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How to Write an Expository Essay in High School


The expository essay can take many forms, including a cause and effect paper, a definition essay, a comparison-contrast paper, or a more research-based explanation of a topic. Generally, expository essays utilize the five-paragraph structure, with an introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph. The essay must be a complete argument, with a strong beginning, middle and end.

Research and Organization

Research is the necessary first step in any essay. Reading valid sources will offer both facts and an angle for the topic. The heart of the essay is the organization. An outline is a good tool to organize thoughts. A topic map or spider map would also be a great way to clarify the paper's development. Creating a strong outline or map makes the writing itself go more smoothly.

Getting Started

Begin by writing a thesis sentence, which is the road map around which further writing is built. Students should then focus on putting their thoughts into paragraph form. The most typical format is to create five paragraphs. The introduction contains five or six sentences and ends with the thesis sentence. This will dictate the order of the body paragraphs.

Completing the Essay

Once the introduction is complete, the student creates three body paragraphs with a topic and conclusion sentence in each, as well as three to four specific details. The body paragraphs must line up with the thesis sentence. Finally, the conclusion sentence will contain five to six sentences and begin with a paraphrased version of the same thesis sentence used in paragraph one. Elongating the writing to seven paragraphs is typical for more involved topics. In this case, the student would include the introduction and conclusion paragraphs as in the above example, but would have five body paragraphs.

Revising the Work

Although many students scrimp on the revision section, it is actually one of the most important parts of the task. Students can read the work aloud to make sure the writing flows, and ask a trusted friend or parent to proofread for grammar or spelling errors. Students should show evidence of growth, such as choosing the best word for the job and making sure to use strong transitions and sentence structure. This will guarantee an effective paper with a clear beginning, middle and end.

About the Author

Kathryne Bradesca has been a writing teacher for more than 15 years. She has also contributed to newspapers and magazines such as "The Morning Journal" and "The Ignatius Quarterly." Bradesca received a master's degree in teaching from Kent State University.

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