How to Write an Essay: The Ultimate Guide

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21 minutes
Updated Oct 21, 2021
How to Write an Essay: The Ultimate Guide

The curriculum on what students in high school, college, and university need to study seems to be growing at a rapid rate, with more innovation and research also expanding at the speed it is now. While all lessons and developments are crucial to further success in life, not all learners have the opportunity to understand and study at the same pace as others. Every student lives very different lives compared to the other. You may even require more than just resources from your library but really require some online homework help

This is why services such as homework helpers, specifically our very own professional educators, exist not only to ensure your academic performance but to take a heavy burden of stress and workload off your back. 

But without further ado, let’s get into all the nitty-gritty details of essay writing.

Understand What Type of Essay It is

Once assigned an essay, your first question should be - what type of essay is it? There are a lot of types that have to be tackled artfully. 

Suppose your teacher wants you to write an essay on global warming and its causes. Now, you can not treat this topic as an argumentative essay. Hold your reins and restrict yourself from giving a thesis and antithesis. 

In order to provide you with a brief idea of the types of articles that exist, here is a list: 

  1. Five-paragraph essay: The format of a five-paragraph essay includes an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The essay must contain the most relevant information. The introduction must be cryptic and well placed. The opening line is the provocation to the reader to read on.
  2. Persuasive or an argumentative essay: The writer must train himself or herself in the art of how to write the best persuasive essay. Here you will have to show that you have a strong grasp of the concepts. You will have to go back and forth as you will be giving a thesis and then an antithesis. It is sort of a debate.
  3. Case study essay: This is a type of research on one person, group, or event with a detailed examination of a single 'case'. Case study format must be learned well to achieve the ability to procure the best quality of the essay. 
  4. Compare and contrast essay: Here, you will be asked to shed light on two different topics by stating similarities and differences.
  5. Narrative essay: You will describe an experience or an event. This is a common college essay and is written in the first person. Some professors often ask students to start with this specific type of essay writing as it aids in being able to write as narrating your own experiences may come off as an easier task. 
  6. Process essay: You will be given a process that you will be going through step by step. Don't worry! This is mostly assigned to science students. They explain the experiments that they have carried out. If you are a science student, then remember! You must never forget to write the findings or the results at the end of the essay.
  7. Descriptive essay: This is the type that you are most familiar with. You will explain the topic to your reader. The entire content will revolve around the "what" of the topic.

Choose the Essay Topic

If you have the freedom, all possible factors such as the topic and the difficulty level can all be adjusted to your own standards. However, it can be difficult to finally sit down and decide on the specifics of what you want to write on. Therefore, start by jotting down and brainstorming points of interest; whether it be psychology, geography, or general science, a topic that you enjoy can make your work a lot easier. Try to be as creative as possible. You can also search online for further ideas, resources, or topics you may be interested in but want to know more about.

Here are five simple techniques that are going to help you to finally decide on your compelling topic: 

  • Discuss with your peers;
  • Brainstorm ideas; 
  • Read research papers and articles; 
  • Consult your professors;
  • Skim through essay samples on the internet. 

Stages of an Essay

There are countless types of essays that you will get in your student life. The level of difficulty, length, and amount of research required will depend on your academic level. 

There is also another critical determinant of your essay quality; it is the course type. The aim of all of the essays is similar. It is to inform the reader and keep them engaged with the content. You don't want them to go off-trail while reading it. Whenever you receive a notification regarding a new assignment, do not rush and start by writing. 

You have first to understand the stages that are involved in it. Broadly three main stages have sub-stages. For now, let's go through these briefly!

  1. Preparation: This involves thorough background research, brainstorming, and forming an essay outline from scratch.
  2. Writing: You will start by writing an engaging introduction, followed by evidence-heavy body paragraphs, and then finish it up by writing a grand conclusion. 
  3. Revision: This is a crucial step that you must never miss. Don't be a lazy jack and just hit that submit button. Proofread the entire content twice. Edit everything that you find incorrect, whether there are grammar-related or sentence structure mistakes. Most of the time, you are going to spot content-related errors too. It is better that you have recognized them. Just imagine the scenario where your teacher spots them. You will end up getting a terrible grade. 

