to understand the essay question, gathered information that you intend to use, and have produced a skeleton plan of you essay – taking into account your word limit.

This page is concerned with the actual writing of your essay, it provides some guidelines for good practice as well as some common mistakes you'll want to avoid.

Structuring Your Essay

An essay should be written in a flowing manner with each sentence following on logically from the previous one and with appropriate signposts to guide the reader.

An essay usually takes the following structured format:

  • The introduction
  • The main body: a development of the issues
  • A conclusion
  • A list of references of the sources of information you have used

The Introduction

The function of the introduction is simply to introduce the subject, to explain how you understand the question, and describe briefly how you intend to deal with it.

You could begin by defining essential terms, providing a brief historical or personal context if appropriate, and/or by explaining why you think the subject is significant or interesting.

Some people are far too ambitious in writing their introductions. Writing a lengthy introduction limits the number of words available for the main body of the assignment.

Keep the introduction short, preferably to one or two paragraphs and keep it, succinct, to the point.

Some students find it best to write a provisional introduction, when starting to write an essay, and then to rewrite this when they have finished the first draft of their essay. To write a provisional introduction, ask yourself what the reader needs to know in order to follow your subsequent discussion.

Other students write the introduction after they have written the main body of the essay – do whatever feels right for you and the piece of work you are writing.

The Main Body: A Development of the Issues

Essays are generally a blend of researched evidence (e.g. from additional reading) and comment.

Some students' essays amount to catalogues of factual material or summaries of other people's thoughts, attitudes, philosophies or viewpoints.

At the opposite extreme, other students express only personal opinions with little or no researched evidence or examples taken from other writers to support their views.  What is needed is a balance.

The balance between other researchers’ and writers’ analysis of the subject and your own comment will vary with the subject and the nature of the question.   Generally, it is important to back up the points you wish to make from your experience with the findings of other published researchers and writers.

You will have likely been given a reading list or some core text books to read. Use these as your research base but try to expand on what is said and read around the subject as fully as you can. Always keep a note of your sources as you go along.

You will be encouraged and expected to cite other authors or to quote or paraphrase from books that you have read. The most important requirement is that the material you cite or use should illustrate, or provide evidence of, the point you are making. How much evidence you use depends on the type of essay you are writing.

If you want a weight of evidence on some factual point, bring in two or three examples but no more.

Quotations should not be used as a substitute for your own words. A quote should always have an explanation in your own words to show its significance to your argument.

When you are citing another author's text you should always indicate exactly where the evidence comes from with a reference, i.e. give the author's name, date of publication and the page number in your work.  A full reference should also be provided in the reference list at the end.

See our page: Academic Referencing for more information.

A Conclusion

At the end of an essay you should include a short conclusion, the purpose of which is to sum up or draw a conclusion from your argument or comparison of viewpoints.

In other words, indicate what has been learned or accomplished. The conclusion is also a good place to mention questions that are left open or further issues which you recognise, but which do not come within the scope of your essay.

Neither the conclusion, nor the introduction, should totally summarise your whole argument: if you try this, you are in danger of writing another assignment that simply repeats the whole case over again.

You must include a reference list or bibliography at the end of your work.

One common downfall is to not reference adequately and be accused of plagiarism. If you have directly quoted any other author's text you should always indicate exactly where the evidence comes from in a reference. If you have read other documents in order to contrast your argument then these should also be referenced.

See our page: Academic Referencing for a more comprehensive look at the importance of referencing and how to reference properly.

Signposting or Guiding your Reader

When writing an essay it is good practice to consider your reader.

To guide the reader through your work you will need to inform them where you are starting from (in the introduction), where you are going (as the essay progresses), and where you have been (in the conclusion).

It is helpful to keep the reader informed as to the development of the argument. You can do this by using simple statements or questions that serve to introduce, summarise or link the different aspects of your subject.

Here are a few examples:

There are two reasons for this:  first,... second,...

Moreover, it should not be forgotten that...

With regard to the question of...

Another important factor to be considered is...

How can these facts be interpreted? The first point...

There are several views on this question. The first is...

Finally, it is important to consider...

Constructing Paragraphs

One important way of guiding the reader through your essay is by using paragraphs.

Paragraphs show when you have come to the end of one main point and the beginning of the next.  A paragraph is a group of sentences related to aspects of the same point.  Within each individual paragraph an idea is introduced and developed through the subsequent sentences within that paragraph.

Everyone finds it easier to read a text that is broken into short paragraphs.

Without paragraphs, and the spaces between them, the page will appear like an indigestible mass of words.

You should construct your essay as a sequence of distinct points set out in a rational order.

Each sentence and paragraph should follow logically from the one before and it is important that you do not force your reader to make the connections. Always make these connections clear signposting where the argument or discussion is going next.

Although the points you are making may seem obvious to you, can they be more clearly and simply stated?

It is also worth bearing in mind that the marker of your work may have a lot of other, similar pieces of work to mark and assess. Try to make yours easy to read and follow – make it stand out, for the right reasons!

Essay Style

There are two general misconceptions about essay style:

  • One is that a good essay should be written in a formal, impersonal way with a good scattering of long words and long, complicated sentences.
  • The other misconception is to write as we talk. Such a style is fine for personal letters or notes, but not in an essay. You can be personal, but a certain degree of formality and objectivity is expected in an academic essay.

The important requirement of style is clarity and precision of expression.

Where appropriate use simple and logical language and write in full or complete sentences.  You should avoid jargon, especially jargon that is not directly connected to your subject area. You can be personal by offering your own viewpoint on an issue, or by using that view to interpret other authors' work and conclusions.

Drafts and Rewriting

Most essays can be improved by a thorough edit.

You can cross out one word and substitute another, change the shape or emphasis of a sentence, remove inconsistencies of thought or terminology, remove repetitions and ensure there is adequate referencing.

In short, you are your first reader, edit and criticise your own work to make it better. Sometimes it is useful to read your essay out loud.

Another useful exercise is to ask someone else to read the essay through. A person proofreading the essay for the first time will have a different perspective from your own and will therefore be better placed to point out any incoherence, lack of structure, grammatical errors, etc.

Ideally find somebody to proofread who has a good grasp of spelling and grammar and at least a casual interest in your subject area.

One or two edits should be sufficient. It is best not to become involved in an unproductive multiplicity of drafts. The remedy is to analyse the question again and write another, simple, plan based on how to organise the material you are not happy with in the draft of your essay. Rewrite the essay according to that revised plan and resist the tendency to panic in the middle, tear it up and start all over again. It is important to get to the end and then revise again. Otherwise you will have a perfect opening couple of paragraphs and potentially the rest of the essay in disarray.

You will learn and improve much more through criticising and correcting your work than by simply starting again.

Don't Panic!

A few students can get so anxious about an assignment that they find themselves unable to write anything at all.

There are several reasons why this can happen. The primary reason is usually that such students set themselves too high a standard and then panic because they cannot attain it. This may also be due to factors such as the fear of the expectations of others or placing too high an expectation on themselves.

Whatever the reason, if you cannot write an assignment, you have to find a way out of your panic.  If you find yourself in this position, do not allow the situation to drift; try to act swiftly.  Discussing your worries with your tutor and/or peers, or simply writing them down, will help you clarify why you might feel stuck.

Another trick is to dash off what you consider to be a 'bad' essay, hand it in and see what happens, or decide to write the assignment in two hours without notes or references and see how that goes. You can always come back to enter the references later.

Students often say that their hurried and most casual essay got a higher mark than one which they struggled with for weeks; in fact this happened because they got down to essentials and made their points quickly.  The experiment might be worth a try.

If, despite study and good intentions, you cannot seem to get your essay written, or even started, you should let your tutor know as soon as possible.

Your tutor will have encountered such problems many times, and it is part of his/her job to help you sort them out.

Continue to: Assignment Finishing Touches Academic Referencing

See also: The Do’s and Don’ts of Essay Writing Effective Reading Note-Taking for Reading

Student sat writing at a table. Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels

Essay and dissertation writing skills

Planning your essay

Writing your introduction

Structuring your essay

  • Writing essays in science subjects
  • Brief video guides to support essay planning and writing
  • Writing extended essays and dissertations
  • Planning your dissertation writing time

Structuring your dissertation

  • Top tips for writing longer pieces of work

Advice on planning and writing essays and dissertations

University essays differ from school essays in that they are less concerned with what you know and more concerned with how you construct an argument to answer the question. This means that the starting point for writing a strong essay is to first unpick the question and to then use this to plan your essay before you start putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).

A really good starting point for you are these short, downloadable Tips for Successful Essay Writing and Answering the Question resources. Both resources will help you to plan your essay, as well as giving you guidance on how to distinguish between different sorts of essay questions. 

You may find it helpful to watch this seven-minute video on six tips for essay writing which outlines how to interpret essay questions, as well as giving advice on planning and structuring your writing:

Different disciplines will have different expectations for essay structure and you should always refer to your Faculty or Department student handbook or course Canvas site for more specific guidance.

