Descriptive Test - SPLessons

Chapter 1

Essay Writing

Descriptive Test - SPLessons

Essay Writing

What is an Essay?

An Essay is a non-fictional piece of content that is meant to convey author’s views about a topic. In essay writing, the author tries to analyze the topic at hand from various perspectives and pens down various aspects of the topic. An essay can be in various forms and could be written for a variety of purposes. For instance, critic reviews of a technological innovation, a political impact analysis of a particular decision or benefits and drawbacks of following a specific methodology. Thus, an essay can have criticism, praise as well as a neutral argument on the subject. Essays are mostly terse but subjective. There is no clear definition of how the information in an essay should be conveyed. One could find an essay in the form of an article, a short story or even as a summary of a research.

Recently, essays have become popular in various competitive exams including banking and other exams to judge the applicant’s thought process. An essay involves brainstorming on a given topic. Hence, it is an indicator of how a person thinks and also about the vocabulary that the person holds. It also helps in identifying the person’s ability to express thoughts in a crisp and clear manner.

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Although essays could be spread over a variety of needs, there are a limited types of essays that are encountered in our day to day life. They include:

1. Discuss two opinions on a topic
In this type of essays, the writer is expected to discuss on two different public opinions and provide views on it. For instance, there are two opinions on the decision of making exercise and yoga compulsory for employees. The writer is expected to write the essay summarizing the effects of putting this into effect and also the current scenario of what happens if it is not put into effect.

2. Agree or disagree to the topic
These essays usually are written on a decisive note. In this type of essays, the writer is expected to decide whether a particular decision is going to help the community or not. For instance, an essay on “Switching to electric vehicles will help in cutting down on pollution”. There can be two different aspects here. The electric vehicles might not reduce pollution considerably due to lack of renewable electricity generation sources or they might reduce pollution by taking away the pollution sources to a less polluted area where recovery could be faster.

3. Two-part topics
Two-part essays usually contain two points to discuss on. The first point generally provides writer the platform to provide an opinion on a particular topic. The second point asks for writer’s views on a particular step to be taken in regards to the topic. For instance, a sample topic could be – “NGT is a government body in India that monitors pollutions and takes regulatory actions. What role has it played till date in India? Should NGT be kept active in the future?”

4. Pros & Cons of a particular aspect
These are the simplest form of essays. In this type of an essay, writer contrasts and compare two sides of the same coin. A simple example is – “Electric vehicles – A boon or bane”.

5. Causes and Effects of a particular event
This is an analytical essay wherein writer is expected to analyze possible causes of a particular issue and identify its effects. For instance – “Reducing concentration power in children – What causes it? How will it affect the future?”

6. Problems & Solutions to a situation
This is another sort of an analytical essay where the writer needs to first identify the problems that might come up in an event or a situation and suggest solutions to it. For instance – “Replacing the laborers with Robots in an industry – Identify the challenges and suggest solutions to make the implementation easy”.

7. Compare and contrast views on a specific topic
This type of essay, unlike other essays, does not ask for an opinion. The writer is provided with a particular area of study to compare the impact on variety of groups. For instance – “Mandating online transactions for large purchases – Analyze the impact on Urban and rural areas.”

There are occasions when the types might get mixed up. However, the structure of the essay usually helps you pen down a self-explanatory piece of content.

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Structure of an Essay

An Essay is usually structured as a collection of 4 to 5 paragraphs. Each paragraph is expected to contain:

  • Opening statement
  • Brief explanation
  • Closing statement

Despite a common structuring of the paragraph, every paragraph has a different purpose to serve depending on the type of essay. Below mentioned is the detailed explanation of the structure of an essay.

The first paragraph is the introduction of the topic or area of study. The writer is usually expected to introduce the topic in this paragraph by providing brief details about the topic. This paragraph is usually short and limited to 4-5 sentences. The first sentence is usually rephrasing of the given topic which is followed by a short description of what the topic means for the reader. Once the topic is explained, the writer throws some light on what would be covered in the essay to provide a closure to the paragraph.

