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How to Write an Academic Essay

December 05, 2017 Essay writing tips, Types of essays
How to Write an Academic Essay

A large portion of university and high school education is based on writing academic essays. They are the most effective at demonstrating students knowledge on a subject and showcasing their ability to gather and present data. Therefore, it is very important to understand how to create a quality academic essay and what kinds there are to choose from.

What is an academic essay? It is essentially a structured form of writing that serves a purpose of presenting new information or applying already existing knowledge to deliver a point. To understand how and when to use an academic essay, we need to look at the main types.

Table Of Contents

Types of Academic Essays

The various academic essays all serve a unique purpose. That being said, some might share a common structure. There are four main types of academic essays; they include narrative, descriptive, expository, and persuasive. Expository and persuasive are the most common in the university curriculum, being more scientific and objective. Narrative and descriptive are more subjective and engage your creativity.

Types Of Academic Essays

  • Narrative Essay Type of writing used to share a personal story with a reader, conflict, situation or event. This type of writing requires constant use of strong adjectives that will enhance the audience's’ perception on the matter, painting a unique picture. As well as telling a compelling story, a well written narrative paper should bring across a point as well. There is supposed to be motivation, a reason why you are trying to tell the story or why this is important to you. When writing an academic goals essay for a university application paper, you can create it in the form of a narrative essay. Describe an event from your life that made you follow a specific career path.

  • Descriptive Essay This type speaks for itself. You take a specific subject and describe it to your reader. However, just like a narrative essay, you are meant to draw an image in the audience’s eyes. Using well-chosen and expressive words are essential to the essay’s success. The essay must evoke a certain feeling in a reader, connecting them to the object or an event, as if they have experienced it themselves.

  • Expository Essay Academic writing used to create a spotlight on a matter using grounded information and facts. Sufficient evidence should follow all information provided. An expository essay is no place for opinions or personal views on things. A quality paper should mostly consist of information on the subject possible using the least words. Technically, “How to Write an Academic Essay” could be considered a branch of expository essay writing.

  • Persuasive Essay A style of writing that teaches you to embrace the role of a salesman. You have an opinion, project, or an idea which you have to sell to a reader. The logic behind how you supply the reader with the information should be impeccable, leaving them with no doubt that what you are expressing is the only truth they need to know. Cater your points carefully to avoid being pushy, and hide your sales tactic behind well thought out sentences.

Preparation for Writing

Preparation for writing always requires a few simple steps. First you need to identify which type of essay to use based on your instruction and goal. As mentioned before, persuasive and expository essays will require a moderate level of research beforehand.

An outline is the biggest part the preparation process, however, outlines differ based on the essay type. Persuasive, expository, and descriptive essays share a similar method and will require you to list most important points and potentially include crucial details. Narrative essays on the other hand, will ask you to write out turning points in the story, also known as beats.

The final step is going to be to come up with a title for your paper. There are two ways to approach the creation of a title. Some prefer to create a title before writing an essay, setting a mood and direction. Others either come up with a temporary title or leave the title until the essay’s completion.

A Good Outline Must Include:

  • Statement: Either a conflict, problem, starting point or any subject of discussion.

  • Body Points: These are the key points or statements that you will use to support your case.

  • Connection: When writing any academic essay, it is important to tie it directly or indirectly to the real world or yourself. Provide a reason as to why it is important to you or how could it be relevant to society. This will fill your writing with a new meaning and showcase your unique way of thinking.

  • Summary: A strong concluding statement that is going to briefly explain your given points.

When your outline is complete, and you have written out your main points and collected enough evidence to support your idea, you are going to move towards starting your paper. A lot of people choose to come up with a title before the writing process as it is going to set the mood for the work. Others prefer writing first and then creating a title based on the written information. The second option is more suitable for writing narrative or descriptive essays as the title’s meaning could be abstract. However, when it comes to expository and persuasive papers, it is important to set a specific title and follow it along.

The Introduction

There is an already established academic essay format that has been used for many years and was shown to be the most efficient in delivering information to the audience. Your essay always begins with an introduction. It is important when writing to start strong, as your introduction is going to set the tone for the entire paper. There are several techniques for starting your first paragraph:

  • Start With a Quote: A creative and meaningful quote could leave a powerful impact on a reader and also serve as a good opener. However, it is crucial to make sure that the quote directly relates to your topic and doesn’t wander away in generality.
  • Rhetorical Question: Starting with a rhetorical question allows you to connect more with the reader. A good rhetorical question is going to stay in your audience's mind throughout the entirety of your paper. However, a rhetorical question should be answered within your article’s body or at least guide the reader towards a relative observation.
  • Factual Statement: When writing an expository or persuasive essay, starting with a fact or a statistic will give your writing more credibility. It is also going to demonstrate that you have researched the topic by providing the reader with real information and not simply an opinion.