However, broadly speaking, all essays share the following features:

Essays need an introduction to establish and focus the parameters of the discussion that will follow. You may find it helpful to divide the introduction into areas to demonstrate your breadth and engagement with the essay question. You might define specific terms in the introduction to show your engagement with the essay question; for example, ‘This is a large topic which has been variously discussed by many scientists and commentators. The principal tension is between the views of X and Y who define the main issues as…’ Breadth might be demonstrated by showing the range of viewpoints from which the essay question could be considered; for example, ‘A variety of factors including economic, social and political, influence A and B. This essay will focus on the social and economic aspects, with particular emphasis on…..’

Watch this two-minute video to learn more about how to plan and structure an introduction:

The main body of the essay should elaborate on the issues raised in the introduction and develop an argument(s) that answers the question. It should consist of a number of self-contained paragraphs each of which makes a specific point and provides some form of evidence to support the argument being made. Remember that a clear argument requires that each paragraph explicitly relates back to the essay question or the developing argument.

  • Conclusion: An essay should end with a conclusion that reiterates the argument in light of the evidence you have provided; you shouldn’t use the conclusion to introduce new information.
  • References: You need to include references to the materials you’ve used to write your essay. These might be in the form of footnotes, in-text citations, or a bibliography at the end. Different systems exist for citing references and different disciplines will use various approaches to citation. Ask your tutor which method(s) you should be using for your essay and also consult your Department or Faculty webpages for specific guidance in your discipline. 

Essay writing in science subjects

If you are writing an essay for a science subject you may need to consider additional areas, such as how to present data or diagrams. This five-minute video gives you some advice on how to approach your reading list, planning which information to include in your answer and how to write for your scientific audience – the video is available here:

A PDF providing further guidance on writing science essays for tutorials is available to download.

Short videos to support your essay writing skills

There are many other resources at Oxford that can help support your essay writing skills and if you are short on time, the Oxford Study Skills Centre has produced a number of short (2-minute) videos covering different aspects of essay writing, including:

  • Approaching different types of essay questions  
  • Structuring your essay  
  • Writing an introduction  
  • Making use of evidence in your essay writing  
  • Writing your conclusion

Extended essays and dissertations

Longer pieces of writing like extended essays and dissertations may seem like quite a challenge from your regular essay writing. The important point is to start with a plan and to focus on what the question is asking. A PDF providing further guidance on planning Humanities and Social Science dissertations is available to download.

Planning your time effectively

Try not to leave the writing until close to your deadline, instead start as soon as you have some ideas to put down onto paper. Your early drafts may never end up in the final work, but the work of committing your ideas to paper helps to formulate not only your ideas, but the method of structuring your writing to read well and conclude firmly.

Although many students and tutors will say that the introduction is often written last, it is a good idea to begin to think about what will go into it early on. For example, the first draft of your introduction should set out your argument, the information you have, and your methods, and it should give a structure to the chapters and sections you will write. Your introduction will probably change as time goes on but it will stand as a guide to your entire extended essay or dissertation and it will help you to keep focused.

The structure of  extended essays or dissertations will vary depending on the question and discipline, but may include some or all of the following:

  • The background information to - and context for - your research. This often takes the form of a literature review.
  • Explanation of the focus of your work.
  • Explanation of the value of this work to scholarship on the topic.
  • List of the aims and objectives of the work and also the issues which will not be covered because they are outside its scope.

The main body of your extended essay or dissertation will probably include your methodology, the results of research, and your argument(s) based on your findings.

The conclusion is to summarise the value your research has added to the topic, and any further lines of research you would undertake given more time or resources. 

Tips on writing longer pieces of work

Approaching each chapter of a dissertation as a shorter essay can make the task of writing a dissertation seem less overwhelming. Each chapter will have an introduction, a main body where the argument is developed and substantiated with evidence, and a conclusion to tie things together. Unlike in a regular essay, chapter conclusions may also introduce the chapter that will follow, indicating how the chapters are connected to one another and how the argument will develop through your dissertation.

For further guidance, watch this two-minute video on writing longer pieces of work . 

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How To Write An Essay: Beginner Tips And Tricks

what do you learn from writing an essay

Updated: June 19, 2024

Published: June 22, 2021

How To Write An Essay # Beginner Tips And Tricks

Many students dread writing essays, but essay writing is an important skill to develop in high school, university, and even into your future career. By learning how to write an essay properly, the process can become more enjoyable and you’ll find you’re better able to organize and articulate your thoughts.

When writing an essay, it’s common to follow a specific pattern, no matter what the topic is. Once you’ve used the pattern a few times and you know how to structure an essay, it will become a lot more simple to apply your knowledge to every essay. 

No matter which major you choose, you should know how to craft a good essay. Here, we’ll cover the basics of essay writing, along with some helpful tips to make the writing process go smoothly.

Ink pen on paper before writing an essay

Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

Types of Essays

Think of an essay as a discussion. There are many types of discussions you can have with someone else. You can be describing a story that happened to you, you might explain to them how to do something, or you might even argue about a certain topic. 

When it comes to different types of essays, it follows a similar pattern. Like a friendly discussion, each type of essay will come with its own set of expectations or goals. 

For example, when arguing with a friend, your goal is to convince them that you’re right. The same goes for an argumentative essay. 

Here are a few of the main essay types you can expect to come across during your time in school:

Narrative Essay

This type of essay is almost like telling a story, not in the traditional sense with dialogue and characters, but as if you’re writing out an event or series of events to relay information to the reader.

Persuasive Essay

Here, your goal is to persuade the reader about your views on a specific topic.

Descriptive Essay

This is the kind of essay where you go into a lot more specific details describing a topic such as a place or an event. 

Argumentative Essay

In this essay, you’re choosing a stance on a topic, usually controversial, and your goal is to present evidence that proves your point is correct.

Expository Essay

Your purpose with this type of essay is to tell the reader how to complete a specific process, often including a step-by-step guide or something similar.

Compare and Contrast Essay

You might have done this in school with two different books or characters, but the ultimate goal is to draw similarities and differences between any two given subjects.

The Main Stages of Essay Writing

When it comes to writing an essay, many students think the only stage is getting all your ideas down on paper and submitting your work. However, that’s not quite the case. 

There are three main stages of writing an essay, each one with its own purpose. Of course, writing the essay itself is the most substantial part, but the other two stages are equally as important.

So, what are these three stages of essay writing? They are:

Preparation

Before you even write one word, it’s important to prepare the content and structure of your essay. If a topic wasn’t assigned to you, then the first thing you should do is settle on a topic. Next, you want to conduct your research on that topic and create a detailed outline based on your research. The preparation stage will make writing your essay that much easier since, with your outline and research, you should already have the skeleton of your essay.

Writing is the most time-consuming stage. In this stage, you will write out all your thoughts and ideas and craft your essay based on your outline. You’ll work on developing your ideas and fleshing them out throughout the introduction, body, and conclusion (more on these soon).

In the final stage, you’ll go over your essay and check for a few things. First, you’ll check if your essay is cohesive, if all the points make sense and are related to your topic, and that your facts are cited and backed up. You can also check for typos, grammar and punctuation mistakes, and formatting errors.  

The Five-Paragraph Essay

We mentioned earlier that essay writing follows a specific structure, and for the most part in academic or college essays , the five-paragraph essay is the generally accepted structure you’ll be expected to use. 

The five-paragraph essay is broken down into one introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a closing paragraph. However, that doesn’t always mean that an essay is written strictly in five paragraphs, but rather that this structure can be used loosely and the three body paragraphs might become three sections instead.

Let’s take a closer look at each section and what it entails.

Introduction

As the name implies, the purpose of your introduction paragraph is to introduce your idea. A good introduction begins with a “hook,” something that grabs your reader’s attention and makes them excited to read more. 

Another key tenant of an introduction is a thesis statement, which usually comes towards the end of the introduction itself. Your thesis statement should be a phrase that explains your argument, position, or central idea that you plan on developing throughout the essay. 

You can also include a short outline of what to expect in your introduction, including bringing up brief points that you plan on explaining more later on in the body paragraphs.

Here is where most of your essay happens. The body paragraphs are where you develop your ideas and bring up all the points related to your main topic. 

In general, you’re meant to have three body paragraphs, or sections, and each one should bring up a different point. Think of it as bringing up evidence. Each paragraph is a different piece of evidence, and when the three pieces are taken together, it backs up your main point — your thesis statement — really well.

That being said, you still want each body paragraph to be tied together in some way so that the essay flows. The points should be distinct enough, but they should relate to each other, and definitely to your thesis statement. Each body paragraph works to advance your point, so when crafting your essay, it’s important to keep this in mind so that you avoid going off-track or writing things that are off-topic.

Many students aren’t sure how to write a conclusion for an essay and tend to see their conclusion as an afterthought, but this section is just as important as the rest of your work. 

You shouldn’t be presenting any new ideas in your conclusion, but you should summarize your main points and show how they back up your thesis statement. 

