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7 Qualities of a Successful College Essay
Bonus Material: 30 College Essays That Worked
The college essay is one of the most important aspects of a student’s application.
It gives applicants an opportunity to articulate their personal values, character traits, and perspectives. It’s also a chance to add more value to your application, simply by demonstrating who you are outside of your resume and transcript.
A “successful” college essay is one that makes the most of these opportunities and, in many cases, earns an acceptance.
We’ve demystified what most admissions officers look for in college applications . But what are these officers looking for in the college essay itself? What are the top qualities of a successful application essay?
In analyzing various essays of admitted applicants, we’ve come up with a list of the characteristics that most of these pieces have in common. We’ll be referring to some of these pieces throughout the post.
Plus, we give you access to 30 college essays that earned their writers acceptance into Ivy League schools. Grab these below.
Download 30 College Essays That Worked
Here’s what we cover:
- What is The College Application Essay (in a nutshell)?
- 7 Qualities of a Successful Essay
- Bonus: 30 College Essays That Worked
The College Application Essay In a Nutshell
Most students applying to a college or university in the U.S. must submit an application essay (or “personal statement”) with their application.
Depending on the application platform the college uses (typically either Coalition or the Common App ), students have 500-650 words to craft a response. While each of these platforms has college essay prompts, it’s helpful to view these prompts as general guidelines as to what colleges are looking for in a response.
Based on these prompts and our own experience coaching college essay students , the application essay is:
- the chance to say what the rest of your application doesn’t say
- a demonstration of your character, values, and/or voice
- the platform to show who you are outside of a resume/transcript
- an introspective personal essay
The college essay is NOT :
- a rehashing of your resume
- an excuse or explanation of other components of your application
- a formal, five-paragraph essay
- what you think “colleges want to hear”
A standard college application includes an academic transcript, recommendation letters, extracurricular / activities section, an optional resume, and standardized test scores. The essay is an addition to these 4 general components, so it makes sense that it should complement them by saying something new.
That’s why we like to define the essay as a “demonstration of character, values, and/or voice.” True, these elements can be inferred from other components of the application. But the essay is your opportunity to clearly and personally demonstrate what matters to you, who you are at the core, and/or your essential perspectives of the world.
For this reason, the college essay is introspective and personal. Colleges want to hear that “I” voice in the application essay, loud and clear, and they want active, intelligent reflection.
You can see this in action in the 30 college essays that worked, which you can download below.
( Note: Some colleges might require applicants to submit supplemental essays in addition to their personal statement. These often have very specific prompts and different word lengths. Here are 8 great tips for approaching supplemental essays . )
7 Qualities of a Successful College Essay
We’ve assessed several college essays of applicants admitted to a wide range of schools, including Ivy League institutions. While extremely diverse, these pieces generally had the following characteristics in common.
1. Introspective and reflective
Many English teachers tell their students not to use the first-person “I” in their essays. While this might be the standard for some academic essays, the college essay should include that “I.” What’s more, it should include a lot of that “I”!
This can be understandably uncomfortable for students, many of whom may simply not be used to talking about themselves openly and declaratively on a page. It can also feel awkward from a stylistic point of view for students who are not used to writing in the first-person.
Yet colleges want to hear your words in your own voice, and they are especially interested in learning more about your perspectives on the world and insights gleaned from your various life experiences. That’s why many successful college essays are highly introspective, full of the writer’s active reflections on what they’ve learned, how they view the world, and who they are.
We typically see the bulk of such introspection at the end of an essay, where the writer summarizes these reflections (although this is by no means standard), as we can see in the conclusion to Erica’s essay here, which describes her earlier attempt to write and publish a novel:
Sometimes, when I’m feeling insecure about my ability as a novelist I open up my first draft again, turn to a random chapter, and read it aloud. Publishing that first draft would have been a horrible embarrassment that would have haunted me for the rest of my life. Over the past half-decade, I’ve been able to explore my own literary voice, and develop a truly original work that I will be proud to display. This experience taught me that “following your dreams” requires more than just wishing upon a star. It takes sacrifice, persistence, and grueling work to turn fantasy into reality.
In her personal statement, Aja reflects deeply on what she specifically learned from an experience described earlier on in the piece:
I found from my experiment and questioning within my mind that my practices distinguished me from others, thereby allowing me to form relationships on the basis of common interest or personality, rather than cultural similarities, that summer. I valued the relationships more, and formed a deep connection with my lab partner, whom I had found was similar to me in many ways.
Notice how both of these selections contain a lot of that first-person voice, which is critical to elaborating perspectives, learning points, and introspective thoughts. And did we mention that admissions officers are looking for those specific perspectives, learning points, and thoughts that compose who you are?
2. Full of a student’s voice
An academic transcript can be revealing to admissions officers. The same goes for recommendation letters and resumes. But it’s hard to convey an individual voice in these application components. The college essay is your prime vehicle for speaking directly to colleges in your own words about what matters to you.
Successful college essays thus veer away from the formal voice many students employ when writing academic essays. Rather, they showcase a student’s unique way of expressing themselves on a page, which can be, for example, humorous, informal, intimate, lyrical, and/or speculative.
Voice is at the forefront of Emma’s essay about her love for “all that is spicy:”
I am an aspiring hot sauce sommelier. Ever since I was a child, I have been in search for all that is spicy. I began by dabbling in peppers of the jarred variety. Pepperoncini, giardiniera, sports peppers, and jalapeños became not only toppings, but appetizers, complete entrées, and desserts. As my palate matured, I delved into a more aggressive assortment of spicy fare. I’m not referring to Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, the crunchy snack devoured by dilettantes. No, it was bottles of infernal magma that came next in my tasting curriculum.
Notice how Emma’s descriptions of her passion for spice are rich with her voice: playful, intelligent, and humorous. This also gives us insight into a specific aspect of her character–that’s the power of voice when it comes to personal essay writing, and college admissions officers are very interested in applicants’ characters.
3. Descriptive and engaging
You don’t have to be a natural creative writer to compose a successful college essay. Yet competitive essays aren’t afraid to dive deeply into a subject and describe it, whether that description relates to imagery, emotions, perspectives, or insights. A college essay shouldn’t leave the reader guessing in any way–it should be highly specific and it should tell your story in an engaging fashion.
Harry’s more intellectual essay presents his views on common values in society. He is careful to be very specific and descriptive in these views, incorporating both a relevant incident from history and his own direct relationship to the issue:
Admittedly, the problem of social integration is one I feel can be widely overstated – for example, when I was looking into some research for a similar topic a couple of years ago, I found numerous surveys indicating that ethnic minorities (especially Islam) identify much more closely with Britain than do the population at large. Still though, I, like many others, find myself constantly troubled by the prospect of the war from within that seems to be developing. This fear is fuelled by events such as the brutal killing of the soldier Lee Rigby at the hands of two British Muslims a couple of years ago.
In her essay, Amanda is extremely detailed in describing her experience as a caretaker for a difficult child. The result is a clear portrait of the challenge itself and Amanda’s relationship to this challenge, told from the perspective of an engaging storyteller:
Then I met Robyn, and I realized how wrong I was. Prone to anger, aggressive, sometimes violent (I have the scar to prove it). Every Sunday with Robyn was a challenge. Yoga, dancing, cooking, art, tennis – none of these activities held her interest for long before she would inevitably throw a tantrum or stalk over to a corner to sulk or fight with the other children. She alternated between wrapping her arms around my neck, declaring to anyone who passed by that she loved me, and clawing at my arms, screaming at me to leave her alone.
The successful college essays we see always emerge from a place of honesty. Writing with honesty also is more likely to accurately convey a student’s unique voice, inspire reflection and introspection, and result in a descriptive, meaningful piece (all of the qualities listed in this post!).
Sometimes this means adopting a candid or direct voice on the page. James starts his essay frankly in this singular statement:
Simply put, my place of inner peace is the seat of that 50 foot sliver of carbon and kevlar called a rowing shell, cutting through the water in the middle of a race.
Or it might mean describing a challenge, vulnerability, or perspective truthfully, as Martin does in his essay about the experiences that have molded his character over the years:
Looking back, I have never been the “masculine boy” as society says my role to be. I have always thought I do not fit the social definition of a male as one who is “manly” and “sporty” and this alienating feeling of being different still persists today at times. However, I also have become more comfortable with myself, and I see my growth firsthand throughout high school.
Given that many universities value “truth” in their own mission statements and mottos, admissions officers will prioritize those essays that ring with a student’s honest voice.
5. Unconventional & distinct
This is by no means a requirement of a successful college essay. But many of the essays that earn students acceptance at their dream schools veer away from the predictable or expected, as we saw in Emma’s essay above (“I am an aspiring hot sauce sommelier”). They are, in a nutshell, 100% unique.
We’ve seen some essays, for example, that follow more radical structures, such as list formats or experimental narratives. Others focus on unexpected subjects, like Shanaz’s piece on the relevance of Game of Thrones in her life and trajectory of learning.
And, time and again, successful college essays step away from what admissions officers already see in applications–academics, standardized tests, extracurricular activities, and classes. They may focus on something very specific (hot sauce or Game of Thrones ), seemingly ordinary (eating a kosher meal in public or working on a problem set), or personally interesting (a historic murder or wrestling game).
Regardless, the essays that “work” emphasize the unexpected, as opposed to the expected. Distinct essays will also feel as if they could not have been written by anyone else .
This might also sound like an obvious quality of a successful essay, but it’s still worth mentioning. The most competitive application essays showcase strong writing skills, providing evidence of a student’s ability to tell a specific story artfully and well.
Essays should also be error-free, grammatically precise, and stylistically on point. Successful pieces also might demonstrate versatility through varied sentence structure, word choice, and rhetorical or literary devices. Lastly, well-written essays typically adhere to a specific storytelling structure.
