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I am just wondering if there are any good tips for writing a formal essay in 75min for my exam without using my notes or anything.
What is a good way to write the introduction, body paragraphs, conclusion, and concession?

asked Jun 15 '10 at 20:30

thatguy's gravatar image


edited Jun 15 '10 at 20:31

  1. The Thesis Statement As you learned from the “Reader as Writer” reading, a thesis is a statement of fact or opinion that you will defend in the course of your paper. The thesis statement includes the reasons or points you will be making to support your initial statement. A thesis statement does two vitally important things. 1) it establishes the subject and purpose of your paper, 2) it gives your readers a roadmap of the points that will be discussed in the paper.

Here is an example of an effective thesis statement:

Overall, online learning offers many advantages to a diverse array of students. Disabled students, adults returning to school and rural students all benefit greatly from online learning. Online learning does not come without problems though. Computers can crash and servers can go down. Dealing with these problems can be time consuming and frustrating.

Cindy’s paragraph is effective because it states the writer’s opinion (online learning offers many advantages to a diverse array of students, but online learning does not come without problems) and her reasons for this opinion. In the body of her essay, the author went on to discuss in detail 1) advantages to disabled students; 2) advantages to returning adult students; 3) advantages to rural students; 4) disadvantages to all students. Thus, her thesis served as a very effective roadmap for what was to come in the essay.

Here is an example of an ineffective thesis statement:

I enrolled in my first online computer class this summer. So far I learned that there are definitely some disadvantages and advantages of an online class. I feel that I need the interaction that you get with a usual classroom environment. I like to know how I'm doing in the class, being able to have questions answered right away, and meeting my fellow students. I guess that I am a people person and like the interaction that a classroom has to offer.

John’s paragraph is ineffective because the reader has no idea what the author is going to discuss in the paper. Each sentence is a possible topic, but there is nothing to indicate how the ideas connect to one another, which ideas are important, or what points the author is going to use to support his ideas. (Top of Page)

  1. Body Paragraphs As noted above, your body paragraphs need to directly and specifically discuss the points mentioned in your thesis statement in the order they are mentioned in your thesis statement. If you don’t do this, your roadmap isn’t just invalid, it’s misleading, and your readers will become confused.

When you write the body of your paper, you should always be looking back at your thesis to see that you’re following the roadmap. If, as you’re writing, you think of another point it’s important and logical to make, you need to revise your thesis so that the roadmap is still valid.

A body paragraph takes a point –for example, advantages of online learning for disabled students—and discuss it in detail, giving examples and evidence to support that point. Here’s Cindy’s body paragraph on advantages of online learning for disabled students:

Disabled students are one group of people who benefit greatly from online learning. Many disabled students face great obstacles when trying to receive a college education. Just getting to school can be difficult and expensive. Many schools do not have specialized computer programs that can help blind or deaf students. Though schools are now required to provide sign language interpreters for deaf students, many still miss things that are discussed in class. Schools are often large, making it hard for some students to even get to the classrooms. With online learning, disabled students no longer have to worry about these things. They are now on the same level as everyone else.

You see how Cindy has given us examples and reasons why online learning is advantageous for the disabled. Notice how in her thesis she simply lists the disabled as one of the groups that benefit from online learning. She uses the body paragraph to discuss this point in depth and provide evidence to support it. (Top of Page)

  1. Transitions Providing logical connections between ideas is one of the most important keys to good writing. If you and I are talking about how uncomfortable the hot weather has been, and all of a sudden I say “Lobo, my pet slug died,” you’re going to be completely confused. You won’t know how I got from the weather to the tragic death of Lobo. What’s missing is the transition, the thought that links one idea to the next.

Let’s say, on the other hand, that we’re talking about the hot weather, and I remark “The hot weather isn’t just uncomfortable; it’s dangerous too. In fact, Lobo my pet slug, insisted on going outside for his daily walk and he died of heat prostration in two minutes flat.” I’ve built a bridge between the two ideas with one simple sentence that connects the old idea (hot weather is uncomfortable) with the new idea (hot weather is dangerous).

The good news about transitions is that they don’t have to be complicated. They can be as simple as one word or a single sentence. You just need to be sure that as you read over your paper you ask yourself what the connection between each of your ideas is. For a list of good transition words, see the “Paragraphs” document in the “Grammar” folder under Course Documents. (Top of Page)

  1. The Conclusion It is said that “A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.” However, this is not supposed to be the case in your essays. Your conclusion serves two specific functions: 1) it summarizes what has been said in the body of the paper without repeating it, and 2) it provides the reader with a relevant final thought on what you want them to do, think, believe, or understand, now that they've read your essay. Note that a conclusion is definitely not the place to introduce new ideas.

Here’s a case study of a good conclusion. Maureen was writing about the positive and negative aspects of online communities. Her thesis statement was:

Having a virtual classroom as the sole source of instruction is a growing trend with several wonderful advantages. We can have discussion where each person’s contribution is uninterrupted, where gender is not necessarily a factor, where appearances does not distract us and where many disabilities are no longer a barrier. There is potential for misunderstanding, false identities, magnified emotions, and information overload, but the advantages balance the negatives to make virtual classrooms a welcome addition to our educational system.

In the body of her paper, Mo discussed the points she raised, setting an optimistic tone both about the advantages and about the fact that problems with online classes were resolvable. Her conclusion ties these ideas together, reminds the reader of thesis without repeating it, and leaves the reader with a relevant final thought.

