9 Main Types of Essay: Quick Guide With Examples

9 Main Types of Essay: Quick Guide With Examples

Published by on 2021-04-06 13:27:27

In 2021, students are busy people. Young male and female persons in educational establishments get multiple academic tasks to complete. An essay is among the most frequent assignments from professors of any subject. As you probably know already, there are different types of essays. 

The majority of students can either love or hate doing homework on their own. However, there is a simple solution to help them love and enjoy crafting papers. The point is, you should know more about various essay styles before you begin composing them. 

An apt metaphor is that types of academic essays are like tasty dishes with various ingredients and spices used to cook them. Sooner or later, an author will try them all out and define a type that he or she likes more. First, it would be great for you to understand here that the paper is always a text of your own. Although the length and topic of different essays are frequently chosen by a professor, you are the one defining your grade. Everything depends on how well you are going to write it. The choice of the proper approach even before you start writing will be the first step towards getting your A+.

Regardless of essay types and definitions, every text’s focus point is to complete its main function: to develop a student’s thinking and improve his knowledge. The following article will show you the variety of written assignments that students will face on their way to graduation. Moreover, it will be possible for you to find out which “spice” and “sauce” suits this or that “dish” better.  

Now, you are probably feeling enough with the intro. Let’s see how to “cook” those texts correctly.

What Are the Different Types of Essays?

The article will be built like this: first, you’ll find out more about frequent essay types and definitions. More specific ones are going to be revealed after. So, here are the four modes of essay writing tasks that may be assigned to you at least once throughout studentship:

  • Descriptive
  • Narrative
  • Expository
  • Argumentative (Persuasive)

These four require a more detailed review. Let’s check each one separately below. 


The essay structure types of this kind are original. The author of such a text describes and analyses something he or she chose as a topic in detail (for example, a phenomenon, a poem, a story, a particular event, or even a person). The point is, the reader of this essay should be able to imagine, visualize the described thing clearly. So, as an author, you are free to use literary instruments like allegories, analogies, personifications, metaphors, and anything you find suitable.

The described text, along with other essays in college or high school syllabuses, is about creativity. So, it is up to you how to describe things: with the use of personal experience you’ve got, emotions you felt, or a particular explanation. Actually, the examples here are just countless. Everything can become a topic for a descriptive essay: even a PC building guide or a lasagna receipt your mom uses to make that delicious meal you like so much.


Among all types of personal essays, this format is the best-known one for sure. You probably know the meaning of “narration”. Simply put, it is a short text by an author that supposes to get a certain sense or show a particular conclusion. In other words, it means a story.

For example, one may choose to tell a story about the scariest day they had in the past. Other students prefer their first love stories, happy moments, or life-changing hours. In its nature, a narrative assignment requires an author to express something he experienced personally. It is not about the research or search for trustworthy sources by authoritative scientists. To get an A+ grade here, you only need to be creative with a narrative essay topic and your approach towards it.


An expository assignment is the most time-taking of essay formats because of its word count. There are five different kinds of expository essays that should be described separately. In such a way, it will be easier for you to distinguish the variants behind the name of “expository” assignments. Here they are:

  • Reflection papers are, obviously, deeply subjective. The author reveals the topic while relying on facts and trustworthy arguments but also expresses their thoughts on the analyzed subject.
  • A critical analysis text is called to help an author understand the point of a certain subject (for example, a literature artwork, a movie, a business case, or an article published in a science magazine). First, you choose what to analyze. Then, you present your analysis. In other words, you describe how you understand the subject and its outcomes.
  • A basic explanation (interpretation) paper is about describing something in detail (creating a “how-to” guide or explaining how something happens). The topics of such essay types can refer to any process or happening from the way to elect a mayor in the US to the chain of events leading to a rainfall, for instance.
  • A cause and effect assignment is called to help a student find relations between the reasons and outcomes of some event or happening. Simply put, a student should find and describe connections between the things giving a start to a particular case and a consequence it brought in the end. The most obvious and understandable examples of cause and effect papers are analytical articles about events such as World War II or the BLM protests of 2020.
  • A definition paper is probably the easiest one to understand and craft, though it is not limited to copying a definition from a vocabulary (that’s a solid way to be rightfully judged for plagiarism, at least). This kind of assignment wants an author to come up with several different definitions along with a personal commentary reflecting their understanding and attitude towards the topical phrase or word. For instance, you may try to define terms like “democracy”, “peace”, “inclusivity”, etc.

Argumentative (Persuasive)

Finally, here comes the last but not least interesting of the main essay types. In an argumentative paper, the content is focused on the author’s viewpoint on the particular issue. Moreover, here a student has a clearly stated thesis and directly tries to prove that their point is the most suitable one by supporting it with reasonable facts and arguments.

The argumentative paper is probably the most difficult to master among all essay format types. No wonder professors frequently want students to learn it perfectly, first of all.

5 Additional Types of Essays: You’ll Face Them Pretty Soon

Those four styles above were the most widespread types of academic essays that students may face during their high school or college years. Although the five kinds of texts below can be connected to the previously described types, they are still worth mentioning separately.

Compare and Contrast

Unlike definition or reflection ones, a compare and contrast essay is based on the features of the chosen person, subjects, phenomena, or places. Those features are divided into similar and different ones and carefully analyzed after.

