Five Steps to a Strong Essay
Writing essays shouldn’t seem like a massive burden. Just try to follow these five simple steps.
Step 1: Think
Ask yourself, “What is the purpose of this assignment?” The assignment is meant to assess how much you have learned in class. Keep this in mind constantly from when you begin to write to when you revise your final draft.
Step 2: Brainstorm
Depending on the assignment’s requirements, decide what you want to say in the essay. Make a list of what you want to write about and don’t hesitate to write down any and all ideas that enter your mind. The more, the better.
Step 3: Plan
Planning your essay might be the most important step. Once you have determined what it is you want to say, you will now need to map out how you’re going to say it. A typical essay format might look something like this:
Introduction with a thesis statement that says your essay will be about topics A, B and C
Body paragraph that describes topic A
Body paragraph that describes topic B
Body paragraph that describes topic C
Conclusion that restates the introduction (but does not repeat it verbatim)
Step 4: Write
Choose the items on your brainstorm list that you want to use in the essay and write a full sentence for each. These sentences might become the topic sentences for your body paragraphs. It doesn’t matter (yet) exactly how you will say it, but rather that you have included everything your teacher has asked for. Don’t worry about writing formally or even completely logically. Just write. You can improve your work later. Sometimes it is helpful to say what you want to write out loud. Tell a sibling, parent or friend about what you are trying to say and then work what you have said to them into sentences in your essay.
Step 5: Edit
Edit your work at least three times. Every essay you write should go through several drafts. If you have done a good job of editing, your final draft will likely be significantly different from the first. (Hopefully you will have completed the first draft early enough to edit and not the night before the assignment is due!) Read your work through once from the beginning to end without stopping to make sure the sentences flow and the paragraphs are logically connected by transition sentences. Read your work through twice to make sure the thesis statement (which explains what your essay is about and which is usually the last sentence of your introduction) describes what you have written in the body paragraphs and vice versa. Read your work through a third time very slowly to check for spelling and grammar mistakes. Then ask someone else to read your work through in case they spot anything you might have missed.