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16 Types of Essays You Will Write In College

03 Jul 2021

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📑Popular Types Of Essays

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Essays are an essential part of attending school, and college essays serve as a means of expressing one's thoughts, ideas, and arguments in a clear and organized manner. Significantly, academic writing is an official type of final or entrance exam for many schools and universities. In most schools, it doesn’t matter the subject area, the course or the class. You have to write an academic essay to pass the exam.

There are several types of essays, each with its unique purpose, structure, and style. We will explain to you what is the difference between common types of college essays. Our essay classification guide is here to help you.

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16 Popular Types Of Essays In College

College Essay is a prosaic, shorter, free composition expressing individual views on a particular case or problem. Any genre of the document suggests freedom of creativity. It could be any topic, and it could be written in any style, about anything, because the composition is your way of thinking about what you have heard, read, and seen. Writing essays is extremely useful, as it allows the author to clearly and correctly formulate thoughts, structure information, increase analytical skills, win arguments, and master the scientific style of speech.

There are several types of college essays. Here you can check the list of the most widespread formats.

5-paragraphs Essays

This particular type of assignment consists of five paragraphs: an introduction, three parts of the body and a concluding part you may find among them. A thesis statement is the core of the introductory paragraph. The first has to contain a "reverse hook". In other words, the strongest argument of the whole text. The second is used as a transitional part between the previous and the third one. The last contains the weakest argument and concluding hook, showing the reader that this is the last major statement in the composition. The fifth paragraph is an element of the text that includes the conclusions made in the three upper sections.

Admission or Application Essay

This format is part of the college admissions process. It's used to learn more about the students’ reasons for college applications and their ability to benefit from and contribute to them. The purpose of a college application essay is to convey a sense of your unique character to the admissions committee or admissions officers. (Also, we have some examples of admission essays )

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Writing essays

Argumentative Essays

This type of paper can’t be called the best-written essay for students because, with this piece of writing, you have to ensure the potential readers that your position has merit. In other words, this is more accurate and complete than competing arguments. (Also, we have some examples of argumentative essays )

Analytical Essays

An analytical essay is a type of essay that requires the writer to analyze and interpret a text, concept, or phenomenon. Writing an analytical essay aims to break down a complex topic into smaller, more manageable parts and provide a detailed analysis and interpretation of them. As an analytical essay writer, you are expected to focus on specific details: the methodology, findings, or conclusions of previous researchers. Conclude your research with a summation of the results. Then recommend the framework for further study on the issue.

Cause and Effect Essays

Cause and effect compositions are related to which factors things are caused and the effects of these reasons. Cause and effect is a general method of organizing and discussing ideas. (Also, we have  examples of cause and effect essays )

Classification Essay

A writer organizes examples that fit into main categories. The most important thing during the writing process of such papers is to find the necessary types to classify things correctly.

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Critical Thinking Essays

The adjective "critical" in the nomination describes the author’s perspective when reading the article. This subjective point of view can be described as a "detached evaluation". It means that the college student weighs the coherence of the reading and the completeness of the data before accepting or rejecting it. A critical composition or review begins with an examination of the text and proceeds to write a critique of it. (Also, we have  examples of critical thinking essays )

Deductive Essays

Anyone can write an informative essay , but not everyone can make it logical. This is a college format to calculate the students’ knowledge. In other words, deductive reasoning is a phenomenon including a set of circumstances and previous statements that one can draw a reasonable assumption as an answer to the state of the matter.

Expository Essays

The objective of this text is to describe a situation or event and express a certain (author’s personal or public) opinion about it. Expository writing, or exposition, presents a subject in detail without criticism, argument, or development. The author clarifies a topic by examining it.

Exploratory Essays

The focus of an exploratory essay is a question rather than being thesis based. The college student should start writing without the ending in his mind. Whether they know the subject or not. The purpose of this writing is to improve one's way of thinking.

Informal Essays

This is a less formal statement than a free expression of opinion. The informal qualitative composition has an unconstrained style but retains a solid structure. Do not worry about how to sound academic but avoid carelessness. You can ask to help me write my college essay .