This excerpt from Justin’s essay about his experience in the California Cadet Corps, for example, displays a high command of language, word choice, and sentence structure:
Through Survival, I learned many things about myself and the way I approach the world. I realized that I take for granted innumerable small privileges and conveniences and that I undervalue what I do have. Now that I had experienced true and sustained hunger, I felt regret for times when I threw away food and behaved with unconscious waste.
Above all, a successful college essay adds value to a student’s holistic college application. It is full of meaning , in that it
- showcases a student’s unique voice
- elucidates an applicant’s particular perspective(s), character trait(s), and/or belief(s) and
- honestly conveys a significant component of who a student is
It might be difficult to compress the entirety of who you are into 650 words. Yet it is most certainly possible to craft 650 words that add significant meaning to an overall application in terms of a student’s personal potential for the future. This is exactly what admissions officers are looking for .
What can you do to ensure that your college essay aligns with these successful qualities? You can check out examples of essays that do!
You can download 30 actual college essays that earned their writers acceptance into Ivy League schools, right now, for free.
Kate is a graduate of Princeton University. Over the last decade, Kate has successfully mentored hundreds of students in all aspects of the college admissions process, including the SAT, ACT, and college application essay.
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Eight Characteristics of Good Writing
by Melissa Donovan | Dec 2, 2021 | Better Writing | 31 comments
What’s the difference between bad and good writing?
How important is it for a writer to be able to discern the difference between good writing and bad writing?
Pretty important, if you ask me.
I know some writers aren’t concerned with quality. In today’s do-it-yourself and get-it-done-fast world, quality plays second fiddle to quantity. Who cares if your books are full of typos, bad grammar, and poor logic as long as you have published lots and made a bunch of money?
The Characteristics of Good Writing
So, what constitutes good writing? Opinions on the matter vary widely. There will be different traits that make good fiction versus good poetry or good nonfiction. However, we can cull together a general list of the characteristics of good writing (in no particular order):
- Clarity and focus: In good writing, everything makes sense and readers don’t get lost or have to reread passages to figure out what’s going on. Focused writing sticks with the plot or core idea without running off on too many tangents.
- Organization: A well organized piece of writing is not only clear, it’s presented in a way that is logical and aesthetically pleasing. You can tell non-linear stories or place your thesis at the end of an essay and get away with it as long as your scenes or ideas are well ordered.
- Ideas and themes: Is the topic of your paper relevant? Does your story come complete with themes? Can the reader visualize your poem? For a piece of writing to be considered well crafted, it has to contain clearly identifiable ideas and themes.
- Voice: This is what sets you apart from all other writers. It’s your unique way of stringing words together, formulating ideas, and relating scenes or images to the reader. In any piece of writing, the voice should be consistent and identifiable.
- Language (word choice): We writers can never underestimate or fail to appreciate our most valuable tools: words. Good writing includes precise and accurate word choices and well crafted sentences.
- Grammar and style: Many writers would wish this one away, but for a piece of writing to be considered good (let alone great), it has to follow the rules of grammar (and break those rules only when there’s a good reason). Style is also important in ensuring that a piece of writing is clear and consistent. Make sure you keep a grammar book and style guide handy.
- Credibility or believability: Nothing says bad writing like getting the facts wrong or misrepresenting oneself. In fiction, the story must be believable (even if it’s impossible), and in nonfiction, accurate research can make or break a writer.
- Thought-provoking or emotionally inspiring: Perhaps the most important quality of good writing is how the reader responds to it. Does she come away with a fresh perspective and new ideas? Does he close the cover with tears in his eyes or a sense of victory? How readers react to your work will fully determine your success as a writer.
I want to add an honorable mention for originality. Everything has been done before, so originality is somewhat arbitrary. However, putting old ideas together in new ways and creating remixes of the best that literature has to offer is a skill worth developing.
Why You Need to Know the Difference Between Good and Bad Writing
To write well, a writer must be able to recognize quality in a piece of writing. How can you assess or improve your own work if you can’t tell the difference between mediocre and better writing in others’ work? This is why it’s so important for writers to be dedicated readers!
Writing is also an art form and therefore subject to personal taste. Can you read a book and dislike it but acknowledge that the writing was good? Have you ever read a book and loved the story but felt that the writing was weak?
A writer should be able to articulate why a piece of writing succeeds or fails, and a writer should also be able to recognize the qualities in a piece of writing even when it doesn’t appeal to their personal taste. These skills are especially necessary when writers are reviewing or critiquing other writers’ work and when revising, editing, and proofreading their own work.
Where do you stand? Do you rate other people’s writing? Do you worry about whether your own writing is any good? Would you add or remove any characteristics of good writing from this list? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment, and keep writing.
I have had work published. I have even won a competition and still I lack the courage to really commit to it. It’s like I heard a character in a ‘soap’ once saying: ” If I dream of doing it I can always hold onto the dream and live on the’ I could have done it if I tried’, whereas if I go ahead and do it I just might not be ‘good’ and then everything will be gone then, dream and all ! ” Everything you say makes sense but it’s courage I now seek to acquire as well as certain’ devil may care attitude . Courage and self belief and wee bit of discipline. 2012 might just be the year ! Michelle
Michelle, I actually think it’s healthy to have dreams that we don’t fully intend on pursuing. It’s good for the imagination! A person might be interested or passionate about dozens of things and cannot possibly make careers out of them all. But courage is something else… and I don’t think anyone can give you courage. You have to find it within yourself. The first step is to decide that you are going to brave the writing career. After that, you muster up the courage. It’s there inside you, and if you really want it, you’ll find it 🙂 Good luck to you!
Good one, Michelle, and needed too.
So many blog posts on how to drum up business or write enticing posts or articles, or even how to avoid embarrassing grammatical errors (not that those are not important).
So little on just plain old good writing. Writing that is unusually good, that delights, that informs with impact,
I love the freedom an informal style of modern English. But sometimes I worry a bit that contemporary readers are being fed to many tiny sentences to appeal to an ever-diminishing attention span.
A good list you have there. Maybe I would add that I value fluency. That adroit facility of the accomplished writer who’s covered miles of (digital) paper and now can write not only accurate and clear words and sentences but also compelling and memorable prose.
Ah, fluency is definitely necessary to good writing, although I think it comes with experience, so it might only apply to older or more advanced writers. Great food for thought, Bill. Thanks!
Loved this blog post. It actually reminded me of a quote by Oscar Wilde, “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written.”
That quote could spur a debate, I’m sure! Thanks for sharing it, Michael. I’m going to give Oscar Wilde’s idea some serious consideration.
“A writer should be able to articulate why a piece of writing succeeds or fails, and a writer should also be able to recognize the qualities in a piece of writing even when it doesn’t appeal to personal taste”
I’m reading a book right now with a story line that I don’t particularly care for. Eight chapters into it, I’m not fully invested into the story. BUT, the author’s grasp of human emotion/interaction and her ability to explicate the nuances with clarity is brilliant. That fact alone keeps interested and pulls me forward.
Ah! I’ve been there too!
This is a very well written blog, and the advice is good for teaching people how to get their points across. However, my problem is not that I can’t tell good from bad; apparently I’m quite good at assessing the quality of other authors’ writing and helping them iprove it. My problem is that though I love writing and am proud of my plot lines and characters, I don’t have a way with words and I just can’t write. Does anyone have any advice on how to make things WORK once you have everything planned out, or am I doomed to the life of an author who can’t write? That sounded really dismal.
How do really know your writing is bad? If you’ve got a plot that you love, characters that are filled with layers and truth, set them free! Turn off those negative thoughts and just run with it. Write your story through to the end. If you believe in what you’ve got so far then let it lead you. You will surprise yourself. You proved with your post above that you can convey feeling, let your characters have their voice. Take a deep breath and jump/write!! Best of luck and courageous hugs!
Thanks, Beckie. Well said!
My guess is that your way with words isn’t as bad as you think. I didn’t have any trouble understanding what you wrote. However, if you want to strengthen your skills in vocabulary, word choice, and sentence structure, there are two things you can do: read as much as possible and engage with poetry. Pick up an introductory book on poetry and you’ll learn tons of techniques in this area (which you can apply to fiction and nonfiction). This one can be expensive but it’s worth every penny: Perrine’s Sound and Sense . Good luck to you!
Thank you, both you and Beckie. That’s really good advice. 🙂 I’ll try to be more positive.
Yes! Keep your chin up and stick with it.
In my estimation, for what it’s worth, you write very well. You were clear and concise. I understood the points you were trying to convey. You even allowed a bit of your personality to shine through with self deprecation. Don’t be so hard on yourself, if you wish to be a writer then you should write. I am learning that for one to write compelling characters , one must be well acquainted with the characters they are creating. I am working on fleshing out some characters who are too one dimensional. Life is not black and white. I am trying to write in between the lines in gray. Good luck with your writing.
I’ve been perusing your site all morning. I’ve found some terrific tips, some very well-thought common sense approaches to working through difficulties in writing. And as soon as I push the submit button on this I’ll be subscribing!
Though I’ve been published and produced, I find myself in an almost constant state of questioning even the most basic ability to write. On the one hand, a local critic stated “proves he can write” and “there’s a simplicity in the writing that is quite refreshing.” On the other hand, I face a writer’s group (all women) each week who continually tell me my writing is sorely lacking because there aren’t enough issues (conflicts) in any given piece and therefore the characters do not exhibit enough “emotional levels.” Facing this type of weekly demolition has made me think I need to go back to doing what I used to do (before I became unemployed!): write for my own enjoyment and forget about any further publishing.
