Three: Structure and Outline
following structures are demonstrated and discussed:
Example Structure follows the rules of a traditional academic
essay: begin with a main argument or thesis statement, follow
this with three pieces of evidence that support the argument,
and wrap up by stating what the essay has shown. This is
a good structure to use when making a single, strong point.
Its power lies in its simplicity. Because it allows you
to present several points neatly in support of a single
claim, it is especially useful for making a persuasive argument.
This format will be most helpful when writing short essays,
but for longer personal statements, it might appear formulaic
and dull. One of the more creative structures described
below might draw attention more successfully to your writing.
here for a sample of an Example Essay.
some questions, this structure is a natural choice, as in
the personal growth and development question, which asks
you to compare yourself now to the way you once were. You
can structure a cause-and-effect essay point for point,
by comparing one aspect of the object or situation at a
time. Or you can choose to employ the block method by thoroughly
covering all the points of the first object or situation
in the first half of the essay and then comparing it with
all the points of the other in the last half.
here for a sample of a Compare and Contrast Essay.
or Chronological Structure
have decided to focus on a single event in your life, you
will want to use this structure. It can be filled with action,
dialogue, and subtle details. Although, you should not confuse
effective drama with overwrought, Hollywood-style melodrama.
The briefest and simplest of events can take on meaning
when told convincingly. Using a chronological or narrative
structure over a long period of time (anything more than
a day or two) can often read like a ship’s log. You don’t
want to sound like you’re rattling off a schedule of events.
Rather, take on the role of storyteller and provide great
detail about a very specific set of events. The sequence
of events will help reinforce flow from one stage of the
essay to the next and will make the difficult task of transitioning
between paragraphs very natural. While the narrative is
one of the most effective forms of writing for an essay,
it can also be difficult. Use the following tips as your
write your narrative:
the reader aware of chronology and keep the story generally
feel obligated to tell more of the story than you need
to convey your point. Extra details distract from the
main drive of the story.
not to use reflective conclusions or introductions describing
what you learned; start and end with the action and have
everything take place within the context of the story.
events, people, and places in very specific, colorful
can be combined with other structures for an approach that
is less risky but still interesting. Beginning an essay
with a brief story is the most common and effective of such
methods. Another twist on the narrative essay is one that
describes a single place, person, or action in great detail.
It appeals to the senses of the audience without necessarily
drawing on the action of a story. There is no standard structure
found in this type of essay -- each is differently organized
-- but all rely on crisp imagery and sensory detail, leaving
the reader with a single, vivid image. Single images are
easier to remember than a list of points, qualities, traits,
or qualifications, no matter how impressive any one or all
of them may be. Still, this is a risky approach and is best
employed when you have to provide multiple essays for one
school so that you have a chance to structure your other
essays more traditionally.
here for samples of Narrative Essays.
is similar to the chronological structure except that instead
of walking step by step through increments of time, it follows
step by step through a description of a place, person, or
thing. The first paragraph gives an introduction describing
the general feel of the place, person, or thing. The body
paragraphs offer in-depth descriptions of two or three particular
aspects of the place, person, or thing. In the last paragraph,
the writer steps out of the descriptive mode and offers
a brief conclusion of what the place, person, or thing says
about him or her.
here for a sample of a Descriptive Essay.
times you will be asked for a life-changing experience or
about someone or something that has had a great influence
on you. This structure shows that you understand and appreciate
the effect that other entities have had on your development
and maturity. For these essays, you will want to use the
body paragraphs to first describe the influence and then
move onto how that has had an effect on you. You can either
divide the essay into a “cause section” and an “effect section”
or you can mesh the two together by taking each small description
one by one and explaining the effect it has had on you.
If you decide to use this structure, be sure that you don't
write yourself out of the equation; make the point that
you were the catalyst between the cause and the effect.
That way, you demonstrate that you know how to take action
and create change.
here for a sample of a Cause and Effect Essay.
to Sample Outline and Essay