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How to Write a College-Level Essay: A Complete Guide

When a student suddenly finds themselves in a college-level course, writing becomes more challenging. Gone are the days of high school essays written the night before. In learning how to write an effective essay for college, a student should master the essay writing process that can be applied to all written assignments.

The system can be used in any type of text, including an academic essay, argumentative essay, or expository essay. But also in more general persuasive essays and admissions essays. Since writing an essay is common, knowing the proper steps make a college career far easier. So put your writing skills to the test and learn how to write essays through this extensive guide which covers all the main stages.

  1. Develop idea and genre
  2. Research the particular topic and prepare a thesis statement around the main point
  3. Create an outline
  4. Write the essay
  5. Format in the appropriate style
  6. Proofread and make final edits

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Part 1: How to Develop an Idea and Genre in a College-Level Essay?

Before any actual writing can occur or you start crafting an entire essay, a student must decide on the idea and genre of the paper. Choosing specific interesting essay topics can require some thought.

While it might be a process of deciding on an idea or the main argument, there are ways to narrow your essay choices. The broadest option is the first way to do so: choose a genre. Genres include synthesis, compare and contrast, literary review, reflective, description, etc.

Another way to develop ideas or a topic is to list propositions and choose the best. This is often most successful with a good brainstorming session and a free concept flow. It can also be helpful to consider the length of the paper required. These ideas should be avoided if topics can't fill a five-paragraph essay or are too bulky for a three-paragraph essay.

Part 2: The Best Essay Writing Tips for Research and Creating a Thesis Statement

Knowing how to investigate a topic is just the beginning of writing a college essay. More is required to find credible sources for essay research than a popular search engine. Truthfully, most colleges teach students how to find good sources with an online educational database. These sources are usually articles written from studies and other forms of academia.

Evaluating the evidence found in reliable sources is an important part of the essay writing process as it helps to develop the paper and establish the main idea. Writing a thesis statement is one of the most important aspects of a college-level essay. If a student asks, "What is a statement of thesis?" The best answer is that a good statement describes the entirety of the paper at once and serves as the central point, and is important even for a simple essay.

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Part 3: How to Create a Good Outline for a College-Level Essay?

Simply put, an essay outline is the steps to write an essay. It acts as a guide to the writer so that all information is already laid out in order. It is a key step to writing or starting an essay. An outline will generally follow this structure when you write an essay: introduction, main body paragraphs, and conclusion. Each section has its aspects that require involvement.


An introduction paragraph comprises a hook, topic sentences, and a thesis statement. If you are confused about how to start a paragraph when you write an essay, know that the hook not only acts as a first sentence but it's the opening of the whole paper. A hook is designed to capture the interest and attention of the reader so that they want to continue.

The topic sentence or sentences come next, where the topic’s main points are introduced. Finally, the thesis statement should be present at the end of the introductory paragraph and meet the following essay guidelines, like most essays.

  1. Opening Hook: to get the reader's attention
  2. Main ideas from topic
  3. Thesis statement

Body Paragraph

The body paragraph structure comes next and determines how many paragraphs are in an essay. This portion of a college-level essay is where you present evidence to discuss and analyze. While a large part of the essay’s size depends on the topic and information available, it also comes from the genre. Remember, an essay genre simply means the style, from synthesis to argumentative and definition categories.

It can be helpful to include body paragraph transition words or transitional phrases when going from one paragraph to another. Idioms like ‘although’ and ‘next’ allow smoother reading.

These expressions can also act as body paragraph starters, as the topic sentence can begin with such terms. A topic sentence will provide an introduction and inform readers what to expect. The following parts of a body paragraph should be carefully crafted with relevant argument and evidence.

  1. Topic Sentence
  2. Evidence from credible authors (make sure to cite sources)
  3. Analysis of evidence


Writing the perfect college-level essay conclusion paragraph starts with repeating the thesis in different words. This reminds the reader what the most important takeaway from the paper is. The conclusion is the final paragraph that will also rehash the important details found in the body paragraphs. Finally, it will end with a final statement that leaves no question of whether it’s finished.

