Writing

Here you can find activities to practise your writing skills. You can improve your writing by understanding model texts and how they're structured.

The self-study lessons in this section are written and organised by English level based on the Common European Framework of Reference for languages (CEFR). There are different types of model texts, with writing tips and interactive exercises that practise the writing skills you need to do well in your studies, to get ahead at work and to communicate in English in your free time.

Take our free online English test to find out which level to choose. Select your level, from A1 English level (elementary) to C1 English level (advanced), and improve your writing skills at your own speed, whenever it's convenient for you.

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Our online English classes feature lots of useful writing materials and activities to help you develop your writing skills with confidence in a safe and inclusive learning environment.

Practise writing with your classmates in live group classes, get writing support from a personal tutor in one-to-one lessons or practise writing by yourself at your own pace with a self-study course.

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How to Write the Perfect Essay in English: 6 Easy Steps

If you are an international student at college or university and you need help with your essay writing in English, you are in the right place! We have created this simple 6-step guide to help you achieve the best results in the shortest possible time. This guide includes essay writing tips, examples, templates, and links to helpful resources. Let’s jump right in…

learn write essay in english

  • Step 1: Plan
  • Step 2: Research
  • Step 3: Introduce
  • Step 4: Argue
  • Step 5: Reference
  • Step 6: Conclude

17 English Phrasal Verbs With Call

What you will learn:  

Step 1: Plan Step 2: Research Step 3: Introduce Step 4: Argue Step 5: Reference Step 6: Conclude

Quick Intro

Essay writing in English is very different from other types of written communication, such as composing emails for work or personal letters to friends. The main difference is that you need to demonstrate your ability to think and write critically .

When writing an academic text, you need to clearly introduce and explain an argument . This means you must show that you have understood and carefully considered the opinions of experts in the subject/topic.

learn write essay in english

There are also rules (or conventions) that you have to follow when introducing theories and using quotes from other people’s work . We have included tips and links to help you get this right in your English essays.

Do not let academic writing in English scare you. You can do this!  

Step 1: Plan Your Essay

Step 1: Plan Your Essay

Have you ever heard the phrase “fail to prepare and prepare to fail” ? Well, it is famous for a reason – and is certainly true when it comes to writing a good essay.

Having a detailed plan makes it so much easier to produce a great essay, dissertation or research paper.

In any sort of academic writing, your preparation and planning are important. Before you start to write, make sure you complete a detailed plan .

Of course, while you are writing your essay, you may change parts of your original plan – but only if you are sure that there is a good reason for making these changes.

Here are some tips to help you plan your thoughts effectively to make essay writing in English a lot easier.

How to plan an essay in English

  • Study the essay question carefully. Make sure you completely understand it. Write it out in full and then try to say it using different words. This will help you when you start to write your assignment.
  • Underline the most important words (the “key words”) in the essay question. Make sure you understand them – use a dictionary or synonym bank to help you. Define the key words in the essay question, but using your own words .
  • Create a ‘mind map’ on a big piece of paper. Write the essay question in the middle and then surround it with any key words, ideas or quotes that you would like to include in your essay. People sometimes call this “brainstorming”.
  • List the research work you will need to complete to write your essay well. This includes all the relevant textbooks, as well as the prominent authors you will reference with quotes. Make sure you have access to all the books you need before you begin (online, library, shop).
  • Plan your argument so that it makes logical sense. To write a great essay, you need to answer the question fully. This means you must show independent thought, and present your argument in an intelligent and convincing way.
  • Choose a suitable person and register for your writing. Most academic texts must be written in formal register. Although you should not use the first person in an essay (“I”) , it is still important to demonstrate your ability to think critically. We will show you how to do this later.
  • Decide how many sections your essay will contain. This depends on the required wordcount (length), but here is a simple section plan to get you started:

Example: essay structure

  • Introduction – paraphrase the question to show you understand it in the context of your studies. We will look at paraphrasing – with a useful example – a little later (in Step 3).
  • Body text 1 – present your main argument early in your essay, with carefully considered points to justify it. Show that you have read about the subject and are well-informed in the relevant theory or ideas.
  • Body text 2 – show that you know the key arguments against your main point, and use references to these.
  • Body text 3 – explain why your main argument is correct or justified, using the remaining points from your research.
  • Conclusion – summarise the essay or assignment by returning to the original question, making sure you have answered it fully and clearly.

Template: plan for an essay in English

Question: Q. “ Tell me and I forget . Teach me and I remember . Involve me and I learn .” Discuss what Benjamin Franklin meant by this statement. Do you agree with it?

Underline the important words (key words) in the essay question: Involve me and I learn . Discuss what this means . Do you agree?  

Rewrite the essay question in my own words: Benjamin Franklin was a self-taught learner and believed in the power of allowing people to complete tasks and activities themselves, rather than being told how to do them in a traditional classroom setting. This essay aims to discuss how this inclusive approach could be used to form teaching tools and programmes to empower educators and students – both now and in the future.

Research I need to do:

learn write essay in english

  • Benjamin Franklin – his life and ethos, his attitudes towards education.
  • The main forms of current student-centred/inclusive education styles and how they work. Theory vs. practice.
  • Theories of deductive vs. inductive education styles. Arguments for and against each, supporting my thoughts on the positive power of student-centred learning.
  • Complete a reading list of key texts.

My initial thoughts (the argument I need to articulate):

  • Including students in activities and tasks, making lessons student-centred, is a better way of helping them to learn than traditional teacher-centred methods.  
  • Link education to the concept of democracy; giving people the power to make autonomous decisions is a more productive way of helping a group to develop independent thinking skills and therefore evolve as a society.
  • My essay must argue why this is true, analysing theories of deductive vs. inductive (i.e. inclusive) education methodologies from the most prominent educational theorists of recent times.  
  • I need to remember to conclude my essay by returning to the original question.  

Step 2: Research the Topic

Any piece of academic writing – whether it is an undergraduate essay, post-graduate dissertation or post-doctoral research paper – requires detailed and relevant research .

However, researching for an essay in English does not need to be a difficult or painful process!

Learning how to research effectively and efficiently will save you a lot of time and stress.

Remember that even academic professionals are not expected to know absolutely everything. We all learn something new every day.

However, it is important that all academic writing demonstrates the author’s readiness to explore a variety of facts and theories, and discuss them critically.

Healthy food or Not

“Critical thinking” means thinking logically and rationally about facts, ideas and concepts, as well as the possible connections between them .

Critical thinking is different from everyday thinking. It is an essential skill for any college or university student, studying in any language – not just English. In academic or essay writing, you must show you are able to explain your critical thinking skills clearly.

Everyday thinking is something most of us do all the time – it does not usually require any real effort.

Critical thinking is the opposite to this. It is when we intentionally use our powers of analysis, combined with our knowledge and research, to produce a theory or argument about something.

How to think (and write) critically in English

Critical thinking involves several skills, including: conceptualising, analysing, refining and evaluating.

  • Conceptualising: To conceptualise means to combine pieces of information to form a new idea, or concept.
  • Analysing: To analyse means to study a fact, idea or concept in great detail, using independent thinking and research to discover its meaning or validity.
  • Refining: To refine means to break something down into its essential parts. In other words, to take out all the unnecessary (or irrelevant) information and present the most important information, ideas or facts in a clear and concise way.
  • Evaluating: To evaluate means to understand an idea, thought or argument and go on to assess how accurate or useful it is. A key part of critical thinking is acknowledging that not all arguments are equal, and being able to explain why some are more valid than others.

You will also need to evaluate your own work, after you have written your essay, to see where improvements can be made. This is an important step to complete before submitting your essay for marking.  

Step 3: Write a Great Introduction

To create a great introduction to an essay (or any academic piece of writing) in English, you need to do two things:

  • Demonstrate that you understand the question fully
  • Introduce your argument clearly

Here is how to do this…

  • Show that you understand the question

The most important thing is to show you understand the question that you are answering in your essay, assignment or thesis. You should use clear and concise English. A simple way to do this is to paraphrase the essay question within the introduction to your essay.

What is paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing means explaining what a statement or question means, using different words and grammatical structures. In academic writing, this demonstrates that you understand a point and are able to think critically about it – and express those thoughts using clear written English.

  • “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Discuss what Benjamin Franklin meant by this statement. Do you agree with it?  
  • American self-taught writer, scientist and diplomat Benjamin Franklin believed in the power of learning through experience. This quote demonstrates that he advocated inclusive education, rather than a teacher-centred, or didactic, approach to learning.

Franklin himself was a self-taught polymath. He learnt through experience, which greatly informed this view. This essay aims to demonstrate why today’s educators should take inspiration from Franklin by adopting an experiential approach to delivering lessons.

How to paraphrase in English  

  • Make sure your first statement starts at a different point than the original sentence or question.
  • Try to use synonyms (alternative words that mean the same thing – such as “different” instead of “alternative”) for the words in the original sentence or question.
  • Break down the information, for example into two sentences (instead of one).
  • Use different words to the vocabulary used in the essay question.
  • Use different sentence structures to those used in the assignment question.

Although you do not need to go into great detail in your introduction, you should definitely begin to answer the essay question by referencing the direction your argument will take .

In this particular essay question, the student is being asked to express their agreement or disagreement with Franklin’s point of view. Therefore, expressing an argument for or against the quote is especially important here. Remember that you should never use the first person (“I’) in academic writing, unless it is specifically asked for.

“This essay aims to demonstrate why today’s educators should take inspiration from Franklin by adopting an experiential approach to delivering lessons.”

(Not! In MY essay… or … I will aim to… )    

Step 4: Present Your Argument

When writing your essay, it is a good idea to explain both sides of the argument in the first section of the body text of your essay (body 1).

learn write essay in english

This helps to show that you have analysed the question, and understand the importance of considering different viewpoints. Including the work of prominent writers and theorists in your field of study also shows you have done your research on the topic.

To help you do this, write a list of arguments for and against the point you are discussing. Then incorporate what you have written into your essay.

Based on the question below, we might create the following table to use in our essay. This shows agreement AND disagreement with Benjamin Franklin’s statement.

