How to Write an Essay? A Step by Step Guide for Beginners

Every day, college students google how to write an essay. Writing an essay may appear complex and difficult to handle, but it always follows strict and logical rules. It does not matter whether the assigned essay writing task presupposes a simple comparative essay or a complicated master’s thesis since the key principles will be the same. Essay writing will not be a nightmare once students are familiar with the entire essay writing process, i.e., develop a good topic and conduct relevant research.

Every essay has multiple essential components that must be located in a strict order to ensure the main message’s effectiveness and central idea. That is why one must dedicate enough time to determine the central claim to be developed before starting to research and write. Otherwise, that would be wasting time and effort. It does not matter whether the essay topic is determined by an instructor or a student who may enjoy the opportunity to develop one’s own topic. The only crucial requirement is to have one specific central idea that can be developed and defended in the paper following the rules discussed below. Only the unity of the precise topic, finding good sources, and putting everything in order will result in an A-level essay.

How to write an essay

Getting Acquainted with Essay Writing

Reread the guidelines several times before opening your word processor and typing your thoughts. Do not fall into the same trap that has already failed many other students. Professors often provide lengthy and tricky instructions; thus, attentive reading and highlighting all crucial requirements will help you to save nerves and avoid low grades. Always make sure you understand what is expected. Some of the common mistakes in essay writing are the following:

Argumentative vs. Descriptive Essay

It is crucial to realize the differences between these types of essays, as argumentative ones presuppose the development of a strong claim and your own position regarding a certain issue. In contrast, descriptive essays obviously describe something without any arguments and counterarguments.

Summary vs. Literature Review

While the former presupposes a short but detailed retelling of the main points of one source, for example, as in an article review, the latter implies the synthesis of ideas taken from various sources regarding one specific idea. A literature review also requires the central claim to unite the entire discussion, while students often complete summaries of all sources relevant to the topic one by one. This is completely wrong; that is why it is obligatory to learn more about the type of the requested essay before starting writing.

How to Plan Your Essay?

The first step in developing the ideal essay is narrowing down the general topic since one could not cover all the peculiarities of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and its impact on the development of modern fantasy literature in just one essay. However, one specific aspect of this broad topic might be properly researched and defended; for instance, think about the role of friendship in this saga and what it represents. This topic is more precise and serves as the basis for future steps:

Develop a Thesis Statement

Basically, this is the point that you claim to be true and will develop throughout the entire paper. Your position must be explicit and very focused, include your key points, and refute possible counterarguments. Treat it as the precise roadmap to introduce the essay to a reader, thus including it at the end of the introduction part.

Develop Key Arguments and an Outline

Once you know the main arguable claim, you may outline all included arguments to make the research easier. The key secret of how to write an essay with the ideal structure is to dedicate a separate paragraph to each main point and counterargument mentioned in your thesis statement. Writing down the outline with all key components of the planned argument will help you visualize the structure of the whole essay.

How to do research for an essay

How to Do Research for an Essay?

No claim is valuable if credible facts and data do not support it. That is why it is crucial to know what you will write about before starting research so that attention will be dedicated to sources relevant to your topic. Be prepared to change the preliminary outline as additional ideas may emerge during the research. At the same time, don’t be afraid of controversial topics, and always try to find sources that will prove your position and reasonably refute the opponents’ opinions.

It is also extremely important to use only credible and scholarly sources to ensure the validity of supporting evidence. Generally, acceptable good sources for academic essays include the following categories:

  • Articles in scholarly journals, preferably published within the last five or seven years. Such articles are often peer-reviewed, which makes them highly credible and important sources.
  • Non-fiction and scientific books are published by reputable organizations, such as a university press.
  • Websites of educational institutions or governmental organizations located on .gov, .org, and .edu domains.
  • Reputable newspapers’ or specific companies’ websites are usually on commercial websites with .com domains. These sources are useful for obtaining current news or data.

The essay’s guidelines usually specify the number of required and obligatory sources. In case there are no specific instructions, just make sure each of the main arguments is supported by at least one proper source.

One important rule while conducting research is to take notes. When you read sources, you might find good quotes, facts, or data that might be useful for your essay. However, it will be hard to find them again when needed; thus, copy those useful parts, including original authors and page numbers. You will not use all of them, but the essential pieces of evidence will be gathered in one place to make the actual writing process much easier.

How to write a good essay

How to Write a Good Essay?

When the main ideas are developed and all supporting facts are found, the process of writing the essay itself should be less stressful. Consider the experience of other academic writers who have managed to complete thousands of successful tasks already. writes essays following strict rules of academic structure and always checks whether these elements are present – and a good grade is guaranteed whether you seek their assistance or just follow the same rules yourself while writing:


Try to grab the attention of your audience from the very beginning. Use any effective hook that might help to achieve this aim, such as an interesting quote or striking fact. Then, present a general background of the topic to establish the context and narrow it down to the specific problem under study in a few sentences. End the introduction with the thesis statement you developed and polished earlier to introduce your position and the main points to be discussed.

