Guide to Different Kinds of Essay: Explaining the Basics

One of the keys to finding academic success is learning how to effectively write different types of essays. Writing assignments are a corner stone of education, and can be a critical part of standardized tests and college applications. There are dozens of types of papers, so it’s easy to get confused on the various differences between each one. Here are the basics of the four most common writing assignments:

The Argumentative Essay

The goal of this type of paper is to convince your reader to accept your recommendation or point of view. You have to build a case on a position by presenting facts and examples and also by using logic and sound reasoning. The most effective papers should present all sides of an argument as well as an explanation of why you art taking a certain position. Clear writing is an absolute must in all academic assignments, but probably more so in this “convincing-type” of writing.

The Descriptive Essay

This kind of paper attempts to paint a picture with well-chosen words. This can be a requirement in many college and scholarship applications, so you’re likely to get this assignment early in high school as an early tool for preparation. You usually need to describe a place, a person, an object or even some memory that may have some special significance and communicate some deeper meaning through the description of your subject.

The Narrative Essay

In this type of paper you need to tell a story about a real-life experience from your past. While this may seem like one of the easiest assignments it actually is a challenge to think creatively about oneself. You are required to involve your reader by making the story, through description, as vivid as possible. These are mostly written in the first person and usually works to draw a personal conclusion or personal statement.

The Expository Essay

This type of paper closely resembles the argumentative essay in that it presents a balanced analysis of a topic through the presentation of facts and examples. You are required to define or explain a topic through the effective use of statistics or data. This encompasses a wide range of paper variations, including the cause and effect assignment, the compare and contrast assignment and the process paper assignment. Because the expository assignment is based on facts you really don’t get to incorporate your own personal feelings through emotion.


“   Every writer, no matter how good he is with his first attempt should proofread his paper.  ”

–  Donna Brians


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