Now that you have a rough idea about the stages. Let's go through them one by one so that you can get deep insights into what goes in each step.

Preparation Phase

Hold your pens! Before you ruin your essay by writing down your thoughts haphazardly, you must understand the preparation process. These useful steps will play a massive role in that grade of yours. Take out a pen and a paper and write these down so that you never forget the recipe for future note-worthy content.

Understand the Topic

First and foremost, you should get yourself familiar with the topic. One of the worst things that could happen is finally completing a piece only to realize you have diverted away from its purpose or have written something completely out of the point, such as presenting an argumentative essay rather than an informative one. Not only will you have to redo everything and readjust your schedule, making the process even harder and longer in the end. 

Brainstorm

Before you carry out research, it is vital for you to jot down some initial ideas. Take out a piece of paper and start placing things in a way that makes sense to you. If you are someone who likes to be creative, then draw a circle in the middle of the paper, write down your topic within it, then start writing points around that topic in bubbles. Do not stop or interrupt yourself by tagging a particular subject matter as being "irrelevant". There is no such thing as an irrelevance in the brainstorming phase. 

Carry Out Research

Whether it is a scientific essay or a regular one, you will have to do some homework. You can never present a sound analysis as a student if you don't have the background information about the topic. 

So, hop on your chair and open as many websites as you can. If you are someone who has a strong attachment to libraries, then go to one. Gather information from multiple sources and develop an understanding of the subject. 

In this way, you will know what you are talking about. Never beat around the bush by giving useless arguments. This situation can occur if you don't know the history of the evolution of the topic. 

Create an Outline

This will be a rough blueprint or a foundation upon which your essay will be based upon. Make some main headings and follow by adding subheadings. This will help you in planning paragraphs, covering the entire content, and managing that word length. 

Plan a Thesis Statement

It is known as the central point or argument of your topic. This is something that you are going to refer back to. It generally revolves around the what, why, and how of the essay. You can tell the audience the topic, why there is a problem, and how it can be addressed. You only write this after you have a complete outline prepared. This is because without having a snapshot of your essay, you will not be able to write a statement that encapsulates the entire piece into it. 

Remember that the thesis statement is generally placed at the end of the introduction. However, it is still dependent on the nature of your writing. 

Write an Introduction

Typically, the journey of essay writing begins with an introductory paragraph that covers the basic details and offers a glimpse into what a reader may expect as they proceed. The best way to start this context-setting part is to create a hook. As it implies, the hook is to grab the readers' attention right away and nudge them into sailing through the rest of the content. 

After that, you may provide background information to set the context. In the end, cap it all with a well-thought-out thesis statement. Wondering what on earth it is? A thesis statement can be described as the central argument around which your discussion is going to revolve. 

Example of an Introductory Statement: 

In the nineteenth century, a raised-dot writing technique, now famously known as, ‘Braille,’ was invented by Louis Braille in order to assist the visually blind and impaired. This discovery incited a groundbreaking moment in history. Blindness was stigmatized in a society that did not value disabled persons in general, and the inability to read and write was a major obstacle to social inclusion. While tactile reading was not a completely novel concept, approaches at the time were difficult to understand and apply. Therefore, Braille was a revolutionary accessibility technology for the blind and was considered the first writing method developed specifically for the needs of blind people. It helped provide tangible advantages and transformed the perception of blindness in society. In this essay, I will first discuss the conditions of blind people in nineteenth-century Europe and will later delve into the wide-ranging impact of this technology on the social and cultural lives of blind people.

So, the recipe for a practical introduction is: 

  • A crafty hook that activates the readers' curiosity
  • Background information to set the tone for your text
  • A thesis claim or main point to let the reader have an insight into your take on the matter in question

Write the Body of Your Essay

The body must be the elaboration of the thoughts, theorems, and ideas expressed in the introduction. While writing a descriptive essay, one must keep in mind that the topic must be looked at through a more personal approach. Generalized musings will spoil the broth. The body must have strong arguments for the theorem or idea proposed. It must be seen that all the points are well enumerated. 