As virtual classrooms and our educational systems evolve into the mainstream, we will need to find the balance between the advantages and challenges of this new forum for education. The difficulties the online environment poses do not outweigh its advantages, particularly since there are solutions to many of these problems. Ultimately, the fact that education is growing to include the internet as a standard learning option means we will have another forum for people to flourish and develop in their intellect and ability. This is a wonderful opportunity that will benefit us all.

Notice that Mo hasn’t added any new ideas or arguments in her conclusion. If you get to the end of your paper and say “Oh! I just thought of another thing,” do not tack it on to the conclusion. As stated above, “When you write the body of your paper, you should always be looking back at your thesis to see that you’re following the roadmap. If, as you’re writing, you think of another point it’s important and logical to make, you need to revise your thesis so that the roadmap is still valid.”

Anna’s pet peeve: do not cheat by using the words “in conclusion” to announce the arrival of your conclusion. The content of your concluding paragraph should make clear that it is in fact the conclusion without you having to say it. (Top of Page)

  1. Appropriate Diction and Tone The purpose of this class is to teach you how to write formal, college level essays. Part of writing these essays is learning the diction (word choice) and tone customary in this kind of writing. Here are some guidelines for the appropriate diction and tone of your essays. Note that these guidelines do not apply to the other kinds of writing you do in this class.

· You are writing for an audience of classmates and teachers.

· You are speaking to these people in a professional or formal capacity, as opposed to a casual and friendly capacity (such as we use in our chat room or email exchanges). Imagine you are dressed in your nicest clothes and speaking to an audience that has come to hear you and learn something from you.

· Your audience has a basic understanding of your topic and does not need common or simple terms explained to them.

· You should not use slang or informal language in them. One of the problems with John’s thesis statement in the Thesis section above is that tone is much to informal.

· Your focus should be on facts and ideas rather than rumor and conjecture.

· You should not include “I believe,” “I think,” “I feel,” “In my opinion,” etc. in your essay. It is assumed that an essay represents your ideas and opinions. These are useless fillers. Don’t believe me? Try crossing those phrases out, and you’ll find your sentence works just as well without them. Note: it’s perfectly fine for you to discuss your own specific experiences (“Once when I was in a chat room, I had a five hour conversation with someone about snails.”)

· Do not use any version of the phrase “It goes without saying.” If something goes without saying, your reader will wonder why you are bothering to say it. You should wonder too. The same goes for “not to mention.”

· Avoid rhetorical questions like “How would you like to . . .” or “What do you think of that?” These direct addresses to an audience set an informal, “talky,” tone and don’t actually accomplish anything but taking up space (since, of course) your audience cannot answer you. (Top of Page)

Standard Essay Structure Here’s an overview of how a standard essay is structured. Just something to keep in mind as you work on formulating your thesis and start thinking about writing your rough draft.

I. Thesis (A statement of opinion that you will discuss and defend in your essay) Example: As more and more people integrate the internet into their work and private lives, we will see a dramatic increase in both written and verbal communication skills. A. Sub Point #1 (Sub points break the thesis down into parts which you will then discuss at greater length in the body of the paper. Sub points serve the reader as a road map to the organization of your paper.) Example: Writing skills naturally improve with internet use, since almost all online communication is conducted through the written word. B. Sub Point #2 Example: In addition, while internet users become more proficient at writing, their spoken communication skills will also improve, because writing will give them practice organizing and expressing their ideas. (Note: you may have more than two sub points)

II. Body

A. Discussion of Sub Point #1 Explain this idea in more detail. Raise possible objections, problems with this idea. Answer these objects and defend this idea.

B. Discussion of Sub Point #2 Explain this idea in more detail. Raise possible objections, problems with this idea. Answer these objectionss and defend this idea.

Discussion of further Sub Points if you have listed them in your thesis.

III. Conclusion Your conclusion restates your thesis (puts it in different words), and leaves the reader with a relevant final thought on what you want the reader to do, think, believe, or understand, now that they've read your essay.


answered Jun 15 '10 at 21:02

chadt4's gravatar image


Don't try to be wordey, stick with the facts, get to the point.

answered Jun 15 '10 at 20:50

Alex%20Melton's gravatar image

Alex Melton

Brainstorm until you think you have plenty of material to start with.

  1. Write a sentence outline with a thesis statement that includes the topic and three parts of that topic. As a general rule, try to have three main points with two supporting sentences after each one, and a concluding statement that just restates your thesis statement (simply re-worded), plus supports it or explains it.

This is the point where it is wise to either get a teacher to look at what you propose to include in your essay OR for you to go over and make sure that the paper will flow logically and smoothly.

  1. Go back to the thesis statement and add whatever you need so that any reader will be able to tell what your paper is about without having to read the rest. (The goal is to let the reader know practically everything in your paper without having to go through it as well as be able to skip to certain parts if needed.)

  2. For the main points (main body of the paper) make sure you elaborate on each of the supporting sentences and ALWAYS have good transition sentences from paragraph to paragraph. These main points should go in the order they are stated in the introductory paragraph; otherwise, those who want to skip to certain sections will have difficulty finding them.

  3. Make sure your conclusion touches on the main concepts of your paper and addresses the points stated in your thesis statement. This is the place to address certain aspects not mentioned in the paper, but may still need to be addressed.

Now you are ready to go back and read your paper out loud to yourself or someone else to make sure it sounds ok, flows good, and keeps the reader's attention. Make sure the margins are correct and spell check before you turn it in!

If you follow these simple steps every time you write a paper, the writing will not seem so hard because you will already know where to start – no more writer’s block!

answered Jun 15 '10 at 22:41

rocky05's gravatar image


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Asked: Jun 15 '10 at 20:30

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Last updated: Jun 15 '10 at 22:41