6th grade informational essay examples

  • Mar 24, 2021

Essays in 6th Grade: A Basic Format that Elevates the Standard 5-Paragraph Structure

6th grade informational essay examples

6th grade is such a funny year. Funny haha and funny weird. Student writing levels are all over the map. You will have students coming to you writing on a very elementary level, still needing loads of help with grammar and paragraph formation. Then, you will have students ready to write critique pieces and analyses. How do you navigate this? Read to find out more!

Give Them a Format...to Start

I've learned that 6th graders still need format . They still need structure. They still need checklists. As much as I loathe limiting them in this way, I think it is very reassuring to them. That's not to say you can't tweak for the strong writers, but I do still feel they need it.

For my students in particular, I like to let them dabble in looser formats of non-fiction writing in other ways. They do book reviews , a debate , podcasting , etc. They are offered choices in reading responses to non-fiction reading and analysis, too. My classes actually write digital eBooks, too. But on the whole, they are expected to write two essays with a very similar format twice a year.

Bye-Bye 5-Paragraph Essay

Alright, so this is kind of not totally true. My students do end up writing 5 paragraphs, but that typical structure we all commonly know, I navigate away from. I think it's a fine format, but as they get into middle school they are expected to compare a LOT more and not focus on one specific topic . They are expected to follow through on a thread, a claim, a theme, an idea and how it is shown in various sources. And this is super new for them, analyzing various sources on the same concept. They really need a structure for this.

So, the typical essay, before they get to me, goes like this, and it is a good precursor:

Introduction that states your thesis and 3 major reasons to support your claim.

Conclusion that looks a whole lot like the introduction.

This format does not allow analysis of multiple sources and if you throw in other sources, it gets messy. Instead, I gear my students to focus on each source separately, then comparing them all.

The Format that Works (Research and Literary Analysis)

First of all, it's important to know what essays I actually do with my kiddos. I do a research unit. This changes almost every year, but typically they choose some kind of topic, I group them based on their topic choice. First, they do research (non-fiction skills) using a book, article, and video. They then use those sources to write an essay on a claim they make based on their topic. Later, they make eBooks in groups based on their topic.

The other essay I do is Literary Analysis . This follows a dystopian unit . They read a dystopian book in book clubs. Then, I have them choose from a short list of short stories that are dystopian. Lastly, we watch the movie The Truman Show . (This year I had them watch "The Scarecrow" on YouTube since we were hybrid due to the pandemic). They then determine a theme that is true for all three sources and write an essay based on that theme.

This essay format works for both of these essays. So here it goes!

6th grade informational essay examples

Introductory and Conclusion Statements

In a traditional essay, students have to write a hook, their claim/thesis, and essentially ANOTHER three sentences that state what their essays will be about. In my opinion, all of this is completely unnecessary. How many times do you read introductions in books? Okay, real avid readers do, but in reality many people don't. So for these, I tell my students to get right to the point .

Here's what should be in their introductory and conclusion statements:

A statement that introduces the topic. (This is a hook of some kind. I sometimes tell them to start it with "in our world..." or "in our lives..." and something that relates to their topic. Or just starting it with their topic and explaining what it is.)

The claim/thesis.

A statement that references there are differences and similarities in the sources. (For example: "[Title of sources] support this claim in different and similar ways." That's it.)

This all ends up being 2-3 sentences.

Topic Sentences

I have my students start their essay prep with topic sentences. This helps them get a sense of where their essays will go.

The big thing to understand here is how the paragraphs are set up .

Body #1: Focus on source #1 and how it shows claim/thesis.

Body #2: Focus on source #2 and how it shows claim/thesis.

Body #3: Focus on source #3 and how it shows claim/thesis.

Body #4: Focus on how ALL SOURCES show the claim/thesis in the same way.

So they start with creating topic sentences for those paragraphs. Each topic sentence is set up like this. The last topic sentence would start with "all sources..." instead of "source title".:

6th grade informational essay examples

Body Paragraph Format

In the picture you see below, I have specific colors for specific aspects of body paragraphs. ALL body paragraphs follow this format in that exact sequence/order. I will be completely honest, I don't give them a ton of wiggle room since this is pretty new to them. However, my stronger writers dabble in mixing evidence stems and elaboration stems around.

