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  • 40 Useful Words and Phrases for Top-Notch Essays

great essay words

To be truly brilliant, an essay needs to utilise the right language. You could make a great point, but if it’s not intelligently articulated, you almost needn’t have bothered.

Developing the language skills to build an argument and to write persuasively is crucial if you’re to write outstanding essays every time. In this article, we’re going to equip you with the words and phrases you need to write a top-notch essay, along with examples of how to utilise them.

It’s by no means an exhaustive list, and there will often be other ways of using the words and phrases we describe that we won’t have room to include, but there should be more than enough below to help you make an instant improvement to your essay-writing skills.

If you’re interested in developing your language and persuasive skills, Oxford Royale offers summer courses at its Oxford Summer School , Cambridge Summer School , London Summer School , San Francisco Summer School and Yale Summer School . You can study courses to learn english , prepare for careers in law , medicine , business , engineering and leadership.

General explaining

Let’s start by looking at language for general explanations of complex points.

1. In order to

Usage: “In order to” can be used to introduce an explanation for the purpose of an argument. Example: “In order to understand X, we need first to understand Y.”

2. In other words

Usage: Use “in other words” when you want to express something in a different way (more simply), to make it easier to understand, or to emphasise or expand on a point. Example: “Frogs are amphibians. In other words, they live on the land and in the water.”

3. To put it another way

Usage: This phrase is another way of saying “in other words”, and can be used in particularly complex points, when you feel that an alternative way of wording a problem may help the reader achieve a better understanding of its significance. Example: “Plants rely on photosynthesis. To put it another way, they will die without the sun.”

4. That is to say

Usage: “That is” and “that is to say” can be used to add further detail to your explanation, or to be more precise. Example: “Whales are mammals. That is to say, they must breathe air.”

5. To that end

Usage: Use “to that end” or “to this end” in a similar way to “in order to” or “so”. Example: “Zoologists have long sought to understand how animals communicate with each other. To that end, a new study has been launched that looks at elephant sounds and their possible meanings.”

Adding additional information to support a point

Students often make the mistake of using synonyms of “and” each time they want to add further information in support of a point they’re making, or to build an argument . Here are some cleverer ways of doing this.

6. Moreover

Usage: Employ “moreover” at the start of a sentence to add extra information in support of a point you’re making. Example: “Moreover, the results of a recent piece of research provide compelling evidence in support of…”

7. Furthermore

Usage:This is also generally used at the start of a sentence, to add extra information. Example: “Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that…”

8. What’s more

Usage: This is used in the same way as “moreover” and “furthermore”. Example: “What’s more, this isn’t the only evidence that supports this hypothesis.”

9. Likewise

Usage: Use “likewise” when you want to talk about something that agrees with what you’ve just mentioned. Example: “Scholar A believes X. Likewise, Scholar B argues compellingly in favour of this point of view.”

10. Similarly

Usage: Use “similarly” in the same way as “likewise”. Example: “Audiences at the time reacted with shock to Beethoven’s new work, because it was very different to what they were used to. Similarly, we have a tendency to react with surprise to the unfamiliar.”

11. Another key thing to remember

Usage: Use the phrase “another key point to remember” or “another key fact to remember” to introduce additional facts without using the word “also”. Example: “As a Romantic, Blake was a proponent of a closer relationship between humans and nature. Another key point to remember is that Blake was writing during the Industrial Revolution, which had a major impact on the world around him.”

12. As well as

Usage: Use “as well as” instead of “also” or “and”. Example: “Scholar A argued that this was due to X, as well as Y.”

13. Not only… but also

Usage: This wording is used to add an extra piece of information, often something that’s in some way more surprising or unexpected than the first piece of information. Example: “Not only did Edmund Hillary have the honour of being the first to reach the summit of Everest, but he was also appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.”

14. Coupled with

Usage: Used when considering two or more arguments at a time. Example: “Coupled with the literary evidence, the statistics paint a compelling view of…”

15. Firstly, secondly, thirdly…

Usage: This can be used to structure an argument, presenting facts clearly one after the other. Example: “There are many points in support of this view. Firstly, X. Secondly, Y. And thirdly, Z.

16. Not to mention/to say nothing of

Usage: “Not to mention” and “to say nothing of” can be used to add extra information with a bit of emphasis. Example: “The war caused unprecedented suffering to millions of people, not to mention its impact on the country’s economy.”

Words and phrases for demonstrating contrast

When you’re developing an argument, you will often need to present contrasting or opposing opinions or evidence – “it could show this, but it could also show this”, or “X says this, but Y disagrees”. This section covers words you can use instead of the “but” in these examples, to make your writing sound more intelligent and interesting.

17. However

Usage: Use “however” to introduce a point that disagrees with what you’ve just said. Example: “Scholar A thinks this. However, Scholar B reached a different conclusion.”

18. On the other hand

Usage: Usage of this phrase includes introducing a contrasting interpretation of the same piece of evidence, a different piece of evidence that suggests something else, or an opposing opinion. Example: “The historical evidence appears to suggest a clear-cut situation. On the other hand, the archaeological evidence presents a somewhat less straightforward picture of what happened that day.”

19. Having said that

Usage: Used in a similar manner to “on the other hand” or “but”. Example: “The historians are unanimous in telling us X, an agreement that suggests that this version of events must be an accurate account. Having said that, the archaeology tells a different story.”

20. By contrast/in comparison

Usage: Use “by contrast” or “in comparison” when you’re comparing and contrasting pieces of evidence. Example: “Scholar A’s opinion, then, is based on insufficient evidence. By contrast, Scholar B’s opinion seems more plausible.”