  1. Repeat the thesis statement in a new way
  2. Describe the main ideas from the body paragraphs
  3. Final closing statement

Part 4: Learning How to Write a Proper Essay

When it's time to actually start writing, the first thing a student should do is go over his or her essay notes. Ensuring that they are detailed and include evidence and the sources they came from helps move the process along faster. Doing so helps writers to find the stimulus to write, as the feeling of progress motivates them.

Writing inspiration can also come from essay prompts. Rather than struggling with an idea, going off a prompt allows students to have some sort of starting point. It can also be helpful to skip the title for essay and introductory paragraph and write the body first. Since body writing is often based on sources and factual analysis, skipping these aspects helps get things moving.

Although it was previously mentioned how to write a body paragraph outline, there are additional essay writing tips that can help. One of them is to play devil's advocate when writing an essay. To be sure that all angles have been covered in the essay, try to imagine what others might reply. By including that possible response and inserting a counterargument, a college-level essay will be more thought-out, especially if it's an argumentative essay.

It is often easier to draft the essay introduction once the body paragraphs have been completed. Making guesswork of the exact contents of the body makes the conclusion more difficult. It's far simpler to introduce what is already known. The same goes for the conclusion, which is most commonly the last portion to be written. An essay conclusion requires repeated information, but many people struggle to finish an essay.

The final sentence of a paper should be designed to inform the reader that there is nothing further. Sometimes finding the words that close out so much information is a challenge. A common closing statement method is to inform the reader of why he or she has benefitted from the essay.

Crafting a catchy title that appeals to the intended reader is a task that students often overthink. There are various ways to create titles, but the important part is that it helps explain the essay. If grappling with how to title an essay, many writers morph a sentence from the paper into a title.

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Part 5: What is the Best Format for a College-Level Essay?

There are four styles of essay writing format that are commonly used: APA, MLA, Chicago, and Turabian. While each has its way of using parenthetical or in-text citations and references, all are widely accepted. Many college professors will assign a specific style of essay formatting, but if that is not the case, there are guidelines.

For example, the basic essay format of APA is usually used in academia, as it covers sciences and research. MLA, however, typically embodies humanities – arts, theatre, and English, for instance. Chicago is an essay format example often used in History topics. There's also Turabian which is a condensed version of Chicago.

Part 6: What is the Best Method for Proofreading and Editing?

After the first draft is complete, it's important to read over it to check for necessary content revisions to make sure that the final essay is perfect. If statements are not checked for logic, there can be major gaps in the flow and understanding. It's also important to check for any grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors in the text. There are a few proofreading tips that can greatly assist in formulating the final draft.

  1. Use Peer Review
    Use classmates or friends to proofread the document after you are done writing. It's easy to miss common mistakes when the writer has been looking at the document for several hours. Peer review is one of the most helpful correcting techniques.
  2. Use Proofreading App
    Download a proofreading software or app. Various online options will double-check essays and documents and improve word choice while eliminating passive voice in your writing. Make sure that one sentence is not longer than 20 words.
  3. Revisit After a Break
    Take a break and come back to the paper. Writing the text one day and revising it the following helps you improve the important points and word choice.
  4. Check for Formatting Issues & Analyze the Readability
    Make sure that you eliminate all formatting issues to improve the overall structure of a good essay. This includes line spacing, font sizes, paragraph structure, etc.
    Finally, analyzing the readability is the last and final job. Read through it a few times to ensure there are no hang-ups on wording or confusion regarding an idea. Check that transitions are smooth and concepts clear. Once complete, the essay is ready for submission.

All in all, writing a college-level essay is a task that will take some time. However, if the right steps are followed, a quality paper can be turned in. A good idea, proper research, a full outline, a smart writing process, well-formatted and edited essay makes a college-level essay worth reading. Professional essay writers follow the same steps and find success daily.

