Essay writing


What is an essay? – An essay (or response) is a short piece of writing. Essays are used to develop and expand ideas or arguments and include supporting evidence. In high school, students are given a question which they must develop an answer for in essay form.

Typical school essays include:

Discussion

Main purpose

A discussion often consists of both sides of an argument being considered. Information and opinions about more than one side of an issue must be presented.

Structure

Statement of issue (thesis):

  • introduces issue and position to be argued

Arguments:

  • series of paragraphs arguing for and against the issue
  • recommendation or summary.

Key features

  • present tense
  • use of words that contrast arguments, e.g.
    • however
    • nevertheless
    • in contrast
    • on the other hand.
  • actions (verbs) are often changed into things (nouns), e.g.
    • explore → exploration
    • recite → recitation
    • we have considered → after consideration of.
  • use of words that qualify, e.g.
    • usually
    • probably
    • may
    • often.

Exposition

Main purpose

To persuade by arguing one side of an issue, e.g. letter to the editor.

Structure

Statement of position (thesis):

  • introduces issue and position to be argued.

Arguments:

  • one paragraph for each argument or point
  • reinforcement of thesis and recommendation.

Key features

  • most of the text is written in present tense
  • use of words that link arguments, e.g.
    • in addition
    • moreover.
  • actions (verbs) are often changed into things (nouns), e.g.
    • explore → exploration
    • recite → recitation
    • we have considered after → consideration of.
  • use of words that qualify, e.g.
    • usually
    • probably
    • may
    • often.

Critical analysis

Main purpose

To demonstrate an understanding of the ideas expressed in a text.

Structure

Statement of meaning:

  • introduces ideas about the central meaning(s) of the text.

Review:

one paragraph for each aspect of the text, including

  • theme/meaning
  • structure
  • tone
  • language use
  • imagery
  • symbolism.

Conclusion:

  • remind the reader of the key points.

Key features

  • several paragraphs may need to be written about one or more aspects of the text.
  • evidence, such as full quotations from the text, should be included
    to support the writer’s point of view.
  • use linking words at the beginning of paragraphs, e.g.
    • moreover
    • in addition
    • another
    • furthermore.
  • write in the third person – avoid the use of ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘my’.

Compare and contrast

Main purpose

To compare and contrast two texts.

Structure

Statement of position (thesis):

  • introduces the key similarities and/or differences.

Observations:

  • one paragraph for each key similarity/ difference.

Conclusion:

  • final analysis and reaffirmation of the thesis.

Key features

  • don’t simply retell or recount – show how the texts are similar or different
  • include direct references to the text
  • use connecting words at the beginning of paragraphs to clearly indicate similarities or differences, e.g.
    • in contrast
    • alternatively
    • similarly
    • on the other hand.

Review

Main purpose

To personally evaluate the quality of a book, film, play or website etc and to judge the effectiveness of the text to either inform, entertain or persuade a particular audience.

Structure

Title:

  • an eye-catching heading to attract the reader’s attention
  • The heading may be a pun on the title of the work being reviewed.

Context:

  • a paragraph identifying the work and important details, such as the name of the director/ author, actors and publisher.

Text synopsis:

  • a series of paragraphs that provides a selective summary of the content of the text
  • main events are outlined and major characters are introduced.

Judgement:

  • a final paragraph (or two) which summarises the reviewer’s opinion of the text.

Key features

  • most of the text should be written in present tense
  • first person, e.g.    I/my may be used
  • descriptive language for characters, setting and events, and the making or production of the text
  • a plot summary which doesn’t reveal the ending or surprise elements of the work
  • a discussion of the author, director, designer or actors
  • use of technical and topical words, such as:
    • film – director, viewer, script, dialogue, special effect, lighting, scenery, actors.
    • book – incident, novel, author, setting, main characters, language, chapters. that provides a selective summary of the content of the text. Main events are outlined and major characters are introduced.
    • website – links, surfing, scrolling, URL, pop-ups, portal, purpose, author/producer/ designer, colour, graphics, functionality, content.
  • a recommendation for the audience to view, read or listen to the text.
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