Academic essay: main types and writing tips

Being able to write a quality academic essay plays an essential role in contributing to our academic success. Essay writing is a standard assignment for students in many universities and schools. Ultimately, students' goals when writing any kind of academic paper is to demonstrate one's knowledge of a certain subject. Schools can also find out how their students can collect and analyze information, later on presenting their ideas in writing. In this section, we will elaborate on how you can write excellent papers, receive high grades and work on different types of essays.

Essay definition in the academy

Any academic essay is a properly structured writing assignment that presents and analyzes certain information. Most of the time, authors are supposed to prove their point of view and make their audience agree with the writer’s position on a certain subject or issue. Simply put, students are to convince their readers. Obviously, we would not have to talk about convincing if academic essays dealt with general facts. So, an argument is an essential component of any essay. Usually, it’s called a thesis statement.

Types of Academic Essays

There are four main types of essay writings that serve different purposes, but some of them share similar structures. They are narrative, descriptive, expository, and persuasive essays. However, if we generalize further, we would have to break all academic paper into scientific (or analytical, if you wish) and creative ones. Expository and persuasive papers fall into the first category, while narrative and descriptive — into the second one. Analytical papers operate with facts and data, with little emphasis on creative means. Even though they are supposed to persuade readers, they have to achieve this effect through data analysis. Creative papers, as you may have already guessed, leave a lot of room for the writer’s imagination.

Narrative Essays

A narrative essay is, essentially, a story. Here, students are to present a or series of events imaginable for your reader. A writer will also share their experience of the events in a narrative way. Moreover, a writer needs to be able to use their creative abilities in describing the events that can create plant pictures in the readers’ mind by using power adjectives to create vivid pictures of a story. Simply put, write about an event that happened to you, and how your experience of this event influenced you. This essay type is standard in high school and first years of college, and it is one of the easiest essays out there. You should share your story with other people through narrative writing in a positive tone. Such an essay take your reader on a journey.

Narrative Essay Outline

A narrative essay also has a standard format with an intro, body paragraphs, and conclusion.

Introduction: It describes the setting of your story and starts with a strong hook that can get your readers engaged in the story. It guides them through the events of your story. You have to try to set the scene and make them feel that they are there. Next, you’d better give reasons for writing this kind of paper. Ask yourself the ‘so what?’-question and make sure your paper has meaning not only for you, but also for your reader.

Body Paragraphs: We have to give all clear and relevant information in the body paragraph. It will create a scene and mood for your readers to follow while they are reading. Furthermore, it is essential to narrate chronologically, so that a reader can easily catch up and your essay looks more organized and well-structured.

Conclusion: the conclusion will state the purpose and give your final comment. It is also good to leave something for your reader to think about after they finish reading. It can be a quote, a comment, or a suggestion.

Descriptive Essays

Descriptive papers are related to narrative writing work, but there are a couple of details that are different. Here, writers are to describe a specific event, process, person, place, experience or an idea subjectively and creatively. A writer has to explain what is going on and how it happens. In this type of essay, a writer should create an image in a reader's mind. So, students should make use of powerful vocabulary to make their ideas clears to the readers.

Because the words you use will ultimately influence how your readers feel about your essay and its quality, it is wise to use impactful words. The readers will connect their five senses (taste, touch, smell, hearing, and sight) to the object described. They will feel like they can see what this object looks like. You can make your readers feel like they are not just reading, but seeing the object. Furthermore, you have to choose the topics carefully, and the essay has to have a purpose. Usually, it’s something you learned from experience and how event or experience influenced your life.

Descriptive Essay Topics and Ideas

Anything having to do with people can be a good topic for your descriptive essay. You can choose a person whom you know very well to describe in your essay. By doing this, you will have a lot of ideas to write because you can tell almost everything about that person. That person can be someone of your friends, teachers, family members, or celebrities that you like. You can describe their looks, characteristics, behavior and attitudes, and more.

Furthermore, you may also describe any places to which you have a special connection. They can be your hometown, high school or perhaps even a highway. For instance, you can write about what your hometown looks like and why you love it. You may also describe any unique thing about your city and explain why you have a meaningful connection with it. Emotion can also be a descriptive essay topic. You can turn your genuine emotion into a descriptive essay. Those emotions can be happiness, love, anger, loss, or desire. It does not have to be your personal feeling. You can also observe the feelings of other people.

