Goodness And Badness Essay Format

The Basics of Effective Essay Writing

by Becton Loveless

As you progress through school, you'll be required to write essays. And the farther along in school you get, the more complex and demanding the essays will become. It's important that you learn early on how to write effective essays that communicate clearly and accomplish specific objectives.

An essay is a written composition where you express a specific idea and then support it with facts, statements, analysis and explanations. The basic format for an essay is known as the five paragraph essay – but an essay may have as many paragraphs as needed. A five paragraph essay contains five paragraphs. However, the essay itself consists of three sections: an introduction, a body and a conclusion.

Below we'll explore the basics of writing an essay.

Select a Topic

When you first start writing essays in school, it's not uncommon to have a topic assigned to you. However, as you progress in grade level, you'll increasingly be given the opportunity to choose the topic of your essays. When selecting a topic for your essay, you'll want to make sure your topic supports the type of paper you're expected to write. If you're expected to produce a paper that is a general overview, then a general topic will suffice. However, if you're expected to write a specific analysis, then you're topic should be fairly specific.

For example, lets assume the objective of your essay is to write an overview. Then the topic "RUSSIA" would be suitable. However, if the objective or your essay is to write a specific analysis, then "RUSSIA" would be far too general a topic. You'll need to narrow down your topic to something like "Russian Politics: Past, Present and Future" or "Racial Diversity in the Former USSR".

If you're expected to choose your own topic, then the first step is to define the purpose of your essay. Is your purpose to persuade? To explain how to accomplish something? Or to education about a person, place, thing or idea? The topic you choose needs to support the purpose of your essay.

The purpose of your essay is defined by the type of paper you're writing. There are three basic types of essay papers:

  • Analytical - An analytical essay paper breaks down an idea or issue into its its key components. It evaluates the issue or idea by presenting analysis of the breakdown and/or components to the the reader.

  • Expository - Also known as explanatory essays, expositories provide explanations of something.

  • Argumentative - These type of essays, also known as persuasive essays, make a specific claim about a topic and then provide evidence and arguments to support the claim. The claim set forth in argumentative (persuasive) essays may be an opinion, an evaluation, an interpretation, cause-effect statement or a policy proposal. The purpose of argumentative essays is to convince or persuade the reader that a claim is valid.

Once you have defined the purpose of your essay, it's time to brainstorm. Don't choose just one topic right of the bat. Take some time to consider, contrast and weight your options. Get out a piece of paper and make a list of all the different topics that fit the purpose of your essay. Once they're all down on paper, start by eliminating those topics that are difficult or not as relevant as others topics. Also, get rid of those topics that are too challenging or that you're just not that interested in. Pretty soon you will have whittled your list down to just a few topics and then you can make a final choice.

Organize Your Ideas Using a Diagram or Outline

Some students get scared to start writing. They want to make sure they have all their thoughts organized in their head before they put anything down on paper. Creating a diagram or outline allows you to put pen to paper and start organizing your ideas. Don't worry or agonize over organization at this point, just create a moderately organized format for your information.

Whether you use a diagram or outline doesn't really matter. Some people prefer and work better with the flowing structure of a diagram. Others like the rigid and logical structure of an outline. Don't fret, once you get started, you can always change formats if the format you chose isn't working out for you.

Diagram

The following are useful steps for developing a diagram to organize ideas for your essay.

  • Get started by drawing a circle in the middle of a paper just big enough to write in.
  • Inside your circle, write your essay topic.
  • Now draw three or four lines out from your circle.
  • At the end of each of lines, draw another circle just slightly smaller than the circle in the middle of the page.
  • In each smaller circle, write a main idea about your topic, or point you want to make. If this is persuasive (argumentative) essay, then write down your arguments. If the object of the essay is to explain a process (expository), then write down a step in each circle. If your essay is intended to be informative or explain (analytical), write the major categories into which information can be divided.
  • Now draw three more lines out from each circle containing a main idea.
  • At the end of each of these lines, draw another circle.
  • Finally, in each of these circles write down facts or information that help support the main idea.

Outline

The following are useful steps for developing an outline to organize ideas for your essay.

  • Take a page of paper and write your topic at the top.
  • Now, down the left side of the page, under the topic, write Roman numerals I, II, and III, sequentially.
  • Next to each Roman numeral, write the main points, or ideas, about your essay topic. If this is persuasive essay, write your arguments. If this an essay to inform, write the major categories into which information will be divided. If the purpose of your essay is to explain a process, write down each step of the process.
  • Next, under each Roman numeral, write A, B, and C down the left hand side of the page.
  • Finally, next to each letter, under each Roman numeral, write the information and/or facts that support the main point or idea.