Essentially, the conclusion is similar in structure and content to the introduction, but instead of introducing your essay, it should be wrapping up the main thoughts and presenting them to the reader as a singular closed argument. 

student writing an essay on his laptop

Photo by AMIT RANJAN on Unsplash

Steps to Writing an Essay

Now that you have a better idea of an essay’s structure and all the elements that go into it, you might be wondering what the different steps are to actually write your essay. 

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Instead of going in blind, follow these steps on how to write your essay from start to finish.

Understand Your Assignment

When writing an essay for an assignment, the first critical step is to make sure you’ve read through your assignment carefully and understand it thoroughly. You want to check what type of essay is required, that you understand the topic, and that you pay attention to any formatting or structural requirements. You don’t want to lose marks just because you didn’t read the assignment carefully.

Research Your Topic

Once you understand your assignment, it’s time to do some research. In this step, you should start looking at different sources to get ideas for what points you want to bring up throughout your essay. 

Search online or head to the library and get as many resources as possible. You don’t need to use them all, but it’s good to start with a lot and then narrow down your sources as you become more certain of your essay’s direction.

Start Brainstorming

After research comes the brainstorming. There are a lot of different ways to start the brainstorming process . Here are a few you might find helpful:

  • Think about what you found during your research that interested you the most
  • Jot down all your ideas, even if they’re not yet fully formed
  • Create word clouds or maps for similar terms or ideas that come up so you can group them together based on their similarities
  • Try freewriting to get all your ideas out before arranging them

Create a Thesis

This is often the most tricky part of the whole process since you want to create a thesis that’s strong and that you’re about to develop throughout the entire essay. Therefore, you want to choose a thesis statement that’s broad enough that you’ll have enough to say about it, but not so broad that you can’t be precise. 

Write Your Outline

Armed with your research, brainstorming sessions, and your thesis statement, the next step is to write an outline. 

In the outline, you’ll want to put your thesis statement at the beginning and start creating the basic skeleton of how you want your essay to look. 

A good way to tackle an essay is to use topic sentences . A topic sentence is like a mini-thesis statement that is usually the first sentence of a new paragraph. This sentence introduces the main idea that will be detailed throughout the paragraph. 

If you create an outline with the topic sentences for your body paragraphs and then a few points of what you want to discuss, you’ll already have a strong starting point when it comes time to sit down and write. This brings us to our next step… 

Write a First Draft

The first time you write your entire essay doesn’t need to be perfect, but you do need to get everything on the page so that you’re able to then write a second draft or review it afterward. 

Everyone’s writing process is different. Some students like to write their essay in the standard order of intro, body, and conclusion, while others prefer to start with the “meat” of the essay and tackle the body, and then fill in the other sections afterward. 

Make sure your essay follows your outline and that everything relates to your thesis statement and your points are backed up by the research you did. 

Revise, Edit, and Proofread

The revision process is one of the three main stages of writing an essay, yet many people skip this step thinking their work is done after the first draft is complete. 

However, proofreading, reviewing, and making edits on your essay can spell the difference between a B paper and an A.

After writing the first draft, try and set your essay aside for a few hours or even a day or two, and then come back to it with fresh eyes to review it. You might find mistakes or inconsistencies you missed or better ways to formulate your arguments.

Add the Finishing Touches

Finally, you’ll want to make sure everything that’s required is in your essay. Review your assignment again and see if all the requirements are there, such as formatting rules, citations, quotes, etc. 

Go over the order of your paragraphs and make sure everything makes sense, flows well, and uses the same writing style . 

Once everything is checked and all the last touches are added, give your essay a final read through just to ensure it’s as you want it before handing it in. 

A good way to do this is to read your essay out loud since you’ll be able to hear if there are any mistakes or inaccuracies.

Essay Writing Tips

With the steps outlined above, you should be able to craft a great essay. Still, there are some other handy tips we’d recommend just to ensure that the essay writing process goes as smoothly as possible.

  • Start your essay early. This is the first tip for a reason. It’s one of the most important things you can do to write a good essay. If you start it the night before, then you won’t have enough time to research, brainstorm, and outline — and you surely won’t have enough time to review.
  • Don’t try and write it in one sitting. It’s ok if you need to take breaks or write it over a few days. It’s better to write it in multiple sittings so that you have a fresh mind each time and you’re able to focus.
  • Always keep the essay question in mind. If you’re given an assigned question, then you should always keep it handy when writing your essay to make sure you’re always working to answer the question.
  • Use transitions between paragraphs. In order to improve the readability of your essay, try and make clear transitions between paragraphs. This means trying to relate the end of one paragraph to the beginning of the next one so the shift doesn’t seem random.
  • Integrate your research thoughtfully. Add in citations or quotes from your research materials to back up your thesis and main points. This will show that you did the research and that your thesis is backed up by it.

Wrapping Up

Writing an essay doesn’t need to be daunting if you know how to approach it. Using our essay writing steps and tips, you’ll have better knowledge on how to write an essay and you’ll be able to apply it to your next assignment. Once you do this a few times, it will become more natural to you and the essay writing process will become quicker and easier.

If you still need assistance with your essay, check with a student advisor to see if they offer help with writing. At University of the People(UoPeople), we always want our students to succeed, so our student advisors are ready to help with writing skills when necessary. 

At UoPeople, our blog writers are thinkers, researchers, and experts dedicated to curating articles relevant to our mission: making higher education accessible to everyone.

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13 Ways to Quickly Improve Your Academic Essay Writing Skills

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Written by  Scribendi

Anyone can learn to produce an academic essay if they begin with a few basic essay-writing rules. 

An academic essay must be based upon a solid but debatable thesis, supported by relevant and credible evidence, and closed with a succinct and thorough conclusion.

By adhering to the best way to write an essay, you can create valuable, persuasive papers even when you're under a time crunch!

What Makes a Good Essay?

As previously noted, the foundation of any good academic essay is its thesis statement. 

Do not confuse your thesis with your opening sentence. There are many good ways to start an essay , but few essays immediately present their main ideas.

After you draft your thesis, you can begin to develop your essay around it. This development will include the main supporting points of your essay, which will scaffold its main body. 

Essays also typically include a relevant and compelling introduction and conclusion.

Learn How to Write a Great Thesis Statement .

Good Ways to Start an Essay

Understanding How to Write a Good Essay

When writing an academic essay, you must take a number of qualities and characteristics into careful consideration. Focus, development, unity, coherence, and correctness all play critical roles when it comes to distinguishing an exceptional essay from one that is less than perfect.

The following essay-writing tips can help writers organize, format, and support their essays in ways that fit their intended purpose and optimize their overall persuasiveness. Here are 13 essay tips for developing and writing your next academic paper.

1. Know What You Are Going to Write About Before You Start Writing

While untrained writers might just sit down and start typing, educated and experienced writers know that there are many steps to writing an essay.

In short, you should know what you want to say before you type a single word. The easiest way to narrow down a thesis and create a proper argument is to make a basic outline before you begin composing your essay.

Your outline should consist of rough notes that sketch out your introduction (including your thesis), the body of your essay (which should include separate paragraphs that present your main supporting points with plenty of evidence and examples), and your conclusion (which ties everything together and connects the argument back to your thesis).

2. Acquire a Solid Understanding of Basic Grammar, Punctuation, and Style

Before getting into more refined essay-writing techniques, you must have a solid grasp of grammar, punctuation, and style. Without these writing fundamentals, it will be difficult to communicate your ideas effectively and ensure that they are taken seriously.

Grammar basics include subject and verb agreement, correct article and pronoun use, and well-formed sentence structures. Make sure you know the proper uses for the most common forms of punctuation. Be mindful of your comma usage and know when a period is needed.

Finally, voice is tremendously important in academic essay writing. Employ language that is as concise as possible. Avoid transition words that don't add anything to the sentence and unnecessary wordiness that detracts from your argument.

Furthermore, use the active voice instead of the passive whenever possible (e.g., "this study found" instead of "it was found by this study"). This will make your essay's tone clear and direct.

3. Use the Right Vocabulary and Know What the Words You Are Using Actually Mean

How you use language is important, especially in academic essay writing. When writing an academic essay, remember that you are persuading others that you are an expert who argues intelligently about your topic.

Using big words just to sound smart often results in the opposite effect—it is easy to detect when someone is overcompensating in their writing.

If you aren't sure of the exact meaning of a word, you risk using it incorrectly. There's no shame in checking, and it might save you from an embarrassing word misuse later!

Using obscure language can also detract from the clarity of your argument—you should consider this before pulling out a thesaurus to change a perfectly appropriate word to something completely different.

4. Understand the Argument and Critically Analyze the Evidence

While writing a good essay, your main argument should always be at the front of your mind. While it's tempting to go off on a tangent about an interesting side note, doing so makes your writing less concise.

Always question the evidence you include in your essay; ask yourself, "Does this directly support my thesis?" If the answer is "no," then that evidence should probably be excluded. 

When you are evaluating evidence, be critical and thorough. You want to use the strongest research to back up your thesis. It is not enough to simply present evidence in support of an argument. A good writer must also explain why the evidence is relevant and supportive.