Step 5: Use Quotes Effectively

As we said in the research section (Step 2) of this guide, including the work and theories of prominent experts in the subject you are writing about is very important.

However, it is also important to reference the work of other people in the correct way – otherwise you could be accused of plagiarism (copying or cheating)!

There are several different systems of referencing. These include:

MLA (Modern Languages Association) system APA (American Psychological Association) system Harvard system MHRA (Modern Humanities Research Association) system.

It is very important that you use the referencing system that is used and accepted by your academic institution or university.

For example, Nottingham Trent University in the UK requires students to use the Harvard referencing system, whereas other institutions might insist that students use the MHRA system. If you are in doubt, check with your tutor or lecturer.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is when you use another person’s work and pretend that it is your own. Sometimes, plagiarism is not committed intentionally, but is just the result of bad referencing.

Plagiarism is against the rules in all UK universities, and could cause a student to fail an assignment – or, in the worst-case scenario, they could even be asked to leave the course without graduating!

How to avoid plagiarism

  • Make sure you understand what plagiarism means. Most UK universities have a detailed definition of plagiarism on their websites – as well as tools you can use to detect plagiarism in your own work before you submit it. Make sure you use them!
  • Write quotes in a different colour or font type. Only change the format to match the rest of your essay text after you have referenced everything correctly.
  • Read your essay back carefully before handing it in. Check for spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors, as well as for plagiarism.
  • Ask a native English-speaking student or colleague to read your essay and check for inconsistencies in tone and style of writing – this can often indicate accidental plagiarism .
  • Check the referencing system used by your academic institution, and learn how to use it yourself before starting your essay. Give yourself plenty of time to do this.
  • Complete your bibliography. Your bibliography is the list of all the books, articles, websites and any other sources you have used to complete your essay. Check with your tutor to make sure your bibliography is written to suit the standards of your college or university. This is a very important part of the referencing process.

Here’s a useful video on how to use the Harvard referencing system: 

Step 6: End with a Strong Conclusion

The conclusion of an essay is just as important as the introduction.

It is here that you have your final chance to summarise your main points, highlight any research you have done and bring your thoughts together to end with a strong and convincing conclusion.

A great essay conclusion in English shows your ability to refine complex information and summarise an argument in clear and concise English.

Paraphrasing is important for the introduction of an essay, whereas summarising is important for the conclusion. Paraphrasing is saying the same thing as an original statement (but in different words), whereas summarising is providing a shortened version of the key points and defining exactly what they mean.

How to summarise

  • Read your essay through at least twice. What are the key points?
  • Identify these key points and rewrite them using different words.
  • What do these key points mean when they are combined together?
  • Write this out, making sure you refer back to the original essay question again.

Example summary (from essay conclusion):

In summary, by saying “tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”, Benjamin Franklin was not simply referring to education in the traditional classroom sense, where a teacher stands in front of a group of students and instructs them.

As this essay has referenced, many popular modern-day teaching styles, such as Montessori and Steiner, focus on student-centred learning. This focus on inductive learning in the early stages of a child’s life can be seen to be not only beneficial to the individual, but to society as a whole.

In conclusion, writing a great essay in English does not need to be painful or scary. In fact, it can be fun. Contact us if you need any support with English for academic, business or general purposes – we can help!

If you need native English tuition to improve your academic English, request a consultation today and speak to one of our experienced EAL instructors!

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100 False Friends In English And Spanish (With Examples)

“False friends” are words that look the same in two languages but have different meanings. English and Spanish have many words in common (e.g. from Latin). Some of these words have changed their meanings over time to create false cognates.

learn write essay in english

Difference Between: Which vs. That

Which and that refer to a subject we have already introduced. That provides essential information, specifying what makes the subject unique. Which adds non-essential detail. If we remove this, the sentence still makes sense. E.g. The cat that lives next door loves eating fish, which is a rare treat.

learn write essay in english

Reporting Verbs in English: List with Examples & Exercises

Reporting verbs are used when you want to tell someone about another conversation. We also call this reported speech or indirect speech. Two examples of reporting verbs are say and tell. There are many others and these have different meanings and grammar structures. In this study guide, we’ll look at examples of these verbs and show you how to use them correctly. We’ll also look at reporting verbs to improve your academic writing. Let’s go!

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8 Tips to Write Better Essays in English

Learning a foreign language is an overwhelming experience, especially if it’s one of the most widely spoken languages in the world – English.

Many people are under the impression that learning to read and speak in English is enough without realizing that written English skills are an equally vital asset to have.

From improving academics to boosting career prospects – the ability to write in English not only lets you communicate and express yourself better in today’s globalized world but also makes you more confident.

An effective way to improve your writing skills is to write essays. Wondering where to begin? We bring you eight useful tips to write better essays in English.

1. Keep a Vocabulary Notebook

Using the right vocabulary is an essential element of writing essays. When you make efforts to expand your vocabulary, you will be able to pick accurate words to take your writing to the next level.

Instead of coming across new words and forgetting about them, it’s a good idea to make a note of them in your vocabulary notebook. Doing this helps you remember the meanings of new words and you can also refer to it while writing essays.

So, give yourself a target to learn at least ten new words every day, which you can jot down in your diary and take baby steps in building a strong vocabulary.

2. Refer to Credible Sources

Research forms the first step in writing any kind of essay. The stronger your research, the better is the quality of your essay.

At a time when we have access to a wide range of data, it’s important to evaluate research sources carefully and only refer to credible ones. For example, Wikipedia is not a reliable source and should not be attributed to while writing essays.

Take the effort to read through published journals, research studies, scholarly papers, academic databases, and encyclopedias published within the last 10-15 years. It’s also important to assess the credibility of the author while evaluating the source.

3. Draft a Basic Outline

Once you’ve done your research, don’t rush to write. Take a moment to draft a basic outline for your essay and organize your research and findings.

“Is that necessary,” you ask? Very much.

Working on an outline lets you approach the essay in an organized manner. It serves as the skeleton of your paper while ensuring you’re not missing out on any information and that your points flow logically.

Most essays are categorized into – introduction, body, and conclusion.

The introduction is where you introduce the topic and give context. The body paragraphs need to include your arguments and research methodology (if any). The conclusion needs to reiterate the thesis statement and tie all the points together.

4. Hook the Reader

With attention spans getting shorter with time, it’s become all the more important to start with a bang and hook the reader from the beginning to ensure they are invested in your writing.

Essay hooks refer to the first one or two sentences of your essay which have the power to make or break the reader’s interest. The key is to write a hook that grabs the reader’s attention and reels them in.

From an alarming statistic and relevant quote to using humor and asking a rhetoric question – there are various tactics you can employ to keep the reader engaged.

If you’re unable to think of an impactful essay hook, don’t waste too much time on it. Finish the rest of your essay and come back to write a compelling hook later.

5. Use the Pomodoro Technique

It’s not easy to write an essay in one go, especially if it’s not in your first language.

A smart way to approach essay writing is to use the Pomodoro technique. This technique asks you to set a timer for 25 minutes to finish your task in question and then take a 5-minute break. After four cycles of repeating this, you get to take an extended 20-minute break.

So, start with breaking down the assignment into smaller tasks such as research, outlining, writing the different paragraphs, citing references and proofreading. You can then set the timer, start working on the essay as per the technique and track your progress.

Using this technique keeps distractions at bay and helps you stay more focused.

6. Pay Attention to Grammar Rules

You may raise interesting points in your essay, but poor grammar disrupts the reading experience and should be avoided at all costs.

Be careful when adding punctuations, check your sentence formations, avoid passive voice as much as possible and know the difference between adjectives, adverbs, nouns and verbs.

So  abide by grammar rules to deliver a well-written and cohesive essay.

7. Write with Clarity

You might be tempted to use complex metaphors and jargons to impress the reader, but the truth is, none of that guarantees “good” writing.

One of the most important ingredients of effective writing is clarity. You don’t want to leave the reader confused and puzzled after reading your essay. So, use simple words, stop beating around the bush and explain concepts with the help of examples because clear writing always wins.

8. Reread the Essay

Finally, make it a point to proofread your essay (multiple times) to ensure you have covered all the aspects, cited references accurately and not made any silly errors.

It’s a good idea to read your essay out loud so you’re able to identify errors and awkwardly formed sentences with ease. You should also get a friend or family member to read your essay, to spot mistakes or discrepancies that you may have overlooked.

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35 comments

Thanks a lot all we can derive from reading is the technique to write with clarity, good research and involvement of readers in writing.

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Good tips, I should give it a try, after all, we all improve by exercising hard so I’ll just do the same thing, but right now I gotta focus on what matters, and what I need now is to read as much as I can to know how to spell the words right. Is grammar so important in this task, I mean can’t I just pick the things up because of my experience in listening skill ?

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Is very interesting for me I really apreicete you help

Thanks so much for these useful tips!! Now, I need to start preparing my essay (“starting” has been always the stone on my way :$)

Please, what is the difference between an essay and an article?

Are they same?

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I want to know if it is only at the University or if we may take the course online.

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Very pragmatic and helpful essay. Thank so much English club

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How to Write Top-Graded Essays in English

How to Write Top-Graded Essays in English

  • 5-minute read
  • 7th December 2022

Writing English papers and essays can be challenging at first, but with the right tools, knowledge, and resources, you can improve your writing skills. In this article, you’ll get some tips and tricks on how to write a top-graded essay in English.

Have you heard the saying “practice makes perfect”? Well, it’s wrong. Practice does make improvement, though. Whether you’re taking an English composition class, studying for the IELTS or TOEFL , or preparing to study abroad, you can always find new ways to practice writing in English.

If you practice on a daily basis, you’ll be exercising the skills you know while challenging yourself to learn even more. There are many ways you can practice writing in English daily:

  • Keep a daily journal.
  • Write practice essays.
  • Do creative writing exercises .

Read in English

The best way to improve your writing is to read English books, news articles, essays, and other media. By reading the writing of other authors (whether they’re native or non-native speakers), you’re exposing yourself to different writing styles and learning new vocabulary. Be sure to take notes when you’re reading so you can write down things you don’t know (e.g., new words or phrases) or sentences or phrases you like.