Develop a Thesis Statement

Once you have an idea for the basic structure of your essay, and what information you're going to present in your essay, it's time to develop your thesis statement. A thesis statement states or outlines what you intend to prove in your essay. A good thesis statement should be clear, concise, specific, and takes a position.

The word "thesis" just sounds intimidating to most students, but a thesis is actually quite simple. A thesis statement (1) tells the reader what the essay is about and (2) what points you'll be making. If you've already selected an essay topic, and developed an outline or diagram, you now can decide what points you want to communicate through your essay.

A thesis statement has two key components. The first component is the topic, and the second is the point(s) of the essay. The following is an example of an expository (explanatory) thesis statement:

The life of a child raised in Pena Blanca is characterized by little playing, a lot of hard work and extreme poverty.

An example of an analytical thesis statement:

An analysis of the loan application process for citizens of third world countries reveals one major obstacle: applicants must already have money in order to qualify for a loan.

An example of an argumentative (persuasive) thesis statement:

Instead of sending tax money overseas to buoy struggling governments and economies, U.S. residents should be offered tax incentives for donating to companies that provide micro loans directly to the citizens of third world countries.

Once you're done developing a thesis statement that supports the type of essay your writing and the purpose of the essay, you're ready to get started on your introduction.

Introduction

The introduction is the first paragraph of the essay. It introduces the reader to the idea that the essay will address. It is also intended to capture the reader's attention and interest. The first sentence of the introduction paragraph should be as captivating and interesting as possible. The sentences that follow should clarify your opening statement. Conclude the introduction paragraph with your thesis statement.

Body

The body of your essay is where you explain, describe or argue the topic you've chosen. Each of the main ideas you included in your outline or diagram will become of the body paragraphs. If you wrote down four main ideas in your outline or diagram, then you'll have four body paragraphs.

Each paragraph will address one main idea that supports the thesis statement. The first paragraph of the body should put forth your strongest argument to support your thesis. Start the paragraph out by stating the supporting idea. Then follow up with additional sentences that contain supporting information, facts, evidence or examples – as shown in your diagram or outline. The concluding sentence should sum up what you've discussed in the paragraph.

The second body paragraph will follow the same format as the first body paragraph. This paragraph should put forth your second strongest argument supporting your thesis statement. Likewise, the third and fourth body paragraphs, like the first and second, will contain your third and fourth strongest arguments supporting your thesis statement. Again, the last sentence of both the third and fourth paragraphs should sum up what you've discussed in each paragraph and indicate to the reader that the paragraph contains the final supporting argument.

Conclusion

The final paragraph of the essay provides the conclusion. This paragraph should should restate your thesis statement using slightly different wording than employed in your introduction. The paragraph should summarize the arguments presented in the body of the essay. The last sentence in the conclusion paragraph should communicate that your essay has come to and end. Your concluding paragraph should communicate to the reader that you're confident that you've proven the idea as set forth in your thesis statement.

Having the ability to write effective essays will become increasingly important as you progress through high school and into college. If you'll internalize the format presented above, you'll develop the ability to write clear and compelling essays.

IELTS Advantage Disadvantage Essay Lesson

This lesson is about IELTS advantage disadvantage essay questions when you are told to assess whether the benefits of something outweigh the drawbacks.

The topic of the essay which is used as an example is about the trend to live and work abroad.

Take a look at the essay question we are going to analyse:

People now have the freedom to work and live anywhere in the world due to the development of communication technology and transportation.

Do the advantages of this development outweigh the disadvantages?


Understanding the Task

When you have this type of advantage disadvantage essay it is important to distinguish between this and one that asks you to discuss advantages and disadvantages but does not ask your opinion.

If you are asked “What are the advantages and disadvantages of…..” you are not being asked your opinion. You simply have to discuss the benefits and drawbacks.

You could do this in two body paragraphs:

  • Body One: The positive points
  • Body Two: The negative points

However, if you have the word “outweigh” or “Will this trend have more positive or negative effects?” then you are being asked for your opinion and you must say which there are the most of – positive or negative impacts. 

If you do not do this then you may get your score reduced on ‘Task Response’ for not fully addressing the question.

If you look at the IELTS public band descriptors (available to download if you do an internet search or available from your local IELTS centre), you will see that this could reduce your band to a 5 for this criteria (it would not necessarily affect the other three criteria).

