How to Write an Expository Essay
Published byat August 17th, 2021 , Revised On July 26, 2023
Expository means “to describe or explain something”. It is related to the words ‘exposition’, ‘expound’, and ‘expose’ – to explain or reveal the meaning, to lay open, speak one’s mind.
An expository essay requires the writer to take a balanced approach to the subject matter rather than justifying a particular point of view.
Expository essays are assigned to students to evaluate their subject knowledge and composition skills. When compared with argumentative essays, they involve a lot less research.
Definition of Expository Essay
“The expository essay is the type of essay that involves an investigation of an idea or topic, appraises relevant supporting evidence material, and presents an argument in a clear and concise manner. ”
When to Write an Expository Essay
Your school or university could assign an expository essay to you as coursework or as part of an online exam.
However, the guidelines may or may not clearly state that your assignment is an expository essay. If that is the case, then look for keywords like ‘explain’, ‘describe’, ‘define’, etc., to be sure that what has been asked for is an expository essay.
You might even be asked to explain and emphasise a particular concept or term. Writing a simple definition will not be enough because you will be expected to explore the ideas in detail.
Writing an Expository Essay
An expository essay should not be based on your personal experiences and opinions. It rather takes an objective approach. You will be expected to explain the topic in a balanced way without any personal bias.
Make sure to avoid the first and second person (“I” and “You”) when writing an expository essay.
How to Structure an Expository Essay
The structure and format of your expository essay assignment will depend on your school’s guidelines and the topic you are investigating. However, it is always a good idea to develop an outline for your essay before starting to work.
The Five-Paragraph Essay Writing Approach
An expository essay will require you to take the five-paragraph essay approach: an introductory paragraph, a main body paragraph, and a concluding paragraph. This is often referred to as the hamburger style of the essay because, like a hamburger, it contains five main parts: the introduction and conclusion being the bun that encapsulates everything.
Rationale and Thesis Statement
Start your essay with a rationale and thesis, also known as the thesis statement, so your readers know what you set out to achieve in your expository essay assignment. Ensure the thesis statement is narrow enough to follow the guidelines in the assignment brief. If the thesis statement is weak and too broad, you will struggle to produce a flawless expository essay.
Construct a framework, so you know what elements will constitute the basis of your essay.
Expository Essay Introduction
Like other essay types, an expository essay begins with an introduction, including a hook, background to the topic, and a thesis statement. Once you have grabbed the readers’ interest, it will be easier to get them to read the remaining essay.
Frequently Asked Questions
It depends on what you are studying for. While you might or might not write any more expository essays after your formal education has ended, the skill will be very useful in certain careers, such as business reports, journalism, and in scientific and technical writing.
An argumentative essay is usually longer and requires more research. It starts with a claim about something that will need supporting evidence. And both sides of the argument need to be discussed. In an expository essay, there is no requirement to make an original argument and defend/support it.
This style of essay is necessary when you have to showcase your knowledge on a given subject, or your ability to gather research on one and present your findings.
There is no fixed length but an expository essay could be part of an exam, in which case it might only be 1,000 words or less. They are usually shorter than argumentative essays. It can depend on the subject under discussion. You will likely be given instructions on the required word count.
There are six different types of expository essay, each with a different purpose.
The six types are:
Process essay – describing a task, a method, how to complete something Cause and effect essay – why something happened and its effects Problem-solution essay – provide analysis of problems and their solutions
Compare and contrast essay – describe the similarities and differences between two subjects
Definition essay – define the topic in detail and explain the how, what, and why
Classification essay – separate the topic’s categories and define them in detail
When you are assigned your essay, you should be able to distinguish which of these approaches you are required to take.