Literacy Ideas

Essay Writing: A complete guide for students and teachers

Essay Writing Guide

P LANNING, PARAGRAPHING AND POLISHING: FINE-TUNING THE PERFECT ESSAY

Essay writing is an essential skill for every student. Whether writing a particular academic essay (such as persuasive, narrative, descriptive, or expository) or a timed exam essay, the key to getting good at writing is to write. Creating opportunities for our students to engage in extended writing activities will go a long way to helping them improve their skills as scribes.

But, putting the hours in alone will not be enough to attain the highest levels in essay writing. Practice must be meaningful. Once students have a broad overview of how to structure the various types of essays, they are ready to narrow in on the minor details that will enable them to fine-tune their work as a lean vehicle of their thoughts and ideas.

Visual Writing Prompts

In this article, we will drill down to some aspects that will assist students in taking their essay writing skills up a notch. Many ideas and activities can be integrated into broader lesson plans based on essay writing. Often, though, they will work effectively in isolation – just as athletes isolate physical movements to drill that are relevant to their sport. When these movements become second nature, they can be repeated naturally in the context of the game or in our case, the writing of the essay.

THE ULTIMATE NONFICTION TEACHING RESOURCE

essay writing | nonfiction writing unit | Essay Writing: A complete guide for students and teachers | literacyideas.com

  • 270  pages of the most effective teaching strategies
  • 50+   digital tools  ready right out of the box
  • 75   editable resources  for student   differentiation  
  • Loads of   tricks and tips  to add to your teaching tool bag
  • All explanations are reinforced with  concrete examples.
  • Links to  high-quality video  tutorials
  • Clear objectives  easy to match to the demands of your curriculum

Planning an essay

essay writing | how to prepare for an essay | Essay Writing: A complete guide for students and teachers | literacyideas.com

The Boys Scouts’ motto is famously ‘Be Prepared’. It’s a solid motto that can be applied to most aspects of life; essay writing is no different. Given the purpose of an essay is generally to present a logical and reasoned argument, investing time in organising arguments, ideas, and structure would seem to be time well spent.

Given that essays can take a wide range of forms and that we all have our own individual approaches to writing, it stands to reason that there will be no single best approach to the planning stage of essay writing. That said, there are several helpful hints and techniques we can share with our students to help them wrestle their ideas into a writable form. Let’s take a look at a few of the best of these:

BREAK THE QUESTION DOWN: UNDERSTAND YOUR ESSAY TOPIC.

Whether students are tackling an assignment that you have set for them in class or responding to an essay prompt in an exam situation, they should get into the habit of analyzing the nature of the task. To do this, they should unravel the question’s meaning or prompt. Students can practice this in class by responding to various essay titles, questions, and prompts, thereby gaining valuable experience breaking these down.

Have students work in groups to underline and dissect the keywords and phrases and discuss what exactly is being asked of them in the task. Are they being asked to discuss, describe, persuade, or explain? Understanding the exact nature of the task is crucial before going any further in the planning process, never mind the writing process .

BRAINSTORM AND MIND MAP WHAT YOU KNOW:

Once students have understood what the essay task asks them, they should consider what they know about the topic and, often, how they feel about it. When teaching essay writing, we so often emphasize that it is about expressing our opinions on things, but for our younger students what they think about something isn’t always obvious, even to themselves.

Brainstorming and mind-mapping what they know about a topic offers them an opportunity to uncover not just what they already know about a topic, but also gives them a chance to reveal to themselves what they think about the topic. This will help guide them in structuring their research and, later, the essay they will write . When writing an essay in an exam context, this may be the only ‘research’ the student can undertake before the writing, so practicing this will be even more important.

RESEARCH YOUR ESSAY

The previous step above should reveal to students the general direction their research will take. With the ubiquitousness of the internet, gone are the days of students relying on a single well-thumbed encyclopaedia from the school library as their sole authoritative source in their essay. If anything, the real problem for our students today is narrowing down their sources to a manageable number. Students should use the information from the previous step to help here. At this stage, it is important that they:

●      Ensure the research material is directly relevant to the essay task

●      Record in detail the sources of the information that they will use in their essay

●      Engage with the material personally by asking questions and challenging their own biases

●      Identify the key points that will be made in their essay

●      Group ideas, counterarguments, and opinions together

●      Identify the overarching argument they will make in their own essay.

Once these stages have been completed the student is ready to organise their points into a logical order.

WRITING YOUR ESSAY

There are a number of ways for students to organize their points in preparation for writing. They can use graphic organizers , post-it notes, or any number of available writing apps. The important thing for them to consider here is that their points should follow a logical progression. This progression of their argument will be expressed in the form of body paragraphs that will inform the structure of their finished essay.

The number of paragraphs contained in an essay will depend on a number of factors such as word limits, time limits, the complexity of the question etc. Regardless of the essay’s length, students should ensure their essay follows the Rule of Three in that every essay they write contains an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Generally speaking, essay paragraphs will focus on one main idea that is usually expressed in a topic sentence that is followed by a series of supporting sentences that bolster that main idea. The first and final sentences are of the most significance here with the first sentence of a paragraph making the point to the reader and the final sentence of the paragraph making the overall relevance to the essay’s argument crystal clear. 

