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Essay Writing

From high school onwards, essay writing is a crucial part of our studies and the grades awarded to these play a significant role in our academic success or failure. Here at 24HourAnswers, we recognize the importance of essay writing, and we have a team of experienced writing tutors ready to help with your essay writing assignments.

There are, however, certain steps that can be taken to help write that elusive perfect essay.  Firstly, the planning and preparation must be based on the type of essay one wants to write, which typically falls into one of two categories - objective and subjective.

An objective essay - one without bias from an objective standpoint - will generally need to focus more on detailed analysis to elicit fact from possibly inaccurate or conflicting information.  An example of this would be an attorney attempting to present a case by examining two different presentations of the same course of events, each with a particular bias in favor of the party presenting it.  A subjective essay - subject to personal opinion from a subjective standpoint - could, for example, be a political paper expressing one's political opinions and individual views.

In most cases, however, one will be expected to write an essay objectively demonstrating the ability to present a well structured and concise argument based on analysis of fact rather than personal opinion. The best way to achieve this is to "read between the lines", so to speak. Consider this fictional sentence:

Tommy viciously threw the baseball as hard as he could at Chris' face, striking home with a sickening crunch.

Without context or background examination, there is only one fact to be gained from this sentence - Tommy threw a baseball and during its flight Chris is hit in the face.  However, the sentence can be interpreted in a number of ways: Tommy's intent was to hit Chris in the face, Tommy didn't mean to do this, it was in fact an accident, or even that Tommy did intend to cause damage, but not to Chris, to the player next to him.

Writing an objective essay is often the most difficult skill to learn, but easily the most important in almost every academic field - English language, literature, history, law, and business to name a few.  Once you understand  the distinctions between writing purely subjectively and writing objectively with structured and referenced arguments, the rest will become a lot easier to master.  We care deeply about helping students submit the best essays possible, and we have worked hard to earn our hundreds of ratings on Trust Pilot and Google, a testament to our commitment toward helping students. If you require any help with essay writing, we at 24HourAnswers are here to help.

Perhaps the second most important skill to master in essay writing is writing concisely and keeping to the point.  A habit often picked up by literature students is to write very long, wordy sentences that may be beautiful to read, but often use far too many words to suit a purpose that could be met by a shorter, clearer sentence.  For example:

Angelo turned slowly to face the group. The sunlight flicking through the curtains suddenly caught the side of his face, sharply illuminating it, giving the impression of some sort of godlike figure...

From these two sentences, all that can be learned is that a man named Angelo turned around to face a group of people.  The rest is merely descriptive and of no real importance, but would meet the purpose of writing descriptively to entertain.

Students can find many great books on essay writing at and Google Books.  Technical science writers should visit the superb MIT Open CourseWare. For more information on interesting ways to improve your essay skills, get in touch with members of our professional writing team here at 24HourAnswers, who will be more than happy to help impart some of the skills they have picked up in the course of their own writing careers!

What follows is an explanation of the various types of essays you may be asked to write during your courses, as well as some useful links for each essay type.

A Step-by-Step Guide to the Writing Process

The writing process is how essays are constructed.  Begin by selecting a topic, which is known as prewriting, or planning.  This first step involves not only selecting a topic for your essay, but generating ideas for it, gathering any research from outside sources, and planning its outline, or what you are going to discuss in it.

You may be at a loss when it comes to ways to generate ideas for your essay. There are many ways to do this. Brainstorming is one of them, and is where you ponder the topic and write down ideas for your essay as they come to you.  You can brainstorm by yourself or with other people.  One way to brainstorm for ideas for an essay is to think of things associated with your topic and write them down. You will then have a list of ideas you can use in your essay.

Another method to use when prewriting is clustering.  Clustering involves putting your topic on a piece of paper and circling it, then branching out ideas associated with it as secondary ideas.  This forms a cluster pattern, hence its name.  Clustering can help you generate ideas for your essay by making you think of ideas associated with your topic (and the relationship between them), helping you find the material to include, and giving you something to discuss.

A third method to use for prewriting is to keep a journal.  You may be familiar with journaling in the form of recording your private thoughts day to day, but you can also keep a journal to help you come up with ideas for your essays.  Write your topics in your journal, and add ideas related to them. This will help you to think of ideas to include, and to write them down so you will remember them when you start the essay. 

