How to Write An Academic Essay

There are so many different kinds of academic essays: book reviews, research papers, literature comparison, scientific analysis. While the content and tone of each will of course vary, they all adhere to a similar structure. Here we discuss the tenets of academic essay writing and with easy steps for a first draft.

The structure

In general, all academic essays can be distilled down to three parts: the intro, the body, and the conclusion. The intro is the opening real estate, per se, of your essay. The introductory paragraph gives readers a roadmap of what they are about to read and include your thesis statement. A thesis statement a sentence or two that explains the argument you are about to make. It doesn’t have to be declarative—rather, it can be a sentence that you naturally end your intro on. The intro paragraph also gives your readers a sense of your tone. You should always use your intro to contextualize or ground the essay topic in some way.

Next comes the body. The number of body paragraphs depends on the length of your essay. In general, aim for at least three body paragraphs—any fewer and you risk not having shown enough evidence. For each paragraph, begin with an opening sentence that introduces whatever idea you’ll discuss. These aren’t hard and fast rules, but it’s good to keep them in mind. When doing academic essay writing, you want to use your words wisely and get to the point in order to reveal something new to your reader.

You want to be sure to include some kind of evidence to support the point you’re making. For literature essays, now would be a good time to quote something from the next and analyze it. But—and this is the tricky part—at all costs, you should avoid summarizing. Academic essay writing prioritizes analysis, so be sure to focus your sentences on that. Once you’ve gathered enough evidence and are ready to move to the next body paragraph, where you get to do it all over again, you’ll need to find some way to segue to the next idea. Try out a few transitions and see what matches your style best!

For the conclusion, you’ll want to highlight what you’ve proven in the essay. It’s also helpful to rephrase your thesis. Avoid starting your conclusion with phrases like “in conclusion” and “as you can see”. Instead, simply state what you’ve shown in the previous paragraphs. This will certainly pack more of a punch.

Other helpful tips

Citations! Don’t forget to include them alongside any quotes or any supporting evidence, and to follow any formatting guidelines, whether APA or MLA. There are many websites that will help you craft citations and use them correctly. This is essential to avoid plagiarizing.

Also when doing academic essay writing, think about perspective. In some essays, using “I” statements will be perfectly acceptable, whereas in others it wouldn’t be appropriate. If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to ask your teacher for guidance as to how formal or opinionated your essay can be!

Lastly, consider including a concession paragraph before the conclusion. In a concession, you essentially just take a moment to explain the opposing argument and consider it as valid. While this of course risks undermining your thesis, on most occasions it will actually bolster it, and invite a fairness of perspectives into your essay.

Now that you have all the tools, it’s time to get writing! If you get stuck on any portion, try your best to power through it. You can always revise it to be better later on.

About the Author

Cassidy A.

Cassidy A.

Cassidy A. is an experienced English tutor at Gooroo, a tutoring membership that matches students to tutors perfect for them based on their unique learning needs. Gooroo offers math, English, ESL, Spanish tutoring, and more.