21. Then again

Usage: Use this to cast doubt on an assertion. Example: “Writer A asserts that this was the reason for what happened. Then again, it’s possible that he was being paid to say this.”

22. That said

Usage: This is used in the same way as “then again”. Example: “The evidence ostensibly appears to point to this conclusion. That said, much of the evidence is unreliable at best.”

Usage: Use this when you want to introduce a contrasting idea. Example: “Much of scholarship has focused on this evidence. Yet not everyone agrees that this is the most important aspect of the situation.”

Adding a proviso or acknowledging reservations

Sometimes, you may need to acknowledge a shortfalling in a piece of evidence, or add a proviso. Here are some ways of doing so.

24. Despite this

Usage: Use “despite this” or “in spite of this” when you want to outline a point that stands regardless of a shortfalling in the evidence. Example: “The sample size was small, but the results were important despite this.”

25. With this in mind

Usage: Use this when you want your reader to consider a point in the knowledge of something else. Example: “We’ve seen that the methods used in the 19th century study did not always live up to the rigorous standards expected in scientific research today, which makes it difficult to draw definite conclusions. With this in mind, let’s look at a more recent study to see how the results compare.”

26. Provided that

Usage: This means “on condition that”. You can also say “providing that” or just “providing” to mean the same thing. Example: “We may use this as evidence to support our argument, provided that we bear in mind the limitations of the methods used to obtain it.”

27. In view of/in light of

Usage: These phrases are used when something has shed light on something else. Example: “In light of the evidence from the 2013 study, we have a better understanding of…”

28. Nonetheless

Usage: This is similar to “despite this”. Example: “The study had its limitations, but it was nonetheless groundbreaking for its day.”

29. Nevertheless

Usage: This is the same as “nonetheless”. Example: “The study was flawed, but it was important nevertheless.”

30. Notwithstanding

Usage: This is another way of saying “nonetheless”. Example: “Notwithstanding the limitations of the methodology used, it was an important study in the development of how we view the workings of the human mind.”

Giving examples

Good essays always back up points with examples, but it’s going to get boring if you use the expression “for example” every time. Here are a couple of other ways of saying the same thing.

31. For instance

Example: “Some birds migrate to avoid harsher winter climates. Swallows, for instance, leave the UK in early winter and fly south…”

32. To give an illustration

Example: “To give an illustration of what I mean, let’s look at the case of…”

Signifying importance

When you want to demonstrate that a point is particularly important, there are several ways of highlighting it as such.

33. Significantly

Usage: Used to introduce a point that is loaded with meaning that might not be immediately apparent. Example: “Significantly, Tacitus omits to tell us the kind of gossip prevalent in Suetonius’ accounts of the same period.”

34. Notably

Usage: This can be used to mean “significantly” (as above), and it can also be used interchangeably with “in particular” (the example below demonstrates the first of these ways of using it). Example: “Actual figures are notably absent from Scholar A’s analysis.”

35. Importantly

Usage: Use “importantly” interchangeably with “significantly”. Example: “Importantly, Scholar A was being employed by X when he wrote this work, and was presumably therefore under pressure to portray the situation more favourably than he perhaps might otherwise have done.”

Summarising

You’ve almost made it to the end of the essay, but your work isn’t over yet. You need to end by wrapping up everything you’ve talked about, showing that you’ve considered the arguments on both sides and reached the most likely conclusion. Here are some words and phrases to help you.

36. In conclusion

Usage: Typically used to introduce the concluding paragraph or sentence of an essay, summarising what you’ve discussed in a broad overview. Example: “In conclusion, the evidence points almost exclusively to Argument A.”

37. Above all

Usage: Used to signify what you believe to be the most significant point, and the main takeaway from the essay. Example: “Above all, it seems pertinent to remember that…”

38. Persuasive

Usage: This is a useful word to use when summarising which argument you find most convincing. Example: “Scholar A’s point – that Constanze Mozart was motivated by financial gain – seems to me to be the most persuasive argument for her actions following Mozart’s death.”

39. Compelling

Usage: Use in the same way as “persuasive” above. Example: “The most compelling argument is presented by Scholar A.”

40. All things considered

Usage: This means “taking everything into account”. Example: “All things considered, it seems reasonable to assume that…”

How many of these words and phrases will you get into your next essay? And are any of your favourite essay terms missing from our list? Let us know in the comments below, or get in touch here to find out more about courses that can help you with your essays.

At Oxford Royale Academy, we offer a number of  summer school courses for young people who are keen to improve their essay writing skills. Click here to apply for one of our courses today, including law , business , medicine  and engineering .

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Words to Use in an Essay: 300 Essay Words

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Hannah Yang

words to use in an essay

Table of Contents

Words to use in the essay introduction, words to use in the body of the essay, words to use in your essay conclusion, how to improve your essay writing vocabulary.

It’s not easy to write an academic essay .

Many students struggle to word their arguments in a logical and concise way.

To make matters worse, academic essays need to adhere to a certain level of formality, so we can’t always use the same word choices in essay writing that we would use in daily life.

If you’re struggling to choose the right words for your essay, don’t worry—you’ve come to the right place!

In this article, we’ve compiled a list of over 300 words and phrases to use in the introduction, body, and conclusion of your essay.

The introduction is one of the hardest parts of an essay to write.

You have only one chance to make a first impression, and you want to hook your reader. If the introduction isn’t effective, the reader might not even bother to read the rest of the essay.

That’s why it’s important to be thoughtful and deliberate with the words you choose at the beginning of your essay.

Many students use a quote in the introductory paragraph to establish credibility and set the tone for the rest of the essay.

