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General Essay Writing Tips

Essays can be crucial to admissions and scholarship decisions.

❶Despite the fact that, as Shakespeare said, "the pen is mightier than the sword," the pen itself is not enough to make an effective writer.

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The Five Paragraph Essay

Tape record it if you can. Does it sound logical and convincing? Your are on your way to understanding how to write the perfect essay. Are your examples bringing your ideas to life? Check the beginning — is it awesome — does it make sense? Edit the beginning, middle and end — check spelling and grammar. Have someone else proofread it too. Now check the middle. Did everything you said relate to the main topic or question? Go to your ending.

Edit it — is it punchy? This is the place to really put on your thinking cap. Did you really convince your reader?? Polish up how the essay looks — Is it neat, organized, well written? Are you satisfied that it does the job you started out to do? Only you can be the judge of this. Your essay reflects how you think — do you like the way it came out? If so, turn it in and you now know how to write the perfect essay. Pat Wyman is a best selling author, university instructor and founder of HowToLearn.

Come up with a compelling title and introduction. Your title and introduction make people want to read your essay. If your teacher is the audience, then of course your teacher will read the whole piece. However, if you're submitting to an essay contest or writing an essay for college admissions, your title and introduction have to hook the reader if you want to meet your objectives. Skip obvious expressions such as, "This essay is about, "The topic of this essay is" or "I will now show that".

Try the inverted pyramid formula. Start off with a very broad description of your topic and gradually narrow it down to your specific thesis statement. Try to use no more than 3 to 5 sentences for short essays, and no more than 1 page for longer essays. Alternatively, you might open with an anecdote or quote that sets up the importance of your topic. Every year, thousands of unwanted and abused animals end up in municipal shelters. Being caged in shelters not only causes animals to suffer but also drains local government budgets.

Towns and cities could prevent both animal abuse and government waste by requiring prospective pet owners to go through mandatory education before allowing them to obtain a pet. Although residents may initially resist the requirement, they will soon see that the benefits of mandatory pet owner education far outweigh the costs.

Summarize your points and suggest ways in which your conclusion can be thought of in a larger sense. Answer questions like, "What are the implications of your thesis statement being true? In a sense, you are repackaging your thesis statement in your concluding paragraph by helping the reader to remember the journey through your essay. Nail the last sentence. If your title and first paragraph make the reader want to read your essay, then your last sentence makes the reader remember you.

If a gymnast does a great balance beam routine but falls on the landing, then people forget the routine. Gymnasts need to "stick the landing," and so do essay writers. Wait a day or so and re-read your essay. Get your essay done a couple of days before the due date so that you have time to go back and revise it to make it polished. Avoid turning in a first draft that you haven't double-checked for errors. Correct errors related to grammar, punctuation and spelling.

Consult a style book if you are unsure how to properly use quotation marks, colons, semicolons, apostrophes or commas. Avoid using exclamation points. Make sure you know how to use apostrophes correctly.

Look for mistakes involving general punctuation. Check for run-on sentences , commas and periods inside quotation marks, as well as sparely-used dashes, colons, and semi-colons. Remove any repetitive or unnecessary words. Vary your language with the help of a thesaurus. Also, consult a dictionary to make sure that you're using unfamiliar words correctly.

At the same time, try to keep your language short, sweet, and to the point. A thesaurus is a great tool, but don't just use big words to sound fancy.

The best essays are clear, concise, and easily understood by a wide audience. Focus on writing killer verbs for sentences. Verbs communicate the action in a sentence and drive the action. A great verb can be the difference between a bland sentence and a beautiful one. Adjectives are great descriptive words, but when used indiscriminately, they can burden an essay and make it less readable.

Try to let the verbs and nouns do most of the heavy lifting before you focus on adjectives. Avoid colloquial informal writing. Do not use contractions or abbreviations e. Your essay should have a serious tone, even if it's written in a light or lyrical style. Analyze how your essay flows.

Does each sentence lead smoothly to the next? Does each paragraph flow logically to the next? Although you can analyze your essay by reading through it, it's helpful to make a reverse outline, working from your essay to outline your thoughts. When events happen in sequence: I first started to realize that I was in the minority when I was in middle school My realization was confirmed when I proceeded to high school.

If sentences elaborate on each other: Plants need water to survive A plant's ability to absorb water depends on the nutrition of the soil. When an idea contrasts with another idea: Vegetarians argue that land is unnecessarily wasted by feeding animals to be eaten as food Opponents argue that land being used for grazing would not be able to be used to create any other kind of food.

If you're relaying a cause and effect relationship: I will be the first person in my family to graduate from college I am inspired to continue my family's progress through the generations. When connecting similar ideas: Organic food is thought to be better for the environment.

Cut information that's not specifically related to your topic. You don't want your essay to ramble off-topic. Any information that doesn't directly or indirectly support your thesis should be cut out. Have someone read your paper aloud to you. Your ears are sometimes better than your eyes at picking up mistakes in language. The essay should sound like it has a good flow and understandable words. As an alternative, you can record yourself reading it aloud and play it back.

Rewrite any problematic body passages. If needed, rearrange sentences and paragraphs into a different order. Make sure that both your conclusion and introduction match the changes that you make to the body. Compose your essay with a clear purpose. A persuasive essay is designed to sway the reader to adopt your point of view about a topic. This means it's important that your views are expressed in a clear, concise manner, which allows the reader to understand your argument.

