When you’re pondering how to write the perfect essay—or even if you’re just wondering, How do you write a good essay?—it’s easy to get stressed. If you’re asking yourself, How can I write an essay successfully?, you’ve come to the right place.
There are lots of fine points to remember, but there’s also good news: essays typically follow a certain formula in terms of their structure. What that means is that once you learn the formula, you can relax because you’ll have a set structure you can rely upon. Then you can just worry about filling in the details.
Another bit of good news is this: whether you’re trying to figure out how to write persuasive essays or personal essays or a different type altogether, you can use the same basic structure. This gives you a lot less to stress about and makes starting your essay much easier.
So how do you start an essay? What are the five parts of an essay? How do you write a good essay? We’ll answer these questions and more as we get into the finer points of how to write the perfect essay.
The first stage of writing any essay is the prewriting phase. During this phase, before you actually begin writing, you want to figure out what you’ll write about, and then you’ll gather all your information. There are a few things to work on in this phase. First, you need to identify your audience. If you’re trying to determine how to write persuasive essays, for example, your audience will be the person or people you’re trying to persuade. You want to tailor the arguments and fine points of your essay specifically for them.
You also need to develop your topic. This is simple—it’s just figuring out what, exactly, you want to write about. Once you know what your topic is, you should begin researching to find the facts or supporting evidence that you’ll use to support your point.
Every point you make should be supported by a piece of research. If you figure out what these points are and then find the facts to support them, writing your essay will be significantly easier. Doing it this way means you’ll have most of the information you need already, and then you can sit down and create an outline.
Pro Tip: Except when you’re writing a personal essay, avoid using first person pronouns. Not every reader will object to an essay with a few “I” pronouns in it, but the formal tone of an essay really demands use of the third person voice.
What Are the Five Parts of an Essay?
In their most basic form, essays have five distinct parts. Knowing the five parts is key to knowing how to write a perfect essay, and that clarity makes essay writing easier. Since the parts are always the same, they give you a skeleton to work from before you even begin. So what are the five parts of an essay? They are the introduction, first body paragraph, second body paragraph, third body paragraph, and the conclusion.
The first part of every essay is the introductory paragraph. Knowing how to write essay introductions is easy, as long as you know the formula. The introduction is where you tell the reader what your topic is. When you introduce your topic, be as specific as you can. After you inform the reader of your topic, you need to make a thesis statement. This is where you present the argument, or what your essay intends to prove, and this part should be as clear and succinct as possible. In the final sentence of your introduction, you provide a transition to the body of your essay.
First body paragraph
This leads us to the first body paragraph. Here is where you should present the strongest point you have to prove your thesis statement and the strongest piece of supporting evidence you found during your research. Make sure you start this paragraph with a topic statement that connects to your thesis sentence in your introduction.
After this, you can present the strongest facts you were able to find supporting your thesis, making sure to provide evidence for each. If you want to know how to write the perfect essay, giving evidence for every single claim you make is key. Finish this paragraph, just like you did with your introduction, with a transition into the second part of the body.
Second body paragraph
Your second body paragraph is just like the first, except you will present the second-most compelling pieces of evidence you were able to find to support your thesis. As with the first body paragraph, you start with a statement that connects to the transition from the first and end with a transition leading into the third part of the body.
Third body paragraph
The third body paragraph is structured just like the other two. Again, end with a transition into your concluding paragraph.
In the conclusion, you want to restate your thesis statement to remind the reader of your argument. There’s also no harm in quickly referencing the strongest pieces of supporting evidence from the essay body. To finish, make sure you clarify that the essay has reached its conclusion, and leave the reader with a practical example of your thesis statement in action or an interesting tidbit that relates back to it.
Now that you have an answer to the question, What are the five parts of an essay?, let’s work on questions like, How do you start an essay?, How do you create an essay outline?, and others.
Outlining an Essay
Once you’re prepared with your topic and research, outlining an essay is easy. The outline is an organized collection of your thoughts and the points you want to make, essentially creating a foundation for each section of your essay.
To create an outline, start by writing down your topic. Then list your main ideas, linking each to a piece of supporting evidence you found. Fill in any more minor ideas you have, and think about how each one relates to your main point. Using these ideas, you can then write your thesis statement based on what those ideas prove or demonstrate.
