How to structure an essay

Writing an essay can be hard, and you might struggle to know where to start. But writing an essay really doesn't need to be that difficult and knowing the right structure can save you a lot of headaches during writing. In this blog, we outline just how to structure an essay for school or university.

Writing an essay can be hard, and you might struggle to know where to start. But writing an essay really doesn’t need to be that difficult and knowing the right structure can save you a lot of headaches during writing. In this blog, we outline just how to structure an essay for school or university.

1. Introduction

Your introduction should be a clear intro to the main points that you will talk about in your essay. You might not know exactly what you’re going to talk about until your second, third or fourth+ draft, so leave your introduction until you are absolutely clear on what it is your essay will be talking about. If you have an essay question, introduce this is the intro. Here’s an example of an introduction:

What are the ramifications of TV culture on book culture?

In this day and age, most middle class households own more than one TV set, with children growing up with TV’s in their bedrooms and often in every room in the house. With high speed internet and the evolution of efficient smart phones, we even carry them in our pockets wherever we go. But what are the ramifications of TV culture on readership? How does our relationship with TV affect book culture and the skills and knowledge we might develop from it? In this essay I am to discuss this question.

You can see that the topic being discussed is clearly outlined in the introduction. A key tip to remember is to never explain your opinion in your introduction. It’s also important to keep your intro clear, concise and brief, so you can get to the good stuff (the stuff you’ll be graded on!)

2. Main Body

The main body is the ‘juice’ of your essay. It’s where you answer the essay question with evidence and close analysis. Here are some tips to remember for your main body:

  • For every point, you introduce, explain and evidence it (PEE) E.g. Point >> TV culture appears to be having a negative impact on children’s reading abilities (point). Statistics from 2014 show that one in five children in England cannot read well by the age of 11. Evidence >> According to Reading Agency, “Statistics from 2014 show that one in five children in England cannot read well by the age of 11.” (Readingagency.org). Explanation: This shows the effects of a culture where children spend more time watching TV than reading is affecting their reading ability.
  • Share different perspectives on the matter. An essay is supposed to be your unbiased opinion, and it should show well-rounded knowledge. Ensure that you are showing both sides of the argument, not just your own.
  • Answer the question! Sometimes you might find yourself really excited to share your viewpoint in an essay, so much so that you end up going off on a tangent and veering off-topic. As a teacher, I see this so often in the essays my students have written for me, they seem to forget to answer the question. While you write, always ensure you have answered the question.

3. Conclusion

Your conclusion should be brief and summarize the points you have made. You don’t need to start any new points in your conclusion. Think of it as icing on a cake, it’s not the most important part of the cake, but without it, it wouldn’t be finished. Here’s an example of a simple conclusion:

Conclusion

As the statistics show, decreases in children’s reading abilities and whole school literacy levels along with an increase in TV culture is having a significant impact on our society due to less people attending university, and without a shift in cultural behaviours this will not change.

Remember that the conclusion is to wrap up and it should only be written once the entire essay is complete.

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