For example, maybe you need to write a paper related to climate change. By reading news articles or research papers on this topic, you can learn relevant vocabulary and knowledge you can use in your essay.

FluentU has a great article with a list of 20 classic books you can read in English for free.

Immerse Yourself in English

If you don’t live in an English-speaking country, you may be thinking, “How can I immerse myself in English?” There are many ways to overcome this challenge. The following strategies are especially useful if you plan to study or travel abroad:

  • Follow YouTube channels that focus on learning English or that have English speakers.
  • Use social media to follow English-speaking accounts you are interested in.
  • Watch movies and TV shows in English or use English subtitles when watching your favorite shows.
  • Participate in your English club or salon at school to get more practice.
  • Become an English tutor at a local school (teaching others is the best way to learn).

By constantly exposing yourself to English, you will improve your writing and speaking skills.

Visit Your Writing Center

If you’re enrolled at a university, you most likely have a free writing center you can use if you need help with your assignments. If you don’t have a writing center, ask your teacher for help and for information on local resources.

Use Your Feedback

After you submit an English writing assignment, you should receive feedback from your teacher on how you did. Use this feedback to your advantage . If you haven’t been getting feedback on your writing, ask your teacher to explain what issues they are seeing in your writing and what you could do to improve.

Find this useful?

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Be Aware of Your Common Writing Mistakes

If you review your feedback on writing assignments, you might notice some recurring mistakes you are making. Make a list of common mistakes you tend to make when writing, and use it when doing future assignments. Some common mistakes include the following:

  • Grammar errors (e.g., not using articles).
  • Incorrect vocabulary (e.g., confusing however and therefore ).
  • Spelling mistakes (e.g., writing form when you mean from ).
  • Missing essay components (e.g., not using a thesis statement in your introduction).
  • Not using examples in your body paragraphs.
  • Not writing an effective conclusion .

This is just a general list of writing mistakes, some of which you may make. But be sure to go through your writing feedback or talk with your teacher to make a list of your most common mistakes.

Use a Prewriting Strategy

So many students sit down to write an essay without a plan. They just start writing whatever comes to their mind. However, to write a top-graded essay in English, you must plan and brainstorm before you begin to write. Here are some strategies you can use during the prewriting stage:

  • Freewriting
  • Concept Mapping

For more detailed information on each of these processes, read “5 Useful Prewriting Strategies.”

Follow the Writing Process

All writers should follow a writing process. However, the writing process can vary depending on what you’re writing. For example, the process for a Ph.D. thesis is going to look different to that of a news article. Regardless, there are some basic steps that all writers should follow:

  • Understanding the assignment, essay question, or writing topic.
  • Planning, outlining, and prewriting.
  • Writing a thesis statement.
  • Writing your essay.
  • Revising and editing.

For more information on how to write an essay in English, read “How To Construct an Excellent Essay in 5 Steps.”

Writing essays, theses, news articles, or papers in English can be challenging. They take a lot of work, practice, and persistence. However, with these tips, you will be on your way to writing top-graded English essays.

If you need more help with your English writing, the experts at Proofed will proofread your first 500 words for free!

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Baby Steps: 10 Proven Tips to Write Better Essays in English

If writing an essay sounds a little bit scary, just think of it as a chance to improve your writing skills .

Nobody expects your first essay to be perfect. Just make sure you learn something new every time you write an essay, and you will  grow your abilities.

We’re going to help you out with ten tips for writing better essays while you’re learning English .

1. Create a Word Bank

2. act like a reporter, 3. create topic sentences, 4. argue both sides, 5. read backwards, 6. use an online thesaurus and a dictionary, 7. combine and separate sentences, 8. have a native english speaker edit your essay, 9. review the whole essay with your friend, then rewrite it, 10. use online apps, and one more thing....

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

This is an interesting approach to writing your essay. First, choose a topic and write a thesis . A thesis is the main argument of your essay. For instance, if your topic is reading, your thesis might be “Reading makes you smarter.”

Once you have a thesis, think about your main topic and find words that relate to it in different ways. Then, branch out (broaden, diversify) your list to words that aren’t as closely related to your main topic.

For the example above, your primary list might include words like “books,” “reading” and “intelligent.” Your other “branched out” list might include “Harry Potter,” “reading by a fire” or “test scores.”

This process will help expand your vocabulary over time. Using these words when you write will also make your essay more vibrant (energetic, colorful).

When you are first assigned the topic, go ahead and really explore the possible options for your thesis. Ask questions. Get curious. The more questions you ask before you start writing, the more information you will have to use in the essay.

A strong essay is one that covers a lot of content in a succinct (short, to-the-point) way. This process of acting like a reporter will give you valuable quotes, resources and vocabulary to begin the writing process.

For instance, if you’re writing about a new diet plan , you might ask questions like, “Who is the best candidate for this diet plan?,” “How can someone get started?” and “What is the hardest part of this plan?”

A topic sentence is the first sentence in a paragraph, and it summarizes the rest of the paragraph. You can create them first to help you stay on track when writing your essay.

For the thesis “Reading makes you smarter,” one paragraph’s topic sentence might be, “Newspapers make you more aware of current events.” Another paragraph’s topic sentence could be, “Reading plays and classic literature will make you more cultured.”

If you’re writing about the three main issues facing writers today, you could write three full sentences that each address one main issue. Set these aside. Then, when you start writing the essay, refer to your topic sentences to create a solid structure that begins at point A and ends at point C.

If you have to write a longer or more complex essay, it might help to outline both sides of the argument before you start writing. When you write the essay, you will need to choose one side to focus on. But as you prepare, having a side-by-side list of points can be helpful in developing your thesis.

Also, by arguing for the opposite side of your opinion, you will learn which points you need to better address in your essay. You will learn more about the topic, and you will gain more vocabulary words to enrich the essay.

As an example, you might be writing an essay arguing that people should drink less coffee. To argue both sides, you’ll need to consider the opposite side: the benefits of coffee. How will people quit if they are addicted? What about the antioxidants in coffee? Aren’t those good for you? Really explore the entire concept (both sides of the argument) before you write.

Proper grammar is difficult for even the most fluent English speakers. Because you are learning English, you actually have an advantage. Many native speakers learned improper grammar from the start. It’s difficult to undo the damage caused by a lifetime of writing improperly.

As you learn the English language, make a serious effort to practice your grammar and sentence structure. One way to spot improper grammar in your own English writing is to read each sentence backwards (start with the last word and end with the first). This way, you won’t be fooled by how the words sound when you read them in your head.

Is everything in the correct tense (past, present, future, etc.)? If you’re writing about plurals, are the possessive nouns plural? Are the apostrophes in the right places? Does every sentence end with a punctuation mark (period, question mark, exclamation point)? Reading the text backwards makes you focus on the rules of grammar instead of the flow of the sentence.

You might have learned a large number of fancy words when studying for an entrance exam. But before you start using them in academic essays, be very sure you know what they mean in the context of your essay. This is where the dictionary can come in handy .

A thesaurus is another valuable tool when writing an essay. A thesaurus tells you synonyms, or words that have the same or a similar meaning to the word you look up. It’s important because it can add some volume to your essay and increase the impact of your words.

For example, if you’re writing about cooking, the words “stir” and “add” might come up a lot. This repetition is boring for a reader.

So instead of constantly saying, “Add the tomato” and “add the eggs,” a thesaurus will teach you to say things like “whisk in the eggs” or “gently fold in the tomatoes.” See? It sounds a lot better and adds interest to your essay.

Visual Thesaurus is a resource that works just like a regular thesaurus, but it also shows you the connections between the words. For example, if you type in the word “stir,” you’ll immediately see a whole circle of other words connected to “stir” with lines. From there, you can click on any of the words in the circle (like “move,” in this case) and then see all the words related to that word. This helps you find and learn new words quickly, and it’s also fun!

Once the essay is written, go back through the writing to find any sentences that seem too long or wordy. Break these into two or more sentences.

For example, the following sentence is too long, which makes it unclear:

If you want to write in another language, you need to practice writing in creative ways, like writing on a blog, writing fun poems or texting a friend who speaks the language you’re learning every day.

Instead, you could write it as two clearer sentences (with less repetition of the word “writing”):

If you want to write in another language, you need to practice in creative ways every day. For example, you could start a blog, create fun poems or text a friend.

Do the opposite with sentences you find too short.

Also, look for sentences that are very closely related to one another. If two sentences seem like the thoughts are connected, you can combine them with a semicolon ( ; ).

For example, the following sentences are very closely related:

Learning to write in another language can be really difficult, especially when you’re first getting started. That’s why it helps to practice every day.

That’s why you could write it this way:

Learning to write in another language can be really difficult, especially when you’re first getting started; daily practice is helpful.

Meet up with a friend who is fluent in English (or, at least, more fluent than you). This friend can edit your essay and point out any repetitive errors.

If they find mistakes that you make often, you will be able to watch more closely for that error as you write future essays. This friend will also be able to point out grammatical or spelling errors that you might have missed.

If you don’t have any friends who are fluent in English, you can use a website like Conversation Exchange . This is a free site where native English speakers will correct your writing. In exchange, you correct the writing of someone learning your native language.

Once you and your friend have both reviewed your essay and marked any mistakes, rewrite the whole thing. This step is important. Just noting that you made some mistakes will not help you learn how to avoid them in the future.

By rewriting the essay with the corrections in mind, you will teach yourself how to write those sections properly. You will create a memory of using proper grammar or spelling a word correctly. So, you will be more likely to write it correctly next time.

Lastly, there are some fantastic online resources that can help improve your writing. For instance,  Hemingway Editor  can review your document to find any confusing or wordy sentences. You can rewrite these to make them easier to understand.

You could also head over to  Essay Punch  to find resources, tools and support that can help improve your writing skills.  Grammar Book  is a great resource for practicing proper grammar and spelling.

If you need some practice with words and grammar, but you learn better from audio and video, it can be challenging to improve your writing ability. One way to improve your English skills with a multimedia approach is using a language learning program like FluentU .