Writing an essay requires careful planning and organization, but breaking it down into manageable steps can help make the task less daunting. Begin by conducting thorough research using credible sources, which will help to provide a solid foundation for your arguments. Consider buying comparison essays to gain inspiration and learn how to structure your own essay effectively. Next, create an outline that clearly organizes your ideas and arguments into a logical flow, using headings, subheadings, and bullet points. Finally, write your essay and remember to review and edit it carefully to ensure that it is free of errors and effectively communicates your message.

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12 Best Tips for Writing an Effective Essay

  1. Figure Out the Main Topic and Goal

If a concrete topic isn't present and you only have a general idea to explain – consider the audience you are going to write for before you start writing. There are many options: a professor in a university, a commission, or employers. If you are writing an essay for a scholar, you have to keep his requirements in mind.

As a rule, a professor will expect originality, logic, and literacy from you. Based on this, you must choose a topic to develop fully while keeping the text engaging and logical. This also helps you formulate a clear thesis for your essay.

  1. Study All Information and Details

Make sure that you understand what it is about. The writing process for an academic paper includes conducting a detailed analysis of the problem or main point from your point of view. However, the most important thing is that it requires your vision that relies on real arguments and a factual thesis backed by relevant sources.

Do some research on the subject and read through new material. For example, if you have a topic about a historical event or a certain character, you must collect information about it. Using facts and research results in your text is a great way to diversify it and convince the reader.

  1. Use Different Techniques

One of the most useful techniques is "free writing", the essence of which is transferring all your thoughts from your head straight to the paper. You may even not watch out for grammar, punctuation, style, etc. This makes it easier to concentrate on the text, and it's a great way to discover interesting ideas and relevant context.

  1. Don't Think Too Much About the Introduction

If you can't create an introduction right away – just skip it and work on the main part first or the next paragraph. In this case, you will already have a clear idea of your body paragraphs, and it will be easier to write the introduction.

  1. Interchange Phrases

In the process of writing, you have to use an interchange of short and long sentences. This way, your text will be dynamic and easy to read, which can help you create a high-quality essay.

  1. Don't Lose the Main Thesis

It is important to note down all your thoughts. However, you should not lose sight of the main thesis to rely on. Continue to follow the topic, and don't use unnecessarily detailed information such as humor and sarcasm. You have to use them carefully because they can annoy the reader. Also, don't forget to support the thesis by using the main body's key points, arguments, and facts.

  1. Add Examples from Your Experience

This is one of the best essay tips. Examples from personal experiences and memories are a good way to prove your point of view and make your argument sound.

  1. Write a Unique Text

The paper is a reflection of the author's personality. Therefore, it has to be original and unique. The simplest way to individualize your work is to avoid or reduce the usage of common phrases or copying someone's ideas.

  1. Take a Break

If you do not have enough time to handle the task and can't focus your thoughts and create a concrete thesis, take a little break. A clear mind is the most important thing in writing creative and original work. But if you're running against a tight deadline, you can get a great essay for sale from real professionals. You can also check examples of essays to take inspiration.

  1.  Don't Forget About the Right Structure

Keep in mind the structure of the text while brainstorming and gathering information. Your essay could be creative and full of interesting arguments, but if you forget about the right essay structure, it will guarantee you a low grade.

  1. Read Example Essay

Finding a good example online will let you position yourself from the teacher's perspective. Analyze all sorts of essays and the most typical mistakes that must be avoided to write something creative and interesting to read.

  1. Checking Mistakes

Finally, when you finish your essay, you have to reread it a couple of times to ensure that you didn't make any grammatical or punctuation mistakes. Don't forget to confirm that your essay follows a logical line. Also, check that it complies with the guidelines and the chosen topic. When you are finished, you can ask someone else to read and check your work, listen to his or her opinion, and maybe you will add something important you forgot about.

There's no better way to learn how to describe your thoughts to others than writing. Use our tips, main points, and examples when you start your next assignment. And in lack of time, it's easy to pay for college essays at Papers Owl. The team of professional essay writers can help you with a good and persuasive essay in the shortest terms.

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