How to write an outstanding expository essay

Posted: February 16, 2018 To: Guides

how to write an expository essay

Table of contents:

1. Expository essay definition
2. Types of expository essays
3. Structure and format of the expository essay
4. Expository essay introduction
5. Expository thesis examples
6. Expository essay body paragraphs
7. Expository essay conclusion
8. Expository essay writing tips

“Write an expository essay for your homework.” There’s a sentence which strikes fear into the heart of many a student in Australia, whether they are in high school, or in university.

But don’t freak out if you’re one of them! Help is here. I’ll show you what an expository essay is, then the rubric you need to know to write a good essay from introduction to conclusion. By the time you finish reading this article, you’ll have all the tools you need for how to structure an expository essay, some prompts giving you clues for how to start, a guide to the types of expository essays, and a few tips to make your life easier along the way.

The purpose of expository essays

First of all, so, what is an expository essay? Simply put, an expository essay explores all angles of a particular topic in an effort to teach the audience something that they might not know. It sticks to the facts and maintains a neutral tone. This is not the place to share your opinion or give that heart-wrenching anecdote.

There are roughly five kinds of expository essays: problem and solution, comparison, how-to, descriptive, and cause and effect. I’ve got some examples of possible prompts to start you off.

Types of expository essays

Problem and Solution: How do you solve climate change? How do you improve your college grades?

Comparison: Compare and contrast life in Australia with life in America. Compare and contrast your own upbringing with that of your parents. Compare and contrast your high school with a high school in the UK.

How-to: How to become a vegan. How to get a date. How to find a geo-cache. How to start collecting butterflies. How to mine crypto-currencies.

Descriptive: Describe what it’s like to visit Uluru / Ayers Rock. Describe your best friend. Describe the last concert you went to.

Cause and effect: Why did Savage Garden break up? Why did Donald Trump win the American presidency?

Structure and format of the expository essay

When considering how to structure an expository essay, you may wish to take out a pen and paper and do an outline straight off the bat. This will help to keep you on the right path and give you a template that will show you how to start.

Typically, essays such as the expository essay are based on a 5 paragraph format, which is roughly one paragraph of introduction, three main points making up the body of the essay, and a one-paragraph conclusion. You need not follow this format if it doesn’t work for you, of course, but it’s probably best to bear it in mind as you make your outline.

As you think about your topic, consider making a graphic organizer to get your thoughts in order. This can be as simple as a brainstorming session with yourself, a concept map, or a Venn diagram, all the way up to extremely detailed statistical maps with studies you’ve carried out yourself.

Introducing the expository essay

Start your introduction with a hook that grabs your readers’ attention. A startling fact or a brief story is often what you need.

Follow up with setting expectations for the background, the context, and the audience for your essay. Make sure you don’t assume your reader knows the topic inside out already, especially if you’re discussing something niche or obscure. Your instructions on how to mine crypto-currency aren’t going to make any sense if your reader has never heard of BitCoin.

The most important part of your introduction, and indeed of your whole paper, is the thesis statement, or statement of purpose. This informs the reader of what the ultimate point of your essay is talking about. Remember, your statement needs to be unbiased and neutral for the expository essay; it should not take sides in any debate.

Some examples of thesis statements are just below.

Expository thesis examples

Thesis: Climate change is a complicated question but there’s one part of it that’s very simple: action needs to be taken.

Thesis: If you want to mine crypto-currency, the process is easier than you might think.

Thesis: ‘90s Australian pop duo Savage Garden broke up for several reasons: different ambitions, a personality clash, and last of all, a tragic misunderstanding.

The body of your expository essay

Now at last we’re getting into the analytical meat of the expository essay. Here’s where you set out your carefully-outlined points and present your evidence. Each main point should be followed by the factual evidence supporting that point in the same paragraph. This is where having written and formatted a full outline comes in handy.

Your body should consist of at least three paragraphs. Some ideas for how to format these include three different takes or views on the situation, three opposing points of view, two opposite sides and one side which takes elements of both, three steps to solve a problem, three stages of a journey, and so on. Of course, it need not be just three points, but three is your minimum.

Concluding the expository essay

As you finish making your points and draw to a close, begin your conclusion by restating your main points and thesis in brief form. You can then conclude in one of several ways. For instance, by reframing the essay to have larger meaning or significance, or by asking questions you didn’t or couldn’t answer.

Hopefully, you’re now well on the way to writing the best expository essay Australia has ever seen! If you need a few more clues, see the writing tips below.

Expository essay writing tips 

  • Use transition words such as ‘however,’ ‘otherwise,’ ‘furthermore,’ and similar words to move between paragraphs smoothly.
  • Your title should be eye-catching and should have something to do with your thesis statement.
  • If expository essay writing has really thrown you for a loop and even this article hasn’t helped, why not consult professional assistance and consider buying an expository essay as an example for you?
  • Write a first draft a few days before your essay is due, then get a friend or classmate to take a look at it before you revise it.
  • It can sometimes help to read your essay out loud as if you were presenting it to your intended audience. 
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