It’s finals week, and you’re suddenly hit with an essay assignment that was never mentioned in class or listed on your syllabus. Since the library’s closed and you need to have this essay completed before tomorrow morning, you can’t just turn to Google or your professor. What do you do? If you follow this A-Z guide on writing essays, you’ll be able to tackle any academic writing project in no time at all! Before we get started, let’s briefly cover what an essay is.
Start with a thesis
The crux of your essay will be its thesis or what you’re trying to prove. It’s not much good to make many arguments that don’t lead anywhere, so don’t start writing until you know what your point is. But never just blurt out your thesis statement in one go. Give it some context and background first, either with a quote from an expert or by talking about an example yourself—after all; it’s not enough for you to think something’s true; you need to convince your reader that it is too. And if you’re going to say something controversial, now’s your chance: Not only can a controversial argument work better than an obvious one, but once you’ve made it clear what side you’re on, people are more likely to listen.
Create your intro
First impressions matter. In a world where there is so much content, you have to stand out. Your introductory paragraph should be brief, but give an idea of what your essay will be about without giving away your entire argument. Don’t make people work too hard to find out what your essay is about; make it enticing enough for them to continue reading. Use a quote that relates to your topic and grab their attention with some statistics. This is also a good place to include any details that are vital in understanding your topic and using these details as examples later on in your essay. You can also use personal anecdotes here if they relate well to your topic and help paint a picture for readers.
Create an outline
Depending on your major, you might find yourself writing dozens of essays over your college career. For each essay, it’s important to have a strong outline that guides your thoughts. You can write an outline in paragraph form or as a list (note: try not to include more than five topics). If you’re feeling stuck, try jotting down quotes or sentences from books and articles that talk about similar topics or values. You can also start writing questions that you want to answer with your essay. This will help you narrow down what you’ll be talking about—and create a few draft ideas that are sure to spark some inspiration. Once you’ve got your plan in place, start writing!
Create your body paragraphs
Now that you have your thesis, start writing! Start by jotting down some bullet points for your main points. These should be three to five sentences long and refer back to your thesis statement. Then write one or two paragraphs for each point using these bulleted items as talking points. This is what you’ll use in place of detailed explanations when it comes time to actually write your essay. You don’t want to get bogged down by writing too much (or procrastinating!), so aim for a paragraph or two per point while still getting across enough information to make it clear why your argument is compelling. Once you’ve done that, go ahead and move on to a new point.
Write the conclusion
You may have written a great thesis statement, but you won’t have much to show for it if you can’t write a conclusion that encapsulates your argument and ties everything together. This is where most students fall short; oftentimes, they forget that their first paragraph is also supposed to contain an overview of what will be said in the rest of their essay. So, don’t be afraid to include some repetition in your conclusion—you can get away with repeating as many sentences from your first paragraph as needed. If you need additional help writing a strong conclusion, just like me, I contact a professional essay writer when I don’t have the time to write my essay.