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What is an Essay

Knowing what is an essay, what its components are and what strategies are best used to answer it comprehensively is very essential to the success of a student, especially at university. The academic essay is one of the most common assignments you will encounter.

What is an essay and why do professors and tutors make you do it? An essay is one of the tools used to determine a student's writing, research and time management skills. It is also a good way to determine how much you have learnt from guided and individual readings and classroom lectures.

Essays serve a variety of purposes for its intended readers: to inform, instruct, entertain, challenge, convince, and illustrate an idea, event, person or point of view. There is no one-size-fits-all formula for writing a successful essay, as academics from each discipline will use different methods to approach their essay writing tasks. As a general rule, essays are made up of the following parts:


  • Introduction. This provides a background of the topic to the reader. In this part the writer should aim to catch the attention of the readers and make them want to find out the rest of what you have to say on the essay. Thus, it has to be interesting and engaging. An introduction can be accomplished through the following ways: citing a significant detail or statistic, sharing an anecdote, posing an insightful question or using a relevant quotation from a known individual connected with the topic.
  • Thesis statement. In the introduction, readers should also know the main point you are trying to make in the essay, which will be its thesis. You can either state your thesis clearly or imply it, depending on your approach. Either way, it must convey the point in clear and specific terms early on in the essay.
  • Body paragraphs. Here you will develop the thesis and create arguments to support and prove it. Each point and its supporting statements or arguments should be built in a paragraph. The paragraph must contain a topic sentence which states what the paragraph is about. Here are techniques you can use to develop the body paragraphs: give accurate, relevant details, examples and explanations; support any claims you make with statistics or statements from important resource persons. There must be transition phrases or statements for a smooth flow of ideas from one paragraph to the next.
  • Conclusion. This serves to bring closure to the discussion. Thus, any new point should not be raised in this section. Recapitulate the key points you have raised, but avoid excessively long summaries. A good conclusion will be able to address the following questions: What has my readers learnt from reading my essay? What implications or consequences does my thesis have? What is the lasting impression regarding the topic that I want my audience to remember?


Institutions may also have different styles and formats with which they want their essay requirements to be submitted, so students will also have to know what is an essay based on how their university or department defines it.

To hone your skills in writing, researching, proofreading and editing essays, you can order a custom essay from Essay Writer. You can use this to pattern your own writing style after, take its facts and data to build your arguments, and use the references included to expand your own research.

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