• Interesting Opening
  • Transition Sentence (Sentence that ties the opening to what you really want to discuss in the thesis statement)
  • Thesis Statement (In one succinct statement, state the main points or general direction of your essay)

Body Paragraphs

Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence which supports your thesis statement


Give a final thought and / or additional insight into issues discussed

Using a Mindmap

It is a very efficient tool to brainstorm an expository title

  • by asking Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?
  • by drawing a Mindmap.

Take the title “Tradition” as an example

Distinction Tutorial School Bishan Ang Mo Kio Tuition Centres Singapore-Notes-Drawing a Mindmap for expository essays

Expository writing skills include

  • Determining purpose and audience for expository writing
  • Explaining a process
  • Explaining a cause-and-effect relationship
  • Dividing and classifying
  • Defining
  • Comparing and contrasting
  • Explaining by analogy

Keep in mind the following:

  • Your purpose in writing
  • Your audience’s background knowledge in the subject matter
  • Offer something new and memorable to them

Explaining a Process

  • Explaining a process means showing how something works or how one accomplishes a particular task.
  • Questions to ask when explaining a process:

For what audience am I writing?

  • What are the steps in the process?

Explaining a Cause-and-Effect Relationship

A cause is an event or condition that produces a result, which is known as an effect.

A paragraph that explores cause-and-effect relationships explains why an event or condition produces a particular result. For example, you would write about a cause-and-effect relationship to explain why environmental degradation takes place or what happened to voters who are politically naive.

To Indicate Causes and Effects

as a result consequently is the effect of therefore
because if...then leads to the reason for
causes is due to since

Dividing & Classifying

Division breaks an item into its main parts. Classification groups items together into categories.
Most things can be divided into parts. You can divide a school into classes, the world into countries and a nation into states. Division is a useful method of organizing information when you want to explain a multifaceted subject with several discrete parts. For example, words can be divided into different parts of speech.

Like division, classification is a helpful means of organizing information. Use classification to explain how similar items can be grouped in categories. For example, books can be classified into different genres such as thrillers, romance, spooky tales etc


A definition explains the meaning of a term.

How could you be sure that your readers would understand such terms as ethnocentrism, kleptomania? You would define the terms, of course. You need not define only obscure words, however. You may also want to define a familiar term that has a particular meaning for you. Your personal definitions of pride or vanity, for example, may vary somewhat from someone else’s and may be very different from the meaning provided by a dictionary.

Prewriting Chart for Defining an Unfamiliar Term

Questions Sample Answers
1. In what general category or class can I place the term? Architectural style
2. What distinguishes this item from the other items in general category or class? Gothic features include tall pillars, high curved ceilings and pointed arches
3. What examples or comparisons would help my readers? Famous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Comparing and Contrasting

To compare we list the similarities of two or more things; to contrast we list the differences. By so doing, we gain insight and thus obtain a better understanding of the issues involved.

Example: Compare and contrast red and green

Both red and green are colours, stimulating our visual sense; thus, making the world a much more more beautiful place to live in. Red is a powerful colour, often used to express strong feelings and may indicate danger. In contrast, green is the colour of nature and comes in different shades which soothe and calm the harried soul.

To be effective, we need to state the bases of comparison and contrast.
For example, we may list the similarities and differences of two countries based on their political and economic systems as well as social and cultural practices.

Using Analogy

Analogy is a comparison between two things that are alike in some.way. Usually it involves highlighting the similarities of two very different entities. A common analogy is between a pump and the human heart.

Most similes and metaphors, however, offer a brief, fresh insight and then are gone. An analogy, on the other hand, is an extended comparison that is explored and developed at length throughout the paragraph or throughout a number of paragraphs

Consider these lines by Shakespeare in his play “As you like It

“All the world’s a stage
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts…”

Here, Shakespeare likens the world to a stage where men and women come upon to perform like actors and actresses.

This is an effective use of analogy and causes one to muse upon the temporal nature of human life. Just like artistes who cannot stay on stage forever but all have their time of entrance and exit, we too have our time of birth and death.

Hence, to use analogy effectively, one has to read, observe and reflect.