Expository essay – sounds rather complicated and sophisticated, does it not?
Well, it only seems that way at this very moment.
This is because by the end of this blog post, you just might be able to see expository essays in quite a different light than the one you are currently viewing it in.
Right now, you may be hopelessly stuck in a situation wherein you have no idea what this kind of essay is, or any idea how to start writing one.
At the very least, having to write an expository essay sounds like a task that will see you confused and lost from start to finish.
However! It does not have to end in tears for you, dear reader!
We are here to help.
In order to do so, we will give you 3 practical hacks that will help you write kick-ass expository essays!
First of all, let’s kick this blog post off with a short introductory section that is dedicated to defining what an expository essay actually is.
We find that many of the fears and sources of apprehension that students harbour with regards to this type of essay stem from their lack of understanding of what an expository essay is at its very core.
So, of course, it is both a rational and a necessary step to define what this type of essay is.
The root word of expository is exposit, which, according to the official website of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, simply means:
- To expound.
Based on this very simple and straightforward definition, we again use Merriam-Webster can to define exposition, which is deeply involved in writing an expository essay, as the following:
- a. a discourse or an example of it designed to convey information or explain what is difficult to understand.
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen, the very purpose of writing an expository essay is to explore, describe, or give information about a topic in an in-depth manner so as to increase the reader’s understanding of the topic at hand from any and all possible angles.
When you think about it, you may have even written an expository essay without knowing or being aware of it.
This is probably true if you have ever been given essay prompts similar to the ones below anytime in the past, whether you were 5 years old, 10 years old, 16 years old, or whatever age you are right now:
How can Singapore address income inequality?
Describe an experience that led you to choose the major you are presently enrolled in.
Describe your best friend.
Why is it that social media is said to be more detrimental than positive when it comes to a human being’s self-esteem?
In fact, when a friend or relative asks you about why you love your favourite food or your favourite band, you do engage in exposition, although you are using a form of exposition that is spoken or oral in nature.
The trick here is to translate this spoken exposition into an essay that is properly researched, well written, grammatically correct, and above all, coherent.
Because of the sheer number of expository essays we have collectively written (the number for which we ourselves can only provide a rough estimate, say 1,000 or more), we have gathered quite a bit of knowledge about this type of essay.
To make this knowledge more helpful for you, we have devised 3 hacks that will aid you in your quest to write a kick-ass expository essay!
Without further ado, here they are.
Hack Number 1: Identify what type of expository essay you are being asked to write.
Did you know that there are sub-types that fall under this type of essay?
If you did not know, then you had better take note of this hack!
It is important to identify what kind of expository essay you are being asked to write because each type has certain requirements that must be fulfilled.
Identifying the type of expository essay that you are going to write will also help you pinpoint what kind of information you will need to include in the piece.
Most external online sources such as this academic one agree that there are five types of expository essays.
- How To or Process
- Compare and Contrast
- Problem and Solution
- Cause and Effect
A descriptive expository essay asks the writer to describe a certain thing, whether it is an inanimate object, an event, a person, a phenomenon, et cetera.
The main thing to remember about a descriptive expository essay is that it is full to the brim with details about the thing that is being written about, such as characteristics, features, or examples.
Common examples of essay prompts for a descriptive expository essay include:
- Describe the features of an effective pandemics preparedness policy.
- Describe what a perfectly competitive market is from the point of view of Keynesian economics.
- Describe the factors that can affect job satisfaction.
Meanwhile, a how to or process essay asks the writer to delve into explaining the process that is undergone to achieve a certain end goal, do something, or complete a task.
The main thing to remember about a how to or process expository essay is that it needs to contain a step-by-step guide on whatever the chosen topic is.
Common examples of essay prompts for a how to or process expository essay include:
- In detail, explain how a third-world country can go about minimising plastic waste.
- In detail, explain how a depressed individual can go about seeking treatment in Singapore.
- In detail, explain how a diamond is created.
Next, the compare and contrast expository essay asks the writer to, quite obviously, compare and contrast two things.
The main thing to remember about a compare and contrast expository essay is that the writer needs to compare and contrast, which means that both the similarities and the differences of the two things need to be discussed.
Common examples of essay prompts for a compare and contrast expository essay include:
- Compare and contrast microeconomics and macroeconomics in terms of their characteristics, features, areas of study, and applications.
- Compare and contrast the psychoanalytic perspective with the behavioural perspective.