6th grade informational essay examples

Their paragraph starts with the topic sentence they already prepared. From there, the next sentence begins with an evidence stem . Here are a few examples of evidence stems:

According to the text,

The author states,

In [title],

Right after the evidence stem, in the same sentence, they add their text detail to support their topic sentence. I encourage them to quote exactly from the text for most text details. They can paraphrase, too, but should really try to get exact lines.

In regards to quoting, I also mention to them not to quote plop . I made this up. I plan on making a product for this at some point. A quote plop is bad . It's when students take a line from the text and just plop it in their essay. I show them how to break up the quote from the text with their own words.

So, a first sentence may look like this: According to the text [evidence stem, highlighted green] , when Luke was hiding due to being a third child, "they took the woods away" , [text detail with context, a.k.a. not just plopping the quote in the sentence, highlighted yellow].

Directly after that sentence should be an elaboration stem with an elaboration explaining how the text detail shows their claim/thesis. Students highlight this entire sentence in blue and their claim within it dark blue. Here are some elaboration stems:

This proves [claim] because...

This shows [claim] because ...

After that they do the same process two more times; two more text details with elaborations. Lastly they do a closing sentence .

6th grade informational essay examples

Comparison Paragraph: This is set up almost exactly the same, except the focus is on how ALL the sources show the claim in the same way. They then provide a NEW text detail from each source to prove how the claim is being shown similarly in each.

6th grade informational essay examples

Once all their body paragraphs are written, I have them go review their introductory and conclusion statements, put everything into a final draft and leave the highlights in the essay . This helps them visualize all the components and helps me grade!

For revision, the focus is on not quote plopping, being sure their details support their thesis, changing up the wording of claims/theses, and rearranging for strong writers.

Bottom Line

While this is very limiting for some, it is super helpful for struggling writers. Having that checklist and having the highlights helps students visualize what they need to compare sources in an essay format.

I'd say it'd be great to introduce this in 6th and by 8th, they can certainly make these more interpretive, creative, and unique.

You can find a lot more detail about this in the product below . What you see here is only a taste. This contains a full sample essay, checklists, tips, and more. You can also edit it to meet your needs.

6th grade informational essay examples

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6+ Informative Essay Outline Examples in PDF

Informative Essay Outline Examples

An Informative Essay Outline serves as a structural framework, guiding writers to effectively convey their ideas. Crafting such an outline ensures clarity and coherence in essays. This complete guide, enriched with practical examples, is designed to simplify the process of creating an informative essay outline. It highlights the significance of structure in essay writing, making it an indispensable tool for anyone seeking to master the art of presenting information systematically. Incorporating Essay Examples in this guide further aids in understanding the nuances of essay writing, making it a valuable resource for both beginners and seasoned writers.

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In school, students in English subjects are required to do essays. These essays may be in a form of a descriptive essay , narrative essay , expository essay, persuasive essay or even an informative essay. These essays follow a certain structure or format to maintain its unity, coherence and organization. Let’s say you are to write an informative essay How are you going to do it? You know very well that the purpose of an informative essay is to give information to educate other people about a certain topic. In this article, you will be able to know how to create a good informative essay.

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What is an Informative Essay? – Definition

An informative essay is a style of informative writing that aims to educate the reader on a specific subject. It’s characterized by presenting facts and data without the inclusion of personal opinions or persuasive elements. The primary goal is to inform and enlighten the audience about the topic at hand. In a short informative essay , this is achieved in a concise manner, ensuring that the essential information is conveyed clearly and efficiently. This type of essay is fundamental in academic and educational contexts, as it focuses on the clear presentation of facts, aiding in the development of research and writing skills.

What are the 5 Parts of an Informative Essay?

Informative essays are pivotal in academic writing, especially for students and educators. They offer a structured way to convey knowledge and understanding on a particular topic. A well-crafted informative essay typically consists of five main components, each serving a unique purpose in delivering clear and concise information. Below, we delve into these components, crucial for anyone looking to enhance their writing skills in creating persuasive essays , narrative essay examples, and other forms of academic writing.

