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“A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it is to be God.” Sidney Sheldon

Essay writing is one of those tasks that always seem daunting irrespective of your academic qualification. Even renowned professional essay writers face writer’s block. Essay writing is as important as it is boring but at some point in your academic as well as professional life you have to write essays. It’s a skill you simply must have

A good essay should answer three questions for the readers- What? Why? and How?

The introduction should tell your reader what your essay is about, presented in such a way that it leaves the reader wanting to know more. Let’s explore the most common types of essays and tips to write them.

Most frequent essay types:-

  • Argumentative essay– As the name suggests, this essay type requires you to present different arguments on the topic. Arguments must be supported by proven facts, evidence or vivid illustrations and not just someone’s opinion. There is simply no room for uncertainty in argumentative essay so avoid structures like ‘I think’, ‘I believe’ etc..
  • Narrative essay– these essays test your story telling skills. You narrate an event. Narrative essays allow you to be imaginative and creative with your writing style. For writing such essays you are not required to dwell on facts and evidence. However, chronology of the events is paramount.
  • Expository essay– exposes the topic in detail; illustrate a procedure step by step or how an action should be performed. This essay type not only requires research but also your own knowledge on the topic, acquired from personal experience.
  • Persuasive essay– is one of the most difficult types of essay. It requires you to persuade your reader to accept your opinion. For writing such essays your language must be strong reflecting your faith in your point of view. However, your faith must be grounded in facts. You cannot expect the reader to accept your view point if you can’t prove why you believe your opinion is right.
  • Descriptive essay– in this type of essays, every detail counts. Descriptive essays are usually written to describe an event, object, person or place. You must describe the prompt as vividly as you can. Your audience should be able to form a mental image of you prompt by reading your essay.

General Techniques:-

  • Decode the topic– this suggestion may sound obvious but in reality it is widely underestimated. Understanding the essay prompt doesn’t require you to just comprehend the statement; you need to figure out how you should be analyzing the given topic.
    • Mark the keywords– Discuss, argue, indentify, evaluate etc. these key words tell you whether your essay should be descriptive, persuasive or argumentative etc.
    • Question words– essays usually answer what, why and how. These question words guide you as to what your essay body should be like.

Example- Discuss how advertising affect the body image of men?

The key word ‘discuss’ demands a descriptive essay. The question word ‘how’ implies that your essay should tell the affects of advertisements on males’ psychology and not the things that lead to those affects. 

  • Research work– your basic research on the essay prompt should include the following questions:
  • What do I already know about the subject?

(It’s ok to read up Wikipedia if you don’t know anything about the topic but don’t add it as an information source in your essay.)

  • What are the interesting facts to know about the subject?
  • What surprises me about this essay topic?
  • Can I throw in any statistics from the studies conducted on the prompt?
  • What do people generally think, say or do about the subject?
  • How do experts or famous people or scholars approach the subject?
  • What is my personal opinion on the topic? (Because it matters!) 
  • Make a thesis statement– Establish your take on the topic. Your thesis statement should not restate the essay prompt nor should it be a paraphrased sentence. A good thesis statement subtly shows your interpretation or research on the essay topic. It should serve as a reference point to ensure you don’t stray from the topic.
  • Example- “Explain the administrative tactics that made the Mongol Empire one of the biggest empires in human history.”

Don’t restate that ‘Mongol Empire was the one of the biggest empires’ that’s already mentioned in the prompt. Instead use your thesis statement to show to your reader that you have done proper research on the topic.

  • “Mongol Invasions led by Genghis Khan conquered most of Eurasia before his death in 1227 but the empire reached its peak only after the death covering almost 18% of the globe.” 
  • Essay structure– write down the following points:-
  • Decide what type of essay you are writing.
  • Second, how many paragraphs you need to write besides introduction and conclusion.
  • Start with essay body then introduction followed by conclusion.
  • Give a topic sentence to each paragraph then elaborate on that.
  • Use credible sources
  • Google Scholar
  • Check reference section of the Wikipedia page on your topic.
  • Academic journals
  • Textbooks
  • NPR articles

      And remember

  • Don’t quote too much.
  • Your citations should reflect or support your opinion.
  • It should not appear like you are hiding behind the words of famous people.
  • Your opinion matters; it shows the skill teachers look for; your critical thinking.
  • You can use quotations to present a contradictory opinion as well.
  • Don’t underestimate proofreading
  • Avoid conjunctions like aren’t, don’t, wouldn’t, shouldn’t.
  • Print your essay. You find more mistakes on paper as compared to reviewing on screen.
  • Ask your parents or a mentor to give it a glance; they’ll most likely find mistakes that your eyes missed.
  • Read it out loud, if something sounds wrong then it probably is.

If writing an entire essay in one go seems daunting start by writing just 5 sentences on the topic. This trick is a great way to initiate writing. For more essay help you can join the Enrichment Program or English Tutoring Program by etutorworld. You will be surprised by the improvements these programs can bring in your writing skills.

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