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How To Write An Academic Essay Made Easy. A student guide
Most college students are required to take at least one and often two composition courses during the general studies component of just about any degree program. Composition is the term used to describe the practice of writing essays. While essays are not required assignments for subsequent college courses, essay style will be needed for research papers, lab reports, and other college writing assignments. Here are a few basic tips for writing an academic essay.
Topic and Thesis
The first thing you need to do for an essay to define the topic. Some topics may be selected by students while others are assigned by instructors. When you have a topic, you should then decide what you want to say about it. Rather than make a report or state the facts, you will need to develop a thesis about the topic. Often called the thesis idea and structured as a thesis statement, it becomes part of the introduction in the early part of the essay. The thesis should offer thoughtful insight to the topic based on personal experience, objective observation, or scholarly research, depending on the assignment criteria.
When you have a focus for the topic, you can then organize the basic parts of the essay into an introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction is usually one or two paragraphs that lead into the thesis idea that will be developed in the essay. For example, if your essay is about stray dogs, you don’t want to write only general information on the topic. Instead, you should establish a thesis idea that will guide the essay, such as your opinion that all stray dogs in your city should be rounded up and confined in an animal shelter, vaccinated, and sold to the public. The rest of your essay will develop this recommendation.
Body paragraphs should each have a topic sentence that explains a point about the topic. Topic paragraphs could explain the problems caused by stray dogs, the municipal funds currently available to pick up the strays and care for them at the shelter until adopted, and the benefits of this plan compared to other options.
Each paragraph should include descriptive details, explanations, and examples to support your ideas. For example, indicating the estimated number of stray dogs roaming your city based on a local animal shelter’s website, if available, would be helpful information for readers. Explaining the amount of shelter space available and the estimated number of dog adoptions in recent years would also be useful in supporting your thesis.
The final paragraph can briefly restate the thesis in different phrasing for emphasis. It could also summarize the main points from the topic paragraphs, and it might offer a call to action, i.e., readers should contact local animal shelters to make a donation or find a dog to adopt. Structurally, the essay comes full circle by the end.
Essay Grading Criteria
Although writing instructors differ to some degree in the grading rubrics used for evaluating student essays, many agree that focus, structure, organization, development, and mechanics are key components of college writing. Mechanics include grammar, punctuation, spelling, and diction. Argument essays are also graded on the quality of research and whether logical arguments are used.
Writing an essay isn’t difficult when you know what you want to say. Choose a topic you’re comfortable with, decide on the key points you want to make, organize the structure, develop your ideas, and proofread for accuracy. This format can be adapted to other college assignments to provide a conventional approach to sharing information that is clear, meaningful, interesting, and accurate.
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