The second stage of the writing process is outlining.  In your outline, you should include your ideas in the order in which you are going to introduce them.  You should also refer to your thesis statement at the end of your introduction.  Finally, you should include what will be the body and conclusion of your essay.  Writing an outline will give you an idea of how your essay will progress and wrap up, which will aid the flow of your writing.  It will also help you decide how to begin it.

Once you have your outline prepared, you will be ready to begin the third stage of the writing process - actually writing your essay.

When you write your essay, follow the outline you created.  Be sure to include your introduction and thesis statement, the body with the supporting points and evidence for your thesis, and the conclusion, where you do not introduce new evidence, but address remaining concerns, and wrap up the essay.

When you write your essay, remember that you are writing the first, or rough draft. The rough draft is always imperfect, which is why it is called rough.  When writing it, keep in mind that you are very likely to go back and make numerous changes.

When you have written the first draft of your essay, you are in the revision stage of the writing process.  When revising your essay, look for areas that need to be strengthened.  For example, your thesis statement might not be clear and simple enough, and not express your thesis directly.  In that case, you will need to fine-tune it and cut out unnecessary words.  Look for areas that need detail added to help make your points clearer, or deleted to remove parts that do not support your thesis or that detract from it.  These are just a few of the areas that you need to cover when revising your essay.

When you have finished revising your essay, you will be entering the editing and proofreading stage.  This is the final stage of the writing process, and will help to create a perfect, professional-looking essay to submit to your professor or instructor.  At this stage, you will be correcting any spelling, grammar, punctuation, and mechanics errors that you come across.  Read your essay from start to finish, looking for typographical or other errors as you read.  When you find errors, circle them so that you will remember what and where they are, for later correction.  A second step is to read your essay aloud, whether to yourself or to someone else.  This process will help catch mistakes as you read.  A third option is have someone else, such as a family member or a friend, read your essay for you.  An extra pair of eyes can catch errors you might not have caught.

When you have edited and proofread your essay, it is complete and ready to be turned in to your professor or instructor.  He or she will see what you have accomplished in your essay, and will grade you accordingly.  To get a good grade, follow the writing process carefully. 

For more information on the writing process and how it works, visit the Purdue OWL's Writing Process page. Another good source on the writing process is MIT's Resources for Writers: The Writing Process page.  Hamilton College's The Writing Process and the University of Texas, El Paso's Writing Process provide good information on the writing process, its steps, and tips on how to write your essays.

Critical Essay

A critical essay, or critical evaluation is an essay in which you assess and appraise a text and its argument, or the impact of a book, film, piece of music, or even artwork.  When a critical essay is assigned in most English classes, it is often to assess a text and its argument.

Before starting your critical essay, you will want to have read through the text you will be discussing, and to evaluate its aspects. For instance, you should evaluate its argument and its strengths and weaknesses, the use of ethos, pathos, and logos in the essay, whether details were used to keep the reader's attention, and if so, what details were used and how it made you feel. This process is known as critical reading. More information on both critical reading and critical writing can be found at the University of Washington Tacoma's Teaching and Learning Center's "How to Write a Critical Analysis".

After your critical reading of the text comes the time to start on your essay. As in all essays, a critical essay must have an introduction with thesis statement, body, and conclusion. It also must have the assessment and evaluation of the text and its argument(s).  To get you started, think about the parts of the text that stood out for you.  For example, the strengths of the text's argument, and any supporting details that accompanied it may have captured your attention during your reading.  You will want to write about those aspects of the text in your critical essay.

Conversely, the weaknesses of the text's argument, and its use of ethos, pathos, and logos may have been more noticeable.  In that case, you will want to write about those aspects in your critical essay.

No matter what aspects of the text struck you most in your reading, you must focus on a general evaluation of the text and its arguments.  To evaluate the text and its arguments successfully, think about how effective these were or were not in persuading you and other readers to agree with it, or to at least come to a common ground with it.  Consider whether the author succeeded or failed in convincing you of his or her perspective, and what he or she could have done better to hold the reader's attention.  You might also want to think and write about other aspects of the text's argument, such as if it was well-thought out, or if it would appeal to a general audience or a specialized audience.  Think about how the text's argument ties in to the thesis statement, or main idea, and how the thesis statement expresses the argument in one sentence or so, and prepares the reader for the rest of the essay.