Everything you include should clearly connect to your topic and argument.   

Research Databases

5. Know How to Write a Conclusion That Supports Your Research

One of the most overlooked steps to writing an essay is the conclusion. Your conclusion ties all your research together and proves your thesis. It should not be a restatement of your introduction or a copy-and-paste of your thesis.

A strong conclusion briefly outlines the key evidence discussed in the body of an essay and directly ties it to the thesis to show how the evidence proves or disproves the main argument of your research.

Countless great essays have been written only to be derailed by vague, weakly worded conclusions. Don't let your next essay become one of those.     

6. Build a Solid Thesis to Support Your Arguments

A thesis is the main pillar of an essay. By selecting a specific thesis, you'll be able to develop arguments to support your central opinion. Consider writing about a unique experience or your own particular view of a topic .

Your thesis should be clear and logical, but it should also be debatable. Otherwise, it might be difficult to support it with compelling arguments.

7. Develop an Interesting Opening Paragraph to Hook In Readers from the Get-Go

No matter how you begin your essay, you must strive to capture the reader's interest immediately. If your opening paragraph doesn't catch the eye and engage the brain, any attempt at persuasion may end before the essay even starts. 

The beginning of your essay is crucial for setting the stage for your thesis.

8. Always Remember to Edit and Proofread Your Essay

Any decent writer will tell you that writing is really rewriting. A good academic essay will inevitably go through multiple drafts as it slowly takes shape. When you arrive at a final draft, you must make sure that it is as close to perfect as possible.

This means subjecting your essay to close and comprehensive editing and proofreading processes. In other words, you must read your paper as many times as necessary to eliminate all grammar/punctuation mistakes and typos.

It is helpful to have a third party review your work. Consider consulting a peer or professional editing service. Keep in mind that professional editors are able to help you identify underdeveloped arguments and unnecessarily wordy language, and provide other feedback.

Get Critical Feedback on Your Writing

Hire an expert academic editor , or get a free sample, 9. when developing your essay's main body, build strong and relevant arguments.

Every sentence in the main body of your paper should explain and support your thesis. When deciding how much evidence to include in an academic essay, a good guideline is to include at least three main supporting arguments.

Those main supporting arguments, in turn, require support in the form of relevant facts, figures, examples, analogies, and observations. 

You will need to engage in appropriate research to accomplish this. To organize your research efforts, you may want to develop a list of good research questions . 

10. Choose the Format of Your Essay before Writing It

The final shape that your essay takes depends a great deal on what kind of format you use. Popular college essay format types include the Modern Language Association of America ( MLA ), American Psychological Association ( APA ), and Chicago Manual of Style ( Chicago style).

These formats govern everything from capitalization rules to source citation. Often, professors dictate a specific format for your essay. If they do not, you should choose the format that best suits your field.

11. Create Clear Transitions between Your Ideas

Although unnecessary transition words are the enemy of clarity and concision, they can be invaluable tools when it comes to separating and connecting the different sections of your essay. 

Not only do they help you express your ideas but they also bring a cohesive structure to your sentences and a pleasant flow to your writing. Just be sure that you are using the right transition words for the right purpose and to the proper effect.

12. Always Include an Organized Reference Page at the End of Your Essay

As a key component of MLA, APA, and Chicago Style formatting, the reference or Works Cited page is an essential part of any academic essay.

Regardless of the format used, the reference page must be well organized and easy to read so that your audience can see exactly where your outside information came from. 

To produce a properly formatted reference page, you may have to familiarize yourself with specialized phrases and abbreviations, such as " et al ." 

FAQs

13. Use Inclusive Language

Incorporating inclusive language in your academic writing ensures that your work is respectful and accessible to all readers. Use gender-neutral pronouns like "they/them" and replace gender-specific terms with inclusive alternatives, such as "firefighter" instead of "fireman." 

You can also respect cultural diversity by avoiding stereotypes and generalizations, specifying details like "Japanese, Thai, and Indian cuisine" rather than "Asian cuisine." Engaging with diverse audiences for feedback and staying updated on inclusive language practices will help you continuously improve your writing.

How to Write a Good Hook for an Essay

The key to a good hook is to introduce an unexplored or absorbing line of inquiry in your introduction that addresses the main point of your thesis. 

By carefully choosing your language and slowly revealing details, you can build reader anticipation for what follows. 

Much like an actual worm-baited fishing hook, a successful hook will lure and capture readers, allowing the writer to "reel them in."

How to Get Better at Writing Essays

You can get better at writing essays the same way that you improve at anything else: practice, practice, practice! However, there are a few ways that you can improve your writing quickly so you can turn in a quality academic essay on time.

In addition to following the 13 essay tips and guidelines above, you can familiarize yourself with a few common practices and structures for essay development. 

Great writing techniques for essays include brainstorming and tree diagrams, especially when coming up with a topic for your thesis statement. Becoming familiar with different structures for organizing your essay (order of importance, chronological, etc.) is also extremely helpful.

How to Write a Good Introduction for an Essay

To learn how to write a good essay, you must also learn how to write a good introduction. 

Most effective essay introductions begin with relatively broad and general subject matter and then gradually narrow in focus and scope until they arrive at something extremely specific: the thesis. This is why writers tend to place their thesis statements at the very end of their introductory paragraph(s).

Because they are generally broad and often relate only tangentially to an essay's main point, there is virtually no limit on what the beginning of a good introduction can look like. However, writers still tend to rely on somewhat cliché opening sentences, such as quotations and rhetorical questions.

How to Write a Good Conclusion for an Essay

Briefly put, a good conclusion does two things. It wraps up any loose ends and drives home the main point of your essay. 

To learn how to write a good conclusion, you will want to ensure that no unanswered questions remain in the reader's mind. A good conclusion will restate the thesis and reinforce the essay's main supporting points.

Take Your Essay from Good to Great

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Scribendi's in-house editors work with writers from all over the globe to perfect their writing. They know that no piece of writing is complete without a professional edit, and they love to see a good piece of writing turn into a great one after the editing process. Scribendi's in-house editors are unrivaled in both experience and education, having collectively edited millions of words and obtained nearly 20 degrees collectively. They love consuming caffeinated beverages, reading books of various genres, and relaxing in quiet, dimly lit spaces.

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what do you learn from writing an essay

Literacy Ideas

Essay Writing: A complete guide for students and teachers

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P LANNING, PARAGRAPHING AND POLISHING: FINE-TUNING THE PERFECT ESSAY

Essay writing is an essential skill for every student. Whether writing a particular academic essay (such as persuasive, narrative, descriptive, or expository) or a timed exam essay, the key to getting good at writing is to write. Creating opportunities for our students to engage in extended writing activities will go a long way to helping them improve their skills as scribes.

But, putting the hours in alone will not be enough to attain the highest levels in essay writing. Practice must be meaningful. Once students have a broad overview of how to structure the various types of essays, they are ready to narrow in on the minor details that will enable them to fine-tune their work as a lean vehicle of their thoughts and ideas.

Visual Writing

In this article, we will drill down to some aspects that will assist students in taking their essay writing skills up a notch. Many ideas and activities can be integrated into broader lesson plans based on essay writing. Often, though, they will work effectively in isolation – just as athletes isolate physical movements to drill that are relevant to their sport. When these movements become second nature, they can be repeated naturally in the context of the game or in our case, the writing of the essay.

THE ULTIMATE NONFICTION WRITING TEACHING RESOURCE

essay writing | nonfiction writing unit | Essay Writing: A complete guide for students and teachers | literacyideas.com

  • 270  pages of the most effective teaching strategies
  • 50+   digital tools  ready right out of the box
  • 75   editable resources  for student   differentiation  
  • Loads of   tricks and tips  to add to your teaching tool bag
  • All explanations are reinforced with  concrete examples.
  • Links to  high-quality video  tutorials
  • Clear objectives  easy to match to the demands of your curriculum

Planning an essay

essay writing | how to prepare for an essay | Essay Writing: A complete guide for students and teachers | literacyideas.com

The Boys Scouts’ motto is famously ‘Be Prepared’. It’s a solid motto that can be applied to most aspects of life; essay writing is no different. Given the purpose of an essay is generally to present a logical and reasoned argument, investing time in organising arguments, ideas, and structure would seem to be time well spent.

Given that essays can take a wide range of forms and that we all have our own individual approaches to writing, it stands to reason that there will be no single best approach to the planning stage of essay writing. That said, there are several helpful hints and techniques we can share with our students to help them wrestle their ideas into a writable form. Let’s take a look at a few of the best of these:

BREAK THE QUESTION DOWN: UNDERSTAND YOUR ESSAY TOPIC.

Whether students are tackling an assignment that you have set for them in class or responding to an essay prompt in an exam situation, they should get into the habit of analyzing the nature of the task. To do this, they should unravel the question’s meaning or prompt. Students can practice this in class by responding to various essay titles, questions, and prompts, thereby gaining valuable experience breaking these down.

