The Student’s Guide to Essay Writing

At some point, your teacher is going to give you an essay assignment in school. An essay can have different goals depending on the assignment. You might have to describe or explain something in your essay. Your essay might need to persuade others about an opinion or make an argument to support a point of view. An essay could also have to analyze or even tell a story. Regardless of the theme of your essay, there’s a specific process that will help you organize and write the paper. Writing an essay might seem like a big assignment, but if you break down the steps, you’ll be able to manage it.

Choosing Your Topic

The first step in writing an essay is to choose the topic. The topic depends on the assignment you receive and the goal of the essay. Your topic should be something that you know a little about or that you feel that you want to learn about. For example, you might not know a lot about hamsters, but you can learn about these animals by reading books or visiting websites with information about them.

Preparing an Outline

An outline helps you organize your essay. Before you start writing, you need to make a plan so you know exactly what information you want to include. The outline should include your topic at the top. Then, make a list of every section and every point you want to include in the essay. Your outline should include the introduction paragraph at the beginning and the conclusion paragraph at the end. The middle section, called the body, is where you will cover each point you include in your outline.

Introduction and Thesis Statement

The introduction paragraph gives a short summary of the main ideas of your essay. Tell a little about your topic in the introduction, possibly mentioning something interesting that will make people want to keep reading. At the end of the introduction, make a thesis statement. The thesis statement of an essay tells your readers exactly what question you are answering or point you will be covering with your essay.

Body Paragraphs

The body of your essay is where you give more information about the points you presented in your introduction. Cover each point you included in your outline, discussing each one as it relates to your thesis statement. For example, if you are writing a persuasive essay on why hamsters make good pets, each paragraph of the body of your essay might cover a different point about hamsters as pets. One paragraph might be about how hamsters are entertaining to watch in a cage, the second paragraph might talk about how hamsters are inexpensive to own, and the third paragraph might discuss how you can hold a hamster and play with it in a maze.


The conclusion of the essay is where you summarize the information you presented. While it’s important to bring these thoughts together in a few sentences, do not repeat your previous sentences exactly. Include three or four sentences in the conclusion, with the last sentence being a final thought that zeroes in on your thesis statement. For example, a final sentence for an essay about the benefits of a pet hamster might tell readers that they might be surprised how tame and trainable a hamster can be if an owner spends time with it every day.

Grammar, Punctuation, and Proofreading

The first version of an essay is usually called a rough draft. This version of your essay is the one you will read and reread to make sure it says what you want it to say. Your rough draft of your essay won’t be the final copy because you will probably make some changes as you continue to work on it to make it better. You will also need to proofread your rough draft to make sure that you haven’t made spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. When you find errors, fix them in the rough draft. After you finish making all the revisions to your rough draft, you will be ready to make a final copy of your essay, which will be the one you turn in to your teacher.

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