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Free Tips for essay writing

There are two "formal" or academic essay types that we are going to deal with in this section of Effective-English.com

  • The comparative essay
  • The discursive essay


Guide to formal essay writing

1. Preparation: brainstorming

  • Write down all the words that come to your mind, i. e. vocabulary connected to the subject matter, linking words, useful phrases, even drawings can help.
  • Work out your ideas and write out an outline or plan in note form
    before you begin the essay.


2. Layout

  • Introductory paragraph which introduces the topic. Be sure everybody reading this paragraph will understand what the essay is about.
  • Main body, which might include two or three paragraphs
  • Conclusion, the conclusion to which you have reached after discussing critically or comparing aspects of a topic.


3. Style

DOs (things you should do)

  • Use formal vocabulary, i. e. avoid colloquialisms and slang
  • Use objective language whenever possible- remember you are stating facts.
  • Use passive forms.
  • Be accountable for what you write: always back up your points with reasons and examples.
  • Use of markers: firstly, secondly, finally.
  • Use of formal vocabulary: increased dramatically, of poor quality.
  • Use of formal cause and effect linkers: as a result, therefore.

DON'Ts (things you shouldn't do)

  • Do not use the personal pronoun ‘I’ unless the title specifically asks for your personal opinion or experience.
  • Avoid contractions- use full forms rather than contractions: e.g. could not rather than couldn't
  • Use any verb that can replace a phrasal verb in formal language.
  • Avoid extreme adjectives and exclamations.


4. Essay Type

a. Comparative essay

In written exams you will be able to recognise an essay title referring to comparison because of the use of the word compare the advantages and disadvantages, or a phrase such as examine the similarities and differences between…
The comparison essay can be tackled in two ways:

  • by writing one paragraph about the first item of comparison and a second paragraph about the other item
  • by taking each area of comparison and tackling it in a different paragraph.

For example, in an essay named "Television", you could either write one paragraph about the advantages of television, one about the disadvantages of television, and one comparing the two - using the language of comparison and contrast; or you could find areas of comparison, e.g. education, attention span, passive attitude, and write a comparative paragraph about each.

b. Discursive essay

A discursive essay is one in which a topic is discussed critically, opinions or contrasting viewpoints are expressed and a conclusion is reached.
This type of essay usually has a title beginning Do you agree… or Discuss…


5. Sample essays

If you want to read sample essays please e-mail us at info@effective-english.com and we will provide you with free samples.