Where can one go to determine if there is even the slightest bit of talent worth further pursuit? I don’t mean a full-on critique of a piece, but a simple “I’d give it up if I were you.” or “This [writing] shows promise, keep learning and keep writing.”
Hmmm, Paul, possibly find a few dudes for your critiques? Also, are the women published? Have good reviews themselves? Read widely in your genre? Men and women do sometimes have widely varying ideas of what makes a good story. You may be writing good, solid, plot-driven adventures (I don’t know–maybe you’re into steamy historical romance) that don’t rely on a lot of emotional nuance. I’d look for beta-readers who understand what you are trying to accomplish.
Or take the girls with a big grain of salt and use what seems to deepen your own writing while recognizing that women’s brains are different. We have bizarre and incomprehensible ideas about relationships and whatnot. I read an interesting theory from the creators of the Dramatica Pro story outlining software about how a “masculine” character (or story) is about getting from point A to Point Z while overcoming every obstacle in between whereas a feminine character (or story) is about getting everything into balance and restoring chaos to equilibrium. Both perfectly fine stories. (I prefer the masculine-type storylines myself).
Post those good reviews and read ’em every day. I have some really nice rejections that I savor whenever I’m feeling inadequate.
Two of the ladies have been published but have no reviews of their work. All have complimented the basic plot lines. Their big complaint would seem to fall into the theory from Dramatica Pro you mention; they are looking for every female character to make absolute sense to them strictly within their belief structure of how the characters should/must react to a particular situation. Otherwise, they give solid line-edit critiques and they do point out the occassional hole in content.
None of them read within my genre – if I even have one, that is. I’d classify my novels as “budscapades” (you like my mash-up moniker?) – in other words the main characters are male (female characters do show up along the way) and they are definitely plot driven stories. In entering the Amazon Breakout Book Award Contest, I classified the novel as “bromantic comedy” (plenty of action for guys with a hint of romance for women).
Both your suggestions are solid. I’m sticking with the ladies but will weigh their critiques carefully before implementation and I’ll have to find some men who can show the same amount of weekly dedication to the process.
Thanks, Paul! I think that critique groups can be immensely beneficial, but I also think that each writer has to decide which feedback to apply and which to discard. Objectively, there’s good writing and bad writing, but subjectively, we all have our opinions and preferences. I guess you have to decide whether you want to step up the emotional levels in your characters and add more conflict or if you want to keep your work minimalist.
Here’s what matters: once you do publish, unless you are looking for awards and accolades, the trick is really to find your audience. And there is an audience for everything (as popular culture demonstrates). You might also take a hard look at what the others in your writing group are producing and ask whether this group is a good match to your writing style and needs. You can also ask one of the women in the group to work more closely with you to bring those emotional levels up, if you think you’d like to stretch yourself and experiment a little.
Final word of advice: do not give up on writing or publishing. Forge ahead! You might even look for a creative writing class or workshop — you’ll get a broader range of feedback.
And thank you, Melissa (not Melissa-me, Melissa-you) for putting some analysis into the question of what makes good writing. I get so frustrated with the “Good writing is subjective; it’s just what you like or don’t like,” crowd. The more you study writing, the more you begin to see the difference between good vs bad.
The difficulty, I suppose, is because writing is as complex as any other language. It’s too complex to learn by having the rules explained to us by helpful parents, “Now dear, this is a verb. It always goes after the subject. Is it time to make a poo-poo?” We learn the rules of spoken language by hearing it at a time when our brains are primed and programmed to take it in. Many people don’t start learning to read or write until after that language window is closed. Those of us who learned to read at the same time we were learning to talk have an advantage.
Yes, I’d have to agree that the younger we are when we are taught to read and write, the more naturally it comes. There is much about writing that is subjective, but I believe there is plenty that can be assessed critically and objectively: grammar, spelling, and punctuation, for starters.
i tell every mother about my baby can read…they agree and then dont get it for their child..
I have to admit, I share a lot of the insecurities that I have read in the comments here. I’m pretty young and new to the game, and I’m worried that even if I somehow finish this idea that I have (non-fiction) I wont be taken seriously given my lack of a college degree. I have this internal conflict raging in my subconscious, so much so that I’m starting to have dreams about it. Do I go ahead and share my thoughts with others or should I keep them to myself?
It doesn’t help that I have a fear of failure, I suppose. Writing is where I clarify my ideas and feelings, and I’m afraid that my work will be ripped apart by people that dislike it or dismiss my thoughts, mostly because I’ll take it as them dismantling my soul. Does anyone else feel this way?
As I’m writing this I’m slowly realizing that I think that what I need is a little encouragement from people that don’t know me. Man, writing is awesome!
Even if you have a degree, people can still rip your ideas apart. I believe strongly in the value of higher education, but I also know (for a fact) there are plenty of folks with degrees who lack common sense or good hearts. And there are plenty of bright people with good hearts and common sense who do not have degrees. Then again, if you’re that torn up about not having a degree, why not just go get one?
Having said all that, I think you can simply shift your focus. Most of the best writers in the literary canon did not have degrees. Many did not even finish high school. Of your favorite authors, how many have BAs or MAs? Do you know? Do you care? (I don’t.)
As for failure, everyone’s afraid of it. I don’t think we’re meant to eliminate the fear. It’s more a matter of moving forward even though we are afraid. I would say that if you publish a book, some people are not going to like it. That’s just the way it is. So what? Focus your attention and energy on all the people who do like it. If you work hard and write, and put it out there (and do your marketing), you’ll find your audience. Embrace them, and don’t worry so much about everybody else. Good luck to you!
never worry about what anyone says…if someone takes the time for a a scathing review instead of just chucking it in the trash, then you must have struck a chord with that person…all publicity is good publicity…people will want to find out what made this reviewer so angry/….if they are intelligent…
Writing well is the price of admission. But beyond the basics is where it gets squishy. Eudora Welty said something like “You’re only writing when you surprise yourself”. What does that mean? You write until you discover.
I don’t know–I would say you’re only writing when you’re putting words on the page. Surprises and discoveries are bonuses in the writing process for me. Maybe it’s because I write a lot of nonfiction, which isn’t full of discovery or surprise the way fiction is.
Great article. I’m going to link to it on Reddit!
i think another goal of writing is to use the fewest words possible to convey an idea…similies and metaphors fill this bill…but simple truth sticks with people especially when it is a parable for something much more meaningful.
I think that’s a good goal, although it’s not every writer’s goal. I love clear, simple language, but there are exceptions when I come across a poem or story that is dripping with rich language.
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The Only Guide to Essay Writing You’ll Ever Need
Feel passionately about something and want to share it? Write an essay! Disagree with a popular opinion and wish to convince others to join you? Write an essay! Need to write something because the college you dream of attending is making you? Write an essay!
“Essay” is a loose term for writing that asserts the author’s opinion on a topic, whether academic, editorial, or even humorous. There are a thousand different approaches to essay writing and a million different topics to choose from, but what we’ve found is that good essay writing tends to follow the same framework.
Give your essays extra polish Grammarly helps you write with confidence Write with Grammarly
Below we discuss that framework and how you can apply it to your essays, whatever types they may be. But first, let’s start with a basic overview of how to write an essay.
How to write an essay
The basic steps for how to write an essay are:
- Generate ideas and pick a type of essay to write.
- Outline your essay paragraph by paragraph.
- Write a rough first draft without worrying about details like word choice or grammar.
- Edit your rough draft, and revise and fix the details.
- Review your essay for typos, mistakes, and any other problems.
Want to know more? We cover the specifics below, but for now let’s talk about the nucleus of any good essay: the topic.
Your essay needs a thesis statement
There are three things to consider before writing your essay: thesis, type, and audience. Of these, the most important by far is your thesis, or the crux of what your essay is about.
Your thesis, encapsulated in your thesis statement , is the central point you’re trying to make. The thesis of Bertrand Russell’s essay “ In Praise of Idleness ,” for example, is that people focus too much on work and don’t value time spent idly. Essays can occasionally stray and go into related tangents, but they always come back to that one core idea in the thesis.
You should always pinpoint your thesis before writing. If you’re having trouble nailing it down, ask yourself, “What’s the one thing I want my reader to remember when they’re done reading my essay?”
The best practice is to include your thesis as soon as possible, even in your topic sentence if it’s appropriate. You’ll want to reiterate it throughout the essay as well, especially when wrapping up everything in the conclusion.
The rest of your essay, then, supports your thesis. You can include empirical evidence, testimonials, logical deductions, or even persuasive rhetoric —whatever gets the job done. The point is that you’re building upon your initial thesis, not switching to completely different topics.
6 types of essays
Like any form of writing, essays come in many different types. Sometimes the assignment dictates the type, as with admissions essays, and other times the thesis will determine it. Regardless, it helps to know what your options are, so here are some of the most common essay types:
1. Argumentative essay
Argumentative essays assert or defend a position. This is the most common type of school paper, so keep that in mind when writing your first college essay .
2. Admissions essay
Most colleges request an admissions essay in applications, which typically revolve around why you’re interested in their school.
3. Persuasive essay
A persuasive essay is just as it sounds: an essay to persuade or convince the reader of a certain point. It’s similar to an argumentative essay— they both strongly favor a particular point of view, but the difference is the end goal: Argumentative essays just have to present their case, while persuasive essays have to present their case and win over the reader.
4. Compare-and-contrast essay
When you want to devote equal attention to two opposing things, a compare-and-contrast essay works better than argumentative or persuasive essays, which lean to one side over the other.
5. Personal essay
Personal essays are often anecdotal or real-life stories of the authors, like the works of David Sedaris . Because they tend to follow narrative structures, the thesis can be flexible or interpretive.
