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What is an Essay?

An essay is a piece of writing presenting and supporting a proposition or thesis. The term essay originates from ‘exagium’ and means the presentation of a given case. As you write an essay, you make a case for the validation of a specific viewpoint, evaluation, interpretation, procedures, or set of facts.

Essays are written from the author’s point of view. Essays are non-fictional and sometimes subjective and expository as they could include narrative. Essays can be political manifestos, literacy analysis, recollections, daily life observations, learned arguments, or a reflection of an author. Types of essays include argumentative, persuasive, narrative, descriptive, compare and contrast, and others.

In recent times, essays have become a significant part of formal education. Secondary school learners are taught how to structure and format essays to improve the writing skills. At higher learning institutions, students write essays as part of the admission process. In college and high school, essays are used to judge the comprehension and mastery of materials. Learners are asked to comment on, explain, and sometimes assess a study topic in form of an essay.

Students are asked to write essays to develop skills such as close reading, argumentation, persuasion, communicating with conciseness and clarity, critical interpretation, analysis and thinking, and integration of the research sources through paraphrase, summary, and quotation.

The simplest essay format is the five-paragraph essay. The five paragraphs include the introduction, body paragraph and a conclusion. The introduction consists of the hook, the background information, and thesis statement. The body paragraph begins with a topic sentence, then a claim and supporting evidence. The conclusion consists of the restated thesis statement, and summary of the ideas discussed in the essay. The steps of writing an essay include developing a topic, conducting the research, drafting the thesis statement, writing the essay, editing, reviewing, and revising.

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