Although most college-level essays share some broad similarities, each bears specific differences that determine the structure and tone of your argument. Among various essay types, expository essays make up the bulk of higher-level writing assignments.
This article will address the components of an expository essay and guide you on the process to follow for a good expository essay. We will also offer some examples of expository essay topics to guide you in selecting a suitable thesis for your topic.
What is an expository essay?
An expository essay is a paper that aims to explain a topic or phenomenon. As hinted by the name, this paper does not support any specific idea. Instead, an expository essay is informative and based on the factual data at your disposal.
As such, an expository essay should serve to educate a reader or, for the case of school, showcase your content mastery in a unit.
When should one write an expository essay?
Often, the type of essay you are required to write is not directly implied. Tutors often use various trigger words, leaving you with the onus of identifying the topic.
If the topic is not specified, read the essay question and highlight the trigger words used. i.e.,
Explain the impact of political ideologies on a country’s economic growth.
This question is expository as it does not ask you to debate a specific side. Questions can also be set using trigger words such as; explore, compare and contrast, and finally, explain the cause-effect relationship of x and y.
Types of expository essays
Like all other types of essays, there are multiple types of expository essays. Successfully identifying the essay type you have been prompted to write will help you determine the best expository essay outline and also to determine the approach for your research.
The major types of expository essays are:
1. Classification essays
These essays require you to compare multiple objects/ items and to organize them according to their unique features. When writing this type of essay, be keen to explain the criteria used in sorting the items into various categories.
The thesis for this essay should show the relevance of the topic and set the general topic apart from its related ideas. For instance, when discussing the best breeds of chicken for egg farmers, you may start by explaining why the selection criteria for a broiler and layer chicken differ.
Next, organize the breeds of layers and describe the criteria used in grading these breeds from best to worst.
2. Definition essays
These types of expository essays are geared to explain a concept/ phenomenon. You may also opt to address the common misconceptions that are flung around the topic and debunk these notions with factual evidence.
3. Process essays
Process essays are common expository essays that require you to guide a reader through the steps for completing a task. The introduction of process essays shows the goal of the process while each body paragraph highlights a crucial step in realizing the intended result.
The conclusion for this type of essay should highlight what the reader should have achieved after following the prescribed process. Often, these are technical essays that require precise language. E.g., how to shield yourself from phishing attempts.
4. Compare and contrast essays
These expository essays analyze two or more ideas and highlight their similarities and differences. The body of this paragraph may be organized either by the alternating or the combining method to allow for easy retrieval of the ideas contained in the work.
5. Cause and effect essays
These essays trace the relationship between various events and highlight shreds of evidence supporting the fact that these events were inspired by preceding actions.
The expository essay format
Similar to all other essays, the expository essay comprises the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. However, the information contained in each section may put the expository essay apart from its counterparts.
This section of an expository essay usually highlights the thesis and shows the full scope of your paper. The introduction also bears various elements to hook your reader in, bringing in more traffic if it’s meant for online databases.
The intro should introduce your key argument and show the relevance of your argument to the field. We recommend that you write the intro last as then you are better acquainted with the topic and can easily derive the key argument of your essay.
This section comprises your key ideas. Unlike the introduction and conclusion, the body carries the bulk of ideas. The ideas in the body may be complementary or antagonistic depending on the type of expository essay you are addressing.
As such, you may consider the alternating or combining expository essay outline to achieve a smooth transition between various ideas expressed in your essay.
a) The alternating method
This approach is ideal for writing compare & contrast and clarification essays. In this approach, each paragraph carries a unique idea on one topic followed by the analysis of the same aspect in the other subject under study.
As such, the alternating method helps the reader to gauge various ideas under various parameters and judge the impact of each.
b) The combining method
The combining method of writing expository essays is common for cause & effect and compare & contrast essays. This approach infuses related aspects of the items under study in similar paragraphs, allowing you to closely compare how each of the items measures up to the other.
The conclusion section comprises the overview of the key argument, a restatement of your thesis, a refute of existing counterarguments, and finally shows the value of your paper to the field.
Tips for writing a good expository essay
- Prepare an outline to gauge the quality of an argument and various areas that may require additional data.
- Write your introduction last. This is because you will be better acquainted with the scope of your paper and thus better familiar with your key arguments.
- Use transitions at the start of each paragraph to help readers in following your train of thought.
- When the essay length is not defined, resort to the standard 5-paragraph essay format.
- Ideally, use the third person voice to avoid biased views and sentimentality in your arguments.
- If the topic provides various results, consider using charts and graphs to help your learners in decoding your findings.
Best expository essay topic ideas
Expository essay examples topics
- How can one adopt a healthy diet on a student budget?
- Approaches to curb bullying in schools
- Causes of increased depression in first-world countries
- Explain the impact of video games on children
- Expound various reasons behind divorce in modern-day couples
- Analyze the role of government policy in ensuring ample employment opportunities
- Compare various parenting styles witnessed in the current era
- Compare and contrast various managerial approaches and their impact on team productivity
- Explore various religions in your locality
- Explore the opportunities that a young person can pursue if they fail to reach college
Good expository essay topics
- Explain the importance of the school uniform in learning institutions
- The Abortion Bill: Would you support it or not?
- Explore various ways to curb racism
- Analyze the reasons why snacks and other fast foods are unhealthy
- Explore the impacts of the second world war
- Is the internet a source of addiction among teenagers?
- Analyze the causes and effects of adult illiteracy
- Expound on the characteristics of a good teacher
- Compare and contrast the quality of education in public and private institutions
- Which subjects are irrelevant in the curriculum? What should change?
Expository essay topics high school
- Steps for curbing environmental pollution
- Explore the steps to managing financial problems
- Why is rock music more popular among teenagers compared to country music?
- Analyze the importance of mental health
- How to avoid depression
- Explain various reasons for increased depression among youngsters
- Analyze the efficiency of traditional schools compared to home-schooling
- How to be an efficient listener and win at communication
- Explain the negative repercussions of truancy
- Explain what would happen if you flunk classes in college