6. Expository essay
An expository essay thoroughly explains a certain topic to expand the reader’s knowledge. It is similar to an argumentative and persuasive essay in format, but with one key difference: expository essays don’t have a bias.
Know your essay’s audience
Your final consideration is who will read your essay—a teacher, an admissions counselor, your peers, the internet at large, etc.
No matter what you’re writing, your audience should influence your language. For one thing, your readers determine whether the essay is formal or casual , which has an enormous impact on language, word choice, and style . Take emojis for example: In a casual essay they might be welcome, but for formal writing they’re not the most appropriate choice. 😓
Your audience also affects the essay’s tone, or how you sound on an emotional level (enthusiastic, cautious, confident, etc.). If you’d like to know more, you can read about the 10 common types of tone here .
The essay writing process
If you’re writing an essay, research paper , term paper, novel, short story, poem , screenplay, blog article about essay writing—when writing just about anything , really—it’s crucial to follow an efficient writing process. Even if you prefer the stream of consciousness style for writing your rough draft, you still need to have an orderly system that allows you to revise and hone.
For essay writing, we recommend this six-step writing process :
It always helps to collect your thoughts before you begin writing by brainstorming . Based on your prompt or thesis, try to generate as many ideas as possible to include in your essay. Think of as many as time allows, knowing that you’ll be able to set aside the ideas that don’t work later.
The preparation phase consists of both outlining your essay and collecting resources for evidence. Take a look at the results of your brainstorming session. First, isolate the ideas that are essential to support your thesis and then organize them in a logical and progressive order. In this stage you’ll incorporate your essay structure, which we explain below.
If you want empirical evidence or complementary citations, track them down now. The way you write citations depends on the style guide you’re using. The three most common style guides for academics are MLA , APA , and Chicago , and each has its own particular rules and requirements for citing just about any kind of source, including newspaper articles , websites , speeches , and YouTube videos .
This is the main stage of essay writing where you roll up your sleeves and actually write your first draft . Remember that everything doesn’t have to be perfect; this is your first draft, not your final draft, so give yourself the freedom to make errors. If you’re focusing on getting every single word right, you’ll miss the big picture.
The revisions stage involves your second draft, your third draft, or even your twelfth draft if necessary. Address all the nuances and subtleties you glossed over in the first draft.
Pay attention to both word choice and clarity , as well as sophisticated writing techniques like avoiding the passive voice . If you’re not confident in your writing skills yet, the Grammarly Editor ensures your writing is readable, clear, and concise by offering sentence structure and word choice suggestions, plus clarity revisions as you write. Grammarly helps catch common mistakes with sentence structure—like run-on sentences, sentence fragments, passive voice, and more.
When all the heavy-duty revisions are finished, it’s time for the final polish. Go through your essay and correct misspellings , formatting issues, or grammatical errors. This is also where you can turn to Grammarly’s AI-powered writing assistant, which helps catch these common mistakes for you. Or copy and paste your writing to check your grammar and get instant feedback on grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other mistakes you might have missed.
Essay structure almost always follows a simple beginning-middle-end format, or in this case, an introduction-body-conclusion format. However, it’s what’s contained within those sections that makes all the difference.
Essays follow the same guidelines for introductions as any other piece of writing, with an extra emphasis on presenting the thesis prominently, ideally in the topic sentence. By the end of your introduction paragraph, your reader should know without a doubt what your essay is about. From there, follow the conventional best practices on how to write an introduction .
The majority of your essay is body paragraphs , all of which support your thesis and present evidence.
Pay close attention to how you organize your body paragraphs. Some arguments benefit from a logical progression, where one point leads to a second, and that second point leads to a third. Remember that the reader doesn’t understand the topic like you do (that’s why you’re writing the essay), so structure your paragraphs in the way that’s best for their comprehension.
What if you’re writing an argumentative essay where you compare and contrast two or more points of view? Do you present your argument first and then share opposing points of view, or do you open with your opposition’s argument and then refute it?
Serious writers can get pretty technical about how to organize an argumentative essay. There are three approaches in particular used often: Aristotlian (classical), Rogerian , and Toulmin . However, these can get exceedingly complicated, so for a simple essay, a basic structure will do just fine:
- Evidence supporting your point and/or disproving counterpoint
Essay conclusions wrap up or summarize your thesis in a way that’s easy for the reader to digest. If you get the chance, you can add a new perspective or context for understanding your thesis, but in general the conclusion should not present any new evidence or supporting data. Rather, it’s more of a recap. For more specific tips, read about how to write a conclusion for an essay here .
For quick and simple essays, you don’t need to get too technical with your essay structure. The five-paragraph essay structure works well in a pinch. This contains:
- One introduction paragraph
- Three body paragraphs
- One conclusion paragraph
While this essay structure might not be flexible enough for more advanced topics, it comes in handy when speed is a factor, like during timed tests.
Essay writing tips
Master the five fundamentals.
Especially for school essays, your reader will scrutinize how well you handle the fundamentals. Knowing about essay structure and the writing process is one thing, but can you demonstrate an understanding of language style? Can you develop your thesis logically and coherently? Are your references and citations trustworthy?
When you’re ready for the next step of essay writing, take a look at the five concepts you must master to write better essays . The tips there pick up where this guide leaves off.
Seek out another pair of eyes
This tip is not just for essays; it’s always advisable to have someone else read over your writing before finalizing it. All too often we miss the forest for the trees, and thinking long and hard on the same topic can give you tunnel vision. The solution is to get a fresh take from someone who’s seeing it for the first time.
Typically you can swap with a friend and edit each others’ works. If that’s not an option, however, you can also use a writing center or join a writing group online. At the very least, you should sleep on it and take another look when you’re refreshed.
Remember: Grammar and form are essential
It’s not always about what you say, but how you say it. You could have the most obvious, objectively agreeable thesis in the world, but if your writing is incoherent, confusing, and full of mistakes, it’s tough to engage with your reader.
For when your writing needs to make the right impact, Grammarly Premium offers full-sentence rewrites for confusing sentences—from splitting long sentences, cutting extra words, or rearranging key phrases—in addition to catching common grammar mistakes. It also gives you readability-focused formatting suggestions, so you know your writing is clear. It also helps those who are looking to improve their writing skill level in English, with suggestions for commonly misused words and phrases.
Honing your writing with these elements in mind is key to relaying your point to your reader—and asserting your thesis as effectively as possible.
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- The four main types of essay | Quick guide with examples
The Four Main Types of Essay | Quick Guide with Examples
Published on September 4, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.
An essay is a focused piece of writing designed to inform or persuade. There are many different types of essay, but they are often defined in four categories: argumentative, expository, narrative, and descriptive essays.
Argumentative and expository essays are focused on conveying information and making clear points, while narrative and descriptive essays are about exercising creativity and writing in an interesting way. At university level, argumentative essays are the most common type.
In high school and college, you will also often have to write textual analysis essays, which test your skills in close reading and interpretation.
Table of contents
Argumentative essays, expository essays, narrative essays, descriptive essays, textual analysis essays, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about types of essays.
An argumentative essay presents an extended, evidence-based argument. It requires a strong thesis statement —a clearly defined stance on your topic. Your aim is to convince the reader of your thesis using evidence (such as quotations ) and analysis.
Argumentative essays test your ability to research and present your own position on a topic. This is the most common type of essay at college level—most papers you write will involve some kind of argumentation.
The essay is divided into an introduction, body, and conclusion:
- The introduction provides your topic and thesis statement
- The body presents your evidence and arguments
- The conclusion summarizes your argument and emphasizes its importance
The example below is a paragraph from the body of an argumentative essay about the effects of the internet on education. Mouse over it to learn more.
A common frustration for teachers is students’ use of Wikipedia as a source in their writing. Its prevalence among students is not exaggerated; a survey found that the vast majority of the students surveyed used Wikipedia (Head & Eisenberg, 2010). An article in The Guardian stresses a common objection to its use: “a reliance on Wikipedia can discourage students from engaging with genuine academic writing” (Coomer, 2013). Teachers are clearly not mistaken in viewing Wikipedia usage as ubiquitous among their students; but the claim that it discourages engagement with academic sources requires further investigation. This point is treated as self-evident by many teachers, but Wikipedia itself explicitly encourages students to look into other sources. Its articles often provide references to academic publications and include warning notes where citations are missing; the site’s own guidelines for research make clear that it should be used as a starting point, emphasizing that users should always “read the references and check whether they really do support what the article says” (“Wikipedia:Researching with Wikipedia,” 2020). Indeed, for many students, Wikipedia is their first encounter with the concepts of citation and referencing. The use of Wikipedia therefore has a positive side that merits deeper consideration than it often receives.
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An expository essay provides a clear, focused explanation of a topic. It doesn’t require an original argument, just a balanced and well-organized view of the topic.
Expository essays test your familiarity with a topic and your ability to organize and convey information. They are commonly assigned at high school or in exam questions at college level.
The introduction of an expository essay states your topic and provides some general background, the body presents the details, and the conclusion summarizes the information presented.
A typical body paragraph from an expository essay about the invention of the printing press is shown below. Mouse over it to learn more.
The invention of the printing press in 1440 changed this situation dramatically. Johannes Gutenberg, who had worked as a goldsmith, used his knowledge of metals in the design of the press. He made his type from an alloy of lead, tin, and antimony, whose durability allowed for the reliable production of high-quality books. This new technology allowed texts to be reproduced and disseminated on a much larger scale than was previously possible. The Gutenberg Bible appeared in the 1450s, and a large number of printing presses sprang up across the continent in the following decades. Gutenberg’s invention rapidly transformed cultural production in Europe; among other things, it would lead to the Protestant Reformation.
A narrative essay is one that tells a story. This is usually a story about a personal experience you had, but it may also be an imaginative exploration of something you have not experienced.
