Essay Types

If you need to choose an essay type for your topic or you’ve been assigned a particular type of essay but you’re not sure how to attempt it, the information below on the different types of essay will help you.

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5-Paragraph Essay

A 5 paragraph essay is the simplest and most usual form of essay. The basic structure contains an introduction, three paragraphs forming the main body of the essay and a conclusion summarising the main thesis of the essay.

Admission Essay

An admission essay is used to assess the abilities of an applicant. The same basic structure will be used whether the applicant is applying for a vacancy with a company or a place on a college course.

Academic Essay

Academic essays are the most common means of continuous assessment used by educational bodies as they show a students ability to address a topic or question having researched it thoroughly.

Argumentative Essay

An argumentative essay puts forward a strong statement which may be new or potentially provocative and uses the standard essay format to expand on and support the thesis with evidence which attempts to persuade the reader that the opening statement is correct whilst acknowledging other arguments.

Cause and Effect Essay

A cause and effect essay deals with why something occurs and the results of this. This seems very straightforward but it requires clear thinking and the ability to express that in straightforward language, syntax and presentational structure.

Classification Essay

Stated simply, the purpose of a classification essay is to organize things into categories. This is done by putting useful categories in place following a single underlying principle and finding examples that fit into each category.

Comparison Essay

The comparison essay is commonly used in essay writing across the disciplines. It requires the writer to look at the similarities and differences between two or more subjects which may, in fact, be related under an ‘umbrella topic’. For example, a Literature essay might require you to compare how two different writers approach the same theme by using the same genre.

College Essay

A college essay, like an admission essay, is used to give additional information to an admissions board who are considering your application. You will have completed an application form and given your basic details but a college essay gives an extra insight into you as a person and helps the college evaluate your suitability both for the course and the college.

Critical Essay

A critical essay will typically be used to assess the merits and highlight points of interest in a piece of writing. This will not necessarily be a pejorative evaluation, though we might normally think that being ‘critical’ implies this.

Deductive Essay

Typically, the deductive essay is based on the premise that given a certain set of fact, by using deductive reasoning assumption can be made leading to a conclusion. Thus, the three stages of a deductive essay would be: the premise, the evidence and the conclusion.

Definition Essay

A definition essay, as the name implies, consists primarily of saying what something means, how it is ‘defined’. There are several ways of ‘defining’ and different subjects may suggest different methods but the writer should decide early on which methodology to adopt.

Descriptive Essay

Of all essay types, the descriptive essay is the one which requires most creative writing ability as it is based on the ability of the writer to facilitate the visualization of a scene, evoking sensory reactions and responses. Much of the writing will be adjectival but the use of other semantic fields, such as adverbial, will also be employed.

Evaluative Essay

The evaluative essay sets out to evaluate something according to predetermined criteria. For an evaluation to be recognised as valid, both the subject to be evaluated and the criteria to be used to make the evaluation must be stated clearly.

Exploratory Essay

The exploratory essay differs from most other essays because it does not begin with an end in mind. This type of essay explores the evidence contained within it as it progresses and you ‘learn as you go’ rather than setting out to prove a judgement you had already made, as with most essays.

Expository Essay

The expository essay does not so much ask the writer to set out to give their views, unlike other essays. Instead, you are being asked to display, as fairly and comprehensively as possible, the views of others; as the name suggests, to ‘expose’ them. The expository essay is also used in the case of reportage e.g. in journalism.

Illustration Essay

The difference is that in an illustration essay, the evidence is largely provided by the inclusion of examples, or ‘illustrations’, to support your argument; in many ways it is similar to a narrative essay. Basically, in an illustration essay you are literally inviting your reader to picture, via your ‘illustrations’, the argument’s effectiveness.

Informal Essay

The primary purpose of an informal essay is to entertain. It is probably the first encounter you have with writing essays (maybe called ‘compositions’ in the early years of school). Do you recall being asked to write about what you did on your recent holiday? That was an informal essay!

Literature Essay

The Literature essay assesses a student’s ability to respond to a question about given texts or select texts that will be used to address a specific problem/topic. You may also have completely free choice and select both texts and topics yourself.

Narrative Essay

A narrative essay tells a tale, usually a personal experience told in the form of a story. The point of view is usually personal and description is very important to contribute to the overall feel of the narrative. However, narrative essays can also be used for book reports etc.

Personal Essay

The personal essay is sometimes known as a personal statement and is similar to an admission essay. Its main purpose is to tell someone who knows nothing about you other than the facts on an application form all about yourself.

Persuasive Essay

The persuasive essay uses reasoned argument to persuade the reader to adopt/agree with the position being proposed in the opening statement. Experts are often quoted to support the central argument and give it additional credibility.

Research Essay

A research essay has much in common with the persuasive essay as it relies heavily on the evidence the writer has acquired through reading and what ideas have contributed to the resulting thesis.

Response Essay

A response essay is usually requested to provide evidence of the reader’s response to careful reading of a piece of writing in relation to an author’s biographical background and personal style.

Scholarship Essay

The scholarship essay is very similar to the personal essay/statement. In it, you are required to supplement information provided on your application form with additional facts about you as a person which will help the assessment/admission procedure.

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