The body section could be divided into 2-3 paragraphs or sometimes, even more, depending on the need of the topic. Every paragraph contains an opening statement which describes the writer’s point of view about the area of study. The writer usually answers the first question on the provided topic. For instance – “Vertical expansion of urban areas – Identify challenges and suggest solutions”. In such a topic, the writer usually covers challenges in the first paragraph of the body. The opening sentence of every paragraph in the body contains details about the subtopic that is “Challenges” in this case.

For example:

Vertical expansion poses the risk of high population density which demands parallel development of other infrastructural sectors like roads, transportation and healthcare.

The opening sentence is followed by either a supporting sentence or an additional challenge. The next statement ideally would state a few examples to prove the presented opinion or point of view. It is important to have a closing statement or a linking statement before moving on to the next paragraph. In case of a 2-point essay topic, usually, each paragraph ends with a closing statement for the discussed topic in the corresponding paragraph. However, in an essay of Effects and causes type might need a linking statement to allow the second paragraph to flow.

A conclusion is an overall summary of the topic along with a brief summary of what has been discussed. It is mandatory for every essay to have a conclusion. The conclusion mainly contains topic sentence rephrased in a concluding manner. This is followed by a brief summary of the topic discussed.

For example:

To conclude, it can be said that vertical expansion is the need of the day for urban areas (rephrasing). It has its own implications on the society. Vertical expansion allows efficient utilization of limited space that is available within the urban areas. However, it has its own risks which need to be analyzed and preventive & supportive measures like wider roads, organized drainage and better public transport need to be implemented accordingly.

In addition to summarizing your body, one could also provide suggestions or actions that could be taken in a particular situation. The actions are an indication that you have understood the topic well and understand the actions that could be taken in the presented scenario.

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Tips to write an effective essay
Writing an effective essay is an art that can be mastered only by practice and feedback. There are several points which affect the affectivity of your essay.

Outline creation is an important activity in the authoring of essays. To write effectively, it is important to organize your thoughts. An outline is a rough list of points that would be elaborated in the essay. An outline helps in organizing the essay in a better way. It also helps in making the write up coherent. An outline should be pen down on a paper before you start with the essay. The outline should be such that you can convert each point into two-three sentences and combine them to form a paragraph.

Outline preparation is done by analyzing different aspects of a topic. For instance, for an essay on “Importance of Work-Life Balance” – The outline could be like:

  • What is work-life balance?
    • Maintain sufficient time for Work as well as social life
    • Avoid mixing work and life circumstances
  • How work affects life?
    • Stress
    • High Work-load
    • Workplace quarrel
    • Appraisals & Promotions
  • How would work-life balance be helpful?
    • Improved health
    • Mental stability
    • Higher Concentration
    • Positivity in life
  • How to maintain work-life balance?
    • Complete the tasks in assigned time
    • Avoid extra activities during work
    • Plan family time
    • Avoid taking unnecessary additional responsibilities

In an academic or technical essay, you might also create your diagram ideas in the outline If necessary. A rough hierarchical sketch of your points also might be helpful to structure your essay.

The most important factor in an essay is the vocabulary that is being used in the essay. Vocabulary is the range of words that you utilize when writing an essay. Although the purpose of an essay is not to prove your vocabulary, a variety of the words being used would help you capture the readers’ attention. Repetitive use of words conveys a lack of understanding and skill to present your views.

To display a range of vocabulary in your essay, ideally, try to use synonyms of the words wherever possible. It is also useful to use a variety of words to describe or convey our point. For instance, to convey disagreement one can use ‘I disagree’, ‘I am not in the favor of’, ‘I do not agree’, ‘I believe otherwise’. This would leave an impression of a native speaker communicating without the lack of vocabulary.
This is an important aspect of an essay. Essays are usually meant for general reading. Hence, one should not expect the reader to be skilled at understanding jumbled words and complex sentences. A long sentence might act against the writer if it has too much of information. It might result in the reader losing interest or concentration in the essay.

