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Expository Essay

What Is an Expository Essay?
Exposition is explanatory communication, whether in speech or writing. So an expository essay is an organized piece of prose which explains a specific topic or set of ideas to a defined audience. Expository essays include those written for exams or for standardized tests like the SAT. They may also be assignments composed outside of class.

Expository essays provide information and analysis. An expository essay may or may not have an overt central argument, though it does set forth points of view on the topic. It differs from the persuasive research paper in the level of research and argument it employs. While an expository essay should be focused on a particular topic and illustrate its points with specific examples, it doesn't usually have the depth of research or argument that you need in a major research assignment. With an exam or a standardized test, for instance, the examples you use to support your points will be based on the knowledge already inside your head.

What Are the Elements of an Expository Essay?

An expository essay does have certain baseline requirements that are standard in nearly every essay type:

  • A clear thesis or controlling idea that establishes and sustains your focus.
  • An opening paragraph that introduces the thesis.
  • Body paragraphs that use specific evidence to illustrate your informative or analytic points.
  • Smooth transitions that connect the ideas of adjoining paragraphs in specific, interesting ways.
  • A conclusion that emphasizes your central idea without being repetitive.

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