1. Introduction

The introduction is the gateway to your essay. It begins with a hook that grabs the reader’s attention, followed by a brief overview of the topic. The introduction sets the tone for the entire essay and should be engaging yet informative. It culminates in a thesis statement, which is the backbone of your essay. This statement clearly outlines the central idea or argument that your essay will explore. Crafting a compelling introduction is essential, as it prepares the reader for the detailed exploration of the topic that follows.

2. Thesis Statement

Embedded within the introduction, the thesis statement is the guiding star of your essay. It presents your central argument or the main point you wish to convey. A well-formulated thesis statement is concise and specific, offering a clear direction for the essay. It lays the foundation for the arguments and evidence that will be presented in the body paragraphs. A strong thesis statement is essential for maintaining focus and coherence throughout your essay.

3. Body Paragraphs

The body of an informative essay is where the bulk of the information is presented. It typically consists of three paragraphs, each dedicated to a specific point or aspect of the topic. These paragraphs should follow a logical sequence and each should start with a topic sentence that relates back to the thesis statement. This is where you present evidence, facts, and examples to support your thesis. For instance, when discussing narrative essay examples , each paragraph might explore different aspects like character development, plot structure, or thematic elements.

4. Supporting Evidence

Within the body paragraphs , supporting evidence plays a crucial role. This evidence can come in various forms, such as statistics, quotes, or real-life examples. The key is to ensure that all evidence directly supports the main points and adds value to your argument. For instance, in a short essay, selecting the most impactful evidence is vital to maintain conciseness while effectively conveying your argument.

5. Conclusion

The conclusion is where you wrap up the essay by summarizing the main points and restating the thesis in light of the evidence presented. It’s important to end with a strong closing statement that leaves a lasting impression on the reader. The conclusion should not introduce new information but should neatly tie all the parts of your essay together, reinforcing your thesis and providing a final perspective on the topic.

In summary, an informative essay is structured around these five essential components. Each part plays a critical role in crafting a cohesive and compelling narrative. Whether you’re writing persuasive essays, narrative essay examples, or any academic piece, understanding and utilizing these five parts effectively can significantly enhance the quality of your writing. Remember, the goal is to inform and enlighten your audience with a well-structured and insightful essay.

How do you end an informative essay?

You end an informative essay by simply rephrasing the thesis statement , summarizing the main points in the body of the essay and providing a closing sentence that would have a connection to your introduction.

How many paragraphs are in informative essay?

Basically, an informative essay has a maximum of four to five paragraphs.

Does an informative essay need a thesis?

An informative essay needs a thesis. Without a thesis, all of the information you provided will be unfocused.

Whenever you want to share a specific information to your target readers or to anybody, you always have to do intensive research to make your details accurate. You should also choose a topic that is timely or interesting enough to keep the attention of your readers. An informative essay is a best tool for an author to educate people on what is the truth behind every single information.

6th grade informational essay examples

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Informative Essay — Purpose, Structure, and Examples

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What is informative writing?

Informative writing educates the reader about a certain topic. An informative essay may explain new information, describe a process, or clarify a concept. The provided information is objective, meaning the writing focuses on presentation of fact and should not contain personal opinion or bias.

Informative writing includes description, process, cause and effect, comparison, and problems and possible solutions:

Describes a person, place, thing, or event using descriptive language that appeals to readers’ senses

Explains the process to do something or how something was created

Discusses the relationship between two things, determining how one ( cause ) leads to the other ( effect ); the effect needs to be based on fact and not an assumption

Identifies the similarities and differences between two things; does not indicate that one is better than the other

Details a problem and presents various possible solutions ; the writer does not suggest one solution is more effective than the others

What is informative writing?

Purpose of informative writing

The purpose of an informative essay depends upon the writer’s motivation, but may be to share new information, describe a process, clarify a concept, explain why or how, or detail a topic’s intricacies.

Informative essays may introduce readers to new information .

Summarizing a scientific/technological study

Outlining the various aspects of a religion

Providing information on a historical period

Describe a process or give step-by-step details of a procedure.

How to write an informational essay

How to construct an argument

How to apply for a job

Clarify a concept and offer details about complex ideas.

Purpose of informative essays

Explain why or how something works the way that it does.

