The structure of expository essay

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The term “expository” does not sit very well with some students because it is not a word that people tend to use a lot in real life, so think about it more as an “investigatory” essay where you conduct your investigation into a topic and show your results in your essay. There are customary ways of conducting your “investigation” as per your essay, but if your subject calls for a deviation from the norm then go for it, just so long as you can justify your route within your essay.

You are going to have to investigate something and explain it in detail. You may use your research to set an argument within your essay that you express, or may simply conclude upon what you have found.

Introduction

Start by explaining what your essay is about and putting it in context. This is especially important when you consider that you essay is for a certain subject (class), which means you need to put your topic in the context that your classmates could understand.

Catch the attention of the reader and help them understand the topic. You may then explain what they intend to investigate. You can explain your topic and what you are going to explore or prove (or both). This may be called your thesis.

Investigation

Use your first paragraphs to expand on any issues you had to brush over in the introduction. You can give more background information if you wish, but if you are writing it for a certain class, then your teacher may suppose the reader is already knowledgeable about your topic (at least to the degree your classmates are).

Organize your ideas and set out the path you wish to take in your essay. You may start adding evidence and pushing your investigation forwards as you write your essay. Include points that relate to your thesis. If your evidence or points do not relate directly to your thesis, then they must be within the ballpark. Simply adding information to show you are knowledgeable is not good enough.

Analysis

Go over your significant evidence and the pre-conclusions or questions you have drawn from your investigation so far. Expand them and start your reader on the road to your conclusion. If one piece of investigation or analysis does not connect to the next item you include then do not add transitions between the paragraphs. However, you all have to add transitions between paragraphs for your evaluation and conclusion.

Evaluation

What have you found and how relevant is it? Does it relate closely enough to your thesis and are there things you have missed? Why did you include the evidence that you did, and how does this move people towards a thesis-friendly conclusion. You should be adding transitions between the paragraphs on your evaluation. This is because these sections are not parcels of information, they are commenting on the big picture.

Conclusion

What did you find and how relevant is what you found (relate this to the things you exposed in your evaluation). What resolution has been found? Have you left questions that still need to be answered, and if so, what questions still need to be answered? Is there a larger significance to your work or the things you discovered? Bring your essay to a close in a strong and certain manner. This may be done more easily by calling back to your thesis with a “job done” attitude, or “question answered” attitude.

Top tips from people that write them for a living

  • Mini pre-conclusions are okay, but try to phrase them as questions so you can analyze them, evaluate and conclude upon them. Write some conclusions in red after evidence filled paragraphs and delete the red writing later after you have used it to build your final conclusion.
  • Make it clear where logic plays a part and where you have taken ideas from other references.
  • Never add evidence unless it is referenced. For example, you cannot add a percentage without showing where you got it from.
  • Search for extra references when you have finished your first draft. By that time you know the resolution of your essay and can search out sources that agree with you so you may add them in (it helps your professor give you a higher grade for in-depth research).
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