Step-by-Step Guide to Writing an Essay
So your teacher assigned another essay to write. Does the mere thought of putting pen to paper – or fingers to the keyboard – send shivers down your spine? For many students in elementary, middle or high school, it does, but writing an essay shouldn’t be intimidating. As long as you know the basic steps of essay writing, you should be well-equipped to handle any essay topic.
Determine What Type of Essay It Is
There are many different types of essays you might be asked to write in elementary, middle or high school. Some of the most common include narrative, expository, argumentative, persuasive, comparative and literary. Are you presenting an overview or telling a story about the topic (narrative) or are you providing an analysis (expository)? Do you have to convince the reader to adopt a certain point of view or to take a particular action (persuasive)? Are you writing an essay about a book you read (literary)? Determining the type of essay is the first step to writing a targeted essay.
Create an Essay Outline
An essay outline is your road map. It will guide you through to the finished product. When you create an outline, you organize your thoughts about your topic. First, write your topic at the top of the page. Then list all the points or arguments you want to make about the essay topic. Finally, list the facts, examples and statistics that support those points or arguments.
Develop a Thesis Statement
Your thesis should inform the reader what point you will be making or what question you will be answering about the topic. In other words, it is a prelude to your conclusion. A thesis statement should be as specific as possible and address one main idea. Strong theses also take a stand or illustrate the controversial nature of a topic.
Introduce Your Topic
The first paragraph of your essay will introduce your topic and provide direction for the entire essay. The introduction should discuss your main idea, or what the essay is about, then state your thesis and points or arguments that support your thesis.
The introduction also sets the tone for your essay, and you want to grab the reader’s attention with interest and clarity. To capture the reader’s attention, you can make a challenging claim about the topic or present some surprising (but factual) information.
Write the Body of the Essay
The body of the essay provide details for the points in your introductory paragraph that support your thesis. Take the points you listed in your introduction and discuss each in one body paragraph. First, write a topic sentence that summarizes your point then explain why you feel the topic sentence is true. Finally, support your argument with evidence such as facts, quotes, examples and statistics.
Present Your Conclusion
The conclusion summarizes the essay and gives the reader closure. In three or four concise sentences, you should reiterate your thesis and review the main points of the body of the essay. Just be sure not to restate your previous words exactly. You can even briefly describe your opinion of the topic. Your final sentence should uphold your main idea in a clear and compelling manner.
Just remember to tackle each step one at a time. Some people do better when they work backwards from the conclusion. Write a rough draft of your essay first – don’t try to get it perfect the first time through. After you finish your rough draft, proofread it thoroughly and revise until you have a strong, informative essay.
Interactive Essay Writing Classes
Online lessons like Time4Writing’s essay writing classes can help children build and strengthen the foundation for strong essay writing skills in elementary school, middle school, high school and beyond. These interactive essay writing classes build basic writing skills, explain essay types and structure, and teach students how to organize their ideas.
Time4Writing is popular as a writing homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment, for remediation, and as a summer school alternative. All of Time4Writing’s online lessons are led by certified writing teachers who provide valuable feedback after every writing assignment.
Learn more about Time4Writing today!
Everyone has the ability to write the perfect essay.
The ideas are inside your child’s or student’s brain just waiting to be put on paper in a form that everyone can read.
The following is an excerpt from the book Instant Learning for Amazing Grades.
Schools and home-schools require essay writing, so do colleges and college entrance exams, so, why not learn a few simple tips to make essay writing easy? Below is a template, followed by 9 additional easy steps on how to write the perfect essay every time.
Template for Excellent Essays
1. Write down the topic you are writing about – simple, straightforward
Example: Amazing Grades
2. Brainstorm ideas that someone interested in your topic would also be interested in. This helps you think of related ideas.
Example: Motivating yourself instantly
Cut learning time in half; higher grades in 14 days
High Performance Memory Strategies
3. Select a title for your essay – like, Tips for x, or Top 10 Things You Must Do If You Want Y, etc.
Example: How to Create Higher Grades in 14 Days Using Your Child’s Personal Learning Style
4. Pretend your reader knows absolutely nothing about your topic. What is the first sentence you would use to give them peak their interest? Perhaps it might be a question, or a simple statement.
Example: Would you like to have higher grades in 14 days?
5. Keeping in mind your title, explain why you are taking the position you take, or why you believe your title to be true. This is the part where you use as many facts to support your idea as possible. Write several sentences, using some of the brainstorms you had in step 2.
Example: Learning can be tough, but you don’t have to do it alone. Many learning experts say that learning is not about being smart – it’s about strategy. These experts show you how with xxx…
6. After you’ve written your supporting ideas and facts, go back and ask yourself if you would like to write a short introductory paragraph.
7. Then ask yourself if you would like to write a conclusion tying everything together.
8. Congratulate yourself – you’ve just written an excellent essay!
9 More Easy Steps to Perfect Essays Every Time
a. First, create a Picture Perfect Summary. Put your title/main idea in the center of the page, make a circle around it and write down all the ideas and key words about your topic that you can think of. Use one branch off the circle for each main idea. You’re brainstorming at this point so just write down any ideas that come into your mind. (That’s how I write magazine and news articles and books too)!
b. Look over your Summary of ideas and key words. Organize them into groups. Make sure that each group reflects the topic or question that you’re writing about.
c. Divide your groups into the three main parts of the essay – the beginning, middle and the end. Your beginning has to be snazzy to make your reader want to read more. The middle develops and supports your main topic. Back everything you say up with facts, quotations, evidence. The end will give a clever answer or summary to the original question or idea that you started with and tie up those loose ends.
d. Draft your essay – get on the computer and start in the middle. That’s how I wrote this book! Give each idea it’s own paragraph, don’t worry about style and spelling at this point. You can check this later. Your Picture Perfect Summary is your guide. Use all the ideas that you decided were important.
e. Now proceed to write the ending. Make sure it sums up your answer/summary to the main topic/question. Look back at the draft of the middle. Write down the 5 or 10 most important key words. Find the shortest way to link them together – this is called your ending.
7. Now, draft the beginning. It will be the overall – big picture of what you’re going to say. There’s an old saying from my college days English class: Tell em what you’re going to say, tell em, tell em what you said! This beginning is very important to set the stage – make sure it’s catchy and makes the reader interested in what you have to say.
8. Now, go to bed and get some rest. Give the ideas a chance to process in your brain. Tomorrow you’ll notice a few more points to talk about and think of additional ways to say things.
9. Author, Colin Rose, says, “EDIT – Excellent Draft, Inspirational Text”… read the whole essay aloud to yourself. Tape record it if you can. Does it sound logical and convincing? Your are on your way to understanding how to write the perfect essay.
Are your examples bringing your ideas to life? Check the beginning – is it awesome – does it make sense? Edit the beginning, middle and end – check spelling and grammar. Have someone else proofread it too. Now check the middle. Did everything you said relate to the main topic or question? Is it convincing? Go to your ending. Edit it – is it punchy? This is the place to really put on your thinking cap. Did you really convince your reader??
Polish up how the essay looks – Is it neat, organized, well written? Are you satisfied that it does the job you started out to do? Only you can be the judge of this. Your essay reflects how you think – do you like the way it came out? If so, turn it in and you now know how to write the perfect essay.
Pat Wyman is a best selling author, university instructor and founder of HowToLearn.com. One of the faster learning strategies she specializes in is how to write the perfect essay.
Posted by +Pat Wyman, author and founder of HowToLearn.com