Expository Essay — Writing Steps with Tips and Examples

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When it comes to the particular aspects of academic life, one thing students cannot escape is essay writing. Whether at middle school, high school, or college, there will be assignments that you should be able to deal with. And, to come up with good writing, you have to understand its type and purpose. In this article, we are going to investigate the expository essay issue so that you can recall and learn all the points needed to prepare this assignment well.

To understand the traits of writing an expository essay, let's remember its definition first. It is a particular academic paper in which the author expounds on a specific topic by thoroughly investigating it. The aim is to reveal insightful information and clarify relevant issues. In doing so, incorrect understanding and wrong perceptions can be pointed out and fixed by using logical explanations and reliable facts. Hence, when working on an expository essay, make sure that its content is based on unbiased and straightforward pieces of evidence that are expressed coherently. In other words, this writing should enlighten and deepen the reader's comprehension of the subject. It serves to shed light on the object, person, concept, problem, and more by lucid explanations that clarify it.

As it was mentioned earlier, the expository essay is one of the major types of writing, namely:

  • Descriptive — aimed at conveying how an event occurred or is occurring now, or how a person or object looks. The emphasis here is on "painting a picture" in the reader's mind.
  • Narrative — involves storytelling from a personal standpoint. Can cover different experiences and real-life examples.
  • Expository — implies explaining, revealing, and clarifying information to enlighten the reader.
  • Persuasive and argumentative — centers on making arguments to convince the audience of a certain stance on the topic.

Some other essay types can arguably be placed under the expository kind.

How to Write a Good Expository Essay

Writing an expository essay is not an easy-to-accomplish task, but it can be engaging since this process allows you to see the big picture of all things occurring around. The convenience here is that you can use several strategies to approach the expository paper. To investigate a certain subject matter, you can do the following:

  • Provide its definition available in different sources
  • Study it through the "cause and effect" concept
  • Compare and contrast the variety of its manifestations in different circumstances, etc.

This way, it is possible for you to apply the methods of other academic writings to meet the main requirement of expository essays — investigate and evaluate a certain idea or concept.

To prepare an assignment you need, a well-organized plan is a key. There, you need to consider every step of yours and any specific aspect you would like to study more profoundly. Even if the topic seems familiar, it is always safer to have a plan of the work — it helps you keep in mind all important elements of writing and doesn't let you be lost in concepts and statements. As most writing assignments, an expository one has a simple preparation structure:

  • Planning
  • Writing
  • Reviewing

But, in the context of the task specifics, there are important features to be aware of. Now, we are going to discuss each stage in more detail.

Plan Your Essay

The first thing to do is to consider a topic. If you were asked to write about a certain subject, things would go easier for you. But if there is a need to formulate a topic yourself, do it attentively (or simply use interesting prompts and expository essay topics from the Internet).

The subject you choose will influence the research you have to conduct for gathering all the important information needed for the essay. What to pay attention to when choosing a theme? It should be:

  • Clear but appropriate for your academic level (no silly tales in a high school)
  • Related to relevant concepts or ideas (not over-tired)
  • Interesting for you personally (to write with enthusiasm)

When researching a topic, look for useful information that can help to clarify the issue and analyze it in different perspectives — for example, statistics and available research data from reputable sources. You should also study the history behind the topic as it can help you understand its evolution and track any changes. When trying to obtain the data, make sure that you have considered diverse materials. For example, you can find a video or speech where original facts are described. This way, you will fill the essay with supportive evidence from different sources to make it even more well-grounded. But, be attentive on this stage — a large amount of data used can be a cause of redundant facts in your expository writing. To avoid that, analyze everything you've found and keep only relevant and unique information.

Here is another tip: don't overdo with slighted information. If you found an interesting source, but there are only two sentences related to your topic, it's better to skip it. When you are writing an expository essay, a piece of supporting evidence that comprehensively clears any "what if's" is more preferable than several diverse facts without proper explanation.

When the topic is decided, and information is gathered, it's time to work on the content of your assignment that consists of:

  • Introduction
  • The body
  • Conclusion

It sounds simple, but since the essay we are talking about has its specifics, we are going to discuss each component part specifically. So, sum up the information you've got and prepare for filling the sections of your expository assignment with it.

Writing Process

Actual writing may seem a relatively easier task to undertake than the planning, however, there are particular challenges here too. For example:

  • How many sentences should be in an introduction?
  • What is the structure of a body part and what explanations to include there?
  • What to state in the conclusion if everything has been said already?

And, these are only basic questions you can face. Therefore, the first recommendation we want to offer regarding your expository essay — create an outline before writing. It's simple. Just formulate the main thoughts and distribute them to the paragraphs you are going to have. Frequently, it goes like that: you state a simple idea, develop it by adding new information, and then, summarize all the thoughts and complete the circle. With a well thought-out outline, you will:

  • Maintain the required structure of the essays
  • Highlight the main aspects to include in the body part
  • Avoid repeating the same statements

So, are you ready to start your writing?