Narrative Essays

Also known as a descriptive essay, this paper tells a story based on the author's personal experience. A descriptive essay is the best chance for the author to express his own opinion according to any question concerning him. As it is a story, it has to contain all structural elements of storytelling: plot, character, setting, climax, and ending. The purpose of a narrative essay is to engage the reader through vivid details, sensory descriptions, and emotional connections.

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Personal Essays

A personal essay is a particular type of paper that aims to grab the reader’s attention from the first paragraph. The personal essay should include personal statements and represent people you intend to have an interest in your point of view.

Persuasive Essays

As in the argumentative article, a persuasive essay must always sound reasonable and demonstrate solid evidence by stating facts, giving logical reasons, using examples, and quoting experts. If you are well informed about your topic, you will succeed in writing a persuasive essay..

Scholarship Essays

It is a presumption of individual experience and topic requirements. To get the highest grade for the text, you need to mention everything, and everyone that influenced you, your views, and what characterizes you as a personal statement.

Choose The Type Of Your Essay Correctly

When it comes to essays, there are many different types of essays that one can write. Some of the most common types are descriptive essays, expository essays, persuasive essays and narrative essays. In addition to these, students can also buy custom essays online that are tailored specifically to their needs. Custom essays come in a variety of formats and can help fulfill any assignment requirements more efficiently than traditional essays.

When writing a college essay, it is important to determine each paragraph's topic, desired length, and goals. Begin with writing the first draft main idea or a bright phrase. The only task for various college essays is how to grab the reader's attention immediately and make him feel interested.

Choosing the right type of essay is crucial for effective essay writing. It is essential to understand what type of essay are a college essay and the purpose and requirements of each essay type to select the most appropriate one for your assignment. Here are some useful tips to help you choose the type of your college essay correctly:

Understand the Essay Prompt

The first step in choosing the right essay type is carefully reading and understanding the essay prompts. They usually provide specific instructions, such as the topic, purpose, audience, and word count. This will help you determine the type of college essay you need to write.

Consider Your Audience

Consider your audience when choosing the type of essay to write. Consider who your readers are, their interests and knowledge levels, and what you want them to take away from your essay. This will help you choose an appropriate tone and level of formality for your paper.

Know the types of essays

Familiarize yourself with the different types of college essays, their structures, and requirements. Read examples of each type to understand their structure, tone, and purpose, and practice writing. This will help you choose the most suitable type of essay for your topic and purpose.

Know your strengths

Play to your strengths as a writer. Choose a type of essay that aligns with your skills and expertise. Are you better at telling stories or analyzing data? Are you comfortable with a formal or informal tone? Do you have a strong argument? Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will help you how to choose the types of essay that best suits your writing skills.

When it comes to writing an essay, there are various types of essays available, such as narrative, descriptive, expository, argumentative, compare and contrast, and more. To write any of these types of essays, one needs to have good writing skills. Those who are not confident in their writing skills, they can always avail of the services of academic essay writers to help them create an outstanding essays.

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  • How to structure an essay: Templates and tips

How to Structure an Essay | Tips & Templates

Published on September 18, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

The basic structure of an essay always consists of an introduction , a body , and a conclusion . But for many students, the most difficult part of structuring an essay is deciding how to organize information within the body.

Table of contents

The basics of essay structure, chronological structure, compare-and-contrast structure, problems-methods-solutions structure, signposting to clarify your structure, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about essay structure.

There are two main things to keep in mind when working on your essay structure: making sure to include the right information in each part, and deciding how you’ll organize the information within the body.

Parts of an essay

The three parts that make up all essays are described in the table below.

Order of information

You’ll also have to consider how to present information within the body. There are a few general principles that can guide you here.

The first is that your argument should move from the simplest claim to the most complex . The body of a good argumentative essay often begins with simple and widely accepted claims, and then moves towards more complex and contentious ones.

For example, you might begin by describing a generally accepted philosophical concept, and then apply it to a new topic. The grounding in the general concept will allow the reader to understand your unique application of it.

The second principle is that background information should appear towards the beginning of your essay . General background is presented in the introduction. If you have additional background to present, this information will usually come at the start of the body.