In your critical essay, you will not only want to evaluate the text and its arguments, but also evaluate other aspects, such as its supporting details and their effectiveness, its conclusion and whether or not it conclusively ended the text, and also its use of examples.  Assess whether or not the whole text was effective and powerful in communicating its arguments to the reader.

Other important aspects of critical essay writing are the correct use of grammar, spelling, punctuation, and mechanics, and to properly cite and document your outside sources using the citation and documentation style of your discipline.  Include in-text citations to cite quotations within the body of your essay, and a bibliography or works cited section to document your outside sources at the end of the essay.

Finally, make sure you have a strong argument running through your critical essay, and provide a thorough critical analysis of the text and its argument.  Your use of critical analysis in your essay will help provide the necessary criticism of the text and its arguments.

Ask your professor for help if and when you need it. He or she is there to help you succeed, and may assign a topic for you and your class to write about, if you do not know what topic to write about for it.

More information on how to write critical essays can be found at "Advice on Writing and Revising Critical Essays" by Professor Alison Case at the Williams College Department of English.  Southern Illinois University's Writing Center features advice on writing critical essays in "Writing The Critical Response".  Finally, you can find general advice on essay writing at Harvard University's Writing Center's page "Strategies for Essay Writing".

Narrative Essay

The first thing to understand about narration is that it tells a story. That story can be about a person, a place, a thing, or even an event.

Narration incorporates chronology when telling a story due to the story involving past, present, and future events.  Narration frequently starts with the past and moves to the present or future.  Roane State Community College's Online Writing Lab's page "Types of Papers: Narrative/Descriptive" and the Purdue OWL's "Narrative Essays" page feature more information on how to write a narrative essay, and discuss what is involved.

It is not always easy to come up with ideas when it comes to a topic for narrative essays. Here are ten suggestions to help get you started on your narrative essay:

  1. When you got your first pet
  2. The day you graduated from high school
  3. Your first day of school
  4. How you met and became friends with your best friend
  5. Your most memorable vacation
  6. Your first day of college
  7. Something no one knows about you
  8. If you could travel to another country.
  9. A secret place
  10. If you had a million dollars

These are just some ideas to consider for your essay.  It is often easier to write about something with which you are familiar, so you may find other topics based on your personal life, experiences or interests. Gallaudet University's "Essay Topic Suggestions" page offers more suggestions from which to choose.  An important thing to remember is that your writing should interest your reader, so aim to make it entertaining for him or her.  If, for example, you are writing about your first day of school, try to include at least one amusing anecdote.

A narrative essay must follow the essay format: an introduction that subtly incorporates your thesis statement or chosen title, a body, and a conclusion.  Any outside sources used must be cited and documented in the citation and documentation style of your discipline in order to avoid plagiarism.  For a general introduction to writing an essay and what it requires, check out the Purdue OWL's Essay Writing page. This guide to essay writing will introduce you to what an essay looks like, and will show you how to structure yours. For a general introduction to citation and documentation, you can also visit the Purdue OWL's Citation Style Chart.  The Citation Style Chart is a PDF file. Click on the PDF link "Citation Style Chart" at the top of the page, and it will open and show you a guide on how to create citations to cite your outside sources.

Your instructor may also assign a topic for your narrative essay. Please do not hesitate to ask him or her if you can write about your own topic.  You should always ask your instructor if you are not sure where to start on your essay or if you need help with it at any stage of the writing process. He or she is here to help you, and will offer suggestions and tips to help you write the best essay you can.

Finally, visit your college or university's writing center, and make use of the tutors here at at all the stages of the writing process. We are here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you as you write your essay.

No matter what topic you select, when writing your narrative essay, remember to tell a story about your chosen subject. If you enjoy writing it, the chances are that someone else will enjoy reading it.


Descriptive Essay

A descriptive essay uses description to discuss its subject - usually a person, place, or thing. It uses the five senses of sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste to describe the topic. For example, you may want to write about your favorite vacation spot.  You will want to describe what it looks like, how it sounds, what it smells like, how it feels, and how the foods there taste.  You want to give your readers a complete picture of it, and to help them imagine themselves there.  Description in this type of essay must be vivid and use details to be successful with helping readers experience a subject for themselves.