Descriptive Essay Outline

An essay outline is vitally important because it makes your essay look more organized and well-structured. When your essay outline is well-developed, it is easy for a reader to understand your thoughts and the flow of your essay. Like many other types of academic writing, a descriptive essay consists of three main components — intro, body, and conclusion.

Introduction: this part describes the main topic of your paper. It gives readers sufficient context to understand your essay adequately. An introduction should be short enough and exciting to your readers. The introduction paragraph has to have a hook sentence, background information, and a thesis. You do not have to make this paragraph too long or too detailed. Here, the goal is to introduce the problem to your readers and make your position on the subject clear.

Body: this part may as many paragraphs as you need, even though high school papers tend to have three of them. However, since each paragraph will deal with a particular aspect of your topic, it’s up to you to decide how many arguments you need in your work. The best way to start a paragraph is to summaries the main point you are going to discuss on a topic sentence. Later on, you will elaborate on this statement and provide evidence to prove your point of view. Note, however, that an essay is not a collection of random thoughts. So, the new point you make (in the following paragraph) should be directly related to what you are discussing at the moment.

Conclusion: this part is where you sum up your main arguments and restate your thesis. Simply put, it sums up the results.

Expository Essays

The term "expository" is from the word "exposition" which means a comprehensive description and explanation of an idea or theory. This paper type aims to inform, explain or describe. It is a type of academic essay that investigates an idea by analyzing evidence, expanding an idea and presenting it so that everyday readers can understand. It is mostly assigned by a professor to test student's knowledge and writing skills. Usually, there will be an expository essay in your exam at the end of the semester. Being able to write an expository essay is a valuable skill, and you will have to write a lot of that in college.

Like other types of academic essays, an expository essay usually consists of five paragraphs. It consists of an introduction, a body paragraph, and a conclusion. The body paragraphs mostly have three paragraphs, and each of them covers different arguments or ideas. The three body paragraphs need to have supporting evidence for all arguments.

The most apparent expository essay examples are news articles, business press, and scientific writing. In the news, writers use expository writing style to describe, inform, and explain a particular event. Business reports and letters also use expository essays. In academic writing, exposition essays are also used to make precautions or explain the benefits of various commercial products. You may find exposition even on a bottle of juice or water.

Expository Essay Outline

The format of an expository essay will share its structure with other types of essays. Once again, you will need an intro, several body paragraphs, and a concluding one.

Introduction: expository essay intro is just like with other essays. Its primary purpose is to capture your reader's attention and give them a description of your topic. An introduction usually has three main components: the hook sentence, background information, and a thesis.

Body paragraphs: this is where a writer will explain their points thoroughly by using reliable references and sources.

Conclusion: This part will conclude all your main points and summarize your essay. You have to leave your reader with a good impression and provide some thoughts to think after reading.

Persuasive Essay

A persuasive essay is a piece of (usually) academic writing aimed at getting your reader to agree with a specific point of view. It is like you are trying to sell your ideas and opinion to your readers. You have to use infallible logical tactics to persuade your reader and defend your arguments. After reading a persuasive essay, your readers must be convinced that what you have written is a correct point of view.

The format of the persuasive essay usually presupposes a five-paragraph structure, especially in high school and college.

Persuasive Essay Outline

The outline of your essay is critical to its quality. If you can provide a well-outlined essay for the readers, they will understand it and get the points across effortlessly. An essay outline is crucial as it is a skeleton of the essay because it organizes your arguments coherently.

Introduction: Once again, a hook is an excellent start for this essay type. If you want to grab your readers’ attention, you may start an essay with a humorous line. An easy-to-follow or a controversial statement is also a nice idea.

Body paragraphs: this is the most significant part of a persuasive essay where you have to back up your argument by using facts and evidence. There are some ways that you can use to back up your ideas. These include:

  • Facts: they can be from your personal experience or through observation or reading. This factual information needs to be backed by sources to make it credible.
  • Statistics: with convincing statistics from a reliable scientific source, your argument is stronger and more solid. This way you can dodge any possible arguments against your standpoint.

Conclusion: once again, this is an essential part of any academic essay. While it follows the same writing rule (restating your thesis and your main arguments), the goal here is to make a final impression on your reader. You can paraphrase your most meaningful statements in your conclusion. These can be a call for action or comments to leave your reader with some additional food for thought. You have to be creative with your conclusion and make sure to have an impact on your readers.

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