Whether you’re a high school student or a freshman at Harvard, your teachers will definitely give you numerous writing tasks. If the assignment involves short essay format, you might feel happy at first. It seems like a simple task, doesn’t it? An hour or two and that’s it. But the truth is, short essay writing can be way more complicated than long paper assignments.
Learning how to write a short essay is important because it will help express one’s thoughts succinctly and clearly. In real life, including in class or when performing job functions, few of us have an option of waxing poetic. Knowing how to talk shortly and directly, both on paper and orally, is essential, just as replying to a prompt fully in as few words as possible. This way, you’ll become a sharp communicator, which is an essential skill in every profession. So, how to start a short essay?
What Is Short Essay Format?
The main feature of short essay writing is that students must put all their ideas and arguments into a limited amount of space. Usually, short essays take between 200 and 500 words, depending on the topic and teacher’s requirements. So, at first, select good topic and find sources that would be relevant. Generally, there should be just between two and five paragraphs in your essay. Despite such mini length, though, conveying the essence of prompt clearly is vital.
For example, one’s picked a ‘Should capital punishment be abolished in the USA?’ topic. It’s very common, there are tons of materials dedicated to this issue, but instead of being helpful, it only complicates everything. You should focus on selecting the most relevant bits of information to make your short essay wholesome. It means that you should learn how to filter and sort through all data you come across as well as structure them properly.
Fortunately, there are easy ways of how to write a short essay.
Writing a Short Essay
Whether you were assigned to write descriptive, argumentative or narrative essays of a short size, there are some basic requirements that you should follow. Let’s take a look at all steps involved in the process of short essay writing.
Finding relevant sources is one of the most important tasks. The good news is, since essay is short, you will normally need just a few sources, about two or three. They might be articles from the respectable US journals or books, such as the ones published by Sage Publications. Pay close attention to their date — the more current all sources are, the better, and make sure they’re peer-reviewed. Read an abstract or a summary of the work you’ve found. Does it sound like something that will be useful? Remember, each source must actually contribute something to short essay.
How to write a short essay without making sense of all ideas first? It’s impossible, so think of what you’d like to explore in particular. In short essays, stay as focused as you can. Each of your sentences must be precise and on-topic. For that, it’s important have to have a clear idea of what you’re going to write about.
Outline is the next logical step after brainstorming. You’ve come up with all ideas, now it’s time to write them down so as not to lose direction once you start typing. Having an outline is a must, especially if you were assigned a broad topic. Threat of chaotic thoughts is very real here, so before you start working, write down all arguments and possible counterarguments. Dwell on your final goal and decide what information you are going to cover in each paragraph.
Read Also: How to Make an Essay Longer
If you’ve completed the previous steps, writing won’t be hard. You have an outline, you have sources you’re going to use, now just follow the former and add the latter! Don’t forget that you’re writing a short essay, though. Be brief and concise, cover all points quickly but succinctly.
Editing and proofreading are vital part of your short essay writing. You should read what you wrote to make sure that it sounds good and nothing is rushed or unclear. Writing process is, first of all, the process of creation, and even if your ideas are perfectly expressed, big amount of both grammatical and orthographic mistakes will result in you getting low mark. Prevent it by proofreading your essay; if possible, check it with grammar checkers. Since the essay is of mini length, you won’t have to read for long, so be extra meticulous.
Now that we’ve seen how to write a short essay, there is another question that must be addressed. What is short essay structure?
Components of a Short Essay
The standard five-paragraph short essays have specific structure: introduction (1 paragraph), thesis, main body (3 paragraphs), and conclusion (1 paragraph). This helps your work be elaborately structured and easier to comprehend.
First impression matters, even if you’re writing a short essay. The purpose of introduction is to attract your readers’ attention and make them interested, so your aim here is to create a hook that will intrigue the audience. Introduction in short essays should be within 5 sentences — you must make it concise, informative, and catchy. In the first sentence, make a claim about the urgency of the problem; persuade the audience that your essay is worth reading. Now you know how to start a short essay.