Though students will most likely be familiar with the broad generic structure of essays, it is worth investing time to ensure they have a clear conception of how each part of the essay works, that is, of the exact nature of the task it performs. Let’s review:

Common Essay Structure

Introduction: Provides the reader with context for the essay. It states the broad argument that the essay will make and informs the reader of the writer’s general perspective and approach to the question.

Body Paragraphs: These are the ‘meat’ of the essay and lay out the argument stated in the introduction point by point with supporting evidence.

Conclusion: Usually, the conclusion will restate the central argument while summarising the essay’s main supporting reasons before linking everything back to the original question.

ESSAY WRITING PARAGRAPH WRITING TIPS

essay writing | 1 How to write paragraphs | Essay Writing: A complete guide for students and teachers | literacyideas.com

●      Each paragraph should focus on a single main idea

●      Paragraphs should follow a logical sequence; students should group similar ideas together to avoid incoherence

●      Paragraphs should be denoted consistently; students should choose either to indent or skip a line

●      Transition words and phrases such as alternatively , consequently , in contrast should be used to give flow and provide a bridge between paragraphs.

HOW TO EDIT AN ESSAY

essay writing | essay editing tips | Essay Writing: A complete guide for students and teachers | literacyideas.com

Students shouldn’t expect their essays to emerge from the writing process perfectly formed. Except in exam situations and the like, thorough editing is an essential aspect in the writing process. 

Often, students struggle with this aspect of the process the most. After spending hours of effort on planning, research, and writing the first draft, students can be reluctant to go back over the same terrain they have so recently travelled. It is important at this point to give them some helpful guidelines to help them to know what to look out for. The following tips will provide just such help: 

One Piece at a Time: There is a lot to look out for in the editing process and often students overlook aspects as they try to juggle too many balls during the process. One effective strategy to combat this is for students to perform a number of rounds of editing with each focusing on a different aspect. For example, the first round could focus on content, the second round on looking out for word repetition (use a thesaurus to help here), with the third attending to spelling and grammar.

Sum It Up: When reviewing the paragraphs they have written, a good starting point is for students to read each paragraph and attempt to sum up its main point in a single line. If this is not possible, their readers will most likely have difficulty following their train of thought too and the paragraph needs to be overhauled.

Let It Breathe: When possible, encourage students to allow some time for their essay to ‘breathe’ before returning to it for editing purposes. This may require some skilful time management on the part of the student, for example, a student rush-writing the night before the deadline does not lend itself to effective editing. Fresh eyes are one of the sharpest tools in the writer’s toolbox.

Read It Aloud: This time-tested editing method is a great way for students to identify mistakes and typos in their work. We tend to read things more slowly when reading aloud giving us the time to spot errors. Also, when we read silently our minds can often fill in the gaps or gloss over the mistakes that will become apparent when we read out loud.

Phone a Friend: Peer editing is another great way to identify errors that our brains may miss when reading our own work. Encourage students to partner up for a little ‘you scratch my back, I scratch yours’.

Use Tech Tools: We need to ensure our students have the mental tools to edit their own work and for this they will need a good grasp of English grammar and punctuation. However, there are also a wealth of tech tools such as spellcheck and grammar checks that can offer a great once-over option to catch anything students may have missed in earlier editing rounds.

essay writing | Perfect essay writing for students | Essay Writing: A complete guide for students and teachers | literacyideas.com

Putting the Jewels on Display: While some struggle to edit, others struggle to let go. There comes a point when it is time for students to release their work to the reader. They must learn to relinquish control after the creation is complete. This will be much easier to achieve if the student feels that they have done everything in their control to ensure their essay is representative of the best of their abilities and if they have followed the advice here, they should be confident they have done so.

WRITING CHECKLISTS FOR ALL TEXT TYPES

writing checklists

ESSAY WRITING video tutorials

essay writing | essay writing tutorial28129 | Essay Writing: A complete guide for students and teachers | literacyideas.com

The content for this page has been written by Shane Mac Donnchaidh.  A former principal of an international school and English university lecturer with 15 years of teaching and administration experience. Shane’s latest Book, The Complete Guide to Nonfiction Writing , can be found here.  Editing and support for this article have been provided by the literacyideas team.

  • PRO Courses Guides New Tech Help Pro Expert Videos About wikiHow Pro Upgrade Sign In
  • EDIT Edit this Article
  • EXPLORE Tech Help Pro About Us Random Article Quizzes Request a New Article Community Dashboard This Or That Game Popular Categories Arts and Entertainment Artwork Books Movies Computers and Electronics Computers Phone Skills Technology Hacks Health Men's Health Mental Health Women's Health Relationships Dating Love Relationship Issues Hobbies and Crafts Crafts Drawing Games Education & Communication Communication Skills Personal Development Studying Personal Care and Style Fashion Hair Care Personal Hygiene Youth Personal Care School Stuff Dating All Categories Arts and Entertainment Finance and Business Home and Garden Relationship Quizzes Cars & Other Vehicles Food and Entertaining Personal Care and Style Sports and Fitness Computers and Electronics Health Pets and Animals Travel Education & Communication Hobbies and Crafts Philosophy and Religion Work World Family Life Holidays and Traditions Relationships Youth
  • Browse Articles
  • Learn Something New
  • Quizzes Hot
  • This Or That Game New
  • Train Your Brain
  • Explore More
  • Support wikiHow
  • About wikiHow
  • Log in / Sign up
  • Education and Communications
  • College University and Postgraduate
  • Academic Writing

How to Write Any High School Essay

Last Updated: March 22, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Emily Listmann, MA and by wikiHow staff writer, Hunter Rising . Emily Listmann is a private tutor in San Carlos, California. She has worked as a Social Studies Teacher, Curriculum Coordinator, and an SAT Prep Teacher. She received her MA in Education from the Stanford Graduate School of Education in 2014. There are 14 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 560,362 times.

