For students at every level, essays are unavoidable. Worst of all, the types and topics of essays assigned change throughout your academic career. As soon as you’ve mastered one of the many essay types, you’re on to the next one.

But fear not:

This article provides the tools you need to attack any essay. First, this article reviews the commonalities of all essays and essay structures. Second, this article describes not just the 5 major types of essays, but 8 different types of essays! (This article includes some brief examples of thesis statements for each essay genre. But if you learn best from examples, you should read this article filled with links to resources with sample essay papers.)

But first:

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1.  📄  Learn What All Essays Have in Common

There are many kinds of essays. It’s easy to forget they’re all so similar.


In a way, there are more types of research papers (and even types of research paper formats, like APA or MLA) than there are types of essays. Every subject has its own research paper style. But essays transcend subjects.

All essays fit the same basic essay structure.(If you like, you can even squeeze every essayinto a 5 paragraph essay.)

2.  📌  Stick to a Simple Essay Structure

Every piece of writing, essays included, should have a beginning, middle, and end. (This is just like movies, songs, and anything else you can think of.)Don’t get fancy! Use an introduction, body, and conclusion for every essay. Let’s review these parts briefly.

The introduction introduces the topic, obviously. A good introduction clarifieswhy you are writing. There are many essay introduction types and many strategies for writing introductions. But most of them use a compact thesis statement. A clear thesis statement is a compact sentence (or two) that indicates your essay’s purpose. Here are some great examples:

  • Though they are beautiful, Beluga whales do not belong in aquariums.
  • The average temperature of the Arctic Ocean has become dangerously high.
  • A carburetor combines air with a mist of fuel, permitting internal combustion engines to function.


Each of these thesis statements is a great one-sentence summary of a potential essay.At minimum, your introduction should be a full paragraph that ends with such a thesis statement.

What’s next?

Well written effective essay will probably use several of these different types of writing.

The body of your essay follows the introduction. Here, you provide information and arguments to support your thesis. Generally, you should detail one argument in each paragraph. Each paragraph might provide one reason Beluga whales are poorly suited to aquariums. Or explain one danger of high artic temperatures.Or describe another innovation that made the carburetor possible. Get it?

Last but not least:

The conclusion binds all the arguments of the body to support your initial thesis statement. The conclusion should be the mirror image of the introduction. A compact paragraph is adequate.


As you read the rest of the article, you’ll encounter 7 different types of essays.

But remember:

Each of these essays has these same basic parts. Master them.And you’ll master all essays. (At this point, you might be screaming “show me asample essay!” If that’s the case, check out these successful college admission essays. The focus of this article is on describing rather than providing examples.)

One last thing:

The main differencesamong these essay types is their thesis statements. Focusing on the point of each type of thesis statement is an easy way to master the different essay varieties.

3.  📕  Type 1: The Expository Essay

Most essays have a perspective. That is, they contain subjective opinions. But this essay type is somewhat unique. Good examples of expository writing totally hide the opinion of the writer.

Expository essays present opinion-free information on a topic, which may be broad or narrow.

In this type of essay, the introduction should make the topic clear and briefly lay out the elements of the topic that will be described. For example, the following might be a great expository thesis statement: “The oil industry is a very large portion of the energy sector, and it has significant impacts on the climate and economy.”


This thesis statement does not criticize the oil industry. It does not even claim the effects on the climate are negative. While many people think the oil industry is bad, many people think it is vital. Yet, this example essay thesis statement avoids taking a side in the controversy. This is the sort of objectivity you need in expository writing.

4.  📗  Type 2: The Persuasive Essay

Persuasive writing is the polar opposite of expository writing. For this style of essay, your opinion should be the focus.

The name says it all:

A persuasive essay attempts to persuade its reader to have a specific opinion.

For example:

Let’s consider another example using the oil industry. In a persuasive essay, the following would be an excellent thesis statement: “Though the oil industry is an important part of our economy, it has negatively impacted our environment through climate change, smog, and the building of roads.” This thesis statement makes it clear that the essay has an opinion. It also indicates the 3 arguments used in the body.

By the way:

Another term for this type of essay is an argumentative essay. Presenting an argument to convince the reader is equivalent to persuading a reader. Your instructor may draw a minor distinction between these two essay styles.But examples of argumentative essay techniques that work in persuasive writing are endless.

5.  📘  Type 3: Cause and Effect Essay

Once again:

This variety of essay is perfectly described by its name. In a cause and effect essay, the text should describe the impact of some phenomenon or physical thing—in other words, a cause and its effect.

The simplicity of this essay allows you to explore any topic.All you need to do is consider its consequences and write. Again, the oil industry can be the focus of a representative essay thesis statement: “The oil industry has had a tremendous impact on our world, enabling the automotive industry, contributing to climate change, and generating great wealth.”


This cause and effect thesis statement did not use judgmental words like “negative,” “beneficial,” “good,” or “unfortunately.” However, it could have. This would have made this both a persuasive as well asa cause and effect essay.

6.  📙  Type 4: Reflective Essay

In this essay, the goal is to simply to respond to or reflect upon a species person, place, thing, event, or phenomenon. You may be required to reflect upon a poem, a military battle, or perhaps even another essay. By its definition, reflective essays should be very subjective. In fact, you should use personal pronouns like “I” and “me” in these essays!