Have students work in groups to underline and dissect the keywords and phrases and discuss what exactly is being asked of them in the task. Are they being asked to discuss, describe, persuade, or explain? Understanding the exact nature of the task is crucial before going any further in the planning process, never mind the writing process .

BRAINSTORM AND MIND MAP WHAT YOU KNOW:

Once students have understood what the essay task asks them, they should consider what they know about the topic and, often, how they feel about it. When teaching essay writing, we so often emphasize that it is about expressing our opinions on things, but for our younger students what they think about something isn’t always obvious, even to themselves.

Brainstorming and mind-mapping what they know about a topic offers them an opportunity to uncover not just what they already know about a topic, but also gives them a chance to reveal to themselves what they think about the topic. This will help guide them in structuring their research and, later, the essay they will write . When writing an essay in an exam context, this may be the only ‘research’ the student can undertake before the writing, so practicing this will be even more important.

RESEARCH YOUR ESSAY

The previous step above should reveal to students the general direction their research will take. With the ubiquitousness of the internet, gone are the days of students relying on a single well-thumbed encyclopaedia from the school library as their sole authoritative source in their essay. If anything, the real problem for our students today is narrowing down their sources to a manageable number. Students should use the information from the previous step to help here. At this stage, it is important that they:

●      Ensure the research material is directly relevant to the essay task

●      Record in detail the sources of the information that they will use in their essay

●      Engage with the material personally by asking questions and challenging their own biases

●      Identify the key points that will be made in their essay

●      Group ideas, counterarguments, and opinions together

●      Identify the overarching argument they will make in their own essay.

Once these stages have been completed the student is ready to organise their points into a logical order.

WRITING YOUR ESSAY

There are a number of ways for students to organize their points in preparation for writing. They can use graphic organizers , post-it notes, or any number of available writing apps. The important thing for them to consider here is that their points should follow a logical progression. This progression of their argument will be expressed in the form of body paragraphs that will inform the structure of their finished essay.

The number of paragraphs contained in an essay will depend on a number of factors such as word limits, time limits, the complexity of the question etc. Regardless of the essay’s length, students should ensure their essay follows the Rule of Three in that every essay they write contains an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Generally speaking, essay paragraphs will focus on one main idea that is usually expressed in a topic sentence that is followed by a series of supporting sentences that bolster that main idea. The first and final sentences are of the most significance here with the first sentence of a paragraph making the point to the reader and the final sentence of the paragraph making the overall relevance to the essay’s argument crystal clear. 

Though students will most likely be familiar with the broad generic structure of essays, it is worth investing time to ensure they have a clear conception of how each part of the essay works, that is, of the exact nature of the task it performs. Let’s review:

Common Essay Structure

Introduction: Provides the reader with context for the essay. It states the broad argument that the essay will make and informs the reader of the writer’s general perspective and approach to the question.

Body Paragraphs: These are the ‘meat’ of the essay and lay out the argument stated in the introduction point by point with supporting evidence.

Conclusion: Usually, the conclusion will restate the central argument while summarising the essay’s main supporting reasons before linking everything back to the original question.

ESSAY WRITING PARAGRAPH WRITING TIPS

essay writing | 1 How to write paragraphs | Essay Writing: A complete guide for students and teachers | literacyideas.com

●      Each paragraph should focus on a single main idea

●      Paragraphs should follow a logical sequence; students should group similar ideas together to avoid incoherence

●      Paragraphs should be denoted consistently; students should choose either to indent or skip a line

●      Transition words and phrases such as alternatively , consequently , in contrast should be used to give flow and provide a bridge between paragraphs.

HOW TO EDIT AN ESSAY

essay writing | essay editing tips | Essay Writing: A complete guide for students and teachers | literacyideas.com

Students shouldn’t expect their essays to emerge from the writing process perfectly formed. Except in exam situations and the like, thorough editing is an essential aspect in the writing process. 

Often, students struggle with this aspect of the process the most. After spending hours of effort on planning, research, and writing the first draft, students can be reluctant to go back over the same terrain they have so recently travelled. It is important at this point to give them some helpful guidelines to help them to know what to look out for. The following tips will provide just such help: 

One Piece at a Time: There is a lot to look out for in the editing process and often students overlook aspects as they try to juggle too many balls during the process. One effective strategy to combat this is for students to perform a number of rounds of editing with each focusing on a different aspect. For example, the first round could focus on content, the second round on looking out for word repetition (use a thesaurus to help here), with the third attending to spelling and grammar.

Sum It Up: When reviewing the paragraphs they have written, a good starting point is for students to read each paragraph and attempt to sum up its main point in a single line. If this is not possible, their readers will most likely have difficulty following their train of thought too and the paragraph needs to be overhauled.

Let It Breathe: When possible, encourage students to allow some time for their essay to ‘breathe’ before returning to it for editing purposes. This may require some skilful time management on the part of the student, for example, a student rush-writing the night before the deadline does not lend itself to effective editing. Fresh eyes are one of the sharpest tools in the writer’s toolbox.

Read It Aloud: This time-tested editing method is a great way for students to identify mistakes and typos in their work. We tend to read things more slowly when reading aloud giving us the time to spot errors. Also, when we read silently our minds can often fill in the gaps or gloss over the mistakes that will become apparent when we read out loud.

Phone a Friend: Peer editing is another great way to identify errors that our brains may miss when reading our own work. Encourage students to partner up for a little ‘you scratch my back, I scratch yours’.

Use Tech Tools: We need to ensure our students have the mental tools to edit their own work and for this they will need a good grasp of English grammar and punctuation. However, there are also a wealth of tech tools such as spellcheck and grammar checks that can offer a great once-over option to catch anything students may have missed in earlier editing rounds.

essay writing | Perfect essay writing for students | Essay Writing: A complete guide for students and teachers | literacyideas.com

Putting the Jewels on Display: While some struggle to edit, others struggle to let go. There comes a point when it is time for students to release their work to the reader. They must learn to relinquish control after the creation is complete. This will be much easier to achieve if the student feels that they have done everything in their control to ensure their essay is representative of the best of their abilities and if they have followed the advice here, they should be confident they have done so.

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ESSAY WRITING video tutorials

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Home › Study Tips › How To Write an Academic Essay? 9 Amazing Tips

100 Essay Writing Tips for Students (How to write a good essay)

  • Published September 7, 2022

what do you learn from writing an essay

Are you searching for the best tips to create the most compelling essay? We’ve compiled some of the best essay writing tips so that you don’t have to search far and wide to learn how to write a good essay. Take a look at these top 100 essay writing tips!

100 Essay Writing Tips

#1 Analyse the question 

#2 Define your argument

#3 Use reputable sources of evidence to support your claims (i.e. not Wikipedia)

#4 Share different perspectives

#5 On draft number 1, don’t worry about spelling, punctuation or grammar!

#6 Rewrite draft 2 on a new blank document 

#7 Use transitional phrases and words 

#8 Divide your essay into three main parts: introduction, main body, conclusion

#9 End your essay on a relevant quote 

#10 Check your spelling, punctuation and grammar in your final draft 

#11 Cite your sources correctly (check the guidelines or ask your teacher)

#12 Avoid using conjunctions at the start of sentences e.g. And / But / Also

#13 Put direct quotes in quotation marks, citing them correctly

#14 Avoid plagiarism (your teacher or the marker will know if you have copied)

#15 Rephrase your research – put it into your own words

#16 Avoid the repetition of phrases and words

#17 Use a thesaurus to find synonyms for words you have used often 

#18 Provide statistics to support your claims

#19 Include facts to support your arguments 

#20 Use emotive language where appropriate to write a compelling argument

what do you learn from writing an essay

#21 Avoid spending too much time on your introduction and conclusion 

#22 Get somebody else to proofread it

#23 Get feedback from friends and family (or even a teacher)

#24 Don’t be afraid to delete irrelevant points and evidence 

#25 Avoid slang and colloquial language 

#26 Use formal language throughout your essay 

#27 Double space your essay (check essay requirements to ensure you format it correctly)

#28 Use appropriate titles and headings 

#29 Use an appropriate font (Times New Roman, size 12 is the most common, acceptable font)

#30 Avoid images unless you have been asked to use them 

#31 Avoid talking about yourself or providing anecdotal information 

#32 Avoid cliches, try to be original in your writing 

#33 Keep your introduction and conclusion short 

#34 Stick to the word count (universities usually allow 10% over or under)

#35 Distribute the word count appropriately across your introduction, main body and conclusion (e.g. 10/80/10)

#36 Read it out loud to spot errors 

#37 Make sure your writing is clear and concise 

#38 Avoid citing sources in your bibliography that are irrelevant 

#39 Use grammar checking software to check for grammar errors

#40 Don’t depend solely on grammar checking software (because it’s a computer, it may get context wrong)

what do you learn from writing an essay

#41 Read your work critically – have you answered the question?

#42 Don’t get distracted by what you WANT to write, focus on answering the question

#43 Check the grading criteria and set your goals – if you want an A, what do you need to do to get there?