You not only need to use the five senses in your description, you must also make a vivid, detail-filled description to create a successful paper.  Following these guidelines will help you write a descriptive essay that will achieve a good grade.

If you are having difficulty finding a topic to write your descriptive essay, here is a list of ten ideas to get you started:

  1. Your pet
  2. Your favorite room in your home
  3. Your home
  4. Your best friend
  5. Your favorite restaurant
  6. Your backyard
  7. Your favorite piece of clothing
  8. Your favorite food
  9. Your dorm room
  10. A family member

This list is just a brief suggestion of available topics. You may find other topics in your personal life, your experiences, or your interests.  Your professor or instructor may assign a topic for you and your class to write about.  Ask him or her if a topic will be assigned for your descriptive essay, or if you can pick your own topic.

Always ask him or her if you need help with your descriptive essay at any stage of the writing process. He or she can give you advice and tips to make your essay more successful.

There are many available resources that can help you write a descriptive essay that will get you a good grade. The Purdue Owl's Descriptive Essays page features a guide on how to write descriptive essays, with tips that will help you hone your writing skills. Roane State Community College's Types of Papers: Narrative/Descriptive discusses how description works, and how that will help your essay. Butte College's Writing A Descriptive Essay page will also show you how to write this type of essay. Finally, visit the Purdue OWL's Online Writing Lab for general advice and tips on how to write an essay.

 Argumentative Essay

An argumentative essay advances an argument for or against something. The argument is expressed in the thesis, or claim, which the essay is making. The thesis is expressed in the thesis statement at the end of the introduction. Supporting evidence for the thesis is introduced and expressed in the body of the essay. This evidence must support your thesis; otherwise, it will not be taken seriously by the reader.

Supporting evidence can take almost any form - research, quotations, diagrams, graphs, pictures, photographs, and other things that your reader will take seriously. It must also be cited and documented properly so as to avoid plagiarism, both with in-text citations and/or footnotes within the essay, and bibliographic citations in your works cited page, bibliography, or reference list at the end of your essay. The citation and documentation style you will use for your essay will vary according to your discipline; the most common styles used are MLA, APA, and Chicago. You may also be using Harvard. You can find out more about MLA style here, APA style here, and Chicago style at this link. The University of Manchester's Referencing Guide has a section on Harvard style and how to cite and document it.   

You may also be searching for a topic for your argumentative essay, but do not know yet what to write about. You might find this list of ten suggestions a helpful starting point:

  1. The death penalty
  2. Gun control
  3. Reviving the military draft
  4. Polygamy
  5. Arranged marriage
  6. Genetically modified foods
  7. Irradiation of foods
  8. Animal testing
  9. Reducing the voting age to 16.
  10. The cost of college

You may also find other topics for your argumentative essay from your personal experience, your interests, or something else. Your professor or instructor may also assign a topic to you and your whole class to write on. Ask him or her if you can write about a topic of your choice or if he or she has assigned a topic to the class.

If you have trouble with your argumentative essay at any step in the writing process, ask your professor or instructor for help. He or she can give you tips and advice to make your essay the best essay in the class, and to help you get a good grade on it.

To find out more about how to write an argumentative essay, visit the Purdue OWL's Argumentative Essays page. Roane State Community College's Types of Papers: Argument/Argumentative page also offers information on how to write a good argumentative essay. For extra tips on how to write a good argument for your paper, visit DePaul University's The University Center for Writing-Based Learning's Writing An Argumentative Essay page. Finally, visit the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Writing Center's Argument page to find out why argument is needed in academic papers, and how to formulate a good argument for your argumentative essay.

Definition Essay

A definition essay requires you to define a word or concept, and to discuss what it means. For more information on the definition essay and what it requires, visit Roane State Community College's "Types of Papers: Definition/Define" page.

Next, you will need to find a topic for your essay. Below is a list of ten possible topics that could be used in a definition essay:

  1. Love
  2. Family
  3. Happiness
  4. Change
  5. The meaning of life
  6. Friendship
  7. Solitude
  8. Dreams
  9. Fun
  10. Work

You may also find other topics from your personal experience, what is around you, or from other sources. Sinclair Community College's Tutoring and Learning Center offers a handout, "Definition Notes" which features some other topics you may want to write about in your definition essay. 