Since many online resources are readily accessible, feel free to experiment with your options. Try to find the ones that cater best to your learning habits and needs.

The advice in this post is mainly for improving your essay writing over time. However, if you want a more professional opinion for an important essay, you can also use Scribendi . Scribendi is an online essay editing resource that helps with academic and admissions essays. If you’re applying to a school or are writing an important paper, you may want to consider their services to make sure your essay is the best it can be.

Learning a new language is certainly an ambitious (challenging) task. There are so many small details to learn, and the process takes a lot of time and commitment. But with practice and study, you will improve.

It takes even more effort to become a strong writer in a new language, but these tips will help you get started.

Hopefully, you were able to find one or two tips that you believe will help you improve your essay writing abilities. Over time, try to use all of these strategies (or at least more than one) in your writing routine. Good luck!

If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials , as you can see here:

learn-english-with-videos

If you want to watch it, the FluentU app has probably got it.

The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.

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FluentU lets you learn engaging content with world famous celebrities.

For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:

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FluentU lets you tap to look up any word.

Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.

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FluentU helps you learn fast with useful questions and multiple examples. Learn more.

The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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learn write essay in english

Writing Skills: How to Write an Essay in English

Struggling with another English essay? Inside, find a basic structure that will help you make the essay writing process easier and turn in a remarkable essay.

Determine the Purpose of Your Essay and Stick to It

Brainstorm ideas, develop a thesis statement, create an outline, start writing, edit and proofread, the bottom line.

Character get a bad mark on his English essay

For many beginning English learners writing a whole essay in English can turn out to be a challenge. It’s no wonder why – English students often face a lot of difficulties because there are so many grammar rules and stylistic nuances that it can be daunting for even the most determined students.

However, essays are an integral part of the education system. Essays allow teachers to evaluate your critical thinking and written communication skills. You’ll also need good essay writing skills if you want to apply for universities in English-speaking countries.

The great news is that, with a little hard work and determination, anyone can become a proficient English writer. In this article, we'll discuss some tips that will boost your writing skills and help you ease the essay writing process. Keep reading and learn how to start writing remarkable essays in English!

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There are many different types of essays, and each one requires a different writing approach. Some essays, such as persuasive essays , require a lot of research to form well thought-out arguments. Others, such as personal narratives , are more informal and may not require as much additional research.

If you're assigned a research paper , you'll need to use more factual evidence to support your claims. Admissions essays , in turn, require you to present yourself to the admissions committee and demonstrate why you're a good fit for their school.

In an expository essay you explain or define a concept, while in a descriptive essay you'll describe something in great detail.

Understanding the purpose of your essay will help you determine what kind of information to include and how best to organize it. No matter what type of essay you're writing, it's important to determine the purpose early on and stick to it . Keep in mind that trying to accomplish too many things in one essay will only confuse and frustrate your reader.

When you want to write an essay, one of the most important steps is brainstorming . This is when you sit down and come up with ideas for your essay.

Here’s a few questions to get your brainstorming session started. What am I trying to say with my essay? What points do I want to make? What examples can I use to support my claims?

Simply jot down all of your ideas on the topic, and then look for common themes and patterns. By taking the time to think about your essay before you start writing, you'll save yourself a lot of time and frustration later on.

Character thinking about writing the essay

Once you have a general idea of what you want to write about, it's time to develop a thesis statement . This is a short, concise sentence that states the central point of your essay. It should be specific and direct, without being too narrow or broad.

Some things to keep in mind to help you develop a clear thesis statement:

  • Make sure it is directly relevant to the prompt or question.
  • Be as specific as possible.
  • Browse sample essays to get a better idea of how yours should look like.
  • Don't be afraid to revise your thesis statement as you write!

For example, if you want to explore the theme of justice in the play Antigone , a good thesis statement might be:

  • In the play Antigone, Sophocles uses irony to highlight the contradictions between what is morally right and what is legally right.

This thesis statement tells us that the essay will be about how Sophocles uses irony, and what that says about the literature. It gives the reader a specific idea of what to expect, and it also helps to keep the writer focused on their essay’s main purpose.

After you've developed a thesis statement, it's time to create an outline . This will be a roadmap for your essay and help you keep your thoughts organized and on track. A good outline includes a main idea for each paragraph (usually expressed in a topic sentence), and supporting details.

To get started, simply list all of the ideas that you want to include in your essay. Then, look for any common themes or patterns. From there, you can start to develop a more specific outline.

To give you an example, here is a basic outline for a five-paragraph essay on the abovementioned play Antigone :

Introductory Paragraph:

  • Brief summary of the play.
  • Overview of your main argument.

Body Paragraphs:

  • Paragraph 1: Sophocles uses irony to explore the theme of justice.
  • Paragraph 2: The consequences of conflicts between morality and law.
  • Paragraph 3: The role of family in Antigone's decision.

Conclusion Paragraph:

  • Restate your thesis statement.
  • Summarize your main points and arguments.
  • Leave the reader with something to think about.

Remember, this is just a basic structure you can refer to. As you write your own essay, you may find that your ideas change or that the direction of the essay has shifted. That's okay! Just be sure to revise and adjust your outline as you go.

Character writing an essay

Now it's time to start writing your essay! Most people begin with an introduction paragraph where they present their topic and a thesis statement. If you’re struggling to write your thesis, it can also be helpful to start on a body paragraph. Experiment to find out what works for you. Be sure to use strong vocabulary and clear, concise sentence structure.

Avoid run-on sentences and stick to active voice whenever possible. Overusing passive voice is one of the most common mistakes when it comes to essay writing, as it unnecessarily complicates the text and makes it more challenging to get through. Also, avoid using first person pronouns (I, me, my, etc.) in formal academic essays.

When it comes to an overall paragraph structure, make sure that each paragraph focuses on one idea only. Keep in mind that the first sentence of each paragraph is a topic sentence . This means that you should express the main point of the paragraph in it.

Then, you can use transition words to connect sentences within a paragraph, present evidence and argument, and make the text more readable overall.

As you write, be sure to support your thesis statement and provide evidence from the source material. This could include quotes, examples, or simply referring back to specific scenes. Remember, your goal is to persuade your reader that your argument is valid. The more evidence you can provide, the stronger your argument will be.

This is especially important if you write an argumentative essay , as it should take a stance on an issue. Your goal is to make your argument as clear and easy to follow as possible to keep the reader's attention throughout the whole essay.

If you find yourself getting bogged down in the details, take a break and come back to it later. Writing essays can be taxing, but with a careful approach to word choice and a bit of creativity, you can turn a simple essay topic into something remarkable.

After you've finished writing your first draft, it's important to edit and proofread your work . A good essay is clear, well-organized, and free of spelling and grammatical errors. You’ll need to edit and make sure that your essay meets all of these requirements.

Here are a few simple steps that will help you proofread and edit your essay:

  • Start by reading through your essay aloud. You can also print your essay out and mark errors with a pen. This will help you to catch any typos, grammatical errors, or punctuation mistakes .
  • Read through your essay again to ensure your sentences are clear and concise and make any necessary changes. Use a Thesaurus to find better words to use in your essay.
  • Have someone else read your essay and ask for feedback. They may be able to spot errors that you missed, provide feedback on the essay’s tone and your overall writing style, or give professional opinion on an explored subject.

Once you’ve checked your writing for errors, you’ll want to make sure you properly format your final draft.

Character editing an essay

One of the most important things of essay writing is to format your final draft correctly. This includes using the correct font, margins, and spacing. It's also important to be consistent with your formatting throughout the entire essay. Be sure to check the style guide of your assignment.

Some teachers will let you choose the font, and if they do it’s a good idea to stick with something simple and easy to read. Times New Roman or Arial are both good options for academic essays. Most teachers prefer 1-inch margins on all sides of the page. Spacing is typically double-spaced, with each new paragraph indented.

If you're not sure how to format your essay, check the style guide of the assignment. If you can’t find any info there, ask your teacher for guidance. They will be able to tell you exactly what they're expecting.

With these tips, you'll be well on your way to writing an excellent essay in English! Just remember to start early, stay focused, and be willing to revise your work. With a little effort, you'll be sure to turn in an essay that you can be proud of.

Character getting a good mark on his essay

Writing a good essay in English isn't as difficult as it may seem. By brainstorming ideas, developing a thesis statement, and creating an outline, you'll be well on your way to success. Just be sure to edit and proofread your work before submitting it.

With a little bit of effort and some helpful tips, you can produce an essay that is clear, concise, and well-written. Make sure to follow these guidelines and you're sure to impress your teacher (and yourself) with your writing skills. With these tips and tricks, you can write all different kinds of essays in English.

While you may think that a good writing style is something one’s born with, we at Langster know that it’s just another skill you can successfully develop by practicing. So, keep writing and you’ll get there!

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Ellis is a seasoned polyglot and one of the creative minds behind Langster Blog, where she shares effective language learning strategies and insights from her own journey mastering the four languages. Ellis strives to empower learners globally to embrace new languages with confidence and curiosity. Off the blog, she immerses herself in exploring diverse cultures through cinema and contemporary fiction, further fueling her passion for language and connection.

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Example of a Great Essay | Explanations, Tips & Tricks

Published on February 9, 2015 by Shane Bryson . Revised on July 23, 2023 by Shona McCombes.

This example guides you through the structure of an essay. It shows how to build an effective introduction , focused paragraphs , clear transitions between ideas, and a strong conclusion .

Each paragraph addresses a single central point, introduced by a topic sentence , and each point is directly related to the thesis statement .

As you read, hover over the highlighted parts to learn what they do and why they work.

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Other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about writing an essay, an appeal to the senses: the development of the braille system in nineteenth-century france.

The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability. The writing system of raised dots used by visually impaired people was developed by Louis Braille in nineteenth-century France. In a society that did not value disabled people in general, blindness was particularly stigmatized, and lack of access to reading and writing was a significant barrier to social participation. The idea of tactile reading was not entirely new, but existing methods based on sighted systems were difficult to learn and use. As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness. This essay begins by discussing the situation of blind people in nineteenth-century Europe. It then describes the invention of Braille and the gradual process of its acceptance within blind education. Subsequently, it explores the wide-ranging effects of this invention on blind people’s social and cultural lives.