Your first introductory paragraph could be dissected into two main parts. The first one being a catchy paragraph that is going to introduce the main topic and give the reader an idea of what the information is going to be about. The second part is the thesis statement.

The thesis statement is an essential part of any formally written academic essay. Even if you are writing your academic interests essay, it is crucial to include a well-written thesis statement that is going to act as a short synopsis of your next points. Do not overload it with unnecessary information, and keep it as a brief synopsis of your main point. You can follow your already finished outline and use it as a frame for creating the thesis statement.

Finally, finish your introduction with a transitional clause that is going to connect your first paragraph with your body. This is going to benefit the flow of your work, as long as you keep logically transitioning from paragraph to paragraph.

The Main Body

The main body is where you are going to supply the audience with all of your information. It is always the biggest part of the essay and requires the most attention. When writing your body paragraphs, the points should be stated accordingly to the order of your thesis statement. If you deviate from that, it’s going to confuse the audience, especially those who are very attentive to your essay’s flow. Here are the main requirements towards writing a body paragraph:

  • Accuracy: Be cautious with information and do not contradict yourself. Include the main topics that you have presented in your main thesis.
  • Evidence: Every topic or an idea you present should be defended with sufficient evidence to accredit your words. Provide details such as facts, statistics, and references.
  • Word Choice: Mind your vocabulary, especially when it comes to persuasive or descriptive essays. The words should accurately represent your information. Use vivid adjectives and strong adverbs.

The goal of the main body is to answer any questions that have appeared in the reader’s mind after the introduction. Every new point should get the audience closer to understanding a complete concept. Your aim is to bring them to the same level of knowledge on the subject as you have in your capacity and that’s when you move forward and transition to your conclusion.

The Conclusion

In any essay you write, whether it's an academic success essay or an academic goal essay, you have to start strong and finish even stronger. As you move towards the end of the paper, your reader won’t even remember what the first paragraph you wrote was about. Therefore, your duty as a writer will be to give them a reminder. The conclusion is going to include:

  • Summary: Rephrasal of the information you have stated if you are writing an expository, descriptive, or persuasive essay.
  • Personal or Social Connection: In other words, why this information is relevant to you or society. Stating such a connection showcases the general importance of the subject and modern day relevance.
  • Final Statement: Most of the time it is going to be the last sentence and paragraph that you are going to conclude your work with. If you have initially started with a rhetorical question, a nice touch would be to give the audience an answer to it here. If you have written a quote, rephrase it in your own words. It is important to leave the audience with a strong statement that is going to settle in their mind.

Writing Process


The drafting process is what takes you from a compilation of information to a well-structured delivery of an idea. No quality essay has ever been written in a single draft.

The process begins with a rough draft, a stage where you use all the information you have acquired, to fill a relative outline. From there you, with every new draft, narrow down this information to the most relevant parts.

Every new draft must also carry away with it things such as content problems, structural flaws, or simple typos. The final draft tends to be drastically smaller than the original.

Word Choice

Word choice is one of the factors that defines the quality of the paper. It is also often overseeded or neglected. It is no secret that some words are better at communicating ideas than others. It is also no secret that vocabulary plays a big role in the writing process.

Focusing on word choice is most significant in descriptive essays when your goal is to paint a picture in the reader’s mind. If you are writing an essay on a specific area of study, it is quite crucial to use words that are related to that field and to avoid simple neutral words that offer no contribution to the text.

Finalizing the Submission

At this stage of writing, your content should be well polished. After taking your paper through a peer review and/or red pen edits:

  • Fix your grammatic mistakes and punctuation
  • Finalize your title
  • Add a bibliography if needed
  • Format your paper based on the institution requirements

There is an art to creating academic essays. Being careful with what you write and putting thought into your delivery often is enough to have a great paper. Following the steps above should put you in a very solid position in regard of structure and format. Finally, knowing that you have covered all your bases, you can confidently make the submission.

Essay Writing Advice From Our Professional Team

I remember back when I just started writing academic essays, I didn’t struggle with gathering information or having good ideas. My grammar and syntax were also good. However, I struggled with organizing my ideas into coherent and flowing paragraphs. I didn’t have transitions, and my paragraphs were not always just one isolated idea. I combatted this by doing one simple step: outlining. As the article states, outlining is critical. It is crucial that you do not skip this step. It is a tedious process, but a paramount one that could make or break your whole paper. Under each sub-point of your essay paragraph, include a topic sentence, a connection to the thesis, a transition to the next idea. It doesn’t matter what you are writing about; do not write direct information on our outline. Instead, write key ideas and the way they could flow from one to another. I hope this tip helps you with your essay writing, as it helped me tremendously with mine.

Tutor Jennifer, online essay writer from EssayPro

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