Writing an essay often seems to be a dreaded task among students. Whether the essay is for a scholarship, a class, or maybe even a contest, many students often find the task overwhelming. While an essay is a large project, there are many steps a student can take that will help break down the task into manageable parts. Following this process is the easiest way to draft a successful essay, whatever its purpose might be.
According to Kathy Livingston’s Guide to Writing a Basic Essay, there are seven steps to writing a successful essay:
1. Pick a topic.
You may have your topic assigned, or you may be given free reign to write on the subject of your choice. If you are given the topic, you should think about the type of paper that you want to produce. Should it be a general overview of the subject or a specific analysis? Narrow your focus if necessary.
If you have not been assigned a topic, you have a little more work to do. However, this opportunity also gives you the advantage to choose a subject that is interesting or relevant to you. First, define your purpose. Is your essay to inform or persuade?
Once you have determined the purpose, you will need to do some research on topics that you find intriguing. Think about your life. What is it that interests you? Jot these subjects down.
Finally, evaluate your options. If your goal is to educate, choose a subject that you have already studied. If your goal is to persuade, choose a subject that you are passionate about. Whatever the mission of the essay, make sure that you are interested in your topic.
2. Prepare an outline or diagram of your ideas.
In order to write a successful essay, you must organize your thoughts. By taking what’s already in your head and putting it to paper, you are able to see connections and links between ideas more clearly. This structure serves as a foundation for your paper. Use either an outline or a diagram to jot down your ideas and organize them.
To create a diagram, write your topic in the middle of your page. Draw three to five lines branching off from this topic and write down your main ideas at the ends of these lines. Draw more lines off these main ideas and include any thoughts you may have on these ideas.
If you prefer to create an outline, write your topic at the top of the page. From there, begin to list your main ideas, leaving space under each one. In this space, make sure to list other smaller ideas that relate to each main idea. Doing this will allow you to see connections and will help you to write a more organized essay.
3. Write your thesis statement.
Now that you have chosen a topic and sorted your ideas into relevant categories, you must create a thesis statement. Your thesis statement tells the reader the point of your essay. Look at your outline or diagram. What are the main ideas?
Your thesis statement will have two parts. The first part states the topic, and the second part states the point of the essay. For instance, if you were writing about Bill Clinton and his impact on the United States, an appropriate thesis statement would be, “Bill Clinton has impacted the future of our country through his two consecutive terms as United States President.”
Another example of a thesis statement is this one for the “Winning Characteristics” Scholarship essay: “During my high school career, I have exhibited several of the “Winning Characteristics,” including Communication Skills, Leadership Skills and Organization Skills, through my involvement in Student Government, National Honor Society, and a part-time job at Macy’s Department Store.”
4. Write the body.
The body of your essay argues, explains or describes your topic. Each main idea that you wrote in your diagram or outline will become a separate section within the body of your essay.
Each body paragraph will have the same basic structure. Begin by writing one of your main ideas as the introductory sentence. Next, write each of your supporting ideas in sentence format, but leave three or four lines in between each point to come back and give detailed examples to back up your position. Fill in these spaces with relative information that will help link smaller ideas together.
5. Write the introduction.
Now that you have developed your thesis and the overall body of your essay, you must write an introduction. The introduction should attract the reader’s attention and show the focus of your essay.
Begin with an attention grabber. You can use shocking information, dialogue, a story, a quote, or a simple summary of your topic. Whichever angle you choose, make sure that it ties in with your thesis statement, which will be included as the last sentence of your introduction.
6. Write the conclusion.
The conclusion brings closure of the topic and sums up your overall ideas while providing a final perspective on your topic. Your conclusion should consist of three to five strong sentences. Simply review your main points and provide reinforcement of your thesis.
7. Add the finishing touches.
After writing your conclusion, you might think that you have completed your essay. Wrong. Before you consider this a finished work, you must pay attention to all the small details.
Check the order of your paragraphs. Your strongest points should be the first and last paragraphs within the body, with the others falling in the middle. Also, make sure that your paragraph order makes sense. If your essay is describing a process, such as how to make a great chocolate cake, make sure that your paragraphs fall in the correct order.
Review the instructions for your essay, if applicable. Many teachers and scholarship forms follow different formats, and you must double check instructions to ensure that your essay is in the desired format.
Finally, review what you have written. Reread your paper and check to see if it makes sense. Make sure that sentence flow is smooth and add phrases to help connect thoughts or ideas. Check your essay for grammar and spelling mistakes.
