In view of the practical interest of students (who always want to have some clarity about what is permitted and what is not) and teachers (who should know what to expect from students) let us agree here on some general characteristics and conditions of an essay as an academic written assignment. The chief characteristics of an essay are as follows:
- 1. Usually an essay means test, a written piece that is relatively short (if compared to a research or comprehensive study), which can range from two pages to forty or even fifty (on demand, due to what neatness you want to give to the subject or what is established by your teacher). It is true, however, that some classic authors have named their writings a test, in spite of them being full and rather extensive research. So, you should not consider our explanation here as the final definition of the written test, but rather as conventional guidelines.
- 2. An essay is generally focused on a single object of study: a problem, an area of problems, an author's view, a concept, a field of concepts, a process, an area of processes, etc. In other words, the test saves a thematic unity: no written addresses on the same topics unrelated to each other.
- 3. In full consistency with the said above, it also presents an argumentative unit; i.e, the test aims to provide a set of relevant favors of the thesis or position that intends to defend evidence. Strictly speaking, an argument is a set of statements that support (or justify) another statement, called a conclusion, which expresses the main thesis that the author seeks to defend in the assignment. Often the statements that support the main thesis need (due to their complexity, importance or a disputable character) to be defended by other statements, so that in the whole structure of your essay there has to be room both for the main argument and for the other sides, which, together, contribute to the main argument's rational persuasiveness. In philosophy papers deductive arguments usually dominate, but it is not uncommon to use analog, inductive and even deontic arguments. However, for some subtopics within the essay, there can be used a non-argumentative discourse such as definitions, quotes, questions, rhetorical questions, and similar structures.
How to write an introduction to an essay: differences in the requirements for senior and PhD students
What information should you include in your written piece? Universities require the test to be clear, consistent and forceful and also propose several approaches to how to write an introduction to an essay. Set a thread to explain the reasons why you are carrying out the program and how it matches the objectives in the medium and long term of your professional life. Be honest and do not try to pretend or turn around things. It is also important to show how come that the university and the education program are an important element for you and how they differ from others. The test is not a blank check. You should not send the same test to many universities, but write a new one for each program and university. Quite understandably, the tests are different for masters and doctorates. Master degree candidates carry general knowledge, so it is acceptable for them to not know the subject in depth. Doctorate degree candidates, however, aim to produce new knowledge, so they must demonstrate expertise in the subject and interest in those who work; PhD is chosen by consultants and not by the college and, quite often, the test must be followed by a proposal for more formal investigation.
How long will you write it? Sometimes students idealize chosen programs and universities without knowing if they really meet the students' goals, abilities and interests. Therefore, it is very important to research the programs, not only through websites or brochures, but by asking teachers, students and alumni to give a more detailed picture of each program. Writing an essay may take about two months. You must have as much time as possible to write a draft, make corrections, and rewrite it. It would be worthwhile if some of your acquaintances read the text to know if it really does reflect your personality and interests. Also, have it checked by a person who are well familiar with writing in the language in which the test must be delivered, so you will know if you are transmitting well the message you want to send.
The essay structure is extremely flexible since all the systematization serves to its essential purpose, which is to catch the attention of an audience. This can be effectively achieved by exposing a view that is not intended to exhaust a subject, as some purely expository literary genres do. The main part, obviously, is an introduction. How to write an introduction to an essay? You should understand that it expresses the theme and purpose of the written assignment; also, an introduction explains the contents and sub-themes covered by the chapters and the criteria used in the text, covers roughly 6-8 lines. In addition, this part can present the problematic nature of a subject to which a student will apply their knowledge, reflections, erudition and experience. If this arises, then the test objective is to present the author's point of view on this problem (with possible explanation and possible solutions).
What about the main body of an essay? Primarily, it contains the presentation and analysis of it, it is the place where ideas arise and gets support from necessary information sources: books, magazines, Internet articles, interviews and other. It constitutes 80% of the written assignment. It includes all the themes and is developed by using the internal structure: synthesis 60%, 10% of research data and 10% of a short comment. It develops the thesis already tested in the content, and delves into it, either offering answers about something or leaving final questions that encourage the reader to reflect with his or her own thoughts. The main body uses such resources as a description, narration and quotes that should be put in quotation marks – all these permits an author to defend the thesis.
What there is so specific about writing a conclusion? In this section the author again expresses his or her own views on the subject, this snippet also allows the author to give some suggestions or solutions, close the ideas that by this time are worked-out and propose a line of analysis on the development of the subject for later writings. A conclusion should make the other 10% of the written assignment on a par with the introduction. Thus, this last part has a certain parallel with the introduction by a direct reference to the thesis chosen by the essayist, with that difference that at the conclusion the thesis should be deepened, in the light of the approaches set out in the main body. One of the ways to check what has been said earlier is to make the reader infer some leading thoughts from a conclusion, which finally explains why you prefer to sustain an issue or opinion and what motivation leads you to develop this topic or to finish it in this exact way.
The ability to think logically is crucial in this kind of written assignments and it is somewhat simpler to achieve than it could seem: a logical structure depends primarily on the organization of ideas and presentation. To achieve the result that will convince the reader, you must proceed in an organized way from basic formal explanations to concrete evidence, i.e from the facts to conclusions. To achieve such persuasiveness the writer can use two types of reasoning: either inductive or deductive logic. To succeed, you must not only choose pointedly your examples, but should also present a clear explanation at the end of the paper. The advantage of this method is that the reader is actively involved in the process of reasoning and therefore it is easier to convince him or her. At the same time, according to the principles of deductive logic, a writer begins an essay showing general statements, which evolve progressively through concrete examples. To succeed, a writer must explain the thesis very clearly and then must use transitions for readers to follow the logic/reasoning developed in the thesis. The advantage of this method is that if the general statement and arguments are well constructed the reader often accepts the findings without fuss.
To be involved in the world of written masterpieces, it is recommended to find a good essay as a model and analyze it, since it is easier to understand the criteria on which it is based through an example rather than abstractly. We suggest you to read, for example, excellent brief essays written by Salvador Novo, one of the most important essayists of Mexican literature. You will notice how magnificent is the prose and erudition by this author, who used to choose topics basing on his own experience, culture profile and certain research to support the works' central hypotheses – thus, in case of the written assignment it still is the author's opinion and his subjective view, but documented nonetheless.