Expository writing , English

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Expository Writing : The How-To Essay

Writing To Inform


Expository writing for state assessment tests focuses on your ability to explain how a process works or how to make or do something. Your goal with these writing prompts is to effectively inform the reader so that the directions or process is easily understood or followed.

First things first

How to essays or writing about how a process occurs means writing in chronological order. You will sometimes be asked to analyze information and break it down into parts so that the reader can understand a process. Make sure you know what the prompt is asking, whom your audience will be, and what is expected for the test.  Transitional words and phrases are key elements in writing these types of essays, so keep them in mind when you brainstorm and organize this essay. Topics range in complexity. Some examples are as follows:


    Describe how to study for a test in history class

    Explain how to plan and care for a flower seed

    Describe the process of digestion in the human body

    Explain how to stretch successfully before participating in sports

Sometimes the test won't specify a topic. The topic may state something like Describe a process you have learned about in health class or write an essay showing how you perform a simple procedure every day at home. In these cases, brainstorming is essential to writing success.

Organize your essay

Let assume you have finished brainstorming or prewriting about your topic. Now you can begin by putting items in chronological order and order of importance so that each step is given to the reader.Imagine missing the step to water the seed after you have planted it! Structure your essay with order in mind for yourself and the reader.


How do I start?

Put a number 1 by the most important item in your brainstorming list and number the rest of the items and details according to importance.

Think in threes. Begin clustering items together in three or more so the body paragraphs will achieve unity. Think how these items relate to each other.

Your introductory paragraph should grab the attention of the reader and state briefly and quickly your purpose of informing the reader. What will the reader learn in this essay? This should be evident in the first paragraph.

Body paragraphs should achieve unity. This means that each paragraph has a central topic that relates to the overall purpose of your paper. For example, if you are writing about planting a seed, you may want to think about each body paragraph defining part of that process. One paragraph would be about planting the seed, another would be about getting the right soil, and the third body paragraph would be about watering the seed.

Concluding paragraphs should sum up the event or process and give any final information about your topic.


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