Another good source for definition essay topics is Gallaudet University's Essay Topic Suggestions page. This features a helpful list of topics: "10 Topic Suggestions for Definition Essays".

Your definition essay must follow the basic format for an essay; it must have an introduction with thesis statement, a body, and a conclusion.  You must also cite and document any outside sources you use in your essay with in-text citations and a bibliography in the citation and documentation style of your discipline; i.e. you use MLA style for English, and APA style for psychology.  For general information on how to write an essay, visit Purdue OWL's Essay Writing page  and the University of Toronto's page "Some General Advice on Academic Essay-Writing".  Both sites offer good advice and general tips on how to write an essay.  You can also visit Purdue OWL's Citation Style Chart for help with citing and documenting your sources in MLA, APA, and Chicago styles. This is a PDF file, so just click on the link which says "Citation Style Chart" close to the top of the page, and it will open.

Always ask your professor or instructor for help if you do not know where to start on your definition essay or any other essay. He or she will let you know his or her expectations for the essay if you ask, and may help you select a topic for it. He or she may also have assigned a topic for you and the rest of the class to write about for your definition essay.

Another option is to visit is your college or university's writing center or contact the tutors here at if you need help with selecting a topic for your essay or with any step of the writing process. 

Expository Essay

An expository essay is an essay where the subject is explained using evidence rather than your personal views to support your thesis. The evidence you use comes from your research of the subject using your college or university library and its resources, both print and online (i.e. resources on the library's website, such as article databases and ebooks found through ebook databases).

If you are unsure about how to use the library and its resources, ask a librarian to help you. He or she is there to help you take advantage of the library and its resources. 

The use of evidence to back up your thesis will help you to explore your subject, and to delve into it in an expository essay. Writing an expository essay will also help you look at your subject from many different perspectives, not just your own. Doing this develops your critical thinking skills, and helps you to see a subject from many different angles, thus enriching your perspective and helping you to be open to other points of view.

The exploration of your subject and the use of evidence to back up your thesis, and your skills at doing both, help to create a good expository essay.

Here is a list of topic suggestions to get you started with writing your expository essay:

  1. Explain how motherhood changes a woman's life
  2. Explain the effects of music on your life
  3. What are the consequences of smoking
  4. Explain how to save money
  5. What are the symptoms and treatments for high blood pressure
  6. How does the library help with research on a subject
  7. Explain how feminism has benefitted women, their lives, and their prospects in life
  8. How does losing weight affect your health, mood, and life span
  9. How did the military draft affect people's lives in the 1950s and 1960s

These are just some of the ideas you can use for your expository essay. You will likely find others as you search for a topic that you prefer to write about.

Remember to ask your professor or instructor if he or she has a topic in mind for your essay, or if you can use a topic of your choice for it. He or she may assign a topic for you or help you with selecting one.

Finally, cite and document the outside sources used for your essay. If you have a major in English or any of the humanities, MLA style will be the citation and documentation style of choice. If you major in psychology or the social sciences, then you will use APA style to cite and documents your sources. If you are a history major, then you will use Chicago (Turabian) style. Finally, if you live outside the United States, you may be using Harvard style to cite and document your sources.

To find out more about MLA style and how to cite and document your outside sources, visit the Purdue OWL's "MLA Style" page.  For APA style, the Purdue OWL's "APA Guide" page will be helpful. If you are using Chicago style, you will need the Purdue OWL's "Chicago Manual of Style" page. Two guides on Harvard style are provided by Anglia Ruskin University Library  and the University of Western Australia Library.

Lastly, the Purdue OWL's "Expository Essays" page will help you write a good expository essay.

 Cause and Effects Essay

A cause and effect essay involves various disciplines, ranging from English to History, and its purpose is to discuss causes and effects of specific things, ranging from a historical event to the progression of a disease in a person's body.

In a cause and effect essay, a cause is what occasioned the event to occur, and an effect is the result of the cause. This can also involve discussion of multiple causes and effects, depending on the subject you are discussing in your essay.

