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The essay is the most common assignment at the high school, college, and university level because it represents a clear and concise way of demonstrating a student’s mastery of a subject, a student’s writing skills, and a student’s ability to apply concepts to a specific topic or situation. But the very adaptability of the essay to a wide range of topics means that the essay is also one of the most versatile of writing forms, taking on an astonishing array of classifications. Students need detailed knowledge of the many types of essay in order to stand a chance of overcoming the challenges of writing.

Here are some of the most common types of essay you are likely to encounter:

  1. 5-Paragraph Essay. This is the essay distilled to its simplest form. It is the first type of essay that students learn in high school, and it is one that continues at the college and university level. It begins with an introduction that leads to a thesis statement. The next three paragraphs offer specific supporting details to back up the thesis statement, and the essay ends with a conclusion that reiterates the thesis and closes with a final thought. This type of essay forms the template for other kinds, which are often simply larger or longer versions of the 5-paragraph essay.
  2. Persuasive Essay - attempts to convince the reader or an argument. It uses a combination of logical and emotional appeals to persuade the reader to side with the author on an issue of importance. They require careful research but the emotional aspects of the writing are equally important. Anecdotes and stories, as well as appeals to the reader’s heartstrings, help to sell the argument in this type of essay.
  3. Expository Essay - is one of the major divisions of essay writing, covering most types of nonfiction essay. They require students to explore a topic analytically and write at length and in detail about the subject in question. Major types of expository essay include the argumentative essay, the analytical essay, the critical essay, and other types that we will review below.
  4. Argumentative Essay - is similar to a persuasive essay, but it does not rely as heavily on emotion. It exists primarily in the realm of logic, and it attempts to marshal facts, evidence, and expert opinion to make a strong case for a specific conclusion. The argumentative essay often follows a standardized format such as the Toulmin Model or the Rogerian Response, and the effectiveness of the argument depends on the writer’s ability to use facts and evidence to support a point of view.
  5. Deductive Essay - is a special type of argumentative essay which employs deductive reasoning in order to draw conclusions from established premises. This type of reasoning begins with general principles and then applies them to specific situations.
  6. Cause and Effect Essay - is another special type of argumentative essay in which the object of the argument is to demonstrate that a specific cause was responsible for a particular effect. It lays out the reasons that the writer believes that a situation came about due to a specific set of causes. Because of the complexity of the reasoning involved, a cause and effect paper is an advanced form of argumentative essay.
  7. Analytical Essay - is similar to an argumentative essay in that both use facts, evidence, and reasoning to make a point about the topic. However, it does not necessarily try to draw a conclusion and may instead provide a variety of conclusions that the facts and evidence might support. This type of essay is primarily intended to demonstrate the writer’s ability to reason logically and clearly from a given set of facts.
  8. Critical Essay - uses analysis to examine a subject in a similar manner to an analytical essay. However, a critical essay goes beyond the research-based logic of an analytical essay to also offer the writer’s own conclusions about the analysis presented. The writer might, for example, offer probing questions in order to seek out an underlying truth. It might also draw general conclusions from a specific case.
  9. Narrative Essay - tells the story of an event and explains, typically in chronological order, what happened. It is typically rich in detail and attempts to convey to the reader what it was like to be at the event. The narrative essay focuses on the occurrence and describes what happened, while a descriptive essay, to which it is similar, focuses on a person, place, or thing.
  10. Descriptive Essay - is similar to a narrative essay in that both attempt to paint a picture to make the reader feel like they were there and experiencing something firsthand. While the narrative essay tells the reader what happened at an event, a descriptive paper provides rich detail to discuss what a person, place, or thing is like. This type of essay is less focused on an event or action and more on picture-painting.
  11. Evaluation Essay - is similar to a descriptive essay or an analytical essay in that it describes something and then analyzes it. The major difference is that it yields a final recommendation about whether the subject in question is good or bad and whether the subject of the essay is to be recommended.
  12. Compare and Contrast Essay - is designed to examine two different things and to consider how they are alike or not alike. This type of essay begins by providing a description of the two things under consideration, similar to a descriptive essay, and then proceeds to analyze the points at which they are similar or different. The analysis is systematic rather than haphazard and builds toward a conclusion about the essential comparison of the two items.
  13. Exploratory Essay - is a type of critical essay that explores a topic using the methods and techniques of the argumentative essay, but without the predetermined purpose of reaching a conclusion. It allows a student to review a topic and engage in research and analysis about that topic in order to learn about it. This type of essay may present a variety of viewpoints, and it may or may not reach a conclusion depending on whether the evidence leads to one.
  14. Definition Essay - is similar to a descriptive essay and it attempts to provide a discussion that will define a specific topic. This type of essay typically works with difficult or controversial topics because these are the ones that require the most discussion to reach a definition, since an agreed-upon definition does not yet exist.
  15. Classification Essay - is similar to a definition essay, but instead of defining a single subject, it attempts to classify a large number of related things within a topic in order to explain how they relate to one another and what major groups one should recognize within that topic.
  16. Response Essay -unlike most of the preceding types of essay, it is built around the writer’s personal opinion. In a response paper, the writer responds to something by providing his or her reaction and discussing the topic in light of his or her feelings.
  17. Scholarship Essay - is an essay written to apply for a scholarship. It typically involves the student responding to an essay prompt and providing personal information about what makes the student a good candidate for the scholarship. This type of essay involves a balancing act between appearing to be in need of assistance but also appearing to be a formidable and admirable candidate with tremendous accomplishments.

Remember, no matter what type of essay you are asked to write, you are not alone. Our team of expert writers and our affordable prices make it easy to get the custom writing help you need to achieve the very best results for your academic essays. When you use model essay writing, you can learn not just how to prepare an essay at a professional level but also how to format the essay and document your research at any academic level. We show you the right way to develop an essay that doesn’t just address your topic but meets the expectations of the specific essay type you were asked to write.

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