Types of Essays: End the Confusion
Effectively writing different types of essays has become critical to academic success. Essay writing is a common school assignment, a part of standardized tests, and a requirement on college applications. Often on tests, choosing the correct type of essay to write in response to a writing prompt is key to getting the question right. Clearly, students can’t afford to remain confused about types of essays.
There are over a dozen types of essays, so it’s easy to get confused. However, rest assured, the number is actually more manageable. Essentially there are four major types of essays, with the variations making up the remainder.
Four Major Types of Essays
Distinguishing between types of essays is simply a matter of determining the writer’s goal. Does the writer want to tell about a personal experience, describe something, explain an issue, or convince the reader to accept a certain viewpoint? The four major types of essays address these purposes:
1. Narrative Essays: Telling a Story
In a narrative essay, the writer tells a story about a real-life experience. While telling a story may sound easy to do, the narrative essay challenges students to think and write about themselves. When writing a narrative essay, writers should try to involve the reader by making the story as vivid as possible. The fact that narrative essays are usually written in the first person helps engage the reader. “I” sentences give readers a feeling of being part of the story. A well-crafted narrative essay will also build towards drawing a conclusion or making a personal statement.
2. Descriptive Essays: Painting a Picture
A cousin of the narrative essay, a descriptive essay paints a picture with words. A writer might describe a person, place, object, or even memory of special significance. However, this type of essay is not description for description’s sake. The descriptive essay strives to communicate a deeper meaning through the description. In a descriptive essay, the writer should show, not tell, through the use of colorful words and sensory details. The best descriptive essays appeal to the reader’s emotions, with a result that is highly evocative.
3. Expository Essays: Just the Facts
The expository essay is an informative piece of writing that presents a balanced analysis of a topic. In an expository essay, the writer explains or defines a topic, using facts, statistics, and examples. Expository writing encompasses a wide range of essay variations, such as the comparison and contrast essay, the cause and effect essay, and the “how to” or process essay. Because expository essays are based on facts and not personal feelings, writers don’t reveal their emotions or write in the first person.
4. Persuasive Essays: Convince Me
While like an expository essay in its presentation of facts, the goal of the persuasive essay is to convince the reader to accept the writer’s point of view or recommendation. The writer must build a case using facts and logic, as well as examples, expert opinion, and sound reasoning. The writer should present all sides of the argument, but must be able to communicate clearly and without equivocation why a certain position is correct.
Learn How to Write Different Types of Essays
Time4Writing essay writing courses offer a highly effective way to learn how to write the types of essays required for school, standardized tests, and college applications. These online writing classes for elementary, middle school, and high school students, break down the writing process into manageable chunks, easily digested by young writers. Students steadily build writing skills and confidence with each online writing course, guided by one-on-one instruction with a dedicated, certified teacher.
In the elementary years, young writers get an introduction to essay writing through two courses designed to bring excitement and enjoyment to the writing process. Narrative Writing and Informative Writing take young writers on an animal-filled adventure to beginning essay writing. Our middle school online writing courses, Welcome to the Essay and Advanced Essay, teach students the fundamentals of writing well-constructed essays. The high school online writing class, Exciting Essay Writing, focuses in depth on the essay writing process with preparation for college as the goal. The online writing classes for kids also cover how to interpret essay writing prompts in testing situations. Read what parents are saying about their children’s writing progress in Time4Writing’s online writing courses.
How should I go about choosing my topic?
Begin by reading the explanations below. Examples of each are provided below!
- Division Essay: find a topic that people might tend to underestimate or over-simplify. In other words, choose something that the average person might not know much about, and therefore can't really understand how complex or interesting that topic really is. Your job in the essay will be to break your topic down into meaningful and important categories.
- Classification Essay: think about the categories we place things in everyday and the characteristics of those categories. The topic you choose should allow you to argue that something has been misplaced.
How should I organize this essay?
As you write, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Your thesis statement and introduction will need to explain why these divisions/ classifications should matter to your reader.
- Your thesis statement and introduction MUST define or explain the category you plan to discuss (i.e. A sport is a competitive, physical activity therefore cheerleading should be considered a sport.)
- You should organize your body paragraphs so that each division or category has it's own paragraph or section. (i.e. cardio exercise is paragraph 1 and weightlifting is paragraph 2, etc.)
Division Essay Examples
If you want to lose weight, simply saying that you're going to "exercise" everyday may not be the most effective way to do so. Exercising is more complex than many people realize--attaining your goals will involve understanding how different types of exercise can help you achieve your goals.
Types of Exercise
- cardio: burns calories and strengthens your heart (running, using an elliptical or stair-stepping machine, etc.)
- weight lifting: tones muscles, increases physical strength, burns fat (using weights or weighted machines)
- recreational/sports: depending on the sport, can provide both cardio and toning benefits (cycling, tennis, kayaking)
We could also narrow this topic down a bit further and write about the important differences between different types of cycling.
Types of Cycling: stationary (exercise) biking, road biking, mountain biking, recreational biking
Classification Essay Examples
To write this type of essay, we'll need to think about things that should or should not be placed in a particular category.Example: Batman (that's our topic!) is not a superhero (category people place him in), but is simply a local vigilante (category he belongs in).
Ask yourself: Why do I think that...?
- Does not possess super powers (powers most humans don't possess).
- Chooses to be a hero, rather than being "chosen" by others/other forces.
Example: Cheerleading (That's our topic!) should be considered a sport (It belongs in the category, "sports").
Ask yourself: Why do I think that...?
- cheerleaders go to "practice" and must be in good physical shape
- cheerleaders work together toward a common goal
- cheerleaders must "try out" for their squad and often compete against other squads