There are many types of essays that you might be asked to write as you progress through the upper-level high school and university classes. Some of these include narrative essays, persuasive essays, and expository essays. Some require significant research, and others need you to draw on your own set of experiences to craft something compelling. One of the most common types of essays that you will be required to write is the persuasive essay, and most will need some form of research. If you're unsure of where to start for your upcoming assignment, here is a general guide of what most teachers will be looking for in a well-written essay.


Most, if not all, essays require research. Some require library research into what experts on your topic have written, some need you to speak to experts in the field, and some require you to interview and survey students and faculty. Regardless of the type of research that you are required to do, this is the first step to writing your essay.

How to Structure an Essay

The first paragraph or introduction of an essay should be closely tied to the theme or topic of the essay. However, the biggest goal is to draw the reader in and make readers curious. The length of the first section can vary depending on the length of the entire essay and the type of essay, but when you reach the end of the intro, you should go directly into your thesis. This, again depending on the type of essay, is anything from a single sentence to a couple of paragraphs in length. Your thesis statement outlines your argument or purpose for writing the piece and should include a sneak-peek into how you plan to prove your point or the impact your paper will have in the grander discussion.

Depending on the type of essay being written, the body paragraphs should give evidence that supports your thesis statement. One mistake that many beginning essay writers make is including information that is interesting but irrelevant to the main argument, but a well-written essay is concise and on topic. Finally, you will make a conclusion. Many essay types require a restating of your thesis and how you succeed in following through on the claims you made there. This is to help the reader to remember all that was said so they can leave having a clear image of what you're essay was about.

Editing and Proofreading

Don't underestimate the importance of this step. Go through each of your supporting paragraphs and make sure that they all connect to your thesis statement. Also, double check for any errors in grammar, punctuation, and citation. Don't be afraid to rearrange paragraphs or replace entire sections if necessary. Your teacher will notice the difference if you take the time and effort to edit for organization and flow. Sometimes getting a second pair of eyes from a peer or tutor would best help you get the most out of your written work. Your eyes could have become accustomed to the same mistakes, and having a knowledgeable friend or tutor will help you to catch the mistakes you missed is great insurance.

Writing an essay isn't always easy. In fact, some people spend years perfecting their skills until they can inform and persuade readers with grace and style. But, with effort, you'll see the quality of your writing improve, and your teachers will notice your improvement over the course of the term.