Lack of access to reading and writing put blind people at a serious disadvantage in nineteenth-century society. Text was one of the primary methods through which people engaged with culture, communicated with others, and accessed information; without a well-developed reading system that did not rely on sight, blind people were excluded from social participation (Weygand, 2009). While disabled people in general suffered from discrimination, blindness was widely viewed as the worst disability, and it was commonly believed that blind people were incapable of pursuing a profession or improving themselves through culture (Weygand, 2009). This demonstrates the importance of reading and writing to social status at the time: without access to text, it was considered impossible to fully participate in society. Blind people were excluded from the sighted world, but also entirely dependent on sighted people for information and education.

In France, debates about how to deal with disability led to the adoption of different strategies over time. While people with temporary difficulties were able to access public welfare, the most common response to people with long-term disabilities, such as hearing or vision loss, was to group them together in institutions (Tombs, 1996). At first, a joint institute for the blind and deaf was created, and although the partnership was motivated more by financial considerations than by the well-being of the residents, the institute aimed to help people develop skills valuable to society (Weygand, 2009). Eventually blind institutions were separated from deaf institutions, and the focus shifted towards education of the blind, as was the case for the Royal Institute for Blind Youth, which Louis Braille attended (Jimenez et al, 2009). The growing acknowledgement of the uniqueness of different disabilities led to more targeted education strategies, fostering an environment in which the benefits of a specifically blind education could be more widely recognized.

Several different systems of tactile reading can be seen as forerunners to the method Louis Braille developed, but these systems were all developed based on the sighted system. The Royal Institute for Blind Youth in Paris taught the students to read embossed roman letters, a method created by the school’s founder, Valentin Hauy (Jimenez et al., 2009). Reading this way proved to be a rather arduous task, as the letters were difficult to distinguish by touch. The embossed letter method was based on the reading system of sighted people, with minimal adaptation for those with vision loss. As a result, this method did not gain significant success among blind students.

Louis Braille was bound to be influenced by his school’s founder, but the most influential pre-Braille tactile reading system was Charles Barbier’s night writing. A soldier in Napoleon’s army, Barbier developed a system in 1819 that used 12 dots with a five line musical staff (Kersten, 1997). His intention was to develop a system that would allow the military to communicate at night without the need for light (Herron, 2009). The code developed by Barbier was phonetic (Jimenez et al., 2009); in other words, the code was designed for sighted people and was based on the sounds of words, not on an actual alphabet. Barbier discovered that variants of raised dots within a square were the easiest method of reading by touch (Jimenez et al., 2009). This system proved effective for the transmission of short messages between military personnel, but the symbols were too large for the fingertip, greatly reducing the speed at which a message could be read (Herron, 2009). For this reason, it was unsuitable for daily use and was not widely adopted in the blind community.

Nevertheless, Barbier’s military dot system was more efficient than Hauy’s embossed letters, and it provided the framework within which Louis Braille developed his method. Barbier’s system, with its dashes and dots, could form over 4000 combinations (Jimenez et al., 2009). Compared to the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet, this was an absurdly high number. Braille kept the raised dot form, but developed a more manageable system that would reflect the sighted alphabet. He replaced Barbier’s dashes and dots with just six dots in a rectangular configuration (Jimenez et al., 2009). The result was that the blind population in France had a tactile reading system using dots (like Barbier’s) that was based on the structure of the sighted alphabet (like Hauy’s); crucially, this system was the first developed specifically for the purposes of the blind.

While the Braille system gained immediate popularity with the blind students at the Institute in Paris, it had to gain acceptance among the sighted before its adoption throughout France. This support was necessary because sighted teachers and leaders had ultimate control over the propagation of Braille resources. Many of the teachers at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth resisted learning Braille’s system because they found the tactile method of reading difficult to learn (Bullock & Galst, 2009). This resistance was symptomatic of the prevalent attitude that the blind population had to adapt to the sighted world rather than develop their own tools and methods. Over time, however, with the increasing impetus to make social contribution possible for all, teachers began to appreciate the usefulness of Braille’s system (Bullock & Galst, 2009), realizing that access to reading could help improve the productivity and integration of people with vision loss. It took approximately 30 years, but the French government eventually approved the Braille system, and it was established throughout the country (Bullock & Galst, 2009).

Although Blind people remained marginalized throughout the nineteenth century, the Braille system granted them growing opportunities for social participation. Most obviously, Braille allowed people with vision loss to read the same alphabet used by sighted people (Bullock & Galst, 2009), allowing them to participate in certain cultural experiences previously unavailable to them. Written works, such as books and poetry, had previously been inaccessible to the blind population without the aid of a reader, limiting their autonomy. As books began to be distributed in Braille, this barrier was reduced, enabling people with vision loss to access information autonomously. The closing of the gap between the abilities of blind and the sighted contributed to a gradual shift in blind people’s status, lessening the cultural perception of the blind as essentially different and facilitating greater social integration.

The Braille system also had important cultural effects beyond the sphere of written culture. Its invention later led to the development of a music notation system for the blind, although Louis Braille did not develop this system himself (Jimenez, et al., 2009). This development helped remove a cultural obstacle that had been introduced by the popularization of written musical notation in the early 1500s. While music had previously been an arena in which the blind could participate on equal footing, the transition from memory-based performance to notation-based performance meant that blind musicians were no longer able to compete with sighted musicians (Kersten, 1997). As a result, a tactile musical notation system became necessary for professional equality between blind and sighted musicians (Kersten, 1997).

Braille paved the way for dramatic cultural changes in the way blind people were treated and the opportunities available to them. Louis Braille’s innovation was to reimagine existing reading systems from a blind perspective, and the success of this invention required sighted teachers to adapt to their students’ reality instead of the other way around. In this sense, Braille helped drive broader social changes in the status of blindness. New accessibility tools provide practical advantages to those who need them, but they can also change the perspectives and attitudes of those who do not.

Bullock, J. D., & Galst, J. M. (2009). The Story of Louis Braille. Archives of Ophthalmology , 127(11), 1532. https://​doi.org/10.1001/​archophthalmol.2009.286.

Herron, M. (2009, May 6). Blind visionary. Retrieved from https://​eandt.theiet.org/​content/​articles/2009/05/​blind-visionary/.

Jiménez, J., Olea, J., Torres, J., Alonso, I., Harder, D., & Fischer, K. (2009). Biography of Louis Braille and Invention of the Braille Alphabet. Survey of Ophthalmology , 54(1), 142–149. https://​doi.org/10.1016/​j.survophthal.2008.10.006.

Kersten, F.G. (1997). The history and development of Braille music methodology. The Bulletin of Historical Research in Music Education , 18(2). Retrieved from https://​www.jstor.org/​stable/40214926.

Mellor, C.M. (2006). Louis Braille: A touch of genius . Boston: National Braille Press.

Tombs, R. (1996). France: 1814-1914 . London: Pearson Education Ltd.

Weygand, Z. (2009). The blind in French society from the Middle Ages to the century of Louis Braille . Stanford: Stanford University Press.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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An essay is a focused piece of writing that explains, argues, describes, or narrates.

In high school, you may have to write many different types of essays to develop your writing skills.

Academic essays at college level are usually argumentative : you develop a clear thesis about your topic and make a case for your position using evidence, analysis and interpretation.

The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.

The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.

Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:

  • An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
  • Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
  • A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.

The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the main point of a paragraph . Everything else in the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence.

At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).

Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Bryson, S. (2023, July 23). Example of a Great Essay | Explanations, Tips & Tricks. Scribbr. Retrieved March 30, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/academic-essay/example-essay-structure/

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How to write an essay in english, by ielts expert, 29 june 2023 - 16:15.

How to write an essay in English, blog image

Many students say writing is the worst part of their English, but it’s often just a case of confidence. With practice, and the tips in this post, you can gain the confidence you need to maximise your English and really show it off. This post will look at the three stages of writing - planning, writing the text and reading it back.

If you are preparing for an exam, please be aware that for the latest information on exam format you should always go straight to the source –  IELTS website . You can practice  free online IELTS Academic Writing tests  or  General Training Writing tests . You can also practice writing your answer by downloading an  IELTS Writing Answer Sheet .

Planning is an integral part of your writing. You might say “I don’t plan”, but somewhere in your subconscious, you do! By raising your awareness of your own planning process you can improve enormously. As a teacher, I see many students who plan and many who don’t. In general, the students that plan produce much better work, so if you are in the “no plan” camp, you should at least experiment with some of the ideas coming up.

Planning 1: Address the question

If you are writing for a class assignment or an exam, it is crucial that you address the question given. Adequate planning (five minutes is better than nothing) will keep you on track. 

Start by breaking the question down into its parts. There will usually be two or three aspects to the question. You want not only to cover all aspects of the question, but also make it obvious to your teacher or the examiner that you have done so, and the best way to demonstrate this is to give each aspect its own paragraph.

Planning 2: Brainstorm vocabulary as well as ideas

Once you have identified your paragraphs, think about what vocabulary you have at your disposal. Perhaps you would like to write one paragraph from a particular angle, but when you start planning you might find there are holes in your vocabulary and you are better able to write from a different angle. Choose ideas which best overlap with what you can clearly state in English.

Planning 3: Write chunks of language

Even with all the vocabulary in the world, some ideas are complex to express in writing. Causality, speculation and hypothetical scenarios are all abstract concepts which make it more challenging to say exactly what you want, but these are also an opportunity to push your English ability to the max and show your grammatical range. 

Sound out in your head how you will make your arguments, and when you get stuck, try writing this part down in your plan. It might be a whole sentence of just a clause. This will help you decide if you have enough English ability to get across a really impressive idea, or if you need to simplify your thoughts in order to remain clear to the reader.

Writing the text 1: Use your plan!

I have seen many students write logical, competent plans that address the question, only to go off on a random tangent when they start writing! 

