How to Write an Expository Essay – Common Steps and Tips
The expository essay as a genre of composition is actively used in school life. And in many universities the essay is written not only for the subject area in literature and the English language, but also in history, sociology, politics, and so on. In this post, we are going to tell you how to write an expository essay on any topic. When you write an essay, you should show your communicative literacy (competence): the ability to adequately perceive and analyze the read text and create your own statement on its basis, choosing the necessary style and type of speech, observing the norms of the literary language.
Writing an essay is easy if you follow the rules of the genre and academic standards. But before you get acquainted with the rules, you need to understand what an expository essay is. What is expository writing? The purpose of expository writing is to explain a topic in a straightforward and logical manner.
Steps for Writing a Five-Paragraph Expository Essay
If you are interested in how to write an expository essay step by step, then our guide will tell you how to do it right. Building an essay is constructing an answer to a question or the disclosure of a topic that is based on a classical system of evidence. If your aim is to get a high grade, then we suggest you to follow these simple steps:
- First of all, you have to deal with the prewriting stage, so don’t think that you will start writing immediately. During the prewriting stage, students should spend time on brainstorming the topic and the main idea. Then you should research the topic and make notes. Create a scheme that will show the information which will be presented in each paragraph and organized in logical sequence. This stage is important as you will already know what to write about and how to do it right.
- Sometimes, you will be asked to write an expository essay outline. It is needed in order to show your professor what your essay will be about. Write the main points of your essay in the outline. It should be brief, but it should cover the main ideas of your paper as well as serve as a plan of your writing.
- The first part of your essay should be an introduction. The introduction is the essence and rationale for choosing this topic, consisting of a number of components, logically and stylistically connected. At this stage it is very important to correctly formulate the question to which you are going to find the answer in your research. When working on an introduction, the answers to the following questions can help: “Do I need to give definitions to the terms sounded in the subject of the essay?” “Why is the topic that I am revealing important at the moment?” “What concepts will be involved in my reasoning on the topic?” and “Can I divide the topic into several smaller sub-themes?” The most important sentence in the expository essay introduction is a thematic sentence where the thesis statement and the main idea of the essay is presented. Your thesis statement should be clearly stated without expressing your point of view or position. A good thesis statement is properly stated, is not lengthy, but should express everything that will be considered in the body paragraphs. An introduction is an important part of your essay, so you should spend enough time on its development.
- While writing an essay, it is important to structure it properly. Therefore, subheadings, on the basis of which the structuring of the reasoning is important, are included; here it is necessary to substantiate (logically, using data or rigorous reasoning) the proposed argumentation or analysis. Each of the three paragraphs should describe the separate idea which is presented in the thesis statement. In the sentences of each paragraph, facts and examples should be presented in order to support the themes of the paragraphs. Write all important and significant information in the body paragraphs.
- A well-tested way of constructing any essay (and for most people) is the use of sub-headings to indicate the key points of a reasoned presentation: it helps to look at what is supposed to be done (and answer the question whether the idea is good). This approach will help to follow a specific goal in this study. Effective use of sub-headings is not only the designation of the main points that need to be highlighted. Their sequence may also indicate the presence or absence of logic in the coverage of the topic.
- A powerful ending is as important as a strong beginning for the essay. The conclusion contains generalizations and a reasoned summary on the topic, indicating the scope of its application. It summarizes the essay, or once again makes explanations, and reinforces the meaning of what is stated in the main part. The methods recommended for drawing up the conclusion are as such: a repetition, an illustration, a quote, an impressive statement. The conclusion can contain such a very important, supplementary essay element, as an indication of the application (implication) of the study, without excluding the relationship with other problems. How to write a conclusion for an expository essay? The conclusion should restate the thesis statement and main ideas. Don’t include new material in the conclusion.
- At all writing stages, it is important to remember the main features of expository writing. As the expository essay is talking about the event, situation, or the opinions of others, and not the personal experience, students should write in the third person and avoid using “I” or “you” in sentences.
- Revision is an important stage after you finish writing your essay. Revising is the stage when students change, and reorganize their essays in order to make it better. You should check whether your essay is logical and has appropriate facts and examples. Check whether the information was introduced in clear and effective ways to the reader. Check whether you have lost focus and added unnecessary details. Did you change the structure of the essay? Did you choose the appropriate words? Do transitions between sentences and paragraphs help readers to understand your points? Does the conclusion contain the key ideas that were presented in the thesis statement?
- If the essay misses something, add it, as only the complete essay will get a high grade. Keep in mind that a strong thesis statement leads to a successful essay. If the thesis statement is good, the rest of the essay is easy to compose.
- Correct all mistakes in grammar and edit the essay to make the style better. Though the expository essay should be clear and brief, it can also be vivid and attractive. Ask your friend to read your essay – a fresh look can illuminate mistakes or weak places that your eyes are unable to catch.
- Submit, hand in, or publish your essay according to the set purpose.
Short Expository Essay Sample
Carefully read one of the expository essay examples that are offered as inspiration for writing your own essay. You can see that this sample is written according to the academic standards and fully reveals the question that was set. If you find this topic interesting to you, also check out other expository essay samples on our site. If you don’t understand how to write your essay, our examples are the best solution for your problem. There is always something to say about any topic, you just need to read papers of other people to understand what you should write about in your paper.
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Helpful Tips for Writing Expository Essays
- Make sure each paragraph includes a topic sentence that is related to the thesis statement and every new sentence represents a separate idea.
