How to Write an Exploratory Essay
Quite different from the argumentative or persuasive essay (where the student-writer tries their best to convince a reader to believe or at least consider something), the exploratory essay, rather, requires the student to administer the research and writing processes to observe and consider, say, the solutions to a universal problem, the answers to a debatable question, the sides of a controversial issue, etc.
When writing an exploratory essay, the students should adhere to the following guidelines:
1. Explain the question, or argument, issue, etc.
2. Illustrate the different views people have on this issue, argument or question.
3. Give their personal response to the issue or question after considering its various arguments, sides, and positions.
Accomplishing these objectives requires the student to first conduct legitimate, objective, fact-based research; then they must incorporate this research into their exploratory essay.
The main point of the exploratory essay is not for the student-writer to find definite answers; its main point is to inquire about an issue or question, gather information about it, and share that information with readers. The student-writer, in the end, offers their take on the essay’s issue or question at hand and explains why they came to this decision.
5 Steps to Write the Exploratory Essay
1. Select an Issue or Question
Once the student understands the purpose of this assignment, and perhaps after they conduct preliminary research, they are to select a subject, topic, question or issue that interests them. It should be one with at least two opposing perspectives, explanations, and opinions, something the student understands well and can expound upon with clarity and confidence.
Can't find a topic for writing an exploratory essay? Here is a list of exploratory essay topics:
2. Conduct Extensive Research
In this step, the student is to read and find information that explains the subject (or issue, etc.) at length. This way the student understands its relevance and the various ways it is perceived by other people. Here, the student gathers objective research, since they are to ultimately report on an issue, question or topic, offering its diverging arguments, answers and so on.
3. Create an Outline to Follow
The exploratory essay’s first paragraph defines and describes an arguable issue/question. Here, it’s important that the reader understands the issue/question and why it is important.
The essay’s body paragraphs identify and illustrate the major positions on the issue or the various answers to a question. Each position has to be stated, and the student-writer has to objectively illustrate why people believe a certain answer or take a certain side of an issue.
Finally, its conclusion paragraph provides the student-writer – after they consider the various evidence supporting an issue’s arguments, or a question’s numerous answers – an opportunity to voice their personal take on the issue or question, how they came to their own conclusions and point of view due to the evidence they found most convincing.
4. Following the Outline, Write the Essay’s First Draft
In writing their draft, the student-writer should include transitions like “some people believe,” or “another perspective is,” and “one way to look at the issue is” as indicators that they are illustrating a new position. The exploratory essay should generally be five or more paragraphs, each in six to eight sentences, and follow the outline created in step number three (above).
5. Peer Edit, Revise and Submit
Once the student-writer has completed their first rough draft, they should reread it to make sure it’s free of grammatical and spelling errors, among others, and that it flows cohesively from paragraph to paragraph, point to point.
Then, they should have a peer proofread and edit their essay for improvement. Most times the peer will find holes in the essay and other errors, as well as areas for improvement, corrections that the student-writer should then make to their essay.
Finally, the student should read their essay to make sure it is as perfect as it could possibly be, that it follows the general format and context and purpose of a standard exploratory essay.
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