Essay writing is an essential skill that all students need to develop in order to survive, and thrive in, school and beyond. Follow our nine steps to essay success.
Nail the question. It sounds obvious, but if you don't REALLY understand the question, you're doomed to fail before you even put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). If you have any doubts whatsoever about what your teacher wants, double- and triple-check with them before you start.
Create a skeleton. Break the question down into parts to create an outline of your essay. Make sure all the points in the question are included in your outline. Need some help with this step? Grab a free copy of our essay planning template by filling out the form on this page.
Research. Gather as much information as you can about your topic. Use the library, research online (using lots of different authoritative sites), speak to people you know, gather interviews.
Brainstorm. Ask yourself a whole heap of questions about the topic. If you're used to creating mindmaps, this is the time to use one. Allow your mind to travel broadly on the topic to stretch yourself beyond what might usually be expected. Then when you've got all your questions, use more research to answer them!
Body build. In point form, start to put some muscle on that skeleton you built earlier. Don't start writing yet, but using all the notes you've taken in your research and brainstorm phase, plan out the main arguments you'll include in each paragraph.
Hang on a sec! Don't start with your introduction yet, that will come later...
Your essay body. Each paragraph in your essay should deal with a separate insight. Start each paragraph with a topical sentence, then support that topic with the evidence or reasoning found in your research phase.
The conclusion. Wrap up your essay with a quick summary that holds up your arguments one last time. Some students like to end with a memorable thought such as a quotation or call to action - but make sure it's relevant, and that you attribute it correctly.
Finally... the introduction. It's much easier to introduce something AFTER you've written it. Use your introduction to outline the points asked in the question, and describe how your essay addresses these points.
At Studiosity, we want your words and ideas to be heard, to be understood and to be valued. Every day, our expert English tutors help hundreds of students construct arguments, develop creative skills, improve grammar and punctuation, and much more.
It’s easy to get started. Simply upload a piece of writing to us, and within 24 hours we’ll send it back with detailed feedback on how to make it better.
Of all the resources we publish on The Learning Network, perhaps it’s our vast collection of writing prompts that is our most widely used resource for teaching and learning with The Times.
This list of 401 prompts (available here in PDF) is now our third iteration of what originally started as 200 prompts for argumentative writing, and it’s intended as a companion resource to help teachers and students participate in our annual Student Editorial Contest. (In 2017, the dates for entering are March 2 to April 4.)
So scroll through the hundreds of prompts below that touch on every aspect of contemporary life — from social media to sports, politics, gender issues and school — and see which ones most inspire you to take a stand. Each question comes from our daily Student Opinion feature, and each provides links to free Times resources for finding more information. And for even more in-depth student discussions on pressing issues like immigration, guns, climate change and race, please visit our fall 2016 Civil Conversation Challenge.
What’s your favorite question on this list? What questions should we ask, but haven’t yet? Tell us in the comments.
And visit our related list as well: 650 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing.
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