Types of Essays: End the Confusion
Effectively writing different types of essays has become critical to academic success. Essay writing is a common school assignment, a part of standardized tests, and a requirement on college applications. Often on tests, choosing the correct type of essay to write in response to a writing prompt is key to getting the question right. Clearly, students can’t afford to remain confused about types of essays.
There are over a dozen types of essays, so it’s easy to get confused. However, rest assured, the number is actually more manageable. Essentially there are four major types of essays, with the variations making up the remainder.
Four Major Types of Essays
Distinguishing between types of essays is simply a matter of determining the writer’s goal. Does the writer want to tell about a personal experience, describe something, explain an issue, or convince the reader to accept a certain viewpoint? The four major types of essays address these purposes:
1. Narrative Essays: Telling a Story
In a narrative essay, the writer tells a story about a real-life experience. While telling a story may sound easy to do, the narrative essay challenges students to think and write about themselves. When writing a narrative essay, writers should try to involve the reader by making the story as vivid as possible. The fact that narrative essays are usually written in the first person helps engage the reader. “I” sentences give readers a feeling of being part of the story. A well-crafted narrative essay will also build towards drawing a conclusion or making a personal statement.
2. Descriptive Essays: Painting a Picture
A cousin of the narrative essay, a descriptive essay paints a picture with words. A writer might describe a person, place, object, or even memory of special significance. However, this type of essay is not description for description’s sake. The descriptive essay strives to communicate a deeper meaning through the description. In a descriptive essay, the writer should show, not tell, through the use of colorful words and sensory details. The best descriptive essays appeal to the reader’s emotions, with a result that is highly evocative.
3. Expository Essays: Just the Facts
The expository essay is an informative piece of writing that presents a balanced analysis of a topic. In an expository essay, the writer explains or defines a topic, using facts, statistics, and examples. Expository writing encompasses a wide range of essay variations, such as the comparison and contrast essay, the cause and effect essay, and the “how to” or process essay. Because expository essays are based on facts and not personal feelings, writers don’t reveal their emotions or write in the first person.
4. Persuasive Essays: Convince Me
While like an expository essay in its presentation of facts, the goal of the persuasive essay is to convince the reader to accept the writer’s point of view or recommendation. The writer must build a case using facts and logic, as well as examples, expert opinion, and sound reasoning. The writer should present all sides of the argument, but must be able to communicate clearly and without equivocation why a certain position is correct.
Learn How to Write Different Types of Essays
Time4Writing essay writing courses offer a highly effective way to learn how to write the types of essays required for school, standardized tests, and college applications. These online writing classes for elementary, middle school, and high school students, break down the writing process into manageable chunks, easily digested by young writers. Students steadily build writing skills and confidence with each online writing course, guided by one-on-one instruction with a dedicated, certified teacher.
In the elementary years, young writers get an introduction to essay writing through two courses designed to bring excitement and enjoyment to the writing process. Narrative Writing and Informative Writing take young writers on an animal-filled adventure to beginning essay writing. Our middle school online writing courses, Welcome to the Essay and Advanced Essay, teach students the fundamentals of writing well-constructed essays. The high school online writing class, Exciting Essay Writing, focuses in depth on the essay writing process with preparation for college as the goal. The online writing classes for kids also cover how to interpret essay writing prompts in testing situations. Read what parents are saying about their children’s writing progress in Time4Writing’s online writing courses.
The 5-paragraph essay is the most common academic task a student may face. You can meet it in such tests as TOEFL, IELTS, and the SAT.
Because the majority of these examinations restrict the student in time, you should be ready for the writing section. Try to memorize the structure of the 5-paragraph academic paper on any topic. It makes it possible to complete the assignments faster and efficiently. The best part of the five-paragraph essay is that it is rather flexible regarding the topic choice and various writing formats.
There are six basic types of five-paragraph academic papers. You should be aware of each type before facing your examination:
- Cause and Effect
- Compare and Contrast
All of these 5-paragraph essays should stick to the five paragraph structure!
