How to Write a Good Essay

 

Welcome to the RGO LLC's guide to writing academic essays. 

This guide presents tips, methods, and strategies for writing a good research paper or essay with a 5 step process:

  1. Develop a topic by understanding the assignment requirements, exploring background information, and forming a working thesis
  2. Conduct research using scholarly sources, taking critical notes and reading closely
  3. Create a thesis statement and outline of arguments that will form the essay
  4. Write the essay and integrate research evidence with properly formatted citations
  5. Edit, review and revise your thesis, outline, and writing for grammatical errors and common structural and stylistic mistakes

NEW library database for improving your writing skills! Follow the link below to access online tutorials, quizzes, and book chapters to improve spelling, punctuation, grammar, and reading: 

An essay is a "short formal piece of writing..dealing with a single subject" ("Essay," 2001). 

Derived from the French word "essai" meaning "experiment" or "attempt," an essay is typically written to try to persuade the reader using selected research evidence ("Essay," 1997).

Students are often required to write essays as course assignments in college-level programs in order to develop many important skills, such as:

  • close reading
  • critical thinking, analysis and interpretation
  • persuasion and argumentation
  • integration of research sources through summary, paraphrase and quotation
  • communicating with clarity and conciseness

There are several different essay genres, which influences the content and structure. In general, an academic essay has three parts:

(1) An introduction that gives the reader an idea of what they are about to learn and presents an argument in the form of a thesis statement

(2) body, or middle section, that provides evidence used to prove and persuade the reader to accept the writer's particular point of view

(3)conclusion that summarizes the content and findings of the essay

 

Argumentative or Persuasive Essay

An argumentative or persuasive essay takes a strong position on a topic through the use of supporting evidence. It:

  • Requires thorough research and investigation of the topic 
  • Includes a clear, strong thesis statement that is debatable
  • Considers and refutes alternative arguments with cited evidence, statistics, and facts
  • Uses fair, objective language with a well-rounded understanding of the topic

Comparative Essays

A comparative essay requires comparison and/or contrast of at least two or more items. It:

  • Attempts to build new connections or note new similarities or differences about the topic(s)
  • Typically focuses on items of the same class, i.e. two political systems (i.e. democracy or communism) or two theories (i.e. behaviorism versus constructivism)

Expository Essays

The purpose of an expository essay is to describe or explain a specific topic. It:

  • Uses factual information
  • Is written from the third-person point of view
  • Does not require a strong, formal argument

Narrative Essays

A narrative essay tells a story or describes an event in order to illustrate a key point or idea. It:

  • Uses descriptive and sensory information to communicate to the reader
  • Are often subjective rather than objective
  • Usually written from the first-person or third-person point of view
  • May be entertaining or informative

 

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References

Describe the role of the introduction and conclusion in a formal essay. (2010). In The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather guide. Retrieved from http://www.credoreference.com.

Essay. (2001). In Chambers 21st Century Dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.credoreference.com

Essay, The. (1997). In The Bloomsbury Dictionary of English Literature. Retrieved from http://www.credoreference.com

Galli, K. (2013). "What is an essay?" lecture [YouTube video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PXdHB2fbrM 

Massey University (2010). Essay writing [YouTube video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Bkk3PVjDMI


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