You can do this as a list with ordered items for each section or in the form of a diagram or flowchart. It all depends on what you find easiest.
How do you start an essay?
The question “How do you start an essay?” is easy to answer because all essays start the same way. Every essay begins with an introduction. This introduction explains what the essay is about using a clear, concise explanation of your topic. And it’s not hard to learn how to write essay introductions. After describing your topic, you introduce a thesis statement (or argument) that your essay sets out to prove. The final sentence of the introduction is a transition into the essay body, which will contain your strongest set of arguments and evidence. Here’s an example:
Measuring the genetic impact of various historical leaders is something that recent advancements in science are making possible, and a recent meta-DNA analysis conducted at Harvard shows that only a handful of individuals are responsible for a disproportionate percentage of the human genome—among them, the infamous Genghis Khan. In fact, Genghis Khan has had a greater influence on the worldwide human genome than any other single individual.
The first body paragraph
The first body paragraph is where you present the strongest argument, evidence, and examples you have to support your thesis. Before doing so, however, you need to insert a brief transition sentence so that your body paragraph flows smoothly from your introduction. For every argument you make, be sure to reference a piece of research or an example drawn from a reliable source. An example is below:
Khan’s imprint upon the genetic makeup of the world becomes immediately clear when examining international scientific studies conducted by the world’s leading geneticists. For example, Harvard’s 1998 study of genetics on the Asian subcontinent analyzed the DNA of three hundred million inhabitants of lands from modern China and Mongolia to Russia, finding that 8 percent of males studied had DNA passed down from the ancient Mongolian ruler. This Harvard study would become a precursor to many others, which would confirm and expand upon its findings.
Writing the second paragraph
The second body paragraph should contain a slightly less strong argument and evidence. While these still support your thesis statement, they might not be as ironclad as the argument from your first body paragraph. An example is below:
Another study proving the genetic impact of Genghis Khan was conducted in 2003 and was published in Discover magazine and the American Journal of Human Genetics. While relying on a smaller sample size than the Harvard study cited above, it found that one in two hundred of the world’s men had Y chromosomes linking them to Genghis Khan. Yet another study found Khan to be among ten of history’s most prolific patriarchs.
Writing the third paragraph
The third body paragraph is just like the other two, and you’ll end this paragraph with a concluding sentence, transitioning into your concluding paragraph.
In the European Journal of Human Genetics, a study of Y-chromosome sequences concluded that a sizeable proportion of the global gene pool was contributed to by just eleven men, one of whom was Genghis Khan. Collectively, the group was found to be responsible for 38 percent of the Y chromosomes analyzed, including study subjects from throughout the expanses of the Asian subcontinent. Combined with the other studies and the fact that Asia is the world’s most populated region, this shows that only a handful of males are responsible for a disproportionately high percentage of the Y-chromosome sequences of men globally.
Writing an essay conclusion
The conclusion should restate the thesis statement without repeating it word for word. It should also clearly signal that the essay has ended. This can be done through a call to action or by providing a new insight for the reader to think about.
In conclusion, a multitude of studies demonstrate that Genghis Khan’s effect on the human genome has few rivals, even considering that just a few men are responsible for a very high percentage of the genetic material of the global population.
How to correct essays
The question of how to correct essays is an important one, as you haven’t truly finished your essay until you have revised it and combed it for errors. First, make sure your arguments all come with supporting evidence and that each idea paragraph flows smoothly to the next. Proofreading is also an important step when you’re considering how to correct essays, as you need to find and correct any spelling, grammar, and usage errors before you submit your work.
You should also check your formatting, as your teacher or professor may have issued guidelines like double-spacing or certain font sizes.
It takes work and practice, but knowing how to structure an essay and knowing the answers to questions like “What are the five parts of an essay?” will allow you to improve your skills and draft stronger papers regardless of the topic.
However, it’s not enough to follow a few rules if you’re trying to figure out how to write the perfect essay. No matter how many “How to Write the Perfect Essay” blog posts you read, what matters most is the actual writing—and most important of all is you finding your unique voice. Of course, a well-crafted introduction and clear structure help, but it’s equally crucial that you make your essay engaging and readable.