The essentials: write a great essay

Essays are a breeze for some and excruciating torture for others.


It's important to know how to write a good one, because essays will be part of your life throughout high school and college. Here are some tips on writing essays from Carol Anhalt, who teaches freshman gifted literature at Lakeside High School.

- Hook your audience. The first sentence should draw a reader in and excite them. Try composing a first sentence with a surprising statistic, question or quotation. An anecdote, or a personal experience, is also a good way to start.

- Have a thesis. A thesis is a concise sentence stating the purpose you want to relate to the reader. It should be included in the introductory paragraph and should state key topics that will be discussed. A clear thesis is important; many teachers take off serious points for an incorrectly written thesis or even refuse to grade a paper if there is a lack of one.

- Follow directions. If you are given a prompt, read it. Stay on topic.

- Details. Omit nothing, and never assume the reader knows what you're talking about. It's important to elaborate your body paragraphs sufficiently or your teacher may not be satisfied. One paragraph includes one point, and the paragraph should not stray from that point.

- The conclusion. As the name suggests, you sum things up, and main points are restated. Generally, new material isn't to be introduced in the conclusion.

"It's good to leave the reader something to think about, a final thought," Mrs. Anhalt said.

Trisha Pintavorn is a freshman at Lakeside High School.



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