In brief:

This type of essay should be very personal. (Check out some examples of reflective writing to see this yourself.)

For example, this would be a great thesis statement for a reflective essay: “The oil industry has provided many benefits to society, but I worry deeply about its potential costs to our planet and its species.” Here, the writer has inserted himself (or herself) directly into the essay. (And this is the point. You are the one reflecting in these essays.)

By the way:

Another name for this type of essay is a reaction essay.

7.  📒  Type 5: Analytical Essay

In many ways, analytical writing is the objective cousin of reflective writing. Prior to attempting this style of essay, you should reflect. But you should also conduct research.         A reflection is personal. But an analysis is rooted in facts and logic.

Compare the following example thesis statement with the one from the previous type of essay: “As the oil industry has grown, the levels of greenhouse gases have increased along with temperatures and concentrations of particulate matter in the atmosphere.” Notice what this statement does and does not do.


This statement outlines factors that will be analyzed in the body of the essay


This thesis does not insert personal feelings, personal pronouns, or subjective language.

By staying objective, an analytical essay is much more like a report. In fact, an outline for an analytical paper should be interchangeable with a section of an outline for a much longer research project. (Do you need ideas for an analytical essay? Here’s a tip. Look through a list of topics for analytical research papers.)

But most importantly:

Any analytical paper example should avoid using personal pronouns. This is the easiest way to receive bad grades on an objective essay.

8.  📔  Type 6: Comparison and Contrast Essay

This is one of the earliest writing exercises most students are assigned. However, there’s a lot of overlap between this essay style and others. In a compare and contrast essay, there are two topics.You often analyze them, reflect upon them, and consider their consequences. Also, like these other essays, there is no limit to the compare and contrast topics for essays.

The ideal thesis statement for this genre of essay makes it clear that there are two topics.It also makes it clear that they share one or more commonalities, while differing in one or more features. Sometimes, this is best accomplished in a two-sentence thesis statement. Consider this example: “While both the oil industry and solar-power industry will be major sources of energy in the future, oil has more environmental costs than green solar power.”

At minimum, the body following this thesis statement should include 3 paragraphs. The first should explain the growth of oil and solar in the near future. The second should explain the environmental costs of oil. And the third should explain the environmental benefits of solar power.

9.  📓  Type 7: Exemplification Essay

The exemplification or illustration essay is one of the most flexible essays you might be assigned. In simple terms, this essay is all about picking vivid examples. In other words, you want to make points that exemplify or illustrate your thesis statement.

For an exemplification essay, you should focus on the examples that will make your point without serious effort. In other words, if you are trying too hard, you are missing the point of the essay. Consider the following example thesis statement: “The oil industry has had serious effects on the environment as demonstrated by the impact of massive oil spill on wildlife, the uncontrolled fires and explosions caused by oil and oil derivatives, and the melting of the polar ice caps caused by climate change.”


Each of these examples paints a very vivid picture. It does not require very much imagination to understand precisely what the writer is telling you.

In the body of this example essay, the writer should devote a paragraph to each of these arguments. Descriptions of seagulls or penguins coated in oil would be perfect examples of the effect of the oil industry on wildlife. Similarly, descriptions of major oil refinery explosions will also grab the reader’s attention.

Once again, the conclusion should restate the introduction, providing less background and reminding the reader of the examples one last time.

10.  📖  Type 8: Descriptive Essay

It is easy to overlook the simplicity of some of essay genres. There is no more clearly named essay than the descriptive essay. Here, the goal is to describe something. Accordingly, the most common topics of descriptive essays are physical items. The theme of the “oil industry” used to demonstrate typical thesis statements for the previously mentionedessay types would not be typical for a descriptive essay.

Instead, it would be far more likely for descriptive writing to focus on an object associated with the oil industry, such as an oil drum, an oil tanker, or even the liquid oil itself.

The thesis statements for this type of essay are about as simple as it gets: “Crude oil is a black, viscous liquid that gives off an odd smell like plastic or many sorts of fuel.”

After such a thesis statement, each paragraph of the body should be dedicated to one of the aspects of the topic.

11.  💡  Remember These Last Few Essay Tips

These tips and tricks are just the start of essay writing. When you are writing for any assignment, always pay close attention to theinstructions.The standard interpretation of any particular style of essay is never as important as your teacher’s definition of the assignment.

When in doubt:

Ask questions!

There is no teacher who will be upset with you for asking for reasonable clarifications. It is better to write the essay your teacher expected, rather than surprise your teacher with a creative effort.And subsequently get a poor grade.

You may also notice that every single one of the rough examples described fit into the 5 paragraph essay format. This essay structure is a powerful way to organize your thoughts. Becoming skilled at applying this structure will strengthen your writing. Soon after, you’ll write both shorter and longer essays with ease.

If you’re still confused watch one of the many helpful videos on essay writing.

This final tip could be the most important:

Start writing your essay early! No matter the essay, your revisions will be better than your first drafts. If you have time for second, third, and fourth drafts, you will be much happier with your final grade.

But what do you do if you’ve run out of time?

This is just when you should turn to Their experts have degrees in every topic you can imagine.And they are all ready to help you with the editing, writing, and even research that you and your next big assignment require. Your grades will thank you! Get in touch for a free quote.

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