Tips on Writing an Excellent Expository Essay

While there are many types of essays, an expository essay is perhaps one of the most systematic. These essays require students to explore an idea, evaluate the evidence, elaborate on the main idea, and state their argument in a coherent manner. In short, the main focus is to explain the facts. If you're interested in learning how to write an expository essay, the 10 key tips provided are sure to be invaluable!

tips on writing expository essay tips on writing expository essay
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1. Choose the Essay Structure

The first step in writing an expository essay is to decide how to structure your work. Expository essays generally begin with an introduction followed by three body paragraphs before reaching the conclusion. This will lead to a five-paragraph essay between 500 and 800 words long, the typical length of an essay on a standardized test.

2. Start With an Outline

Scribble down a brief outline before you begin writing. Consider your stance on the subject, craft a one-line summary of your stance, then list three items you can discuss in support of your ideas. The three items will form the body paragraphs.

3. Verify POV Requirements

Typically, you want to write an expository essay in an objective, third-person point of view ("he," "she" or "it"). However, pay careful attention to the assignment. Sometimes, first-person ("I" or "me") or second-person ("you") perspective is acceptable, especially if the task is to describe a personal experience.

4. Focus on Clarity

Writing an expository essay requires clear, concise language that readers will understand. Do not use figurative language or words that readers are not likely to recognize. It’s difficult to make a strong case when you’ve confused the reader. If your topic is complex and needs to be defined before you can dive into intricate detail, be sure to do that. Keep clarity at the forefront of your mind, because if you’ve lost people even before you dive into key statistics and facts, it’s a lost cause. In the example below, the writer previews exactly what readers can expect to follow.

This essay will explore three examples of Riley's bravery and outline its benefit to future generations.

5. Prepare the Thesis Statement

Once you have an outline, the next step will be to craft your thesis statement. The thesis statement is the core of any essay. It will summarize what your essay is about or the argument you're trying to make in one sentence. Be sure it adheres to the assignment guidelines. It's very important to write an effective thesis statement for your essay. The thesis statement below is a good example; it clarifies the main point of the essay in one sentence.

Music shapes our lives and influences our behavior.
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6. Craft an Appealing Introduction

Wondering how to start an expository essay? The introduction is where you'll place your thesis statement, but it will need to include text beyond just the thesis statement itself. The introduction to your essay is the shining star of the document. It's meant to capture the attention of readers, draw them in and clearly state what's about to come. Consider reviewing examples of strong introductory paragraphs for inspiration. The example introduction below really pulls in readers.

Many of the social precursors to drug addiction begin at home. This is not to say every addict had a terrible upbringing. Addiction sinks its teeth into stable and unstable homes alike. What begins as a crutch can turn into a life sentence, and nobody is immune. This paper will review three examples of addiction discussed in last week's lesson.

7. Write the Body Paragraphs

The body of your essay is where you'll find the most meat. As you progress from your thesis statement into each paragraph’s topic sentence, remember to keep the focus to no more than one main idea per paragraph. Think of it as the arc of a story. You must rise to a climax and end with a resolution. Therefore, you want to select three strong ideas and write a separate paragraph for each one. Be sure that each paragraph harkens back to your thesis statement. Ask yourself, "Is this doing something to prove or support my thesis statement?"

8. Use Transitions Between Paragraphs

As you enter into the body of your essay, keep transitions in mind. As you connect all of your paragraphs together, use transition words and sentences to make your essay flow more smoothly. Connect sentences with words like "however," "for example" or "such as." They must be clear and express a logical unfolding of your main ideas. Above all else, the reader must be able to follow your train of thought. Follow best practices for how to include transition words in an essay. See how the word "however" is used as a transition in the example below.

Music carries us through the dark times by allowing us to understand we're not alone. However, it can also sustain us through happy times as we rejoice in an upbeat tempo.
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9. Include Supporting Information

Facts and statistics are an important element to any essay. Use the "don't just take my word for it" approach and bolster your argument with facts, statistics or quotations from relevant people. Research to identify relevant data you can use to support the main idea of each paragraph, and incorporate the information into your writing. Be sure to cite your sources. If you're asked to create expository essays on the spot for a school assignment or exam, you wouldn't be able to do outside research to gather data. Instead, you'll need to outlay a clear argument with whatever facts spring to mind.

10. Write an Effective Conclusion

A conclusion shouldn't just regurgitate your thesis. A strong conclusion will summarize your main arguments concisely and clearly. When you write the conclusion, focus on restating your argument, summarizing key facts, or even proposing the next steps for further research or discussion. The conclusion is your last chance to leave a lasting mark that will make your readers consider your point of view. Perhaps you'll dash a bit of personality into the conclusion and end with a rhetorical question or a call to action.

Writing Expository Essays in School

What is an expository essay? You'll most likely come across expository essays in the classroom. With this type of writing, the goal is to take an idea, reflect on your opinion on the matter, and deliver a clear and cohesive argument on the subject.

  • This type of assignment is a great way for students to express their opinions and for teachers to assess their writing and critical thinking skills.
  • Teachers often assign students to write an expository essay after they have completed a novel or studied a new idea.
  • Common topics for expository essays include personal experiences, literature, history, social issues, and science and technology.
  • To help your essay stand out, consider an uncommon expository essay topic.

Writing expository essays allows students to reflect on something they're already knowledgeable about and develop a coherent stance that they can communicate to others in writing.

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Express Yourself and Convince Others

Follow the tips above and your expository essays are sure to be truly excellent! Expository essays are a gift. They allow learners to express their minds without the fear of being told they're wrong. Essentially, they're your opinion on the subject matter. The only way you might be "wrong" is if you don't support your claim with logic, reasoning and facts. Now that you know how to write an expository essay, consider further developing your ability to craft effective written arguments by exploring the art of persuasive essay writing.