Of course, you might change some things as you go along, for example if you have a new idea, but keeping an eye on your plan will prevent you from getting distracted and bring you back to the question you must answer. It will also keep you aware of how you are doing for word count and time.

Writing the text 2: Write your introduction last

You should at least consider this idea. The purpose of an introduction is to tell the reader what they are going to read, so how can you write the introduction when you haven’t written the content yet?

Introductions are fiddly to write on a blank canvas, but much easier when we already have the content written in front of us.

If you are writing on paper, it is still possible to write the introduction last - you just need to leave a few lines for it.

Writing the text 3: Make sure your introduction and conclusion match

Your introduction and conclusion should also match the content of your main body paragraphs. This might seem obvious, but I wish I had a euro for every time I have seen an introduction passionately in favour of something followed by body paragraphs and a conclusion that were passionately against.

This problem can be avoided by writing your conclusion last, as suggested above. It will also be avoided by planning, and thinking a little more deeply how you feel about the question before you start. When I say a little more deeply, I’m talking about a minute or so, not hours.

Writing the text 4: Use linkers

Linkers are often misunderstood as simply a way of showing “formal English” but in fact, we use linkers all the time, even when chatting with friends. We use them in speech and in writing to indicate “I’m going to add to what was just said,”  “I’m going to contradict what was just said,” and generally to help the listener or reader understand where we are going next.

After writing the text

This is another area where many students are very reluctant - you need to read what you wrote! 

Check for spelling errors, missing third person s, capital letters, whatever errors you are prone to make… and if you don’t know what errors you are prone to make, it’s because you aren’t checking your writing, so you need to start today! You can be the expert on your own writing strengths and weaknesses, and this will just make you better and better.

Moreover, you should read back your text because it’s enjoyable to see how skillfully you put your ideas down and how convincing your arguments are. You did it! Well done! Enjoy the moment with some positivity!

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How To Write An Essay: Beginner Tips And Tricks

How To Write An Essay # Beginner Tips And Tricks

Many students dread writing essays, but essay writing is an important skill to develop in high school, university, and even into your future career. By learning how to write an essay properly, the process can become more enjoyable and you’ll find you’re better able to organize and articulate your thoughts.

When writing an essay, it’s common to follow a specific pattern, no matter what the topic is. Once you’ve used the pattern a few times and you know how to structure an essay, it will become a lot more simple to apply your knowledge to every essay. 

No matter which major you choose, you should know how to craft a good essay. Here, we’ll cover the basics of essay writing, along with some helpful tips to make the writing process go smoothly.

Ink pen on paper before writing an essay

Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

Types of Essays

Think of an essay as a discussion. There are many types of discussions you can have with someone else. You can be describing a story that happened to you, you might explain to them how to do something, or you might even argue about a certain topic. 

When it comes to different types of essays, it follows a similar pattern. Like a friendly discussion, each type of essay will come with its own set of expectations or goals. 

For example, when arguing with a friend, your goal is to convince them that you’re right. The same goes for an argumentative essay. 

Here are a few of the main essay types you can expect to come across during your time in school:

Narrative Essay

This type of essay is almost like telling a story, not in the traditional sense with dialogue and characters, but as if you’re writing out an event or series of events to relay information to the reader.

Persuasive Essay

Here, your goal is to persuade the reader about your views on a specific topic.

Descriptive Essay

This is the kind of essay where you go into a lot more specific details describing a topic such as a place or an event. 

Argumentative Essay

In this essay, you’re choosing a stance on a topic, usually controversial, and your goal is to present evidence that proves your point is correct.

Expository Essay

Your purpose with this type of essay is to tell the reader how to complete a specific process, often including a step-by-step guide or something similar.

Compare and Contrast Essay

You might have done this in school with two different books or characters, but the ultimate goal is to draw similarities and differences between any two given subjects.

The Main Stages of Essay Writing

When it comes to writing an essay, many students think the only stage is getting all your ideas down on paper and submitting your work. However, that’s not quite the case. 

There are three main stages of writing an essay, each one with its own purpose. Of course, writing the essay itself is the most substantial part, but the other two stages are equally as important.

So, what are these three stages of essay writing? They are:

Preparation

Before you even write one word, it’s important to prepare the content and structure of your essay. If a topic wasn’t assigned to you, then the first thing you should do is settle on a topic. Next, you want to conduct your research on that topic and create a detailed outline based on your research. The preparation stage will make writing your essay that much easier since, with your outline and research, you should already have the skeleton of your essay.

Writing is the most time-consuming stage. In this stage, you will write out all your thoughts and ideas and craft your essay based on your outline. You’ll work on developing your ideas and fleshing them out throughout the introduction, body, and conclusion (more on these soon).

In the final stage, you’ll go over your essay and check for a few things. First, you’ll check if your essay is cohesive, if all the points make sense and are related to your topic, and that your facts are cited and backed up. You can also check for typos, grammar and punctuation mistakes, and formatting errors.  

The Five-Paragraph Essay

We mentioned earlier that essay writing follows a specific structure, and for the most part in academic or college essays , the five-paragraph essay is the generally accepted structure you’ll be expected to use. 

The five-paragraph essay is broken down into one introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a closing paragraph. However, that doesn’t always mean that an essay is written strictly in five paragraphs, but rather that this structure can be used loosely and the three body paragraphs might become three sections instead.

Let’s take a closer look at each section and what it entails.

Introduction

As the name implies, the purpose of your introduction paragraph is to introduce your idea. A good introduction begins with a “hook,” something that grabs your reader’s attention and makes them excited to read more. 

Another key tenant of an introduction is a thesis statement, which usually comes towards the end of the introduction itself. Your thesis statement should be a phrase that explains your argument, position, or central idea that you plan on developing throughout the essay. 

You can also include a short outline of what to expect in your introduction, including bringing up brief points that you plan on explaining more later on in the body paragraphs.

Here is where most of your essay happens. The body paragraphs are where you develop your ideas and bring up all the points related to your main topic. 

In general, you’re meant to have three body paragraphs, or sections, and each one should bring up a different point. Think of it as bringing up evidence. Each paragraph is a different piece of evidence, and when the three pieces are taken together, it backs up your main point — your thesis statement — really well.

That being said, you still want each body paragraph to be tied together in some way so that the essay flows. The points should be distinct enough, but they should relate to each other, and definitely to your thesis statement. Each body paragraph works to advance your point, so when crafting your essay, it’s important to keep this in mind so that you avoid going off-track or writing things that are off-topic.

Many students aren’t sure how to write a conclusion for an essay and tend to see their conclusion as an afterthought, but this section is just as important as the rest of your work. 

You shouldn’t be presenting any new ideas in your conclusion, but you should summarize your main points and show how they back up your thesis statement. 

Essentially, the conclusion is similar in structure and content to the introduction, but instead of introducing your essay, it should be wrapping up the main thoughts and presenting them to the reader as a singular closed argument. 

student writing an essay on his laptop

Photo by AMIT RANJAN on Unsplash

Steps to Writing an Essay

Now that you have a better idea of an essay’s structure and all the elements that go into it, you might be wondering what the different steps are to actually write your essay. 

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Instead of going in blind, follow these steps on how to write your essay from start to finish.

Understand Your Assignment

When writing an essay for an assignment, the first critical step is to make sure you’ve read through your assignment carefully and understand it thoroughly. You want to check what type of essay is required, that you understand the topic, and that you pay attention to any formatting or structural requirements. You don’t want to lose marks just because you didn’t read the assignment carefully.

Research Your Topic

Once you understand your assignment, it’s time to do some research. In this step, you should start looking at different sources to get ideas for what points you want to bring up throughout your essay. 

Search online or head to the library and get as many resources as possible. You don’t need to use them all, but it’s good to start with a lot and then narrow down your sources as you become more certain of your essay’s direction.

Start Brainstorming

After research comes the brainstorming. There are a lot of different ways to start the brainstorming process . Here are a few you might find helpful:

  • Think about what you found during your research that interested you the most
  • Jot down all your ideas, even if they’re not yet fully formed
  • Create word clouds or maps for similar terms or ideas that come up so you can group them together based on their similarities
  • Try freewriting to get all your ideas out before arranging them

Create a Thesis

This is often the most tricky part of the whole process since you want to create a thesis that’s strong and that you’re about to develop throughout the entire essay. Therefore, you want to choose a thesis statement that’s broad enough that you’ll have enough to say about it, but not so broad that you can’t be precise. 

Write Your Outline

Armed with your research, brainstorming sessions, and your thesis statement, the next step is to write an outline. 

In the outline, you’ll want to put your thesis statement at the beginning and start creating the basic skeleton of how you want your essay to look. 

A good way to tackle an essay is to use topic sentences . A topic sentence is like a mini-thesis statement that is usually the first sentence of a new paragraph. This sentence introduces the main idea that will be detailed throughout the paragraph. 

If you create an outline with the topic sentences for your body paragraphs and then a few points of what you want to discuss, you’ll already have a strong starting point when it comes time to sit down and write. This brings us to our next step… 

Write a First Draft

The first time you write your entire essay doesn’t need to be perfect, but you do need to get everything on the page so that you’re able to then write a second draft or review it afterward. 

Everyone’s writing process is different. Some students like to write their essay in the standard order of intro, body, and conclusion, while others prefer to start with the “meat” of the essay and tackle the body, and then fill in the other sections afterward. 

Make sure your essay follows your outline and that everything relates to your thesis statement and your points are backed up by the research you did. 

Revise, Edit, and Proofread

The revision process is one of the three main stages of writing an essay, yet many people skip this step thinking their work is done after the first draft is complete. 

However, proofreading, reviewing, and making edits on your essay can spell the difference between a B paper and an A.

After writing the first draft, try and set your essay aside for a few hours or even a day or two, and then come back to it with fresh eyes to review it. You might find mistakes or inconsistencies you missed or better ways to formulate your arguments.

Add the Finishing Touches

Finally, you’ll want to make sure everything that’s required is in your essay. Review your assignment again and see if all the requirements are there, such as formatting rules, citations, quotes, etc. 

Go over the order of your paragraphs and make sure everything makes sense, flows well, and uses the same writing style . 

