This is not necessarily the only list of essay types. Often some of these types of essays can be disguised under different names. Look through the list and see which description seems closes to the essay you are working on. Each of the descriptions have a "more" link which connects to a full page about that kind of essay including what the marker will be looking for when he/she marks your essay.
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This is type of essay typically assigned in the early stages of an essay writing course such as are taught in our colleges and universities. It's a "how to" essay. The point is to demonstrate that you can tell about something in some kind of readable manner. I was once asked to write on how to tie my shoes. You still need a thesis, at least as some kind of theme to hold the various steps together. Use simple sentences. Be methodical, start at the beginning and take it step by step.
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This type of essay is really a creative writing assignment. The point is to write in such a way to engage all of the senses. The essay should discuss the sights, sounds, smells, and even tastes of a scene. Ther should be a lot of description (hence the name). In these essays you would use a lot of adjectives and adverbs as you describe. You might want to close your eyes and imagine the scene and make an inventory of your senses and what you are perceiving.
This is really the basic form of essay that the Research Essay and the Response Essay are built upon. Although you'll probably only write one of these for your writing course, this is actually a useful writing form compared to the previous type which is only useful for training technical writers. In the persuasive essay you must win your readers over to your point of view by presenting arguments backed up with facts and by analyzing and refuting opposing arguments.
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A review is just your opinion, but it is your informed opinion. You need to establish a standard against which the work is judged. Your thesis is how well the work stands against that standard and you go ahead and present arguments to prove your thesis.
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This is the typical social sciences essay where you take your thesis and go to the library and dig up facts to prove your thesis. The purpose is to show you can have at least one good idea and then that you are able to do some research on it. You need to develop your thesis early in the process so you can direct your research toward uncovering facts which may support your thesis.
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This type of essay is common in the English department. You are assigned to do a "close reading" of a work. This means you must explain the work in the essay. This is not a review, so it's not about whether you liked it or disliked it. It's to show the professor that you understand how the work communicates the author's message.
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There are many formats of science lab reports. Your hypothesis is the idea which your experiment is testing. Usually you present your hypothesis, then your methods, then your materials, then your observations or data and finally your discussion. The important part is your discussion. Sometimes a separate brief conclusion is a separate section from the discussion. Unlike a research essay, your discussion is based on facts which you observed as part of your data. You can also bring in outside sources in your discussion.
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Admissions require you to make a personal statement about why you want to attend a certain school or pursue a particular career goal. It is important to remember that although personal, these essays are still expected to demonstrate proper grammar and style. It will not win you points with an admission officer if you try to be hip, slick and cool. Never use abbreviations which you might use in texting such as u, or b4, etc.
There may be a personal reason which motivates you to become a psychologist, doctor or architect. It's fine to include those. Most importantly, you should emphasize ways in which you might make the school proud to have you as an alumnus. Have you won any awards? Have you overcome setbacks? These are great things to talk about in your essay.
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Reflective essays are when you are being asked to think about some part of the course content and write your thoughts. It is important to show that you understand the material. It is also important to show that you have thought about it deeply. You do this by adding personal anecdotes or other personal observations.
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