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.
An expository essay is a piece of written work that aims to define and investigate a topic for the reader. This can be accomplished in several ways: defining a term, comparing and contrasting, analyzing a cause and effect, etc. The main objective is to prove a thesis through factual evidence. Putting together an explanation might sound easy, but it is quite a challenge to write a convincing piece that defends your thesis!
Table Of Contents
An easy way to understand what an expository essay is would be to look at it as a debate. When preparing for a debate, your goal would be to When researching and gathering information for your essay, it would be ideal to keep these thoughts in mind. Think about writing with your reader’s questions in mind. When a reader is enlightened, that’s a definite sign that you have created some fantastic literature!
5 Main Types of Expository Writing
There are 5 main types of expository essays:
Descriptive Essay(/blog/descriptive-essay/): This is an essay in which the writer is asked to describe something. This could be a person, place, experience, situation, etc. Descriptive Essays are unique in the sense that you have a lot of freedom when it comes to the content. You should present something exciting or beautiful, all the while keeping the reader interested.
Process Essay: The classic “How To” assignment. The purpose of this essay is to teach the reader about learning a process: How to build a car, how to edit a paper or even how to flirt with a girl!
Comparison Essay: Simple sounding enough, a comparison essay makes you critically analyze any two subjects, finding and explaining their similarities and/or differences.
Cause and Effect Essay: The “Knee-Jerk” reaction assignment. Cause and effect essays are concerned with why and or how things happen and what happens as a result.
Problem / Solution Essay: The universal standard prompt assignment. In this situation, we have a problem and are looking for solutions. The essay is broken down into a brief intro to the problem and filled with content about the solutions.
What is the Purpose?
Spend some time thinking about the purpose of your writing. Why are you writing an expository essay? What are you trying to accomplish with this essay? Find some reasons as to why you are writing it and the overall goal. If it was assigned by your school teacher, read the assignment guidelines scrupulously.
Break the Ice
Before you begin writing a paper, take time and build up your ideas before deciding on an essay topic. If you want to simplify the process, you can try activities such as listing, clustering, freewriting, and questioning. These will help you brainstorm ideas for your essay.
Listing: Put all your thoughts on paper. Look over this list and group similar ideas. This will help you narrow down your options.
Clustering: Take a blank piece of paper and write a brief explanation of the topic and circle it. Then draw three more lines extending from the bigger circle. Write corresponding ideas at the end of the lines. Keep going and build your cluster until you create as many connections as necessary.
Freewriting: Turn on non-stop mode for about 10 minutes. Write whatever comes to your mind. As you finish writing, review what you have written. Underline or highlight the most appropriate information. Then sort out things that you have written by sections. Use this trick until you come up with the most suitable topic.
Questioning: On a piece of paper write: “Who? How? What? Why? When? Where?”. Answer each question with as much detail as possible. This will give you an outline for your writing to build on.
Expository Essay Topics (examples)
- Descriptive Essay:
- Describe a time when you experienced depression, and what you believe led to that?
- Describe a tricky situation you were in, and how you managed to handle it.
- Process Essay:
- Develop a tutorial and describe the process of building a custom computer.
- Create a step by step tutorial of solving a common societal problem, i.e. littering.
- Comparison Essay:
- Compare and Contrast Apple with Windows. Which product is better in which sphere? Which product is more user-friendly?
- Compare and Contrast living standards in the USA and Mexico.
- Cause and Effect Essay:
- What are the causes and effects of procrastination?
- What can be done to improve time efficiency?
- Describe the causes and effect of cheating at school. How do we teach students to avoid this behavior?
- Problem / Solution Essay:
- How can we as a society reduce or even eliminate racism?
- How can we motivate students to increase effort at school?
The Subject Makes or Breaks the Essay
There is a chance that your work may fall flat if you have not chosen one of the really good expository essay topics. Not all topics out there are interesting or meaty enough to be thoroughly investigated within a paper. Make sure you put effort into choosing a topic that has a lot of material to cover it and pique the interest of readers!
- Trending Topics: Are there any hot issues that deserve some deep discussion? If so, consider educating people on this seemingly new occurrence through the use of a well-written essay.
- A topic close to your heart: It is easy much easier to defend a thesis if you find yourself passionately thinking about the topic. If you have an advocacy and want to inform others, choose this path and you might be able to sway beliefs!
Comparing the past and the present is a good way of framing an argument, especially if a lot has been written about it.
Do not Forget to…
Come Up With A Catchy Title
It is often considered the best approach to grab your audiences attention with a catchy title. As we all know it is quite common for people to judge a book by its cover, despite having been told that it is not always the case. Nonetheless, when students are aware of such a challenge they can take the time needed to craft a title that will do their work justice.