If you are unsure at any time about how to write a cause and effect essay or any other type of essay, please ask your professor. He or she will tell you what you need to do for your essay.

Here are some suggested topics for your cause and effect essay.  The list is by no means exhaustive and if you read on you will find a useful link offering other suggestions:

  1. The effects of drunk driving
  2. The causes and effects of oversleeping
  3. The effects of not paying attention in class
  4. The effects of not taking school seriously
  5. The effects of not finding a good balance between your academic and social lives
  6. The effects of No Child Left Behind on teachers and students
  7. The effects of cheating on exams
  8. The causes and effects of climate change
  9. The effects of staying in an unhappy marriage
  10. The effects of sexism on women

These are some of the topics you can consider and use when writing a cause and effect essay. You may also find other topics of interest in your personal life, your personal experiences, interests, or anything else which makes a good topic for a cause and effect essay.

Your professor may also assign a topic for you to write on, depending on what kind of class you are in. 

Always ask your professor if you have a question about what he or she wants for the cause and effect essay assigned to you. Your professor will show you what you need to do for the assignment, how to proceed when doing it, help you to succeed in it, and to get a good grade on it. 

For more information on cause and effect essay topics and to find some inspiration for your essay topics, visit the cause and effect essay topics section of Gallaudet University's Essay Topic Suggestions page.  For general information on writing, visit Butte College's Cause and Effect Essays Tip Sheet and Capital Community College's Composition Patterns: Cause and Effect page on its Guide to Grammar and Writing website. For a general guide to writing essays, from the basics of grammar to citing sources properly, visit Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL).

Compare and Contrast Essay

This type of essay compares and/or contrasts two things that could be similar or very different.  For example, it may compare macaroni and cheese to broccoli and cheddar soup, or it may contrast rock music to classical music.  Regardless of the topics involved, your essay is about comparing and/or contrasting its subjects.

The first step to take in writing a comparison and contrast essay is to select a topic. When selecting a topic choose two things that are similar if you are comparing them, or different if you are contrasting them. For example, you could compare your two favorite flowers, or you could contrast your best friend and your worst enemy. Alternatively you could compare your favorite video game to your least favorite video game. There are endless topics you could choose for your essay. You can find them from personal experience or things you are interested in and/or care about. Your professor or instructor may assign a topic for you and your class to write about. Please ask him or her if you are having a hard time finding a topic for your essay.

Some good topics to write about in your comparison and contrast essay include:

  1. Your two favorite bands
  2. Your two favorite books
  3. Your two favorite movies
  4. Your two favorite singers
  5. Two places you went on vacation to
  6. Your most and least favorite foods
  7. Your most and least favorite subjects
  8. Two majors you are considering
  9. Cats and dogs
  10. Family and friends

The second step is to engage in prewriting. You can brainstorm ideas for it, or engage in clustering, as described at the beginning of this piece. You can also keep a journal in which you can write down ideas for your essay(s) as you come across them. All of these methods are helpful in generating ideas for you to use in your essay.

The third step is to plan how you are going to write your essay. An outline can help you organize your ideas and plan how to write your paper. You can include the ideas you want to write about in the outline, and omit ideas that will not be useful.

The fourth step is to write your essay. In this type of essay, you can compare and/or contrast your subjects using either a point-by-point comparison or a paragraph-by-paragraph comparison. In a point-by-point comparison, you compare and/or contrast your subjects point after point, switching subjects between points within a paragraph to illustrate the similarities or differences between them. In a paragraph-by-paragraph comparison, you compare and/or contrast your subjects paragraph by paragraph, devoting each paragraph to the similarities or differences between them. These two methods will help you compare or contrast your subjects, and give you a framework to use to compare or contrast them with.

The fifth step is to revise, edit, and proofread your essay. Read your essay carefully, word for word, to see if there are sections that need cut out, revised, or if you need to add sections or words to clarify your ideas and your thesis. At the same time check your essay for typos and errors, and eliminate those you find. Have a family member or friend read over your essay to help you catch mistakes you may have missed, and to help you find out if you need to cut out unnecessary parts or tighten the essay further. All of this will help you strengthen your essay.