Writing an essay is an important basic skill that you will need to succeed in high school and college. While essays will vary depending on your teacher and the assignment, most essays will follow the same basic structure. By supporting your thesis with information in your body paragraphs, you can successfully write an essay for any course!

Writing Help

essay writing structure high school

Planning Your Essay

Step 1 Determine the type of essay you need to write.

  • Expository essays uses arguments to investigate and explain a topic.
  • Persuasive essays try to convince the readers to believe or accept your specific point of view
  • Narrative essays tell about a real-life personal experience.
  • Descriptive essays are used to communicate deeper meaning through the use of descriptive words and sensory details.

Step 2 Do preliminary research on your essay’s topic.

  • Look through books or use search engines online to look at the broad topic before narrowing your ideas down into something more concise.

Step 3 Create an arguable thesis statement

  • For example, the statement “Elephants are used to perform in circuses” does not offer an arguable point. Instead, you may try something like “Elephants should not be kept in the circus since they are mistreated.” This allows you to find supporting arguments or for others to argue against it.
  • Keep in mind that some essay writing will not require an argument, such as a narrative essay. Instead, you might focus on a pivotal point in the story as your main claim.

Step 4 Find reliable sources...

  • Talk to your school’s librarian for direction on specific books or databases you could use to find your information.
  • Many schools offer access to online databases like EBSCO or JSTOR where you can find reliable information.
  • Wikipedia is a great starting place for your research, but it can be edited by anyone in the world. Instead, look at the article’s references to find the sites where the information really came from.
  • Use Google Scholar if you want to find peer-reviewed scholarly articles for your sources.
  • Make sure to consider the author’s credibility when reviewing sources. If a source does not include the author’s name, then it might not be a good option.

Step 5 Make an outline...

  • Outlines will vary in size or length depending on how long your essay needs to be. Longer essays will have more body paragraphs to support your arguments.

Starting an Essay

Step 1 Hook the readers with a relevant fact, quote, or question for the first sentence.

  • Make sure your quotes or information are accurate and not an exaggeration of the truth, or else readers will question your validity throughout the rest of your essay.

Step 2 Introduce your thesis in one sentence.

  • For example, “Because global warming is causing the polar ice caps to melt, we need to eliminate our reliance on fossil fuels within the next 5 years.” Or, “Since flavored tobacco appeals mainly to children and teens, it should be illegal for tobacco manufacturers to sell these products.”
  • The thesis is usually the last or second to last sentence in your introduction.

Step 3 Provide a sentence that’s a mini-outline for the topics that your essay covers.

  • Use the main topics of your body paragraphs as an idea of what to include in your mini-outline.

Step 4 Keep the introduction between 4-5 sentences.

Writing the Body Paragraphs

Step 1 Start each paragraph with a topic sentence.

  • Think of your topic sentences as mini-theses so your paragraphs only argue a specific point.

Step 2 Include evidence and quotes from your research and cite your sources.

  • Many high school essays are written in MLA or APA style. Ask your teacher what format they want you to follow if it’s not specified.

Step 3 Provide your own analysis of the evidence you find.

  • Unless you’re writing a personal essay, avoid the use of “I” statements since this could make your essay look less professional.

Step 4 Use transitional phrases between each of your body paragraphs.

  • For example, if your body paragraphs discuss similar points in a different way, you can use phrases like “in the same way,” “similarly,” and “just as” to start other body paragraphs.
  • If you are posing different points, try phrases like “in spite of,” “in contrast,” or “however” to transition.

Concluding Your Essay

Step 1 Restate your thesis and summarize your arguments briefly.

  • For example, if your thesis was, “The cell phone is the most important invention in the past 30 years,” then you may restate the thesis in your conclusion like, “Due to the ability to communicate anywhere in the world and access information easily, the cell phone is a pivotal invention in human history.”
  • If you’re only writing a 1-page paper, restating your main ideas isn’t necessary.

Step 2 Discuss why the subject of your paper is relevant moving forward.

  • For example, if you write an essay discussing the themes of a book, think about how the themes are affecting people’s lives today.

Step 3 End the paragraph with a lasting thought that ties into your introduction.

  • Try to pick the same type of closing sentence as you used as your attention getter.

Step 4 Include a Works...

  • Including a Works Cited page shows that the information you provided isn’t all your own and allows the reader to visit the sources to see the raw information for themselves.
  • Avoid using online citation machines since they may be outdated.

Revising the Paper

Step 1 Determine if your point comes across clearly through your arguments.

  • Have a peer or parent read through your essay to see if they understand what point you’re trying to make.

