Exposition is explanatory communication, whether in speech or writing. So an expository essay is an organized piece of prose which explains a specific topic or set of ideas to a defined audience. Expository essays include those written for exams or for standardized tests like the SAT. They may also be assignments composed outside of class.
Expository essays provide information and analysis. An expository essay may or may not have an overt central argument, though it does set forth points of view on the topic. It differs from the persuasive research paper in the level of research and argument it employs. While an expository essay should be focused on a particular topic and illustrate its points with specific examples, it doesn’t usually have the depth of research or argument that you need in a major research assignment. With an exam or a standardized test, for instance, the examples you use to support your points will be based on the knowledge already inside your head.
What Are the Elements of an Expository Essay?
An expository essay does have certain baseline requirements that are standard in nearly every essay type:
- A clear thesis or controlling idea that establishes and sustains your focus.
- An opening paragraph that introduces the thesis.
- Body paragraphs that use specific evidence to illustrate your informative or analytic points.
- Smooth transitions that connect the ideas of adjoining paragraphs in specific, interesting ways.
- A conclusion that emphasizes your central idea without being repetitive.
How Do You Write an Expository Essay?
One common formula for the expository essay is the 5-Paragraph Essay. If you don’t have much experience with essay writing, this is a good method to start with, since it’s basic and straightforward. The 5-Paragraph Essay incorporates the elements listed above in the following basic structure:
- Introductory paragraph with a clear, concise thesis.
- Three body paragraphs that offer evidence and analysis connecting that evidence to the thesis.
- A concluding paragraph that sums up the paper by reevaluating the thesis in light of the evidence discussed in the essay’s body.
While the 5-paragraph structure gives you a helpful formula to work with, it’s only one among many valid options, and its suitability will depend on other factors like the length and complexity of your essay. If you’re writing a paper that’s more than 3 or 4 pages long, it should be more than 5 paragraphs. In most cases, the structure of a longer essay will be similar to that of the 5-paragraph essay, with an introduction, a conclusion and body paragraphs performing the same basic functions—only the number of body paragraphs will increase. The length of the paragraphs may also increase slightly in proportion to the length of the essay.
Composing an Expository Essay: A Process Guide
- Begin by reading the assignment carefully to make sure you understand it. Then find a topic that fits the assignment. It’s important that you narrow your topic so that it’s directly relevant to the assignment. But make sure your topic is not so narrow that it lacks significance.
- Start a brief outline by writing a tentative thesis statement that addresses the assignment prompt. Try to come up with an interesting, original perspective on your topic, and word the thesis so that it reflects that originality.
- Think of specific examples you can use to illustrate your major points about your topic. These examples may come from your learning or from personal experience. Each example should have some clear connection to your central idea.
- Your essay should devote one body paragraph to each of your major examples. So continue your outline by writing a topic sentence about each major example for each of your body paragraphs. Since the topic sentence will be part of each paragraph transition, it should make a clear, logical connection between your thesis and the evidence that paragraph will discuss.
- Complete your outline by thinking of an interesting, meaningful way to end the essay. Remember that the conclusion should sum up your central points without merely repeating what you’ve said earlier. You might suggest the larger implications of what the essay has discussed and analyzed. One way to do this is to offer a concise review of what you’ve covered combined with a forecast or recommendations for the future.
- If this is an assignment that you’re completing at home rather than in a timed exam, you might want to experiment with writing the body paragraphs before you write your introduction. The details of analysis in the body of the paper often help you to determine more precisely how to word your thesis and the way you introduce it in your opening paragraph.
- Your essay should perform several of the following tasks that overlap and merge smoothly with each other:
- Define your key terms or ideas.
- Describe specific evidential examples.
- Investigate the common thread among your examples.
- Compare and contrast your examples and their relation to your thesis.
- Analyze cause-and-effect relationships among your examples.
- Connect your examples explicitly to your central idea and to each other.
- Polish your essay through revision to make it artful, original, and interesting. Avoid clichéd language or the most obvious examples. You want your reader to learn something new and compelling, whether it’s an unusual fact or a novel perspective on your topic.
