Easy Steps to Write an Expository Essay
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The most ubiquitous type of academic writing assignment is the expository essay. A fundamental form of writing, the expository essay is a work of nonfiction . In other words, an expository essay is fact-based and can be about any topic.
Even if you are telling a story in an expository essay, you will be telling a true story. Occasionally you may write an expository essay using first person narration, it is usually written in the third person . Expository essays require a professional or scholarly tone.
If you are not yet used to writing expository essays, don’t worry. This helpful guide will give you the tips you need to write a good expository essay. The more you practice writing expository essays, the easier it will be. Finally, you can easily work with a writing tutor or assistant to help you with your expository essay.
What is an Expository Essay?
First and foremost, an expository essay is designed to inform. Even though you are most likely writing for a teacher as your audience, now is your opportunity to pretend that you are teaching someone about something. You basically want to prove to your teacher that you have mastered the material.
Some expository essays might explain a topic, or describe it in more detail, but you will still be informing your reader. You want your reader to learn something after reading what you write. An expository essay might require you to do some research, but you do not want to simply regurgitate what you learned. You want to process the material and analyze it.
If you want to write a good expository essay, do not be worried about having an opinion. Take a stand, and show that you have a unique perspective on the material. Your reader—your teacher—will appreciate that your expository essay is unique.
So let’s get started.
How Do I?
Sometimes you have an essay prompt, which means you already have a topic selected for you. Other times, you will be given more leeway in choosing your own topic. Later in this article, we will give you some sample expository essay topics.
Have fun at this stage of the essay writing by brainstorming .
The most obvious place to start is with the topic for your expository essay. What class is your essay for? History? Art? Psychology? Start from the start and focus on an appropriate topic that meets the requirements for the class.
Brainstorming is also a type of pre-writing, a set of exercises you can do before you actually start writing the formal essay. Other types of pre-writing include word clustering, where you can actually draw out your thoughts. Brainstorming and other pre-writing activities can often be the most pleasurable part of writing because this is where you let yourself free.
You can also free write, meaning you use the stream of consciousness process. Whatever method you use to get your creative juices flowing, relax and do not censor yourself. When you brainstorm, you are better able to narrow down your topic and then focus on what you are going to write about in the expository essay.
If you do not yet have a topic, or even if you do, brainstorming can be incredibly helpful for getting ideas about what to write.
For many expository essays, you need to do research. Research can take a lot of time. Unless you hire an assistant, make sure you learn how to manage your time wisely when you have assignments that are due.
Everyone has their own preferences for how to do research. Some prefer to go to a library, while others simply go online from their house or a coffee shop. The main sources of academic research include the following:
Scholarly databases: Scholarly databases like EBSCO and ProQuest are private, fee-based services. These are massive databases containing a wealth of peer-reviewed, scholarly articles. If you have access to a scholarly database, it is strongly advised to consult these for your expository essay research. The reason for this is that scholarly databases contain credible sources published in peer-reviewed academic journals, and your instructors usually expect you to find these types of sources instead of relying on websites.
Most colleges and universities purchase memberships for scholarly databases so that students can access them for research. If you are writing your expository essay for a college or university course, chances are you already do have access to these databases. Ask your instructor, your teacher’s assistant, or your librarian about accessing the scholarly databases. If you do not have access to a scholarly database, your best bet for finding academic, peer-reviewed articles would be Google Scholar .
Libraries: Both university and public libraries offer a wealth of information, and you can also access scholarly databases on premises, where you can ask a librarian for assistance.
Interviews: Interviews might be an appropriate form of research for some types of expository essays.
Online research: You can find an abundance of information online. However, you do need to be careful when using online sources. Therefore, use the CRAAP test : evaluate every website for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose.
The CRAAP Test
Currency: Check the date. Of course, if you are looking for primary source documents from the seventeenth century, you actually want your sources to be old. In most cases though, and especially in the sciences or social sciences, try to find sources that were published within the past five or ten years.
Relevance: Make sure the topic is directly relevant to your research.
Authority: Check the author’s credentials. If an article appears in a blog, it lacks authority. If the article appears on an established journalism source, a government (.gov) website, or a university (.edu) website, it is a bit more authoritative. However, the most authoritative sources are not found online but in scholarly or academic databases.
Accuracy: Online sources can be difficult to cross-reference or verify for their accuracy. For this reason, students are usually advised to stick to academic databases when they do research. The articles published in peer-reviewed journals have been fact-checked rigorously. You even need to check books for accuracy, too. Just because you see a book in your school’s library does not make it a credible source for use in your essay.
Purpose: Does the author have an agenda? Learn to locate biases in the article, and to recognize when someone is trying to sell you something.
Remember to keep a running list of all the sources you consult for your research on the expository essay topic. Before you write your expository essay, make sure you cite your sources properly. Any time you refer to a source you consulted during your research, simply mention the author and page number using an appropriate citation style . If you are ever unsure of whether to use a citation or not, it is always better to use one unnecessarily than to omit one and be accused of plagiarism.