- Compare and contrast the metro rail transit (MRT) lines of Singapore and Hong Kong in terms of their management, effectiveness, speed, and quality of service.
Then, the problem and solution expository essay asks the writer to explain how an issue can be resolved.
The main thing to remember about the problem and solution expository essay is that it entails much researching and brainstorming about the issue at hand.
Common examples of problem and solution expository essay prompts include:
- Explore a way in which the United States of America can solve the rising obesity levels among its citizens.
- Explore a way in which endangered species can be saved.
- Explore a way in which the spread of fake news can be mitigated.
Finally, the cause and effect expository essay asks the writer to explain how a certain action can bring about one or a number of effects.
The main thing to remember about cause and effect expository essays is that there must be a rational and logical connection between the cause the writer is discussing and the effects that the cause brings about.
Common examples of essay prompts for cause and effect expository essays include:
- Discuss the effects of harmonisation under transnational agreements such as ASEAN
- Discuss the impact of effective leadership on the motivation of employees
- Discuss the effects of climate change on the entirety of humanity
The bottom line is, know what kind of expository essay you are going to write, and there is a smaller chance of you going off track or off topic.
Hack Number 2: Remember! Exposition = Information = Facts.
There is a good reason why expository essays are named as such.
Just in case you forgot: the expository type of essay requires the writer (in this case, you) to explain, describe, or provide information about something in an in-depth manner.
In other words, you have to gather a great volume of information and research about the topic at hand, then arrange this information into an explanation that makes sense.
This means that analysis and critique, which are, of course, common features of other types of essays, do not have much of a place in expository essays.
This is because, by including analysis or critique in your expository essay, you would be deviate from the very purpose of an expository essay, which is described in the above sentence, as well as in the introductory section to this blog post.
Description. Explanation. Provision of Information. Inform.
Essentially, this hack is telling you to stick to the instructions.
The easiest way to do that is to make sure that the content you are including in your expository essay is made up of facts that are objective, credible, valid, and plain and simple.
Hack Number 3: Clarity is equivalent to proper organisation in expository essays. Therefore, you need to use organisational patterns.
Now we are getting down to the nuances of writing kick-ass expository essays.
It is crucial for me to point out to you, dear reader, that clarity is equivalent to proper organisation.
An expository essay that is not written clearly is likely so because it lacks a discernible pattern of organisation in the way that the information is presented.
Of course, such an essay would not score very well with any lecturer in any school!
Thus, the best hack we can offer you to avoid such a fiasco is organisational patterns.
Organisational patterns, which are otherwise known as signposting or transition words or phrases, are important words that a writer includes in their essays to present the information that is contained therein in an organised manner.
These organisational patterns or signposting phrases will help you structure the information that is presented in your expository essay so that clarity can be achieved, and a stellar score will result!
- Problem and Solution
- Cause and Effect
When you are going to describe something in your expository essay, you are often aiming to provide information about features, or characteristics, or even examples.
To do this in an organised manner, you can use the following organisational patterns:
- To illustrate, the characteristics of _________ are ….
- For example, ….
- As an example, the _____ is comprised of …
The examples below also show you how these descriptive organisational patterns are typically used in expository essays:
The Porter’s Five Forces framework has multiple applications. For example, business students utilise Porter’s Five Forces in many of their tutor marked assignments.
The job landscape in Singapore is becoming increasingly competitive. To illustrate, the average applicant in the nation has to go to an average of seven preliminary interviews before being invited by 1 prospective company for a second interview.
When you are going to compare two things in your expository essay, your goal is to show how these two things are similar or different.
In order to compare two things in an orderly fashion, you can make use of the following organisational patterns at the beginning of your sentences:
- On one hand; On the other hand
- In contrast
The examples below also show you how these comparative organisational patterns are used in expository essays:
Quantitative and qualitative methodologies exhibit several differences. Notably, the quantitative approach focuses on the collection of numerical data. In contrast, the qualitative approach emphasises non-numerical data in the form of opinions, perspectives, thoughts, and ideas.
The nations of China and the Philippines share certain similarities and differences. Importantly, China is a large country, while, in contrast, the Philippines is much smaller. Also, China is a mainland country, whereas the Philippines is an archipelago. Nevertheless, the two countries are similar in that they are both considered as part of the developing world.
When you are going to explain how something such as a historical case or event happened in the chronological order in which it occurred, your goal is to be faithful to the sequencing of the event.
