Writing An Essay

The Beginner’s Guide to Writing an Essay

Essay writing skills are crucial for every student who wants to successfully complete their studies. Indeed, mastering the skill of writing an essay establishes a strong foundation for academic success. The word essay might sound strange to you, but you do not have to worry anymore. Through this guide, you shall gain a deeper understanding about the process of writing an essay and with continuous practice, you shall become an essay writing expert. But before going any further, it is crucial to note that there are various types of essays depending on the subject of study, academic level and course requirements. Additionally, it is good to be aware that an essay is a piece of writing that includes an argument based on existing evidence. Thus, the aim of an essay is to persuade your audience, using informed arguments, to lean towards a certain position.

Now, let me walk you through the journey of writing an effective essay.

Preparation Stage

This is the first step of your essay writing process. At this stage, you choose a topic if your professor has not given you the topic. After selecting a relevant topic, you move to the next step of carrying out research that is relevant to the topic of research. Thereafter, you develop an outline for your essay which basically contains the main points that you will discuss in your essay. This outline indicates how the points in your essay will flow.

At this stage, it is essential that you understand the key instruction verbs that are commonly used by your professor since they determine which type of essay you should write. These common instruction verbs include analyze, compare and contrast, discuss, criticize, relate and evaluate. For instance, if you are told to analyze something, what your professor needs from your essay is the identification of key features of a given subject, then an examination of the relationship among those features. Conversely, when told to criticize something, your professor expects your essay to contain both the positive and negative aspects of a subject which are backed up by evidence. In sum, the key instruction verbs determine the type of essay you will write.   

Writing Stage

This is the major part of your essay writing process as it contains the introduction, the main body and the conclusion of your essay. 


This is the first part of your essay which is used in introducing the topic of your essay to your audience. It covers three major things that are aimed at grabbing the interest of your reader. First, it contains the first sentence which hooks your audience to your essay; it sparks the curiosity of your audience and makes them want to read further. Assume that you are doing an essay on the effects of global warming. Your hook could go like: “Global warming is a serious environmental issue that is threatening the survival of human beings and the natural environment”. Such a sentence would make your reader more curious about how global warming is threatening the lives of human beings.

Second, the introduction gives background information on your topic. It gives the reader the context of your argument as well as the significance of the argument.

Lastly, this is the part that contains the thesis statement. Basically, your thesis statement reflects your position on the topic under discussion. Ensure that this statement is quite clear to your reader by avoiding logical fallacies. The meaning of logical fallacies is explained further under the section on Some things to avoid when writing essays.

Main Body

This is the biggest section of your essay which ranges between three to five paragraphs long. Each paragraph discusses a major point through the sequence of 1) introducing the point using a topic sentence, 2) presenting your argument, and 3) providing evidence to support your argument. You may use examples if necessary. If there is any counter-argument to the point you presented, you do it here and then transition to the next point which starts in a new paragraph. Please follow the outline you prepared in the pre-writing stage to ensure that you cover all the points you had researched about.


This is last part of your essay which wraps up your writing. To make a strong conclusion, you should: a) restate your thesis statement, b) summarize your arguments/main points, c) make connections between your arguments, d) show the implications of your points in the real world, including academic and any other field that is related to the topic under research.  

Point to note: You should never introduce any new information in the conclusion. Anything that was not discussed in the essay should not be included in the conclusion.

Revision/Proofreading Stage

After writing your essay, it is crucial to go through it to identify any typographical and grammatical errors and correct them. You may use third party applications to proofread your essay. Once you feel your essay is ready, you can submit it to your professor as per the given instructions.

Essential components of a good essay

  • A question or problem: Writing a good essay requires you to focus on a certain problem or question and seek to answer it sufficiently.
  • Thesis statement: This is a one-sentence statement that states the purpose of your essay. It is the basis of your argument.
  • Credible evidence: For your argument to be strong, you need to support all the claims you make in your essay using credible sources of information, especially current ones.
  • Structure: Your essay should flow smoothly such that your readers can easily understand its contents and connect between the claims you make. Properly use connecting words to transition from one point to the next.
  • Analysis: A good essay reflects the ability of a writer to interpret information and present it in a logical way that supports the thesis statement. Do not just fix statements in your essay; you must show the reader that you know what you are doing by critically analyzing information to support your point of view.

Some things to avoid when writing essays

  • The use of the first person: Unless the instructions states so, avoid using the first person since it makes your essay look immature and unreliable.
  • The use of informal language: Avoid slang in your entire essay. Remember that an essay is an academic piece or work and any use of informal words makes it look unintelligent and unreliable.
  • Making assumptions: Some things may seem like common knowledge, but in the real sense, they are not. You should, therefore, be quite careful to avoid making any assumptions that your reader knows what you are talking about without giving further information.
  • Logical fallacies: These are common patterns of reasoning that are erroneous and lack evidence to support their claims. For your essay to be credible, you have to support you argument with reliable evidence.  

Now that you have an idea of how to write an essay, keep on practicing as many times as possible, and you shall become an expert within a very short time.

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