What is an Expository Essay

Among the wide array of essay types, which we all learn to write in high school and college, an expository essay has a very important role to play. It is the essay type of choice when it comes to preparation for graduate-level research writing. Why do professors favor an expository essay over many other essay types, what is the purpose of an expository essay, what is a thesis statement in an expository essay, and how to write a good expository essay? Let’s quickly find answers to these and many other questions in this dedicated article.

Expository Essay

What is an expository essay?

An expository essay is a distinct type of academic essay, which exposes, or informs the reader about something. It is characterized by a formal tone and clear and sometimes even academic vocabulary. This is why instructors love this essay type, as it basically teaches and prepares students for their senior-level research works, such as thesis or dissertation.

The purpose of an expository essay, as taught in all schools and universities, is to tell the reader about a subject, concept, or idea. It literally exposes the audience to a subject matter.

Writing a good expository essay requires the author to thoroughly study the topic and present it from a holistic and objective perspective. Bias or subjectivism is an absolute antagonism of an expository essay.

How is an expository essay different from an argumentative essay?

People often confuse these two essay types or at least don’t see a difference. The key distinction between the two is that an argumentative essay always assumes taking sides, i.e. for the author to show off his personal position and to present an opinion. Whereas, an expository essay always requires an author to stay neutral. 

The role of research in an expository essay

You cannot write a good expository essay unless you know the topic well. Almost always this stipulates researching your topic thoroughly (unless you happen to already have the necessary knowledge). As soon as the topic becomes known, you should start researching it. Remember, that the purpose of an expository essay is to inform and educate the reader. This can only be done through a holistic presentation of the material and by staying unbiased as an author.

Experienced writers also recommend finding at least several strong examples for your thesis statement in an expository essay and arguments already on the stage of research and preparation, as there is nothing more informative and convincing than a good and timely example.

The structure of an expository essay

Only rare and very talented writers can compose a good expository essay without prior crafting an outline of their work. To be able to objectively present the material and to thoroughly expose the reader to the subject matter, one needs to think in advance of the structure of the work.

A typical structure of an expository essay is not much different from any other essay type and contains the three basic elements, introduction, the main body, and conclusion. At the same time, there are some unique requirements to each part, which are unique for the purpose of an expository essay:

  • A thesis statement in an expository essay (which is always found in the introduction) must not reflect an author’s personal position. It should be concise and neutral and reflect what you are going to tell your readers about in this essay. For example, “In this paper, I attempt to analyze the role of games and other innovative approaches in modern education.”
  • Special attention should be paid to the main body of your expository essay. Since this is an educational piece of writing, short and crisp paragraphs and phrases should be your priority. Consequently, avoid long paragraphs and complicated formulations, as they contradict the purpose of an expository essay, and make reading and comprehension difficult.
  • Closer to the end of the main body, and sometimes also in the conclusion, a technique called “hunger for more information” is often used. It means that you should encourage the reader to look for additional information on the subject, and by doing so make an emotional attachment to your work. In any case, one shouldn’t forget that a good conclusion must not deviate from a thesis statement in an expository essay and should always stay within the boundaries of the topic.  
expository essays steps

Examples of topics for an expository essay

To wrap up the above material and to provide more information for our readers on the topic, let’s provide some possible expository essay topic examples. Who knows, maybe you will find your expository essay topic here and write the best essay ever?

  • Global warming and human activities – is there a link?
  • Universal basic income – pros and cons
  • The state of affairs in the movie industry in the 21st century
  • What is the root cause of street violence in the USA?
  • Why the modern education system is going through a crisis
  • Shopping online: the past, present, and future
  • The benefits of part-time employment for students
  • Nurture vs. nature – how do we become who we are?
  • How does cryptocurrency work?
  • The five benefits of hiring motivated employees
  • The USA Civil War: driving forces and outcomes
  • Top 5 best tourist destinations on the West Coast