Types of Essays in College
Most universities make the admissions or application essay part of the college admissions process, but they differ on how much importance they place on this essay. Whatever this difference, all admissions essays have the same goal which is to provide more information about the student than college application forms, SAT scores, GPAs, and academic awards generally provide. Thus, the admissions essay is an opportunity to let the college admissions officers learn more about who you are – your personality and character, what motivates and influences you, and what interests you. This is where you make the admissions officers like you.
Like any essay, an admissions essay includes an introduction, body, and conclusion. In a well-written admissions essay, the introduction should be an attention-grabber. In fact, many admissions officers suggest that this is the most important part of your essay because they generally spend no more than two minutes reading each potential student’s essay. This means that you want to grab the reader’s attention right away. The body of the essay should clearly relate back to the theme of the introduction, but it should do so in a way that imparts meaningful and powerful ideas to the reader. The conclusion is where you pull your ideas together and where you will once again impress upon the reader why you should be admitted to the university.
Remember, you must be patient while writing your essay and be prepared to write several drafts and make several attempts. Most importantly, remember to proofread and, if possible, get someone else to read your essay too. An objective opinion is always very helpful.
An analytical essay examines and investigates an object such as a film, literary work, or piece of art, by breaking it down into several areas of discussion and analyzing each area thoroughly. The analytical essay is based on a central theme or idea that is supported by examples, quotes, and paraphrases and the connection between the evidence presented and the central idea of the essay must always be clear to the reader. The introduction of the analytical essay is where the writer explains the topic of the paper and presents the thesis statement. The body of the paper must argue the points made in the introduction and each paragraph in the body should include a topic sentence and supporting points. The conclusion summarizes and emphasizes the main ideas of the paper.
The argumentative essay and the persuasive essay, although similar, do differ in some very important ways. While an argumentative essay is an attempt by the author, through the use of sound reasoning and solid evidence (backed up with strong examples, quotes from experts and logical reasoning), to convince the reader that the argument presented in the paper is valid, the persuasive essay is instead an attempt to convince the reader that the position presented is correct. The argumentative essay presents both sides of the issue and uses this information to both enforce the position of the essay and repudiate the opposing view. The persuasive essay, in contrast, while it acknowledges the opposing view, only presents one side of the issue.
The standard format for an argumentative essay is as follows:
- Opposing Argument
Book reports, as you most likely have already experienced, are a common part of the educational experience. The book report, which can be in the form of a plot summary, character analysis, or theme analysis, is where you present your opinion about certain aspects of a book that you have read. These aspects typically include the author’s style, use of symbolism or dialogue. Whatever form a book report takes, it should always include the following:
The standard format for an argumentative essay is as follows:
- The author and title of the book.
- The book’s genre.
- The names and descriptions of the characters from the book that you plan to discuss.
- Quotations and examples from the book that support your opinion.
The case study is just one of several ways of doing a social science research. Essentially, it is a research strategy whereby the author of the case study collects, presents, and analyzes detailed information about a subject. The case study can have a social, psychological, or medical point of view and can focus on an individual or a social group. It requires extensive research and often relies on information provided by the subject of the study. Rather than generalized truths, the conclusions that are drawn in case studies are specific to the particular participant or group of the case study and greater emphasis is placed on exploration and description rather than cause and effect relationships.
The case study follows a straightforward format with an introduction, a presentation of the problems, and an analysis and discussion. The introduction is where the reader is told about the important characteristics of the study and where an overview of the analyses performed and the analysis tools used is presented. The problems are each discussed separately and sub-problems of each problem are typically discussed as well. The analysis and discussion sections report the findings of the analyses and the conclusions that can be reached from the research.
One of the most common types of essays you will be asked to write during your career as a student is the comparison paper. In this type of essay, the writer discusses how certain things, ideas, or themes (usually two) are similar to, as well as different from one another. There are two basic formats for the comparison essay. Both formats, of course, begin with an introduction where the thesis statement is presented and end with conclusions that reaffirm the thesis. Their differences are in the structure of the body of the essay. These are outlined below:
Topic 1 – only the first topic of the comparison is discussed (may contain more than one paragraph).
Topic 2 – now the second of the two topics is discussed (also may contain more than one paragraph).
Topics 1 and 2 – both topics are now discussed and analyzed together (now that they’ve already been discussed separately).
Similarities – discuss all similarities between the two topics (usually several paragraphs are required).
Differences – discuss all differences between the two topics (also usually requires several paragraphs).
Creative Writing Paper
The creative writing paper is where the writer gets to express his/her thoughts and feelings in an original, imaginative way. The emphasis in this form of writing is on the expression of ideas and feelings rather than on facts and hard data. A creative writing paper, like all papers, is a process and, as such, should be structured to include an introduction, where you introduce your topic; a body, which includes paragraphs that tie into and support your topic; and a conclusion, which summarizes the main topics and points you made in your paper.
Critical essays, which are regularly assigned in English courses, are essays that explain and analyze a literary piece of work. They can either be positive or negative, but, either way, the purpose of the critical essay is to evaluate. The introduction in a critical essay should discuss the main points of the text you are writing about and provide an analysis of the work’s meaning. This is also where you will present your thesis statement, which focuses on your opinion of the ideas in the text. The body of your essay should be made up of supporting paragraphs that help prove your thesis. Each paragraph should provide concrete evidence (examples, quotations, paraphrases) as well as objective analysis. The conclusion is where you reassert and reaffirm your opinion of the text. At this point, there should be no doubt in the reader’s mind what your point of view is on the text.
