5 steps to write effective academic essays

Essay writing is an academic skill that most students have had to encounter at one point or another. Whether you were first introduced in primary school or high school, you have no doubt dreaded being assigned a lengthy essay to write.

Fortunately, essay writing doesn’t need to be difficult as long as you break it down into a simple, step-by-step process. You’ll be surprised at just how easy it can be to structure and write an essay when you follow this basic formula.

The following tips will give you a great starting point from which you will be able to write highly persuasive academic essays.

Step 1: What is the essay asking you to do?

The first step in writing an effective essay is figuring out what exactly the task is asking of you. An essay is essentially a highly structured argument that attempts to persuade the reader to a certain point of view.

So, your task in the majority of essay questions is to convince the reader of a particular position. For example, if a question asks you ‘what is this extent that A has influenced B’ then your argument needs to lay out what the influence of A on B was and how it occurred.

Step 2: Prepare your evidence

Young woman and man studying for a test/ an exam. Tutor books with friends. Young students campus helps friend catching up and learning. People learning education and school concept
Photo: Snowing, Bigstock

The next step is to take the assertion of your essay and find evidence to support it. For preparing all evidences this is recommended webpage. All of your arguments should have evidence to support them and be self-contained in their own paragraphs.

You should bookend your essay with your best arguments so that the reader starts and finishes reading with your best points fresh in their mind. Be prepared to cut weaker arguments to make room for your strongest ones.

You essay should be concise and your arguments obviously shouldn’t contradict each other. You need to be clear that each piece of evidence supports the same conclusion.

Step 3: Write your arguments

Now it’s time to write the main body of your essay where you will lay out the evidence for your argument and explain its significance. This is where you need to be highly persuasive and convince the reader of your argument.

A good format to follow for structuring your main body paragraphs is the S.E.X structure:

Statement – The argument the paragraph is making.

Evidence – The proof that supports your argument.

Xplanation – The explanation of how your evidence proves the argument.

Use this structure for each of your supporting arguments and make sure that they all connect to your original assertion.

Step 4: Write your introduction

While it may sound counter-intuitive, it’s actually a good idea to write your introduction after your main body. Why? Because your introduction needs to give a brief summary of the arguments that the essay is going to put forward.

It might be a good idea to start your essay with a quote or anecdote; something powerful that engages the reader and teases their interest in the subject matter. Don’t spend too much time here, however, as you don’t want to bore the reader with non-relevant babble.

Your introduction needs to state the essay question clearly and then present your argument. You should then give a brief overview of the kind of evidence you will present and why you think it supports the assertion of your essay.

This video does a great job of explaining how to write your introduction:

Step 5: Write your conclusion

Your conclusion is arguably the most important part of an effective essay as this is where you hammer home the argument in the mind of the reader. This is where all of your most persuasive language should be used and where your most profound insights should be put on display.

Start of by reasserting the essay question, and then recap on all of the arguments that you made. You should briefly reiterate the conclusion of each argument and why they all support you original assertion.

You should then end the essay with a strong, authoritative statement about your findings. This last statement should encapsulate your argument and burn it into the mind of the reader so that they walk away still thinking about it.

Ultimately, essay writing is only as hard as the argument is to prove. This is why, as a student, you should always take advantage of tasks where you are invited to construct your own essay question as you can make it easier for yourself by choosing something that you are confident you can argue effectively.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
Executive Editor at Best in Australia. Mike has spent over a decade covering news related to business leaders and entrepreneurs around Australia and across the world. You can contact Mike here.
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