When you’re referencing another author or speaker, try using some of these phrases:

To use the words of X

According to X

As X states

Example: To use the words of Hillary Clinton, “You cannot have maternal health without reproductive health.”

Near the end of the introduction, you should state the thesis to explain the central point of your paper.

If you’re not sure how to introduce your thesis, try using some of these phrases:

In this essay, I will…

The purpose of this essay…

This essay discusses…

In this paper, I put forward the claim that…

There are three main arguments for…

Phrases to introduce a thesis

Example: In this essay, I will explain why dress codes in public schools are detrimental to students.

After you’ve stated your thesis, it’s time to start presenting the arguments you’ll use to back up that central idea.

When you’re introducing the first of a series of arguments, you can use the following words:

First and foremost

First of all

To begin with

Example: First , consider the effects that this new social security policy would have on low-income taxpayers.

All these words and phrases will help you create a more successful introduction and convince your audience to read on.

The body of your essay is where you’ll explain your core arguments and present your evidence.

It’s important to choose words and phrases for the body of your essay that will help the reader understand your position and convince them you’ve done your research.

Let’s look at some different types of words and phrases that you can use in the body of your essay, as well as some examples of what these words look like in a sentence.

Transition Words and Phrases

Transitioning from one argument to another is crucial for a good essay.

It’s important to guide your reader from one idea to the next so they don’t get lost or feel like you’re jumping around at random.

Transition phrases and linking words show your reader you’re about to move from one argument to the next, smoothing out their reading experience. They also make your writing look more professional.

The simplest transition involves moving from one idea to a separate one that supports the same overall argument. Try using these phrases when you want to introduce a second correlating idea:

Additionally

In addition

Furthermore

Another key thing to remember

In the same way

Correspondingly

Example: Additionally , public parks increase property value because home buyers prefer houses that are located close to green, open spaces.

Another type of transition involves restating. It’s often useful to restate complex ideas in simpler terms to help the reader digest them. When you’re restating an idea, you can use the following words:

In other words

To put it another way

That is to say

To put it more simply

Example: “The research showed that 53% of students surveyed expressed a mild or strong preference for more on-campus housing. In other words , over half the students wanted more dormitory options.”

Often, you’ll need to provide examples to illustrate your point more clearly for the reader. When you’re about to give an example of something you just said, you can use the following words:

For instance

To give an illustration of

To exemplify

To demonstrate

As evidence

Example: Humans have long tried to exert control over our natural environment. For instance , engineers reversed the Chicago River in 1900, causing it to permanently flow backward.

Sometimes, you’ll need to explain the impact or consequence of something you’ve just said.

When you’re drawing a conclusion from evidence you’ve presented, try using the following words:

As a result

Accordingly

As you can see

This suggests that

It follows that

It can be seen that

For this reason

For all of those reasons

Consequently

Example: “There wasn’t enough government funding to support the rest of the physics experiment. Thus , the team was forced to shut down their experiment in 1996.”

Phrases to draw conclusions

When introducing an idea that bolsters one you’ve already stated, or adds another important aspect to that same argument, you can use the following words:

What’s more

Not only…but also

Not to mention

To say nothing of

Another key point

Example: The volcanic eruption disrupted hundreds of thousands of people. Moreover , it impacted the local flora and fauna as well, causing nearly a hundred species to go extinct.

Often, you'll want to present two sides of the same argument. When you need to compare and contrast ideas, you can use the following words:

On the one hand / on the other hand

Alternatively

In contrast to

On the contrary

By contrast

In comparison

Example: On the one hand , the Black Death was undoubtedly a tragedy because it killed millions of Europeans. On the other hand , it created better living conditions for the peasants who survived.

Finally, when you’re introducing a new angle that contradicts your previous idea, you can use the following phrases:

Having said that

Differing from

In spite of

With this in mind

Provided that

Nevertheless

Nonetheless

Notwithstanding

Example: Shakespearean plays are classic works of literature that have stood the test of time. Having said that , I would argue that Shakespeare isn’t the most accessible form of literature to teach students in the twenty-first century.

Good essays include multiple types of logic. You can use a combination of the transitions above to create a strong, clear structure throughout the body of your essay.

Strong Verbs for Academic Writing

Verbs are especially important for writing clear essays. Often, you can convey a nuanced meaning simply by choosing the right verb.

You should use strong verbs that are precise and dynamic. Whenever possible, you should use an unambiguous verb, rather than a generic verb.

For example, alter and fluctuate are stronger verbs than change , because they give the reader more descriptive detail.

Here are some useful verbs that will help make your essay shine.

Verbs that show change:

Accommodate

Verbs that relate to causing or impacting something:

Verbs that show increase:

Verbs that show decrease:

Deteriorate

Verbs that relate to parts of a whole:

Comprises of

Is composed of

Constitutes

Encompasses

Incorporates

Verbs that show a negative stance:

Misconstrue

Verbs that show a negative stance

Verbs that show a positive stance:

Substantiate

Verbs that relate to drawing conclusions from evidence:

Corroborate

Demonstrate

Verbs that relate to thinking and analysis:

Contemplate

Hypothesize

Investigate

Verbs that relate to showing information in a visual format:

Useful Adjectives and Adverbs for Academic Essays

You should use adjectives and adverbs more sparingly than verbs when writing essays, since they sometimes add unnecessary fluff to sentences.

However, choosing the right adjectives and adverbs can help add detail and sophistication to your essay.