#44 Create a checklist based on the grading criteria

#45 Create a timetable to write your essay and plan your time wisely

#46 Plan your writing during times when you’re least likely to get disturbed

#47 Work in a place where you are least likely to get distracted 

#48 Write your essay in 25-minute increments and take a break after each one

#49 Have snacks and refreshments to hand

#50 Take a break after writing each draft, for example, 2 days where you don’t look at it (this will allow you to process information and go back to your essay with fresh eyes)

#51 Remember that stress doesn’t help – you’re most likely going to write well when you’re the least stressed. 

#52 If you’re struggling to write your essay at home, do it in a study group or at the library. You’ll likely be more productive surrounded by other people who are working, too. 

#53 Don’t leave it to the last minute – write several drafts in good time

#54 Plan your final week to work on formatting only (do the bulk of the work way before the final week)

#55 Swap work with a friend and give each other feedback, or do this in a group

#56 Make sure you know the submission criteria way before submitting e.g. the format of your essay, rules for submission, etc.

#57 Define the type of essay you’re writing – is it argumentative, persuasive, expository, admissions, compare/contrast, analytical or narrative? 

#58 Brainstorm the essay before writing it

#59 Keep your notes handy 

#60 Identify the gaps in your knowledge before writing 

what do you learn from writing an essay

#61 Before you begin writing, do as much productive research as you can

#62 Read relevant books and reputable articles to learn more about your topic

#63 Write notes in the form of short answers to your question, it will be easier to put them into your essay later on 

#64 If you’re finding it difficult to answer the question, more research is needed 

#65 Identify your WHY – Why do you need to write this essay? What will happen if you get an A or win the essay competition? Why is it important to you? 

#66 When essay writing is becoming a struggle, remember your WHY to keep motivated 

#67 In your introduction, remember to clearly state your topic and your main points 

#68 Avoid explaining your points in your introduction (you do that in the main body)

#69 For every point or opinion you introduce, be sure to include some evidence and an explanation

#70 Avoid filling your essay up with opinions with no supporting evidence

#71 Explain your points clearly and concisely 

#72 Stay on topic 

#73 When proofreading, consider if the essay sparks the reader’s interest. If it doesn’t, see what you can do to improve this. 

#74 Double check you have used paragraphs correctly 

#75 Ensure each argument has a single focus and a clear connection to the thesis statement

#76 Ensure you have clear transitions between your sentences and paragraphs

#77 Ensure your essay has an informative and compelling style 

#78 Try using these phrases such as: In view of; in light of; considering

#79 Use one of the following sentence structure when writing about your evidence “According to…” “…. stated that, “Referring to the views of…”

#80 Maintain an unbiased voice in your writing – your goal is to present some intriguing arguments to the reader

what do you learn from writing an essay

#81 Try using phrases such as “In order to…”, “To that end…”,  “To this end…”

#82 Use phrases like these to emphasize a point: In other words; to put it another way; that is; to put it more simply

#83 Other phrases you could use are: Similarly; likewise; another key fact to remember; as well as; an equally significant aspect of

#84 When comparing ideas or opinions, use phrases such as: By contrast; in comparison; then again; that said; yet

#85 Use these phrases to demonstrate a positive aspect of something: Despite this; provided that; nonetheless

#86 Another way to add contrast is using these phrases: Importantly; significantly; notably; another key point

#87 When giving examples, try using phrases like these: For instance; to give an illustration of; to exemplify; to demonstrate; as evidence; to elucidate

#88 Try using these phrases in your conclusion: In conclusion; to conclude; to summarise; in sum; in the final analysis; on close analysis

#89 This phrase can be used to highlight the most compelling argument in your research “the most compelling argument is…”

#90 When explaining the significance of something, use one of these phrases: Therefore; this suggests that; it can be seen that; the consequence is

#91 When summarizing, you can use some of these phrases: Above all; chiefly; especially; most significantly; it should be noted

#92 You might want to use the phrase “All things considered” when summarizing towards the end of your essay 

#93 Avoid using Wikipedia 

#94 Remember that the marker will always check to see if you have copied your work – so don’t do it

#95 Try your best

#96 Remember that writing an essay is also an opportunity to learn 

#97 Build your vocabulary while writing by using a dictionary to replace common words

#98 Make sure you understand the definition of the words you have used 

#99 Work hard but remember to take breaks 

#100 Submit your essay on time! 

what do you learn from writing an essay

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Daily Writing Tips

How to write an essay for a scholarship: a step-by-step guide.

Crafting an essay for a scholarship is your chance to show why you’re a worthy investment. It’s not just another essay; it’s a personal narrative that embodies your aspirations and showcases your potential.

In this step-by-step guide, we’ll lead you through each part of the scholarship essay process: understanding the prompt, outlining your thoughts, engaging introductions, strong body paragraphs, impactful conclusions, and essential revisions. Plus, we’ll touch on those final checks before you hit submit.

Ready to turn your educational dreams into a compelling story? Let’s begin the journey of writing an essay that might just change the course of your future.

What Is a Scholarship Essay and Why Is It Important?

A scholarship essay is a written piece you submit as part of your college or university scholarship application. It’s your opportunity to demonstrate to the scholarship committee why you are the best candidate for the award.

The scholarship essay is important because it allows the committee to get to know you beyond your grades and test scores. It lets you share your personal story, accomplishments, and future plans.

What Are Scholarship Essay Prompts Asking For?

what do you learn from writing an essay

Scholarship essay prompts typically ask you to discuss your academic achievements, extracurricular activities, community service, leadership roles, or any challenges you’ve overcome. The prompt will guide you in showcasing your unique qualifications. For example, a prompt might ask you to describe a time when you demonstrated leadership or to explain how a particular experience has shaped your academic and career goals.

How Can You Plan Your Scholarship Essay Effectively?

Effective planning is the key to writing a strong scholarship essay. Here are the steps to follow:

1. Read the prompt carefully: Start by thoroughly reviewing to understand the requirements and instructions of the essay prompt. Make sure you know exactly what the prompt is asking you to do.

2. Brainstorm experiences and accomplishments: Reflect on your academic, extracurricular, and personal experiences that might help explain the prompt. Think about your achievements, the challenges you’ve overcome, and how you’ve made a difference in your community.

3. Develop a thesis or central theme: Based on your brainstorming, determine a thesis or central theme that will help focus your essay. This statement should explain the main point you want the scholarship committee to understand.

4. Create an outline: Organize your essay by making an outline. Include an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. This will help you write a structured and coherent essay.

5. Do additional research: Depending on the prompt, you may need to research relevant information to support your essay. For example, if the prompt asks you to discuss a social issue, you may need to research facts and statistics to support your points.

6. Allow time for writing and revising: Don’t wait until the last minute to write your essay. Give yourself enough time to write a draft, get feedback, and make revisions . Rushing through the process can result in a weaker essay.

How Do You Create a Compelling Introduction for Your Scholarship Essay?

The introduction is the first thing the scholarship committee will read, so making a strong impression is important. Here are the steps to create a compelling introduction:

1. Hook the reader: Start your introduction with a captivating hook , such as a quote, anecdote, or intriguing statement. This will immediately engage the reader and make them want to continue reading.

2. Provide context: Offer relevant background information to give the reader context about who you are and your experiences. This could include details about your academic background, extracurricular activities, or personal interests.

3. State your central thesis : Clearly articulate your essay’s main point or argument, aligning it with the scholarship prompt. This thesis statement should be a concise and clear statement of the key idea you will explore in your essay.

4. Outline your approach: Give the reader a sense of how you will develop your essay’s central theme throughout the body paragraphs. This can be a brief overview of the main points you will cover.

5. Express your passion: Convey your enthusiasm, motivation, and personal investment in the topic and your pursuit of the scholarship. This will help the committee understand why this scholarship is important to you.

6. Keep it concise: Aim for 3-5 engaging sentences that introduce your essay in a manner that is easy to understand and compelling. The introduction should be long enough to capture the reader’s attention but not so long that it becomes overwhelming.

What Makes a Strong Body for Your Scholarship Essay?

what do you learn from writing an essay

The body of your scholarship essay is where you will expand on your central theme and provide evidence to support your points. Provide specific examples and evidence from your experiences to support your arguments. This could include details about your academic achievements, extracurricular involvement, community service, or personal challenges you’ve overcome.

Use the body paragraphs to showcase your unique qualities and how they make you a strong candidate for the scholarship. This could include your leadership skills, problem-solving abilities, creativity, or dedication to your studies. Keep your essay logically organized and focused on the main point you want to make, with each paragraph building on the previous one and contributing to the overall argument you’re making.

Vary your sentence structure to keep your writing engaging and easy to read. Alternate between shorter and longer sentences, and help guide the reader through your essay. Back up your claims and arguments with relevant facts, statistics, or expert opinions to strengthen the credibility of your essay.

How Should You Conclude Your Scholarship Essay?

The conclusion of your scholarship essay is your final opportunity to make an impression on the committee. In the conclusion, restate your thesis or central theme in a clear and understandable way. This will remind the reader of the main point you’ve been focused on throughout your essay.

