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What is the Right Structure of an Academic Essay?

The skill of any good academic essay is being able to critically discuss and evaluate ideas within the word limit set by the assignment. Most English and composition instructors will suggest that the standard academic essay contain three major components: an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

The Introduction

The most important part of your introduction is your thesis statement, which is a clear and concise statement of your position in the central argument of your paper. Usually your thesis is the last sentence of your introduction, preceded by a few sentences that provide your reader with background on your topic. This paragraph as a whole should compel and guide your reader as he or she moves forward, clearly pointing out what it is you will be talking about and how you intend to unfold your argument.

Body Paragraphs

Your body paragraphs show your discussion of the main ideas that support your position or response to the question. In a standard 5-paragraph essay the three middle paragraphs will make up your body, but in larger academic essays you can have as many as it takes to prove your argument. It’s important to organize your paper according to the challenges that are mentioned in the main thesis.

Each paragraph should contain a topic sentence that give’s the paragraph’s main idea. Additionally, each paragraph should give specific examples and supporting evidence from your classroom readings. Your application of ideas to a scenario or through the use of examples will have more credibility if you connect it to evidence you have taken from scholarly readings.

The Conclusion

Your concluding paragraph needs to summarize and make final evaluative comments about the points you have made in your paper. It’s important to refer back to your thesis or essay question. Your comments in the conclusion should focus on the relative importance of the evidence and arguments, as well as comment on the ongoing significance of the topic as an issue that needs further investigation or discussion. This is the last part of your essay that the reader will remember, so be sure you keep your language succinct and straight to the point.

With some practice you will soon be able to easily recognize and utilize each of these major components to structure your academic essay. Give yourself enough time to proofread and edit because you will certainly find areas in your structure and argument that could be improved.

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