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What is an essay?

An essay is an extended piece of academic writing written in response to a question or questions. It is one of the most common academic writing tasks students are asked to prepare.

An essay is written in paragraphs and has a basic structure which includes an introduction, body, conclusion and a list of references.

See block structure below:

Introduction

  • An introduction will do most, if not all of the following:
    • Introduce the topic
    • Comment briefly on its importance
    • State the essay’s main argument or main issues to be discussed (sometimes referred to as a thesis statement)
    • States how you intend to answer the question
  • It is usually 1-2 paragraphs long

The body

  • Is made up of paragraphs
  • Each paragraph focuses on one main point and will explain, illustrate, give reasons or examples
  • Includes reference to evidence/research to support your argument
  • Includes linking words[Links to additional page] within paragraphs and between paragraphs

Paragraph 1

  • Develops your first main point
  • Includes a topic sentence which outlines the main idea at the start of the paragraph
  • The paragraph may explain, narrate, describe, give examples, evidence, reasons or results
  • The sentences in a paragraph must follow a logical order of development
  • Includes linking words [Links to additional page] to connect ideas

Paragraph 2

  • Develops your second main point
  • Includes a topic sentence which outlines the main idea at the start of the paragraph
  • The paragraph may explain, narrate, describe, give examples, evidence, reasons or results
  • The sentences in a paragraph must follow a logical order of development
  • Includes linking words [Links to additional page] to connect ideas

Paragraph 3

  • Develops your third main point
  • Includes a topic sentence which outlines the main idea at the start of the paragraph
  • The paragraph may explain, narrate, describe, give examples, evidence, reasons or results
  • The sentences in a paragraph must follow a logical order of development
  • Includes linking words [Links to additional page] to connect ideas

The conclusion

  • Sums up the essay
  • Restates the main argument
  • May outline future directions or further research needed
  • Does not include new ideas
  • Uses words like: in conclusion, in summary, finally, to sum up, to conclude

References

  • List of all the resources you have included in the essay
  • Refer to correct style of referencing required
  • The majority of students at Unitec are required to follow the APA style
  • Some students will follow alternative referencing systems such as Chicago or MLA [all linked to the library’s pages]
  • If you are unsure check with your lecturer

A Sample Essay

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