The expository essay is the academic writing assignment most often required of students, one that requires them to gather, organize, and present their thoughts about a course-related topic. Its purpose is to present information in a way that demonstrates a clear understanding of the subject. It speaks with conviction, flows logically, and uses correct grammar, capitalization, and punctuation. The specific purpose will vary with the assignment; it may be to explain something using reasons or examples; to identify the steps in a process; to classify, compare, or contrast; to assess cause and effect; or to argue for or against a policy or opinion.
The expository essay uses a long-established five-paragraph essay form starting with an introductory paragraph with a thesis/focus sentence, three supporting paragraphs (the body), and a concluding paragraph. Students organize their writing with the thesis/focus sentence and follow it with reasons, examples, and details to support it. Expository essays are intended for an audience of teachers and fellow students, are written in a moderately formal voice, and typically use a third-person point of view. If the writing focuses on personal experience, a first-person point of view is appropriate. Words are prudently chosen to plainly state one’s understanding of a topic.
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