Step 2 Check the flow of your essay between paragraphs.

  • For example, if your essay discusses the history of an event, make sure your sentences flow in a chronological way in the order the events happened.

Step 3 Rewrite or remove any sections that go off-topic.

  • If you cut parts out of your essay, make sure to reread it to see if it affects the flow of how it reads.

Step 4 Read through your essay for punctuation or spelling errors.

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Allow ample time to layout your essay before you get started writing. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
  • If you have writer's block , take a break for a few minutes. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 2
  • Check the rubric provided by your teacher and compare your essay to it. This helps you gauge what you need to include or change. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 1

essay writing structure high school

  • Avoid using plagiarism since this could result in academic consequences. Thanks Helpful 5 Not Helpful 1

You Might Also Like

Plan an Essay Using a Mind Map

  • ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/types-of-essays/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/thesis-statements/
  • ↑ https://guides.libs.uga.edu/reliability
  • ↑ https://facultyweb.ivcc.edu/rrambo/eng1001/outline.htm
  • ↑ https://examples.yourdictionary.com/20-compelling-hook-examples-for-essays.html
  • ↑ https://wts.indiana.edu/writing-guides/how-to-write-a-thesis-statement.html
  • ↑ https://guidetogrammar.org/grammar/five_par.htm
  • ↑ https://learning.hccs.edu/faculty/jason.laviolette/persuasive-essay-outline
  • ↑ https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/paragraphs/topicsentences
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/transitions/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/ending-essay-conclusions
  • ↑ https://libguides.newcastle.edu.au/how-to-write-an-essay/conclusion
  • ↑ https://pitt.libguides.com/citationhelp
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/revising-drafts/

About This Article

Emily Listmann, MA

Writing good essays is an important skill to have in high school, and you can write a good one by planning it out and organizing it well. Before you start, do some research on your topic so you can come up with a strong, specific thesis statement, which is essentially the main argument of your essay. For instance, your thesis might be something like, “Elephants should not be kept in the circus because they are mistreated.” Once you have your thesis, outline the paragraphs for your essay. You should have an introduction that includes your thesis, at least 3 body paragraphs that explain your main points, and a conclusion paragraph. Start each body paragraph with a topic sentence that states the main point of the paragraph. As you write your main points, make sure to include evidence and quotes from your research to back it up. To learn how to revise your paper, read more from our Writing co-author! Did this summary help you? Yes No

  • Send fan mail to authors

Reader Success Stories

Ariel Arias Petzoldt

Ariel Arias Petzoldt

Aug 25, 2020

Did this article help you?

Josh H.

Nov 22, 2017

Rose Mpangala

Rose Mpangala

Oct 24, 2018

Am I a Narcissist or an Empath Quiz

Featured Articles

Make a Balsamic Reduction

Trending Articles

How to Take the Perfect Thirst Trap

Watch Articles

Wrap a Round Gift

  • Terms of Use
  • Privacy Policy
  • Do Not Sell or Share My Info
  • Not Selling Info

wikiHow Tech Help Pro:

Develop the tech skills you need for work and life

  • Skip to content
  • Skip to search
  • Staff portal (Inside the department)
  • Student portal
  • Key links for students

Other users

  • Forgot password

Notifications

{{item.title}}, my essentials, ask for help, contact edconnect, directory a to z, how to guides, going to school, essay writing.

What is an essay? – An essay (or response) is a short piece of writing. Essays are used to develop and expand ideas or arguments and include supporting evidence. In high school, students are given a question which they must develop an answer for in essay form.

Typical school essays include:

Main purpose

A discussion often consists of both sides of an argument being considered. Information and opinions about more than one side of an issue must be presented.

Statement of issue (thesis):

  • introduces issue and position to be argued
  • series of paragraphs arguing for and against the issue
  • recommendation or summary.

Key features

  • present tense
  • nevertheless
  • in contrast
  • on the other hand.
  • explore → exploration
  • recite → recitation
  • we have considered → after consideration of.

To persuade by arguing one side of an issue, e.g. letter to the editor.

Statement of position (thesis):

  • introduces issue and position to be argued.
  • one paragraph for each argument or point
  • reinforcement of thesis and recommendation.
  • most of the text is written in present tense
  • in addition
  • we have considered after → consideration of.

Critical analysis

To demonstrate an understanding of the ideas expressed in a text.

Statement of meaning:

  • introduces ideas about the central meaning(s) of the text.

one paragraph for each aspect of the text, including

  • theme/meaning
  • language use

Conclusion:

  • remind the reader of the key points.
  • several paragraphs may need to be written about one or more aspects of the text.
  • evidence, such as full quotations from the text, should be included to support the writer’s point of view.
  • furthermore.
  • write in the third person – avoid the use of ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘my’.

Compare and contrast

To compare and contrast two texts.

  • introduces the key similarities and/or differences.

Observations:

  • one paragraph for each key similarity/ difference.
  • final analysis and reaffirmation of the thesis.
  • don’t simply retell or recount – show how the texts are similar or different
  • include direct references to the text
  • alternatively

To personally evaluate the quality of a book, film, play or website etc and to judge the effectiveness of the text to either inform, entertain or persuade a particular audience.