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How to Start an Expository Essay

When you embark on writing, the first part of your essay will be the introduction, for sure. But even with good planning, many students may still struggle with how to start an expository essay well. What should the first sentence look like? Should it give the reason of the exposition? There is no universal answer to this question — just think of the fact that there are different strategies for expository essays. The topic could center on an individual, an animal, an abstract idea, and anything else you want — it takes creativity to navigate the task of writing. Nevertheless, here, we will explore some ways to start an expository essay.

The introduction should definitely convey the main theme of your essay in a way so that they to be intrigued or at least interested in your narration. It should give a sense of what issues are covered and sometimes how the essay is organized. In some situations, depending on the topic, you may have to give some background information on the subject. Use unambiguous language to avoid any form of confusion — that can make it hard to understand what you are talking about. Even when the essay topic is interesting if the reader finds it difficult to "get your point" from the very beginning, what would you think would be a natural reaction of the audience? Many people may simply consider your essay boring or too complicated.

Now, as for how to start the expository introduction, check out these ideas.

  • Start with a question that provokes your reader into giving more thought to the issue.
    For example, "Is heroism natural for people nowadays? What is a hero concept for today's society?" Alternatively, the question may simply be used to get a response from the audience, that is a good way to seize their attention because the first impression always matters.
  • State a popular misconception.
    "Universal healthcare does the job much rarely as it should." By doing that, you can quickly build a mental bridge to the reader — it means you establish a connection using an easily relatable point. This is how you hook the audience.
  • Mention an interesting, revealing, or shocking fact about the topic.
    That can even be presented in the form of a question. An example of that can be the following: "Did you know that a single plastic straw we use in a day can kill thousands of fishes and harm several turtles?" This way, the reader will think, "I want to know what else you can tell about it," and that's what your aim is.

However, it is not enough to stop here — don't forget about the importance of your thesis statement. You may catch the people's attention, but it's nothing if you cannot convey the major idea. Consider it in advance — the expository essay should be focused on that statement, and all your examples and evidence have to support it. So, it will be a fail if the main message of your writing will be put somewhere in the middle of the essay or even neglected at all.

The Body

You should structure the paragraphs in the body of your essay such a way that each of them centers on a certain idea. For example, if your writing is about Pluto (the planet one), the first paragraph of the main part can clarify the definition of it, including multiple meanings that may exist. Then, you will provide the history of Pluto. Here, you can dwell on research reports, theory developments, the information about changes in its status, etc. The third part will tell some interesting facts unknown to the audience. For example, 'to pluto' can mean 'to demote or devalue someone or something'? Or, include different assumptions of the scientists about the dwarf planet.

The expository essay body part, although it informs about one particular thing, consists of sections that explain the subject from different aspects. That's why, to maintain the coherence, you have to ensure the logical transitions between the paragraphs. Overall, there should be a logical development of thoughts and kind an order in your writing.

How to End an Expository Essay

The conclusion is the last section of your writing which lets you summarize the essay or 'wrap things up.' When almost all the work has been done, an important question is how to conclude an expository essay and not to mess everything up. There are important elements the last paragraph should have.

The concluding paragraph may restate the main point of expository writing to reinforce its importance. Or, you can conclude with an overview of the explanations provided. Keep in mind that there should be a logical and smooth transition between the last paragraph of the body and the conclusion.

When ending the conclusion, ensure you have satisfied the curiosity of the reader and enlighten them on the issue you have investigated. You may conclude with a statement about how you hope that the audience has gained a sufficient understanding of the topic or new perspectives on the issues explained. What you shouldn't include is new facts or the sentences which are copy-pasted from the introduction.

Also, when you are going to put your last full-stop, check your word count. Does it meet the requirements? Students frequently omit this thing because today, you can find millions of explanations on the Internet. But, it is hard to turn them in an extensive expository essay. And, even if you use something from different web-pages, that won't be enough for refined academic writing.

In a bid to express yourself as clearly as possible, avoid using relatively unpopular words when there are commonly used and understood ones. Keep your sentence structure simple and make sure the text is readable. You may add a few complex phrases to the paragraph but only if your previous though requires specific explanation or so. Another important thing to closely observe is proper mechanics such as punctuation, capitalization of words and abbreviations, spaces and omitted words or letters. For that, let's proceed to the final stage of your expository essay writing.

Review the Work Done

Here, you have to take several careful look-throughs at your work. Think about what parts can be improved without changing the content much. A review can include fixing the sentence structure to make it more lucid, skipping some words, paraphrasing, etc. Also, you get to check the assignment for any mechanical and grammatical errors and correct them. Omission or misuse of punctuation marks, capitalizing words that should not be capitalized and vice versa — all these things may lower your grade. After the revision, you can confidently state that your expository essay is coherent, relevant, and refined.

If you don't know how to write an expository essay, it is always a good decision to start preparing it in advance. That assignment requires a lot. A significant part of your time will be spent on researching the topic and gathering the appropriate information from various sources. It could be a very demanding process, especially when you aim to explain the issue as clearly as possible and make it interesting. Sometimes, that is an uneasy task to accomplish.

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