Sometimes you'll need to use an adjective to show that a finding or argument is useful and should be taken seriously. Here are some adjectives that create positive emphasis:

Significant

Other times, you'll need to use an adjective to show that a finding or argument is harmful or ineffective. Here are some adjectives that create a negative emphasis:

Controversial

Insignificant

Questionable

Unnecessary

Unrealistic

Finally, you might need to use an adverb to lend nuance to a sentence, or to express a specific degree of certainty. Here are some examples of adverbs that are often used in essays:

Comprehensively

Exhaustively

Extensively

Respectively

Surprisingly

Using these words will help you successfully convey the key points you want to express. Once you’ve nailed the body of your essay, it’s time to move on to the conclusion.

The conclusion of your paper is important for synthesizing the arguments you’ve laid out and restating your thesis.

In your concluding paragraph, try using some of these essay words:

In conclusion

To summarize

In a nutshell

Given the above

As described

All things considered

Example: In conclusion , it’s imperative that we take action to address climate change before we lose our coral reefs forever.

In addition to simply summarizing the key points from the body of your essay, you should also add some final takeaways. Give the reader your final opinion and a bit of a food for thought.

To place emphasis on a certain point or a key fact, use these essay words:

Unquestionably

Undoubtedly

Particularly

Importantly

Conclusively

It should be noted

On the whole

Example: Ada Lovelace is unquestionably a powerful role model for young girls around the world, and more of our public school curricula should include her as a historical figure.

These concluding phrases will help you finish writing your essay in a strong, confident way.

There are many useful essay words out there that we didn't include in this article, because they are specific to certain topics.

If you're writing about biology, for example, you will need to use different terminology than if you're writing about literature.

So how do you improve your vocabulary skills?

The vocabulary you use in your academic writing is a toolkit you can build up over time, as long as you take the time to learn new words.

One way to increase your vocabulary is by looking up words you don’t know when you’re reading.

Try reading more books and academic articles in the field you’re writing about and jotting down all the new words you find. You can use these words to bolster your own essays.

You can also consult a dictionary or a thesaurus. When you’re using a word you’re not confident about, researching its meaning and common synonyms can help you make sure it belongs in your essay.

Don't be afraid of using simpler words. Good essay writing boils down to choosing the best word to convey what you need to say, not the fanciest word possible.

Finally, you can use ProWritingAid’s synonym tool or essay checker to find more precise and sophisticated vocabulary. Click on weak words in your essay to find stronger alternatives.

ProWritingAid offering synonyms for great

There you have it: our compilation of the best words and phrases to use in your next essay . Good luck!

great essay words

Good writing = better grades

ProWritingAid will help you improve the style, strength, and clarity of all your assignments.

Hannah Yang is a speculative fiction writer who writes about all things strange and surreal. Her work has appeared in Analog Science Fiction, Apex Magazine, The Dark, and elsewhere, and two of her stories have been finalists for the Locus Award. Her favorite hobbies include watercolor painting, playing guitar, and rock climbing. You can follow her work on hannahyang.com, or subscribe to her newsletter for publication updates.

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Top 300+ List of Essay Words To Use

Here is our top list of essay words you can add to your writing.

Any student or academic will tell you writing academic papers requires patience, thorough research, and appropriate words to relay ideas effectively. Below, we have prepared a list of essay words for your essay or academic piece’s introduction, body, and conclusion.

What Are Essay Words?

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Along with a paper’s arguments, format, and structure, essay words are used to adequately explain the subject in a formal but clear manner. Picking the correct phrases and words helps your audience realize your key point and persuade them to follow your thinking.

Plus, applying suitable words to introduce and expound ideas convinces your readers that you’ve done your research correctly. These English essay words are also helpful if you spend time paraphrasing the ideas of other writers and academics. If you need more help, consider using a good essay checker .  Here are essay words you can use:

Essay words list printable

Most academic essays require a formal writing style because using informal writing makes it hard to edit and grade based on a standard the school or university gives. Even personal and narrative essays must stay formal. These are the words to create and enhance your introduction without losing the sense of formality in academic writing.

According to the most recent data, more employees prefer working at home than in the office.

This essay will address the issue of gender inequality in the workforce.

In this essay, we will analyze the various factors that contribute to climate change.

The approach we’ll use in discussing this topic involves a combination of qualitative and quantitative analysis.

Some experts argue that human activities are the major contributors to global warming.

The author asserts that the lack of early education is one of the main drivers of economic inequality.

Let’s assume for a moment that we’ve already optimized all renewable energy sources.

Before we begin analyzing the effects of the problem, we must first know the root of it.

This essay takes a broad look at the implications of global warming on agricultural productivity.

  • Challenging

Drug addiction is the most challenging global problem every government must solve.

Mental illness is a topic with many complex issues.

We will consider both sides of the argument before drawing conclusions.

  • Significance

What is the significance of following rules?

In the context of this discussion, “productivity” refers to the output of a worker per hour.

Mental health is a sensitive topic affecting people of all ages.

There is a debate about the effectiveness of the new tax policy in reducing income disparity.

This essay will detail the causes and effects of deforestation.

Our task is to determine the causes of the rise in mental health issues among college students.

We will discuss the ethical implications of genetic engineering in this essay.

This essay will elaborate on the role of social movements in bringing about societal change.

In the next section, the researchers will enumerate the benefits of adopting a plant-based diet.

We will evaluate the impact of climate change on biodiversity.

This essay will explore the important aspect of artificial intelligence in modern healthcare.

To understand the subject better, we will first discuss its history.

First and foremost , it’s essential to understand that not all politicians are bad.

We can learn a lot from the book “ The Little Prince ,” such as about the fundamental nature of love.

The essay will highlight the importance of community participation in local governance.

This essay will illuminate the effects of screen time on children’s development.

This essay will introduce the concept of sustainable development and its significance.

The main goal of this essay is to discuss the value of justice in our lives.

There’s a myriad of factors that affect a country’s tourism.