Narrative essays test your ability to build up a narrative in an engaging, well-structured way. They are much more personal and creative than other kinds of academic writing . Writing a personal statement for an application requires the same skills as a narrative essay.
A narrative essay isn’t strictly divided into introduction, body, and conclusion, but it should still begin by setting up the narrative and finish by expressing the point of the story—what you learned from your experience, or why it made an impression on you.
Mouse over the example below, a short narrative essay responding to the prompt “Write about an experience where you learned something about yourself,” to explore its structure.
Since elementary school, I have always favored subjects like science and math over the humanities. My instinct was always to think of these subjects as more solid and serious than classes like English. If there was no right answer, I thought, why bother? But recently I had an experience that taught me my academic interests are more flexible than I had thought: I took my first philosophy class.
Before I entered the classroom, I was skeptical. I waited outside with the other students and wondered what exactly philosophy would involve—I really had no idea. I imagined something pretty abstract: long, stilted conversations pondering the meaning of life. But what I got was something quite different.
A young man in jeans, Mr. Jones—“but you can call me Rob”—was far from the white-haired, buttoned-up old man I had half-expected. And rather than pulling us into pedantic arguments about obscure philosophical points, Rob engaged us on our level. To talk free will, we looked at our own choices. To talk ethics, we looked at dilemmas we had faced ourselves. By the end of class, I’d discovered that questions with no right answer can turn out to be the most interesting ones.
The experience has taught me to look at things a little more “philosophically”—and not just because it was a philosophy class! I learned that if I let go of my preconceptions, I can actually get a lot out of subjects I was previously dismissive of. The class taught me—in more ways than one—to look at things with an open mind.
A descriptive essay provides a detailed sensory description of something. Like narrative essays, they allow you to be more creative than most academic writing, but they are more tightly focused than narrative essays. You might describe a specific place or object, rather than telling a whole story.
Descriptive essays test your ability to use language creatively, making striking word choices to convey a memorable picture of what you’re describing.
A descriptive essay can be quite loosely structured, though it should usually begin by introducing the object of your description and end by drawing an overall picture of it. The important thing is to use careful word choices and figurative language to create an original description of your object.
Mouse over the example below, a response to the prompt “Describe a place you love to spend time in,” to learn more about descriptive essays.
On Sunday afternoons I like to spend my time in the garden behind my house. The garden is narrow but long, a corridor of green extending from the back of the house, and I sit on a lawn chair at the far end to read and relax. I am in my small peaceful paradise: the shade of the tree, the feel of the grass on my feet, the gentle activity of the fish in the pond beside me.
My cat crosses the garden nimbly and leaps onto the fence to survey it from above. From his perch he can watch over his little kingdom and keep an eye on the neighbours. He does this until the barking of next door’s dog scares him from his post and he bolts for the cat flap to govern from the safety of the kitchen.
With that, I am left alone with the fish, whose whole world is the pond by my feet. The fish explore the pond every day as if for the first time, prodding and inspecting every stone. I sometimes feel the same about sitting here in the garden; I know the place better than anyone, but whenever I return I still feel compelled to pay attention to all its details and novelties—a new bird perched in the tree, the growth of the grass, and the movement of the insects it shelters…
Sitting out in the garden, I feel serene. I feel at home. And yet I always feel there is more to discover. The bounds of my garden may be small, but there is a whole world contained within it, and it is one I will never get tired of inhabiting.
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Though every essay type tests your writing skills, some essays also test your ability to read carefully and critically. In a textual analysis essay, you don’t just present information on a topic, but closely analyze a text to explain how it achieves certain effects.
A rhetorical analysis looks at a persuasive text (e.g. a speech, an essay, a political cartoon) in terms of the rhetorical devices it uses, and evaluates their effectiveness.
The goal is not to state whether you agree with the author’s argument but to look at how they have constructed it.
The introduction of a rhetorical analysis presents the text, some background information, and your thesis statement; the body comprises the analysis itself; and the conclusion wraps up your analysis of the text, emphasizing its relevance to broader concerns.
The example below is from a rhetorical analysis of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech . Mouse over it to learn more.
King’s speech is infused with prophetic language throughout. Even before the famous “dream” part of the speech, King’s language consistently strikes a prophetic tone. He refers to the Lincoln Memorial as a “hallowed spot” and speaks of rising “from the dark and desolate valley of segregation” to “make justice a reality for all of God’s children.” The assumption of this prophetic voice constitutes the text’s strongest ethical appeal; after linking himself with political figures like Lincoln and the Founding Fathers, King’s ethos adopts a distinctly religious tone, recalling Biblical prophets and preachers of change from across history. This adds significant force to his words; standing before an audience of hundreds of thousands, he states not just what the future should be, but what it will be: “The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.” This warning is almost apocalyptic in tone, though it concludes with the positive image of the “bright day of justice.” The power of King’s rhetoric thus stems not only from the pathos of his vision of a brighter future, but from the ethos of the prophetic voice he adopts in expressing this vision.
A literary analysis essay presents a close reading of a work of literature—e.g. a poem or novel—to explore the choices made by the author and how they help to convey the text’s theme. It is not simply a book report or a review, but an in-depth interpretation of the text.
Literary analysis looks at things like setting, characters, themes, and figurative language. The goal is to closely analyze what the author conveys and how.
The introduction of a literary analysis essay presents the text and background, and provides your thesis statement; the body consists of close readings of the text with quotations and analysis in support of your argument; and the conclusion emphasizes what your approach tells us about the text.
Mouse over the example below, the introduction to a literary analysis essay on Frankenstein , to learn more.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale about the dangers of scientific advancement unrestrained by ethical considerations. In this reading, protagonist Victor Frankenstein is a stable representation of the callous ambition of modern science throughout the novel. This essay, however, argues that far from providing a stable image of the character, Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to portray Frankenstein in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as. This essay begins by exploring the positive portrayal of Frankenstein in the first volume, then moves on to the creature’s perception of him, and finally discusses the third volume’s narrative shift toward viewing Frankenstein as the creature views him.
If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!
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At high school and in composition classes at university, you’ll often be told to write a specific type of essay , but you might also just be given prompts.
Look for keywords in these prompts that suggest a certain approach: The word “explain” suggests you should write an expository essay , while the word “describe” implies a descriptive essay . An argumentative essay might be prompted with the word “assess” or “argue.”
The vast majority of essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Almost all academic writing involves building up an argument, though other types of essay might be assigned in composition classes.
Essays can present arguments about all kinds of different topics. For example:
- In a literary analysis essay, you might make an argument for a specific interpretation of a text
- In a history essay, you might present an argument for the importance of a particular event
- In a politics essay, you might argue for the validity of a certain political theory
An argumentative essay tends to be a longer essay involving independent research, and aims to make an original argument about a topic. Its thesis statement makes a contentious claim that must be supported in an objective, evidence-based way.
An expository essay also aims to be objective, but it doesn’t have to make an original argument. Rather, it aims to explain something (e.g., a process or idea) in a clear, concise way. Expository essays are often shorter assignments and rely less on research.
The key difference is that a narrative essay is designed to tell a complete story, while a descriptive essay is meant to convey an intense description of a particular place, object, or concept.
Narrative and descriptive essays both allow you to write more personally and creatively than other kinds of essays , and similar writing skills can apply to both.
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Top 10 Qualities of a Good Essay
Why are students often asked to write an essay? Because this is a type of writing work in which students learn to express their thoughts about different topics. The reasoning should be backed up by facts and statements about a particular topic. However, the author’s opinion is the main one here, and it develops students’ creative and scientific thinking at the same time.
So what makes a good essay? You will find the answer to this question in this article. Only through finding and studying additional information will you be able to develop your critical thinking .
Here are some basic points and qualities of good writing that will make your essay successful:
Of course, when creativity is in its full flow, you want to write without stopping, but the first sign of what a good essay is precisely its compact volume.
Here you need to explain your opinion about the topic’s subject matter clearly, concisely, and with specific arguments that will support your opinion. Avoid arguing about your statements because it will confuse you and the reader and negate all the work on the arguments.
Specific Topic and Your Subjective Opinion.
The subject of the essay is always specific. It does not happen that the essay has several different thoughts and topics. This is what distinguishes it from other types of paper works.
Your arguments and subjective opinion should be the same. The purpose of your work is to convince the reader that your opinion is true, backed by strong facts, and is consistent throughout the work.
What does it mean? The essay has no specific writing rules. Yes, a certain structure distinguishes this type of work from others, but the essay composition itself is free.
If you are unsure where to start or how to write an essay, try to find free essays online by contacting professionals .
Do not use too long sentences or try to surprise the reader with difficult terms and strange words, especially if you are not sure about their meaning. On the contrary, your main task here is to engage the reader and make contact with him through the text.
As we have already written, the author needs to establish contact with the reader.
The sentences and arguments that you will use in your work should be specific but not written in strict form. You should choose the point of support of your arguments and the main opinion and stick to it throughout the work.
Sometimes arguments have to be more specific and sometimes unobtrusively described in the body of the essay.
You should try to provide information as if “by the way” so that the reader feels like you are referring to him through the text and want to explain your impressions specifically to him. Contact with the reader is very important in this form of writing.
One of the most important qualities of an essay is that it should surprise the reader. You should use some strong phrases or quotes that will support your argument throughout the work.
The advantage will be on your side if you use paradoxical definitions or phenomena, which will appear simultaneously as indisputable but mutually exclusive statements. Feel free to use abstracts and aphorisms.
This is probably the only paradox of the genre (not including the point written above). Why? Because the essay must be subjective , it must have a free composition and characteristics, but at the same time, it must have an internal semantic unity.