Describe how the stock market impacts the economy

Illustrate why there are high and low tides

Detail how the heart functions

Offer information on the smaller aspects or intricacies of a larger topic.

Identify the importance of the individual bones in the body

Outlining the Dust Bowl in the context of the Great Depression

Explaining how bees impact the environment

How to write an informative essay

Regardless of the type of information, the informative essay structure typically consists of an introduction, body, and conclusion.

Introduction

Background information

Explanation of evidence

Restated thesis

Review of main ideas

Closing statement

Informative essay structure

Informative essay introduction

When composing the introductory paragraph(s) of an informative paper, include a hook, introduce the topic, provide background information, and develop a good thesis statement.

If the hook or introduction creates interest in the first paragraph, it will draw the readers’ attention and make them more receptive to the essay writer's ideas. Some of the most common techniques to accomplish this include the following:

Emphasize the topic’s importance by explaining the current interest in the topic or by indicating that the subject is influential.

Use pertinent statistics to give the paper an air of authority.

A surprising statement can be shocking; sometimes it is disgusting; sometimes it is joyful; sometimes it is surprising because of who said it.

An interesting incident or anecdote can act as a teaser to lure the reader into the remainder of the essay. Be sure that the device is appropriate for the informative essay topic and focus on what is to follow.

Informative essay hooks

Directly introduce the topic of the essay.

Provide the reader with the background information necessary to understand the topic. Don’t repeat this information in the body of the essay; it should help the reader understand what follows.

Identify the overall purpose of the essay with the thesis (purpose statement). Writers can also include their support directly in the thesis, which outlines the structure of the essay for the reader.

Informative essay body paragraphs

Each body paragraph should contain a topic sentence, evidence, explanation of evidence, and a transition sentence.

Informative essay body paragraphs

A good topic sentence should identify what information the reader should expect in the paragraph and how it connects to the main purpose identified in the thesis.

Provide evidence that details the main point of the paragraph. This includes paraphrasing, summarizing, and directly quoting facts, statistics, and statements.

Explain how the evidence connects to the main purpose of the essay.

Place transitions at the end of each body paragraph, except the last. There is no need to transition from the last support to the conclusion. A transition should accomplish three goals:

Tell the reader where you were (current support)

Tell the reader where you are going (next support)

Relate the paper’s purpose

Informative essay conclusion

Incorporate a rephrased thesis, summary, and closing statement into the conclusion of an informative essay.

Rephrase the purpose of the essay. Do not just repeat the purpose statement from the thesis.

Summarize the main idea found in each body paragraph by rephrasing each topic sentence.

End with a clincher or closing statement that helps readers answer the question “so what?” What should the reader take away from the information provided in the essay? Why should they care about the topic?

Informative essay example

The following example illustrates a good informative essay format:

Informative essay format

Free Printable Informative Essay Structure Worksheets for 6th Grade

Informative Essay Structure: Discover a collection of free printable worksheets for Grade 6 Reading & Writing teachers, designed to enhance students' understanding and skills in crafting well-structured informative essays.

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Explore printable Informative Essay Structure worksheets for 6th Grade

Informative Essay Structure worksheets for Grade 6 are essential tools for teachers to help their students develop strong reading and writing skills. These worksheets focus on teaching students the fundamentals of writing organization and structure, ensuring that they can effectively communicate their ideas and thoughts in a clear and concise manner. By incorporating these worksheets into their lesson plans, teachers can provide their students with a solid foundation in writing, which will serve them well throughout their academic careers. Furthermore, these worksheets are specifically designed for Grade 6 students, ensuring that the content is age-appropriate and tailored to their learning needs. In addition to improving their writing skills, students will also enhance their reading comprehension abilities, as they learn to analyze and understand various types of texts.

Quizizz is an excellent platform for teachers to access a wide variety of Informative Essay Structure worksheets for Grade 6, as well as other resources to support their students' reading and writing development. This platform offers a diverse range of materials, including interactive quizzes, games, and activities, which can be easily integrated into the classroom to make learning fun and engaging. By utilizing Quizizz, teachers can not only access high-quality worksheets that focus on writing organization and structure but also track their students' progress and identify areas where they may need additional support. This comprehensive approach to teaching reading and writing ensures that Grade 6 students are well-equipped with the skills they need to succeed in their academic pursuits and beyond.

