Expository Essay Topic

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Associate Program Material

Characteristics of the Expository Essay

What Is an Essay?

An essay is an important part of your college experience because it requires critical thinking as well as organization and research. Essay is a broad term. Sometimes an essay is just a page long; sometimes, essays are five pages or longer. Essays, however, focus on a single subject and idea. They also have different purposes: to persuade, explain, or entertain.

Consider the following essay titles:

• “Why You Should Never Vote for a Democrat”
• “My Friend Harry Reasoner”
• “Cell Phones: Getting the Most for the Least”
• “Gay Marriage Does Not Hurt Traditional Marriage” • “How to Write an Essay”

How would you categorize the essays above based on the titles? Is “Why You Should Never Vote for a Democrat” a persuasive essay or an entertaining one? Does “How to Write an Essay” explain or persuade? Even within a classification, writers use different types of development and have multiple purposes for their essays.

Essay Classifications

Writers classify essays in different ways. The following table includes common types of essays as well as examples:

|Type of Essay |Definition |Example | | | | | |Expository |Uses evidence, examples, or facts to explain a |“How to Stop Smoking” | | |concept or to inform about a topic with a thesis| | | |as its base; the information must be presented | | | |fairly and in a nonbiased manner | | |Persuasive or Argumentative |Uses evidence, examples, or facts to persuade |“High Schools Should Offer More Technical | | |your reader to accept your point of view on a |Courses” | | |subject | | |Cause and Effect |Explains why something happened and what its |“The Connection Between Trans Fats and Obesity”| | |consequences were (or will be) | | |Comparison-Contrast |Shows the similarities and differences between |“Dogs and Cats Are More Alike Than Different” | | |ideas, people, objects, places, and so forth | | |Character Study |Focuses on a specific person of interest |“The Life of Richard M. Nixon” | |Literary Analysis |Analyzes one or more parts of a literary piece |“Horse Symbolism in James Joyce’s Ulysses” | | |or writing | | |Division |Takes a subject and separates its elements into |“How Parts of a Television are Connected” | | |smaller pieces to examine the relationships | | | |between or among the elements | | |Classification...
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