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Academic Essay Structure

Overview of the basic structure for academic essays.

Henna Kittridge

on 13 June 2011

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Transcript of Academic Essay Structure

Presents the main point you are going to make in your paper
Consists of multiple paragraphs that each work to explain why the main point of your essay is correct
Reminds the reader of the main point
Grabs the reader's attention and convinces him or her to read the essay
Gives the reader any basic information needed to understand your topic
Tells the reader the main point of your paper
Rhetorical Question:
Is there a God?
On a cold Wednesday morning at 3am, a bicyclist was shot by a man in an apparent road rage. He wounded cyclist cried for help. No one answered. Then, he slowly made his way to the nearest door he could find and knocked and knocked, begging for help. No one answered. Before he died, he had knocked on five doors, pleaded with the residents to hear his cries, but no one answered
According to a recent poll, 87% of Americans believe there is a God.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it”.
Shocking Statement:
Darwin was wrong.
Who does it involve?
What caused the problem?
When did this event take place?
Where is this most prominent?
Why did this event happen?
Topic Sentence:
Restate Thesis:
Summarize Main Points:
Offer Concluding Thought:
Summarizes main point of paragraph.
Explains reason thesis is correct.
Source material: Quote/paraphrase/summary
Sentence that summarizes the paragraph and then connects to the point in the next paragraph
Repeat for each paragraph
After proving your thesis in the body of your essay, it's good to remind the reader of your point. Just remember to use different words.
Review your main support points (a.k.a. rephrase your topic sentences)
Find a way to connect your paper to the reader:
E.g. What is the moral of your story? What life lesson can the reader learn from reading your paper?
Sample Academic Essay
Space is deadly. Throughout human history, the physical universe has often presented dangers to explorers. For example, when primitive humans left their tribal villages to search for food and water, they risked death or injury from dangerous animals. Later, when people sailed the oceans in search of new lands for settlement or trade, many died in terrible storms. Similarly, the ocean of outer space has many dangers, but it also has several unique challenges for explorers.
One of the challenges that is unique to space is the fact that space is a vacuum, which is a risk for various reasons. First, in a vacuum there is no atmosphere and therefore no air pressure. Without air pressure, the human body has no oxygen to sustain itself. After too many minutes without oxygen, a person would lose consciousness and eventually die. Also, in a vacuum a person's blood will gradually begin to boil. Finally, without an atmosphere, the rays of the Sun can cause radiation poisoning. The vacuum of space is a major danger, but so is the risk of meteors.
Another difficulty that is unique to outer space is the presence of meteors and micrometeors. These are pieces of rock and metal that are left over from the formation of the solar system. Many of these objects travel at very high speeds. Under the Earth's blanket of air, people are usually protected from metor impacts. However, in space, people and spaceships are vulnerable to collisions with meteors. It is true that the chance of metor impacts is relatively small, but if even a small micrometeor happens to collide with a spacecraft, it could cause serious damage. Although meteor strikes are dangerous, finding sustinence is more problematic.
A third special challenge involved with the environment of space involves the fact that it is very difficult to find life-sustaining water off the Earth. For example, the planet Mercury, which is closest to the Sun, is too hot to have water, so space travelers must take water from Earth if they want to visit Mercury. A similar situation exists on the planet Venus, second from the Sun. This planet is likewise too hot for water to exist. Similarly, the fourth planet, Mars, is too cold and dry, although there may be some water frozen at the north and south poles of the planet. Even if explorers could overcome the issue of the vacuum of space and the risk of meteors, the lack of natural water sources still provides a challenge.
There are other difficulties involved with space exploration, but these are three of the most important ones. In summary, without adequate air pressure, the unprotected human body may be seriously harmed in a vacuum. In addition, meteors can threaten human life and damage spacecraft. Finally, the lack of water in space means that human life may have a difficult time surviving on other planets. As one can see, the challenges of space travel are rather different from terrestrial dangers.
Topic Sentence
Example 1
Example 2
Example 3
Body Paragraph 1
Body Paragraph 2
Body Paragraph 3
Topic Sentence
Contrasting Example
Topic Sentence
Example 1
Example 2
Example 3
Concluding Sentence
Restate Thesis
Summarize Main Points
Concluding Thought
2 Parts to a Thesis/Topic Sentence:
Subject of your paper
Your opinion of your topic
Owning a pet has several important benefits.
Our cafeteria would be greatly improved if several changes were made.
Celebrities are often poor role models because of the ways they dress, talk, and behave.
My first night as a security guard turned out to be on of the most frightening experiences of my life.
The twentieth century produced three inventions that dramatically changed the lives of all Americans.
Write Statements, not Announcements

The subject of this paper will be my parents.

I want to talk about the crime wave in our country.

The baby-boom generation is the concern of this essay.

My parents each struggled with personal demons.

The recent crime wave in our city has several apparent causes.

The baby-boom generation has changed American society in key ways.
Using the following subjects, create a suitable thesis that expresses both a topic and an attitude to your reader.
How students spend their time
Free Speech
Underline your topic once and your attitude twice.
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