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50 Engaging 6th Grade Writing Prompts for Thoughtful Essays

Sixth grade marks a big transition in students’ lives. They’re no longer little kids, but they’re not quite teens either–that’s what middle school is all about. To help your students bridge this transition with ease, it’s important to give them plenty of opportunities to practice their writing skills since they’ll be doing a lot of writing in high school and beyond.

Over and above that, writing can be the perfect way for kids to express themselves and explore the world around them. That will only happen if you give them the space to do so, though, so here are 50 engaging 6th-grade writing prompts to help your students get their creative juices flowing.

Narrative Writing Prompts

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Narrative writing revolves around telling a story with a plot that has rising action, a climax, and a resolution. These narrative writing prompts will give your 6th-grade students plenty to think about–and write about.

Story Starters

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Students will often struggle with where to start their stories. These story starters will help them get past that initial hurdle by giving them some ideas to get their narratives going.

1. I had the biggest fight with my best friend yesterday. It all started when…

2. My first trip to the beach wasn’t what I expected. I thought it would be…

3. I’ll never forget the time when I was lost in the city. It was…

4. I had the biggest surprise of my life when…

5. My family went on the craziest road trip last summer. We started out by…

As you guide your students through their writing journey, make sure to encourage them to be creative and have fun with it – but still have them include the essential elements of a story, like rising action, a climax, and a resolution, so that their stories are well-rounded and engaging.

Personal Narrative Prompts

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Personal narratives are all about giving students the opportunity to tell their own stories in descriptive ways. Here are writing prompts to get them started.

6. What’s the best (or worst) birthday you’ve ever had? Why was it so great (or terrible)?

7. What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done? What made you do it?

8. Think about your future self–where do you see yourself in 1 year? Write about it.

9. Think about the best day you’ve ever had. What made it so special?

10. Describe a time when the weather was really extreme. Describe it.

Reflective Writing Prompts

girl thinking of bright ideas

Reflective writing is a lot like journaling–it gives students the opportunity to process their thoughts and feelings on a given topic. These reflective writing prompts/journal prompts will encourage thoughtful reflection in your students while giving them some fun.

11. Make a list of your favorite things about yourself.

12. Take a walk in nature and describe what you see. What emotions does it evoke in you?

13. Describe your sports or extracurricular activities. What have you learned from them all?

14. Make a list of all the emotions you experience throughout the day.

15. Make a record of your daily objectives. Consider which one was the most simple to accomplish.

Journal prompts are usually effective because they make you think about a certain topic in a different, more introspective way, and so students should be encouraged to approach these writing prompts with open minds and hearts.

Informational Writing Prompts

students writing essays in school class

Informational writing is an essential skill for middle-schoolers, especially as they head into high school and college, where they’ll be expected to write long-form essays rather than fiction. These informational writing prompts will give your students plenty of practice with this type of writing.

Expository Prompts

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Expository writing is a type of nonfiction writing that requires students to investigate an idea, assess evidence, expand on the idea, and present an argument concerning that idea in a clear and concise manner. These prompts will help your students hone their expository writing skills.

16. Compare and contrast two of your friends.

17. Choose a challenge at your school. What’s the ideal solution for it?

18. Discuss a problem in a movie you enjoy. What was the outcome of the situation?

19. What was the cause of a recent argument you had? What was the effect?

20. Find an interesting story/narrative in your local newspaper and tell it in your own words.

Research Prompts

students writing in front of a laptop

Next, research writing prompts will help students practice their research skills by investigating a given topic and finding credible sources to support their claims. These research writing prompts will allow your students to conduct investigative research and write about what they’ve found in detail.

21. How long can fish survive without water?

22. What animals are on the verge of extinction?

23. What’s the history of your favorite sport, and how did it develop?

24. What are people’s civil rights, and who has fought for them?

25. Explore your dream career. What skills would you need to succeed in it?

This may be a good time to introduce your students they could use to reference their information and give credit where it’s due. Inform them that not all sources are created equal, and brainstorm some tips for evaluating the credibility of a website.

