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15 Tips to Help You Write a Stellar Essay
Essay-writing can be easier than you might think if you have a grasp of the basics and a willingness to engage with the subject matter. Here are 15 top tips for writing a stellar essay.
Do Your Research
This is one of the most important tips you’ll ever receive. Research thoroughly, even if it means you have too many notes. It’s better to have to leave stuff out than not have enough to write about.
Make an Outline
Without a properly structured outline (with an intro, a four- to five-point body and a conclusion), your essay may be hard to write and to follow.
While you might just be writing your essay for a teacher or professor that is paid to read it, it still pays to grab their attention. A “hook” like a quote or surprising statistic in your intro can make your reader want to read on.
Lay Out Your Thesis
The intro isn’t all about flair and grabbing attention. It’s also about laying out your thesis. Make your main argument clear in the first few sentences, setting up a question to answer or statement to prove.
Avoid Passive Voice
If you want your writing to be persuasive, passive voice should be avoided. (That sentence was full of it, by the way. For example, “You should avoid passive voice” is a more convincing way to say “passive voice should be avoided.”)
Avoid First-Person Voice
If you’re writing an academic essay, you should almost certainly avoid first-person voice. In other words, avoid saying “I” or “my.” Also restrict your use of the second-person voice (e.g., don’t use “you” unless it’s necessary).
Start With Your Strongest Point
In general, it’s a good idea to start with your strongest argument in your first body paragraph. This sets the scene nicely. However, this might not be appropriate if you are structuring your essay points chronologically.
Relate All Points Back to Your Thesis
Make it clear to your reader how each point you make relates back to your thesis (i.e., the question or statement in your introduction, and probably your title too). This helps them to follow your argument.
Contextualize Without Losing Focus
Add contextualizing information for a richer presentation of your topic. For example, it’s fine (or even desirable) to discuss the historical background for certain events. Just don’t get bogged down by irrelevant details.
Use Transition Phrases
Transition phrases, such as “furthermore,” “by contrast” and “on the other hand,” can also help your reader to follow your argument. But don’t overuse them at the cost of clarity. Read your essay aloud to gauge how it flows.
Conclude With a Return to Your Thesis
A conclusion can do many things, but it’s useful to think of it as an answer to the question or statement in your intro. It’s sensible to summarize your key points, but always relate back to your thesis.
Make Your Conclusion Seem Obvious
Restating your thesis in your conclusion (after having made all of your points and arguments in the body) can be persuasive. Aim to make your conclusion feel irrefutable (at least if it’s a persuasive essay).
If your spelling is sloppy, it’s natural for your reader to assume your approach to writing the essay was too. This could harm the strength of an otherwise persuasive essay.
Grammar is also important, for the same reason. It’s usually easy to pick up on dodgy grammar if you read your essay aloud. If you’re not a native English speaker, however, you might want to ask someone who is to check your essay.
To avoid harming your persuasiveness and authority, it’s fundamentally important to use the right words. Overly obscure language can detract from the clarity of your argument, but if you feel you have to use it, then you better know what it means.
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About this printout
Use this graphic organizer to develop a persuasive stance for an essay, speech, poster, or any type of assignment that incorporates persuasion.
Teaching with this printout
More ideas to try, related resources.
Examples of persuasion surround our lives, and the ability to persuade others is a powerful asset. We can persuade people to act in our favor, help them to see our point of view, and sway their opinion to that of our own. The power of persuasion is far reaching, and it is a technique that students will use throughout their lives. This tool helps students formulate ideas for a persuasive argument by helping them determine their goal or thesis, identify three reasons to support it (with three facts or examples to support each reason), and restate the thesis in a conclusion statement. Before your students use this tool independently, model its use for them. Choose a simple topic (such as, “Sixth Grade is the Best Grade” or “Why Our Lunch Period Should be Longer”). Then, fill in the Persuasion Map while discussing the process aloud, displaying the tool so that all students can see it. Review students’ completed maps prior to having them continue with the persuasion assignment. This will provide you with an opportunity to check students’ understanding of persuasion and help those who need extra instruction.
- Have students analyze a persuasive piece (for example, an advertisement or editorial in a newspaper or magazine) by filling in the map and discussing the authors’ strategies of persuasion.
- Encourage older students to create propaganda-based assignments by having them incorporate deceptive language in some of the “reasons” or “examples” on their maps. (Propaganda is a form of persuasion that uses deceptive language to exaggerate, distort, or conceal information.) Upon completion, have students read their maps orally and/or display them for their peers. Have students identify the deceptive language in their peers’ maps to create a class list of the examples used. As an additional follow-up, students can view and read advertisements, newspaper editorials, and other text that contain propaganda to search for use of the examples on the class list and to add additional ones.
- Have students complete two maps based on the same goal but with two different targeted audiences in mind. Attention to audience is an essential element of effective persuasion. For example, students might create maps to market a particular children’s toy; one map could target children as the audience, and the other could focus on parents as the audience. After they have completed their maps, have students read them to the class without identifying the intended audience. Ask the rest of the class to determine the intended audience and identify the specific clues that prompted their deductions. Finally, as a class, compare and contrast the language and words used for each intended audience.
- Lesson Plans
- Student Interactives
- Strategy Guides
Through a classroom game and resource handouts, students learn about the techniques used in persuasive oral arguments and apply them to independent persuasive writing activities.
The Persuasion Map is an interactive graphic organizer that enables students to map out their arguments for a persuasive essay or debate.
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Persuasive Writing Organizer
A graphic organizer used to plan and structure a persuasive essay or speech, including the main argument, supporting reasons, counterclaim and conclusion.
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The graphic organizers are available in Book Creator’s built in App Store . Sign into Book Creator, simply enable the graphic organizer app, then you and your students can add your chosen organizers to your books.
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Persuasive Writing Graphic Organizers
These free persuasive writing graphic organizers will help your fourth, fifth and sixth grade writers plan their writing during writing workshop.
You can use these persuasive writing graphic organizers to help your students organize and plan their writing.
These eight printable pages will help you in planning for student writing.
This is another free resource for teachers and families from The Curriculum Corner.
Using graphic organizers during writing workshop
Looking for new pages to help your students plan their writing? These are a great place to start!
These graphic organizers are designed to help your students organize their thoughts and research.
Beginning a writing piece by completing one of these pages will make the writing process a little bit easier for your students.
Use these graphic organizers to get started with their opinion writing. Choose the one that fits the given task or the one that meets the needs of each student.
There are a variety of pages for you to choose from. You can either pick the organizer that fits the writing process your students will be using or let students choose.
Sometimes the choice is key to motivating writers. Other times, it can be helpful to plan your instruction around a specific organizer. Do what you believe will be the best fit for your class!
About these persuasive writing graphic organizers
This collection contains eight pages.
Along with a spot for students to identify their topic and then opinion of the topic, there are places for students to begin their planning.
Students will share their reasons for their opinions on some pages.
Part of persuasive writing is citing evidence to support student opinions. Encourage students to add notes about what their research teaches them.
One of the provided pages can be used for students creating a longer research pieces. Look for the organizer that says page#: at the top right. Students can use one page for each paragraph they are planning. Along with sharing their reason, they will record three pieces of evidence to support their opinion.
You might choose to also add one of the two provided conclusion organizers to student planning.
You can download this complete set of graphic organizers for writing here:
Looking for other writing resources? Try these freebies we have also created:
As with all of our resources, The Curriculum Corner creates these for free classroom use. Our products may not be sold. You may print and copy for your personal classroom use. These are also great for home school families!
You may not modify and resell in any form. Please let us know if you have any questions.
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