Structure of Academic Essay Watch
Keep your map handy while we do a little essay dissection. Before you write your essay, you should probably know what the parts of an essay are.
Parts of an Essay
In your introduction, you say what you’re going to say. Your introductions the first chance you have to spark your reader’s interest and to explain to him or her what you will be discussing in your essay. It’s sort of like a movie preview. The object of a movie preview is to introduce you to the movie in an interesting way, so that when you see the preview, you think to yourself, “That movie looks good. I want to watch that.” A good preview gives you just enough of a glimpse of who the characters are and what the basic plot is that it leaves you wanting more. An introduction has a similar purpose.
The most important component of any introduction is your thesis statement.
What Is a Thesis Statement?
A thesis statement is your whole argument, boiled down to a sentence. It serves two functions. One, your thesis allows you to test your argument’s strength, by seeing how it holds up to being simplified into one brief statement. Does it end up sounding awkward? Or does it sound like a winner?
Two, your thesis introduces the reader to your plan of action and answers that important question that readers ask themselves: What is the point?
Where Do You Put a Thesis Statement?
In most cases, your thesis statement will go at the end of your introduction. This way, you can build up to it with an intriguing opening. The location of your thesis within the introduction is not nearly as important, however, as the clarity of your thesis statement. Wherever it is, your thesis statement should be clearly identifiable and should make it obvious to your reader what the point of your essay will be.
How Do You Write a Thesis Statement?
Thesis statements are not difficult to write. All you have to do is make sure that you are answering the question you are being asked in your essay assignment. For example, if you are asked to write an essay explaining the major differences between elementary school and middle school, turn that assignment into a question, as follows.
"What are the major differences between elementary school and middle school?"
Now your thesis statement will be the answer to the question. It may start like this.
"The major differences between elementary school and middle school are . . . "
A strong thesis statement will not only answer the question and introduce your point, but it will also take a stand, be specific, and lend itself to further discussion. There’s no point in having a thesis statement that doesn’t lead to more discussion. After all, that’s what your essay is, a discussion of your topic.
If, in your introduction, you say what you are going to say, then the body of your essay is where you actually say it. Each paragraph of the body of your essay should contain a topic sentence (we’ll talk more about topic sentences in a minute) and should serve as direct support for your thesis statement. The body of your paper is where you defend and/or support the point you made in your introduction.
So, in your introduction, you’ve said what you’re going to say. Then, in the body of your essay, you’ve said it. Now, in your conclusion, you say what you said. This is your chance to remind the reader of your thesis and to sum up your major points. You may want to leave it at that, or you may want to take it a step further and make a recommendation or prediction for the future.