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Understanding Essay Structure


An essay is a group of paragraphs about one subject. In some ways, paragraphs and essays are similar. For example, both have a single main idea or central point. In a paragraph, the main idea is stated in the topic sentence. All paragraphs in an essay must have topic sentences. The rest of the information (evidence) in a paragraph supports, explains, and/or discusses the information in the topic sentence. In an essay, each paragraph must contain a main point that supports the thesis statement. In paragraphs and in essays, transitional words and phrases are used to connect ideas. A paragraph concludes with a summary statement, and an essay concludes with a summary paragraph. Paragraph The topic sentence states the main idea of the paragraph. Evidence supports the main idea. Transitional words and phrases show the connections between ideas. A summary statement ends the paragraph. Essay Introductory Paragraph(s) Opening remarks, which can include examples and anecdotes, introduce the subject being discussed. These remarks are included in the introductory paragraph or paragraphs. The thesis statement presents the essays central point. First Body Paragraph The topic sentence states the main point for this paragraph. You can choose to include background information in this paragraph, or you can introduce the first main supporting point. Examples and details support the paragraphs topic sentence. Transitional words and phrases connect ideas and show how they are related. Second Body Paragraph The topic sentence introduces the next main point or, if you include a background paragraph, you introduce your first main point. Include evidence, examples, and details to support the topic sentence. Use transitional words and phrases. All Other Body Paragraphs Each paragraph must have a topic sentence that introduces a new supporting point or that introduces additional information about a supporting point introduced in the previous paragraph. Evidence, examples, and details are included in each paragraph. Always use transitional words and phrases. Argumentative Essay: Acknowledge the Opposition In an argumentative essay, you should include a paragraph in which you discuss the oppositions strongest point or points. Conclusion You may paraphrase your thesis statement if you wish. You can include final thoughts and analysis about your topic and your position. You may include narrative and description related to your topic. Regardless, all concluding remarks should present your final thoughts about your topic. Do not forget to indent 5 spaces for each new paragraph. You should type and double space your essay, using 12 point font, Times New Roman. 1

Practice
Read the following essay and answer the questions. Maybe a person has moved to a new city, so he or she needs to find a new doctor for the family. Maybe the family doctor has retired. Or maybe this person needs a specialist to deal with a difficult medical problem. In any case, the goal is clearto find a new doctor. Several strategies can help people who are searching for a new doctor. The first step is to find a well-qualified doctor. One way to begin is to identify the best hospital in the area and find a doctor who is on the staff there. Good doctors are attracted to good hospitals, so a reputable hospital is a good place to begin the search. Recommendations from friends and neighbors can also be useful. Once the names have been acquired, find out whether the doctors are board certified in their specific fields. Board certification means that doctors have had extensive training in their specialties and take part in continuing education programs each year. Finding out whether or not a doctor is board certified can be easily determined by gong to the American Board of Medical Specialties Web site at www.ABMS.org. Next, the searcher must decide what is important. For example, the person should think about the required commute to where the doctors office is located and carefully consider whether or not the location is inconvenient. This information might be important if visits to the doctor are frequent or if a family member has a disability. Another consideration is the doctors availability and whether or not appointments must be made well in advance. For instance, while many doctors have office hours only on weekdays, some physicians are willing to see patients on weekends or in the evenings. Inquiring about the doctors policies regarding emergencies is also essential. In some cases, patients may be required to go to an emergency room, which could be an inconvenience. Finally, knowing how the physician expects patients to pay for their care is important: for example, what types of insurance plans are accepted and whether or not payments can be arranged. If the policies and procedures are satisfactory, making an appointment to meet the doctor in person is the next step. If the office is crowded and disorganized, some patients may want to search for another doctor because this physician may be overscheduled, overworked, understaffed, or simply disorganized. Another consideration is how long patients are required to wait before they are able to actually see the doctor. For example, unless a doctor is called away to an emergency, patients should not have to wait two hours to see their physician. In addition, if the doctor appears hurried or uninterested, this attitude may be an indication of the type of medical care patients can expect. Finally, both the doctor and the office staff should treat patients with respect. They should take the time to ask about general health concerns and to update medical records. Finding a good doctor requires careful planning and a lot of work. The process may require sufficient time to visit several physicians and to assess each one. A good search eliminates all short cuts and follows all of the necessary steps. The result should be finding an excellent wellqualified doctor who cares about the patients well-being.

1. Underline the essays thesis statement. 2. Underling the topic sentence in each body paragraph. 3. What point does the first body paragraph make? What evidence supports this point?

4. What point does the second body paragraph make? What evidence supports it?

5. What points does the third body paragraph make? What evidence supports it?

6. What transitions are included in the essay? How do they connect the ideas?

7. Where in the conclusion does the writer restate the thesis? Underline this summary statement.