  • an eye-catching heading to attract the reader’s attention
  • The heading may be a pun on the title of the work being reviewed.
  • a paragraph identifying the work and important details, such as the name of the director/ author, actors and publisher.

Text synopsis:

  • a series of paragraphs that provides a selective summary of the content of the text
  • main events are outlined and major characters are introduced.
  • a final paragraph (or two) which summarises the reviewer’s opinion of the text.
  • most of the text should be written in present tense
  • first person, e.g.    I/my may be used
  • descriptive language for characters, setting and events, and the making or production of the text
  • a plot summary which doesn’t reveal the ending or surprise elements of the work
  • a discussion of the author, director, designer or actors
  • use of technical and topical words, such as:
  • film – director, viewer, script, dialogue, special effect, lighting, scenery, actors.
  • book – incident, novel, author, setting, main characters, language, chapters. that provides a selective summary of the content of the text. Main events are outlined and major characters are introduced.
  • website – links, surfing, scrolling, URL, pop-ups, portal, purpose, author/producer/ designer, colour, graphics, functionality, content.
  • a recommendation for the audience to view, read or listen to the text.
  • Communication and engagement

Business Unit:

  • Communication and Engagement
  • Writing Home
  • Writing Advice Home

The Transition from High School to University Writing

  • Printable PDF Version
  • Fair-Use Policy

To meet the expectations of university writing, you will need to unlearn rules you may have learned in high school. Those rules may have helped you to plan and write your essays by providing a ready-made structure you could fit your ideas into. But continuing to rely on these rules will limit your freedom to develop more sophisticated arguments and a more mature style.

Here are some important differences between high school rules and university expectations:

Essay Structure

Thesis Statement

Introduction and Conclusion

Presentation

Here are the overall differences between the two institutions in philosophy and approach:

  • Our Mission

4 Engaging Writing Tasks for High School Students

Short, authentic writing tasks can encourage high school students to compose richer long pieces.

essay writing structure high school

It’s quite likely that many of your students dislike writing. After all, they’re often expected to compose lengthy pieces that typically require lots of brainstorming, researching, planning, outlining, drafting, revising, and editing—and that can be exhausting. My class of high school boys had the same attitude, and their short, underdeveloped, and passionless pieces were most telling. I had to overhaul my approach.

During my quest for an alternative practice, I quickly learned that by building students’ knowledge about the topic on which they are expected to compose, and by initially assigning them shorter and more authentic writing tasks, we can successfully motivate them to write longer, richer, and more compelling multiparagraph pieces. Yes, baby steps—from a creep to a stable walk—can work wonders.

Incorporate Knowledge-Building Activities

Judith Hochman and Natalie Wexler said it best in  The Writing Revolution: A Guide to Advancing Thinking Through Writing in All Subjects and Grades : “Writing and content knowledge are intimately related. You can’t write well about something you don’t know well. The more students know about a topic before they begin to write, the better they will be able to write about it.”

Documentaries, podcasts, TED Talks, and other authentic and engaging audiovisuals can facilitate this knowledge building. Field trips, as well as interviews with relevant community-based experts, can also offer students significant fodder for their writing.

Moreover, when students have interesting discoveries to share, they’ll be excited about the writing tasks, and their compositions are likely to be longer, more detailed, more affecting, and more compelling. Because they have a rich knowledge bank, they’re less likely to get stuck and frustrated as they write. Knowledge stimulates ideas.

But information gathering is not all. It’s also important to show students how to use the newly learned content. We don’t want them to plagiarize information or inadvertently silence their own voices by over-quoting others. Their research should enhance what they write, not substitute for their initial thoughts or suppress their creativity.

What can you do then?

Go beyond lessons in citation format. Model, through write-aloud, how to make decisions about the content included in written work, how to paraphrase and summarize from the original source, and how to ensure that the added content actually strengthens what you already have.

Offer Authentically Rooted Writing Assignments

Finally, make sure that the writing assignments are authentic—with realistic, real-world communicative goals and true-to-life audiences (not just the classroom teacher). Here are some suggestions that you can implement in your teaching practice:

Travel blogs:  Take students on virtual field trips. Nearpod , Google Earth, and YouTube are excellent for this. Following this activity, have students write a blog post to describe the place they visited. If your students have visited resorts or attraction sites locally, they could write about that experience, recommend activities for prospective visitors, and simultaneously persuade them to visit when it is safe to do so.

Their insights might even persuade others to travel to this site. Students could use pictures to supplement their writing. They could also convert their written piece into a mini-video production for a real or imagined YouTube channel that promotes exotic getaways. Their composition would become the audio narration, and, with some background reggae, R & B, or any other culturally popular music, their piece would be beautifully transformed into a riveting marketing pitch.

Movie reviews:  Due to the pandemic, we know that many of our students may be watching far more movies than ever before. Therefore, let’s repurpose this social activity and use what they love or do for pleasure to help them refine a key academic skill. Have students write a review of their most recently watched or favorite film.

Prompt them to provide a summary of the movie, share their impressions of major characters and the plot’s unfolding, and examine the techniques used to create suspense and mounting tension. Later, when they’re writing their own narratives or putting on drama productions, they can adopt and adapt some of these techniques.