These are good examples of persuasive essay topics you might write about: Whether governments should or should not fund embryonic stem cell research. Whether love is a virtue or a vice. Why Citizen Kane is the best movie of the 20th century. Why American citizens should be forced to vote. Write your essay as though you are conducting a debate. When you speak in a debate, you introduce your topic, list your evidence and draw a conclusion for the people who are listening.

A persuasive essay has a similar structure. Collect facts from good sources to justify your opinions. Support your argument with reasoned facts. A well-written essay is great, but a well-argued essay is undeniable. In addition to doing research, you can perform empirical experiments including taking surveys, doing interviews or conducting experiments. Survey results or interviews could be great pieces of information to start your essay with. Tell a story about the facts.

Don't just list the facts; tell a story! How would you like to be one of those wrongfully-convicted inmates? Present the other side of your argument and use logic and facts to show why the other side's opinion is either inaccurate or not up-to-date.

You're showing the reader you are unbiased and considered the other arguments, but you concluded that your argument is the best. Time after time, evidence has disproved this theory. The death penalty, in fact, does not act as a deterrent to crime: Tie all your ideas together in a gripping conclusion. Be sure to stress your thesis, or what you are arguing for or against, one last time. Use some of the information you have discussed, or a story you've saved, to color your conclusion a little bit.

Choose a subject for your essay. You'll be investigating a topic and presenting your viewpoint about the topic based on evidence.

Research papers usually fall under this category of writing. For example, you could write an expository essay arguing that embryonic stem cell research can lead to cures for spinal cord injuries and illnesses like Parkinson's or diabetes. Expository essays differ from persuasive essays because you aren't stating an opinion.

You're stating facts that you can back up with research. Select your strategy and structure. Some common strategies and structures for expository writing include: Definition essays explain the meaning of terms or concepts.

Classification essays organize a topic into groups starting with the most general group and narrowing down to more specific groups. In this type of essay, you'll describe either the similarities and differences or both between ideas or concepts.

These essays explain how topics affect each other and how they are interdependent. How-to essays explain the steps required for completing a task or a procedure with the goal of instructing the reader. Keep your views unbiased. Expository essays aren't about opinions. They are about drawing a conclusion based on verifiable evidence. You might even find that, with new information, you'll have to revise your essay.

If you started out writing about the scarcity of information regarding global warming, but came across a bunch of scientific evidence supporting global warming, you at least have to consider revising what your essay is about. Use the facts to tell the story. The facts will tell the story itself if you let them.

Think like a journalist when writing an expository essay. If you put down all the facts like a reporter, the story should tell itself. Not only does this tell the reader what to expect in the paragraphs to come but it also gives them a clearer understanding of what the essay is about. Finally, designing the last sentence in this way has the added benefit of seamlessly moving the reader to the first paragraph of the body of the paper.

In this way we can see that the basic introduction does not need to be much more than three or four sentences in length. If yours is much longer you might want to consider editing it down a bit! Here, by way of example, is an introductory paragraph to an essay in response to the following question:.

Because this is the first paragraph of your essay it is your opportunity to give the reader the best first impression possible. The introductory paragraph not only gives the reader an idea of what you will talk about but also shows them how you will talk about it.

At the same time, unless it is a personal narrative, avoid personal pronouns like I, My, or Me. Try instead to be more general and you will have your reader hooked.

The middle paragraphs of the essay are collectively known as the body paragraphs and, as alluded to above, the main purpose of a body paragraph is to spell out in detail the examples that support your thesis.

For the first body paragraph you should use your strongest argument or most significant example unless some other more obvious beginning point as in the case of chronological explanations is required.

The first sentence of this paragraph should be the topic sentence of the paragraph that directly relates to the examples listed in the mini-outline of introductory paragraph. A one sentence body paragraph that simply cites the example of "George Washington" or "LeBron James" is not enough, however.

No, following this an effective essay will follow up on this topic sentence by explaining to the reader, in detail, who or what an example is and, more importantly, why that example is relevant. Even the most famous examples need context. The reader needs to know this and it is your job as the writer to paint the appropriate picture for them. To do this, it is a good idea to provide the reader with five or six relevant facts about the life in general or event in particular you believe most clearly illustrates your point.

Having done that, you then need to explain exactly why this example proves your thesis. The importance of this step cannot be understated although it clearly can be underlined ; this is, after all, the whole reason you are providing the example in the first place. Seal the deal by directly stating why this example is relevant. The first sentence — the topic sentence - of your body paragraphs needs to have a lot individual pieces to be truly effective.

Not only should it open with a transition that signals the change from one idea to the next but also it should ideally also have a common thread which ties all of the body paragraphs together. For example, if you used "first" in the first body paragraph then you should used "secondly" in the second or "on the one hand" and "on the other hand" accordingly. Examples should be relevant to the thesis and so should the explanatory details you provide for them. It can be hard to summarize the full richness of a given example in just a few lines so make them count.

If you are trying to explain why George Washington is a great example of a strong leader, for instance, his childhood adventure with the cherry tree though interesting in another essay should probably be skipped over.

You may have noticed that, though the above paragraph aligns pretty closely with the provided outline, there is one large exception:

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Schools and home-schools require essay writing, so do colleges and college entrance exams, so, why not learn a few simple tips to make essay writing easy? Below is a template, followed by 9 additional easy steps on how to write the perfect essay every time. Template for Excellent Essays. 1.

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If you're using the five-paragraph essay structure, it would make sense to make three major points, for example. Unlock Content Over 75, lessons in all major subjects.

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Once you break it down, writing an argumentative essay outline isn’t that daunting. Download this skeleton Argumentative Essay Outline to get started. Before you go off into the sunset and use my outline template, make sure that you are following the guidelines specific to your course.

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