Body Paragraphs

Each paragraph should be dedicated to a certain aspect of the thesis statement, and all of these elements must be evidently connected. For example, some paragraphs in an argumentative essay will discuss the benefits of a certain phenomenon, while others will include its drawbacks and counterarguments.

Start each paragraph with a topic sentence that introduces its content and links it back to the thesis statement. Provide some explanations or restatements if needed. Include supporting examples from previously gathered materials, as it is a must. A good idea is to utilize various techniques, including someone else’s ideas in your essay, such as summary, paraphrasing, and direct quoting. After that, proceed to the analysis and your explanations regarding how the provided quote supports your main idea. Finally, wrap up the paragraph with the concluding sentence that summarizes the discussed subpoint and transitions to the next one. Repeat the same steps in the next body paragraph.


While this part must not present any new information, it is no less important than the other two elements of the essay’s structure. Firstly, it should remind the audience of the thesis statement by including its paraphrased and restated version. Secondly, the conclusion briefly synthesizes all the main points discussed in the body part. Finally, it includes the final statement, which is the essence of the entire essay. The conclusion often needs an explicit call to action, for example, when you argue for a specific policy’s development.

How to finalize your essay

How to Finalize Your Essay?

Adding the full stop after the conclusion’s last word does not mean the process is over. In fact, the proper finalizing stage may take as much time as the processes of researching and writing together.

Grammar and Proofreading

Leave the essay for some time and reread it later. This approach will ensure a fresh perspective, as reading the essay when you are already tired of writing will prevent you from detecting mistakes. While reading the completed work, pay attention to grammar and proofreading, the proper style of writing, and logical structure. Learn the most common comma mistakes in writing.

Crosscheck the Submission Guidelines

Review the instructions and make sure that nothing is omitted. Checking guidelines one more time before submission may be extremely helpful, as there were cases when students misunderstood tasks and had to re-do their essays from scratch. While this situation is unpleasant, it is still better than receiving a failing grade due to the lack of attention.

Essay Formatting Styles

Make sure you are consistent with formatting throughout the entire essay. Do not mix different essay formatting styles. Instructions usually specify the required essay formatting style; some of the most popular ones are APA, MLA, and Chicago/Turabian. You have already included appropriate bibliographical information for all used quotes and data. Now, just make sure the paper possesses a proper general layout, in-text citations formatted similarly, and an appropriate References or Works Cited page. Guides for general requirements and samples of MLA style and many other ones can be found in the free access.

Plagiarism Checker

The Internet provides multiple opportunities for proper research, final proofreading, and plagiarism prevention. Do not hesitate to use any available plagiarism or essay checker and detect potential issues before submitting the final variant. It will not take much time, but the provided benefits are worth these efforts.

Additional Tips to Consider

1. The essay should show who you truly are

You should write about who you really are. That includes your qualities, interests, preferences, and what you are capable of. In your college essay, you have to prove that you are qualified enough to manage the consistency of the courses. You need to show whether you are meticulous enough to match up to the college’s standard and contribute efficiently. The focus point of your essay has to be impressive and endearing.

2. The essay should be informative

You should draft your essay in such a way that it provides a lot of information about you.  Details regarding where you stay, how many family members you have, the classes or courses you have taken up so far, all your grades and scores, your awards and achievements, what kind of activities you have participated in, and how much time you have devoted to them. Recommendations from your past teachers are quite effective. To make it more interesting, you can mention something new or unique that you have done, for example, if you have raised funds for a social cause or participated in any rally, etc. If you are finding it hard to compose your college essay, you can get professional assistance in writing engaging essays.

3. The essay should be expressive

You can write about how or why you cared about what you did when you were in high school. It is not sufficient to simply mention the activities that you have participated in so far. You must also share why you did those things, what made you want to take part in it, and what you learned from it. Being expressive will make your essay believable and appealing.

4. The essay should not be vague or cliché

You must ensure that your essay does not become a general or cliché one.  It is advisable that you do not get carried away by the desire to impress colleges by using big words. If you share a life experience, you must talk about a few details from that specific experience. This will help build a much richer and more honest story.

5. The essay should portray your humor and individuality

Self-awareness and humor are quite vital when writing an essay for your college admission. In order to impress the college authorities, students tend to come up with the same thing. So, you must describe your activities and experiences in such a way that it portrays how you learned to work hard by overcoming your fears and believing in yourself. Your dedication will show your individuality.

Summing up

One must remember that the essay writing process requires substantial time for all stages—the night before a submission is definitely the worst time to start writing. Completing an essay in a hurry will undermine the research quality, the argument’s development, and the writing’s quality. That is why it is always recommended to start writing tasks far in advance to cope with all obstacles one by one without falling into panic and despair.

A good essay usually requires reviewing multiple resources to find good ideas and facts to support the main claim. Academic sources are usually written using sophisticated language, which requires more effort to grasp the meaning. That is why time matters, especially in the case of difficult or controversial topics when it is hard even to find relevant resources. Always remember that procrastination is the student’s worst enemy.

Finally, knowing all the stages and expected deliverables in essay writing benefits students. They can now write the perfect assignments themselves and observe all the required elements included in the essays completed by other expert writers. In any case, the learning process is advancing, contributing to overall students’ success.

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