The objective of this essay is to spread awareness about the violence women and children face daily. 

An overview of the current state of renewable energy technologies will be provided in this essay.

We will present an argument in favor of implementing more stringent environmental regulations.

Lack of knowledge in managing finances is a prevalent problem today.

A good speaker delivers their speech without referring to notes.

In this essay, we will review studies related to the impact of social media on teenagers.

Let’s shed some light on the impact of fast fashion on the environment in this essay.

The youth’s mental state today has been disturbed by societal pressures, such as the impossible beauty standards they see on social media. 

Research suggests that adolescent mental health can be severely affected by excessive screen time.

  • To that end

To that end , this essay aims to challenge conventional thinking and inspire more inclusive practices in our communities.

This essay will touch on the issue of gender disparity in corporate leadership.

We will unpack the factors contributing to the rapid development of technology.

My essay aims to validate the hypothesis that a healthier diet can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease.

This essay will weigh the pros and cons of genetic modification in agriculture.

We’ll zoom in on the specific impacts of pollution on marine ecosystems in this essay.

Essays need examples to present arguments and illustrate cases. Examples support claims offer evidence, make complex concepts easier for readers, and usually lead to higher grades! Knowing several essay words for giving examples is vital to avoid the repetition of similar words or phrases. 

Akin to the effects of climate change, deforestation also leads to a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

To analogize, the effect of deforestation on our planet is like removing the lungs from a living organism.

It appears from recent studies that regular exercise can improve mental health.

Our justice system’s flaws are apparent, such as in the case of O.J. Simpson , who was acquitted despite murdering his wife.

To clarify, this essay argues that renewable energy is more sustainable than fossil fuels.

This essay conveys the importance of cultivating empathy in a diverse society.

  • Corroborate

Recent studies corroborate the theory that mindfulness meditation can reduce stress.

  • Demonstrate

Statistics demonstrate a significant correlation between diet and heart disease.

This essay will depict the socio-economic impacts of the ongoing pandemic.

Current research discloses a worrying trend of increasing cyber threats.

The data displays a significant increase in the usage of renewable energy sources.

To elucidate, this essay aims to explore the intricate relationship between mental health and social media use.

The evidence suggests that pollution is a major factor contributing to global warming.

The effects of climate change exemplify the urgent need for environmental preservation.

The graphs below exhibit the significant impact of human activities on climate change.

  • For example

For example, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can significantly lower the risk of heart disease.

  • For instance

For instance, aerobic exercises like running and swimming improve cardiovascular health.

  • I.e. (Id est)

A healthy lifestyle, i.e., a balanced diet and regular exercise, can prevent numerous diseases.

This essay will illustrate how technology has transformed modern education.

Imagine if we could harness all the power from the sun; we would have an unlimited source of clean energy.

  • In other words

In other words, this essay will deconstruct the complexities of artificial intelligence in layman’s terms.

The data indicates a steady decline in the population of bees worldwide.

Like a domino effect, one small change can trigger a series of events in an ecosystem.

This essay will outline the main strategies for maintaining mental wellness amid a pandemic.

This essay seeks to portray the various forms of discrimination prevalent in society.

  • Pretend that

Pretend that each tree cut down is a breath of air taken away; perhaps then we’ll understand the severity of deforestation.

The melting polar ice caps are undeniable proof of global warming.

This essay proposes a holistic approach to dealing with the issue of cyberbullying.

Each data point represents a respondent’s opinion in the survey.

Recent studies reveal a direct correlation between screen time and sleep disorders.

The experts say that practicing mindfulness can help reduce anxiety.

The graphs show a significant increase in the global temperature over the past century.

Similar to how a car needs fuel to run, our bodies need a balanced diet for optimal performance.

The current situation with the global pandemic has underscored the importance of mental health.

  • Substantiate

The studies substantiate the claim that smoking can lead to a multitude of health issues.

In this context, melting ice caps symbolize the urgent need for climate action.

The data tells us that stress levels have spiked during the pandemic.

The increasing global temperatures are a testament to the impact of human activities on climate change.

  • To give an idea

To give an idea, think of the human brain as a super-computer, continuously processing and storing information.

The goal of this essay is to underline the importance of sustainable practices.

The findings verify the hypothesis that meditation can improve mental health.

These words appear throughout the essay but are mainly for the body. You can use these words to effectively show the importance of an argument and emphasize essential paragraphs in your essay.

Above all, it’s essential to maintain a balance between work and personal life for overall well-being.

  • Acknowledge

We must acknowledge the crucial role of teachers in shaping the future of our society.

Environmentalists advocate for sustainable practices to mitigate climate change effects.

The research affirms the beneficial impact of regular exercise on mental health.

The government is taking measures to amplify the reach of digital literacy.

Adding evidence from credible sources can bolster your argument in an essay.

The author cites numerous studies to support his theory of human behavior.

  • Conclusively

Conclusively, the findings suggest a strong correlation between diet and heart health.

The experiments confirm the effectiveness of the vaccine against the virus.

Some experts contend that implementing a carbon tax reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

These new findings contradict the previously held beliefs about the origins of the universe.

The president will declare a state of emergency in a few days.

Exercise can definitely improve your mood and energy levels.

The speaker emphasizes the need for more mental health services.

Many celebrities endorse the idea of adopting a plant-based diet for environmental reasons.

Children, especially, should be taught the value of resilience from an early age.

These viral scandals expose the corruption within the political system.

The law expressly forbids discrimination based on race or gender.

The situation is extremely concerning and requires immediate attention.

The fact is that climate change is a reality we must confront.

We should focus on adopting renewable sources of energy to mitigate climate change.

