Essay writing in high schools is a mandatory task. Students have to do it at one point or another. They can face a number of problems in this task and it’s not uncommon to feel lost. If you are a high school student yourself and face problems when writing essays, then this article is for you.
We will highlight all the steps required for writing a good essay and provide examples of applying those steps. By the end of this article, you will be well-informed on how to write an well-written essay.
5 Steps for Writing a High School Essay
1. Analyze the Essay Prompt
As a student, most of the essays you will write are in the form of homework assignments. That means that you won’t be able to ask your teacher for help in understanding the essay prompt. Your options at this point are:
- Consulting your parents
- Consulting your friends
Use these options if they are good (only you would know that), but if for some reason you can’t, then try the following instead.
- Phrase the prompt as a question
- Try to figure out the keywords
- Check if the prompt imposes any restrictions
By doing these things you will be able to have a better understanding of the prompt. Now, you can rest assured that you won’t go off track when writing the essay.
Here is an example to help you understand how to apply the tips we have discussed. Given below is a sample prompt.
“Imagine you have the power to change any event in history. Choose one historical event and write an essay explaining why you would alter it, what you believe the outcome would be, and how that change might affect the present world.”
It sounds very intimidating. But let’s see what happens if we phrase it as a question.
“How would the course of history be different if a significant past event was altered, and what impact could this change have on the world we live in today?”
Sound much simpler now, doesn’t it? There are also very few restrictions. Essentially, you have to do the following:
- Discuss a historical event in a hypothetical scenario
- Alter the event
- List the outcomes of that alteration
And that’s it, now you have understood the prompt.
2. Create an Outline for Your Essay
In all types of writing, it has been our personal experience that creating an outline beforehand really makes the rest of the process easy. That is true for essay writing as well.
The simple reason is that following a plan is much easier than making a plan on the fly. To create a proper outline you will need to do the following things first:
- Gather information on your essay topic
- Create a thesis statement
Researching is easy because you can find almost anything on the internet. Any information you want is just a few clicks away. On the other hand, the thesis statement helps you to pinpoint the objective of your essay. Once both of these things are done, you can start creating an outline.
The qualities of a good outline are as follows.
- A good outline starts with an introduction to the topic for setting the context
- It follows up the intro with the basic premise of your argument
- It builds up on the premise with facts and logic as well as evidence
- It finishes the argument by summarizing everything neatly
Students can also add their own opinions in the conclusion to nicely round up the essay.
3. Find and Provide Supporting Evidence for Your Arguments
In all essays (except creative writing essays), students have to take some kind of stance and provide arguments to back it up. But a good high school essay is one which can provide facts and data to make that argument stronger. A poor essay will not provide such evidence.
You can find evidence for supporting your arguments on the internet. But finding sources on the internet is a little bit tricky. You can’t use just any source because there are lots of poor sources on the internet.
You have to find either academic sources or journalistic sources because these are the most sound. Google Scholar is a good resource to use for finding authoritative sources on the internet.
Here is an example to show you how to find evidence. Let’s take the prompt example we used earlier and find some evidence for a hypothetical scenario. The prompt was about changing a historical event and how it would affect history.
Let’s assume we are talking about changing the fact that world war one never happened. The assassination of Franz Ferdinand failed. So, what would the outcome be? Well here is what a quick Google search shows.
We can find different resources that theorize what could have happened. Using these resources as evidence, students can provide plausible reasons for explaining why history turned out the way it did in their essay.
4. Ensure that the Write-up is Clear
A good high school essay is one which is easy to peruse. If an essay is too confusing to understand then it has failed as an essay. Essays are supposed to share the writer’s views and opinions with the readers.
Here is how you can ensure that your high school essay is easy to read.
- Do not use complex sentences
- Format things in a logical way
- Write using words that are easy to understand
- Avoid using technical terms if possible
- Keep paragraphs limited to 3-5 lines
- Break large paragraphs into smaller ones
All of these things enhance the readability of the essay. The good thing is that you can do some of these things with the help of tools. Word processors are great for formatting your essay. You can add spaces and break paragraphs without making a mess.
As for the writing-related issues you can use a paraphraser to deal with them. Online paraphrasers are great for improving readability and making essay unique because they can do the following things:
- Replace difficult words with simpler synonyms
- Break complex sentences into simpler sentences
- Restructure sentences to make them more straightforward.
Since you can do all of these things after typing your essay it is easy to do and you won’t have to worry about them while writing.
5. Proofread Your Essay Before Submission
As is the case with all good writing, proofreading is necessary. High school essays are no exception to this. If you want your essay to be graded well then you need to proofread it.
There are many issues in write-ups that get overlooked during the writing process. These issues are easy to find in a proofreading session.
Common mistakes that get found in proofreading are:
- Spelling mistakes
- Confusing sentences
- Unnecessary repetition
- Incorrect citations
- Bad formatting
By fixing these issues you can improve the quality of your essay. The question is how can you proofread effectively? Well, the easiest way is to read your essay aloud. Many issues stand out when you read them aloud.
However, the better method is to have someone else read it aloud. An impartial third party is much more suited to find readability issues than the author of the essay. Do that and you will be able to find most errors in your essay. Once you correct them, your essay is ready for submission.
And that’s how you can write great high school essays. The five steps we listed are easy to follow. We provided examples where it was necessary so that you can understand how to apply them. The rest you can do just by trying. So, go on out there and write great essays by following the steps listed in this article.
My name is Ihsan Sharif and currently work as a senior content writer in multiple magazines. I am fluent in English, Italian, German, Korean and Portuguese language.