Once everything is checked and all the last touches are added, give your essay a final read through just to ensure it’s as you want it before handing it in. 

A good way to do this is to read your essay out loud since you’ll be able to hear if there are any mistakes or inaccuracies.

Essay Writing Tips

With the steps outlined above, you should be able to craft a great essay. Still, there are some other handy tips we’d recommend just to ensure that the essay writing process goes as smoothly as possible.

  • Start your essay early. This is the first tip for a reason. It’s one of the most important things you can do to write a good essay. If you start it the night before, then you won’t have enough time to research, brainstorm, and outline — and you surely won’t have enough time to review.
  • Don’t try and write it in one sitting. It’s ok if you need to take breaks or write it over a few days. It’s better to write it in multiple sittings so that you have a fresh mind each time and you’re able to focus.
  • Always keep the essay question in mind. If you’re given an assigned question, then you should always keep it handy when writing your essay to make sure you’re always working to answer the question.
  • Use transitions between paragraphs. In order to improve the readability of your essay, try and make clear transitions between paragraphs. This means trying to relate the end of one paragraph to the beginning of the next one so the shift doesn’t seem random.
  • Integrate your research thoughtfully. Add in citations or quotes from your research materials to back up your thesis and main points. This will show that you did the research and that your thesis is backed up by it.

Wrapping Up

Writing an essay doesn’t need to be daunting if you know how to approach it. Using our essay writing steps and tips, you’ll have better knowledge on how to write an essay and you’ll be able to apply it to your next assignment. Once you do this a few times, it will become more natural to you and the essay writing process will become quicker and easier.

If you still need assistance with your essay, check with a student advisor to see if they offer help with writing. At University of the People(UoPeople), we always want our students to succeed, so our student advisors are ready to help with writing skills when necessary. 

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There are 5 modules in this course

Course 2: Getting Started with Essay Writing

This is the second course in the Academic English: Writing specialization. By introducing you to three types of academic essays, this course will especially help prepare you for work in college classes, but anyone who wants to improve his or her writing skills can benefit from this course. After completing this course, you will be able to: - create effective thesis statements for your essays - plan and write compare/contrast, cause/effect, and argument essays - write well-developed body paragraphs Note: The lectures and practice activities are available for free, but you must upgrade to the pay version in order to take the quizzes and get feedback on writing assignments.

Course Introduction

This is the second course in the Academic English: Writing specialization. In the last course, you reviewed sentence types and punctuation. You'll use that information in this course to make your writing great. In this course, you'll learn all about academic essay writing and, specifically, how to write three types of essays: compare/contrast, cause/effect, and argument. To pass this course, you need to pass all four quizzes and pass all three writing assignments. When you finish one activity, you can continue to the next one. Enjoy!

What's included

2 videos 2 readings 1 peer review

2 videos • Total 2 minutes

  • Course Introduction Video • 0 minutes • Preview module
  • Academic Integrity Video Lecture • 2 minutes

2 readings • Total 20 minutes

  • Pre-Course Survey • 10 minutes
  • Message about Opinions • 10 minutes

1 peer review • Total 60 minutes

  • Introductions • 60 minutes

Essay Writing

In this module, you'll start learning about essay structure and some other important tools for good writing. There's a lot of information in this module, but it's all necessary for writing well. Make sure you take notes so you will remember these tools when you write your essays. Note to learners: this course is designed for learners of English with intermediate English writing skills. The sample essays in this course are aimed at that level. However, the principles discussed in the lessons are practical for writers of any level. If you're at a lower level, do the best you can. If you are a more advanced writer, feel free to write more developed and complex essays than the ones in the examples. Just make sure you follow the structures introduced.

6 videos 8 readings 2 quizzes 1 peer review

6 videos • Total 50 minutes

  • What is an Essay? Video Lecture • 9 minutes • Preview module
  • Introduction Paragraphs Video Lecture • 12 minutes
  • Body Paragraphs Video Lecture • 9 minutes
  • Paragraph Basics Video Lecture • 10 minutes
  • Conclusion Paragraphs Video Lecture • 3 minutes
  • The Writing Process Video Lecture • 4 minutes

8 readings • Total 80 minutes

  • Learning Objectives • 10 minutes
  • Thesis Statement Practice • 10 minutes
  • Topic Sentences Practice • 10 minutes
  • Sample Essay • 10 minutes

2 quizzes • Total 60 minutes

  • Essay Writing • 30 minutes
  • Essay Writing Practice Quiz • 30 minutes
  • Academic Essay Discussion • 60 minutes

Writing Compare/Contrast Essays

Now, you're ready to write your first type of academic essay--the compare/contrast essay. In this module, you'll learn what this type of essay is and how to structure it. Then, you'll look at some examples and practice writing your own compare/contrast essay. Remember the sample essays in the lesson are typical for an intermediate-level student. Write a compare/contrast essay that fits your own writing ability. Good luck!

3 videos 6 readings 2 quizzes 2 peer reviews

3 videos • Total 12 minutes

  • Introduction to Writing Compare/Contrast Essays • 0 minutes • Preview module
  • Compare/Contrast Essay Video Lecture • 6 minutes
  • Teacher Discusses a Compare/Contrast Essay • 5 minutes

6 readings • Total 60 minutes

  • Compare/Contrast Practice • 10 minutes
  • Compare/Contrast Writing Assignment • 10 minutes
  • Sample Compare/Contrast Essay • 10 minutes
  • Links to Other Resources • 10 minutes
  • Quiz Instructions • 10 minutes
  • Writing Compare/Contrast Essays • 30 minutes
  • Compare/Contrast Essays Practice Quiz • 30 minutes

2 peer reviews • Total 180 minutes

  • Compare/Contrast Essay Discussion • 120 minutes
  • Compare/Contrast Essay Peer Review • 60 minutes

Writing Cause/Effect Essays

Now, you'll learn about writing the cause/effect essay. This is another type of academic essay that you might be asked to write in your college classes. For this type of essay you'll think about reasons why something happens or the effects of something. The sample essays in this module are also representative of an intermediate-level writer. Write a cause/effect essay appropriate for your own English level. Just remember to follow the advice given in the lessons.

3 videos 7 readings 2 quizzes 2 peer reviews

  • Introduction to Writing Cause/Effect Essays • 0 minutes • Preview module
  • Cause/Effect Video Lecture • 6 minutes
  • Teacher Discusses a Cause/Effect Essay • 5 minutes

7 readings • Total 70 minutes

  • Cause/Effect Practice • 10 minutes
  • Cause/Effect Writing Assignment • 10 minutes
  • Sample Cause/Effect Essay • 10 minutes
  • Learn More! • 10 minutes
  • Writing Cause/Effect Essays • 30 minutes
  • Cause/Effect Essays Practice Quiz • 30 minutes

2 peer reviews • Total 120 minutes

  • Cause/Effect Essay Discussion • 60 minutes
  • Cause/Effect Essay Peer Review • 60 minutes

Writing Argument Essays

In this last module, you'll learn how to write the most common type of college essay. The argument essay is probably the most fun essay to write too. In this one, you will try to convince your reader to believe your argument or position on some controversial topic. You have to think of good reasons to support your position. Remember to write an argument essay that is to the best of your own abilities.

3 videos • Total 13 minutes

  • Introduction to Writing Argument Essays • 0 minutes • Preview module
  • Argument Essays Video Lecture • 8 minutes
  • Teacher Discusses an Argument Essay • 4 minutes
  • Debatable vs Non-Debatable Practice • 10 minutes
  • Argument Practice • 10 minutes
  • Argument Writing Assignment • 10 minutes
  • Sample Argument Essay • 10 minutes
  • Argument Essays • 30 minutes
  • Argument Essay Practice Quiz • 30 minutes
  • Argument Essay Discussion • 60 minutes
  • Argument Essay Peer Review • 60 minutes

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It is a very good course on Essay Writing. Since it started with the basics, it helped me a lot to start from level zero. It was extremely helpful to go ahead with the future course in Writing.

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Is a very good course with an amazings explanations about wirting essays. Although you need to practice a lot to get good skills, in this course you get the concepts to learn how to write, etc.

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Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest

Students      >      Essay Contests      >     Atlas Shrugged

✓    Open to all high school, college, and graduate students worldwide.

Annual Grand Prize

June 14, 2024

Summer Entry Deadline

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Interested in participating?

Fill out the contact form below, and we’ll email you with more information about this year’s contest—including instructions on how to enter.

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We’ll email you more information about this year’s contest—including instructions on how to enter. In the meantime, please let us know at [email protected] if you have any questions. We’re happy to help.

What is Atlas Shrugged?

The astounding story of a man who said that he would stop the motor of the world—and did.

Tremendous in scope, breathtaking in its suspense, Atlas Shrugged is unlike any other book you have ever read. It is a mystery story, not about the murder of a man’s body, but about the murder—and rebirth—of man’s spirit.

How It Works

Every three months there is a new seasonal entry round, with its own unique essay prompt. You may compete in any or all of these entry rounds.

The top three essays from each season will be awarded a cash prize. The first-place essay from each season will advance to compete for the annual grand prize.

The first-place essay from each season will be eligible to contend for the annual first-place title, with the opportunity to secure a grand prize of $25,000.

Challenging Essay Topics

Each entry round features a unique topic designed to provoke a deeper understanding of the book’s central themes and characters.

Essays must be written in English only and be between 800 and 1,600 words in length.

Questions? Write to us at [email protected] .

  • Summer Prompt
  • Fall Prompt
  • Winter Prompt

The essay prompt for our fall entry period has not yet been determined. We will post it here as soon it’s available.

The essay prompt for our winter entry period has not yet been determined. We will post it here as soon it’s available.

Grand Prize

Master our grading standards.

Essays are judged on whether the student is able to justify and argue for his or her view, not on whether the Institute agrees with the view the student expresses. 

Our graders look for writing that is clear, articulate, and logically organized.  Essays should stay on topic, address all parts of the selected prompt, and interrelate the ideas and events in the novel. 

Winning essays must demonstrate an outstanding grasp of the philosophic meaning of Atlas Shrugged .

