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How to Write an Expository Essay

How to Write an Expository Essay

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An expository essay is at the top of the most common writing assignments at schools and universities. Students have to write it time and time again. Even though this essay type has the traditional 5-paragraph structure, there are some tricky elements in its outline and writing process. Let’s have a look at tips on how to improve your writing and get the desired grade for an expository essay. 

What is an Expository Essay

The key to the understanding of the expository essay essence lies in the term itself. Writing this type of paper, you should study an idea or problem and “expose” what you have learned, developing a thoughtful argument. Naturally, the writing process also involves research and the application of critical thinking skills. So, this leads us to a simple definition: an expository essay is a type of writing that requires exploring a particular subject matter and presenting your findings by building a well-structured and objective argument. 

Expository Essay Types 

The expository writing definition is rather simple, but the fact that this piece of writing has different types poses an obstacle for most students. Depending on the type of an expository essay, you may need to:

  • Explain concepts
  • Point out similarities and differences between certain phenomena
  • Present cause and effect reasoning for a particular event
  • Discuss issues
  • Develop solutions to problems 
  • Categorize items or features into distinct groups

Thus, when writing an expository essay, the first thing you need to do is to decide what is the purpose of your paper and what expository essay type you will use. The structure and content of your piece will depend on this decision. There are six commonly distinguished types of expository essays. We will help you to understand the distinctive features of each. 

  1. Process essays. Have you ever noticed in what way recipes and instructions are written? They can become a perfect example of process essays. This is the thing about expository essays: they go far beyond the purely academic sphere. A process essay aims to explain how something works or guide the reader through the process, describing its stages. If your task is to write how to cook your favorite dish, or how to manage multiple tasks, go with this type of expository essay. 
  2. Classification essays. For a classification essay, you need to research different features of a particular object or phenomenon and point out its specific features. The next step will involve classifying them into several groups based on their common nature, providing reasoning for your choice. 
  3. Comparison and contrast essays. The name speaks for itself. Comparison and contrast essays point put similarities and differences between objects, concepts, and phenomena. To make it fast and easy, you can create a table and list common and divergent features in different columns. Another way to do it is to draw a Venn diagram
  4. Descriptive essays. Descriptive essays explore definitions of terms and concepts to provide their detailed interpretation. You may use anything to underpin your argument, starting from the historical development of a term to examples of its current use. You can also discuss opposing perceptions of the discussed concept. 
  5. Problem and solution essays. Writing a problem and solution essay, first, you need to outline the problem and its impact. Then, you can suggest one or several solutions. Please refrain from simply enumerating your ideas. If you mention a certain solution, describe how it works and what benefits it may bring in the future. 
  6. Cause and effect essays. Cause-effect reasoning is not easy, especially if you are not confident with your critical thinking skills. This type of expository essay requires a thorough explanation of the causes and consequences of an event or issue. 

Expository Essay Structure

Most teachers require their student to lay out expository essays, using the traditional 5-paragraph structure:

Expository Essay Structure

There might be some variations of an expository essay format, depending on the task and requirements of your teacher. However, this is the most common formula for organizing your expository essay. Do not forget to take care of smooth transitions between paragraphs. All your claims should be connected by the general idea expressed in the thesis statement. Use linking words and stick to grammatical and lexical cohesiveness of the whole text. Besides, introduce supporting ideas point by point and do not mix several claims in one paragraph. It will help the audience to get your message. 

Step-By-Step Expository Essay Writing Guidelines

To submit a good paper, you will need to research the topic well and be ready to present your argument concisely. How to achieve this? The key here is to understand the expository essay outline and purpose. 

Purpose

When writing an expository essay, your aim is to explain the audience a certain concept or idea. Your writing should be clear and simple. Do not assume that your audience knows something about the topic. Use solid facts and scientific evidence to sound more convincing and reliable. As it is an academic piece of writing, it is better to refrain from expressing your own opinion. You should stay objective and neutral in your claims and use a formal tone regardless of the type of expository essay you are about to write. Expository essays are so common as school assignments as they not only help to check students’ academic performance but also allow developing writing skills that will be useful for young people in the future. 

Outline

We have already introduced the structure of an expository essay. To prepare a good writing assignment and get an A, you need to plan your paper and create an expository essay outline. We advise you to do it in writing and use our template as inspiration. You can fill in the empty boxes with your ideas:

expository essay outline

How to Start an Expository Essay

Writing an introductory paragraph is important because it helps the readers to find a focus and understand what you are going to discuss. Having read the first paragraph, they should have an idea of what to expect from the whole piece. It must be brief and to-the-point. Try not to overgeneralize; your idea must be clear from the very beginning as it is an academic assignment, not an informal creative writing piece. 

How to organize the introductory paragraph? First, you need to start with a piece of eye-catching or surprising information, which makes your reader interested from the very beginning. You can use:

  • Quotation
  • Question
  • Anecdote
  • Example
  • Statistics

Then, you can outline the context of your subject matter and provide some general information. Finish the introduction with a thesis statement. It is the sentence or two that reflect the argument you support in your expository essay. Pay attention that it is not enough to simply announce the topic. You should actually say something about your findings. 