The grammar in the body must be absolutely proper. There are some essay writing apps that can help you. There is no use in writing elaborate sentences. Write short sentences and stick to the use of simple sentences. If the writer uses complex sentences, then they must have super confidence over the same. Transitory words like "furthermore," "moreover," "by contrast," and "on the other hand" aggravate the quality of the essay. 

Example of the Body of an Essay (One Paragraph):

Blind people faced a significant disadvantage in nineteenth-century society due to a lack of access to reading and writing. People interacted in society, associated with others, and received knowledge by text. Blind people were removed from social interaction due to a lack of a well-developed literacy infrastructure that was not reliant on sight (Weygand, 2009). Though impaired people were discriminated against in general, blindness was generally regarded as the worst condition for a person to have, and it was widely assumed that blind people were incapable of seeking a career or enhancing themselves in society (Weygand, 2009). This reflects the relevance of reading and writing to social standing at the time: it was thought difficult to truly engage in society without access to text. Blind people were not only separated from the sighted community, but they were also completely reliant on them for knowledge and schooling.

Take a Glance at the Paragraph Structure

Your essay must be divided into equal-length paragraphs. You have to make use of each paragraph as a separate argument. Do not state a lot of diverse points in a single paragraph. 

Remember the clear thesis and outline that you made earlier? Well, make use of that. The first sentence will be the topic sentence that will grab the attention of the audience. Next comes the supporting point. It will elaborate on the topic sentence. After this, you will give the evidence for what you have stated above. Try to be factual. Do not give sweeping statements. You can check out web sources as well as books. 

Remember, irrelevant points will fail the argument that you are trying to make. You can give a second supporting point that is backed by evidence. Do not get carried away, as two sets are more than enough. Adding more statements will result in a cluttered paragraph and will also confuse the reader. When you are done with the evidence, you will then have to conclude the section in the last sentence. Yes, just like an essay, you have to give a conclusion. 

However, you must keep in mind that your conclusion must give a hint about the next paragraph. This will make your essay more cohesive for the reader to observe a flow. The content you write should help the reader understand your message clearly and with ease. 

Try to divide your total word count by the number of body paragraphs that you have. In this way, you will not exceed the limit, nor will you face the problem of having to add more meaningless words for the sake of word count. Whether it is an argumentative essay or an expository essay, you have to follow a sequence in the paragraphs.

End With a Powerful Conclusion

After you are done with the essay, you have to wrap it up by writing a conclusion. This is the final part of your college essays so keep it crisp and short. Just eyeball the word count. You can allocate 10-15% of the text for this part. Let's discuss the do's and don'ts of this segment. 

Example of an Essay Conclusion:

Braille created a path toward a means for significant societal shifts in how blind people were perceived, managed, and the benefits and chances that they could have. Louis Braille's breakthrough redefined traditional reading from the standpoint of the blind, and the invention's popularity necessitated that teachers all over the world, especially those with sight, to adjust to the reality of visually challenged students.

Do's

  • The conclusion must be in line with the content that you have written earlier.
  • You can draw connections between different points to give a snapshot of the essay.
  • State what the reader can extract from the argument that you have given. You can talk about the insights that you have provided regarding the topic. If you have introduced new angles in which the topic can be seen, explain that as well.
  • Remember that thesis statement that you wrote. It's time to revisit that.
  • It would be best if you made a strong impression on the reader. This will require you to write impactful sentences.

Don'ts

  • Do not add new points, arguments, or evidence in this part. You have to stick to whatever you have written in the body. College students tend to get carried away. You might commit a horrible mistake such as this either because you want to try to impress your teacher or due to not making an outline and are now only experiencing moments of “eureka”.
  • Never undermine the arguments that you have made. It will weaken whatever you have written earlier.
  • Refrain from using phrases that indicate that this is a "conclusion". So if you have the habit of using "in conclusion", you should stop.
  • If you have taken help from research papers, do not rephrase the conclusion that is taken from that content. Try to treat this essay as your own topic.

Revise 

Once you are finished writing your essay, the next step would be proofreading. You have to cover up your mistakes step-by-step. This will require you to read your content with attention. It is advisable that you should perform this step after some time regardless of whether it is a short break or the next day entirely. You need to step out of that zone you were in to see things in a new light. This way, you will be able to spot the mistakes better. 

