In the BAWE classification, an Essay is a piece of writing which develops an argument. When you write an Essay, you need to show that you can construct a coherent argument and employ critical thinking skills. You need to support your argument with evidence.

Essays can be structured in many different ways, but they all include your thesis (a statement of the case you are making) and arguments based on evidence to support your thesis, logically organised. You will often be expected to include evidence against your thesis. This will be followed by a conclusion.

exposition discussion challenge factorial consequential commentary
thesis issue challenge state state text(s) introduction
supporting arguments alternative arguments arguments contributory factors ensuing factors comments
restate thesis final position thesis summary thesis summary thesis summary

In an expository Essay, you would start by presenting your thesis – as a statement of the case you can make based on the evidence and your arguments. This would be followed by the evidence to support your thesis.

In a discussion Essay, you would start by presenting the issue - the problem you have to solve. You would then explain and discuss the evidence and different points of view regarding the issue. You would finish by comparing and contrasting the different arguments and making a choice - your final position.

In a challenge Essay, you are challenging a given theory by showing where it is weak and proposing a better theory. You would start by introducing the theory you are challenging. You would then analyse and evaluate it to show where it is weak and propose a better alternative.

Factorial Essays and consequential Essays are similar. Both are organised around the facts that either lead to or are consequences of a state of affairs. In a factorial Essay, you discuss the facts that lead to or cause a state of affairs. In a factorial Essay, you would start by describing the state of affairs you are interested in. You would then present the factors that led to the state of affairs. These would be grouped in some way, analysed and evaluated. You would finish by concluding about, for example, the importance of the factors you have discussed.

In a consequential Essay, you discuss the facts that result from a state of affairs. You would again start by describing the state of affairs you are interested in. You would then present the factors that resulted from or were caused by the state of affairs. These would be grouped in some way, analysed and evaluated. You would finish by concluding about, for example, the importance of the state of affairs in contributing to the consequences you have discussed.

The final Essay type is the commentary Essay. These Essays would normally focus on texts. Your introduction would therefore introduce the text(s). You would then follow this with a series of comments that analyse and evaluate the text(s) given. You may be required to compare and contrast the texts. You would conclude by summarising your comments.

Examples of Essays include:

  • Exposition Essay - thesis, supporting arguments, restate thesis
  • Discussion Essay - issue, alternative arguments, final position
  • Challenge Essay - challenge, arguments, thesis
  • Factorial Essay - state, contributory factors, summary thesis
  • Consequential Essay - state, ensuing factors, summary thesis
  • Commentary Essay - introduction, comments, summary

Try the following tasks to learn more about Essay organisation.

Task 1

Six types of Essay are introduced. While they all have slightly different stages in their overall structure, they all share a basic structure. Drag the stages into the correct order to show this basic structure - put the first one at the top.

Exercise

Task 2

Six types of Essays are mentioned. Match the structure of the essay to the essay type.

Exercise

Task 3

Example 1 shows the first part of an essay on 'words'. The paragraphs are not in the correct order. Drag them into the correct order, putting the first paragraph at the top.

Exercise

Task 4

Read this introduction from an Essay on language planning. On the basis of the introduction, identify the essay type.

Introduction

If half of the 6,000 languages in the world were to disappear within the next 100 years, many people would consider it to be a great loss in respect of the linguistic diversity and cultural heritage of the human race; there are however those that disagree and feel that it might benefit the world to have a more homogeneous linguistic make-up. By looking at declarations of linguistic rights, the aim is to ascertain what the United Nation's stance should be on this debate. The more specific arguments of whether language extinction is problematic or not will then be discussed.

Exercise

Task 5

Read this introduction from an Essay on language planning. On the basis of the introduction, decide the order of the following sections. Put the first section at the top.

Introduction

If half of the 6,000 languages in the world were to disappear within the next 100 years, many people would consider it to be a great loss in respect of the linguistic diversity and cultural heritage of the human race; there are however those that disagree and feel that it might benefit the world to have a more homogeneous linguistic make-up. By looking at declarations of linguistic rights, the aim is to ascertain what the United Nation's stance should be on this debate. The more specific arguments of whether language extinction is problematic or not will then be discussed.

Exercise

Task 6

Look at the essay on language planning - Example 2. Add the headings you ordered in Task 5 to the correct places in the essay. Most places will not require headings.

Exercise

Task 7

Put the sentences from paragraph 2 of Example 2 in order.

Exercise

Task 8

Remembering what you did in Task 5, match the essay sections with the stages of a discussion essay identified above.

Exercise

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Comments

Hello Binh,

I would recommend that you first take a look at our IELTS section and at the TakeIELTS website to learn more about the IELTS Academic exam. In both places, you can find useful tips and general advice on the exam, as well as some practise materials. TakeIELTS also has a page with a sample answer to an Academic writing task (see the links at the bottom of the page). It would also be useful to look in an IELTS preparation book for other writing tasks that are typical on the IELTS Academic exam.

Once you have a good idea of what kind of task you may be asked to do, I'm sure you can find some useful information here in the Writing for a Purpose pages.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

hi am saeenshee i want to learn english so i need you to help me

Hi saeenshee,

Welcome to LearnEnglish!  You're now in the Writing for a Purpose section, which is aimed at people needing academic English - in other words, people who wish to use English in their studies in the UK.  If that is your goal then work through the material here, but you may find it very challenging.

If you're aiming to learn English for more general use then I suggest you explore the site a little.  Use the links at the top of the page to go to different sections and see what kinds of materials are available.  Get a feel for the level of difficulty of different sections so you can see what will be most useful to you at the moment.

Then start with something that is not too high a level. Many users find Elementary Podcasts Series Three a good place to start.  Work through the episodes, and remember that you can use the transcript to help you, or to read and listen to at the same time after you have done the exercises. As you work, it's important to keep a vocabulary notebook. Organise it by topic ('work', 'family', 'food', etc.) and add words and phrases to it as you go through the material.  Test yourself regularly to see if you remember the words.

Finally, practise English every day, even if it's only for 10 minutes. You can study the vocabulary you've recorded, listen to an Elementary Podcasts episode again, or if you have a friend who is also learning English, practise speaking with them. You can also practise by yourself, just speaking English when you are alone at home or at work.  This kind of practice is great for developing fluency in speaking, so that when you need to use English in the 'real' world you are ready and confident.

I hope those suggestions are helpful.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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