Some essays require thorough research and data, some require descriptive language, and some require opinion. However, whilst their content may differ, one thing they have in common is the need for careful planning. You need to know what is expected and how you should approach each different type of essay. Fortunately, we’ve summarised 6 common academic essay types and what they each entail.
A descriptive essay is an essay which describes something in detail. This can include how something looks or sounds, how it makes a person feel or how something happened. A descriptive essay should describe something well enough that it makes the reader feel like they are there in the moment. To achieve this, a good descriptive essay should show the reader, rather than tell them.
Tells:‘Fido was hungry’
Shows: ‘Fido stood over his empty food bowl, whining and pawing the floor around it.’
By showing readers rather than telling them, you are constructing an atmosphere which makes them experience what you are writing about, rather than simply witnessing it.
The following points should be considered when planning your descriptive essay:
Are you describing a person, an object, a subject or a location? Think about all the sensory details you can include.
You should consider the emotions you want to provoke in your readers when they are reading your descriptive essay. Do you want them to feel fear or feel fantastic?
A critical essay should analyse and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of something or someone in detail. ‘Critical’ can be misleading as it could be interpreted as being a negative analysis. Rather, you need to carefully evaluate and interpret with a balanced outlook.
When writing a critical essay, you should never accept conclusions from others without evaluating the evidence they provide themselves.
Persuasive writing often deviates away from the usual essay format as you are not backing up your opinion or side of an argument with solid evidence. In a persuasive essay, instead of using hard facts and data, your aim is to sway the readers towards your viewpoint with passion and emotion.
When planning a persuasive essay, it is important to select a topic (if possible) that you are already passionate about and clearly state your position at the start. This means you will naturally be inclined to persuade your point passionately and with emotion.
The art of persuading means you have to choose your words carefully. It is common to make use of 1st person, repetition and powerful calls to actions in your persuasive writing as you want to change your readers’ viewpoint.
Unlike a persuasive essay, an argumentative essay’s aim is not to change one’s perspective; instead, it is to get the reader to recognise your side of an argument. Additionally, unlike a persuasive essay, you won’t be able to decide your viewpoint on the spot. Instead, you will need to do your research and pick the side you wish to support.
Research is vital with this type of essay, as you will need to write confidently and provide well-researched, credible points throughout. Quality research and data supports your argument and validates the points you are making. This makes it more likely that your readers will open their minds to your viewpoint.
An expository essay is an essay which requires in-depth research and facts. In this type of essay, you are simply educating the reader with solid facts. An expository essay should focus on a topic that isn’t too broad or too narrow and should not focus on the writer’s opinion or an argument.
Expository essays can take many forms; they can define something, compare and contrast or show a cause and effect. Expository writing can also explain a process and instruct the reader how to do something.
A narrative essay’s purpose is to tell a story. The majority of the time this is based on a personal story and is usually written in 1st person. Much like a descriptive essay, the writer should make the writing as vivid as possible so that the reader can feel a part of the story.
When basing a story on a set theme, you need to choose a life experience that fits the context. It is usually more effective to base a story that has emotion behind it as the narrative will be more powerful.
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