Writing an essay often seems to be a dreaded task among students. Whether the essay is for a scholarship, a class, or maybe even a contest, many students often find the task overwhelming. While an essay is a large project, there are many steps a student can take that will help break down the task into manageable parts. Following this process is the easiest way to draft a successful essay, whatever its purpose might be.
According to Kathy Livingston’s Guide to Writing a Basic Essay, there are seven steps to writing a successful essay:
1. Pick a topic.
You may have your topic assigned, or you may be given free reign to write on the subject of your choice. If you are given the topic, you should think about the type of paper that you want to produce. Should it be a general overview of the subject or a specific analysis? Narrow your focus if necessary.
If you have not been assigned a topic, you have a little more work to do. However, this opportunity also gives you the advantage to choose a subject that is interesting or relevant to you. First, define your purpose. Is your essay to inform or persuade?
Once you have determined the purpose, you will need to do some research on topics that you find intriguing. Think about your life. What is it that interests you? Jot these subjects down.
Finally, evaluate your options. If your goal is to educate, choose a subject that you have already studied. If your goal is to persuade, choose a subject that you are passionate about. Whatever the mission of the essay, make sure that you are interested in your topic.
2. Prepare an outline or diagram of your ideas.
In order to write a successful essay, you must organize your thoughts. By taking what’s already in your head and putting it to paper, you are able to see connections and links between ideas more clearly. This structure serves as a foundation for your paper. Use either an outline or a diagram to jot down your ideas and organize them.
To create a diagram, write your topic in the middle of your page. Draw three to five lines branching off from this topic and write down your main ideas at the ends of these lines. Draw more lines off these main ideas and include any thoughts you may have on these ideas.
If you prefer to create an outline, write your topic at the top of the page. From there, begin to list your main ideas, leaving space under each one. In this space, make sure to list other smaller ideas that relate to each main idea. Doing this will allow you to see connections and will help you to write a more organized essay.
3. Write your thesis statement.
Now that you have chosen a topic and sorted your ideas into relevant categories, you must create a thesis statement. Your thesis statement tells the reader the point of your essay. Look at your outline or diagram. What are the main ideas?
Your thesis statement will have two parts. The first part states the topic, and the second part states the point of the essay. For instance, if you were writing about Bill Clinton and his impact on the United States, an appropriate thesis statement would be, “Bill Clinton has impacted the future of our country through his two consecutive terms as United States President.”
Another example of a thesis statement is this one for the “Winning Characteristics” Scholarship essay: “During my high school career, I have exhibited several of the “Winning Characteristics,” including Communication Skills, Leadership Skills and Organization Skills, through my involvement in Student Government, National Honor Society, and a part-time job at Macy’s Department Store.”
4. Write the body.
The body of your essay argues, explains or describes your topic. Each main idea that you wrote in your diagram or outline will become a separate section within the body of your essay.
Each body paragraph will have the same basic structure. Begin by writing one of your main ideas as the introductory sentence. Next, write each of your supporting ideas in sentence format, but leave three or four lines in between each point to come back and give detailed examples to back up your position. Fill in these spaces with relative information that will help link smaller ideas together.
5. Write the introduction.
Now that you have developed your thesis and the overall body of your essay, you must write an introduction. The introduction should attract the reader’s attention and show the focus of your essay.
Begin with an attention grabber. You can use shocking information, dialogue, a story, a quote, or a simple summary of your topic. Whichever angle you choose, make sure that it ties in with your thesis statement, which will be included as the last sentence of your introduction.
6. Write the conclusion.
The conclusion brings closure of the topic and sums up your overall ideas while providing a final perspective on your topic. Your conclusion should consist of three to five strong sentences. Simply review your main points and provide reinforcement of your thesis.
7. Add the finishing touches.
After writing your conclusion, you might think that you have completed your essay. Wrong. Before you consider this a finished work, you must pay attention to all the small details.
Check the order of your paragraphs. Your strongest points should be the first and last paragraphs within the body, with the others falling in the middle. Also, make sure that your paragraph order makes sense. If your essay is describing a process, such as how to make a great chocolate cake, make sure that your paragraphs fall in the correct order.
Review the instructions for your essay, if applicable. Many teachers and scholarship forms follow different formats, and you must double check instructions to ensure that your essay is in the desired format.
Finally, review what you have written. Reread your paper and check to see if it makes sense. Make sure that sentence flow is smooth and add phrases to help connect thoughts or ideas. Check your essay for grammar and spelling mistakes.
Congratulations! You have just written a great essay.
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By Julie Petersen
Online Learning Tips, Guest Contributor
Essay writing skills are important for successful careers in all professions. Whether you decide to be a marketing expert, manager, journalist, small business owner, teacher, or an engineer, you will always benefit from the ability to express yourself through well-structured content.