- While writing an expository essay, always use transitory words to make the paper flow smoothly.
- Connect ideas with words: such as, as an example, however, etc.
- Avoid using emotional language. Present factual, relevant, objective, and clear arguments to support your ideas.
- The topic should not initiate the presentation of only definitions of concepts; its purpose is to encourage reflection. The topic of the essay should contain a question, a problem, and a motivation for reflection. For example: “Is the psyche identical to the nervous system?” “Is it expedient to separate the collective unconscious into a separate structure of the psyche?”
- In order to arrange theses and arguments in a logical sequence, it is necessary to know the ways of their interconnection. Connection involves the interaction of the thesis and the argument and can be direct, indirect, and separative. A direct proof is a proof in which the truth of the thesis is directly substantiated by the argument. The method of direct proof can be applied using the technique of induction, deduction, analogy, and cause-effect relations. Induction is a process, as a result of which we come to conclusions based on facts.
- It should be small in volume: two, three, or ten pages – this much is up to you. The main thing is to develop the topic. And, of course, do not aim at writing a novel – no one will evaluate your efforts.
- It should contain some sort of novelty – say a new word on the topic. The main thing is that this word should be yours. Keep in mind that your readers have long been sick of “a university is a second home,” “my main dream is peace in the whole world,” and similar phrases.
- A clear structure and consistent presentation of thoughts will indicate rationality, ability to concentrate, and logic that will be useful while writing an expository essay.
How to Choose a Topic for an Expository Essay
Choosing an essay topic can stall your writing process for a long time, because you simply do not know what you will write about. Not taking into account the case where your teacher formulates the exact topic of the essay, the choice of topic can be reduced to narrowing the direction given by the teacher, to choosing from the proposed list of topics or to coming up with your own topic.
- The first of these cases implies that you have been given a certain general direction. The ordinary paper handed in to the teacher in the university will be significantly different from the essay, given at the admission to the educational institution, or when applying for a job. Does a reader expect manifestations of originality, the ability to competently and beautifully argue, professional qualities, or something else?
- Select from the list of topics. What authorial position could you express on the chosen topic? Choose a topic that will be interesting not only to your readers, but to yourself as well. Also, it is important to select a topic that was not explored before, in other essays; essays are more interesting if they contain a new question to the audience.
- One option is in fact the absence of the standard topic. This option is the most difficult in terms of choice, but literally opens the doors to you in the world, allowing you to write about what you want. In order not to drown in this ocean of possibilities, first determine what is most interesting to you. What attracts your attention to such an extent that you forget about everything else? Some people like to write about some concrete things, some like to paint picturesque events, places, interesting people, amazing things, while others like to analyze, and others prefer to write about themselves, and others still will prefer to criticize what they do not like. Depending on this, your essay will be expository (like we are talking about today), descriptive, analytical, refletive, critical, or otherwise.
It is important not only to accurately formulate the topic, but to understand the essence of the problem and the potential for its solution. After selecting specific topics, evaluate each of them to see how meaningfully you can reveal it. Do you have interesting observations and ideas on this topic, can you surprise the reader with something, and do you have inspiration in thinking about this topic? You should understand that in the course of the work you will have to formulate a certain thesis and then argue it with arguments. Will you be able to do this for the selected topics? If the instructor has asked for agreement on the topic, be sure to show the work plan, the main thesis of the essay, and the arguments for its confirmation.
Typical Mistakes While Writing an Expository Essay
It is important to avoid the following mistakes (and the thinking which led to these mistakes, which we have highlighted jokingly) when writing an expository essay:
- Lyrics grab the reader’s attention. More old epithets, more metaphors and comparisons – this is sure to be appreciated, of course, if they understand what you are writing about.
- Be sure to tell the reader about your life, about who your parents were, grandparents, about what pushed you to the topic of the essay. The introduction, occupying half a text, will certainly intrigue the reader.
- Do not specify anything. Talk about how important it is that you began to study specifically to become a teacher, an interpreter, an engineer, a manager, and what a wonderful place your university, office, or city is, and how great it is if wars end in the whole world. Are you asked to write about what you would like to change in your institution? Be sure to tell readers about teachers’ qualifications and salary growth, or the deepening of the curriculum. Do not name any specific names or facts.
- Load the essay with facts. Surnames, dates, names of studies and their results, the city, and world news – everything should be included. Your reader will probably be amazed at your erudition and ability to work with information.
- Conclusions should be short – you write for academicians who are able to find logic and summarize in the most incomplete of texts.
- Do you remember the classics and their sentences with the length of half a page?You, too, can do so – all of us learned syntax in school, and participial and adverbial participles after a short practice are quite easy to use. Use as many smart and simply long words as possible, and build large and verbose sentences. In this way, you will prove to be very clever in the eyes of the reader. The reader will simply be frightened after the first paragraph and close your essay, disappointed in his or her own intellect.
- Never, and under any circumstances, reread your text. You did not write for yourself, but for others, so let these others read your essay and admire your talent. It does not matter how many mistakes the reader will catch in your text, and how illogical the presentation will seem to him or her. You are a talent who does not need proofreading and editing. And that’s all.
Now you know all about the expository essay, how to choose a topic for it, how to write it, and what mistakes to avoid. If you want to learn more about writing other types of essays, check out other posts on our blog which will teach you how to write academic papers successfully.