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Essay for a Test
 

 

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Establish Your Topic

1  The task may contain certain key words that will suggest the content and structure of your essay. Also, you may be asked to write a certain kind of essay:

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Narrative

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Compare and Contrast

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Argument

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Cause-Effect

2  Give yourself plenty of time to think about what you would like to write about. Trying to answer questions you have about a particular subject may lead you to a good idea.

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What subject are you interested in?

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What interests you most about a particular subject?

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Is there anything you wonder about or are puzzled about with regard to that subject?

3  Be sure your topic is narrow enough so that you can write about it in detail in the number of pages that you are allowed. For example, say you are asked to write a one-page essay about someone in your family. Since you only have a limited number of pages, you may want to focus on one particular characteristic of that person, or one particular incident from that person's life, rather than trying to write about that person's entire life. Having a narrow focus will help you write a more interesting paper.

Too general: My sister.

Revised: My sister is my best friend.

Similarly, you may be asked to write a five-page paper about volcanoes. Again, since you only have a limited number of pages, you may choose to focus on one particular volcano or one particular eruption, rather than trying to talk about volcanoes in general.

 Too general: Volcanoes of the world.

 Revised: The eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in June 1991.

4  One method for narrowing down your topic is called brainstorming. This is a useful way to let ideas you did not know you had come to the surface.

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Sit down with a pencil and paper, or at your computer, and write whatever comes into your head about your topic, no matter how confused or disorganized.

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Keep writing for a short but specific amount of time, say 3–5 minutes. Do not stop to change what you have written or to correct spelling or grammar errors.

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After a few minutes, read through what you have written. You will probably throw out most of it, but something you wrote may give you an idea you can develop.

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Do some more brainstorming and see what else you can come up with.

Organize Your Ideas

Develop an outline to organize your ideas. An outline shows your main ideas and the order in which you are going to write about them.

  • Write down all the main ideas.

  • List the subordinate ideas below the main ideas.

  • Avoid any repetition of ideas.

     Writing the essay

    1  Include:

  • Introduction

  • Body

  • Conclusion

    2  The introduction begins with a general statement about the topic and ends with a more specific statement of the main idea of your paper. The purpose of the introduction is to:

  • let the reader know what the topic is.

  • inform the reader of your point of view.

  • arouse the reader's curiosity so that he or she will want to read the essay.

    3  The body of the paper follows the introduction. It consists of a number of paragraphs in which you develop your ideas in detail.

  • Limit each paragraph to one main idea.

  • Prove your points continually by using specific examples and/or quotations.

  • Use transition words to ensure a smooth flow of ideas from paragraph to paragraph.

    4  The conclusion is the last paragraph of the paper. Its purpose is to:

  • summarize your main points, (leaving out specific examples).

  • restate the main idea of the paper.

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    Last modified: 02-11-2013