Body of Expository Essays

When the foundation for the paper is ready, you can go on with its body. Usually, it consists of three paragraphs, each focused on one particular idea that, in some way, correlates with the thesis statement. Keep in mind that not only the whole paper has a determined structure, but also each paragraph of the body should have an organized format. It includes:

  • Topic sentence
  • Evidence
  • Supporting ideas
  • Concluding sentence 

When you mention evidence based on someone’s studies or research, make sure you cite it. Use the referencing guidelines required at your educational institution. The most common ones are APA, MLA, Chicago, and Harvard style citation. It will make your claims trustworthy and convincing. 

Conclusion 

A conclusion is a final part of your expository essay, which does not need any new information. Focus on the summary of the main points you have already mentioned in the body of the essay. However, make sure you do not copy anything. Even though the idea should be restated, find an original way to do it. Make it memorable for the reader so that he or she will learn something from your paper. It will be great to end the essay, mentioning how the topic can be studied further. 

5 Stages of Expository Essay Writing 

Now that you know it all about the structure and expository essay format, it is high time you dived into the writing process itself. This will not be as complicated as it seems if you divide it into several smaller stages. First, you need to brainstorm some ideas to inspire your writing. Then, you should prepare the outline and create the initial draft. Once it is done, you can write the final paper and proofread it to make sure it is top-notch. As you can see, each step has its own purpose and goal. Such a writing process will help you stay organized and focused on your task and subject matter. Let’s have a closer look at the essence of each stage. 

Come Up with Ideas

If you do not have a specific topic determined by your teacher, find something that will not only be relevant for society in general but also have value specifically for you. Your interest in the subject matter will only benefit the writing process. See who studied the issue under discussion and what findings they presented. Such research will help you build a strong line of argument. Do not just look through pages, note down the details, and single out the information you can use as evidence.

Ideas

Create a Plan

As many writers think, planning is the most important part of a writing process. This is the stage where you organize all your ideas into a structured expository essay outline. Why is it necessary? Because it makes the content of your essay coherent. As a result, you get a piece that can effectively convey your message to the audience and, what is important for students, that deserves an excellent grade. 

When planning an expository essay, think: 

  • What is your argument?
  • How can you attract readers’ attention?
  • What claim will you discuss in the first/second/third body paragraph? 
  • How can you prove your point? What facts can you use?

Prepare your outline and distribute information between paragraphs. Use the outline template we have prepared for you above and try to organize your thoughts according to it. By the end of this step, you will have a clear picture of how your expository essay will look like. 

Prepare a Draft 

This step involves making a rough draft of your future expository essay. Use your plan and divide the text into five paragraphs. Make sure you include an introduction and conclusion. You should discuss each new idea in a separate body paragraph. Determine the primary claim that proves your thesis statement best and start the body discussing it. Then, move on to secondary claims. Incorporate suitable evidence to exemplify and prove your point. Include in-text citations and bibliography. Do not postpone this step as you might forget where facts you write about come from. 

Do not worry if your draft does not look perfect at this stage. It does not have to be. It is only a first try; you will have time to polish it afterward. The purpose of this step is to make sure you address all the points and create a logical essay structure. 

Write an Expository Essay

When the plan and draft are ready, the actual writing is the easiest part. You just need to put in writing ideas you already have. Follow your plan step by step. Make sure you do not leave anything important behind. Do not forget about the researched data. Incorporate evidence to prove the relevance of your claims. Now you can see that essays are not that intimidating when you follow an organized writing process. No more blank page anxiety or writing blocks. 

Write an Expository Essay


Proofread the Text 

Although you have gone a long way and already organized and written your expository essay, take some extra time to proofread it. Even the most attentive people make mistakes every once in a while. It may be a grammar mistake or typo that will cost you the desired grade. So, read the text and eliminate spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes. Besides, focus on the stylistic coherence of the whole essay. Ask your friend to read the essay and give you feedback if it is possible or at least read it aloud yourself. It helps to notice inconsistencies and revise them before submission. 

To make sure you have an essay you can submit without fear of failing, go through a checklist:

  • Does it meet the academic requirements? 
  • Have you observed a formal style? 
  • Is the thesis statement specific and clear? 
  • Have you created topic and concluding sentences in the body paragraphs? 
  • Are there any contradictions between different paragraphs?
  • Are there any questions that remain unaddressed? 
  • Are there any confusing or poorly researched parts?
  • Is there enough evidence to prove your point?
  • Are there transitions between paragraphs? 
  • Have you cited the outside sources? 

If you are not confident in any of the aspects, you should return and revise the part that requires improvement. However, if you are sure it is a perfect essay, great! Go ahead and submit it. Your teacher will appreciate your effort and mark your expository essay correspondingly. You can always tell which essay was written in a hurry and which was carefully planned, drafted, and proofread. 

To Sum Up 

An expository essay helps you to explore and present a particular idea. Although it has different types, the structure and the purpose of such writing pieces is to inform the readers, staying neutral and objective. If you plan your essay properly and develop a detailed outline, it will help you to be organized. Also, do not forget to polish your draft and proofread the paper. Now you have everything you need to write a perfect expository essay and finish the semester with excellent grades. 

We understand that sometimes students do not have enough time for such a long and exhaustive writing process. In case you are too busy or stressed out to deal with one more writing assignment, just send us “do my essay for me” message, and we will help you to impress your teacher with a well-researched and structured expository essay. Getting help with academic tasks is easier than you think, and the order process takes only a few minutes. Then, you can enjoy life and get your essay done by competent writers.

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