Congratulations! You have just written a great essay.
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Everyone has the ability to write the perfect essay.
The ideas are inside your child’s or student’s brain just waiting to be put on paper in a form that everyone can read.
The following is an excerpt from the book Instant Learning for Amazing Grades.
Schools and home-schools require essay writing, so do colleges and college entrance exams, so, why not learn a few simple tips to make essay writing easy? Below is a template, followed by 9 additional easy steps on how to write the perfect essay every time.
Template for Excellent Essays
1. Write down the topic you are writing about – simple, straightforward
Example: Amazing Grades
2. Brainstorm ideas that someone interested in your topic would also be interested in. This helps you think of related ideas.
Example: Motivating yourself instantly
Cut learning time in half; higher grades in 14 days
High Performance Memory Strategies
3. Select a title for your essay – like, Tips for x, or Top 10 Things You Must Do If You Want Y, etc.
Example: How to Create Higher Grades in 14 Days Using Your Child’s Personal Learning Style
4. Pretend your reader knows absolutely nothing about your topic. What is the first sentence you would use to give them peak their interest? Perhaps it might be a question, or a simple statement.
Example: Would you like to have higher grades in 14 days?
5. Keeping in mind your title, explain why you are taking the position you take, or why you believe your title to be true. This is the part where you use as many facts to support your idea as possible. Write several sentences, using some of the brainstorms you had in step 2.
Example: Learning can be tough, but you don’t have to do it alone. Many learning experts say that learning is not about being smart – it’s about strategy. These experts show you how with xxx…
6. After you’ve written your supporting ideas and facts, go back and ask yourself if you would like to write a short introductory paragraph.
7. Then ask yourself if you would like to write a conclusion tying everything together.
8. Congratulate yourself – you’ve just written an excellent essay!
9 More Easy Steps to Perfect Essays Every Time
a. First, create a Picture Perfect Summary. Put your title/main idea in the center of the page, make a circle around it and write down all the ideas and key words about your topic that you can think of. Use one branch off the circle for each main idea. You’re brainstorming at this point so just write down any ideas that come into your mind. (That’s how I write magazine and news articles and books too)!
b. Look over your Summary of ideas and key words. Organize them into groups. Make sure that each group reflects the topic or question that you’re writing about.
c. Divide your groups into the three main parts of the essay – the beginning, middle and the end. Your beginning has to be snazzy to make your reader want to read more. The middle develops and supports your main topic. Back everything you say up with facts, quotations, evidence. The end will give a clever answer or summary to the original question or idea that you started with and tie up those loose ends.
d. Draft your essay – get on the computer and start in the middle. That’s how I wrote this book! Give each idea it’s own paragraph, don’t worry about style and spelling at this point. You can check this later. Your Picture Perfect Summary is your guide. Use all the ideas that you decided were important.
e. Now proceed to write the ending. Make sure it sums up your answer/summary to the main topic/question. Look back at the draft of the middle. Write down the 5 or 10 most important key words. Find the shortest way to link them together – this is called your ending.
7. Now, draft the beginning. It will be the overall – big picture of what you’re going to say. There’s an old saying from my college days English class: Tell em what you’re going to say, tell em, tell em what you said! This beginning is very important to set the stage – make sure it’s catchy and makes the reader interested in what you have to say.
8. Now, go to bed and get some rest. Give the ideas a chance to process in your brain. Tomorrow you’ll notice a few more points to talk about and think of additional ways to say things.
9. Author, Colin Rose, says, “EDIT – Excellent Draft, Inspirational Text”… read the whole essay aloud to yourself. Tape record it if you can. Does it sound logical and convincing? Your are on your way to understanding how to write the perfect essay.
Are your examples bringing your ideas to life? Check the beginning – is it awesome – does it make sense? Edit the beginning, middle and end – check spelling and grammar. Have someone else proofread it too. Now check the middle. Did everything you said relate to the main topic or question? Is it convincing? Go to your ending. Edit it – is it punchy? This is the place to really put on your thinking cap. Did you really convince your reader??
Polish up how the essay looks – Is it neat, organized, well written? Are you satisfied that it does the job you started out to do? Only you can be the judge of this. Your essay reflects how you think – do you like the way it came out? If so, turn it in and you now know how to write the perfect essay.
Pat Wyman is a best selling author, university instructor and founder of HowToLearn.com. One of the faster learning strategies she specializes in is how to write the perfect essay.
Posted by +Pat Wyman, author and founder of HowToLearn.com