Expository Essay Outline
It depends. If you have been asked to produce an outline, then you do need to provide one. A writing tutor can help you create an outline if you are struggling. What an outline is designed to do is offer you a road map or guide, so that your essay is more organized. An outline is there to help you.
However, not all writers use outlines. Unless you are required to provide an outline, do whatever works best for you during the prewriting stage.
If you decide to outline, use the following standard format:
A. Lead-in material and hook
B. Thesis statement
A. Topic One
B. Topic Two
C. Topic Three
A. Restate thesis with deeper understanding.
B. Summarize and reflect.
C. Offer insight and suggestions
Expository Essay Outline Example
A. For better or worse, religion has taken root in the human consciousness.
B. The world’s universal religions claim to be universally meaningful and authoritative, regardless of differences in language or ethnicity.
C. Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam are three of the world’s universal religions, and each used methods including political and social control, and even violence to spread their creeds.
A. The oldest of the three predominant universal religions, Buddhism has not always been as peaceful and passive as many Westerners believe.
B. Buddhism spread from India throughout the Himalayas, Southeast Asia, and East Asia.
C. As a universal religion, Buddhism was adapted to suit localized needs, desires, and expectations.
A. Based on the New Testament writings, Jesus Christ believed in the universality of his own message, making Christianity a quintessential universal religion.
B. Although Christians were persecuted early on, as soon as powerful rulers like Charlemagne made it the official state religion, Christianity could be imposed upon the people.
C. As a universal religion, Christianity used violence, political and social control to infiltrate local communities around the world.
A. From the Arabian peninsula, Islam spread throughout the world and is now the fastest growing universal religion.
B. By fusing religious beliefs with identity politics and economic expediency, Islam has become a true universal religion.
Universal religions like Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam have used various political, economic, and social methods of spreading their influence and power throughout the world. Although there is great beauty in all of the world’s religions, the methods by which religions are spread has led to violence and the perpetuation of ignorance.
Expository Essay Topics
- The future of Obamacare: Will Americans ever embrace universal healthcare?
- Explain the proxy wars between Iran and Saudi Arabia: Is it just a Sunni versus Shi’a thing?
- What are the real causes of the obesity epidemic in America?
- Is the market ready for more companies to truly embrace corporate social responsibility?
- Offer some suggestions for incentives to research and develop renewable energy.
- Explain how a bill becomes a law.
- The Reid technique may lead to false confessions. Offer some suggestions for how to improve law enforcement interrogation techniques.
- Trace the history of a specific food: either an item of produce like the tomato, or a dish like pizza.
- What are the different methods currently being used to treat addictions, and which ones are proving to be most effective?
- Explain the different types of alternative sentencing and how they can be used to keep communities safe, re-establish trust in law enforcement, and reduce prison overcrowding.
- What caused the great flourishing of arts that characterized the Italian Renaissance? Be specific.
- Which companies use holistic marketing strategies best, and how have these strategies been integrated into their social media campaigns?
- Explain Plato’s theory of forms.
- What are some of the factors that are necessary in order for democracy to take root in an area that has never had democratic institutions?
- Describe the theory of multiple intelligences and how educators can apply this theory to their classrooms.
- What were the causes of the French Revolution?
- Analyze the work of five surrealist photographers, describing one specific work from each artist in detail.
- Is Walter White a classic tragic hero? Why or why not?
- Explain how rational choice theory accounts for white collar criminal activity.
- Describe the food chain in an ecosystem of your choice.
- What were some of the outcomes of the French and Indian Wars for the United States and Canada?
- Compare and contrast Conrad’s Heart of Darkness with Coppola’s Apocalypse Now.
- Analyze the differences between Japanese, English, and Italian Renaissance gardens.
- Discuss gendered immigration policies.
- Explain Russia’s involvement in Syria.
Explain, Describe, Analyze
After choosing your topic, you determine the best course of action for your expository essay . Most expository essays will explain, describe, or analyze. There are also a lot of different subsets of expository essays, including compare/contrast essays, cause/effect essays, argumentative essays, and narrative essays.
When you write an expository essay, it is a good idea to take a stand. You do not need to write an argumentative or persuasive essay to take a stand and write a strong thesis statement. Your writer will appreciate the passion you have for your subject, and will be interested in learning how you are going to explain, describe, or analyze your topic.
Audience Audience, Audience
Many students have trouble writing expository essays because they do not sound like the way normal people talk. Academic writing is not natural for anyone but academics! However, as a student in high school or college, you are an academic. Expository essays do not sound the way you speak to your friends and family members because you are not writing them for your friends and family members. You are writing expository essays for your teachers, instructors, and professors.
Expository Essay Example
Using the outline used above, the following is a sample expository essay.
A Twist of Faith: Universal Religions, Power, and Control
For better or worse, religion has taken root in the human consciousness. However, not all religions are what can be called “universal religions.” Universal religions are those that are not tied to ethnicity or culture. The world’s universal religions claim to be universally meaningful and authoritative, regardless of differences in language or ethnicity. Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam are three of the world’s universal religions, and each used methods including political and social control, and even violence to spread their creeds.
