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Main Types of Essays

Academic essays can be of different types according to their purpose. Though all the essays you write during your academic study should inform or persuade readers about something.

The most widely used essay types are argumentative, descriptive, expository, and narrative. Every type has its specific purpose as well. For example, expository and argumentative essays convey arguments and interpret the information. Descriptive and narrative essays provide this information in the most interesting and creative way.

The most common type of essay used at universities is an argumentative essay. You may also be asked to write essays on textual analysis while in high school or college. They are meant to check your ability to read something and interpret it.

Argumentative Essays

These essays are commonly used at colleges and universities. The purpose is to build up and present a strong evidence-based argument. That is why a clear thesis statement is an essential element of such an essay. You express your view and opinion of the formulated argument supported by the research results or evidence provided by other authors in a quotation that you can interpret according to your purposes. These essays test your ability to analyze evidence, research evidence, and formulate your own attitudes to the findings.

A good example of an argumentative essay topic is ✔️‘Does technological progress have a positive or negative impact on education?’ Most college essays have a similar formulation and imply some kind of argument in them. Such essays consist of three parts - the introduction, main body, and conclusion. You write the topic and thesis statement in the introduction and present your evidence and arguments in the main body. In conclusion, you sum up the arguments and discuss the importance of the topic.

Expository Essays

These essays are commonly used in high school or as a part of a written exam in college. They test your ability to explain the topic clearly and consistently in a well-structured text. You do not need to provide a unique argument, but your task is to show that you are familiar with the topic and can explain it clearly.

An example of the topic for such an essay is ✔️ ‘Explain how technological progress has influenced education in recent years.’ In the introduction, you need to formulate the topic and provide some background on why it has appeared and why it is interesting. In the body, you provide details about the topic in a logical order. The conclusion is meant to summarize all the information.

Narrative Essays

These essays usually tell readers a gripping story. It can be connected with the personal experience of a writer or it can be an imaginary story connected to something that you have not had a chance to try out but would like to. Or it can be somebody else’s story which is a well-structured narration about some events and final solutions.

The topic for such an essay can be ✔️ ‘Write about your experience of using a new technological device.’ Essays of this type test your ability to write in an engaging and entertaining way. This piece of writing should also be well-structured. They are used in the program application processes when you need to create a personal statement.


Such essays do not have strict requirements and limitations for the introduction, main body, and conclusion. However, you should start this writing with a clear setup for your story and finish with some conclusive points about what kind of experience you have obtained or why the episode or experience has made a strong impression on you.

Descriptive Essays

The main focus of such essays is on the detailed description of some object or event. They also test your creativity and are not as restrictive as other types of academic writing. However, their focus is more distinct - you have to describe a specific object or place without telling a long story about it.

These essays also test your ability to make perfect word choices to turn the entire picture into something entertaining and exciting to be remembered by a reader. The structure is quite loose here. Though you need to introduce the object you are going to describe first, explain why this object is interesting and then proceed with the details. In conclusion, you make an overall picture of the object.

Using figurative language is important in such descriptions to provide a fascinating picture and prove your ability for creative thinking. A good topic for such an essay can be ✔️ ‘Describe your first mobile phone and why it was so valuable for you.’

Textual Analysis Essays

Some kinds of essays are used to test your ability to read something carefully and make critical assumptions and conclusions from your reading. These essays are called textual analysis. Here, you do not present the information but analyze the text you have just read for certain effects it can produce on the reader.

There are two types of textual analysis - rhetorical and literary ones.

Rhetorical Analysis

Essays meant for rhetorical analysis remind of persuasive ones to some extent. They also use some arguments as rhetorical devices. Though, their purpose is not to express your own arguments and findings but to follow the author’s concepts and ways of their expression. You can conclude how effective these devices are in terms of their influence on the reader.

In the introduction, you need to present the text you are going to analyze, the background information about the author, events or facts described in this text, and formulate your thesis statement. Then, in the main body, you analyze the devices the author uses to convey the idea, and in the conclusion, you discuss whether these devices were effective and relevant to the broader goals of the author.

Literary Analysis

An essay devoted to literary analysis is just a book report or review. You read a novel or poem first and then explore and discuss the author’s choices of words, concepts, and devices to convey the theme and idea. You need to provide an in-deep analysis of the text to make your essay successful.

You have to analyze such elements of the texts as its theme, characters, setting, and figurative language. The overall purpose of such writing is to analyze the means the author uses to convey the main idea. In the introduction, you should present the background of the book and its creation, what it is about, and provide your thesis statement. The body includes the analysis of the book’s plot and characters with quotations and other evidence which supports your argument. To make the conclusion, you need to decide what new things your interpretation can provide about the text.

Final Thoughts

As you see, the types of essays are not numerous and too complicated. If you know that every type should consist of an introduction, main body, and conclusion, it will be easier for you to understand all the other characteristic features and specific purposes of every type and cope with your academic writing assignments with the best scores.

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