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How to Write an Essay: Helpful Guide

Students have been wondering how to write an essay for as long as college studies existed. We all face this problem at some stage, and solutions to it could come in different forms. The most convenient one is finding a reliable guide that would outline all steps needed for writing a good essay. That’s why we’ve gathered the most crucial facts for students who require assistance. Writing is an interesting and deeply engaging process, but one can only appreciate it if they understand what it entails. Such aspects as brainstorming, outline, research, and proofreading are its essential components, and we’re going to dissect them all.

Cornerstones of Essay Writing Process

Beginners need guidance. This universal fact concerns every possible sphere, and academic writing isn’t an exception. Even the terms that seem easy should be clarified, which is exactly what we are planning to do. Academic tone differs from the one people use in their daily communication. It’s more complex and serious, and in most cases, it ranges between dry and scientific. Convey your thoughts officially and politely, with no informal elements present. So, contractions like “don’t, isn’t, won’t” aren’t allowed: use full forms all the time. Using personal pronouns is also forbidden unless your task requires it. In typical research essays or analysis papers, writers cannot use “I, we, our,” etc. They should pick third-person pronouns instead. Passive voice is discouraged, so try using an active one when possible. Depending on education level, simpler words should be replaced with their more complex forms. For example, instead of the verb “to be,” students should think about “comprise, entail,” and other similar synonyms depending on the context.

There are three foundations that help demonstrate how to write a good essay. The first one is preparation: it has its own number of elements that should be covered if you want your writing to be effective. Then there is writing itself. It’s definitely the central part, but contrary to what many people believe, it is not necessarily the most difficult or time-consuming one. Finally, there is revision stage, and once again, it consists of several elements that you’ll have to follow. All these sections have their rules, and if you want to earn an excellent grade, follow each of them.

Part 1: Preparation Stage

When students ask how to do an essay, their first thoughts immediately go to the writing itself. No one thinks about research and brainstorming. As a result, more often than not, preparation stage is dismissed as unimportant. Young writers treat it lazily, make plans, and find sources in haste, and they get stuck when actual writing starts. For escaping this type of mess, follow the tips below.

  • Understand assignment. The first stage is fairly simple: students must understand what their professors want from them. Many of them just skim over instructions and decide on reading more closely later. But it’s a serious mistake that usually ends with troubles. Look at requirements carefully and read every line as if your grade depends on it — because it does. Be sure you got a specific idea as to what has to be done. Should you conduct secondary research or perform your own analysis? How do you write an essay: should you rely on outside sources? Narrative, argumentative, description papers — there are many kinds, so understand what is required before proceeding. Ask professor for help if there are any doubts. Doing it early is better than realizing you’re stuck when the deadline is pushing close.
  • Learn who your readers are. This is another thing writers should determine in advance. Depending on who their audience is, they’ll be able to figure out with what depth they’ll need to approach the task and what kind of content is expected. As an example, if you are writing for people who are completely unfamiliar with topic, just keep things simple. Provide definitions for key concepts; help your readers understand the basics before introducing them to something more complex. This is how to write essay in a good way: know who’ll be reading it and adapt your work accordingly. If you are writing for colleagues or those who don’t need any basic learning, invest more effort. This public will expect to be impressed, meaning that they want you to delve deeper into research.
  • Choose an interesting topic. For creating a solid work, you need a solid essay topic born after brainstorming. It especially applies to writing beginners who haven’t had a chance to research much yet. Selecting a topic you find interesting on a personal level is how to do an essay that other people will enjoy reading. Most people are eager to share something they are passionate about with others, and the same principle can be found in writing. Write about subjects you like. Take a movie or a character from it; explore the news that made your blood boil; look into problems you wish had been solved years ago — opportunities are endless. Writing is going to be much more rewarding if you love what you’re doing.
  • Conduct preliminary research. Most college papers are based on credible sources. It means that writers cannot simply find out some information and create an essay by passing it on their own. No, first they have to sort between reliable and unreliable sources, select those they’ll be using, and cite their claims. For instance, you might have an idea about your topic, but once you read some research, you suddenly realize that you were wrong. On the contrary, a scholar could validate your views and offer scientific evidence in its support. Preliminary research gives ideas and helps solidify them. Just be sure your final selection is good: look for peer-reviewed articles, published books, government sites, etc. Note that information should be fresh — avoid sources older than 7 years.
  • Build a strong thesis. Strong thesis claim is the foundation of a paper. It’s a part of academic essay writing that receives its own set of points because its purpose is to disclose what your work is about in a single sentence. Make a statement that should be proved and that will let readers know what they can expect.
  • Create an outline. Essay outline is your plan that will help you stay focused. Its length depends on you — make it short or long, detailed or concise, but add as many elements as you need for forming a clear picture of your future essay. Mention every crucial point that’ll be explored in the body in chronological order, and you’ll have something to fall back onto if you are stuck.

