www.knowyourenglish.com
Home Vocabulary Writing skills Reading Comprehension General English  
you are here  »  Home > Writing > Writing Essays

General Tips on Writing Your Essays

The content has been written for students who are planning to sit IELTS, TOEFL, TWE and GRE exams.

Introduction / Conclusion

we will look at some general techniques to make your essay the best it can be. We begin by looking at the proper structure for your introduction and for your conclusion.

Introduction

Your introduction should serve two structural purposes: It should restate your topic so that the reader need not review the given question, and it should offer a clear thesis so the reader knows what your purpose is. Simply defined, a thesis states the main idea of your essay. Because the strategy you need to employ for developing your thesis differs for each type of essay, however, we will discuss it in further detail later on in this article.

Not only should you restate the topic, but you should also do so in a way that will spark interest. It may seem like a tall order to restate your topic, create a thesis, and make it captivating, but if you don’t grab your reader’s attention in the introduction, it doesn’t matter how interesting the body of your essay is because he won’t feel compelled to read on. Think of your introduction as the worm on a fishhook, just dangling there enticing the fish to bite. There are several techniques you can employ to get your reader to "bite" and, thus, read on.

  • Begin your introduction with a question. Naturally, when a question is posed to your reader, he or she will want to keep reading to find out the answer.
  • Begin your introduction with a quote. Because you will not have time to research your topic, this may not be as feasible as, say, on a term paper for a graduate class; however, if you can remember a specific quote pertinent to your topic, use it.
  • Begin with an anecdote. An anecdote is entertaining and will thus draw in the reader.
  • Begin with an illustration or a hypothetical example based on the topic you are going to discuss.
  • Begin with a true-to-life example.
  • Begin with vivid description of something pertaining to your topic.

Conclusion

The conclusion of your essay is just as important as the introduction because it wraps up your thoughts and evidence and should leave your reader satisfied that a convincing discussion has just taken place. Your conclusion should include a restatement of your thesis and then end with a more general statement, perhaps a warning or a call for action. Tip: If time is running out and you get stuck trying to formulate a conclusion, try beginning with "In conclusion" or "In summary". Then continue by restating your thesis.

Transitions

Transitional phrases are an important element of style because they create coherence. They guide the reader from point A to point B. On the exam, the reader will read through your essay quickly, scoring according to his first impression of what you wrote. If your essay is choppy and does not flow well, the reader will not gain a good first impression. Therefore, it is imperative that your essay exhibits solid cohesiveness. Look at the lists below for some examples of transitional words and phrases that will help you write a smooth, coherent essay.

Figurative Language

Another excellent way to paint vivid pictures for your reader is to use figures of speech. Figures of speech—like similes, metaphors, analogies, personification, hyperbole, irony, and allusion—when used correctly, add extra flair to your writing. They add to your style of writing an element that takes your writing from ordinary to extraordinary.

Similes show a marked comparison between two things by using the phrases “like,” “as,” or “as if.”

Example: The cat stood poised and still as a statue, waiting for the opportune moment to pounce. Here the cat is described “as a statue” because it is standing so still.

Metaphors show absolute comparison by omitting “like,” “as,” or “as if.”

Example: She is Mother Theresa when it comes to her generosity and compassion.
Here the comparison is absolute because the writer states that this person is Mother Theresa; the writer does not say that this person is just like Mother Theresa.

Analogies compare the similar features of two dissimilar things. Analogies often bring clarity to writing by showing a reader another way of seeing something. Analogies are not limited to a sentence; sometimes an analogy streams its way through an entire piece of writing.

Example: Office cooperation is like a soccer game. Each employee has a position on the playing field, and each position dictates an employee’s function. Working together, the office completes passes by communicating well within each department. Shots on goal are taken when employees meet with prospective clients to pitch ideas. And the whole office triumphs when a goal is scored and a prospect becomes a client.
Here one element, an office working together, is compared to another, a soccer team playing a game. Although an office and a soccer team are two very unrelated things, the writer sees similarities in some aspects between the two and uses these similarities to show more clearly how an office works together.

Personification gives human characteristics to animals, inanimate objects and ideas in order to make them more real and understandable.

Example: The rusty car groaned, coughed, then gave one last sputter and died.
The car in this sentence comes to life even as it “dies” because of the human characteristics it is given.

Hyperbole uses deliberate exaggeration or overstatement to show special emphasis or create humor.

Example: Fat-free foods have become so popular that soon all vendors will want to give it a shot. Before you know it, Kentucky Fried Chicken will have fat-free fried chicken. Big Macs will contain 0 grams of fat. And the amount of fat in a Pizza Hut cheese pizza? You guessed it—none!
In order to show how far out of hand peoples’ obsession with fat-free foods has become, this description purposefully exaggerates a world where the most unlikely things are fat-free.

Ironyuses language that makes a suggestion that directly contrasts with the literal word or idea. It can offer humor to writing, or a bitter tone when it is used in sarcasm.

Example: Scientists have worked hard to develop ways to decrease infant mortality rates and increase longevity. As a result, more people are living longer and scientists will soon have to develop some methods with which to control overpopulation.
This sentence uses irony by predicting that, because scientists have now discovered ways to increase a person’s life span, they will soon have to deal with another problem—overpopulation. This is because, with everyone living longer, there will soon be too many people for the earth to support.

Allusion makes indirect reference to known cultural works, people or events. The familiarity allusions bring to writing helps the writer make connections with the reader.

Example: I have so much to do today, I feel like David must have felt as he approached Goliath.
Most people are familiar with the Bible story of David and Goliath. David is a small shepherd who slays the giant, Goliath, with a slingshot and one stone after the army’s best soldiers fail. Even through his feat, however, David must have felt a bit intimidated when facing Goliath, a feeling this writer intimates when thinking about everything that needs to be done.

Home   Vocabulary   Writing   GRE   SAT   TOEFL   IELTS  
Copyright 2006-2008 www.knowyourenglish.com. All rights reserved. email: info-AT-knowyourenglish.com