  • Fundamentally

Fundamentally, equality is a basic human right that everyone deserves.

The data seems to imply a shift in consumer behavior towards sustainable products.

  • Importantly

Importantly, regular check-ups are crucial for early detection of diseases.

  • in light of

In light of recent research, it’s vital to re-examine the previous findings.

Regular exercise, indeed, has been proven to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses.

  • Irrefutable

The damaging effects of plastic pollution on marine life are irrefutable .

We must maintain a commitment to practice sustainability in our daily lives.

  • Make certain of

Before the researchers start any experiments, they must make certain of procedures and goals.

Several factors contribute to climate change, namely deforestation, industrial pollution, and urbanization.

It’s necessary to reduce our carbon footprint to protect the planet.

Notably, the use of renewable energy has been making significant progress in recent years.

Obviously, a balanced diet and regular exercise are key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

  • On the whole

On the whole, implementing green practices can significantly improve our environmental impact.

  • Particularly

Air pollution is a concern, particularly in densely populated cities.

The study points out the beneficial effects of meditation in reducing stress.

The organization is primarily focused on promoting gender equality.

The success stories reinforce the importance of perseverance and hard work.

I would like to reiterate the need for consistent efforts in maintaining mental health.

  • Significantly

Regular physical activity can significantly decrease the risk of heart disease.

The project was singularly successful due to the dedicated efforts of the team.

  • Specifically

The legislation specifically targets unfair practices in the industry.

Ultimately, the decision rests on the collective agreement of the team.

Alice in Wonderland syndrome, or AIWS , is undeniably one of the rarest diseases.

  • Undoubtedly

Undoubtedly, regular reading considerably enhances vocabulary and comprehension skills.

  • Unquestionably

Unquestionably, education plays a pivotal role in societal development.

These words show the order of events or progress in an essay. They are used to give examples to further expound on a point or introduce another concept. However, be careful that each paragraph should only focus on one idea.

After completing the coursework, the students began preparing for the final exams.

The team celebrated their victory, afterwards, they began to prepare for the next season.

He accepted the job, albeit with some reservations.

As soon as the rain stopped, we left for our hike.

Before the introduction of modern technology, tasks were manually done.

  • Concurrently

The two events were happening concurrently, no wonder there was a scheduling conflict.

  • Consecutively

She was late for work three days consecutively .

  • Consequently

He forgot his wallet, consequently, he couldn’t pay for lunch.

  • Continually

The organization is continually striving to improve its services.

She loves the beach. Conversely, he prefers the mountains.

The team is currently working on the new project.

During the conference, several new initiatives were announced.

Earlier in the day, we had discussed the pros and cons.

Eventually, she managed to finish her book.

Firstly, we need to identify the root of the problem.

Following the events yesterday, we decided to meet up today.

He was tired, hence he went to bed early.

Henceforth, all meetings will be held in the new conference room.

Hereafter, we must ensure that all protocols are strictly followed.

  • Immediately

He left immediately after the meeting.

  • In the interim

In the interim, we’ll continue with our current strategies.

  • In the meantime

In the meantime, let’s clean up the workspace.

  • Incidentally

Incidentally, I came across this book while cleaning my attic.

With the constant disagreements, the project inevitably failed.

She invariably arrives late for meetings.

We decided to postpone the discussion for later .

Latterly, there has been a surge in the use of online learning platforms.

He will cook dinner. Meanwhile, I will set the table.

  • Momentarily

He was momentarily distracted by the noise.

Next, we need to review the project plan.

  • Periodically

The software updates periodically to ensure optimal performance.

She is presently attending a conference in New York.

Previously, we discussed the risks involved in the project.

Prior to the event, we need to finalize all arrangements.

  • Sequentially

The tasks must be completed sequentially .

  • Simultaneously

We cannot handle multiple tasks simultaneously .

She will arrive soon .

  • Subsequently

He completed his degree and subsequently found a job in the field.

The power suddenly went out.

He got promoted and thereafter received a substantial raise in salary.

Thereupon, he decided to retire and write a book.

Thus, we conclude our discussion.

Keep stirring until the sugar dissolves.

We will begin when everyone arrives.

Call me whenever you need help.

While she cooked the meal, he set the table.

No matter what type of essay you write, it should remain informative. Words used to add information create flow, expand arguments, and incorporate details that support your points.

She’s asking him about that project the boss wants them to do.

The results were not as bad as anticipated; actually, they were quite good.

This is a great product; in addition, it’s very affordable.

  • Additionally

The car is economical; additionally, it’s environmentally friendly.

She tried again after failing the first time.

He worked alongside his colleagues to complete the project.

We will also need to consider the budget.

  • Alternatively

If the plan fails, we could alternatively try a different approach.

She likes to read books and watch movies.

He is open to another perspective on the matter.

She will attend the meeting as well .

The project will assuredly be completed on time.

Besides the main dish, we also have a variety of desserts.

She will certainly appreciate the gesture.

The rules were clearly explained to everyone.

This is a problem commonly encountered in this field.

  • Complementary

The two studies are complementary, providing a comprehensive understanding of the issue.

  • Correspondingly

The workload increased, and correspondingly, the need for more staff became apparent.

The increased workload, coupled with tight deadlines, created a stressful atmosphere.

The team members contributed equally to the project.

The cake was delicious, and the icing made it even more enjoyable.

  • Furthermore

He is qualified for the job; furthermore, he has relevant experience.

  • In addition

She is a great leader; in addition, she is an excellent communicator.

  • In contrast

He is outgoing; in contrast, his brother is quite shy.

She did not like the book; in fact, she found it boring.

  • In particular

She loves flowers, roses in particular .