Gather research on your Topic
Hey, Sherlock Holmes, it’s time to do some detective work! Before you start out with the content, ponder upon your thesis and gather supporting documents for your paper. This is as important as the people in the courtroom, in the sense that a statement means nothing without sufficient evidence. Research should not only agree with your arguments but come from reputable and credible sources as well. It should also be up to date and relevant to the discussion at hand.
This is an important step that our writers recommend you to take before you start writing. Before you start writing, it is advised to consider the expectations and needs of the readers. If there are guidelines for the expository essay, you need to follow them strictly and write accordingly. Include everything that might have been expected by your instructor.
Create a Thesis
A powerful thesis statement expresses the main argument of the paper. It should take a clear stance in the debate/topic and should not be more than two sentences in length.
Make sure your thesis is debatable. Do not state facts or sentences that have no purpose. For example, "Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth president of the United States," is not an appropriate thesis because it states a fact.
Your statement should provide enough details. Try to avoid just saying that something is "good" or "effective." Instead of these, say what makes something "good" or "effective”.
The Format / Structure
Even if you are not familiar with writing an expository essay, you will realize that it is like any other academic paper that seeks for you to display your informed argument about a certain topic. This is especially true for the short papers you will experience in examinations, testing you about facts that you should have learned throughout the course. Also, it is very helpful to create a graphic organizer for assistance.
Create an Outline
There might be a lot of things you want to talk about, but in the end, there is a need to get straight to the point. To aid you in the quest of making an expository essay with brevity and straightforwardness, create an outline that corresponds to your points, arguments, and research.
The 5 paragraph format is the universal standard for expository essays, meaning it is recommended to write within this style. The paragraphs follow this order: Introduction, Body Paragraph 1, Body Paragraph 2, Body Paragraph 3 and Conclusion.
Craft an Intriguing Introduction
Expository essays are not meant to be opinionated pieces, so introductions that include a personal plight – as is the usual fare when asked to write an essay - are out of the question. Examples of interesting introductions would be to cite relevant news articles and historical events to introduce your topic. Starting off with a significant occurrence, discovery, or study will give you more points in factual research as well.
Construct an Eloquent and Informative Body
The body paragraphs should have at least 2-3 Arguments and a Counterargument : Each argument deserves its own paragraph. They also need to have supporting documents, like facts and statistics, to make the reader believe what you are trying to say.
While most people have got the argument and evidence part of an essay down, they forget to include another important piece. One way to make a paper more complete would be to address a point that argues against the thesis and then disprove it through logic or statistics. It effectively tells your reader that you have thought about your topic from multiple angles!
What is the number?
The common length of an expository essay is five-paragraphs; however, it can definitely be longer than that. Check your assignment guidelines or ask your teacher if you are not sure about the required length.
Start each body paragraph with a topic sentence
Do it to introduce the main idea of the paragraph. It should introduce the claim that will be defended in said body paragraph.
Present a Claim
A claim is a sentence that can be arguable but is used as a primary point to support or prove an argument. Your claim should be a statement that can relate to the thesis statement and makes it stronger.
After you have started a topic sentence, support it with specific evidence from your research.
Finish With A Concluding Statement
Write how the evidence you have provided in that paragraph connects to your thesis. Explain the significance of the claim in regards to the overall argument.
Keep Things Moving Smoothly
To keep your writing smooth, make sure your paragraphs transition well. Furthermore, the conclusion of each body paragraph should summarize your main point.
Show Assertiveness in the Conclusion
The conclusion answers the questions you have brought out in the reader through the introduction while calling back the arguments you have laid out. An essay conclusion should be a construction made of the past few paragraphs. Don’t repeat your words like a broken record. You need to do a straightforward synthesis that delivers an impact upon your reader.
Bring the final thought or call to action
Imagine that the last sentence of your essay would be your last words. What would you say? How would you call people to action? Spend time thinking about these questions to make your final sentence like a time bomb.
- Explain the significance of your topic;
- Explain how it affects the audience;
- Call them to action;
- Present new questions to think about.
Edit and fact check
Once the expository essay is complete, you should read it over once or twice. Often, people get excited over adding new information, making a messy paper with no direction, so cut down if you need to. Next, recheck all the facts and statistics you cited. You never know, you might end up contradicting yourself if you didn’t look into your sources carefully.
Essay Writing Advice From Our Professional Team
Dr. Judy, from EssayPro
This article describes the writing process of an expository essay with a focus on some general types of expository essays. A point that I want to articulate is that each paragraph in your expository essay should have its idea. This would allow your essay to be clear and have minimal repetition. Each paragraph should also have a logical connection to the thesis and argument that you are making. A common mistake that newbie writers make is getting off track and adding information that doesn’t connect to the main point of your essay. You can avoid that easily by creating a well-structured outline and linking each of your paragraphs back to your thesis at the end of each paragraph. Another tip that I have for you is to try to be creative in your essay! Academic writing does not have to be boring. The truth is, you may not be writing a creative masterpiece, but you don’t have to be bone-dry with your writing. Leave a lasting impression on your reader!
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