How to Write an Effective Essay – 5 Quick Steps

Learning how to compose a proper essay is known as a ‘transferable skill’. This means that the skill involved in writing an essay can be transferred to other areas of your life. Essays teach you how to organize your thoughts, ideas and arguments. You might not wish to enter politics or run your own company now, but in the future, you might be. Learning how to organize your thoughts into a persuasive argument for a reader can go a long way in helping you organize your thoughts in a political debate or dealing with customers and clients.

Essay Topic and Type

If your instructor has given you a topic, then you can move on to step 2. However, if you must find one, then you’ll have to sit down and give it some thought. Select a topic that you are familiar with. This will make your writing process easier and more fruitful.

Type of Essay

Next, know the type of essay you are to write. By knowing the type of essay to write, you’ll already have a structure to follow. The types of essays are:

  • Narrative: Where the writer tells a story.
  • Descriptive: Where the writer describes a person, place, thing or event.
  • Expository: The writer presents an informative, fact-based piece.
  • Persuasive: The writer must convince the reader to accept their point of view.

Say you chose the topic of ‘dog’. If you wrote a narrative essay, you would write a story of a dog. A descriptive essay may be one where you describe the breed of the dog. An expository essay means you could give a fact-based essay on how to groom a dog. Finally, a persuasive essay could present your argument that dog fighting is wrong, and you proceed to convince the reader why. At this point, it would be a good idea to do a web search to find some top-notch essays. Study their structure and learn what it is about those essays that make them the best.

Organize Your Ideas

Now that you have your topic and type of essay decided upon, it’s time to get your ideas in order. Most people prefer to jot their ideas down in a simple outline. If writing an outline is not your thing, then you can try using one of the many free mind mapping programs online, such as free mind. Mind mapping programs allow you to layout a visual diagram of your essay. The purpose of doing the mind mapping or written outline is to help you visualize how your topic and supporting arguments connect. Those that do not connect with your topic should be removed.

Thesis Statement

This is the sentence by which your entire essay revolves around. A thesis sentence is not a question, but a statement. Your thesis statement will contain your topic and the argument you wish to make. For instance, in a persuasive thesis you would present your point of view and why your point of view is true:

Making smoothies is the best way to get your recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, as they are easy to make, delicious to drink, and contain fiber as well as nutrients.

In the above thesis statement, the opinion is stated: Making smoothies is the best way to get your recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. Next, the statement is backed up with three supporting points. If you need a little help, there are thesis generators available online, which can give you a good idea of where to begin.

Complete the Process

At this point, it’s time to put pen to paper, or fingertips to keyboard and begin writing. Your essay will have an introduction, a body and a conclusion. The order in which you write depends on you. However, many people begin with the body.


This is the central part of your essay where you show support for your thesis statement. Concentrate on making accurate statements based on facts, not opinions or generalizations. Also, steer clear of using personal pronouns. The essay is not about you, it is about supporting the thesis statement. Your strongest arguments are to be located in the first and last paragraph of your body.


Don’t skimp here. The introduction is where you’ll grab the reader’s attention. Your first sentence should reach out to your reader, such as “Last year alone over 3.5 million dogs and cats were euthanized in the United States”. Continue your train of thought until you reach your thesis statement.


This is your summary. Here, you’ll conclude your essay and bring closure to your argument by summarizing your essay in one final paragraph of 5 or so sentences. You want to summarize the gist of your arguments here and provide your final thoughts on the topic.

Tie it All Together

Once finished, it’s time to proofread and edit your essay. Look for errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation. If you’re unsure, feel free to use one of the online grammar checkers. Make sure your argument is supported, and the body of the essay has a nice, concise flow. If you can, record your essay and keep an ear out for any mistakes, inconsistencies, unnecessary words or phrases. Make all corrections, and hand it in.