Organization

Understanding, contest timeline, discover the power of atlas shrugged.

Atlas Shrugged  is a mystery novel like no other. You enter a world where scientists, entrepreneurs, artists, and inventors are inexplicably vanishing—where the world is crumbling.

And what you discover, by the end, is an uplifting vision of life, an inspiring cast of heroes, and a challenging new way to think about life’s most important issues.

Learn more and request a free digital copy of the book today.

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Learn from Past Winners

Curious to know what makes for a winning essay in the Atlas Shrugged   contest? Check out some of the essays written by our most recent grand-prize winners. 

To varying degrees, they all display an excellent grasp of the philosophic meaning of Atlas Shrugged .

Click here to see the full list of 2022 contest winners.

Jacob Fisher

Graduate Student

Stanford University

Stanford, California

United States

Mariah Williams

Regis University

Denver, Colorado

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Nathaniel Shippee

University of Illinois

Chicago, Illinois

learn write essay in english

Samuel Weaver

St. John’s College

Annapolis, Maryland

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Patrick Mayles

Graduate student

Universidad Nacional de Colombia

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Christina Jeong

College Student

University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, Indiana

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Improve Your Writing Skills

Other than endorsing perfect punctuation and grammar in English, the Ayn Rand Institute offers no advice or feedback for essays submitted to its contests. However, we do recommend the following resources as ways to improve the content of your essays.

The Atlas Project

Writing: a mini-course.

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We’ll send you periodic reminders about the contest deadlines, as well as helpful resources to ensure you get the most out of your experience reading and writing about Ayn Rand’s  Atlas Shrugged .

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Atlas Shrugged is a mystery novel like no other. You enter a world where scientists, entrepreneurs, artists, and inventors are inexplicably vanishing—where the world is crumbling.

What you discover, by the end, is an uplifting vision of life, an inspiring cast of heroes, and a challenging new way to think about life’s most important issues.

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Then, when you're ready to submit your essay, just return to our platform. Your saved entry will be right where you left off. So, why wait? Take the first step, and start your entry today.

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Is a robot writing your kids’ essays? We asked educators to weigh in on the growing role of AI in classrooms.

Educators weigh in on the growing role of ai and chatgpt in classrooms..

Kara Baskin talked to several educators about what kind of AI use they’re seeing in classrooms and how they’re monitoring it.

Remember writing essays in high school? Chances are you had to look up stuff in an encyclopedia — an actual one, not Wikipedia — or else connect to AOL via a modem bigger than your parents’ Taurus station wagon.

Now, of course, there’s artificial intelligence. According to new research from Pew, about 1 in 5 US teens who’ve heard of ChatGPT have used it for schoolwork. Kids in upper grades are more apt to have used the chatbot: About a quarter of 11th- and 12th-graders who know about ChatGPT have tried it.

For the uninitiated, ChatGPT arrived on the scene in late 2022, and educators continue to grapple with the ethics surrounding its growing popularity. Essentially, it generates free, human-like responses based on commands. (I’m sure this sentence will look antiquated in about six months, like when people described the internet as the “information superhighway.”)

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I used ChatGPT to plug in this prompt: “Write an essay on ‘The Scarlet Letter.’” Within moments, ChatGPT created an essay as thorough as anything I’d labored over in AP English.

Is this cheating? Is it just part of our strange new world? I talked to several educators about what they’re seeing in classrooms and how they’re monitoring it. Before you berate your child over how you wrote essays with a No. 2 pencil, here are some things to consider.

Adapting to new technology isn’t immoral. “We have to recalibrate our sense of what’s acceptable. There was a time when every teacher said: ‘Oh, it’s cheating to use Wikipedia.’ And guess what? We got used to it, we decided it’s reputable enough, and we cite Wikipedia all the time,” says Noah Giansiracusa, an associate math professor at Bentley University who hosts the podcast “ AI in Academia: Navigating the Future .”

“There’s a calibration period where a technology is new and untested. It’s good to be cautious and to treat it with trepidation. Then, over time, the norms kind of adapt,” he says — just like new-fangled graphing calculators or the internet in days of yore.

“I think the current conversation around AI should not be centered on an issue with plagiarism. It should be centered on how AI will alter methods for learning and expressing oneself. ‘Catching’ students who use fully AI-generated products ... implies a ‘gotcha’ atmosphere,” says Jim Nagle, a history teacher at Bedford High School. “Since AI is already a huge part of our day-to-day lives, it’s no surprise our students are making it a part of their academic tool kit. Teachers and students should be at the forefront of discussions about responsible and ethical use.”

Sign up for Parenting Unfiltered.

Teachers and parents could use AI to think about education at a higher level. Really, learning is about more than regurgitating information — or it should be, anyway. But regurgitation is what AI does best.

“If our system is just for students to write a bunch of essays and then grade the results? Something’s missing. We need to really talk about their purpose and what they’re getting out of this, and maybe think about different forms of assignments and grading,” Giansiracusa says.

After all, while AI aggregates and organizes ideas, the quality of its responses depends on the users’ prompts. Instead of recoiling from it, use it as a conversation-starter.

“What parents and teachers can do is to start the conversation with kids: ‘What are we trying to learn here? Is it even something that ChatGPT could answer? Why did your assignment not convince you that you need to do this thinking on your own when a tool can do it for you?’” says Houman Harouni , a lecturer on education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Harouni urges parents to read an essay written by ChatGPT alongside their student. Was it good? What could be done better? Did it feel like a short cut?

“What they’re going to remember is that you had that conversation with them; that someone thought, at some point in their lives, that taking a shortcut is not the best way ... especially if you do it with the tool right in front of you, because you have something real to talk about,” he says.

Harouni hopes teachers think about its implications, too. Consider math: So much grunt work has been eliminated by calculators and computers. Yet kids are still tested as in days of old, when perhaps they could expand their learning to be assessed in ways that are more personal and human-centric, leaving the rote stuff to AI.

“We could take this moment of confusion and loss of certainty seriously, at least in some small pockets, and start thinking about what a different kind of school would look like. Five years from now, we might have the beginnings of some very interesting exploration. Five years from now, you and I might be talking about schools wherein teaching and learning is happening in a very self-directed way, in a way that’s more based on … igniting the kid’s interest and seeing where they go and supporting them to go deeper and to go wider,” Harouni says.

Teachers have the chance to offer assignments with more intentionality.

“Really think about the purpose of the assignments. Don’t just think of the outcome and the deliverable: ‘I need a student to produce a document.’ Why are we getting students to write? Why are we doing all these things in the first place? If teachers are more mindful, and maybe parents can also be more mindful, I think it pushes us away from this dangerous trap of thinking about in terms of ‘cheating,’ which, to me, is a really slippery path,” Giansiracusa says.

AI can boost confidence and reduce procrastination. Sometimes, a robot can do something better than a human, such as writing a dreaded resume and cover letter. And that’s OK; it’s useful, even.

“Often, students avoid applying to internships because they’re just overwhelmed at the thought of writing a cover letter, or they’re afraid their resume isn’t good enough. I think that tools like this can help them feel more confident. They may be more likely to do it sooner and have more organized and better applications,” says Kristin Casasanto, director of post-graduate planning at Olin College of Engineering.

Casasanto says that AI is also useful for de-stressing during interview prep.

“Students can use generative AI to plug in a job description and say, ‘Come up with a list of interview questions based on the job description,’ which will give them an idea of what may be asked, and they can even then say, ‘Here’s my resume. Give me answers to these questions based on my skills and experience.’ They’re going to really build their confidence around that,” Casasanto says.

Plus, when students use AI for basics, it frees up more time to meet with career counselors about substantive issues.

“It will help us as far as scalability. … Career services staff can then utilize our personal time in much more meaningful ways with students,” Casasanto says.

We need to remember: These kids grew up during a pandemic. We can’t expect kids to resist technology when they’ve been forced to learn in new ways since COVID hit.

“Now we’re seeing pandemic-era high school students come into college. They’ve been channeled through Google Classroom their whole career,” says Katherine Jewell, a history professor at Fitchburg State University.

“They need to have technology management and information literacy built into the curriculum,” Jewell says.

Jewell recently graded a paper on the history of college sports. It was obvious which papers were written by AI: They didn’t address the question. In her syllabus, Jewell defines plagiarism as “any attempt by a student to represent the work of another, including computers, as their own.”

This means that AI qualifies, but she also has an open mind, given students’ circumstances.

“My students want to do the right thing, for the most part. They don’t want to get away with stuff. I understand why they turned to these tools; I really do. I try to reassure them that I’m here to help them learn systems. I’m focusing much more on the learning process. I incentivize them to improve, and I acknowledge: ‘You don’t know how to do this the first time out of the gate,’” Jewell says. “I try to incentivize them so that they’re improving their confidence in their abilities, so they don’t feel the need to turn to these tools.”

Understand the forces that make kids resort to AI in the first place . Clubs, sports, homework: Kids are busy and under pressure. Why not do what’s easy?

“Kids are so overscheduled in their day-to-day lives. I think there’s so much enormous pressure on these kids, whether it’s self-inflicted, parent-inflicted, or school-culture inflicted. It’s on them to maximize their schedule. They’ve learned that AI can be a way to take an assignment that would take five hours and cut it down to one,” says a teacher at a competitive high school outside Boston who asked to remain anonymous.

Recently, this teacher says, “I got papers back that were just so robotic and so cold. I had to tell [students]: ‘I understand that you tried to use a tool to help you. I’m not going to penalize you, but what I am going to penalize you for is that you didn’t actually answer the prompt.”

Afterward, more students felt safe to come forward to say they’d used AI. This teacher hopes that age restrictions become implemented for these programs, similar to apps such as Snapchat. Educationally and developmentally, they say, high-schoolers are still finding their voice — a voice that could be easily thwarted by a robot.

“Part of high school writing is to figure out who you are, and what is your voice as a writer. And I think, developmentally, that takes all of high school to figure out,” they say.

And AI can’t replicate voice and personality — for now, at least.

Kara Baskin can be reached at [email protected] . Follow her @kcbaskin .

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