The oldest of the three predominant universal religions, Buddhism has not always been as peaceful and passive as many Westerners believe. Buddhism spread from India throughout the Himalayas, Southeast Asia, and East Asia. As a universal religion, Buddhism was adapted to suit localized needs, desires, and expectations. Each region has its own type of Buddhist practices and doctrines because of the way the religion was adapted to suit local palates, customs, and social norms. Yet as Buddhist monks and followers of the Buddha’s teachings spread the tenets of their faith, local warlords, kings, politicians, and business people capitalized on the way religion could be used as a means of entrenching their power. Violence was sometimes used to impose not just the faith of Buddhism, but the power vested in the politician. The same has been true for other universal religions like Christianity and Islam.
Based on the New Testament writings, Jesus Christ believed in the universality of his own message, making Christianity a quintessential universal religion. Although Christians were persecuted for the first few hundred years of the spreading of the faith, as soon as powerful rulers like Charlemagne made it the official state religion, Christianity could be imposed upon the people. Christianity sometimes took root organically, but powerful leaders used religion as a means of social and political control. The Holy Roman Empire and later the Roman Catholic Church are examples of how politics and religion become fused in all universal faiths. As a universal religion, Christianity used violence, political and social control to infiltrate local communities around the world.
From its starting point in the Arabian Peninsula, the teachings of Muhammad spread throughout the world. What started as the religion of nomadic peoples, Islam is now the fastest growing universal religion. Islam enjoyed its heyday a thousand years ago, giving rise to great centers of learning in places like Baghdad. Yet power politics and identity politics characterized the way local and regional rulers used faith to control disparate people. By fusing religious beliefs with identity politics and economic expediency, Islam has become a true universal religion. Just as with Buddhism and Christianity, Islam has been used as a means of governing and manipulating people with vastly different ethnic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds. Universal religions proselytize, seeking converts not necessarily to save souls, but to ensure obedience to political or economic institutions.
Universal religions like Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam have used various political, economic, and social methods of spreading their influence and power throughout the world. Although there is great beauty in all of the world’s religions, the methods by which religions are spread has led to violence and the perpetuation of ignorance. Religion is important for personal and cultural identity, and can be a psychological and social salve. Ultimately, though, it is important to separate religion from politics to prevent further problems.
How Do I Write An Expository Essay?
Now that you have some sample topics and a sample outline, you are ready to begin your own expository essay journey. Remember to start with some brainstorming or pre-writing, and make an outline if possible, too. Once your organize your thoughts, you will feel far more comfortable writing an expository essay. Write an expository essay that is original and creative, and have fun with it. Ask for help from a writing tutor or writing assistant whenever you feel stressed or stuck.
Keep it simple, always referring back to your outline and your thesis statement. From these anchor points, write your rough draft. When you write a rough draft, do not worry now about how good your expository essay is, or whether your teacher will be impressed. At this stage, create a solid rough draft that follows your outline. Later you can go back and polish your essay.
Always seek help from a writing tutor if you are struggling. It is never a good idea to struggle. Getting stressed out over essay writing is unnecessary, especially when there are so many people who can help you. Writing an expository essay is something you do need to learn, and there are writing tutors and writing assistants ready and able to help.
Expository essays are the foundation for all formal academic writing. An expository essay is a work of non-fiction, which means it is based on fact and should follow a logical format. Expository essays are usually—although not always—written in the third person. Most importantly, expository essays explain, describe, or analyze your topic.
No matter what you are studying in school, at some point you have been asked to write an expository essay. For a few students, expository essay writing comes easily. Many students struggle with expository essay writing. You should never stress out over writing expository essays. If you have trouble writing, you are not alone. In fact, it is a sign of strength to reach out to a professional for help. Call a writing assistant or tutor immediately—it is the best thing you can do to improve your academic writing!
When creating your expository essay, follow these seven steps
- Choose a subject: Make certain the subject is filter an adequate amount of to make it achievable inside room or space of some essay
- Jot down a thesis sentence: Be certain the thesis impression(or sentence) conveys a dealing with idea that is nor overly wide-ranging neither extremely specified as being designed safely and effectively
- Select a technique for enhancement: Test by all of the methods prior to now select normally the one that is certain to top perform your thesis:
- Sort out the essay: Begin by listing the primary divisions that the physical structure paragraphs in your own essay will discuss; then fill in the biggest can handle that every human body section of the essay will comprise
- Compose question sentences for those overall body paragraphs from the essay: Per entire body paragraph, provide a topic sentence that specifically refers to the thesis sentence
- Post our body lines of the essay: All entire body section will want to cultivate the key aid protected in the paragraph’s niche sentence
- Give a paragraph of release: An introductory section will declare the thesis of your essay, introduce the divisions within the body lines in the essay, and build the focus with the reader
- Come up with a section of judgment:
- Restate the thesis and divisions of your essay
- Carry the essay for an right and powerful in close proximity
- Stay away from digressing into new issues
explanation | model | do a comparison of and compare | contribute to and result | category | practice research