If you continue after writing, chances are that you are going to miss a lot of errors due to exhaustion. When it comes to revision, it is not just fixing grammar-related errors. You can also fix issues that you spot in your "viewpoint". In simpler words, fix your content! Other than this, you can print out a checklist to help you keep check of the quality. 

Follow Formatting Guidelines

There are many intricacies involved in writing an essay. The use of language comes first. The essay must be very languid and expressive. The language use must be persuasive yet straightforward. Jugglery of sentences and playing with the words make an essay unresponsive and unattractive. There are many styles of writing an essay. APA essay or the American Psychological Association framework is one of the most widely used styles. 

The APA format implies the writing or print with double spaced sentences in a 12 points standard font like Times New Roman that is easy to read. There is a paper specification of the APA. They include 8.5' X 11' with a one-inch margin on all four sides. There are several other styles like the Harvard and the MLA format. The essayist needs to learn these styles to cope with any environment and fend any format's needs. Below is how to differentiate among the widely-practiced three essay writing styles: 

  • APA: 12 Font Size, Times New Roman, Text Left Align, Running Header Left-align, In-text citations containing author(s)' last name followed by the year (date), and the reference page titled as "References".
  • Harvard: 12 Font Size, Times New Roman (or as specified), Text Left Align, in-text citations containing author(s)' last name followed by the year (with no comma in between), and the reference page titled as "Reference List".
  • MLA: Times New Roman or Calibri, Text Left Aligned, Paragraphs Indgented except one preceded by a heading, in-text citations containing author(s)' name.

Go Through This Checklist

  • The introduction is written in a way that will ignite the reader's interest.
  • There is enough background information that will help the reader understand the context.
  • The thesis statement is holistic and properly encapsulates what is included in the essay.
  • The paragraphs are well-formed.
  • Each paragraph has a topic sentence, a supporting point, a piece of evidence, and a conclusion.
  • There is a flow between the paragraphs.
  • There is no new point introduced in the conclusion.
  • The concluding paragraph is not lengthy.
  • The content is not copied from anywhere. Thus the plagiarism report will show a percentage of 80% - 100% uniqueness.
  • Every source is appropriately cited, and a reference page is added at the end that lists all of the details of the in-text citations.
  • The entire essay is formatted according to the style mentioned in the instructions.
  • There is an eye-catching title at the start of the essay.

Final Tips on Writing Essays

While essay writing is a craft, here are our main advice in order for you to finally get started on your essay: 

  1. Read all of the instructions: Every essay will usually come with a set of instructions. Follow the guidelines to produce content that will entice the admission officer to read further.
  2. Write a compelling introduction: Start with a hook or an anecdote that captures the attention of your audience, in this case, it can be a proctor or professor. Make use of the word count. Use your example to make it enjoyable.
  3. Take note of your tone: Depending on what you are writing on, you need to ensure that the tone you use is suitable. You cannot write in a friendly or conversational tone the way you do in a blog for a more formal thesis. Different subjects and topics require different ways of saying things.
  4. Avoid 'tired' phrases and plots: To produce engaging content that grabs the attention of your reader, it is important that you do not bore them by writing the same old content. While topics generally repeat themselves, there are so many different ways in which to phrase your work in order for it to be something fresh. Words are your ally.
  5. Quote examples: Whatever you state in the essay, try to back it up using concrete evidence. It improves your credibility. Sweeping statements will get you nowhere.
  6. Put the finishing touches: After you are done writing the content, read it twice. Through the method of proofreading, you will be able to identify grammatical and sentence-related mistakes. Make sure that there are no typos.

You can also ask a parent or a teacher to go through your essay to see if they can spot any mistakes or if there is something that needs revision. Ask them whether your content is engaging or not. You can make timely changes by doing this step.

Tasha Kolesnikova
Content Team Member

I studied sociology and marketing at Europa-Universität Viadrina (Germany) and Universidade da Beira Interior (Portugal). When I was a sophomore, back in 2018, I decided to put what I've learned into practice, so I got my first job in digital marketing. I currently work in the content marketing department at Studybay, building strong, effective, and respectful communication between the platform and our clients.