There are various types of essay format that students need to practice to cover all of the possibilities that could come up in the exam. To get a rounded view of what an essay is, I will start off by looking at generic essay structures and then define each different type of essay. To see example essays, take a look at B2 and C1
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When writing essays, you should think of the writing as a checklist:
- Is it in the correct format and organisation?
- Have you answered the question?
- Is it easy to read?
- Have you used complex grammar forms?
- Are there few errors? (spelling, grammar, vocabulary)
You MUST complete all of these points to be able to pass the writing part of an exam.
Essays in general are very similar; the differences being the way you put forward your ideas (if you include personal opinions or not etc.) Here is a simple plan for a generic essay:
Introduce the topic and say what you are going to talk about and capture the interest of the reader. You must present your argument with a question, fact, opinion or statistic.
- 1st paragraph
The first point from the notes (you can mix points if they are related
- 2nd paragraph
The 2nd point from the notes, you need to link it to the first
- (3rd paragraph)
The final point to help balance the argument
A summary of what you have said in the main paragraphs and make your main point. Make this concise and informative.
The different types of essay format
Descriptive essays are aimed at creating a vivid experience for the reader. Often, a descriptive essay will focus on describing one of the following:
- a place
- a memory
- an experience
- an object
- A person
To write a great descriptive essay candidates need to use a wide range of descriptive vocabulary such as adjectives and adverbs. A great way is to make a short plan:
- What do you want to describe?
- What details do you need to include?
- Have you used enough descriptive language?
- Have you separated your points into clear paragraphs?
- Is your essay organized in a logical way?
Discursive essays are like a debate. The writer needs to present different points of view about a theme or topic. Candidates need to use language that shows agreement and disagreement. Equal measure should be given to both positive and negative points. They must also justify their points of view. A typical example of this are advantages/disadvantages essays.
Candidates must plan and structure their essay very carefully:
- Introduction: Present the topic and sets the tone for the essay. You normally use a fact, statistic, opinion or question to do this.
- First paragraph: Gives the main argument supporting the topic. You need to give a balanced view of the point and state why it is the most important.
- Second paragraph: Gives another argument that supports the topic, link it to the main point
- IF NECESSARY (Third paragraph: Gives an argument against the topic)
- IF NECESSARY (Fourth paragraph: Gives an argument against the topic)
- Conclusion: Summarises your point of view. And gives the reader the impression that they have learned something.
IF IT IS AN ADVANTAGES/DISADVANTAGES ESSAY YOU CAN ORGANIZE IT LIKE THIS:
Persuasive essays. In this type of essay the candidate needs to write about their point of view and try to make the audience adopt it. The most important thing is how the candidate presents their ideas, rationalize their points and present their opinion. Remember, the main goal of this type of essay is to persuade and convince the reader. You must research the point well to justify your argument well.
Argumentative essay. Candidates need to write an organised essay that shows agreeing and disagreeing. They must also justify their arguments. This type of essay is very similar to a persuasive essay, the only difference being that you are trying to put emphasis on your own opinion. The most important thing is to argue your point of view and justify it.
Narrative essays offer the writer the chance to write the essay as if it were a story. The writer can write about personal experiences and even include dialogue. To write a great narrative essay candidates must use the conventions of a good story and try to include:
- Plot (argument)
- Characters (who)
- Setting (where)
- Climax (what)
- Ending (conclusion)
In this type of essay the candidate needs to analyze, examen and interpret something. The analysis of something is not about describing it, what they need to do is show the readers what they want them to see. They need to break down the point and analyse it in an organized and logical fashion. To write an effective essay of this type, you must include various points:
- An introduction to present the argument.
- You must analyse your argument with 3-4 different points. These points should be separated into paragraphs, but you can include links.
- A personal response. You need to include your own opinion.
- A conclusion. The relation between the argument and the analysis.
Expository essays are the writers explanation of a theme or topic. The aim of this type of essay is to give your personal response to a topic. To write a great essay of this type, you must complete a few specific things:
- Start with a key statement or question. Your essay needs to answer this question.
- Provide evidence to support and justify your argument.
- Be concise. The essay needs to be to the point and avoid repetition.
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