Briefly summarize the key points and arguments you made in the body of your essay. This will help reinforce your main ideas and leave a lasting impression on the reader. Explain why the scholarship is important to you and how it will help you achieve your academic and career goals. Demonstrate your passion and commitment to making the most of the scholarship opportunity.

what do you learn from writing an essay

Conclude your essay with a strong, memorable statement that leaves the reader with a positive impression of you as a candidate. This could be a call to action, an inspirational quote, or a final reflection on the significance of the scholarship.

How Can You Revise Your Scholarship Essay for Maximum Impact?

After you’ve written your first draft, it’s important to revise and edit your essay so it’s as strong as it can be. Carefully read through your essay to catch any spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors. Even small mistakes can ruin the overall quality of your essay.

Ask someone you trust, such as a teacher, mentor, or family member, to review your essay and provide feedback. They may be able to locate areas for improvement or offer a fresh perspective. Ask them to review your essay’s organization to ensure your introduction, body, and conclusion flow logically. Don’t be afraid to rearrange or add/remove paragraphs to strengthen the overall structure.

Examine your essay’s central arguments and claims. Are they supported with sufficient evidence and examples? Look for ways to develop your points further. Review your writing style and make adjustments to improve clarity, concision, and engagement. This could involve varying sentence structure, eliminating unnecessary words, or using more vivid and descriptive language.

Double-check that your essay fully addresses the scholarship prompt and showcases your qualifications in a way that aligns with the committee’s expectations. Don’t be afraid to make multiple rounds of revisions. The more you refine your essay, the stronger it will be.

what do you learn from writing an essay

What Are the Final Steps Before Submitting Your Scholarship Essay?

Once you’ve completed your revisions, there are a few final steps to take before submitting your scholarship essay. Take advantage of sources that provide essay and paper help to add to and ensure the quality you have written is up to the scholarship committee’s standards. Also, always be sure to review everything 

1. Follow instructions: Carefully review the scholarship guidelines and instructions to ensure you’ve followed all the requirements, including formatting, length, and submission procedures.

2. Double-check formatting: Ensure your essay is properly formatted according to the scholarship guidelines, including margins, font size, and spacing.

3. Proofread again : Do one final proofread to catch any lingering errors or typos. It’s easy to miss mistakes when you’ve been working on the essay for a long time.

4. Submit before the deadline: Don’t wait until the last minute to submit your essay. Allow plenty of time to complete the application process and submit your materials before the deadline. 5. Make copies: Keep a copy of your final essay for your records. This can be helpful if you need to refer back to it or make adjustments for future scholarship applications.

Here are some dos and don’ts for effective scholarship essay writing

  • Understand the Prompt: Carefully read and analyze the scholarship prompt to ensure your essay directly addresses the requested topic or criteria.
  • Showcase Your Unique Qualities: Use the essay as an opportunity to highlight your distinctive experiences, skills, goals, and passions that make you a standout candidate.
  • Organize Your Essay Logically: Craft a clear and well-structured essay with an engaging introduction, cohesive body paragraphs, and a compelling conclusion.
  • Support Your Claims: Back up your key points and arguments with specific examples, anecdotes, and evidence from your experiences.
  • Maintain a Positive and Enthusiastic Tone**: Convey your enthusiasm for the scholarship and your commitment to making the most of the opportunity.
  • Proofread and Edit Carefully: Review your essay multiple times to catch any grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors.
  • Follow All Formatting Requirements: Adhere to the prescribed page limits, font sizes, and other formatting guidelines specified by the scholarship provider.

what do you learn from writing an essay

Don’ts

  • Don’t Repeat the Prompt: Avoid simply restating the prompt in your essay. Instead, use your unique voice and perspective.
  • Don’t Make Broad, Unsupported Statements: Avoid making claims or generalizations without providing concrete evidence or examples to support them.
  • Don’t Use Clichés or Overly Formal Language: Steer clear of overused phrases and maintain a natural, conversational tone throughout your essay.
  • Don’t Exaggerate or Embellish: Be honest and authentic in your writing . Avoid making claims that you cannot substantiate.
  • Don’t Neglect the Conclusion: Don’t treat the conclusion as an afterthought. Use it to leave a lasting, positive impression on the reader.
  • Don’t Miss Deadlines or Requirements: Ensure you submit your essay by the specified deadline and adhere to all other requirements outlined by the scholarship provider.
  • Don’t Plagiarize: Ensure that your essay is entirely your own work and that you properly cite any external sources you use.

Following these dos and don’ts can help you craft a compelling scholarship essay that stands out from the competition.

Writing a good scholarship essay is important to get the funding you need for your education and career goals. By following the steps in this guide – understanding the prompt, brainstorming your experiences, writing a strong introduction and body, and leaving a lasting conclusion – you can create an essay that makes you stand out as an excellent candidate.

The essay is not just about listing your accomplishments – it’s about showing who you are as a person and why you are the ideal recipient. Infuse it with enthusiasm, personal stories, and a vision for your future. This will help you craft an essay that leaves a lasting impression.

As you prepare to submit your scholarship essay, be proud of your work and confident that you’ve presented your best self.

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More From Forbes

How to make money writing – 6 ideas.

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Learn how to get paid to write for beginners and much more.

Strategies For Earning Money By Writing

Ghost writing, copywriting, technical writing, social media writing, magazine and newspaper writing, frequently asked questions (faqs).

Do you have a way with words? You could turn your prowess with pronouns, verbs and adjectives into a lucrative side hustle when you learn how to make money by writing. Many large and small websites hire freelance writers to produce their content, offering you a platform to share your insights and an opportunity to make some extra dough. Even those who have never written anything besides personal social media posts or journal entries can find a place to sell their writing. This list provides a step-by-step guide to how to earn money by writing and will answer all your questions, whether you’re a beginning or veteran scribe.

You can make money by writing in many different ways, including blogging, ghost writing, penning reviews and working for small businesses. You have a greater chance of being published by pursuing several options simultaneously instead of prioritizing one. It’s like baiting multiple fishhooks. The more you cast, the better your odds of pulling something in.

You will make the most money by working for bigger sites and businesses, and you can do nearly all of it remotely. Ghostwriting pays better than blogging because businesses want more polished, focused writing. Blogging, however, may take less time and allow you the chance to complete more assignments. Journalism gives you greater opportunities for creativity in your work, and social media writing appeals to those who like pithy, funny writing. Copywriting and technical writing can be drier, but they also provide higher payment and steadier work than other writing. Here is a breakdown of the main ways to make money while writing.

Blogging means publishing content online written especially for that publication. Individuals, businesses, journalists, influencers, homemakers and many more publish blogs, which are often but not always written in first person. Anyone can write their own blog and publish it through a self-publishing platform, such as Medium, Blogger or WordPress.

The time and effort required for blogging depends on what you write about. For instance, if you run in your spare time and decide to start a running blog, you may be able to write several short blogs about running a race in under an hour. But if you want to explore the ethical implications of artificial intelligence using reliable sources, it could take hours to finish one post. The better the writing and sourcing, the better a post will perform, so making the extra effort to be informed and publishing grammatically correct copy is always worth it.

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Best 5% interest savings accounts of 2024.

You don’t need experience to become a blogger. Anyone can do it, though it may take a while for you to settle into a style and voice that becomes popular. You need readers to make money on a blog. People make money on blogs in several ways:

  • Advertising : You can sign on with a blogging ad network or sell your own ads to local businesses to make money.
  • Sponsorship : You can write about a sponsor’s products in return for money, though you must disclose that you received compensation for your post.
  • Syndication : You can sign on with syndication networks to distribute your blog on larger networks that will pay for your work.

How much can you make from blogging? The answer varies according to how often you publish, what type of payment method you use, and the popularity of your work. Some top bloggers make six figures per year. Sponsorships with big companies like Walmart that pay people to hawk their goods can be lucrative, paying thousands of dollars. But most bloggers make a few hundred dollars per month, enough to pay off a car or credit card bill but not enough to live on.

Blogging, ghost writing, copywriting, technical writing, social media writing and newspaper and ... [+] magazine writing are six of the most lucrative ways to earn money writing.

Ghost writing is the most lucrative type of writing. Ghost writers channel the voice of a third party, writing as though they were that person or business and presenting their ideas in first person. Businesses and thought leaders use ghost writers to take their thoughts and ideas and present them in a prettier package.

Ghost writing can take many forms. You might produce communications for a company CEO or create a book about an important event for a historical society. Every job is a little different. Ghost writing usually requires several years of writing experience, though if you are a subject matter expert on something—for example, if you are a nurse asked to write articles for a nursing degree program—then you may be able to get a job without writing experience. Time spent on an assignment will vary, but it takes longer than blogging. Ghost writing demands high-level clarity, grammar and readability.

