Writing academic essays is a large part of university and high school education. They are most effective at demonstrating students’ subject knowledge and demonstrating their ability to gather and present information and data. In this guide, we will show you how to write an excellent academic essay and the various types you can choose from.
What Is an Academic Essay?
In a nutshell, an academic essay is a structured form of writing that students must complete as part of their curricula in school, college, and university. The most common goals of this type of writing are to either present new information or to use existing facts and knowledge to convey specific ideas. This type of assignment encourages students to demonstrate their knowledge and creativity. Essays are typically shorter in length than other types of academic writing and present the authors’ opinions to support their arguments. Here are some important aspects of an academic essay to keep in mind:
- Conciseness — Essays are typically short; the length of such papers ranges from 200 to 500 words.
- Topic — Because of their short lengths, an essay topic should be narrowed-down and not too broad.
- Well-structured text — Although essays are one of the least formal types of writing, they still require a solid structure and adhere to proper academic paper format.
- Clear central idea — Each academic essay should make a specific point that is clear and powerful (i.e. thesis statement).
- Personal motivation — Unlike other forms of writing, essays frequently imply that their authors are personally interested in the topics under discussion.
- Supporting facts, evidence, and examples — While essays may present an author’s personal beliefs and ideas, they should also provide arguments to support those ideas.
It is beneficial to begin developing your academic writing skills early on, as these are skills that will serve you well throughout your studies and life. People who are good at writing academic essays tend to be able to articulate themselves more clearly and to speak with more confidence.
To fully understand how and when to use an academic essay, we must first examine the various types of them and how they develop their ideas to communicate a message.
Types of Academic Essays
Academic writing can be divided into four types of essays, each with its own purpose—though some have similar structures. Having said that, there are four types of academic papers: narrative, descriptive, expository, and persuasive.
Because they are more scientific and objective, expository and persuasive types are most commonly seen in university curricula. Narrative and descriptive essays are more subjective and require you to use your imagination. Now, let’s dissect each type and examine each academic essay definition.
This type of writing requires the author to create a compelling story of practically anything imaginable. In other words, it is a super-condensed version of a novel. This type of essay requires students to demonstrate their creative abilities. Therefore, it implies the constant use of strong adjectives. Their use will help the author of an essay to create a strong, graphic picture for their story and enhance the audience’s perception of the topic. Although telling a compelling story is basically the main purpose of this type of essay, there is much more to it than there seems. A well-written narration should also have a point that is “written between the lines”. Simply put, there should be a clear message delivered through the text. By putting a hidden message between the lines, you motivate the reader to read the paper in its entirety as it sparks their curiosity.
In short, the author chooses a specific thing, experience, emotion, or idea to describe for the reader in this type of essay. This style, like narrative writing, requires the author to be subjective and creative. And, just like in a narrative essay, the author is supposed to paint a picture in the minds of the readers. Another important aspect of writing a descriptive essay is carefully choosing words. A paper of this type should elicit certain emotions in the reader and connect them to the topic under discussion. Finally, the subject should be described in simple terms in the paper. When the reader understands the subject thoroughly after reading an essay, you know you’ve written a fantastic descriptive paper.
An expository essay is another type of academic writing that is used to help readers understand subject matter by providing grounded information and facts. This type of writing requires the author to provide valid evidence to back up all of the information in the paper. Opinions or personal views on a subject have no place in an expository paper. A good paper should use analysis that is based on factual information about its subject. The author’s main goal is to inform and educate the reader by using clear logic and facts. For example, this “How to Write an Academic Essay” article can be classified as expository writing.
Writing a persuasive paper necessitates taking on the role of a salesman (or saleswoman). You can express an opinion, project, or idea that you must then sell to your reader (s). The logic behind how you provide information to the reader(s) should be impenetrable, leaving no doubt that what you are expressing is the only truth they need to know. To avoid being pushy, cater your points carefully and conceal your sales tactic behind well-thought-out sentences. When defending an argument, you can use logical tactics, emotional tactics, or a combination of both, depending on what you’re attempting to argue.
Good Academic Essay Topics
Topics will vary logically depending on the style of writing you are producing. Sometimes the same topic can be found in different academic essay categories, but the main content will always differ depending on the category of paper you write about. Having said that, here are some excellent academic essay topics for high school and college students:
Narrative Essay Topics
- Explain how you and your family got through the quarantine. Describe how it affected you.
- Tell us about your experience with remote learning. What effect did it have on your grades and overall performance? Do you believe that online education is better or worse than traditional education?
- Create a story that explains the significance of technology in modern life.
- Create a story that explains the significance of each individual’s contribution to the process of resolving the global problem of climate change.
Descriptive Essay Topics
- Describe a person who has had the most influence on your life.
- What is the most recent significant event in global history?
- Describe your love-making experience. What effect does it have on one’s personality?