Song or music video reviews: Some students enjoy listening to music, so a song or music video review could also motivate them and facilitate interest-based differentiation. State where the review may be published—a local tabloid, a social media page, etc. Have students keep that in mind as they write so that their finished pieces are authentic and fitting for the context and audience intended.

Social media:  Based on your content area, you could have students make discipline-specific posts and write related captions. For instance, if you are looking at rocks in geography or soil types in science, have students photograph different types and post related descriptive or explanatory captions. They’ll be learning and teaching concurrently.

Provide Mentor Texts

These activities are exciting, but before you scuttle off to assign them, find or create models of the kinds of writing that you want your students to produce. Discuss the sample by prompting students to keenly attend to the content and the writer’s craft (style and techniques) throughout the piece.

Finally, make arrangements to have your students publish their pieces—through a safe online space or through an in-school magazine or newsletter—for authenticity at its finest.

Have a language expert improve your writing

Check your paper for plagiarism in 10 minutes, generate your apa citations for free.

  • Knowledge Base
  • College essay
  • College Essay Format & Structure | Example Outlines

College Essay Format & Structure | Example Outlines

Published on September 24, 2021 by Meredith Testa . Revised on May 31, 2023.

There are no set rules for how to structure a college application essay, but you should carefully plan and outline to make sure your essay flows smoothly and logically.

Typical structural choices include

  • a series of vignettes with a common theme
  • a single story that demonstrates your positive qualities

Table of contents

Formatting your essay, outlining the essay, structures that work: two example outlines, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about college application essays.

You should keep the formatting as simple as possible. Admissions officers need to work very quickly, so fancy formatting, unnecessary flourishes, and unique fonts will come off as more distracting than individual. Keep in mind that, if you’re pasting your essay into a text box, formatting like italics may not transfer.

Your essay will be easier for admissions officers to read if it is 1.5- or double-spaced. If you choose to attach a file, ensure that it is a PDF.

You don’t need a title for your essay, but you can include one, especially if you think it will add something important.

Most importantly, ensure that you stick to the word count. Most successful essays are 500–600 words. Because you’re limited in length, make sure that you write concisely . Say everything that you need to express to get your point across, but don’t use more words than necessary, and don’t repeat yourself.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

Once you’ve finished brainstorming topics but before you start writing, think about your writing’s trajectory: how you’ll start the essay , develop it, and end it .

Do you want to organize it chronologically? Would you prefer to make a “sandwich” structure by introducing a topic or idea, moving away from it, and then coming back to it at the end? There’s a variety of options (and a pair of strong examples below), but make sure you consider how you’d like to structure the essay before you start writing.

Although you should organize your thoughts in an outline, you don’t have to stick to it strictly. Once you begin writing, you may find that the structure you’d originally chosen doesn’t quite work. In that case, it’s fine to try something else. Multiple drafts of the same essay are key to a good final product.

Whatever structure you choose, it should be clear and easy to follow, and it should be feasible to keep it within the  word count . Never write in a way that could confuse the reader. Remember, your audience will not be reading your essay closely!

Vignettes with a common theme

The vignette structure discusses several experiences that may seem unrelated, but the author weaves them together and unites them with a common theme.

For example, a student could write an essay exploring various instances of their ability to make the best of bad situations. A rough outline for that essay might look like this:

  • In a rehearsal for a school play when a lighting fixture malfunctioned and the set caught fire, I helped extinguish it.
  • To help the situation, I improvised fixes for the set and talked with the director about adding lines referencing the “disaster.”
  • I didn’t get into my first-choice high school, but I became class president at the school where I ended up.
  • When I had ACL surgery, I used the downtime to work on my upper body strength and challenged my friends to pull-up contests.
  • How these qualities will serve me in college and in my career

Single story that demonstrates traits

The narrative structure focuses on a single overarching story that shows many aspects of a student’s character.

Some such essays focus on a relatively short event that the author details moment by moment, while others discuss the story of a longer journey, one that may cover months or years.

For example, a student might discuss trying out for a sports team as a middle schooler, high school freshman, and high school senior, using each of those instances to describe an aspect of their personality. A rough outline for that essay might look like this:

  • Confident, there to have fun
  • Very passionate and in love with the sport
  • Little sister was born that day, so I had to go alone with a friend’s parents
  • Learned to be independent and less self-centered
  • Realized that as much as I love gymnastics, there are more important things
  • Gave up first homecoming of high school, had to quit other activities, lost countless hours with friends
  • I had to repeat level 9 and didn’t progress quickly
  • I had a terrible beam routine at one competition the previous year and still had a mental block
  • I got stuck on some skills, and it took over a year to learn them
  • Passion from age 7, perspective from age 11, diligence from age 15

If you want to know more about academic writing , effective communication , or parts of speech , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

Academic writing

  • Writing process
  • Transition words
  • Passive voice
  • Paraphrasing

 Communication

  • How to end an email
  • Ms, mrs, miss
  • How to start an email
  • I hope this email finds you well
  • Hope you are doing well

 Parts of speech

  • Personal pronouns
  • Conjunctions

There are no set rules for how to structure a college application essay , but these are two common structures that work:

  • A montage structure, a series of vignettes with a common theme.
  • A narrative structure, a single story that shows your personal growth or how you overcame a challenge.

Avoid the five-paragraph essay structure that you learned in high school.