Your personal opinion should be expressed and supported here. Actually, this is about supporting the same opinion, which you will support with different thesis and statements. All of them should bring the idea of the essay to one specific conclusion, that is your opinion.
Use of Simple Language
Your essay can be written in any form, but at the same time, it is not necessary, or better to say, you cannot use slang, shortening words, light-hearted tone, using strange abbreviations, and formulaic phrases. Do not forget that this is a serious piece of work with specific arguments and not an arbitrary letter to a friend.
You should submit information in such a way as to persuade the reader to adopt the same position he supports in his work. The author should not use aggressive words, but his arguments should be specific, and they should be considered indisputable.
Use an Element of Surprise
To make your essay memorable, do not be afraid to use catchy phrases, loud quotes, and unexpected arguments. This will arouse emotions in the reader, and your essay will be remembered. The main thing is that the used arguments are not aggressive, do not contradict your basic opinion, and are not written in rough language.
The Logic of Presentation.
Again, despite the free composition, the essay must have internal unity and the coherence of the author’s statements that express his opinion.
Because the rules of writing an essay are rather conditional, the author has the opportunity to fully indulge in his creative potential and use various interesting methods for writing this genre of paperwork.
The main thing to remember is that your thoughts and arguments should be united and interest the reader to read your work and take your side.
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The Basic Characteristics of Effective Writing
Why Good Grammar Alone Does Not Make a Good Writer
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Experiences in school leave some people with the impression that good writing simply means writing that contains no bad mistakes—that is, no errors of grammar , punctuation or spelling . However, good writing is much more than just correct writing. Good writing responds to the interests and needs of its intended audience and at the same time, reflects the writer's personality and individuality (the author's voice).
Good writing is often as much the result of practice and hard work as it is talent. You may be encouraged to know that the ability to write well is not necessarily a gift that some people are born with, nor a privilege extended to only a few. If you're willing to put in the effort, you can improve your writing.
Rules for Professional and Academic Writing
When writing term papers or essays for school, or should you go on to a career as a professional writer—be it as a technical writer, journalist, copywriter, or speechwriter—if follow you these established rules for effective writing, you should be able to excel, or at least perform competently for any given assignment:
- Good writing has a clearly defined purpose .
- It makes a definite point .
- It supports that point with specific information.
- The information is clearly connected and arranged .
- The words are appropriate, and the sentences are concise , emphatic , and correct .
Use Good Grammar, Spelling, and Punctuation
While having a grasp on proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation won't make you a good writer, these basics are more essential to academic and professional writing than most other genres (although advertising is often a curious hybrid of creative and non-fiction writing).
Your Part in a Conversation
The trick to creating academic or professional writing that someone will actually want to read is to balance the aforementioned essentials with your own voice. Think of your writing, no matter how academic as your part in a conversation . Your job is to explain the information you're trying to convey in a way that's clear and easily understood. (Sometimes, it helps to imagine you're talking rather than writing.)
Creative and Nonfiction Writing
Of course, if there were only one kind of writing, it would be easier to come up with an overarching set of conventions to define what good writing is, however, non-fiction alone encompasses a wide array of genres and formats and what works for one doesn't necessarily fly with another. Now, when you add poetry , fiction (in its myriad genres and subgenres), personal essays , playwriting, blogging, podcasting, and screenwriting (to name but a few) to the mix, it's almost impossible to come up with a one-size-fits-all umbrella that covers what makes writing good—or bad.
Separating Good Writing From Bad
One of the main reasons it's so hard to separate good writing from bad writing when it comes to disciplines such as fiction, poetry, or plays, is that the definition of what's "good" is often subjective, and that subjectivity is a matter of personal taste. People generally know what they like and what they don't like—but that doesn't necessarily mean the writing we don't like is "bad" writing.
Whale of a Tale
Let's just choose one famous piece of literature as an example: Herman Melville's 1851 novel "Moby Dick," a cautionary allegory of obsession and revenge that pits man against nature. While there's no arguing that the novel is considered a classic of American literature and is filled with its fair share of fascinating characters, Melville's narrative clocks in at over 200,000 words and nearly 600 pages (depending on the edition). When you consider that the average novel runs between 60,000 and 90,000 words, in terms of length alone, Melville's tale of the whale is a whopper.
But Not for Everyone
Unfortunately for many reading the book, the experience is much akin to being a sailor during a whaling-era sea voyage in which you went for days on end going through the routine, tedious, mundane, redundant tasks required to keep the ship going, with the exciting parts of the journey few and far between. Unless you're fascinated by page after page relating to all things whaling, reading "Moby Dick" can be a chore. Does that make it a "bad" book? Obviously not, it's just not a good book for everyone.
Famous Writers on Writing
Most professional writers—those gifted people who make writing look easy—will be the first ones to tell you that often it's not easy at all, nor is there a right way or wrong way to go about it:
Ernest Hemingway: "There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly: sometimes it's like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges."
Stephen King: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”
Paddy Chayefsky: "If I have anything to say to young writers, it's stop thinking of writing as art. Think of it as work. It's hard physical work. You keep saying, 'No, that's wrong, I can do it better.' "
Isaac Bashevis Singer: "One is never happy. If a writer is too happy with his writing, something is wrong with him. A real writer always feels as if he hasn't done enough. This is the reason he has the ambition to rewrite, to publish things, and so on. The bad writers are very happy with what they do. They always seem surprised about how good they are. I would say that a real writer sees that he missed a lot of opportunities."
Sinclair Lewis: "Writing is just work—there's no secret. If you dictate or use a pen or type or write with your toes—it's still just work."
Ray Bradbury: "Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer."
Harlan Ellison: "People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it."
Writing Rarely Comes Easily
As you can see, writing rarely comes easily to anyone—even the most accomplished writers. Don't lose heart. If you want to be a better writer, you're going to have to put in the work. Not everything you write is going to be great or even good, but the more you write the better your skills will become. Learning the basics and continuing to practice will help you gain confidence.
Master the Basics, and Learn to Enjoy It
Eventually, you'll not only be a better writer—you might actually enjoy writing. Just as a musician cannot deliver an inspired performance without first learning the rudiments of the craft and studying technique, once you've mastered the basics of writing, you'll be ready to let inspiration and imagination take you almost anywhere you wish to go.
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- Details to Give Recommendation Letter Writers
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How to Write a Formal Essay: Format, Rules, & Example
If you’re a student, you’ve heard about a formal essay: a factual, research-based paper written in 3rd person. Most students have to produce dozens of them during their educational career.
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Writing a formal essay may not be the easiest task. But fear not: our custom-writing team is here to guide you through the process. This article will:
- explain what a formal essay is;
- show how to write it step by step;
- provide you with an essay sample.
👔 Formal Essay Definition
- ✅ How to Write
- ✍️ Writing Rules
- 🖥️ Essay Format
- 📑 Sample Paper
A formal essay is a well-structured piece of writing with a clear introduction, body, and conclusion. This type of essay often includes cited research, uses an academic tone, and is written in 3rd person. While writing a formal essay, it’s necessary to back up your arguments with factual evidence.
What Is an Informal Essay vs. Formal Essay?
Essays come in two formats: formal and informal (also known as personal .) They differ in terms of style and context. You can choose one of the formats depending on the situation and the type of paper you need to write.
Don’t know how to tell the difference between them? Well, here are some key characteristics of these essay types:
As you can see, these types of writing are almost total opposites. Informal essays are only reserved for creative assignments, which means that most of the papers you write need to be formal.
Our article on creative essays can help you write an informal paper. But how do you craft a perfect formal essay? Keep reading to find out.
✅ How to Write a Formal Essay
Traditionally, a formal essay it’s composed of 3 sections: an introduction, 3 or more body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Let’s examine each part in detail.
Formal Essay Introduction
The introduction is what your essay starts with. Its primary goal is to catch the reader’s attention with a hook, briefly introduce the topic, and lead toward the thesis statement located at the end of the first paragraph.
Here is what you might want to keep in mind while writing the introduction:
If you want some more inspiration for your introduction, check out our article on hooks in writing .
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Now on to the thesis statement : the key idea of your essay. When working on it, keep in mind that it should answer the central question in your topic and reflect your essay’s overall structure. your essay’s overall structure.
Suppose your topic is related to the teaching methods involving poetry. In that case, the thesis statement can be like this:
Teaching methods that involve reading and writing poetry in elementary school are beneficial for children as they enhance their capacity for empathy, develop creativity, and help with self-realization.
Formal Essay Body
The next part of an essay is the main body paragraphs. They support the thesis statement with well-developed arguments and explore the topic in-depth. Each body paragraph starts with a topic sentence stating its main point. The length of a paragraph can vary, but the best option is to have between 4 and 7 sentences.
To make the text flow easily, you may use transitional words. Here are some examples:
- after all,
- for instance,
- on the one/other hand,
- as a result.
How to Write a Formal Essay Conclusion
Lastly, every essay needs closure. A good conclusion summarizes the essay’s main ideas, includes a paraphrased thesis, and encourages the readers to think more about the topic.
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The structure of a conclusion may change slightly depending on the subject. For instance, it can suggest some solutions to a problem, express an opinion, or give a recommendation. It’s important to remember that the conclusion is a part that emphasizes your essay’s most important points and doesn’t introduce new information.
If you’re curious about writing each essay part, check out our article on 5-paragraph essays .
✍️ Formal Writing Rules
Just like choosing the proper attire to wear to a formal event, we need to use the right words while writing a formal essay. Here are some suggestions that can help you maintain a formal tone in your paper:
Dos of formal writing
- Pay attention to your vocabulary. The words you will use in a formal essay will likely have a nuanced meaning. Make sure you know exactly what the terms mean, and do your best to sound precise.