This is the most popular type of academic work that every student has definitely completed throughout his/her academic career. There are the following types of essays:
All of these expository essay writings have different goals and objectives. As a rule, professors and school teachers ask students to write all the four types now and then along their educational life to develop and train writing skills of their students.
However, many admit that analytical expository essay writing process is a complex one, and it is hard to cope with it. So what is a secret of writing a good expository essay?
To answer the question set above, it is necessary to give a definition of this type of paper. It is one of the four main types of essays, which is characterized by strict structure, logical and balanced reproduction of facts and evidence supporting presented facts. Writing a good expository essay requires the writer to avoid giving any subjective judgments or points of view regarding the content of the paper. That is the one secret of such an essay - be objective and opinion-free. Another secret is the writing process itself.
As all of us probably know that the essays are written at various stages of a person's education. An expository essay for high school goes first, and in university or college, such task is still assigned a few times. But, more often than not, it is given during exams, for example, graduation ones.
If you are wondering, “What is an expository essay structure like?" you may take a look at several samples. In the majority of cases, the paper has a five-paragraph structure - introduction, three body paragraphs, and conclusion. That is why this type of paper is deemed as a complex one. It takes many days, if not months of practice to compose such papers easily and not to fail the task. Following the basic structure of the five-paragraph paper, the writing process is to be based on this structure to facilitate it a bit.
Before anything else, it is necessary to think over a winning and interesting topic. Finding a good one is always a challenge, however, do not be too picky. Students often lose too much time searching for the perfect option and end up having no time left for writing. You may surely look through a few lists of topics, and try to see which one grabs your attention. However, if none does, do not worry. What you need to do is start reading news and articles on the subject this assignment was given on. This way you may find a unique idea your teacher has not yet heard of, which will give you an opportunity to impress him/her with your paper.
When the choice is made, you need to conduct research and collect adequate and relevant data and evidence for the body paragraph. Use only credible sources to gather factual data, and be sure to write the names of these sources down to cite them in the paper later. Note that some sources that you might consider trustworthy may not be on your teacher’s list of credible ones. Therefore, it is better to avoid websites where people are free to add and alter info with no reliability checks. The perfect option would be visiting the library, at least an online one for the purpose of finding the solid info, and if you have an opportunity to do so, you definitely should.
When you have everything you need for the paper, proceed to writing and begin with an introduction and a thesis. A thesis statement should be concise and clear, with a detailed description of the problem or question discussed in the assignment. Professionals recommend starting with the hook, the sentence that draws reader’s attention. You should also provide some background information to the readers so that it is easier for them to understand your paper.
When you finish writing the opening paragraph, you are welcome to focus on three body paragraphs, where you are supposed to reveal a point of the problem, provide data and evidence supporting the point. The secret of the body is to write as if you are a skilled scholar and essays writer with a strict and clear understanding of the problem, knowing what should be done to eliminate the problem or improve obtained results.
Depending on the requirements, try not to write overlong paragraphs. Usually, each paragraph must be several sentences long and, and it is especially important for the short expository essay.
Finally, once you completed writing four previous paragraphs, it's high time to proceed to writing a conclusion for a paper. The conclusion must summarize all the above-written statements and arguments. Give a precise definition to a problem and provide readers with a possible solution. Here, a writer is also welcome to state possible already existent solutions found by previous researchers. Once again, it is worth mentioning that the conclusion, as well as the whole paper, is to be free of any personal judgments and points of view.
Do not forget about formatting style. Your teacher has surely told you which one to use, so be sure to read the guidelines on how to prepare a title page, cite the sources in text, and what details to add to references. Note that you will need a different info on different types of sources, and the formatting of these works in text will also differ.
Keep in mind, that your paper should be well proofread and edited. Thoroughly check the paper for grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. It is important to check the text as even the smallest mistake can greatly influence your grade. Now you know how to write an expository essay, but beware of the common mistakes!
- Not enough references or a too many of them.
- Changing your opinion on the certain point in the paper.
- Introducing only your own opinion without discussing the alternating one.
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