You can make money by earning an hourly or per-project rate from the client. Most ghost writing gigs pay well, from $50 per hour and more. Some ghost writers pull in six figures per year, though those have extensive experience. To get started, search LinkedIn for the words “freelance writer” or “writer.” Or think about companies you would like to work with and send an email to the hiring manager introducing yourself and spelling out your expertise. You can also sign on with agencies that hire out ghost writers to businesses. Again, send your resume and a letter of introduction (LOI) to the agency hiring manager or search job ads online.

Copywriting is similar to ghostwriting, but sometimes you will receive a byline and the writing is not always presented in first person. Copywriting includes copy on businesses’ websites, material for pamphlets, mission statements, advertising, newsletters and more. People with copywriting skills are persuasive and clear writers good at conveying information and encouraging sales.

You can start with simple copywriting jobs and work your way up to higher-paying ones. Experience is required for bigger companies, but small businesses around your town might hire an inexperienced writer. You can begin by approaching them and offering to, for instance, rewrite their website or start a monthly newsletter. As you gain knowledge and confidence, you can reach out online to larger places. Follow freelance job boards to find new opportunities, interact with companies on LinkedIn to get your name out there, and send LOIs to hiring managers wherever you want to work.

You can get a little creative to find jobs, too. Find newsletters for companies you love or share expertise with. Send them an LOI outlining your subject matter background and what you could contribute. Copywriting work requires precision and often background research, and it takes longer than many other types of writing. You can make a good living as, like with ghost writing, clients tend to pay on the higher end of the payscale for copywriters, often $40 per hour and more. The best copywriters can make more than $150,000 per year.

Technical writing refers to communicating information about niche topics, such as medicine, engineering, manufacturing or construction. It can also encompass things like the directions to put something together or operate an electronic device. The aim is to create digestible, informative content while eliminating jargon.

Technical writing requires a great deal of writing experience, but it can be lucrative. Few people have the skills to boil down information and serve it back up in the right format. It can take hours to finish even a short writing assignment because you need to get every word right and leave out extraneous ones. But most jobs are paid per hour ($60 and up for experienced writers), so the time and effort pay off.

A lot of technical writing jobs are full time. But you can find part-time opportunities using job sites such as LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster and more. Taking courses in technical writing could be a worthy investment, as that background will open up new opportunities and give you valuable experience.

Technical writing, a great way to earn money by writing, may involve simplifying jargon and ... [+] complexities for a lay audience.

Social media writing is a relatively new way to make money. Many businesses hire people to write captions on Instagram , video descriptions on YouTube , thought leadership posts on LinkedIn and much more. This is an excellent entry point for writers with little formal experience.

Social media writing pays more modestly than other types of business writing, anywhere from $15-$35 per hour. However, it takes less effort. You can often bang out lots of posts in an hour, and very little knowledge or experience is needed, beyond knowing the character limits for different social platforms. You can find jobs by looking at writing job sites or reaching out directly to businesses with LOIs. Try small businesses in your hometown first to get some examples for your resume before targeting more prominent places.

Magazine and newspaper writing is one of the more specialized forms of writing to make money. But if you have some training and are more interested in writing as a means of changing the world and informing people, it is a worthy pursuit. You can start by publishing pieces in hometown newspapers or niche magazines.

You won’t break the bank with journalism writing. Even some bigger papers and publications pay less than $1,000 per story, and you would need to string together a lot of assignments to make a living. But to make extra spending money and perhaps affect change, you can’t beat journalism. You will need to learn the publication’s style guide and adhere to it for pieces you submit. Editors make assignments, which you can get by pitching (sending a cold email) to the editor explaining your story idea and why you are the right person to write it.

Time and effort vary depending on the scope of the story. Many can be quite involved. Editors often prefer to work with people who have experience, so build up your resume with pitches to smaller publications first.

Bottom Line

Writing can be a fun way to make extra money, or you can even turn it into a high-paying career with the right experience. Whether you pen blogs, website copy or social media posts, you can find an outlet that’s “write” for you.

How Much Do Writers Make?

Writers can make a decent salary depending on their experience level and who they write for. How much writers make may depend on on where they work, how many clicks their work generates, and how long the job took. 

The salary range for a writer, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics , is a median of $73,690 per year, or $35.43 per hour. Income rises with higher experience levels. 

What Websites Pay You To Write?

You can find hundreds of websites that pay for writing. A few of the most popular include: 

The Penny Hoarder

Bustle  

Transitions Abroad

Vibrant Life

Scary Mommy

Paying websites look for writing they think will draw readers. Using search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, such as incorporating keywords that people search for, can generate higher traffic, so be sure to mention any SEO knowledge when you apply, as that will help your chances. The more views you generate, the more money the website makes. Create a portfolio of your past work that you can share when you apply for jobs that shows your best efforts. 

How Can You Get Paid To Write Reviews?

You can get paid to write reviews across a number of platforms for products ranging from books to vacuum cleaners. Some of the most popular include Get Reviewed , Kirkus , UserTesting and Amazon Vine , though note that you get paid in products for that site. 

To become a reviewer, you may need no experience at all for many sites. They value trustworthiness and honest feedback. Some hire people they find through online reviews they have already posted. Other sites require more extensive background in writing reviews. For instance, if you want to work for DotDash, one of the largest editorial operations on the web that runs lots of reviews across its sites, you will need writing experience for a major website and product expertise. 

How Can You Get Paid To Write Letters?

You can write letters and get paid by watching for these jobs on freelance sites such as Upwork , Contently , compose.ly and Fiverr , which serve as clearinghouses to hire writers for businesses. A business may need one letter or a series. You can gain repeat work if you do a good job. 

You may have seen TikTok and YouTube videos about writing handwritten notes for businesses and earning $5 per letter. This is a scam that has been debunked by multiple websites. You won’t find companies paying you a lot of money to write handwritten letters. They want polished, professional copy for communications with clients and customers, and you must have experience doing this type of work. It falls under copywriting and can pay $40 per hour or more. 

How Can You Get Paid To Write As A Beginner?

How can you get paid to write for beginners? Breaking in with little experience can be difficult. Some aspiring writers choose to take volunteer gigs to build their portfolio, but you can probably find low-paying work that will do the same for you. 

Search job boards such as Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Monster and LinkedIn. You can also start a blog of your own with no experience, though it will take time to monetize it using the strategies outlined above. You could also submit poetry or prose to literary magazines, which usually pay an honorarium, or submit finished essays to magazines or newspapers. As you gain experience, you can approach higher-paying markets. 

Toni Fitzgerald

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    Stay as concise as possible. Include anecdotal examples if it will help you make your point more clear. If you are writing a formal academic essay, avoid using first-person pronouns. 6. Pay attention to how you cite references. In ancient Greece, using other people's ideas was seen as the mark of a smart person.

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    Avoid transition words that don't add anything to the sentence and unnecessary wordiness that detracts from your argument. Furthermore, use the active voice instead of the passive whenever possible (e.g., "this study found" instead of "it was found by this study"). This will make your essay's tone clear and direct. 3.

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    Writing a body paragraph. The body of the essay is where you fully develop your argument. Each body paragraph should contain one key idea or claim, which is supported by relevant examples and evidence from the body of scholarly work on your topic (i.e. academic books and journal articles).

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    ESSAY WRITING PARAGRAPH WRITING TIPS. Each paragraph should focus on a single main idea. Paragraphs should follow a logical sequence; students should group similar ideas together to avoid incoherence. Paragraphs should be denoted consistently; students should choose either to indent or skip a line.

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    9. Self-Edit. Never EVER blow through a single draft of an essay and turn it in to your professor. One of the best essay writing skills you can develop is the ability to review and edit your essay for mistakes in grammar, typos, and logic. Here are some ways to go about the editing process.

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    100 Essay Writing Tips. #1 Analyse the question. #2 Define your argument. #3 Use reputable sources of evidence to support your claims (i.e. not Wikipedia) #4 Share different perspectives. #5 On draft number 1, don't worry about spelling, punctuation or grammar! #6 Rewrite draft 2 on a new blank document. #7 Use transitional phrases and words.

  17. How to write an essay

    An essay is a piece of non-fiction writing with a clear structure: an introduction, paragraphs with evidence and a conclusion.Writing an essay is an important skill in English and allows you to ...

  18. 7 Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills

    Here are some strategies for developing your own written communication: 1. Review grammar and spelling basics. Grammar and spelling form the foundation of good writing. Writing with proper grammar and spelling communicates your professionality and attention to detail to your reader. It also makes your writing easier to understand.

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    Include an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. This will help you write a structured and coherent essay. 5. Do additional research: Depending on the prompt, you may need to research relevant information to support your essay. For example, if the prompt asks you to discuss a social issue, you may need to research facts and ...

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    Once you decide on a time to write, you should try to stick to that time every day, as best you can. 3. Decide on Your Frequency of Writing. We get it: not everyone can write every day. Life is busy. But you should decide how many times you want to write per week.

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    Or, are you writing a solution paper, solving a problem? Sample topics include bullying, homelessness, pollution. Next, identify what you already know about this topic. Write a brief outline establishing what you want to argue on this topic. Establish the purpose of your argument. Establishing this before you start researching the topic will ...

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