Four Types of Essays- Guide to Understand and Write them

Essay writing is part of any student’s life.  Essays are the most common technique for educators to assess skills, knowledge, and proficiency in any discipline. However, essay writing can be a daunting and convoluted affair for even a weathered student in college.  The complexity is grounded on the fact that there are different types of essays, each with different rules and requirements. This guide will make the essay writing process more manageable and straightforward.  The post gives you the basics of the four core types of essays and how to write them.

What is an Essay?

First things first- What is an essay? An essay is typically a short piece of writing that focuses on a specific topic. An essay confers and assesses opinions, views, thoughts, and ideas regarding a particular subject.

4 Types of Essays

  1. Expository Essays
  2. Persuasive/ Argumentative Essays
  3. Descriptive Essays
  4. Narrative Essays

Expository Essays

The first type of essay you need to know is an expository essay. This type of essay is listed first not only for its commonality but also for its complexity.  An expository essay, also known as an explanatory essay, involves extensive research in an attempt to explain a particular issue or topic. At an introductory level, an expository essay is regarded as the five-paragraph essay- the first paragraph being the introduction, three paragraphs for the body and the conclusion. At later stages, however, one recognizes that the expository essay is quite voluminous and covers several minor types of essays such as a definition essay, the cause-effect essay, a reflection essay, and a critical analysis essay. 

A definition essay– Focuses on defining a particular word or phrase. While it seems straightforward, writing a definition essay involves extensive research on both official and internationally recognized definitions and personal understanding of the subject.  An example of such an essay is an essay on the definition of “drug abuse.”

Cause and effect Essay– This essay encompasses analyzing why certain things happen and the impact of these occurrences. Cause and effect essays endeavor to show the interrelation between different subjects by discussing reasons and consequences. For example, “the cause and the effects of the Cold War.”

Reflection essay– Reflection essay focuses on personal opinions regarding a particular topic. It is about subjectivity, “you.” A reflection essay showcases your thoughts, beliefs, and ideas concerning a specific matter, particularly a reading or a movie.

A critical analysis essay– The term critical in this context describes making an informed judgment. A critical essay involves making a detached evaluation of a particular reading. Writing such an essay consists of evaluating a specific piece before providing a critique based on valid arguments.

Key Aspects

  • Create a solid thesis statement that identifies the focus of the assignment within the introduction paragraph.
  • It is encouraged to develop at least three critical points of focus.
  • Discuss each point in a different paragraph with sufficient evidence and their proper citations.
  • The conclusion should focus on expanding on the thesis statement by backing it with a summary of various points presented in the body.
  • Essays are written in the third person.

Persuasive/Argumentative Essays

Another common type of essay is a persuasive essay. It is a favorite for professors since it gives students the chance to convince the audience to support their point of view.  Writing a compelling essay encompasses taking a stance on a particular topic and employing evidence that works to convince your audience.  To persuade your readers, it is necessary to examine both sides of the argument and provide valid refutations for opposing viewpoints.

Tips for writing argumentative essays

  • Take an evident position about a debatable topic
  • Support your arguments with sufficient resources to withstand criticism
  • While you have to take a side, argumentative essays examine both sides of the topic
  • Refute opposing viewpoints.

Key Aspects

  • Create a well-developed thesis statement that showcases your stance on the topic.
  • Include at least two points that support the thesis.
  • Present the points in different paragraphs accompanied by sufficient evidence from credible sources.
  • Argumentative essays are written in the third person.

Descriptive Essays

A descriptive essay involves a detailed account of a particular event, person, experience, and situation. Descriptive essays are less formal compared to expository essays since, to no small extent, it allows the writer to showcase freedom when giving a description. In a lays man language, description essays work like painting a picture, and as such, allowing for artistic freedom will enable the writer to appreciate how adjectives create a visual.

Key features

  • Employ adjectives to give a detailed description and create an image in the audience mind.
  • Description involves more than sight and encompasses smell, sounds, taste, and touch.
  • Include a thesis, which in this case identifies the focus of the essay and the mood.
  • It is essential to effectively organize your essay, describe one feature before proceeding to another.
  • Descriptive essays are written in either first or third person, depending on the topic.

Narrative Essays

Narrative essays are used to tell a story.  Narrative essays allow a student to express themselves to an audience. These essays mostly use the author’s point of view. Notably, a personal narrative tells the author’s experiences.  For instance, “My First Job.”

Key Features

  • Narrative essays have a point of view, usually the author’s.
  • Should endeavor to make a point and support that point throughout the paper
  • They are written as a story and as such, encompasses all features of a story, including a plot, setting for scene and characters.

Don’t Stop Here

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