One of the most important skills you will need to learn and master is the ability to write essays. Just about every discipline of study requires some type of essay. The most commonly used form is the 5-paragraph argumentative essay. Here is a short guide to writing an essay and how to check to make sure you are doing it right.
The first step in writing an essay is to develop a thesis or central argument of your paper. Your thesis is a concise statement that lets your reader know where you’re going with your essay and the reasons why. It’s impossible to write a good essay without a clear thesis.
The next step is developing an outline which serves as a sketch of your entire essay. Use single line sentences to describe entire paragraphs and sub-points to describe what each paragraph will include. You might want to re-arrange your order so that your argument flows naturally and effectively.
Next get into writing your first draft by starting with an introduction which grabs the reader’s attention, sets up the issue and leads to your thesis statement. The following paragraphs are known as your body paragraphs and should each be focused on a single idea in support of your thesis. Be sure you express your ideas in a as clear a way as possible. Write as though you were speaking to an audience sitting right in front of you.
The last piece of writing will be your conclusion, which is a sort of wrap-up of your essay. This should summarize your main points but also show the connection they have with one another and how they come together to prove your central argument. A conclusion should also leave an impression with your reader that you have successfully made your case.
The easiest and most effective way to know if you are writing your essay correctly is to go through each of the steps listed above and making sure you can identify them in your draft. Print out your draft copy and have a pen ready to underline each of the major components of an essay.
First look for and identify your thesis statement, making sure that it clearly and concisely takes a position or argument on a topic. Next look for and underline each topic sentence in the body paragraphs, making sure that each statement says what the paragraph is about. Next check within each paragraph for evidence related to the topic sentence and in support of your thesis.
The last few things to look for are a clear introduction and conclusion of your essay. Your introduction should let the reader know what it is you will be discussing. Your conclusion should restate your thesis, summarize each of your major points and show their relationship in proving your central argument. The conclusion should also let the reader know that your paper has come to an end.
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