- Use punctuation correctly. Here are some of the things to watch out for: Avoid exclamation marks; Use dashes for insertions; Use colons with enumerations; If you’re unsure of whether to use a punctuation mark or not, rewrite the sentence in a way that doesn’t require it.
- Use varied sentence structure. In formal writing, there is always a danger of sounding monotonous. Avoid repeating sentence structures to make your essay more readable.
- Provide references. It’s essential to cite every idea that you borrow. Try to paraphrase quotations from your sources: it will help you avoid plagiarism.
Don’ts of formal writing
- Avoid using pronouns. With words such as “I,” “me,” “we,” or “us,” an essay becomes wordy. It also makes the author seem less sure of their ideas. If you want to use personal pronouns, try substituting them with words like “the reader,” “viewers,” or “one.”
- Avoid using slang expressions and nonstandard diction. Slang words in a formal essay will make it less appealing to the readers. If you want to be taken seriously, it’s best to avoid those expressions and use proper Standard English.
- Avoid informal tone. When you write a formal essay, incorporate the language and the expressions you would use while delivering a speech, not the words you use when you casually talk to friends. A formal tone suggests that the author is serious about the topic and respects the audience.
- Avoid passive voice. Passive verbs are hard to read, and they are wordy. Use active voice to sound more straightforward and concise.
Contractions in Formal Writing
A contraction is usually a combination of two words into one, such as “don’t,” “isn’t,” “can’t,” and “wouldn’t.” When you work on a formal essay, it’s essential to be careful about contractions. It’s inappropriate to use them in academic writing, so it’s best to stick to the full variant.
However, there are exceptions to this rule. For instance, when working with direct quotations, it’s essential to reproduce words exactly as they are used in the original. To learn more about it, be sure to check out the University of North Florida’s article on in-text citations .
What to Use Instead of “You” in an Essay
Another common mistake students make is using the “you” and “yours” pronouns to address the readers. This mistake can make the essay overly informal and lead to misinterpretations of the text.
How do you fix it? Our advice is to replace 2nd-person pronouns with the following words:
You can find more formal writing tips in this informative video from Smrt English:
🖥️ Formal Essay Format
Now that we’ve discussed formal essay writing in detail, it’s time to look at the formatting. A formal essay is usually written in MLA or APA formats. If you’re asked to write a paper in one of these formats, you may find the guidelines below helpful:
📑 Formal Essay Example
Here is an excellent sample of a formal essay that uses all the guidelines mentioned in this article. It will help you to produce a perfect paper of your own:
For more information, check out Purdue OWL’s resources on various formatting styles .
Formal Essay Topics
- Stress management techniques
- The effects of coffee
- Negative effects of technology on children
- Causes and outcomes of organizational conflicts in sports
- Different types of friends
- Same-sex marriages in the United States
- Are early marriages harmful or beneficial?
- How do nutrition and hydration improve athletes’ performance?
- Is polygamy morally acceptable?
- Different features of sports business
- What characterizes friendship in the age of media ?
- Positive and negative effects of tourism on environment in the Caribbean
- How does society treat single parents ?
- How does the uninvolved parenting style affect child’s future well-being?
- The role of family relationships in Odyssey
- Financial concepts in sport finance
- Main features of a strong marriage
- The importance of media coverage for sport teams
- Reasons why students choose to get internship
- The role of stadiums in the sports industry
- The multiracial family: the Carters case analysis
- Characteristics of children’s sports
- Crucial factors affecting health fitness
- How is technology used in hotel management ?
- Structure and operational context of Four Seasons
- What are the main qualities of a true friend?
- Different websites that promote rental properties
- The imperative aspects of tourism
- Importance of hotel training
- What factors determine adolescents’ adjustment after they experience parental divorce ?
- How does tobacco use affect the human body?
- The importance of language and world view for communication
- What makes a combination of reinforcement and punishment in parenting efficient?
- The scientific approach of sports economics
- How does divorce affect children?
- Living on-campus vs. living off-campus when attending university: a comparison
- How does the New Moves program promote a healthy lifestyle?
- How to be an effective counselor
- Various types of restaurants in Ireland
- Carolina Dog’s characteristics
- Comparison of Monzameon’s The Love Suicides at Amijima and Tartuffe by Moliere
- Comparing homosexual and heterosexual families
- How is family presented in Everyday Use by Alice Walker ?
- In what ways can Anaerobic Threshold be assessed?
- Is bad parenting a healthcare problem?
- Why student-athletes should benefit from sports
- Mind-body awareness and its health benefits
- Can punishment boost academic performance?
- Techniques to teach students swimming
- Issues faced by the sports licensing field
Thanks for reading through this guide! We hope that you found it helpful and now have a better idea of how to write an excellent formal essay. Don’t hesitate to share our article with a friend who may need it. Good luck!
- How to Write a Critical Thinking Essay: Examples & Outline
- What Is a Discourse Analysis Essay: Example & Guide
- How to Write a Narrative Essay Outline: Template & Examples
- How to Write a Précis: Definition, Guide, & Examples
❓ Formal Essay FAQs
It’s best not to use pronouns such as “I,” “my,” “we,” “our,” etc., in a formal essay since it give the paper an informal tone and the text becomes wordy. It also makes the writer seem less sure about their ideas.
It’s better to avoid using parentheses and dashes in formal academic writing. If the information you want to include in the essay is important enough, it should be a part of the sentence. Otherwise, you can simply omit it.
The formal and informal essays differ in style and context. While a formal essay is a piece of well-structured writing that tries to convince the reader by providing arguments, an informal essay has no set structure. It reflects the author’s personal thoughts or opinions.
Starting your sentence with “because” in formal writing is not the best idea. The word “because” is a subordinate conjunction, which means it’s used to join the main clause to a subordinate clause, not to start a sentence.
It’s best to avoid using 1st- and 2nd-person pronouns, slang expressions, nonstandard diction, and contractions in a formal essay. They are primarily used in daily speech and are considered inappropriate in academic writing.
- Point of View in Academic Writing: St. Louis Community College
- Components of a Good Essay: University of Evansville
- Introductions & Conclusions: University of Arizona Global Campus
- How to Improve Your Academic Writing: University of York
- Nine Basic Ways to Improve Your Style in Academic Writing: University of California, Berkeley
- Academic Writing Style: Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: University of Southern California
- Formal and Informal Style: Northern Illinois University
- Formal Writing: Davenport University: LibGuides
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English that goes straight to the heart
What is an essay?
Aldous Huxley described an essay as “A literary device for saying almost everything about almost anything”.
What is an Essay?
An essay is a piece of writing that revolves around a particular theme and contains the academic opinions of the person writing it.
Daily Test - Attempt Now
An essay can perform one or more of the following functions:
- Analyses and critically evaluates a topic
- Presents the writer‘s argument for or against an idea
- Describes something
- Narrates a story
- Persuades the reader
Also, Read 6 Types of Essay
Characteristics of a Good Essay
- Brevity: Express what you want concisely. Do not beat around the bush.
- Coherence: Every sentence and paragraph should flow smoothly and logically from the previous one. A clumsily written essay reflects not only the lack of preparation but also the absence of clarity of thought.
- Unity: The essay should never stray from its main purpose. Different points of view can be introduced, but they should all be used for the same subject.
- Lucidity: The essay should be easy to read and understand. Using tough words or difficult phrases may impress a few but can confuse many others. Great writers are praised not only for their beautiful ideas but also for the simplicity of their language.
Also, Read Top 10 Essay Examples
The objective of Essay Writing
Essay writing often forms a part of English written exams to test the ability of students to
- Think critically: Critical thinking involves understanding the task at hand and evaluating it appropriately.
- Structure the ideas logically: The essay has to be structured and coherent. The ideas have to neatly flow from one paragraph to the other.
- Express views eloquently: The student should be fluent in the language he or she is writing in. Ideas when presented shoddily may not make the right impact.
Parts of an Essay
It constitutes the opening paragraph of the essay.
- It helps the reader get oriented with the topic.
- It states the purpose of the essay.
- It captures the interest of the reader.
- It presents the general idea of the essay.
- It often ends with the thesis or the main idea of the essay.
Body (Supporting Paragraphs)
They constitute the supporting sentences and ideas.
- They provide the reader with additional details about the main idea.
- They support the thesis of the writer.
- There is no fixed number of supporting paragraphs.
- Ideally, every supporting paragraph should contain a different idea.
It constitutes the ending paragraph(s) of the essay.
- It ties up loose ends of the paragraph.
- It helps in reiterating or highlighting the main idea.
- It summarises all the arguments.
- It brings the essay to a logical close.
- It never ends in detail.
Also, Read Short Essay Examples
Tips for Writing an Essay
- Read: The more you read, the better you get. Reading essays will give you the inspiration to write. It will fill you with knowledge that you can use to enrich your writing.
- Write: Practise writing essays. This will give you the necessary confidence that you require during the exams. Writing also sharpens your thought process preparing you to deal with essay questions with much ease.
1. Think about the idea given in the title or the prompt.
- What type of essay will be appropriate?
- What could be the main ideas?
- How to write the introduction, the body and the conclusion?
- Write all the ideas.
2. Structure your essay.
- Create an outline of your essay.
- Do not use more than two sentences for the introduction and conclusion, respectively.
- Therefore, it is important to plan your essay before instead of writing spontaneously.
- Arrange the ideas in chronological order if you are attempting a narrative essay.
- Arrange them in increasing order of importance while attempting a descriptive or expository essay.
- Remember to conclude the essay.
3. Use a consistent tense form while writing the essay.
4. Express clearly.
5. Be original in your ideas. Don‘t be afraid to think out of the box.
6. Use your own memories or your experiences to add to the essay.
7. Recheck for any grammatical errors after finishing the essay.
Also, Read Summarizing an Essay
Example of Essay
My native place.
