Most students have, at some point, had quite a bit of experience with expository writing. Anytime they were writing a how-to assignment, a book report, or writing about what they did on summer vacation, there were practicing their expository writing skills.
The purpose of the expository essay assignment is to simply describe or explain a specific topic to the reader through the use of factual information. It doesn’t call for an argument to be made, nor does the writer have to prove anything.
In this case, the writer has to mostly understand their topic – like the changes brought on by the Industrial Revolution – and present what they know and discover (through conducting research) to the reader in a clear, logical and convincing manner; but, again, the student isn’t required to take a position – like whether the Industrial Revolution had a positive or negative impact on America – as is the case with most college writing assignments.
How to Write an Expository Essay
1) Select a topic.
Once the student understands the purpose of writing an expository essay, which is to explain a topic at length to a reader, they must select a topic they want to explore. The student should be prepared to choose an expository essay topic if they are not provided one. When doing so, the topic should be narrow and specific enough that they can thoroughly address it in about five paragraphs. For example, the American Civil War is far too broad a topic to address in such a short essay; however, President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address may be just right. It is a specific, narrowed topic, and the student could easily provide the right amount of information in order to convey its relevance in an Expository Essay.
2) Choose the best way to inform the reader on the subject.
As there are several ways to convey information, there are as many ways to write an expository essay:
Definition – A more straightforward approach, it is one where the student thoroughly defines a subject.
Cause and Effect – This calls for the student to illustrate the relationship between two variables, with one dependent on the other, then describing the number of ways in which this particular variable directly affects the other, and explaining why it does affect it.
Classification – This is when multiple subjects are categorized into separate or distinct groups by certain criteria.
Compare and Contrast – This calls for the student to examine both the similarities and differences between two or more subjects.
3) Conduct research.
An expository essay, to better explain or describe a topic, needs the inclusion of sources. Once the student has chosen a topic and determined how they want to write their essay, they can begin finding information to cover that topic. Generally, two to three sources will be most effective, but it is best to begin with either a definition of the subject, or topic, as well as some background information, like the kind found in an Encyclopedia. Since no argument is needed in the expository essay, it may not be necessary for the student to seek the inclusion of scholarly articles; most times, these kinds of sources, these scholarly articles, will provide a certain take on a topic, subject, event in history, etc., when in this kind of essay the student only needs to provide a general overview of a topic. In this case, general information – and not biased or subjective information – is needed.
4) Create an outline.
An outline is an effective way for the student to plan the writing of their essay – what their thesis is, what each paragraph will include and where information will be used and how it will be explained.
The first paragraph will include a topic sentence and a Thesis Statement. Though no argument is needed in the expository essay, it still must include a Thesis Statement, which is an idea expressed in the introduction paragraph that indicates what the premise of the paper will be, what it will include, and the way in which it will be examined.
The next three body paragraphs examine the subject at length, giving certain examples and providing certain information, depending on the way the student chooses to write their essay (refer to number two on the list). And the conclusion paragraph restates the Thesis and summarizes, though in a very brief way, what has been covered in the previous paragraphs.
5) Write the paper.
By this part of the process, the writing should come easily if – and only if – the other parts have been covered well and effectively. Once they write their expository paper, the student must read it to check for cohesion and to identify and change grammatical and spelling errors before turning it in to their professor. In the end, the expository essay should help an otherwise uninformed reader understand a topic at length and why that particularly topic is important to cover and learn about.
If you are looking for some expository essay examples here is one to read:
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