The thing is, this is one of the essay types that can cover multiple topics simultaneously. For instance, you can write a comparison and find contrasts between different forms of government, such as republic and monarchy, or authoritarianism and libertarianism. Just like any other written assignment, a compare and contrast paper is a great educational tool when composed thoroughly.

Scholarship/Admission Essay

This paper stands out from the crowd of other assignments because of its importance. Graduate high school students will most probably need to complete admission papers for college admission committee members. The quality of your admission essay will directly influence your higher education prospects, career, and life as a whole. Here is a checklist of questions to answer in a successful admission paper:

  • The explanation of your choice – why this or that field of education?
  • Why do you need that academic degree?
  • What are your advantages and disadvantages?
  • Why did you choose exactly that college?
  • What will be your contribution to the community of students, college, and entire society during your studentship years?

A scholarship paper has the same importance. Your goal here is to convince admission committee members of your college that you deserve to get financial aid from the college. Educational institutions tend to pay for the education of the most prospective applicants. Regarding the cost of higher education in the US, a scholarship is a significant relief even for families with high incomes.  

Cultural Identity Essay

A modern world is a reality of mixed ethnicities and cultures. International exchange programs allowed students from different parts of the planet to know each other. And cultural identity papers help groupmates explore their personalities to themselves better than anything else.

Though it might seem like another personal essay, a cultural identity paper does not directly belong to the types of essays above. Yes, it may contain facts about a student’s beliefs, language, studying reasons, religion, and many more things, but the point is that the cornerstone of such a paper is never an individual. It is a description of identity, a group that a writer associates themselves with. 

Process Essay

This one belongs to the category of expository papers as well. Actually, a process explanation essay is exactly that “how-to” guide mentioned above. A person who mastered these types of writing essays is an expert technical writer ready to work like a real professional.

The point of this paper is the step-by-step instruction. It describes a detailed sequence of actions someone needs to pass through to get the desired result. There is no need to go aside and reveal the process purposes: most likely, the reader knows them already. You only name steps and explain them in detail.

Informative Essay

Among all types of college essays, informative writing is the most frequent one to be assigned. Of course, any academic text (just like other text contents) is information in its nature. However, the key feature of an informative paper is its in-depth level of detail, scientific definitions, thorough analysis, all backed up by authoritative sources and pieces of evidence. Coming up with a really cool informative paper requires ultimate expertise from the author.

Tips to Turn Different Essays into Masterpieces

Now when you know a lot about four main kinds of essays and five additional ones, it is time to find out how to write essays of different academic levels well. Below is a review of middle school, high school, and college paper types and tips suitable to use if you aim to get the highest grade.

Middle School

Tips to get an A+ grade for your essay at the middle school level:

  • The best choice is to go in for descriptive, narrative, reflective, and process (how-to) papers.
  • When choosing a subject, consider your best skills, favorite hobbies, and available talents.
  • Try to describe the way to cook a meal you like the most (expository writing).
  • Provide a detailed description of clothes, places, people’s appearances, toys, gadgets when suitable.
  • Try to imagine what your teacher would like to explore about you while reading a particular text and then come up with really worthy things to get the highest grade possible.

High School

The next level is more challenging, without a doubt. However, it becomes a lot easier if you know which types of essays to choose and how to master them:

  • This education stage is a preparation for college studies, so you better concentrate on crafting expository, cause and effect, narrative, and analysis papers along with admission ones (check more types of personal essays whenever possible).
  • There exist many types of essay structure to use while writing, but you better keep up with that containing five paragraphs: intro, three body parts (arguments, focus points, etc.), and a summary.
  • The best way to come up with a unique topic is to go in for the synthesis of interconnected concepts.
  • Don’t walk around: write straight to the point, and keep up with the required topic.
  • Train a lot to master your admission paper writing skills. It’s the only way to enter any college you want and to get your dream education.


Here comes the hardest level. Though your concentration, dedication, and ability to keep up with the following guidelines may make writing college papers a piece of cake for you:

  • Regardless of the topic, brainstorming will save your time, nerves, and grades. Set up a plan with a table of concepts to reveal in a paper before you even start writing it.
  • Narrowing down a broader topic to craft a concise and reasonable paper is a smart decision.
  • Be creative and think out of the box. Try not to overload a paper with your opinions but come up with at least a single idea backed up by newly gained knowledge.
  • Be honest, especially when writing personal statements: there is no place to tell lies. College officials will catch you with it much quicker than you might think.
  • Edit and proofread every paper as many times as needed to make it flawless. Remember, even a single typo or silly mistake may spoil the entire impression a teacher might get from your text.
  • When proving a concept, try to create a suitable presentation and choose reasonable arguments to convince groupmates and a teacher that your idea is worth attention.
  • Copyright protection might be smart at college paper levels.

Essay Types: Conclusion

Summing up, the variety of academic papers is huge. If you are not enough with the general concepts and examples mentioned in this article, try finding more in our blog or at the official resources of schools, colleges, or universities.

Crafting a worthy paper means a challenge to any student, regardless of their current academic level, abilities, and talents. However, keeping up with the following guide will surely simplify the quest significantly.

Just find the assignment you need to complete, read the description and guidelines attentively, relax, free your mind and start writing. And remember: postponing a difficult task is not an option. The earlier you start composing it, the more time will be there at your disposal to polish the final draft.

Finally, do not be afraid of asking for professional writers' help in essay writing if you feel that it is required. It is always better to invest some funds and get more time and mental energy in return, along with expert consultation on all types of writing essay assignments.