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Tips for Writing a Well-Structured College Essay (2023)

If you want to improve your essay writing skills, it’s important to understand the concept of “essay structure.” This refers to the way that your essay is organized and the order in which the various parts of your essay are presented. A well-structured essay will have a clear and logical flow, with each paragraph building upon the previous one and leading smoothly to the next. It will also have a clear introduction that presents the main points of your essay, a body that develops and supports those points, and a conclusion that summarizes your main points and leaves a lasting impression on your reader. By understanding and following good essay structure, you can effectively communicate your ideas and present your arguments in a clear, concise, and convincing manner

Begin Your Essay

In an essay, every sentence and paragraph is important, but the introduction is especially crucial. It’s like a first date – you want to make a good impression and present your best self. The introduction sets the tone for the rest of the essay, so it’s important to get it right.

When your professor or instructor begins reading your essay, they will likely start evaluating it in their mind right away, categorizing it as strong or weak, interesting or dull, or effective or ineffective. Many will have a good idea of where your essay stands on that scale before they even finish the introduction. It is uncommon for a marker to withhold judgment until the end of the essay. Therefore, it is crucial to start the introduction strongly in order to make a good impression on your reader.

In your introduction, make sure to clearly outline the purpose and goals of your writing, and if relevant, mention the topic being discussed. In your introduction, you should also state what your essay aims to achieve and briefly mention some of the main points you will be covering. This helps give the reader an overview of your argument and demonstrates that you have a logical and coherent thought process. Don’t go into too much detail on your main points in the introduction – they will be discussed in full later in the essay. If the question is an ‘either or’ or a ‘how far do you agree’ type of question, it can be helpful to briefly mention both sides of the argument in the introduction to prepare for further exploration of both sides in the essay.

Your introduction should give a summary of your entire essay, like a thumbnail picture. The reader, especially the marker, should be able to understand the topic of your essay and your intentions for proving or disproving it just by reading the introduction.

For example, if you have been given the assignment: ‘The main purpose of Gothic fiction is to break normal moral and social codes.

Discuss,’ a strong introduction might read something like this:

It is undeniable that many works of Gothic fiction often revolve around the theme of breaking normal moral and social codes. This can be seen through their portrayal of female sexuality, their blurring of the lines between life and death, and their depiction of immoral religious figures. However, it is also important to consider other significant themes in the genre, such as its interest in the supernatural, its portrayal of artificial humanity, and its satirical attacks on society. In this essay, we will examine these conflicting purposes and explore different Gothic texts to determine the genre’s primary purpose

When rereading the paragraph, consider whether it clearly states the topic of the essay, the main point, and the plan for the essay. Also, think about the length of the paragraph. If the introduction is shorter than the expected length, the marker may assume that the topic has not been properly introduced. However, this does not mean that you should simply fill up the paragraph with unnecessary information. Rather, it is expected that the introduction will contain a certain amount of relevant information

It’s important to note that in a longer essay, the introduction does not necessarily have to be confined to a single paragraph. However, it is usually kept to one paragraph.

How to write the Body of your Essay

The body of the essay is the main section and is typically the longest part. A short essay typically consists of at least three full paragraphs, while a longer essay may have many more.

Each paragraph should contain a specific point that relates to the topic of the essay. For example, if the topic of the essay is asking for a raise, each paragraph should present a separate reason for why the raise is justified, with details and elaboration on that claim.

Paragraphs, like the essay as a whole, should have a clear structure. It is recommended to start a new paragraph for each significant new idea in the essay, to clearly present the structure of the argument to the reader. The first sentence of each paragraph, known as the signpost sentence, should introduce the main point that will be discussed in that section. It can be helpful to reference the title of the essay in the signpost sentence to remind the reader of the relevance of the point. This organization can make writing an essay easier for the writer, as it helps to keep track of the focus of each paragraph.

An example of a signpost sentence could be: “One way in which Gothic fiction challenges traditional moral and social norms is through its portrayal of the female protagonist.”

The following sentences in the paragraph should then provide further detail and support for this point, using relevant examples. It is important to ensure that each paragraph only contains sentences that are directly related to the topic introduced in the signpost sentence. This helps to organize the essay into distinct sections and ensures that each paragraph addresses a single idea or subject. For example, it would not be appropriate to switch between discussing different topics within the same paragraph, such as discussing punctuality and then discussing being a good colleague, and then returning to the topic of punctuality. Each paragraph should focus on a single topic.

How to End of your Essay

The conclusion is the final section of the essay. It is usually a single paragraph in shorter essays, but may extend to two or three paragraphs in longer ones. The purpose of the conclusion is to summarize the main points of the argument and, if applicable, to present a final judgment or decision about the issues discussed in the essay. The conclusion may also attempt to connect the essay to broader topics or areas for further research.

It is important to avoid introducing any new ideas in the conclusion as it should only be a summary of what has already been discussed in the essay. It can be helpful to refer back to the title in the conclusion to emphasize that the question has been thoroughly addressed. The conclusion should briefly summarize the key points of the argument to remind the reader of the main points. It is important to keep the conclusion concise and to the point.

In conclusion, it is clear that Gothic fiction often portrays characters, plots, and settings that defy traditional moral and social norms. However, the frequent depiction of the supernatural and the emphasis on social injustice and hypocrisy in the genre suggest that its primary purpose may have been to criticize and reform society.

Where do I start NOW?

Now that you have an understanding of the typical structure of an essay, you may be wondering how to begin organizing your own essay. Different people have different approaches to structuring an essay. Some people may find it easy to plan and outline their essay in their head or on paper, starting with the introduction and ending with the conclusion. Others may prefer to start with the body of the essay and then go back to write the introduction and conclusion. There is no one “right” way to structure an essay, and you should find the method that works best for you.

One effective way to organize your essay is to create an outline or plan. This can save time in the long run by outlining the structure of the essay and the main points that it will cover.

When planning the structure of your essay, it can be helpful to start with the body paragraphs, as these should contain the main ideas of the essay. Once you have identified your main ideas, you can then move on to writing the introduction and conclusion. This approach allows you to start with the “inside” of the essay, which is the body, and then work your way out to the introduction and conclusion.

If you are having difficulty organizing your essay, you may consider seeking help from a professional essay writing service like Oxbridge Essays. These services can provide a comprehensive essay plan that outlines the key points and structure of the essay, which can make the writing process much easier.

It is also important to remember that good essays are not written in a single draft. It is always a good idea to review and revise your first draft to identify ways to improve it before submitting it.

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