It appears simple; in reality, it’s quite complex.

  • In the same way

He treats all his employees fairly, in the same way he would like to be treated.

He enjoys reading; likewise, his sister loves books.

  • More importantly

She passed the exam; more importantly, she scored highest in the class.

The house is beautiful; moreover, it’s located in a great neighborhood.

  • Not only… but also

He is not only a talented musician, but also a great teacher.

  • On the one hand

On the one hand, he enjoys his current job; on the other, he aspires for a higher position.

  • On top of that

The food was delicious; on top of that, the service was excellent.

She has impressive qualifications; plus, she has a lot of experience.

He was disheartened after failing the exam; similarly, she was upset after losing the match.

He woke up late, and then rushed to work.

He is a skilled programmer; to add, he has an exceptional understanding of user experience design.

  • Together with

He completed the project together with his team.

She is tired, and she is hungry too .

  • With this in mind

With this in mind, we should proceed cautiously.

These are words used to include information that confirms or disagrees with a point in your essay. Words that compare and contrast ideas are common in argumentative essays . It’s because this type demands a counterargument to fairly present other experts’ take on the issue.

He went to work although he was feeling unwell.

  • Analogous to

The structure of an atom is analogous to our solar system.

  • As opposed to

She prefers tea as opposed to coffee.

  • By the same token

He is a great teacher; by the same token, he is a superb mentor.

  • Comparatively

My new laptop works comparatively faster than the old one.

Upon comparison, his work proved far superior.

  • Contrariwise

The day was hot; contrariwise, the night was chilly.

Contrary to his usual behavior, he arrived on time.

Her efforts are directly correlated to her success.

His words were counter to his actions.

Despite the rain, they continued the game.

  • Different from

His opinion is different from mine.

Their views on the subject are disparate .

  • Dissimilar to

His style of writing is dissimilar to that of his peers.

  • Distinct from

Her dress is distinct from the others.

  • Divergent from

His findings are divergent from the initial hypothesis.

  • Equivalent to

His happiness was equivalent to that of a child.

He failed the test; however, he didn’t stop trying.

  • In comparison

In comparison, his work is of a higher standard.

He gave a donation in lieu of flowers.

  • In like manner

She dresses in like manner to her sister.

  • In opposition to

He voted in opposition to the proposed bill.

  • In spite of

In spite of the challenges, she never gave up.

  • In the same vein

In the same vein, he continued his argument.

He chose to walk instead of taking the bus.

Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, success doesn’t come overnight.

Much as I appreciate your help, I must do this on my own.

  • Nevertheless

He was tired; nevertheless, he continued to work.

  • Notwithstanding

Notwithstanding the difficulties, he completed the task on time.

  • On the contrary

He is not lazy; on the contrary, he is a hard worker.

  • Opposite of

Joy is the opposite of sorrow.

His life parallels that of his father.

  • Rather than

She chose to laugh rather than cry.

  • Regardless of

Regardless of the consequences, he went ahead with his plan.

His answer is the same as mine.

  • Set side by side

When set side by side, the differences are clear.

Though he was late, he still got the job.

Unlike his brother, he is very outgoing.

It was a match of experience versus youth.

He is tall, whereas his brother is short.

He is rich, yet very humble.

The conclusion is an essential part of the essay. The concluding paragraph or section reiterates important points, leaves the readers with something to think about, and wraps up the essay nicely so it doesn’t end abruptly. 

  • Accordingly

He performed well on the job; accordingly, he was promoted.

  • After all is said and done

After all is said and done, it’s the kindness that counts.

All in all, the concert was a great success.

  • All things considered

All things considered, I think we made the best decision.

The event, altogether, was a memorable one.

  • As a final observation

As a final observation, her dedication to the project was commendable.

  • As a final point

As a final point, the successes outweighed the failures.

  • As a result

He worked hard; as a result, he achieved his goals.

His actions were inappropriate; as such, he was reprimanded.

  • By and large

By and large, the feedback has been positive.

The event was, chiefly, a success.

In close, I must say the performance was extraordinary.

The evidence was compelling and led to his conviction.

  • Effectively

The team effectively handled the project.

  • Everything considered

Everything considered, the trip was beneficial.

Evidently, he was not involved in the crime.

Finally, she announced her decision.

  • In a nutshell

In a nutshell, the plan was not effective.

  • In conclusion

In conclusion, we need to strive for better communication.

  • In drawing things to a close

In drawing things to a close, I’d like to thank everyone for their contributions.

In essence, we need to focus on quality, not quantity.

  • In retrospect

In retrospect, our methodology was correct.

In summary, the event was a success.

In the end, hard work always pays off.

  • In the final analysis

In the final analysis, the project was a success.

  • Last but not the least

Last but not the least, we need to thank our sponsors.

Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy the process.

On balance, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

Overall, it was a productive meeting.

Summarily, we need to focus on our key strengths.

The report summarizes the main findings of the study.

Summing up, we made significant progress this year.

  • Taking everything into account

Taking everything into account, it was a successful campaign.

He was ill; therefore, he couldn’t attend the meeting.

  • To cap it all off

To cap it all off, we had a great time at the party.

To close, we need your continued support.

  • To conclude

To conclude, let’s aim for higher targets next year.

To finish, remember that success comes to those who dare.

To sum up, we achieved our objectives.

  • Without a doubt

Without a doubt, it was an unforgettable experience.

To wrap up, it was a journey worth taking.

Learning how to use the right essay words is just one of the many writing skills students and those writing in academia must develop. Others include a good knowledge of grammar and an ability to write an essay that’s readable and accurate. It just takes practice. Check out our guide packed with transition words for essays .

