What are the basic features and elements of an essay

One or more verbs, or direction words, that tell you what to do with that content. For example: analyze it, explain it, discuss it, or describe it. The NSW Department of Education and Communities emphasizes the need to study the keywords of the assignment question carefully. Meanwhile, there are essays with no assigned topics or purpose.

Know Your Audience.

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Hale points out that knowing your audience means deciding on what your writing strategy would be. If your audience belongs to a formal group for example, a group of professors , your tone of writing should not be casual. If the audience is composed of creative individuals, you can apply a freestyle or conversational approach. Apply an Invention or Inquiry Strategy. Rise B. Axelrod and Charles R. Cooper, authors of the St. These strategies can help one explore, study, and scrutinize a topic. The first category of these strategies is called Mapping. Mapping refers to visual techniques, particularly maps.

These maps are graphic displays with words and phrases circled and connected by lines to show relationships, or they might be formal sentence outlines, according to Axelrod and Cooper. Among the mapping strategies are Clustering, Listing, and Outlining. Clustering explores the possible connections of facts and ideas and requires a tentative division of the topic into subparts or main ideas.

Here are the steps:. You are encouraged to write as fast as you can , include anything that appears useful. Here is a sample outline for an argumentative essay:. Although both are formal, they have differences:. Highly organized competitive sports such as Peewee Football and Little League Baseball can be physically and psychologically harmful to children, as well as counterproductive for developing future players. Physically harmful because sports entice children into physical actions that are bad for growing bodies. Koppett claims throwing a curve ball may put abnormal strain on developing arm and shoulder muscles.

The steps in performing this exercise are: write a conversation between two people Speaker A and Speaker B ; if one stops, the other may ask another speaker to ask the other a question; and present brief responses to keep the conversation moving fast. This technique is actually useful when one is coming up with personal experience and persuasive essays. Dramatizing , a method developed by the philosopher Kenneth Burke, usually revolves on thinking about human behavior in dramatic terms.

An action is anything that happens, has happened, will happen or could happen. The examples are physical running a marathon , mental a book you have read , and emotional falling in love. The actor is involved in the action—either responsible for it or simply affected by it.

It may also come in the form of force, something that causes an action. The setting is the situation or background of the action.

Skip to navigation. The essay is used as a form of assessment in many academic disciplines, and is used in both coursework and exams. It is the most common focus for study consultations among students using Learning Development. Other useful guides: What is critical reading? What is critical writing? Thought mapping ; Referencing and bibliographies ; Avoiding plagiarism ; The art of editing. These lists suggest questions to ask of your writing when you are reviewing it. The need to use such a wide range of academic skills is probably the main reason why the essay format is so popular with tutors as an assignment.

The word limit adds to the challenge by requiring that all of these skills be demonstrated within a relatively small number of words. Producing incisive and clear written work within a word limit is an important skill in itself, which will be useful in many aspects of life beyond university.

Types of Essays: End the Confusion

Good, constructively critical feedback can give you excellent guidance on how to improve your essay writing. It is worth attending to all of the suggestions and comments you receive, and trying to act on them. You need to read every single word of it, and to squeeze out as much guidance you can from the title. Then you need to plan how you will respond to every single element of the title. The guidance given to you by the title is freely available, and is your best clue to what is required in your essay. One, answer the question. Two, answer the question. Three, answer the question.

This is important at the start, but also throughout your writing, as it can be easy to drift away and waste valuable words from your word limit by writing material that may be interesting, but which is not relevant to the title set.


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The Mini Guide: Essay terms explained , and Questions to ask about interpreting essay titles may be useful. It can be a way of making a lot of progress quite quickly. It can be stressful and very difficult trying to work out solely in your mind how to tackle an essay title; asking yourself questions such as: What structure should I use? What are my main points? What reading do I need to do? Have I got enough evidence?

Organizing a History Essay | Athabasca University e-Lab

It can be much less stressful to throw all your thoughts down on paper, before you start trying to find answers to these questions. In these early stages of your thinking you may not be sure which of your ideas you want to follow up and which you will be discarding. Instead, you can catch all of your ideas, in no particular order, on a sheet or two of A4.

Once they are down there it will be easier for you to start to review them critically and to see where you need to focus your reading and note taking.

Basic Features and Elements of an Essay

Essentially, this is what you are doing within the essay process: breaking ideas down, then building them up again. You need to:. Throughout this process, the essay title is the single immovable feature. You begin there; you end there; and everything in between needs to be placed in relation to that title. All three of the processes described above will inform your decisions about what you need to read for a particular essay. If left unplanned, the reading stage can swallow up huge amounts of time. Fortunately, there is scope for developing efficiency in several ways:.

While a certain level of efficiency is desirable, it is also important to remain flexible enough to identify relevant and interesting ideas that you had not anticipated. You can use the writing process to help you think through, clarify and develop your early ideas about how you might respond to the title that has been set:.

As with teaching, it is often not until you try to communicate an argument and its evidence that you find where the gaps are in your knowledge or argument. Writing is an active and constructive process; it is not merely a neutral recording of your thoughts. It is therefore useful to go into the writing process expecting to make revisions. The first words you write do not have to be part of the final version. Editing your writing as you develop your ideas is a positive not a negative process: the more you cross out, re-write, and re-order, the better your essay should become.

All essays need structure. The structure may be strong and clear, or it may be unobtrusive and minimal but, in a good essay, it will be there. Again this may be strong and obvious, or it may be almost invisible, but it needs to be there. However, even in those essays that appear to be highly creative, unscientific, or personal, an argument of some kind is being made. It is the argument, and how you decide to present and back up your argument, that will influence your decision on how to structure your essay.

The essay structure is not an end in itself, but a means to an end: the end is the quality of the argument.