Part 2: Writing an Essay

This is the juiciest stage that students both anticipate and fear. But don’t worry: if you covered the steps in preparation period, there won’t be any serious problems. You found sources, there is a writing plan  — now it’s time to do the deed.

  • Create introduction. This is the first paragraph that readers see, so try making it interesting. Approach it as a teaser: share some info about your topic without going into too many details. Hook readers by using an intriguing opening. It could be a quote of a famous writer, statistics that most of us don’t know, or a challenging statement that could ruffle some feathers. Make it memorable. After that, build background. Explain the circumstances surrounding your topic and indicate what makes it relevant — in other words, reveal why you decided on writing about it. End with thesis, the claim you should have composed during preparation.  
  • Present evidence in the body. Body is a vital part of every essay writing guide, and you should know its structure rules for doing everything correctly. First, each paragraph can only focus on one topic. It should also have opening and closing sentences that announce & conclude your intentions for it. Evidence is vital: when you offer a claim that most people haven’t heard of, support it with sources. This could be a date, statistics, or just something very specific. Always cite your authors carefully. You can use direct quotes, but avoid going above 10% from the word count and always take time to explain them.
  • Compose conclusion. There is one more answer to the question of how to write essays. Do it by developing a memorable conclusion. If your body was only partly engaging, readers could have mixed opinions, and conclusion is your last chance to sway them. Restate major body points. Discuss implications and urge others to consider them.

Part 3: Revise Your Essay

This is the last element of writing students are going to need. It’s also the most tedious, but if you want a high grade, you’ll have to spend a few more hours on it. Here are the four remaining steps to writing an essay.

  • Evaluate paper organization. Go over technical details. Have you written enough words? How many paragraphs are in an essay? Is your formatting style correct, both in the text and in works cited list? Does the text itself look readable? Some paragraphs might be too long (they shouldn’t be longer than 2/3 of 1 page). Correct it.
  • Review each paragraph. How about content? Try re-reading your paper with a fresh set of eyes. Are logical connections between the points present? Are all facts supported via sources? As a reader, would you find this essay interesting or enlightening? Don’t hesitate to cut out or add bits as needed.  
  • Proofread. No matter how excellent your English is, grammar mistakes happen. Read your essay aloud or print it on white paper. Errors and missing words could be more obvious this way. Ask a friend for help — they could fish out grammar mistakes for you and give you advice.
  • Check for plagiarism. Writing essays is tough, and sometimes students take info from sources without citing them. This is a grave mistake that might result even in expulsion. Avoid it by testing your work via plagiarism checkers. They’ll underline all problematic issues, and you’ll be able to correct them before your professor sees it.

Believe In Yourself and Practice Your Writing

Writing seems scary at first, and it’s understandable. But with practice, difficulties will disappear, and you might find yourself enjoying this process. Just remember: include facts, not speculations. Conduct research via respectable mediums — avoid blogs or sites ending with .com. Use academic style and ask for writing assistance when you need it. If you do, you won't wonder how to make an essay any longer — soon enough, you’ll be ready to teach others! 

Posted by Diana B., January 22, 2021