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Writing an Essay: The Process

An essay is a piece of writing that communicates your thoughts to the reader in a clear, well-organized, and easily understandable fashion. Writing an essay is not an easy task and it requires a lot of patience, research, and a clear opinion backed by facts that you intend to present in your writing. Writing an essay tests more than just your writing skills. It can gauge your analytical skills, ability to understand a topic, and your critical thinking skills. On that note, let’s try and understand what you need to write a good, convincing essay.

ESSAY STRUCTURE

An essay is divided into three parts: Introduction, body, and conclusion, and has five or more paragraphs. Here’s the standard format of an essay:

Introduction
• The premise (something that catches the attention of the readers early on)
• Thesis statement (main argument)

Body
• Topic sentence 1 (Para 1)
• Evidence
• Topic sentence 2 (Para 2)
• Evidence
• Topic sentence 3 (Para 3)
• Evidence

Conclusion
• Restating the thesis statement
• Summarizing the topic
• Ending it with ‘therefore’ followed by your opinion.
The writing style of your essay (formal or informal) may vary with the subject matter and your readers your essay targets, but the primary format of the essay remains more or less the same.

Paragraph length
There is no fixed length mentioned for the size of a paragraph but ideally, each paragraph is made up of at least three to four sentences.

Sentence length
Again, there is no specified word limit to writing a sentence. You can make short sentences out of a complicated long sentence that requires the readers to pause to understand what they read. It’s purely subjective but as a common suggestion, keep your sentences within 25 words for better readability.

PLANNING

As cliché as it may sound, planning is the most important step to take before writing an essay. Every project or writing assignment must have a proper plan. Writers would otherwise spend endless hours gazing at their blank computer screens not knowing what to write.

Selecting the right topic
First off, choosing the right topic when writing an essay is very important. Unless you have been given a particular topic to write on, you must always pick something that interests you, and the readers. If the topic is research oriented, there should be enough credible sources available.

Example: A topic like “Psychology: Speculation or Science” is a perfect blend for intriguing interest among readers with a spur of controversy. It will also have a lot of research material available to use before presenting your views in writing.

Research
Before writing an essay, you must begin with a research process that varies with the intensity of your topic. Proper research helps you to understand the topic, write down relevant points, cultivate an opinion and present it to your readers with clarity.

**Tip: For research-intensive topics, always look for research papers on authoritative websites by using search operators on Google. Example: the search term ‘psychology science + pdf’ gives out relevant information from reputed websites.

While doing your research, look for credible sources that have a lot of information on your chosen topic to avoid confusion and having to scroll through multiple websites.

For example, here are a couple of useful resources to help you in simplifying your research.

BartlebyIf you’re writing an essay about a book or a novel, you can browse through their resources online, read your book, and start writing key pointers simultaneously.
StudymodeHelps you in your research by using the wide variety of documents available, getting expert suggestions and completing your paper.  

Thesis statements
A thesis statement is the focus point and holds the overall argument of your essay. Simply put, it’s the most important sentence that explains the topic. Solid research helps you to come up with a solid thesis statement.  

WRITING AN ESSAY

The tone of your essay is as important as the information it includes. Think about how you want your reader to feel as they read your essay, and pick your tone accordingly.

Outline writing
The writing process starts off by drawing an outline of the essay. It gives a clear vision, flow of topic sentences, and a cue for the writer to stay on track and cover the important points. The writer must have a clear view of what needs to be written and having an outline avoids wasting time.

Example: A small outline of the topic ‘Psychology: Science or Speculation’

Introduction
• Maybe a quote, fact or joke on psychology (Engage audience with something creative)
• What is psychology, how relevant is it in today’s world? (no more than 2 lines)
• “Psychological science is an essential part of technological and scientific innovations that ensures correct state of mind and thought process.” (Thesis statement with the main idea of the essay)

Body
• The science of psychology
• Observing natural occurrences, and making a hypothesis

• Power to predict and control human behavior
• The test of intelligence and personality
• Assessing well-being, mental and behavioral function

• Psychologists are not modern day Voodoo tellers
• Voodoo Correlation is a myth

• Attention networks of psychology
• Development of experimental psychology

Use facts, examples, expert opinions and supporting thoughts for each paragraph before writing an essay.

Final conclusion     
• Rewording the above thesis statement
• Short summary (rewording the topic sentences)
• Complete the essay by saying how body paragraphs support your thesis.

You might also enjoy: Coping with Exam Anxiety

 

GRAMMAR AND PUNCTUATION

The most difficult part of writing, especially for English learners, is using the correct punctuation and grammar. Often, a well-researched topic goes wasted if it is not presented well. It puts off the readers and turns their focus away from the subject matter towards finding the next error.

To avoid such costly errors when writing an essay, there are online tools—like Grammarly—to help you correct your writing mistakes straight away. There are also websites like The Write Practice, and The Grammar Book to help you understand grammar and punctuation rules, and improve your writing skills.

REVISING

An essay (or almost any writing work) is never considered to be complete unless it goes through at least one round of revision. Revision is important to check the readability of your essay, fix the unseen errors, include further relevant points and remove the unnecessary ones.

Points to focus on while revising an essay
• Is the essay’s thesis statement identifiable?
• Are the topic sentences supportive of the thesis statement? Are there any off-topic points that must be removed?
• Are the body paragraphs complete and fully supported by evidences?
• Are the topic sentences well organized in a flow?
• Are there any grammatical errors?
• Have you followed a proper format?
• Have you properly cited the sources where required?

Tips
• Read your work more than once
• Don’t jump into revision right away. Take a break, freshen up your mind and then sit with your work
• Read the essay completely, highlight all the changes first, and then individually tackle each change
• Do a plagiarism check by running your essay through sites like Copyscape before submission

KEY TAKEAWAYS 

Always start your essay with a clear topic idea in mind; one you are comfortable writing. Do your research and note down important references to use in your essay. Create an outline to stay on track and keep a note of important points.

Write a thesis statement that is the key subject of your essay, and follow up with topic sentences that support your thesis. Support your paragraphs with proper examples and references. Revise your essay more than once to make it perfect.

Avoid plagiarism and do not download essays from other websites and submit them as your own. Never resort to hiring an essay writing service for writing your essays.

What are your top tips to writing an essay? Share your thoughts and ideas with College News.

 

Author Bio: Ethan Miller is a private ESL tutor and apart from his passion for teaching, he loves to write and holds a degree in creative writing. When he is not teaching or writing his book, Miller loves to blog and is a huge fan of educational technology.
Follow Ethan on Twitter, Facebook, and his blog.

 

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