Your college essay’s format should be as simple as possible:

  • Use a standard, readable font
  • Use 1.5 or double spacing
  • If attaching a file, save it as a PDF
  • Stick to the word count
  • Avoid unusual formatting and unnecessary decorative touches

You don’t need a title for your college admissions essay , but you can include one if you think it adds something important.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Testa, M. (2023, May 31). College Essay Format & Structure | Example Outlines. Scribbr. Retrieved February 22, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/college-essay/format-outline-structure/

Is this article helpful?

Meredith Testa

Meredith Testa

Other students also liked, how to revise your college admissions essay | examples, what do colleges look for in an essay | examples & tips, how to research and write a "why this college" essay.

How Our Essay Service Works

essay writing structure high school

Customer Reviews

offers a great selection of professional essay writing services. Take advantage of original, plagiarism-free essay writing. Also, separate editing and proofreading services are available, designed for those students who did an essay and seek professional help with polishing it to perfection. In addition, a number of additional essay writing services are available to boost your customer experience to the maximum!

Advanced writer

Add more quality to your essay or be able to obtain a new paper within a day by requesting a top or premium writer to work on your order. The option will increase the price of your order but the final result will be totally worth it.

Top order status

Every day, we receive dozens of orders. To process every order, we need time. If you’re in a great hurry or seek premium service, then choose this additional service. As a result, we’ll process your order and assign a great writer as soon as it’s placed. Maximize your time by giving your order a top status!

SMS updates

Have you already started to write my essay? When it will be finished? If you have occasional questions like that, then opt-in for SMS order status updates to be informed regarding every stage of the writing process. If you’re pressed for time, then we recommend adding this extra to your order.

Plagiarism report

Is my essay original? How do I know it’s Turnitin-ready? Very simple – order us to attach a detailed plagiarism report when work is done so you could rest assured the paper is authentic and can be uploaded to Turnitin without hesitating.

1-page summary

World’s peace isn’t riding on essay writing. If you don’t have any intent on reading the entire 2000-word essay that we did for you, add a 1-page summary to your order, which will be a short overview of your essay one paragraph long, just to be in the loop.

2018 Primetime Emmy & James Beard Award Winner

R&K Insider

Join our newsletter to get exclusives on where our correspondents travel, what they eat, where they stay. Free to sign up.

A History of Moscow in 13 Dishes

Featured city guides.

Professional essay writing services

Can you write my essay fast.

Our company has been among the leaders for a long time, therefore, it modernizes its services every day. This applies to all points of cooperation, but we pay special attention to the speed of writing an essay.

Of course, our specialists who have extensive experience can write the text quickly without losing quality. The minimum lead time is three hours. During this time, the author will find the necessary information, competently divide the text into several parts so that it is easy to read and removes unnecessary things. We do not accept those customers who ask to do the work in half an hour or an hour just because we care about our reputation and clients, so we want your essay to be the best. Without the necessary preparation time, specialists will not be able to achieve an excellent result, and the user will remain dissatisfied. For the longest time, we write scientific papers that require exploratory research. This type of work takes up to fourteen days.

We will consider any offers from customers and advise the ideal option, with the help of which we will competently organize the work and get the final result even better than we expected.

Courtney Lees

essay writing structure high school

We suggest our customers use the original top-level work we provide as a study aid and not as final papers to be submitted in class. Order your custom work and get straight A's.

Finished Papers

Final Paper

Finished Papers

Customer Reviews

Viola V. Madsen

IMAGES

  1. Essay Structure for High School English by Chloe Cee

    essay writing structure high school

  2. Essay Elements and Structure

    essay writing structure high school

  3. Model Basic Essay Structure Guideline Secure High Grades In Essay

    essay writing structure high school

  4. Part 5: How to Plan and Structure an Essay

    essay writing structure high school

  5. Step-By-Step Guide to Essay Writing

    essay writing structure high school

  6. PPT

    essay writing structure high school

VIDEO

  1. WRITING AN ESSAY

  2. Essay examples I The best online essay

  3. Essay On My School In English l Essay On My School l My School Essay l Essay My School l My School l

  4. GUIDE TO WRITING AN ESSAY📝

  5. Watch This Before Writing Your College Essay

  6. Essay Writing

COMMENTS

  1. How to Structure an Essay

    Revised on July 23, 2023. The basic structure of an essay always consists of an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. But for many students, the most difficult part of structuring an essay is deciding how to organize information within the body.

  2. Essay Structure: The 3 Main Parts of an Essay

    Basic essay structure: the 3 main parts of an essay Almost every single essay that's ever been written follows the same basic structure: Introduction Body paragraphs Conclusion This structure has stood the test of time for one simple reason: It works.

  3. Essay Writing: A complete guide for students and teachers

    Though students will most likely be familiar with the broad generic structure of essays, it is worth investing time to ensure they have a clear conception of how each part of the essay works, that is, of the exact nature of the task it performs. Let's review: Common Essay Structure. Introduction: Provides the reader with context for the essay ...