One good source that will help you learn more about how to write a compare and contrast essay is Roane State Community College's "Types of Papers: Compare/Contrast" page. It will also show you the basics of writing such essays and will give you tips on how to write a good one.

A good source for finding topics for your essay is Gallaudet University's Essay Topic Suggestions. For a general introduction to writing essays, you could also visit the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL).

Never hesitate to ask your professor or instructor if you have a question about what he or she wants for the essay assigned to you. Ask if he or she has assigned a topic for it or if you get to choose your own topic. This will show him or her that you are a serious student who wants to succeed in this assignment.

Some further links that will help you write a good comparison and contrast essay are LEO Comparison/Contrast Essays, Techniques to Enhance Your Writing, and Compare and Contrast Paper|Webster University. For a general introduction to writing essays and to citing and documenting outside sources, please visit the Purdue OWL.

Division and Classification Essay

A division and classification essay takes a subject, separates it into different groups, and classifies it into different categories.

For example, if you were writing an essay on the different types of pets people can have, you would divide your subject (pets) into different categories according to what type of animals they are (dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, fish, etc.). You can then discuss each different category of pet animal; for example, you might want to discuss their different characteristics, their physical features, their average lifespans, and what they need in order for you to take care of them properly.

You also do this for other subjects in a division and classification essay.  Here is a list of topic suggestions you can use for your division and classification essay.  The list is by no means exhaustive and if you read on you will find a link offering other suggestions:

  1. The ways we tell the truth
  2. The different types of relationships in your life
  3. The different types of love
  4. The different types of holidays
  5. The four seasons of the year
  6. The careers you can train for within your major (if you have one)
  7. Careers you are considering going into
  8. Majors you are considering going into (if you do not have a major)
  9. Different types of literary genres (poetry, drama, etc.)
  10. Different types of celebrations in your life (birthdays, weddings, graduations, etc)

These are just a few of the topics you can consider and write about for your essay. You may also find other topics from your personal experiences, such as things going on in your life, your likes and dislikes, or anything else that would make a good subject for a division and classification essay.

Your professor may also assign his own topic, or may instruct you to find one of your own. This depends on what type of class you are in, and what your major is, if you have one. It is always wise to ask what he or she wants, including what topics you can write about and whether or not you can choose your own topic, before you start your assignment.

You should feel free to ask your professor if you have questions about homework assignments or anything else at any time. Being able to ask for help is the first step to success in your classes and beyond. If you do not ask for help, you may never know what success means.

One good link that provides topics for division and classification essays is Gallaudet University's 10 Topics for Classification Essays (classification is just a simpler term for division and classification). Two good links that offer general guides to writing a division and classification essay are Butte College's Writing a Classification Paper Tip Sheet  and Capital Community College's Classification and Analysis Paper.  Finally, another link that will help you with the general writing of essays is Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL).  The Purdue OWL covers all of the facets of writing, from grammar to citing sources properly, and will be helpful as you write essays throughout your college career.

Process Analysis Essay

Process analysis is just that, as in a how-to instruction, or explaining how something works. These two types of process analyses are known as directive process analysis and informative process analysis.

Directive process analysis shows a person how to do something, as in how to cook a turkey for the holidays. Informative process analysis shows how something works; such as how Facebook works, or how a bicycle or car works.

You can write using either two of these process analyses for your essay depending on the wording of the assignment. Always ask your professor or instructor what he or she wants you to do for your essay before you start writing it.

Some good links that will help you learn what a process analysis essay is are Tone: A Matter of Attitude, which covers the process analysis essay and how to write it in depth, LEO Writing A Process Essay, and Purdue OWL: Essays for Exams, which features a section on how to write a process analysis essay for an exam. Finally, the Purdue OWL will give you a general introduction to essay writing and citing and documenting outside sources.

Here is a list of ten topic suggestions you might use for your process analysis essay:

  1. How to improve your study skills
  2. How to use Pinterest
  3. How your cellphone works
  4. How to develop a good friendship with your instructor
  5. How your email works
  6. How to learn a foreign language
  7. How to live without a car
  8. How to survive a breakup
  9. How to conquer test anxiety
  10. How Facebook works

Finally, let your professor or instructor know if you are having trouble finding a topic for your essay. He or she may suggest some topics, or may have a specific topic to assign the class. 

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