Developing competent writing skills and learning to effectively express yourself is an important part of your educational career. Writing an essay or preparing for an essay exam may seem like a daunting task. A strong, effective essay shows a clear understanding of a topic and makes a firm, supportive case for your ideas. Knowing how to write a strong essay using basic, key ideas can make the difference between a persuasive, powerful essay and a weak, borderline or even mediocre essay.
Your thesis statement sets forth the key idea or ideas in your essay. The thesis statement should support or refute the main idea – or prompt – set forth in the essay instructions. You should not simply repeat the prompt provided in the instructions. In structuring your thesis statement, use clear, active language that lets the reader immediately know the stance you plan to take in the rest of your essay. You must be able to say whether you agree, disagree or only partly agree with the prompt given in the instructions.
Brainstorming and free associating can help you come up with ideas to support your thesis statement. After writing your thesis statement, take time to organize your thoughts. Jot down any ideas that come to mind regarding possible supporting statements for your thesis. You need to be able to back up your argument in a clear, well-organized manner. Write down whatever ideas come to mind – you don’t need to use them all, but it’s helpful to have a list of ideas to refer to when writing the body of your essay. At this point, you may also wish to come up with an outline to guide you during the rest of your essay, such as including specific ideas for the body paragraphs.
Support Your Thesis
The body of your essay provides support for your thesis statement. Based on the topic, you may choose to have two or more paragraphs. Each paragraph must begin with a topic statement that clearly defines your standpoint and what you will be discussing in that paragraph. In “CliffsAP English Language and Composition,” author Barbara V. Swovelin states that you must be able to provide relevant information to support your thesis and somehow connect your ideas to the thesis statement. Use examples from the prompt if necessary.
Having a strong conclusion ties your ideas together in a coherent manner and can help to confirm your main argument. Your conclusion should restate your main argument. The College Board states that your conclusion should “summarize and make sense of the evidence you presented in the body.” The conclusion acts as the exit point from your essay where you reflect on the information you presented in your introduction.