The third principle is that everything in your essay should be relevant to the thesis . Ask yourself whether each piece of information advances your argument or provides necessary background. And make sure that the text clearly expresses each piece of information’s relevance.

The sections below present several organizational templates for essays: the chronological approach, the compare-and-contrast approach, and the problems-methods-solutions approach.

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The chronological approach (sometimes called the cause-and-effect approach) is probably the simplest way to structure an essay. It just means discussing events in the order in which they occurred, discussing how they are related (i.e. the cause and effect involved) as you go.

A chronological approach can be useful when your essay is about a series of events. Don’t rule out other approaches, though—even when the chronological approach is the obvious one, you might be able to bring out more with a different structure.

Explore the tabs below to see a general template and a specific example outline from an essay on the invention of the printing press.

  • Thesis statement
  • Discussion of event/period
  • Consequences
  • Importance of topic
  • Strong closing statement
  • Claim that the printing press marks the end of the Middle Ages
  • Background on the low levels of literacy before the printing press
  • Thesis statement: The invention of the printing press increased circulation of information in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation
  • High levels of illiteracy in medieval Europe
  • Literacy and thus knowledge and education were mainly the domain of religious and political elites
  • Consequence: this discouraged political and religious change
  • Invention of the printing press in 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg
  • Implications of the new technology for book production
  • Consequence: Rapid spread of the technology and the printing of the Gutenberg Bible
  • Trend for translating the Bible into vernacular languages during the years following the printing press’s invention
  • Luther’s own translation of the Bible during the Reformation
  • Consequence: The large-scale effects the Reformation would have on religion and politics
  • Summarize the history described
  • Stress the significance of the printing press to the events of this period

Essays with two or more main subjects are often structured around comparing and contrasting . For example, a literary analysis essay might compare two different texts, and an argumentative essay might compare the strengths of different arguments.

There are two main ways of structuring a compare-and-contrast essay: the alternating method, and the block method.


In the alternating method, each paragraph compares your subjects in terms of a specific point of comparison. These points of comparison are therefore what defines each paragraph.

The tabs below show a general template for this structure, and a specific example for an essay comparing and contrasting distance learning with traditional classroom learning.

  • Synthesis of arguments
  • Topical relevance of distance learning in lockdown
  • Increasing prevalence of distance learning over the last decade
  • Thesis statement: While distance learning has certain advantages, it introduces multiple new accessibility issues that must be addressed for it to be as effective as classroom learning
  • Classroom learning: Ease of identifying difficulties and privately discussing them
  • Distance learning: Difficulty of noticing and unobtrusively helping
  • Classroom learning: Difficulties accessing the classroom (disability, distance travelled from home)
  • Distance learning: Difficulties with online work (lack of tech literacy, unreliable connection, distractions)
  • Classroom learning: Tends to encourage personal engagement among students and with teacher, more relaxed social environment
  • Distance learning: Greater ability to reach out to teacher privately
  • Sum up, emphasize that distance learning introduces more difficulties than it solves
  • Stress the importance of addressing issues with distance learning as it becomes increasingly common
  • Distance learning may prove to be the future, but it still has a long way to go

In the block method, each subject is covered all in one go, potentially across multiple paragraphs. For example, you might write two paragraphs about your first subject and then two about your second subject, making comparisons back to the first.

The tabs again show a general template, followed by another essay on distance learning, this time with the body structured in blocks.

  • Point 1 (compare)
  • Point 2 (compare)
  • Point 3 (compare)
  • Point 4 (compare)
  • Advantages: Flexibility, accessibility
  • Disadvantages: Discomfort, challenges for those with poor internet or tech literacy
  • Advantages: Potential for teacher to discuss issues with a student in a separate private call
  • Disadvantages: Difficulty of identifying struggling students and aiding them unobtrusively, lack of personal interaction among students
  • Advantages: More accessible to those with low tech literacy, equality of all sharing one learning environment
  • Disadvantages: Students must live close enough to attend, commutes may vary, classrooms not always accessible for disabled students
  • Advantages: Ease of picking up on signs a student is struggling, more personal interaction among students
  • Disadvantages: May be harder for students to approach teacher privately in person to raise issues

An essay that concerns a specific problem (practical or theoretical) may be structured according to the problems-methods-solutions approach.

