As a college student, I majored in journalism. That means I have a lot of experience in all types of writing. In order to major in a communications-related field, students must take a rigorous schedule of English courses, which means a whole lot of essay writing.
I quickly adapted a method of essay writing, which I believe simplifies and streamlines the process.
What’s the trick? Instead of sitting down and writing an essay, from start to finish, as many students do, it’s much easy (and way less time consuming) to do all of your research beforehand, placing each item into a basic outline.
From there, the outline contains all of the information you need to create your essay and, the essay essentially writes itself.
The only work left will be filler writing to explain your thought processes.
Here’s how you can format your essay outline (Note: the example below has three paragraphs, but additional paragraphs can be added as necessary.):
I. Introduction paragraph:
a. What you’d like to discuss within your introduction paragraph
b. Quotes or references, if any
II. Thesis statement: What’s the main point of your essay? Decide what you want to convey in your essay and put it into words. Your entire essay will revolve around this point, so make sure you’re clear and concise in your phrasing. (This is usually placed near the end of your introduction paragraph.)
III. First paragraph topic that supports your thesis
a. List supporting quotes/references: Find quotes from reputable sources that support what you’ve stated within your thesis and that relate to your first paragraph topic.
IV. Second paragraph topic that supports your thesis
a. List supporting quotes/references: Find quotes from reputable sources that support what you’ve stated within your thesis and that relate to your second paragraph topic.
V. Third paragraph topic that supports your thesis
a. List supporting quotes/references: Find quotes from reputable sources that support what you’ve stated within your thesis and that relate to your third paragraph topic.
VI. Conclusion paragraph: Note what you’d like to say within your conclusion paragraph. Your conclusion paragraph should detail how you are going to unite the topics from your aforementioned topics and weave them together into one solid point. Students commonly mistake a conclusion paragraph as a summary paragraph when, in fact, it’s really an opportunity to drive home your argument. Your conclusion should round out your essay and unite your paragraphs together, solidifying your thesis.
a. Additional quotes or references, if any
VII. List all citations: As you find each quote or reference to include within your essay, make sure to cite each reference, so you won’t have to scramble at the end to go back to your sources to see where you found each quotation. List each citation on your outline so it’s already finished before you even complete your essay. That way, it’s one less thing to worry about.
By following this outline format, the work of your essay is already clearly mapped out ahead of time. You already know what you want to say and how you’re going to say it and you have all of the support to back up each theory.
This method takes the stress out of essay writing because it eliminates guesswork; struggling for the right idea or argument and helps you ensure your thesis is strong. If you’re not able to easily fill out the outline, your thesis isn’t strong or clear enough and your essay topic will likely not be a winner as a result.
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Everyone has the ability to write the perfect essay.
The ideas are inside your child’s or student’s brain just waiting to be put on paper in a form that everyone can read.
The following is an excerpt from the book Instant Learning for Amazing Grades.
Schools and home-schools require essay writing, so do colleges and college entrance exams, so, why not learn a few simple tips to make essay writing easy? Below is a template, followed by 9 additional easy steps on how to write the perfect essay every time.
Template for Excellent Essays
1. Write down the topic you are writing about – simple, straightforward
Example: Amazing Grades
2. Brainstorm ideas that someone interested in your topic would also be interested in. This helps you think of related ideas.
Example: Motivating yourself instantly
Cut learning time in half; higher grades in 14 days
High Performance Memory Strategies
3. Select a title for your essay – like, Tips for x, or Top 10 Things You Must Do If You Want Y, etc.
Example: How to Create Higher Grades in 14 Days Using Your Child’s Personal Learning Style
4. Pretend your reader knows absolutely nothing about your topic. What is the first sentence you would use to give them peak their interest? Perhaps it might be a question, or a simple statement.
Example: Would you like to have higher grades in 14 days?
5. Keeping in mind your title, explain why you are taking the position you take, or why you believe your title to be true. This is the part where you use as many facts to support your idea as possible. Write several sentences, using some of the brainstorms you had in step 2.
Example: Learning can be tough, but you don’t have to do it alone. Many learning experts say that learning is not about being smart – it’s about strategy. These experts show you how with xxx…
6. After you’ve written your supporting ideas and facts, go back and ask yourself if you would like to write a short introductory paragraph.
7. Then ask yourself if you would like to write a conclusion tying everything together.
8. Congratulate yourself – you’ve just written an excellent essay!
9 More Easy Steps to Perfect Essays Every Time
a. First, create a Picture Perfect Summary. Put your title/main idea in the center of the page, make a circle around it and write down all the ideas and key words about your topic that you can think of. Use one branch off the circle for each main idea. You’re brainstorming at this point so just write down any ideas that come into your mind. (That’s how I write magazine and news articles and books too)!
b. Look over your Summary of ideas and key words. Organize them into groups. Make sure that each group reflects the topic or question that you’re writing about.
c. Divide your groups into the three main parts of the essay – the beginning, middle and the end. Your beginning has to be snazzy to make your reader want to read more. The middle develops and supports your main topic. Back everything you say up with facts, quotations, evidence. The end will give a clever answer or summary to the original question or idea that you started with and tie up those loose ends.
d. Draft your essay – get on the computer and start in the middle. That’s how I wrote this book! Give each idea it’s own paragraph, don’t worry about style and spelling at this point. You can check this later. Your Picture Perfect Summary is your guide. Use all the ideas that you decided were important.
e. Now proceed to write the ending. Make sure it sums up your answer/summary to the main topic/question. Look back at the draft of the middle. Write down the 5 or 10 most important key words. Find the shortest way to link them together – this is called your ending.
7. Now, draft the beginning. It will be the overall – big picture of what you’re going to say. There’s an old saying from my college days English class: Tell em what you’re going to say, tell em, tell em what you said! This beginning is very important to set the stage – make sure it’s catchy and makes the reader interested in what you have to say.
8. Now, go to bed and get some rest. Give the ideas a chance to process in your brain. Tomorrow you’ll notice a few more points to talk about and think of additional ways to say things.
9. Author, Colin Rose, says, “EDIT – Excellent Draft, Inspirational Text”… read the whole essay aloud to yourself. Tape record it if you can. Does it sound logical and convincing? Your are on your way to understanding how to write the perfect essay.
Are your examples bringing your ideas to life? Check the beginning – is it awesome – does it make sense? Edit the beginning, middle and end – check spelling and grammar. Have someone else proofread it too. Now check the middle. Did everything you said relate to the main topic or question? Is it convincing? Go to your ending. Edit it – is it punchy? This is the place to really put on your thinking cap. Did you really convince your reader??
Polish up how the essay looks – Is it neat, organized, well written? Are you satisfied that it does the job you started out to do? Only you can be the judge of this. Your essay reflects how you think – do you like the way it came out? If so, turn it in and you now know how to write the perfect essay.
Pat Wyman is a best selling author, university instructor and founder of HowToLearn.com. One of the faster learning strategies she specializes in is how to write the perfect essay.
Posted by +Pat Wyman, author and founder of HowToLearn.com