It is the last sentence of introduction. It must be focused on the main problem you’re planning to explore and contain a claim that you’re going to prove. So, if your topic is too broad or simple, focus on something more specific. Thesis must be debatable and it should motivate the opponents to argue with your position. In addition, everyone should be capable of figuring out your central idea just by reading this argumentative claim. So, if it’s unclear, rephrase it until it is.
- Main Body
Good structure of standard short essays has particular 5–paragraph format. Three of them must be devoted to the main body, which contains your key ideas along with supporting evidence or facts. It is easier to read a paper where main points are divided into paragraphs according to micro-topics. Put the strongest argument in the first paragraph and support it with the appropriate facts.
Arguments where supporting info is less effective should be placed in descending order. It will give your short essay a great advantage, even more so if your evidence contains quotations. Don't forget to cite them according to the formatting requirements, though! To make your text cohesive, use conjunctions and linking words. That will make a flow of your narration logical because all ideas will appear gradually, changing smoothly from one into another.
Present results of analysis in the final paragraph. Here, show how ideas from the main body support thesis statement, which you should paraphrase. Conclusion isn’t a simple summary of work, it’s synthesis. You must reply to the question raised back in introduction. Your aim is to provide target audience with a new view on the subject, so if the first sentence of introduction should have drawn readers’ attention, last sentence of conclusion should make them satisfied with what they have read.
Read also: Use words to page converter and find out how many pages is your essay.
Six Tips For Successful Writing
Writing can be tough in general, but academic writing is a sphere of its own, with a set of specific quirks. There are different rules about how to create great fictional story for everyone and how to write a short essay for your professor, for example. Let’s look at the list of six tips for effective academic writing.
- Choose a topic you’re interested in. This is key to crafting an interesting, thoughtful essay that all readers will enjoy. If you want to know about something and if you have personal investment in a topic, you’ll definitely achieve success because you’ll be a part of your own audience. You’ll be sure to choose the most interesting facts. Passion is always evident in writing, even if it’s an academic paper, and it will bring you better results than if you’re to choose something just because you know it’s popular.
- Know target audience. Don’t forget who your audience is. It depends on the task, so make sure you identify people who will be reading such an essay before starting writing. If a professor is this primary audience, then they already have some idea about your topic, meaning that recapping the basics isn’t necessary. In other cases, starting with something broader is better to avoid confusing target readers.
- Read. Academic writing means that you have to possess certain knowledge. Research chosen topic before writing first paragraph. Read the text from the sources you’ve selected at least partly to gain in-depth ideas for your own short essay.
- Avoid distractions. Writing essays while watching TV show to make the process a little more interesting might seem tempting, but unless you’re very experienced writer, don’t do that. Focus on writing an essay entirely. This way, you’ll be able to finish it pretty soon as nothing will distract you, and your content will be specific and on-point.
- Don’t give up. It might feel like writing is getting too difficult and finishing this essay is simply impossible. There are no ideas that could be still used, all inspiration has left long ago, and many much more interesting and engaging tasks are waiting, beckoning closer. Taking a break is great at this point, but giving up entirely? Definitely not. Relax for some time if it’s necessary for restoring balance, but then continue working. Feeling proud and accomplished in the end of such work is going to be the best reward. Same applies in situations when one’s essay comes back graded poorly. It’s upsetting, sure, but it doesn’t mean putting efforts isn’t worth it. Sooner or later, persistence will pay off and it’ll be reflected in all future grades you get.
- Use online editing/proofreading services. Students are often sure that their short essay writing is flawless, but they are still likely to have made some mistakes. Typos can be nasty, and if someone has just finished writing an essay, these small issues might be easily overlooked even during re-reading process. That’s why it’s better to entrust your text to online grammar checkers. Another option entails using EduBirdie’s editing and rating services so you wouldn’t miss anything.
Read also: Process Analysis Paper: Writing Rules
Writing The Best Short Essays
Short essay writing is not a difficult task. If you pick an idea you like, research it, and develop an outline, you’re already half done. Just remember general rules of how to write a short essay and it’s likely that a great mark is already in your pocket! Some problems might still occur, though, for a variety of reasons. You might be too exhausted to research and write anything or simply have some other plans. If so, don’t hesitate before asking for help.
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