A simple sentence contains lesser use of conjunctions. The idle word limit for a simple sentence is 10-15 words. Every sentence, except the first, should contain connecting words to form a coherence in the paragraph.
If you are provided an essay with a specified word limit, make sure to follow it. Usually, in competitive exams, the essay topics come with a word limit restriction. Ideally, 10-15% more words than the specified minimum length are acceptable and act in your favor. Hence, try to maintain this word limit standard in your writing.
This is an important factor to get reader’s attention. A coherent essay is an essay which contains well-linked sentences and paragraphs. Ideally, a coherent essay would contain connecting words in almost every sentence. For instance, “However”, “In addition to”, “Firstly”, “Secondly”, “Henceforth”. The connecting words help in giving the reader an experience which allows the information to flow into the brain. Hence, the reader never loses the link to what is being read.

Structuring of an essay gives an overview to the reader about how easy it would be to read the essay. It is the factor based on which reader gets an initial impression of the writer. Hence, it is important to follow the structure mentioned above – Introduction, First Paragraph, and Second Paragraph…..Conclusion

It is important to present the information in a crisp and concise manner. The paragraphs should be limited to 5-6 sentences. It is perfectly fine to keep shorter Introduction and Conclusion but the body paragraphs need to maintain the length. One should also maintain uniformity in paragraph structuring. This means that your essay must not contain 2 body paragraphs where one is too long while the other is too short. This suggests the reader that you probably ran out of ideas.

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Do’s and Don’ts in Essay Writing

DO’s in Essay writing:

  • Create outline before starting
  • Organize ideas
  • Order the points correctly
  • Follow the expectations mentioned in the topic
  • Cover every point that is expected on the topic
  • Write in a crisp and concise manner
  • Use wider range of vocabulary
  • Use simple sentences
  • Follow paragraph structuring

DONT’s in Essay Writing:

  • Don’t use Lengthy Sentences
  • Don’t have Uneven paragraph structuring
  • Don’t have Repetitive words
  • Don’t have Complex sentences
  • Don’t limit the use of connecting words. Use them to connect ideas.
  • Don’t Exceed the given Word Limit (if any)

The above sections covered tips on how to write an essay. However, it does not cover tips on how to improve your essay writing skills. Here are some tips on how to improve your essay-writing skills.

Reading is the best way to improve your knowledge about any topic. To prepare yourself for an essay writing task, read as much as you can on a variety of topics. This helps you form opinions on various social, political as well as technological topics.

Analyze essay:
There are several standard books available in the market which provide quality essays. Read the essay and analyze the writing styles of each essay. Try to note down a gist of what you observed in every essay. This will help you create a personal guideline document to follow while writing an essay

Improve vocabulary gradually:
Vocabulary is a major challenge for every non-native writer. A limited vocabulary affects the effectivity of essay greatly. The best way to improve your vocabulary is to note down words along with synonyms while reading. Target to learn at least 10 new words daily and use them in your essays as well as day to day communication.

Communicate in English:
This is an important activity that helps in shaping your brain to think in English. As the communication in English increases in the day to day life, the brain automatically starts thinking in English rather than our local language. The ability to think in English allows organizing your thoughts and getting new ideas faster. Popularity this ability is described as “Think English, Talk English, Write English”.

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This article covers sufficient details about an essay. The article has provided you with the necessary understanding of how to structure an essay. It also covered the necessary tips to make the essay more effective. In addition to that, the article acts as a guideline for improving your essay writing skills.

To conclude, one can say that essay writing is a skill that is mastered gradually. One needs to understand the motive of an essay carefully in order to lay a good impression on the reader with the essay. Essay writing skills are an important asset that helps in conveying one’s thoughts and opinions in a terse manner to the readers. Thus, one needs to keep improving our skills by reading, analyzing and communicating consistently.