In order to show the sequence of something in an organised manner, you can definitely include the following organisational patterns in your expository essay:
- Firstly, …
- Secondly, ….
- Thirdly, …
- In addition, …
- Then, …
- Subsequently, …
- Finally, …
- Lastly, …
- Ultimately, …
The examples below also show you how these sequential organisational patterns are commonly used in expository essays:
A diamond is formed through the following process. Firstly, in the Earth’s mantle, which lies 100 miles under the Earth’s surface, the necessary conditions for diamond formation are created. These conditions involve high temperatures above 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and pressure levels of greater than 725,000 pounds per square inch. Secondly, these high levels of heat and pressure act on graphite, which is found in the mantle. Subsequently, the graphite undergoes an atomic restructuring such that its molecular composition of hexagonal form turns into that of a triangle. Thus, a diamond is formed.
The process of wine-making involves several steps. Firstly, grapes are harvested from the vine by hand or by machine. Secondly, the grapes are separated from any branches, stones, or leaves that could have been plucked alongside the fruit. Thirdly, the grapes are crushed either manually or by use of a machine in order to extract the juice. Then, the extract is filtered to remove any unwanted particles and poured into wooden barrels to ferment. Next, the liquid in the barrels is aged to intensify the flavours of the wine. The time it takes a wine to age depends on the formulation, but a good wine is normally aged for a minimum of five to ten years. Finally, once the aging phase is complete, the wine is bottled and ready to enjoy.
When you are going to discuss a problem and a solution in your expository essay, your goal is to exhibit how the issue at hand can be addressed by the proposed solution.
In order to present a problem and the associated solution in an organised way, you can use the following organisational patterns:
- The issue of …
- Nevertheless, certain solutions such as …
You can also refer to the examples below as a reference for how problem and solution organisational patterns are used in expository essays:
The issue of child obesity is becoming ever more pressing. Nevertheless, certain solutions can be implemented to combat this problem. Such solutions include the replacement of processed cafeteria food with healthier options or the encouragement of sports as extra-curricular activities.
The problem of over-fishing is prevalent, especially considering the worldwide dependence on fish as a source of protein. However, over-fishing can still be addressed through the proper implementation of regulations for over-fished populations.
Finally, when you are going to discuss a cause and its effects in your expository essay, your goal is to show the relationship between the former and the latter.
In order to write about a cause and its effects in an organised manner, you can make use of the following organisational patterns:
- The reason behind ___ is …
- As a result
- As a consequence
You can also refer to the examples below as a reference for how cause and effect organisational patterns can be used in expository essays:
Effective leadership is a must for any organisation, as it works to create positive working relations that are founded on trust and mutual respect. As a result, improved motivation levels of employees can be achieved.
As a consequence of the inflation of prices, several negative effects were observed. These include the discouragement of foreign investment and savings, the erosion of the consumer’s purchasing power, and the reduction of employment as well as growth.
Make sure your organisation is on point, and you will be able to write an amazing expository essay!
BONUS HACK ATTACK: The Five Paragraph Formula
Hurrah, a bonus hack!
If you have never heard of the five paragraph formula, then you may have not been reading the best guides for essay writing!
The five paragraph formula divides the essay into five paragraphs, including one introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph.
This formula is applicable for any type of essay, even expository essays! However, keep in mind that, depending on the length of the essay, the number of body paragraphs will vary. But having around five body paragraphs is still a good guide to go by.
Having this formula in mind will help you structure your expository essay much better since you will have to organise your information in terms of its appropriateness in an introductory paragraph or in a body paragraph.
Also, you will be able to logically divide your explanation into three paragraphs, which will improve the organisation, and likewise, the clarity of your essay.
Well, that brings us to the end of the blog post.
Thank you so much for reading and sticking around!
However, if you are hungry for more information and are keen to go over other examples of expository essays on our website, we have provided some links below!
- An expository essay that explains the dilemmas that public relations practitioners face in the modern age
- An expository essay that explores an alternative point of view of feminism
- An expository essay that explains why balancing academics with co-curricular activities is crucial for a student in this day and age
We sincerely hope that this post on expository essays has been helpful to you, dear reader.
If you did indeed find it useful, please feel free to leave us a like or a comment!
Also, if you have any other tips for writing expository essays that you would like to share with us or the rest of the world, then please do in the comments section below!