- Describe the most moving work of art or music you’ve ever seen. What characteristics do you believe define powerful art?
Expository Essay Topics
- Why is the number of teen suicides increasing? What drives young people to commit suicide?
- What can each individual do to help prevent climate change and mitigate the threats it brings?
- What strategies can our society use to recover as quickly and painlessly as possible after a global pandemic?
What can we do to prevent future cases like George Floyd’s death and police abuse of authority?
Persuasive/Argumentative Essay Topics
- Should the government amend the constitution to limit the actions permitted by police officers during arrests?
- Should we continue to follow self-distancing rules now that the danger has passed?
- Gun control: Make a case for stricter gun control in the United States.
- Should technology (aside from those used for educational purposes) be prohibited in colleges?
Proper Format for Your Academic Writing
An academic essay typically has a five-paragraph structure: an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Furthermore, each section will have its own distinct internal structure. The introduction’s primary goal is to introduce the topic and reveal the main message of the essay (a.k.a. the thesis statement). The primary task of the body paragraphs is to defend the thesis with three sub arguments—one per paragraph. Finally, the conclusion serves to summarize the entire argument and leave a lasting impression in the form of an overall concluding statement. We’ve included a graphic organizer that illustrates the breakdown below.
Start Off the Writing Process by Creating an Outline
Before you begin any academic writing, you must first create four essential components that must be answered. The thesis statement, subpoints, a connection, and a summary are all included.
- Thesis Statement: This is the focal point of your writing and one of the most important elements of your introductory paragraphs. It is the main message that the author is attempting to convey.
- Body Points (Subpoints): These are the main points or statements that will be used to back up your thesis.
- Connection: When writing an academic essay, it is critical to connect it to the real world, either directly or indirectly. Give an explanation of why it is important to you or why it is relevant to society. This will add new meaning to your paper and highlight your distinct way of thinking.
- Summary: This is a brief and powerful statement that summarizes your given points.
Here is a sample outline for a paper written about “Police Brutality and Its Impact on Society” to help you get a better idea of how to shape a perfect outline for your essay:
- Hook: According to statistics, nearly two thousand people were killed as a result of police brutality in 2019.
- Background information and explanation of key terms: The term “police brutality” refers to the use of excessive, unwarranted, and often illegal force by police officers. There have been numerous cases of fatal force in the United States and throughout history, ranging from assault to torture and even murder. Furthermore, statistical data show that in the United States, the levels of violent crime do not determine the rates of police violence. As a result, police brutality has recently become a real and prevalent issue that is widely discussed and highlighted in the media.
- Thesis statement: Unjustified use of force is a real issue that has a significant impact on how people perceive their society, and it must be addressed appropriately to prevent the spread of discontent and violence.
- Main Body
- Point 1 + example/evidence
- Point 2 + example/evidence
- Point 3 + example/evidence
- Summary of the main points discussed in the main body
- Restatement of the thesis statement.
- A final sentence This gives readers more to think about.
It is time to begin writing your paper after you have created a proper outline, listed your main points, and gathered evidence to support your ideas. Many people prefer to create a title before beginning the writing process because it helps them set the tone for their work. Others prefer to write first and then create a title based on what they’ve written. Because the title’s meaning could be abstract, the second option is better suited for writing narrative or descriptive essays. However, when writing expository and persuasive papers, it is critical to choose a specific essay title and stick to the general theme.
Introduction: How to Start an Academic Essay
The academic essay format discussed in this article is quite simple. For many years, it has been widely used to generate high-quality essay examples for university. The main reason students continue to use it is that it is thought to be the most effective at delivering information to the reader.
Where to begin: A student should begin any academic writing assignment by developing a strong introduction.
Quick tip;If you are new to writing academic papers, don’t be afraid to look for a good academic paper example to help you figure out how to write a good introduction. Looking at good samples can help you get started.
Because a reader’s attention span is at its peak at the start of a paper, when they first begin reading, your introductory paragraph will essentially set the tone for the entire academic paper. Fortunately, EssayPro can share a few useful and highly effective techniques to assist you in creating a compelling introduction!
First and foremost, you should start with a strong hook. The term “hook” refers to the first sentence of the introduction paragraph, whose main purpose is to capture the reader’s attention and encourage them to continue reading. Here are some of the best strategies for creating a successful hook to get you started:
- Quote: One of the most popular methods for introducing a paper is to begin with a creative and meaningful quote. When the quote is chosen correctly, it can have a strong impact on the reader and set the tone for the entire essay. As a result, quotes are frequently used as effective openers. However, it is critical to choose the right quote that is directly related to your topic and does not distract your reader from the main point of your topic.
- Fact: Another common essay opening technique is to start with a factual statement or statistic. This is especially useful when writing an expository or persuasive essay, as such an opener will lend credibility to your paper. Furthermore, beginning with a fact will demonstrate that you have thoroughly researched your topic.
