How to Write an Essay – The Complete Guide with templates and checklist

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How to Write an Essay – The Complete Guide with templates and checklist

Essays are the most common type of assignment that students in any course encounter. If you are looking to learn how to write an essay as a beginner, read on from start to finish. By the end of the guide, you will have learned how you can write a killer essay all on your own.

What is an Essay?

An essay is a composition or focused piece of writing that provides evidence for a developed narrative or a given argument. Analysis and interpretation can also be done in an essay to enhance understanding and provide more insight into the argument being discussed. Essays are given as part of the workload for students in different study levels – from high school to university.

All academic essays are written with one goal in mind. They aim to persuade readers of a particular position or perspective through arguments. The length of an essay depends highly on the level of study and the course requirements.

Through essay writing, students can develop skills such as creative writing, analytical reasoning, writing, language, and so forth.

To write the best essay, a student needs to follow the stages of writing an essay, know the formats to follow, and understand the different types of essays they can write. Let’s delve into all of that and more.

The Three Stages of Writing an Essay

Academic writing is not an easy task because it requires a lot of concentration and dedication. Therefore, many students can get overwhelmed when they are required to write essays and any other assignments. Subdividing the work into different stages makes it easier to handle the work. Here are some three stages that students can use to write an essay with ease.

Stage one – Preparation stage

The first step to learn how to write an essay is to know how to prepare for one. The preparation stage is very important because it determines how well you will perform in the following stages.

Understand the essay prompt

To prepare for the essay, start by understanding the essay prompt. Please read it and comprehend what is required of you. Without answering the essay prompt, it doesn’t matter how good an essay you write. It will fail. When you understand what is required, ask yourself who your audience is. Who are you writing for? Understanding the audience will help you write for their level.

Choose a topic for the essay.

After you understand what is required of you and who you are writing for, you can choose your essay topic. Most students make the mistake of choosing a simple or boring essay topic because it is easy to write. We encourage you to choose an engaging or controversial topic that will keep your audience engaged, thrilled, and entertained by your writing. In our experience, essay topics that are engaging and interesting are the ones that perform better.

To come up with a good essay topic, use the brainstorming technique. Write different topics that come to mind. You can cluster the topics together based on relevance or the type of writing required for each. Clustering will help you to see the relationship between the topics and connections they might have.

When choosing the topic, also ensure that you know the scope of your writing. Will your essay be comprehensive or shallow? If it is deep, choose a broad topic that will give you the freedom to delve deep into research to unearth material for the paper.

The final tip on choosing an essay topic is that you choose a topic you are familiar with. It is much easier and interesting to write about a topic you are well versed in.

Conduct preliminary research

After choosing a topic you are comfortable with, then research follows. You can use different methods to research your essay based on the type of evidence you want to present in your paper. You should read sources like books, use the internet, conduct interviews where needed, use social media, and so much more.

Develop a thesis statement

A thesis statement is that one sentence that indicates what the paper will be about. Everything written in the essay should relate to the thesis statement. The thesis statement should be clear and concise. It is what gives the essay direction and structure. Which brings us to the next step in preparation – the outline

Create the essay outline

Come up with the outline of the essay. The outline provides a skeleton of the paper that you will be fleshing out as you write the essay. It is important to outline because it ensures your essay gets a logical flow and is properly organized. Some more benefits of outlining your essay include;

  • It helps you to organize your thoughts
  • The outline ensures that you do not forget anything that comes to mind
  • It gives you a clear picture of how ideas are related

Stage two – Writing

After you are done preparing, it is time to put pen to paper.

How to start an essay – The Introduction

The first step here is writing an introduction. The first impression you make to the reader counts. For your introduction to be effective, it should have the following;

A hook – a hook gets the reader interested in your writing. You can use many techniques to grab the reader’s attention based on the type of essay you are writing. The hook makes the reader interested in reading more of your essay.

Background information on your topic – present the reader with background information about the topic you have chosen to give context on why you choose it.

Include a thesis statement – a thesis statement presents the central focus of your essay. Everything else will relate to the thesis statement.

Body of the essay

The body paragraphs are where you present the evidence to support the thesis statement made in the introduction. In the essay’s body, you present, analyze, and interpret the information presented to support your argument or claim.

The length of the essay depends majorly on your level. For most high school essays, the body is usually three paragraphs long. Undergraduate essays can have 8 to 10 pages of body paragraphs depending on the required word count. Undergraduate essays are usually anywhere from 1500 to 5000 words but can be more or less.

