A Look at the Different Types of Essays and How to Write Them

The majority of students will find writing to be challenging. Regardless, they have to perfect the skill. That is because essay writing is critical to attaining academic success. Students have to write different types of essays at some point. It could be as an assignment, part of an exam or standardized tests, or fulfilling a college application requirement. Therefore, whenever students are prompted to complete an essay, getting the question right depends on their understanding of the essay type. It is pertinent that students recognize the various essay categories and understand the expectations when tasked to complete them.

Several essay types exist and quite frankly, it is easy for students to get confused. Essentially, there are five main types of essays. The other classes are a slight variation from the major categories.

These papers vary based on the writer's goal. For instance, is the author;

  •  Describing a person, event or place?
  •  Comparing and contrasting?
  •  Convincing readers towards a specific line of thinking?
  •  Telling/ reporting a story or incident? And so on.

All the above are addressed by the various essay types discussed in the following sections.

Expository Essays

The expository essay category is broad with various other types of papers falling under it. It is described as a piece of writing that is informative and offers a balanced analysis of the subject matter. When writing expository essays, students will use statistics, facts, and examples to define and/or elaborate more on a topic. Such essays are based on facts, and therefore students are expected to refrain from expressing their personal opinions or feelings. They do so by writing in the third person and avoiding the use of personal pronouns.

Under expository writing, several other essay classes exist, and they include:

  •  Cause and Effect essays: Such essays attempt to show that a relationship exists between events, processes or things. While writing such papers, an author is expected to assess how specific happens resulted in certain consequences. For example – The Causes and Effects of Global Warming on World Food Security.
  •  Essay on Process Analysis or “How to”: Such essays focus on detailing a step-by-step process. It answers the “How to” question for your audience. For example - How to Have The Best Camping Experience.
  •  Interpretation/Response/Reflection essays: Such essay demand that an author present their personal opinion based on an analysis of facts and evidence presented.
  •  Critical Analysis Essay: Your lecturer or supervisor will assign a chapter or book from a scholarly article and require that you provide an interpretation and analysis of the text in written form.

Such papers are referred to as critical analysis essays.

  •  Definition Essays: The easiest of the expository essays. Students are required to define the topic, not the dictionary definition per se but their understanding using their own words.

Compare & Contrast Essays

Although the compare and contrast essays are often classified under expository essays, they have variations that make them an independent class of compositions. There are compare and contrast paper topics that fall under the narrative or descriptive essay class. When writing such papers, the student will be expected to highlight the similarities and differences between the chosen people, subject, events or places; therefore, giving the reader the chance to compare and contrast. Contrasting focuses on the differences while comparing is centered on the similarities. Such essays give readers an insight into more than one topic at the same time. Scholars can be tasked with comparing and contrasting the various essay types.

Essay topic examples: Compare And Contrast the Ancient and Modern Olympics, Compare and Contrast the Evolution and Creation Theories.

Note that the above essay topic will require a mix of narrative, and compare and contrast writing.

 Descriptive Essay

A Descriptive essay is an original written paper that provides readers with a detailed analysis and description of the subject matter. Such articles paint the picture of the thing/object, place, person or event with significance to audiences using words. Scholars are expected to use words and other literal tools to create an image for readers. The perfect descriptive essay doesn't just give descriptions but also communicates a specific idea or thought. The goal of such pieces is to show rather than tell. To accomplish that, students will employ the use of;

  •  Adjectives and Adverbs
  •  Metaphors
  •  Analogies
  •  Allegories
  •  Similes
  •  Personifications

The above are just a few of the many other literal tools that students can utilize. The goal is to appeal to the senses of readers, both emotionally and visually. Sharing with your readers your emotions might help.

Essay topic examples: My Favorite Meal, The Nightmare, The Stranger Down The Street

 Narrative Essays

Narrative essays give authors the opportunity to narrate an event or an encounter they have had with some significance on their lives. Ernest Hemingway’s short story “Old Man and the Sea” is an excellent example of a narrative essay. Students are expected to use a creative approach to narrating a real-life experience. Like descriptive essays, scholars will use literal tools to create a vivid picture of the events that unfolded. Talk about an event(s) that had a significant impact on your life within a short period using a first-person point of view.

Psychology reveals that words like "I" in sentences have a potential of engaging readers which is critical when writing narrative essays. You have to make readers interested in what you have to say. Since you will be telling on something that happened to you, you will not be expected to use external sources. Instead, you are required to draw on your creativity. Give the narrative essay the perfect ending through making a personal proclamation.

Essay Topic Examples: Climbing Mt Everest, My First Safari

 Argumentative/Persuasive Essays

An argumentative/persuasive essay uses facts, examples, sound reasoning, expert opinion and logic to convince readers to acknowledge an author’s recommendation or point view. It is similar to expository essays in that it requires presentation of facts. Argumentative and persuasive essays although categorized as one, they are different. In argumentative papers, the author is required to state their thesis then present evidence and facts in support of their stand. Such essays need the writer to highlight all the relevant sides to their argument. Persuasive essays are different from argumentative essays because they only require students to convince or persuade the reader to see the truth in the main thesis or argument. The notion is to convince your audience that you are correct or that the position you hold is justified. Persuasive essays are complex compared to argumentative essays. Advise to a beginner; learn how to write the latter before proceeding to the former.

Essay topic example: Why Are College Drug Tests Necessary?

Other Classes of Essays

Apart from the five main types of essays, there are other variations which are discussed in this section. However, one can argue that these essays fall under the essay types discussed in the previous sections.

  • Scholarship or Admission Essay

Scholarship and admission essays are a must for students looking to get into higher education or get funding for their education. Any student recently graduated high school and is seeking to join a higher learning institution will be required to write an admission essay. To write the perfect composition, a student will:

  1.  Detail the reasons behind their chosen discipline
  2.  State why they need the degree
  3.  Reflect on their strengths and weaknesses
  4.  Highlight how they intend to benefit the college community and society in general with their knowledge and skills
  5.  Tell their audience what makes their chosen college unique

The admission essay is meant to show the admission team why you qualify to be part of the college, who you are as an individual and the good you can do. Scholarship essays help students secure funding for their education by convincing the College Board that you deserve financial support.

  •  Informative Essay

Informative essays simply provide information. However, they are complicated than we assume them to be. To write high quality, informative essays students need to have a thorough understanding and intimate knowledge of the subject matter. It's only then can they provide special terms, an in-depth analysis and detailed descriptions backed by credible and supporting evidence.

  •  Essay on Process Analysis

Process analysis essays are often classified under expository essays. Mastering how to write such papers will be essential to other disciplines. The assumption is writers who learn to write process analysis essays become quite good at technical writing. That is because both papers necessitate a describing a step by step process in detail. It is centered on answering the "How to" question.

  •  Essay on Cultural Identity

A cultural identity essay is a paper that gives students the opportunity to present their personal views, traditions, customs, religion, language and so on. In the US, lecturers assign such papers with the goal of letting the native students learn a thing or two about the culture, beliefs, and customs of the international students. Although this article may be personal, it requires writing about a group of people with a rich and interesting cultural background.

  •  Research Paper

Research papers are a more advanced class of essays. They are college-level writing that requires the student to conduct research before writing. They have an elaborate structure that will include a title page, outline, abstract, introduction, methods, findings, discussion, conclusion, and bibliography.

Writing the Perfect Essay

Writing the perfect essay is a process that starts with planning to proofread then submitting the paper finally. Our platform provides students with the guidance and practice they need to improve their skills. There are templates with examples for the various essay types. We also have a professional writer who can give further guidance should a student require the help.

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