Examples of Good Essay Topics
Try to choose the best topic from the pool of good topic ideas.
- Do we learn from other people's mistakes?
- Who is responsible for our destiny?
- Is it ethical to use animals for tests?
- What are the advantages of allowing same-sex marriage?
- How can the government minimize the criminal activity?
- Who must be punished to death?
- Is LSD that dangerous as most people think?
- Why should education become entirely free?
These are topics which students usually choose. There are much more topics on different academic disciplines so that you may come up with your own suggestions.
Writing Your Outline
Any academic 5-paragraph essay is limited to the following organization:
- Introduction paragraph with thesis
- Three body paragraphs
- Conclusion paragraph
- References page
Catch the eye of your reader with an effective introduction to your topic. Each paragraph of the body must contain a specific main point about the topic known as an argument. Sum up your writing in conclusion. The 5-paragraph essays usually start out very broad, get narrower, and end up broad as well.
- This paragraph should contain 3-5 sentences.
- This paragraph predetermines the entire structure.
- The first sentence is a hook sentence.
- The last sentence is your thesis statement.
- The hook of the paragraph may be a rhetorical question, shocking fact, joke, quote, or some real life experience.
E.g. If you want to talk about the topic of racial discrimination and human rights, you can start with something like: "Why should we treat people with the different color of skin worse? Don't they have the same two legs and two hands?"
There is no need to answer this question so that it can be defined as a rhetorical question. You may find examples of good introductions or even buy a custom 5-paragraph essay at professional writing companies.
Short Introduction of Supporting Arguments (up to three)
- Introduce your arguments in one paragraph (3 sentences). No need for details
- You may pretend that you're writing a video trailer when working on this part.
- Example: Establishing more organizations that defend the rights of minorities is one of the ways to resist racial discrimination.
- It is your strongest claim.
- The rest of the 5-paragraph essay should be based on your thesis statement.
- It is better to change thesis if you discover that your body paragraphs are not related to it.
Body Paragraphs (5-7 sentences each)
Involve 3-5 arguments to defend your thesis statement.
Stick to this general structure of the body paragraphs: Introduction sentence (1), Evidence/Arguments (3-5), Conclusion (1).
THE FORMAT FOR ALL BODY PARAGRAPHS REMAINS THE SAME
Check the order of your arguments:
- First body paragraph is dedicated to the most powerful point
- The second paragraph may contain the weakest point
- Leave another strong argument for the last body paragraph
Conclusion paragraph (up to 5 sentences):
- The last few sentences of this paragraph should reflect the nature of your entire text. Begin with the restated thesis.
- Recall all 3-5 supporting arguments. Paraphrase each main point to speed up the process.
- Avoid using citations in this paragraph.
- Join similar arguments together in one sentence.
The final stage is the so-called concluding paragraph hook. You may include it or not. It is a good idea to finish your writing with something your reader can't expect. Surprise the readers with the sudden question for continuous discussion or unknown fact.
In other words, put some sugar and spice to make the dish tastier. "Did you know that Oslo was called the most expensive city of the year?"
You can find more tips on the conclusion paragraph in this blog.
Overall Grading Rubric
Students write 5-paragraph essays to earn the highest grades. These grades are part of their final score per course. That is why it is important to know the grading rubric shared by your teacher in the syllabus.
- Focus: Did the writer prove his thesis effectively? Were all the objectives met successfully?
- Organization: What about the way 5-paragraph essay flows? Are there the smooth transitions between paragraphs? Are they logical? Did the author follow the outline and general writing standards?
- Conventions: Is there any wordiness in the text? Are there some grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors? Is the text easy to read?
- Style: Did the student use high-level vocabulary? Was he creative enough?
- Content: Was the student right when defending his arguments? Was his evidence logical and factual? Did he develop powerful, persuasive arguments?
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