- Rhetorical Question;Finally, starting your essay with a rhetorical question is another option. This technique will assist you in connecting with your reader more effectively (s). A good rhetorical question will stay with your reader as they read the rest of the paper. However, it is critical that you answer the rhetorical question from the introduction in the body of your essay or, at the very least, guide your audience to a relevant observation.
When you’ve established a strong hook, it’s time to introduce your readers to the main topic of your essay. Because the main theme of the paper may not be obvious at this point, you must narrow the focus of your paper by introducing some valuable contextual background information. Outlining the background information will assist readers in understanding how the topic will develop throughout the paper. Finally, after you’ve provided the context, it’s time to craft your golden sentence (a.k.a. thesis statement).
In a nutshell, the thesis statement is your essay’s main theme, idea, or argument. In other words, it encapsulates the entire message you intend to deliver in a single sentence.
Bonus tip: When developing your thesis statement, avoid including extraneous information. Keep it succinct and to the point. Remember that the main purpose of this sentence is to establish the focus of the paper and to introduce the readers to the main ideas that will be covered in the body paragraphs.
The Main Body
Your audience will get their information from the body paragraphs of your essay. The main body is always the longest and most important part of a five-paragraph assignment. Your main points should be stated in the order of your outline and should support your thesis statement with valid arguments and facts when writing your body paragraphs. If you deviate from that, you will confuse the audience, especially those who are paying close attention to the flow of your essay.Here are the main requirements for writing a strong body section:
- Accuracy: Be wary of information and avoid contradicting yourself. Include the relevant subpoints from your thesis (based on the body paragraphs).
- Evidence: Every topic or idea you present should be supported by sufficient evidence to back up your claims. Include information such as facts, statistics, and references.
- Word Choice: Keep your vocabulary in mind, especially when writing persuasive or descriptive papers. The words you use should accurately represent the information you’re presenting. Make use of vivid adjectives and powerful adverbs. Misused words, jargon or technical terms that confuse readers, slang or inappropriate language, cliches, wordiness, and so on are all things to avoid when it comes to word choice.
- Keep It Consistent: A body paragraph should consist of 5-7 sentences. Logically, they should all have a similar structure, with the main difference being how the subpoint is presented. We always recommend that students look at a good academic writing sample to get a good idea of how the entire piece should look.
The goal of the main body is to answer any questions that have arisen in the reader’s mind following the introduction. Every new point should bring the audience closer to comprehending the overall concept you present throughout your essay. Ideally, you want to bring them up to the same level of knowledge on the subject that you have. After successfully completing this task, it is time to move on to the conclusion.
Academic Essay Conclusion
You must start strong and finish even stronger in any assignment you write. As you near the end of your paper, your reader may forget what the first paragraph you wrote was about. As a result, you must remind them. A good essay conclusion will include the following:
- Summary: A paraphrase of the information stated in the thesis and subpoints. (Only when writing an expository, descriptive, or persuasive paper)
- Personal or Social Connection: In other words, explain why this information is important to society. Making such a connection emphasizes the subject’s overall significance as well as its contemporary relevance.
- Overall Concluding Statement: This is usually the final sentence, and it serves the purpose of tying a knot around your work. If you began with a rhetorical question, it would be a nice touch to provide an answer to it here. If you wrote a quote, rewrite it in your own words. It is critical to leave the audience with a strong statement that will stick with them.
The drafting process moves you from a collection of information to the structured presentation of your idea within your essay. No paper of exceptional quality has ever been written in a single draft. The process starts with a rough draft, in which you use all of the information from your relative outline. Then you narrow this information down to the most relevant parts that add actual value to your academic essay topic. Every new draft must be free of content issues, structural flaws, and simple typos. An essay’s final draft may be significantly smaller than its initial draft.
One of the factors that determine the quality of an academic essay is word choice. It is also frequently overlooked or neglected. It is no secret that some words are more effective than others at communicating ideas. It’s also no secret that vocabulary is important in the writing process. When writing a descriptive essay, it is especially important to focus on word choice because the goal is to paint a picture in the reader’s mind. If you are writing a paper on a specific field of study, it is critical that you use words related to that field rather than simple neutral words that add nothing to the text.
Finalizing the Submission
Your content should be well polished at this point in the writing process. After you’ve gone through peer review and/or red pen edits on your essay, make sure to:
- Correct all grammatical and punctuation errors.
- Complete your title.
- Include a bibliography if necessary (basically, a “references” or “works cited” page that includes the sources you used but did not reference in the text).
• Ensure that your paper complies with the academic paper formatting requirements.
To Sum Up
We hope we’ve given you a good start on your journey to becoming an expert academic essay writer. Remember that the goal of an academic essay is to develop your ideas so that you can deliver a message. As you improve your academic essay writing skills, you will be able to articulate yourself more clearly and write and speak more confidently. Good luck with your project!