El Camino College Torrance | 2017-2018 Student Handbook - page 57

Three Time-Tested Tips for Writing an Effective Essay:
1. Prepare your argument ahead of time. Gather information on note cards and add more
ideas as they come to you. A little extra time and care at the beginning of the writing
process will potentially save you hours of frustration later on!
2. Create an outline. Before you start hammering away at your keyboard, try to visualize
the flow of your essay by creating an outline. It doesn’t have to be detailed – think of
it as your road map that you pack in the glove box before you embark on a long drive.
When you are looking for direction later on, you’ll be glad you have it to refer back to!
3. Make sure all of the important pieces of the essay are in place. Every essay should
• An Introduction
with a “hook” to lure the reader in, a strong thesis statement,
and a brief preview of what you will cover in your essay.
• Body Paragraphs:
Think of each body paragraph as a brick with which you
will build your essay. In order to be strong, a body paragraph must begin with a
clear topic sentence connecting the information in each paragraph to your thesis
statement, important facts to support the topic sentence, and a smooth transition
sentence leading the reader seamlessly to the next topic.
• A Conclusion:
Here is your chance to drive home your argument with gusto.
Make sure you restate your thesis statement in the conclusion (in different
wording, of course!) to remind the reader what you have just proven.
Remember, the keys to writing a good essay are clarity and support
• Know what you are trying to say.
• Know why you are trying to say it.
• Say it clearly and simply.
• Support every idea you use with facts.
What’s a thesis statement?
Think of the thesis statement of your essay as the argument that you are trying to prove in
your essay. An essay is very much like a criminal court proceeding: it requires evidence to
make the case, and specific details to support the evidence. Your thesis statement is the main
idea that holds your case together.
Your thesis statement should be simple and specific enough to keep your essay from drifting
out of focus, but complex enough so as to require at least three key pieces of evidence for
support. Each one of your body paragraphs will present and expand upon information that
supports your thesis: the specific details to support your evidence.
The Art of Writing an Essay
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