What is an Essay? It’s Importance and Distinctive Features

Have you ever asked yourself, “What is an essay?” It’s a common question among students, but most of them are surprised to realize they don’t know a specific answer. School and college assignments include many types of academic tasks, but they could appear to be really similar. Essays, research papers, compositions, term papers, and dissertations — you have to work on each one, which is tough unless you understand what makes them different. It’s all about definition and nuances. 

An essay is a piece of relatively short and semi-formal writing that presents its author’s position, perspective, or argument to the audience. It requires a specific structure as well as style. What rules do essays follow and how to succeed in writing one? Let’s find out together.

Importance of Learning Essay Specifics

Now that you got essay definition, you might wonder why you need to learn any other details. The truth is simple: unless you know how to act on this definition and follow essay-related rules, you won’t be able to get good grades. Simply writing your thoughts down won’t be helpful. The most important thing is practice: your first attempts might look awkward, uneven, and even funny. That’s okay since writing skills need constant polishing — they are developed over time.

By understanding the specifics, people get a chance to find an answer to the question of, what is a good essay? You learn what it should include, which style should be used, the level of vocabulary your professor expects, and more. Even if your writing skills are rusty, you could receive good scores by incorporating all technical details into your work and following a general essay template. Knowing what differentiates it from other academic assignments is also important.     

Main Features That Define Essay

Your success largely depends on your understanding of technical components that each standard essay should have. If a person already knows how to write a composition, for example, it does not mean that this knowledge automatically applies elsewhere. Here are five top unique features that make essays stand out in comparison to other writing assignments.  

  • Nature. Unlike research, term papers, dissertations, and compositions, essays have many different types. Your professor could assign an argumentative, cause and effect, persuasive, narrative kind of it, etc. So, the nature of essays is more diverse.
  • Style. While compositions are rather informal and dissertations are the opposite, essays appear in the middle. What are essays? One of the meanings is literally described with words “a try” and “an attempt.” It’s not a creative task with no strict rules, but it isn’t a life-altering assignment either.
  • Size. Essays length tend to be semi-short. They typically take between 300-1500 words. Longer works are considered reports, articles, research papers, etc.
  • Structure. Each essay has clearly defined introduction, body, and conclusion. Unlike in dissertations or research papers, there’s no need to include methods, results, and justification paragraphs.
  • Thesis. It’s required, which doesn’t happen in compositions. But essays do not have to have a flawlessly defined argumentative thesis either, which isn’t the case with more serious works.

Learn, Practice and Write Amazing Essays

Don’t just wonder about core essay definition; ask yourself, what is essay writing? It doesn’t mean simply reading the rules because you should actually understand and remember them. Try hard, never give up even if your first attempts fail, and at some point, you’ll manage to keep all requirements in mind. As long as you remain optimistic and know what set of rules an essay follows, you won’t face any long-lasting problems. 

Elizabeth Baldridge

Elizabeth provides educational materials, conducts research, explores and solves student challenges. Her posts are always helpful, innovative, and contain interesting insights.

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