Communication in today’s business world is based on emails, reports, and other forms of written expression. If you don’t master the art of writing throughout your years as a student, you would be undermining your own chances of success.
In the following list you will find 15 awesome tools that will help you become a better essay writer:
- Statement of Purpose
This website’s goal is to help students with their admission papers. It is very important to understand what a statement of purpose is before you start completing your application documents. The guidelines provided at this site will teach you how to write a unique personal essay that will present you as a successful applicant.
- Guide to Writing a Basic Essay
At this website, you will not only get useful tips that will help you deal with the structure of a basic essay, but you’ll also find a great collection of links to other guides. Depending on the type of project you are working on, you can find resources that will help you understand it. In addition, you will find grammar and style resources that will turn you into a better writer.
The free membership at this website comes with great benefits. First of all, you will get a free online writing portfolio, as well as an effective way to share your own work. The features of this website may not be that important if you’re not planning on becoming a professional writer, but they will definitely help you get productive feedback on your papers.
The contests and activities will motivate you to write more and write better!
- How To Write An Essay
This is a very detailed guide written by someone who understands the troubles students go through when writing essays. Kimberly Chapman’s site has lessons on research, proposal, planning, compiling notes, writing, and finishing the essay. In addition, you can go through the examples of good and bad academic writing to see what your professors expect you to deliver.
- The Easy Essay
This is an automated tool that will help you organize the process of writing essays. Thanks to the translator, the program is effective in any language. Students at all levels can use The Easy Essay to organize their projects, since the concept can be expanded from the basic 5-paragraph paper to a format of 17 paragraphs.
- Essay Mama
This online writing agency has hired professional PhD writers and tutors, that is why you can get valuable assistance with essay writing, as well as advice that will help you discover and develop your inner talent. The blog section of the website is a real revelation; it features awesome infographics and writing tips that will inspire you to practice more.
The glossary of essay terms, citation generator, and wordcounter are great tools that will help you go through different stages of the writing process.
- Thesis Builder
The thesis statement, is an essential part of the overall paper and it can determine the success of the project. If you get stuck at this point, there is no way to come up with a good paper. Thesis Builder is an efficient tool that will help you create an acceptable thesis statement. You can see examples, but you can also generate your own thesis by inserting the needed determinants and allowing the tool to do its job.
- Essay Forum
Do you have specific questions about essay writing? At Essay Forum, you can get help throughout the various stages of research, writing and editing. Remember: you can gain the greatest benefits if you provide your own contributions, so don’t be shy to become part of the community.
- Today’s Best College Essays
When you need inspiration for your own papers, it’s best to take a look at great samples of academic writing. You can read hundreds of papers provided by students from different countries. The search tool at the website enables you to find samples of essays written on topics similar to the one you are currently elaborating on.
This is one of the best literary analysis platforms on the web. Novelguide provides educational resources that enable students to understand contemporary and classic literature better. If you are having difficulties writing a book review, this is the website you should turn to. Analyses of new books are constantly being added, so make sure to check each week for new titles.
- Essay Map
There is one certain way to make the writing process easier: create an essay map. You need to enter the name and the topic of your essay, and you’ll start going through an interactive mapping process that will guide you through specific stages. Another way to benefit from this tool is to print out the blank map and write the main points of your essay.
- Daily Writing Tips
If you want to work on your writing skills, this website is an inevitable addition in your arsenal of tools. You can read daily articles focused on spelling, grammar, vocabulary, usage, and everything in between.
As you progress through the different aspects of the writing process, you will inevitably notice an improvement in your capacity to handle academic assignments.
- Hemingway App
This is arguably the most efficient automatic editing tool out there. Before you submit your essays, you should always make sure they are readable. Some students think they will get better grades if they write “eloquent” content with confusing, lengthy sentences. They are wrong. You should always aim for clarity, and Hemingway is the app that will help you achieve that goal.
- The Readability Test Tool
This is another tool that can help you make your content more readable. It tests your work according to five formulas: Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease, Flesch Kincaid Grade Level, ARI, Gunning Fog Score, and Coleman Liau Index.
Referencing has to be one of the most challenging aspects of academic writing. It’s not only boring, but detailed and nerve-wracking as well. You clearly want to make this part of your work simpler, so you’ll appreciate RefMe — a free, automatic tool that enables you to generate citations, bibliographies and reference lists in the appropriate format.
About the Author
Julie Petersen is a tutor and a blogger, who features the latest career and educational trends in her articles. At present time she is working on her first ebook dedicated to online learning. You may see Julie’s latest publications and contact her via Linkedin.
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