Great Essay

How you can write a GREAT ESSAY

Lily usually writes fairly good essays. She generally gets an A- or B+ on her papers. Recently she has been thinking about writing essays for college applications and applications for scholarships. These will need to be more than fairly good. They need to be great.

Now Lily is wondering what the difference is. A teenaged girl with notebook and pen prepares to write an essay.

What does it take to write a GREAT ESSAY?
This page will answer that question. Study it carefully and YOU can write GREAT ESSAYS.


An essay always includes:

1. A Title

2. An Introduction – the paragraph that gives the topic, your thesis or main idea on the topic and gets the reader or listener excited or involved.

3. The Body – a series of paragraphs (usually three), each about one main point in your essay. They must all support the thesis or main idea.

4. A Conclusion – a paragraph that pulls the essay together, sometimes summarizing, sometimes referring back to the introduction, sometimes mentioning the implications, message, or importance of the essay.

This is an example of a  Five Paragraph Essay

After you read the essay, identify the introduction, the three main ideas, and the conclusion.

Think about what the introduction says about introductions. (It doesn’t begin with “A boy is my class wrote a great essay. It was about his uncle.”) How is the real introduction different and what difference does it make?

With the three paragraphs in the body, identify the topic sentence or sentences. Identify the main idea and the examples used.

What three important parts are in the conclusion? You don’t always need to use all of these but explain how each of them helped pull the essay together and provided a satisfactory ending.

The next time you write an essay, apply some of these ideas.

Great Essays are  Unforgettable

We were all laughing when Damian began reading his essay; we were in tears when he finished. Damian told us funny stories about his favorite uncle, but went on to describe how his uncle died in the attack on the World Trade Center in New York on 9/11. He finished by telling us how his uncle made him a stronger person. Great essays can make you laugh and cry. They begin with something exciting, something the readers or listeners can relate to.

A great essay excites emotions. Damian’s essay made us laugh and cry. Other essays might make us eager to do something new like climbing a mountain or serving meals at a local soup kitchen. It might cause us to reflect on our own experience and make important decisions more thoughtfully. It might encourage us to be brave and decide to accomplish something; it could encourage a student with no hopes of higher education to be first in his family to go to college.

A great essay doesn’t just use generalities. It can use relevant statistics.  Information of available scholarships might encourage students from poor families to apply to college.  It can use examples. You could share the experience of a friend who quit his job in a fast food restaurant,  and was accepted in a top  college. He received enough financial aid so that, with his work-study job to cover personal expenses, he did not need any loans.  Best of all, you can share personal stories, stories about events that changed your life.

A great essay will not be forgotten easily. While it might entertain the reader or listener, it can also have long-lasting effects. It might persuade them to think or behave differently. We might reach out to comfort and help students who are being bullied.  It might carry a powerful message that changes our attitudes  We might begin to see each problem in our lives as learning experiences. When we break up with a long-time girlfriend or boyfriend, we might feel grateful for the wonderful times together rather than feeling angry or in despair because it’s over. You should begin every essay by considering your purpose, how you want to affect those who read it or listen to it.

Damian’s essay was a great essay because it did three things. It aroused our emotions. It included deeply meaningful personal stories, stories that made a difference in Damian’s life. It also made us think about important people in our own lives and how they have made us who we are. But, in his conclusion, Damian went on to say that he now thinks about ways he can make a difference in other people’s lives. And all of us listening, understood. We all knew that we, too, should think about ways we can affect the lives of people around us. In other words, when you write a  great essay, you  can change lives.
If you haven’t already read these, you might want to read

How to write an Outline

Writing  Book Reports for Fiction or Nonfiction

How to write a Good Essay


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