Last week we discussed some key elements of the academic essay in Writing Academically: A Lexicon. For the next few posts in my series on academic writing, I will be narrowing in on these elements. Today we’re talking structure.
Structure formulates your essay’s line of reasoning or argument. You can focus on successfully structuring individual paragraphs (even sentences!) in addition to structuring your essay as a whole. You have most likely heard of the five-paragraph essay format—great! You’re already on the way to understanding structure. But read on. Believe it or not, there is more to essay structure than five well-engineered and oiled paragraphs.
I’m here to teach you how to read.
Yeah, you heard me right. Kindergarten may seem like a fond, distant dream, but I’m not talking about ABC’s and phonetics. I’m talking about reading. Let me explain myself.
In fifth grade, you probably enjoyed Because of Winn-Dixie. You received a numbered copy along with everyone else in your class and merrily charted the adventures of Winn-Dixie and company through pop quizzes, simple study guides, and big posters with lots of glue and (maybe) glitter. In middle and junior high school, things became more demanding. Analyzing humans instead of dogs, you learned how to read for ‘plot,’ and ‘metaphor,’ and ‘conflict.’ Even if you were making posters at the end, you learned how to discuss, make arguments, and find hidden meanings in the text. By high school, you are doing even more. By senior year, you may be handed a poem or a passage from a text under the instruction to critically read.
This is the type of reading I’m here to teach you about today. There is a difference between Winn-Dixie and critically reading. While the former is crucial for your foundation in reading—really learning how to enjoy a good story—the latter is fundamental to your high school, college, and professional career.
[Find out HOW critical reading works]
Princeton Tutoring is sponsoring our first annual essay competition! (For additional competition details and rules, please visit http://www.princetontutoring.com/essay.html)
The underlying purpose of this year’s topics is to foster student self-awareness. Additionally, thinking about these types of questions will prepare students for the types of prompts they might encounter on their college applications.
- High School Topic – Do you believe there are inherent conflicts between achieving both success and happiness?
- Middle School Topic – Interview your family members and discover something about your family history that you might not have known before. Write about the significance of what you learned and what it means to you.
[Continue reading for additional thoughts on these topics] Continue reading