Procedural Prompts

girl studying at home with headphone and laptop

As their name suggests, procedural writing prompts provide students with the opportunity to write clear and concise instructions on a given topic. These prompts will help your sixth graders learn the essentials of procedural writing.

26. Make a user guide for anything you use frequently (e.g., your computer, smartphone, video game console).

27. Write a set of instructions for cleaning your room.

28. Teach a younger reader how to do homework without wasting time.

29. What’s the quickest way for you to go to the library if you’re in your classroom now?

30. Describe the steps involved in tying a shoe.

Argument Writing Prompts

students writing classroom activity

The next type of writing prompt is argument writing. Argumentative writing is a type of nonfiction writing that requires students to investigate a topic, collect evidence, and assess their findings to defend a point of view while also considering the perspectives of others.

These argumentative writing prompts will give your young writers practice with this type of persuasive writing.

Argumentative Essay Prompts

teacher helping students in class

The most common type of essay prompt on standardized tests is the argumentative essay question since it’s intellectually challenging. In these questions, students will be given a prompt and they’ll be asked to take a position on an issue or topic.

They’ll then need to provide satisfactory evidence from their research to support their position. Here are some prompts to get them started.

31. Should school uniforms be required in all schools?

32. Is it ever okay to break the law?

33. Do you think people should be required to vote? Why or why not?

34. Is Monday through Friday the best school schedule?

35. Is it important to learn science?

Persuasive Prompts

teacher and students in a class discussion

Emotional appeals can be a powerful tool in persuasive writing. In these prompts, students will need to use their powers of persuasion and other rhetorical strategies to convince their readers to see their point of view. Here are persuasive prompts to put your students’ powers of persuasion to the test.

36. Make a case for or against year-round schooling.

37. Should there be a limit on the amount of homework students can receive?

38. Persuade your parents to let you choose your own bedtime.

39. What’s the best way to deal with bullies in schools?

40. Who’s the greatest sports athlete of all time?

Poetry Prompts

poetry text word image

Poetry prompts are a great way to get your students to write creatively. These prompts will help your students tap into their imaginations and write poems that are both beautiful and moving. Whether in free verse or strict meter, your students will be sure to impress you with their poetic prowess.

41. Write about how you’re feeling right now in a  haiku .

42. Create a poem in memory of a book, TV, or film character who has died.

43. Choose an onomatopoeia and use it five times in a poem.

44. Consider a metaphor for the current school year and create a poem about it.

45. Write a friendship poem in which every line includes a  rhyme for “friend.”

Creative Writing Prompts

student with notebook and laptop picture

Last but not least, creative writing is all about using imagination to create a piece of writing that’s unlike anything else. This creative writing prompts will help your students tap into their imaginations and write some truly unique pieces revolving around self-expression.

46. If I could have any superpower, it would be…

47. Write about a day in the life of your favorite cartoon character.

48. If you could be a historical figure for a day, who would you choose to be?

49. Write a family story from the perspective of your pet.

50. Invent a new holiday and describe how it’s celebrated.

Jump In : Better prepare your 6th graders for this activity by improving their reading comprehension first! Proceed to read my list of fun comprehension exercises here —  11 Fun 6th Grade Reading Comprehension Activities (& Games) .

Dust Off Those Pencils and Get Ready to Write! 

While many students lose motivation as their first middle school year goes on, these 50 6th grade writing prompts will help keep them excited about writing all year long. With tons of different genres and modes of writing to choose from, there’s something here for everyone! So get those pencils sharpened and those minds thinking—it’s time to start writing!

Last Updated on July 24, 2022 by Emily

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Emily is an active mother of two and a dedicated elementary school teacher. She believes the latest technology has made a huge impact on the quality of early learning and has worked hard to upgrade her classroom and her own children’s learning experience through technology.

Follow her on Twitter , Pinterest , and Instagram for more teaching fun!

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6th grade informational essay examples

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How to Write an Expository Essay | Structure, Tips & Examples

Published on July 14, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

“Expository” means “intended to explain or describe something.” An expository essay provides a clear, focused explanation of a particular topic, process, or set of ideas. It doesn’t set out to prove a point, just to give a balanced view of its subject matter.

Expository essays are usually short assignments intended to test your composition skills or your understanding of a subject. They tend to involve less research and original arguments than argumentative essays .