My parents hail from a small village in Kerala which is nestled among mountains in a scenic district of the state. Every year, I visit my native place with my family. It is a trip that I look forward to all year. My father books the ticket two months in advance as it is difficult to procure reservations on short notice. Although I have lived in the city all my life, I feel that I never belonged to it. I have always felt at home in the quaint mountain village that is far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life.
It takes us 18 hours by train to reach the railway station that is closest to my village. The journey is usually gruelling in the summers but very pleasant in the winters and in the monsoons. We plan our trip in the summer months since we get a two-month vacation in April. In order to beat the heat, we travel by air-conditioned coaches every year. We board the train at noon and we reach our destination at 6 am the next day.
The morning air is heavy with the scent of flowers and wet foliage. The temple bells start ringing at 6:30 am and the sound of bhajans fills the air. The village is only a 20-minute rickshaw ride away from the station. When we enter my grandmother‘s house, we are welcomed by her diminutive figure holding a lamp.
According to her, it is auspicious to welcome loved ones by lighting the lamp at the altar of God. The moment we set foot into the house, we are filled with a sense of nostalgia and love. After a sumptuous yet simple breakfast, we relax with our family in the courtyard.
The cool mountain air is laden with scents of the rustic countryside. From afar, we hear the sounds of birds. My sister and I make paper boats and run to the little babbling brook that flows southwards. We set the boats on the water and watch them bob up and down. Far away from the world of video games and television, we seek fun in a world of simplicity.
The house itself has a personality. Simple, two-storeyed, made of stone walls and a thatched roof, the house is an old friend who warmly embraces you every time you meet. The rooms are small but well-maintained. On the ground floor is a room that my grandmother uses for storing condiments and grains. It is illuminated with a single light bulb and an old-fashioned lock-and-key style door. In its corner is a small bed.
The calming silence of the room soothes my ears and transports me into a magical place. I feel weightless. The smell of spices envelops me. On many occasions, I have spent hours sprawled on that bed reading a book or listening to music. If I ever have to pick a favourite place, then I have no doubt this would be it.
When twilight descends on the little hamlet, large clusters of stars start appearing in the sky. Such a sight is never seen in the city as the lights obscure the stars that appear in the sky. My grandmother lights the lamp again and we all gather around her to say our evening prayers. After enjoying her simple, rustic yet delicious meal, we retire for the night.
Sometimes when I am upset, I think of my quaint little house in the village, my grandmother‘s warm embrace, and the small room that smells of spices. They immediately help me put my worries away and bring a smile to my face.
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Personal Characteristics Essay: Top Examples and Tips for Successful Writing
Looking to write a compelling personal characteristics essay? Our article offers top examples and tips for successful writing.
Posted August 18, 2023
When it comes to writing a personal characteristics essay, there are several important factors to consider to ensure that your essay stands out from the rest. This type of essay requires you to talk about your personal traits and characteristics and how they have shaped your life experiences and decisions. Writing a personal characteristics essay can be daunting, but with the right strategies and techniques, you can craft an impressive essay that leaves a lasting impression.
Understanding the Purpose of a Personal Characteristics Essay
Before diving into the writing process, it's essential to understand the purpose of a personal characteristics essay. The purpose of this type of essay is to showcase your unique qualities and characteristics, which makes you stand out from the rest. It's an opportunity for the reader to gain insight into your personality and the way you think. Your essay should not only provide a description of your traits but also demonstrate how they influence your actions and decisions.
Additionally, a personal characteristics essay can also serve as a tool for self-reflection and personal growth. Through the process of writing about your traits and how they have impacted your life, you may gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your values. This type of essay can also help you identify areas for improvement and set goals for personal development.
How to Choose a Topic for Your Personal Characteristics Essay
Choosing the right topic for your personal characteristics essay is crucial. You want to select a topic that not only reflects your personality but also allows you to showcase your writing skills. Start by brainstorming a list of traits and characteristics that define you. From there, select a topic that highlights one or two of these traits. Think about a situation that showcases these traits and how you overcame a challenge or learned a valuable lesson.
Another important factor to consider when choosing a topic for your personal characteristics essay is your audience. Think about who will be reading your essay and what they might be interested in learning about you. Consider selecting a topic that is relatable and relevant to your audience, while still highlighting your unique qualities.
It's also important to remember that your personal characteristics essay should not just be a list of traits or accomplishments. Instead, focus on telling a story that illustrates your personality and how it has shaped your experiences and perspectives. Choose a topic that allows you to delve deeper into your personal journey and share insights that will resonate with your readers.
Brainstorming Techniques for Your Personal Characteristics Essay
Brainstorming is an essential step in the writing process. It allows you to generate ideas and make connections between them. Try using mind maps or free-writing to get your ideas down on paper. You might also consider asking friends or family members what they think your most prominent traits are to get an outside perspective.
Another effective technique for brainstorming your personal characteristics essay is to reflect on your past experiences and how they have shaped you. Think about challenges you have faced and how you overcame them, or moments of success and how they have contributed to your personal growth. These experiences can provide valuable insight into your character and help you identify key traits to highlight in your essay.
The Importance of Organizing Your Thoughts and Ideas
Once you've generated your ideas, it's time to organize them. Start by creating an outline that includes the main points you want to make in your essay. Your outline should also include the introduction, body, and conclusion sections of your essay. Organizing your thoughts and ideas will help you stay on track and ensure that you cover all the necessary points in your essay.
Moreover, organizing your thoughts and ideas can also help you identify any gaps in your argument or areas where you need to do more research. By creating an outline, you can see where you need to add more information or examples to support your points. This can help you create a more well-rounded and convincing essay.
Additionally, organizing your thoughts and ideas can also help you save time in the long run. When you have a clear outline to follow, you can write your essay more efficiently and effectively. You won't waste time trying to figure out what to write next or how to structure your essay. Instead, you can focus on writing high-quality content that supports your thesis statement and engages your readers.
Tips for Writing a Strong Introduction to Your Essay
The introduction to your essay is crucial as it sets the tone for the rest of your essay. Your introduction should grab the reader's attention and entice them to keep reading. Consider starting with a hook, such as a quote, an anecdote, or a question. Your introduction should also include your thesis statement, which outlines the main point of your essay.
In addition to a hook and thesis statement, your introduction should also provide some background information on the topic you are writing about. This can help to contextualize your essay and give the reader a better understanding of the subject matter. However, be careful not to include too much information in your introduction, as it can become overwhelming and detract from the main point of your essay.
The Art of Developing a Compelling Thesis Statement
Your thesis statement should be concise and clear. It should provide a roadmap for the rest of your essay. Think about the main point you want to make and how you plan on supporting it throughout your essay. Make sure your thesis statement is arguable and specific.
Supporting Your Claims with Relevant Examples and Evidence
To make your essay more compelling, you should back up your claims and arguments with relevant examples and evidence. This will help your reader understand the extent of your personal qualities and how they have impacted your life experiences. Make sure to include specific examples from your life that illustrate the qualities you're discussing in your essay.
One effective way to provide evidence for your claims is to use statistics or data that support your argument. For example, if you're writing an essay about the benefits of exercise, you could include statistics about the number of people who have improved their health through regular exercise. This will add credibility to your argument and make it more convincing.
Another way to support your claims is to use expert opinions or quotes from reputable sources. This can help to strengthen your argument and show that you have done your research on the topic. Be sure to properly cite any sources you use in your essay.
The Power of Descriptive Writing: Painting a Vivid Picture with Words
Descriptive writing is a powerful tool that can be used to paint a vivid picture of your experiences and personality in your essay. Use sensory details to help your reader visualize your experiences. Consider incorporating metaphors or similes to make your writing more interesting and engaging.
Adding Depth and Complexity to Your Essay through Analysis and Reflection
Analysis and reflection are essential elements of an outstanding personal characteristics essay. Once you have described your traits and experiences, you should analyze how they have contributed to your personal growth and development. Reflection is also important as it allows you to consider how you might apply your characteristics to future situations.
The Benefits of Peer Review and Collaboration in Essay Writing
Collaborating with others can be immensely helpful in refining your essay. You might consider having a friend or family member review your essay and provide feedback. Peer review can help you identify areas where your essay needs improvement and provide suggestions for how to improve it.
Strategies for Effective Editing and Proofreading
Editing and proofreading are crucial steps in the writing process. Once you have completed your essay, take a break and come back to it with fresh eyes. Look for errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Make sure to also check that your essay flows logically and that your arguments are well-supported.
Addressing Common Pitfalls in Personal Characteristics Essays
One common pitfall in personal characteristics essays is focusing too much on describing your traits instead of analyzing how they have impacted your life experiences. Another common pitfall is using cliches or generic language instead of making your essay unique and interesting. Be sure to avoid these pitfalls to ensure your essay stands out.
Using Keywords and Meta Tags to Optimize Your Essay for Search Engines
If you plan on publishing your essay online, you might consider optimizing it for search engines such as Google. This involves using keywords and meta tags in your essay that will help it appear higher in search results. Be sure to research the most popular keywords related to your topic and include them strategically in your essay.
Crafting an Impressive Conclusion that Leaves a Lasting Impression
Finally, your conclusion should leave a lasting impression on the reader. Summarize your main points and reiterate your thesis statement. Think about what you want your reader to take away from your essay. Consider ending with a call to action or a memorable quote.
Writing a personal characteristics essay can be a challenging task, but with the right strategies and techniques, you can craft an impressive essay that showcases your unique qualities and characteristics. By following the tips outlined above, you'll be well on your way to writing a successful personal characteristics essay that leaves a lasting impression.
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