While there are many different types of essays, a general essay structure and outline can help you write more successfully in a variety of settings. If you want to write a strong essay, it is important to make sure you have three distinct sections to your paper: the Introduction, the Body, and the Conclusion (or the IBC).
If you want to write a strong essay, your first paragraph is probably the most important. It's intended to grab your reader’s attention and give them enough information right off the bat to tell them what the essay will be about. In other words, you want to draw your reader into the essay and keep them reading. Start with information they will need to know in order to understand your topic. Your thesis statement — a specific statement telling the reader the point or main idea of your essay — should appear in the first paragraph. If you’re not sure where to put it, try to position your thesis statement as the last sentence in your first paragraph. Additionally, many writers and teachers recommend making your very first sentence an eye catching one.
Once you have written a clear and brief opening paragraph, it is time to write your supporting paragraphs, or the body of your essay. If you want to write a strong essay, you'll typically produce at least three supporting paragraphs, but you can have as many as you need to prove your point. These paragraphs are intended to support your thesis statement. After you have written a supporting paragraph, read it and ask yourself: does this paragraph relate back to my thesis? Does it prove what I’m trying to say? If it does, then you have written a good paragraph. Remember, if you want to write a strong essay, one paragraph will equal one idea. If you have more than one idea jam-packed into a single paragraph, break it up into two paragraphs.
Finally, a strong essay should end with a strong conclusion. Typically one paragraph, your conclusion should essentially reiterate the main points you have made in your essay while providing some closure to the argument. When writing this paragraph, ask yourself: what do I want my reader to walk away thinking about? What main idea do I want them to ponder after they finish my essay? This is your last chance to make an impression on your reader, so tell them one last time what you wanted to prove to them and remind them how you proved it. Brevity, while maintaining your reader's interest, is key to a good conclusion, but be sure not to simply re-state your thesis statement and arguments.
As a final rule of thumb, remember, as with anything you write, to consider your audience and tailor your writing to cater to the people who will be reading your essay.