The essay should have a clear and clean structure. To make it easy to read and follow-through, have subheadings in the body, especially when it is a big essay. Also, ensure that you make use of paragraphs in your writing.

How to conclude an essay – The Conclusion

The other important part of the essay is the conclusion. Many students do struggle with how to write a good conclusion. So what makes a good conclusion? It should include the following;

  1. Reinstatement of the thesis statement in light of the evidence produced in the paper.
  2. It should make connections between the different points presented in the body paragraphs of the essay.
  3. A good conclusion also states the outcomes of the arguments presented in the essay
  4. The conclusion can also explore the broader implications and importance of the topic.

An effective conclusion leaves the reader with a strong final impression of the essay and what was presented. The conclusion should not present new arguments or undermine the arguments that have been made. It is also advisable to stay away from conclusion terms such as “in conclusion,” “to sum up,” etc.

Stage three – Revision

The final step entails revising your work. What you have written in the second stage is the first draft. Revision entails polishing up your content to ensure it is up to the required standards in terms of content, grammar, spelling, punctuation, and structure.

During revision, you should;

  1. Check the content presented in each paragraph
  2. Look for grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes
  3. Check the entire paper for a logical flow
  4. Check the paper for plagiarism
  5. Proofread the entire paper to confirm that it is up to par

Types of Essays

There are four major types of essays that students should be familiar with. These are;

Descriptive essays

This type of essay is used to paint a mental picture of a certain event, place, person, or even memory. In this type of essay, the writer must write as vividly as possible about the topic at hand. A lot of creativity is required when writing a descriptive essay.

Expository essay

This is an essay that aims to inform by presenting a non-biased view of the topic at hand. During an exposition, the writer should present a balanced analysis of the given or chosen topic. Many types of essays fall under expository essays, including compare and contrast essays, cause and effect essays, reflection essays, critical analysis essays, and many others.

Narrative essay

This type of essay entails telling a story, usually about a life experience or any other topic given. For a narrative essay to be interesting, the writer should ensure they make their writing as vivid as possible.

Persuasive essay

A persuasive essay tries to convince the reader to agree with the writer’s perspective on the given topic or argument. The writer is required to present facts to change the perspective of the reader.

All other essays that the student will encounter fall into these four broad types of essays. A student must learn how to write an essay of any type because any can be given.

Essay Formats and Styles

The format required for the essay will be given with the instructions. The format or style determines many other things, including how you will do in-text citations, which font to use, how to format the pages, and so much more.

The most common essay formats include APA essays (America Psychological Association), MLA essays (Modern Language Association), and Chicago / Turabian style.

There are also guides like this Purdue OWL writing lab guide that you can use to get more information on the writing styles and

How to Write an Essay – Sample Template to Follow

To make it even easier for you, here is a template that you can use to write an essay.

Introduction

  1. Have a hook statement to grab readers attention
  2. Present a brief overview of what will be discussed in the paper
  3. Include a thesis statement towards the end of the introduction

Body paragraphs

  1. Each paragraph to present one idea or argument
  2. Each paragraph to be introduced by a topic sentence
  3. Present evidence on the topic sentence to be discussed in the paragraph
  4. Interpret and explain the evidence given to support the topic sentence
  5. Conclude the paragraph by showing how it supports the main argument of the essay.

Conclusion

  1. Tie together the main points of the essay to the thesis statement
  2. Show why your analysis matters
  3. Leave in the mind of the reader the broader implications of your essay.

How to Write an Essay – Essay Writing Checklist

  • My essay follows the requirements of the assignment and essay prompt
  • My essay has an interesting title
  • The introduction has a hook and a thesis statement
  • My essay is properly structured using paragraphs
  • I use topic sentences to introduce every paragraph
  • I have cited all information and quotes from another source
  • Each paragraph is focused on one main idea that connects to the thesis statement
  • I have included a reference page recording all the sources used for the essay
  • I have formatted all citations and references correctly, following the guidelines of the required citation style.
  • My essay is following a logical structure
  • I have included a conclusion that doesn’t introduce any new information
  • The conclusion leaves the reader with a strong last impression of the topic discussed.
  • All formatting guidelines required for the style have been adhered to
  • I have proofread the essay and polished it up

Get Reliable Essay Writing Help

We hope that this guide has helped you learn how to write an essay. if you are still having trouble writing a good essay, you should consider hiring our professional essay writing service.

We can write essays in all disciplines and we handle all types of essays.

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