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How to Write & Evaluate an Essay

by Joseph Lewis

Every student is asked to write an essay at some point of their academic careers. When writing an essay, passion for the subject is necessary so as to convince your audience that the issue at hand is critical. Essays gives students the chance to expand their knowledge by allowing them to do their own research and synthesis. Learning how to write an essay can be a tedious process but it can also be easy if one knows the steps and understand what to do.

Understand the Topic

Read the essay question carefully and highlight key words. Check the meaning of vocabulary from the dictionary and identify the key words and topic words that indicate what is to be done. Words such as "discuss" and "compare" should be noted since they show what the essay requires. This will help you grasp the relevant materials for the topic. After answering and defining these key words, you can proceed to the next stage.

Research

Research should be done using relevant and assessable sources. While you are reading for your research, write down short notes, quotations and possible brainstorming ideas that are relevant to the question. Work to develop a thesis that explains the focus and goal of your essay in response to the question. The main purpose of research is to inform the writer the facts, opinions and range of ideas. Try to add some complexity to the thesis because it will form the background for the essay.

Outline

Write an outline or plan, making sure that all the points in the outline are relevant to the question you want to answer in your essay. Work to order your ideas in a logical sequence to make writing easier. Your plan should include a clear indication of the areas you will be covering, why they are essential and how they relate to the topic. Planning your essay gives the reader a clear structure to follow as they read the essay.

Writing the Introduction

The first step in writing is to create an introduction that engages the reader and leads to the thesis statement you have developed. An introduction gives the essay focus and direction and gives some background on the main topic. It will explain to the reader what to expect in the rest of the essay. Work to engage the reader by indicating how the questions will be answered.

Main Body

After writing an introduction, the next step is to begin writing the main body of your essay. Each major point you have decided to include should be explained in its own paragraph and you should make sure to use transitional words and phrases so that your essay flows from beginning to end. Start each paragraph with a topic sentence that links the paragraph to the rest of the essay. Each point should be explained in its own paragraph and the relationship between paragraphs should be clear.

Criteria for evaluation

An essay can be evaluated based on unity, coherence, mechanics and support. When writing an essay, all sentences and ideas should flow together in a chronological order. The paper should connect to the subject with details that support each main point. Spelling, punctuation and capitalization are also important elements -- typing errors are a common error to watch out for. Perhaps most importantly, a conclusion will bring your essay together.

About the Author

Joseph Lewis began writing in 2009, following a career as a Tamkang teacher. He covers education for various online publications. He holds a Bachelor of Arts, English literature from George Washington University, a secondary degree in early childhood education and a master's degree in TESOL.

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