  4. PDF Teaching Secondary Students to Write Effectively

    Effective writing is a vital component of students' literacy achievement, and writing is a critical communication tool for students to convey thoughts and opinions, describe ideas and events, and analyze information. Indeed, writing is a life-long skill that plays a key role in post-secondary success across academic and vocational disciplines.1

  5. The Beginner's Guide to Writing an Essay

    The essay writing process consists of three main stages: Preparation: Decide on your topic, do your research, and create an essay outline. Writing: Set out your argument in the introduction, develop it with evidence in the main body, and wrap it up with a conclusion.

  6. How to Write Any High School Essay (with Pictures)

    1 Determine the type of essay you need to write. Check the specific requirements for your essay provided by your teacher to see what type of essay you need to write. While the essays will differ in subject matter, they tend to follow the same 5 paragraph structure.

  7. Guide to High School Writing and Analysis

    Writing a Focused Response In a focused response, you read a passage and respond to a related question. Your response should be 1-3 paragraphs in length, depending on the prompt. It has the same basic elements as a three-part essay, but it is more concise. Tips for Writing a Focused Response: Read the question first! It helps to have the ...

  8. Essay writing

    The body of an essay is where the student expands on the points outlined in the introduction. The body is where the student tries to convince the reader of their point of view and effectively 'answers' the essay question. The body includes a number of linked paragraphs with references to the text (s) to back up the writer's point of view.

  9. PDF Essay Writing: Writer's Checklist

    Essay Writing: Writer's Checklist Introduction: Is the main idea (i.e., the writer's opinion of the story title) stated clearly? Is the introductory paragraph interesting? Does it make the reader want to keep on reading? Body Paragraphs: Does each body paragraph have a clear topic sentence that is related to the main idea of the essay?

  10. PDF The Basic Five Paragraph Essay: Format and Outline Worksheet

    There is an Outline worksheet on the back of this page to help you start planning the content, order and organization of your essay. Paragraph 1: Introduction -- If possible, open with an attention-getting device to interest the reader (perhaps a quote or question). Introduce the topic of your essay in general, and present some context for this ...

  11. PDF Strategies for Essay Writing

    understand why it's worth writing that essay. A strong thesis will be arguable rather than descriptive, and it will be the right scope for the essay you are writing. If your thesis is descriptive, then you will not need to convince your readers of anything—you will be naming or summarizing something your readers can already see for themselves.

  12. Essay writing

    descriptive language for characters, setting and events, and the making or production of the text. a plot summary which doesn't reveal the ending or surprise elements of the work. a discussion of the author, director, designer or actors. use of technical and topical words, such as:

  13. Part 5: How to Plan and Structure an Essay

    In this part of our guide, we explain how to plan and structure an essay. We also give you a variety of different structures that you can employ in your essays to ensure that you get the marks you need.

  14. Paragraph Structure: How to Write Strong Paragraphs

    Matt Ellis Updated on June 2, 2022 Students Writing Tips Paragraphs are medium-sized units of writing, longer than sentences, but shorter than sections, chapters, or entire works.

  15. Essay Assignments That Actually Engage High School Writers

    Essay Assignments That Actually Engage High School Writers Cookie-cutter essays may reflect students' attitude toward the assignment, not their writing ability. Here's a way to make that stack of grading more rewarding. By Jori Krulder March 18, 2021 insta_photos / iStock

  16. The Transition from High School to University Writing

    Essay Structure Paragraphs Thesis Statement Introduction and Conclusion Argument Presentation Here are the overall differences between the two institutions in philosophy and approach: High School … University …

  17. 4 Engaging Writing Tasks for High School Students

    Finally, make sure that the writing assignments are authentic—with realistic, real-world communicative goals and true-to-life audiences (not just the classroom teacher). Here are some suggestions that you can implement in your teaching practice: Travel blogs: Take students on virtual field trips. Nearpod, Google Earth, and YouTube are ...

  18. College Essay Format & Structure

    Revised on May 31, 2023. There are no set rules for how to structure a college application essay, but you should carefully plan and outline to make sure your essay flows smoothly and logically. Typical structural choices include a series of vignettes with a common theme a single story that demonstrates your positive qualities

  19. Moscow City Essay

    Level: Master's, University, College, High School, PHD, Undergraduate. Moscow City Essay: ... World's peace isn't riding on essay writing. If you don't have any intent on reading the entire 2000-word essay that we did for you, add a 1-page summary to your order, which will be a short overview of your essay one paragraph long, just to be ...

  20. 21 Things to Know Before You Go to Moscow

    1: Off-kilter genius at Delicatessen: Brain pâté with kefir butter and young radishes served mezze-style, and the caviar and tartare pizza. Head for Food City. You might think that calling Food City (Фуд Сити), an agriculture depot on the outskirts of Moscow, a "city" would be some kind of hyperbole. It is not.

  21. Moscow City Essay

    She believes essay writing to be her specialty. Bathrooms . 2. Betty Chen. Hi,I need an urgent assignment done. ID 8212. Moscow City Essay: Allene W. Leflore #1 in Global Rating ... High School, Master's, Undergraduate, PHD. Custom Essay Writing Service Professionals write your essay - timely, polished, unique.

  22. Moscow City Essay

    offers a great selection of professional essay writing services. Take advantage of original, plagiarism-free essay writing. Also, separate editing and proofreading services are available, designed for those students who did an essay and seek professional help with polishing it to perfection. ... Level: College, University, High School, Master's ...