Explaining a Concept: Essay #3

Policy on In-class Writings

Important Dates:

In-class writing: Oct. 8, 10, and 13.

Journal #3: Oct. 15.

Bring an examination book to class.


Write an essay that explains a concept based on clear definition(s). Choose a concept that interests you and that you want study further, and/or that you know well enough to explain it. Consider carefully what your readers already know about it and how your essay might add to what they know. To inform your readers, you must make choices about what to include, what to emphasize, and what to omit because you may not possibly say everything about the concept you choose. With your choices, develop a plan that presents new material step by step in logical order and then write an essay which should be carefully organized, and which gives readers all the obvious cues they need, such as forecasting statement, topic sentences, transitions, and summaries.

Possible Topics for "explaining a concept" essay

Concept: Love and hate, happiness, justice, wisdom, personality, soul, bravery, racism, friendship, being a college student, growing up, 

Methods:  How to make a good friend(s).  How to be a millionaire.   How to succeed in college.     

Disease: Schizophrenia, Parkinson's disease, rheumatism,

Interesting hobbies: Sky diving, scuba diving, balloon or hot air travel, body building,

Sports: Squeeze play, hit and run, power play, zone defense, full (all) court pressing, hot volley, net play

Biology: Fittest for survival, cell, hybrid, ecosystem,

Environment: Ozone depletion, endangered species, acid rain

Physics: Big bang theory, Quark theory,

Government: democracy, imperialism, socialism, communism, federalism,

Psychology: Oedipus complex, collective unconsciousness, short-term (long-term) memory, effect of dream


Suggestions for Pre-writing

Here are some questions which help you check your readiness for your selected topic.

Do you know your concept well enough to explain it ?

Have you discovered a focus for writing about this concept ?

Have you found enough information for an essay with such a focus?

What new information do you want to present about the concept?

How do you want to organize your essay so that your reader can follow it easily?

When you classify the concept, do you use the same rule?

Go to encyclopedia section (click here) and get the general information about your selected concept.

Sample Organization

The beginning

Open with an interesting quotation, or with a general statement about the concept, or with a surprising fact or with a question.

Briefly describe your concept and then define the concept in your own way.

Provide background information of the concept.   You may use your personal experience.

Write a thesis statement 

Forecast your plan how you explain your concept.

The bodies

In each body paragraph, you may use definition, classification, comparison and contrast,   narrative process, and cause and effect, if needed.  In order to help readers understand the information, use specific terms for categories, concrete examples, simile, and/or metaphor.  Use also personal experience.

The ending

Reiterate the thesis in different words.

Frame the essay by relating the end to the beginning.

End with a memorable quote.

The Five-Paragraph Essay


Back to Syllabus