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Writing Tutorials

What is an Academic Essay?

Engage your thoughts and ideas with those of others you encounter during your research and exploration. Support your thoughts and ideas with your reading and research.

Find the connections between your ideas and the ideas of others from your research and reading.

The Structure of an Essay

Introduction: Gain your reader's interest + set up your topic and text + state your thesis

Body Paragraph 1: The point (Your thought/idea) + Evidence to illustrate your idea (Someone else's thought/idea) + Explanation (Explain how their thought/idea relates to your thought/idea)

Body Paragraph 2: The point + Evidence + Explanation

Body Paragraph 3 +...

Conclusion: Restate your thesis + tie together all claims + End with a powerful statement

pictograph of the structure of an essay

The introduction for your essay will establish the tone of what is to come.

Three important tasks your introduction needs to accomplish:

  • Engage and pique the interest of your reader
  • Establish the essay’s topic and its importance
  • It will state the essay’s thesis clearly

Some suggestions for opening sentences:

  • ask a thought-provoking question
  • offer a shocking or unbelievable fact/statistic
  • cite an interesting, provocative quote
  • present a problem
  • describe a compelling image
  • provide a definition
  • relate a relevant anecdote
  • share someone else’s views


This is arguably the most important component in your essay. If the introduction and conclusion are like two covers to a book, then the thesis is the spine of the book that holds it all together.

The thesis statement should:

  • make a claim - contain a “how” or “why” element and is arguable rather than a statement of fact
  • clearly connect to the topic of the essay
  • appear as (approximately) the last sentence of the introduction paragraph

Each body paragraph should contain a clear tie to the paper’s thesis and to the topic.

There are three (3) main components that are included in the body paragraphs

First, the topic sentence, followed by specific textual evidence (examples, quotes, paraphrase) to provide an illustration for the claim and finally, a clear explanation that ties together the claim and evidence to support the thesis.

Do not use your conclusion to present new evidence. Your conclusion paragraph should summarize and restate the important points you have already illustrated and explained.

Some suggestions for closing out your essay:

Offer a stronger, more emphatic version of the thesis

Tie together all claims and evidence to illustrate the validity of your thesis

Close with a thought-provoking question to spur readers to think further on the topic

Cite an interesting, provocative quote

Point out the areas within the topic that need further investigation

Present a solution to the problem discussed in the essay