(Check this lesson on IELTS Band 7 for an overview of the criteria for getting a band 7 if you are unsure of what the criteria are).

Take a look at these examples:

People now have the freedom to work and live anywhere in the world due to the development of communication technology and transportation.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of this trend?

This advantage disadvantage essay is not asking for your opinion. You could simply write one paragraph on the advantages and another on the disadvantages.

However, this one does:

People now have the freedom to work and live anywhere in the world due to the development of communication technology and transportation.

Do the advantages of this development outweigh the disadvantages?

OR

Will this have more positive or negative impacts?


What does 'Outweigh' mean?

Another point to be careful of is using the word ‘outweigh’. It is common for IELTS students to get mixed up when they write the thesis statement, and actually say the opposite to what they write in the essay!

For example, they will say the drawbacks outweigh the benefits, but then give more benefits in the essay. This makes no sense. 

So if you are not sure you can use the word correctly, I would recommend not using it in this type of IELTS advantage disadvantage essay. You can just say what your opinion is, as in the thesis in the model answer:

I believe that this has more benefits than drawbacks.

This will avoid any mistakes. 



Writing your Thesis

You then need to think of 3 supporting ideas. One for one side and two for the other side.

So you will then have three body paragraphs, one with the drawback / benefit and two with the advantages / disadvantages.

It is common academic practice to start with the opposing opinionto yours, so you can start with the point that you have one idea for.

As explained above, it is very important, especially if you are looking for a band 7 or higher, that your opinion reflects what is in your essay. So if you have said there are more benefits, then you would have two benefits and one drawback.

Now take a look at the advantage disadvantage essay model answer.




Model Advantage Disadvantage Essay 

Advantage Disadvantage Essay Model Answer

These days many people choose to live or work in other countries, which has been made possible because of the convenience of air travel and modern communications. I believe that this has more benefits than drawbacks. 

The disadvantage of this development is the distance that is put between family members. If a person moves away it is true that air travel and devices such as skype mean that communication and contact can be maintained. However, it is likely that a person will only be able to return one or two times a year during holidays, and speaking on skype or via email is not the same as face-to-face contact. 

Despite this, there are significant advantages it can bring to people’s lives. Firstly, it means that people have the opportunity to see other parts of the world and the way people live. For example, people from the West often go to work in Asia or the Middle East and visa-versa. This enriches many people’s lives as they get to learn about other languages, traditions, cultures and different ways of working from their own country.  

In addition to this, on a wider level it may also benefit other countries. If someone moves abroad for work, it is usually because their skill is required there. To illustrate, nurses and Doctors often move to work in hospitals in other countries when there is a shortage, so this is very valuable to the place they move to. 

I would therefore argue that although there are disadvantages of the current trend to live and work abroad, they are outweighed by the advantages. It can enrich people’s lives and lives of the people in the countries that they move to.  

(283 Words)




Comments

As you can see in the essay, the writer believes there are more benefits so the essay is biased towards this opinion, giving more advantages than disadvantages.

The opinion is very clear, and repeated in the conclusion, and the body of the essay reflects this opinion so there will be no confusion when someone reads it.




Other Ways to Answer the Question

This is not to suggest that this method is the only way to answer this type of question. There could be other ways.

For example, some people advise to write two body paragraphs - one on the advantages and another on the disadvantages, then in the conclusion state which one outweighs the other.

You can do this, but it can look at bit odd if you write about them equally, but then say there are more of one than the other! A conclusion can be cleverly worded to make this work, but that is a high level skill that many candidates do not have.

You could write only about the advantages or only about disadvantages and argue that one vastly outweights the other. However, the fact that the question uses 'outweigh' or 'more' is suggesting that there are both benefits and drawbacks.

The benefit of organising your advantage disadvantage essay as illustrated in this lesson is that by looking at both sides, you will have more ideas to brainstorm. And importantly, your opinion is clearand this is reflected in the essay, which is balanced to reflect and support your opinion.

A model answer for this essay will be posted shortly so watch this space, or sign up using the form on the right to be notifed when there are updates to the site.




Practice

Now you can have a practice.

Try to answer this advantage disadvantage essay question:

More and more students are choosing to study at colleges and universities in foreign countries.

Do the benefits of studying abroad outweigh the drawbacks?

A model answer for this essay will be posted shortly so watch this space, or sign up using the form on the right to be notifed when there are updates to the site.




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You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

People now have the freedom to work and live anywhere in the world due to the development of communication technology and transportation.

Do the advantages of this development outweigh the disadvantages?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own experience or knowledge.

Write at least 250 words.

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