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Table of contents

When should you write an expository essay, how to approach an expository essay, introducing your essay, writing the body paragraphs, concluding your essay, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about expository essays.

In school and university, you might have to write expository essays as in-class exercises, exam questions, or coursework assignments.

Sometimes it won’t be directly stated that the assignment is an expository essay, but there are certain keywords that imply expository writing is required. Consider the prompts below.

The word “explain” here is the clue: An essay responding to this prompt should provide an explanation of this historical process—not necessarily an original argument about it.

Sometimes you’ll be asked to define a particular term or concept. This means more than just copying down the dictionary definition; you’ll be expected to explore different ideas surrounding the term, as this prompt emphasizes.

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An expository essay should take an objective approach: It isn’t about your personal opinions or experiences. Instead, your goal is to provide an informative and balanced explanation of your topic. Avoid using the first or second person (“I” or “you”).

The structure of your expository essay will vary according to the scope of your assignment and the demands of your topic. It’s worthwhile to plan out your structure before you start, using an essay outline .

A common structure for a short expository essay consists of five paragraphs: An introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Like all essays, an expository essay begins with an introduction . This serves to hook the reader’s interest, briefly introduce your topic, and provide a thesis statement summarizing what you’re going to say about it.

Hover over different parts of the example below to see how a typical introduction works.

In many ways, the invention of the printing press marked the end of the Middle Ages. The medieval period in Europe is often remembered as a time of intellectual and political stagnation. Prior to the Renaissance, the average person had very limited access to books and was unlikely to be literate. The invention of the printing press in the 15th century allowed for much less restricted circulation of information in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation.

The body of your essay is where you cover your topic in depth. It often consists of three paragraphs, but may be more for a longer essay. This is where you present the details of the process, idea or topic you’re explaining.

It’s important to make sure each paragraph covers its own clearly defined topic, introduced with a topic sentence . Different topics (all related to the overall subject matter of the essay) should be presented in a logical order, with clear transitions between paragraphs.

Hover over different parts of the example paragraph below to see how a body paragraph is constructed.

The invention of the printing press in 1440 changed this situation dramatically. Johannes Gutenberg, who had worked as a goldsmith, used his knowledge of metals in the design of the press. He made his type from an alloy of lead, tin, and antimony, whose durability allowed for the reliable production of high-quality books. This new technology allowed texts to be reproduced and disseminated on a much larger scale than was previously possible. The Gutenberg Bible appeared in the 1450s, and a large number of printing presses sprang up across the continent in the following decades. Gutenberg’s invention rapidly transformed cultural production in Europe; among other things, it would lead to the Protestant Reformation.

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The conclusion of an expository essay serves to summarize the topic under discussion. It should not present any new information or evidence, but should instead focus on reinforcing the points made so far. Essentially, your conclusion is there to round off the essay in an engaging way.

Hover over different parts of the example below to see how a conclusion works.

The invention of the printing press was important not only in terms of its immediate cultural and economic effects, but also in terms of its major impact on politics and religion across Europe. In the century following the invention of the printing press, the relatively stationary intellectual atmosphere of the Middle Ages gave way to the social upheavals of the Reformation and the Renaissance. A single technological innovation had contributed to the total reshaping of the continent.

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An expository essay is a broad form that varies in length according to the scope of the assignment.

Expository essays are often assigned as a writing exercise or as part of an exam, in which case a five-paragraph essay of around 800 words may be appropriate.

You’ll usually be given guidelines regarding length; if you’re not sure, ask.

An expository essay is a common assignment in high-school and university composition classes. It might be assigned as coursework, in class, or as part of an exam.

Sometimes you might not be told explicitly to write an expository essay. Look out for prompts containing keywords like “explain” and “define.” An expository essay is usually the right response to these prompts.

An argumentative essay tends to be a longer essay involving independent research, and aims to make an original argument about a topic. Its thesis statement makes a contentious claim that must be supported in an objective, evidence-based way.

An expository essay also aims to be objective, but it doesn’t have to make an original argument. Rather, it aims to explain something (e.g., a process or idea) in a clear, concise way. Expository essays are often shorter assignments and rely less on research.

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