A dissertation is usually a requirement for an advanced academic degree, although the level of the degree differs in different countries. In the US, for example, the dissertation is a requirement to obtaining a doctoral degree and typically is expected to make a new contribution to a field of study. In contrast, in the UK and other Western European countries, as well as Australia and New Zealand, a dissertation implies a work at the master’s level and represents a culmination of all one’s academic work at that level.
In the US, a dissertation consists of the title, acknowledgements, a table of contents, an introduction, a literature review, a discussion of the materials and methods used, results and findings, a conclusion, and suggestions for further research. This paper requires a great deal of research, original thinking, and a skilled critical analysis. Usually four or five years of work beyond the bachelor’s degree are required to complete a dissertation.
Expository essays explain or explore other people’s views, a body of knowledge, ideas, or information about a situation or event. They can explain how to do something, describe a process, analyze an event or literary work, or describe a historical event. Most importantly, expository essays rely on fact, rather than opinion, to discuss the topic. They are not meant to argue, or critique or develop the topic. Rather, they analyze and explain it. The structure of the expository essay is the same basic structure of any essay with an introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction should include a thesis statement that is defined and narrow enough to be supported by the facts presented in the essay and each of the body paragraphs should include a controlling topic sentence and subsequent sentences that relate back to the topic sentence factually. The conclusion should briefly restate the essay’s thesis and the supporting ideas mentioned throughout the paper. New ideas should not be introduced in the conclusion of an expository essay.
The function of a narrative essay is twofold: First, like its name implies, it tells (narrates) a story – one that is usually based on the writer’s personal experience, observations, or memories. Second, it uses the story it narrates to make a point. Typically, the narrative essay is written in the first person and uses a more relaxed and informal writing style than that used in other types of essays. The key to a well-written narrative essay lies in effective use of verbs and ample use of sensory details and personal observations.
The introduction of a narrative essay should tell the reader what the essay is about and it should make it immediately apparent that the essay is in narrative form. The body usually consists of two to three paragraphs and is where the ideas, opinions, and thoughts of the writer are narrated to the reader. The point of the story is made in the conclusion, with the author reflecting on the meaning and significance of the experience described in the paper.
The purpose of a persuasive essay is to convince your readers that your position or opinion about a particular subject is the correct one. In short, you are trying to convince the reader to agree with your point of view. Unlike the argumentative essay, where both sides of an issue are presented and discussed, the persuasive essay only discusses one point of view. The persuasive essay uses the basic essay format:
Introduction: The introduction should include a thesis statement that clearly identifies the writer’s position on the issue. This is also where the writer states the main reasons for the position taken or the main points that will be discussed in the paper.
Body: The body of the paper should consist of at least three paragraphs. The topic sentence of each paragraph is derived from the reasons or points given in the introductory paragraph. Each point must be supported with examples, facts, quotations from experts, statistics, etc.
Conclusion: In the conclusion, you reiterate your position and summarize the arguments presented in the paper that support that position. New ideas or arguments should not be introduced in the conclusion.
While a large part of writing a research paper does involve reading, researching, and gathering information from experts and literature, the research paper is not simply a summary of your findings. Rather, in a research paper, you must also demonstrate that you understand the paper’s topic by interpreting, evaluating, or analyzing the information you have gathered. In essence, a research paper presents a synthesis of all the information you have gathered and documented, and your thoughts and ideas on this information.
The format for a research paper is as follows:
Abstract: Summarize your study and explain its purpose.
Introduction: Describe the method used to identify, locate, and select sources, as well as the procedure you will use to analyze the sources and the criteria for evaluating the information reported.
Materials and Methodology: Summarize and present your findings in a clear and concise style, using tables, graphs, citations, etc.
Analysis and Discussion: Summarize your study and explain its purpose.
Conclusions and Recommendations: Identify and synthesize your findings, answer your research questions, and provide recommendations for future research.
The function of the research proposal is to convince an academic body that you have a research project that is worthwhile and a plan and the competence needed to complete it. Generally, a research proposal should state what you plan to accomplish in the proposed research project, how you are going to do it, and why.
The format for a research proposal is as follows:
Introduction: Explain the issue that is to be examined in the research and why it is important.
Literature Review Background: Describe and summarize what is already known about the topic and explain why the existing body of knowledge is not sufficient.
Rationale: Point out what questions have not yet been answered by the available literature and what question(s) your research will address. Show how they relate back to the main issues raised in the introduction.
Materials and Methodology: Describe the method used to identify, locate, and select sources, as well as the procedure you will use to analyze the sources and the criteria for evaluating the information reported.
Method and Design: Explain how you plan to collect data for your research project and why you will use this method of data collection.
Significance and Conclusion: Explain how your research would benefit the field of study and how it would contribute to the existing body of knowledge.
The term paper, like the research paper, should include an introduction where you clearly state your thesis and the purpose of your research, as well as how you plan to approach your topic. A term paper must also present arguments in the body of the paper that support the thesis and provide a conclusion that restates or rewords the thesis. The purpose of the term paper is to demonstrate the student’s synthesis of the material studied in a course. Term papers are usually due at the end of the semester.
The thesis is a formal paper and is the culmination of the author’s research and findings in a particular area of study. It is usually submitted as part of the final requirement toward a graduate degree. In the US and Canada, the thesis usually refers to papers presented as the final requirement for a masters degree. In contrast, in the UK it is usually presented as part of the requirement for a PhD.
Like the dissertation, the thesis requires a title page, an abstract, a table of contents, an introduction, a description of the material and methods used, a section on the results findings, a discussion analysis, and a conclusion.