This is just what it sounds like: You define the problem, characterize a method or theory that may solve it, and finally analyze the problem, using this method or theory to arrive at a solution. If the problem is theoretical, the solution might be the analysis you present in the essay itself; otherwise, you might just present a proposed solution.

The tabs below show a template for this structure and an example outline for an essay about the problem of fake news.

  • Introduce the problem
  • Provide background
  • Describe your approach to solving it
  • Define the problem precisely
  • Describe why it’s important
  • Indicate previous approaches to the problem
  • Present your new approach, and why it’s better
  • Apply the new method or theory to the problem
  • Indicate the solution you arrive at by doing so
  • Assess (potential or actual) effectiveness of solution
  • Describe the implications
  • Problem: The growth of “fake news” online
  • Prevalence of polarized/conspiracy-focused news sources online
  • Thesis statement: Rather than attempting to stamp out online fake news through social media moderation, an effective approach to combating it must work with educational institutions to improve media literacy
  • Definition: Deliberate disinformation designed to spread virally online
  • Popularization of the term, growth of the phenomenon
  • Previous approaches: Labeling and moderation on social media platforms
  • Critique: This approach feeds conspiracies; the real solution is to improve media literacy so users can better identify fake news
  • Greater emphasis should be placed on media literacy education in schools
  • This allows people to assess news sources independently, rather than just being told which ones to trust
  • This is a long-term solution but could be highly effective
  • It would require significant organization and investment, but would equip people to judge news sources more effectively
  • Rather than trying to contain the spread of fake news, we must teach the next generation not to fall for it

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Signposting means guiding the reader through your essay with language that describes or hints at the structure of what follows.  It can help you clarify your structure for yourself as well as helping your reader follow your ideas.

The essay overview

In longer essays whose body is split into multiple named sections, the introduction often ends with an overview of the rest of the essay. This gives a brief description of the main idea or argument of each section.

The overview allows the reader to immediately understand what will be covered in the essay and in what order. Though it describes what  comes later in the text, it is generally written in the present tense . The following example is from a literary analysis essay on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein .


Transition words and phrases are used throughout all good essays to link together different ideas. They help guide the reader through your text, and an essay that uses them effectively will be much easier to follow.

Various different relationships can be expressed by transition words, as shown in this example.

Because Hitler failed to respond to the British ultimatum, France and the UK declared war on Germany. Although it was an outcome the Allies had hoped to avoid, they were prepared to back up their ultimatum in order to combat the existential threat posed by the Third Reich.

Transition sentences may be included to transition between different paragraphs or sections of an essay. A good transition sentence moves the reader on to the next topic while indicating how it relates to the previous one.

… Distance learning, then, seems to improve accessibility in some ways while representing a step backwards in others.

However , considering the issue of personal interaction among students presents a different picture.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

  • Ad hominem fallacy
  • Post hoc fallacy
  • Appeal to authority fallacy
  • False cause fallacy
  • Sunk cost fallacy

College essays

  • Choosing Essay Topic
  • Write a College Essay
  • Write a Diversity Essay
  • College Essay Format & Structure
  • Comparing and Contrasting in an Essay

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The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.

The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.

An essay isn’t just a loose collection of facts and ideas. Instead, it should be centered on an overarching argument (summarized in your thesis statement ) that every part of the essay relates to.

The way you structure your essay is crucial to presenting your argument coherently. A well-structured essay helps your reader follow the logic of your ideas and understand your overall point.

Comparisons in essays are generally structured in one of two ways:

  • The alternating method, where you compare your subjects side by side according to one specific aspect at a time.
  • The block method, where you cover each subject separately in its entirety.

It’s also possible to combine both methods, for example by writing a full paragraph on each of your topics and then a final paragraph contrasting the two according to a specific metric.

You should try to follow your outline as you write your essay . However, if your ideas change or it becomes clear that your structure could be better, it’s okay to depart from your essay outline . Just make sure you know why you’re doing so.

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