[Adapted from The Practical Stylist with Readings by S. Baker and R. Yarber]
Paragraph 1 Topic Sentence
Paragraph 2 Topic Sentence
Paragraph 3 Topic Sentence
Elements of a Successful College Essay
I. The Title
1.A title is a typically a word or phrase which is the first part of a piece of writing that a reader encounters.
2.The title should accomplish two principal goals:
a.alert the reader concerning the topic that the written piece will address
b.grab the reader’s attention and arouse curiosity.
II. Introductory Paragraph
A. Opening Sentence – “The Attention-Grabber”
1. Begin with a quotation or proverb
E.g.:“Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” So a famous coach once declared.
2. Begin with an anecdote or very brief story
E.g.:Life on a farm was a tough way to grow up for someone who dreamed of being a sailor.
3. Begin with a startling or interesting fact
E.g.:More Americans suffer from heart disease than from any other major health problem.
4. Begin with an analogy to something else
E.g.:No one would allow an inexperienced quarterback to start in the Super Bowl. Why then would anyone allow someone who lacks the necessary training to become president?
5. Begin by posing a question
E.g.:Is it possible to determine how old the world really is?
B. Ending Sentence – The Thesis Statement
A thesis statement has three elements:
a.the topic of the essay
b.the controlling idea (or main idea) about that topic which the essay writer wants the reader to know about the topic
c.the key supporting details which will be discussed in the main body paragraphs.
E.g.:Football [the topic] is the most popular sport in America [controlling idea] because it is fast-paced, demands a high degree of teamwork, and involves in-depth strategic planning [key supporting details].
III. Main Body Paragraphs
1.Provides details or evidence to support the thesis statement.
2.Often presents the weakest arguments first so that the reader will have the strongest arguments freshest in mind at the end.
3.Often transition words or phrases are needed in the opening sentence of a paragraph to help tie this new paragraph in with the preceding one.
IV. Concluding Paragraph
The concluding paragraph wraps up the essay and provides the reader with a satisfying sense of closure. It may include some or all of the following:
1.Restated thesis statement
2.Summary of the main points discussed in the main body paragraphs
3.A conclusion based upon the information presented in the essay
4.A connection to the reader, explaining why the point of the essay is important in some personal way
5.A suggestion or appeal to the reader to take some action or come to some conclusion related to the topic
B. Opening Sentence – The Restated Thesis Statement
The purpose of the restated thesis statement is to remind and reinforce to the reader what has just been discussed and demonstrated in the essay.
E.g.:While there are many sports in America, football remains the most popular because of its action, teamwork, and strategic planning.
Compare this to the Original Thesis Statement:
Football [the topic] is the most popular sport in America [controlling idea] because it is fast-paced, demands a high degree of teamwork, and involves in-depth strategic planning [key supporting details].
C. Ending Sentence – “The Clincher”
The final sentence of the essay should be a “clincher” in some way, driving home the point of the essay in one last, effective way.
1.Draw a conclusion based on what the essay...