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Good essay structure- what DOES that mean?

Have you ever received a graded essay handed back with the phrase, "Needs more structure," or "structure needs work?"
 
Creating a structure for any written word, whether it is poem, essay, news brief, or novel, is an integral part of the message you intend to convey. Using long, convoluted sentences as means to convince the reader that your argument is very simple will usually only give the opposite impression; simple arguments are best conveyed with short, simple sentences. (For example, the opposite is true in Jonathan Swift's essay, "A Modest Proposal," in which he uses didactic and complex language in an effort to "convince" the people of England that the solution to their hunger and poverty problem is to eat their starving infant children; his complex sentences reflect the sarcastic and satiric nature of his essay, reflecting that he does not see cannibalism as a real solution.)
 
Structure also helps you keep your thoughts organized. It is a way to say your point (or, thesis), stick to it, and back it up. The easiest way to keep structure an integral part of any school essay is to use the 5-paragraph essay format. Great for many different purposes, including essays for AP or SAT standardized tests, it's a quick and dirty way to get your essay done!
 
 
Five-Paragraph Essay Structure
 
I. Introduction
   a. Opening Statement (1-2 sentences)
   b. Thesis
        i. State your main idea (can be an ‘if, then’ statement, but not always!)
        ii. Supporting Points A, B, and C

II. Body Para 1 – Supporting point A

III. Body Para 2 – Supporting Point B

IV. Body Para 3 – Supporting Point C
 
V. Conclusion
     a. Summarize thesis
     b. Summarize Supporting Point A
     c. Summarize Supporting Point B
     d. Summarize Supporting Point C
     e. Final sentence wraps up theme (thesis) of essay
 
Example essay:

Many people enjoy driving very fast. After all, one of the benefits of a car is being able to go from one place to another quickly. However, these fast speeds may not always be good; these fast speeds can lead to car accidents, speeding tickets, and greater wear and tear on your car.

Most people know someone who has been in a car accident. The faster you are driving, the greater the damage will be if you hit someone or something. This is just physics; speed impacts velocity and force. And, the more speed your 2,000 pound car is carrying, the more force it will have when it impacts something. The faster you are driving, the more likely you will be to have an injury if you are to get into a crash.

Speed limits exist to help keep people safe. If you drive faster than you should, a police officer may stop you and issue you a speeding ticket. This can cost you a lot of money. It will also stay on your driving record for several years. This may result in more expensive car insurance for several years.

Driving fast all the time is not good for your car, either. You may have to replace your tires and your brakes more often. Some tires can cost as much as $200 per tire, which means that a set of four new tires might cost you $1,000! Replacing the brakes on your car can be very expensive as well. Driving fast means you might have to slam on your brakes more suddenly, which will require more force to stop the car, and a longer stopping distance. Driving too fast also means your car will be less efficient on gas.

Driving fast can be a fun experience, but it can also be dangerous and expensive. Driving fast can result in car accidents, which might cause you injury or even death. Speeding tickets and the wear and tear on your car can become expensive, which means you’ll have less money to spend on other things. Driving fast might be tempting, but sometimes slow and steady is better.

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