Some words that could be used to describe different kinds of essays include argumentative, persuasive, expository, narrative, descriptive, analytical, compare and contrast, cause and effect, reflective, and personal.

When writing an essay, it’s important to choose appropriate and effective words to express your ideas clearly and concisely. Here are some words you can use to enhance your essay writing: 1. First, secondly, third 2. Moreover, furthermore, additionally 3. In addition, also, likewise 4. However, nevertheless, yet 5. Although, despite, regardless

Here are some other words that can be used as alternatives for “you” in an essay: yourself, oneself, one, someone, somebody, anyone, everybody, people, individuals, persons, others, them, they, yourselves, thou, thee.

1. Narrative essays 2. Descriptive essays 3. Expository essays 4. Persuasive essays 5. Argumentative essay

great essay words

Maria Caballero is a freelance writer who has been writing since high school. She believes that to be a writer doesn't only refer to excellent syntax and semantics but also knowing how to weave words together to communicate to any reader effectively.

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ESLBUZZ

100+ Useful Words and Phrases to Write a Great Essay

By: Author Sophia

Posted on Last updated: October 25, 2023

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How to Write a Great Essay in English! This lesson provides 100+ useful words, transition words and expressions used in writing an essay. Let’s take a look!

The secret to a successful essay doesn’t just lie in the clever things you talk about and the way you structure your points.

Useful Words and Phrases to Write a Great Essay

Overview of an essay.

100+ Useful Words and Phrases to Write a Great Essay

Useful Phrases for Proficiency Essays

Developing the argument

  • The first aspect to point out is that…
  • Let us start by considering the facts.
  • The novel portrays, deals with, revolves around…
  • Central to the novel is…
  • The character of xxx embodies/ epitomizes…

The other side of the argument

  • It would also be interesting to see…
  • One should, nevertheless, consider the problem from another angle.
  • Equally relevant to the issue are the questions of…
  • The arguments we have presented… suggest that…/ prove that…/ would indicate that…
  • From these arguments one must…/ could…/ might… conclude that…
  • All of this points to the conclusion that…
  • To conclude…

Ordering elements

  • Firstly,…/ Secondly,…/ Finally,… (note the comma after all these introductory words.)
  • As a final point…
  • On the one hand, …. on the other hand…
  • If on the one hand it can be said that… the same is not true for…
  • The first argument suggests that… whilst the second suggests that…
  • There are at least xxx points to highlight.

Adding elements

  • Furthermore, one should not forget that…
  • In addition to…
  • Moreover…
  • It is important to add that…

Accepting other points of view

  • Nevertheless, one should accept that…
  • However, we also agree that…

Personal opinion

  • We/I personally believe that…
  • Our/My own point of view is that…
  • It is my contention that…
  • I am convinced that…
  • My own opinion is…

Others’ opinions

  • According to some critics… Critics:
  • believe that
  • suggest that
  • are convinced that
  • point out that
  • emphasize that
  • contend that
  • go as far as to say that
  • argue for this

Introducing examples

  • For example…
  • For instance…
  • To illustrate this point…

Introducing facts

  • It is… true that…/ clear that…/ noticeable that…
  • One should note here that…

Saying what you think is true

  • This leads us to believe that…
  • It is very possible that…
  • In view of these facts, it is quite likely that…
  • Doubtless,…
  • One cannot deny that…
  • It is (very) clear from these observations that…
  • All the same, it is possible that…
  • It is difficult to believe that…

Accepting other points to a certain degree

  • One can agree up to a certain point with…
  • Certainly,… However,…
  • It cannot be denied that…

Emphasizing particular points

  • The last example highlights the fact that…
  • Not only… but also…
  • We would even go so far as to say that…

Moderating, agreeing, disagreeing

  • By and large…
  • Perhaps we should also point out the fact that…
  • It would be unfair not to mention the fact that…
  • One must admit that…
  • We cannot ignore the fact that…
  • One cannot possibly accept the fact that…

Consequences

  • From these facts, one may conclude that…
  • That is why, in our opinion, …
  • Which seems to confirm the idea that…
  • Thus,…/ Therefore,…
  • Some critics suggest…, whereas others…
  • Compared to…
  • On the one hand, there is the firm belief that… On the other hand, many people are convinced that…

How to Write a Great Essay | Image 1

100+ Useful Words and Phrases to Write a Great Essay 1

How to Write a Great Essay | Image 2

100+ Useful Words and Phrases to Write a Great Essay 2

Phrases For Balanced Arguments

Introduction

  • It is often said that…
  • It is undeniable that…
  • It is a well-known fact that…
  • One of the most striking features of this text is…
  • The first thing that needs to be said is…
  • First of all, let us try to analyze…
  • One argument in support of…
  • We must distinguish carefully between…
  • The second reason for…
  • An important aspect of the text is…
  • It is worth stating at this point that…
  • On the other hand, we can observe that…
  • The other side of the coin is, however, that…
  • Another way of looking at this question is to…
  • What conclusions can be drawn from all this?
  • The most satisfactory conclusion that we can come to is…
  • To sum up… we are convinced that…/ …we believe that…/ …we have to accept that…

How to Write a Great Essay | Image 3

100+ Useful Words and Phrases to Write a Great Essay 3

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great essay words

60 Useful Words and Phrases for Outstanding Essay Writing

General explaining.

Let’s start by looking at language for general explanations of complex points.

1. In order to

Usage : “In order to” can be used to introduce an explanation for the purpose of an argument.

Example : “In order to understand X, we need first to understand Y.”

2. In other words

Usage : Use “in other words” when you want to express something in a different way (more simply), to make it easier to understand, or to emphasise or expand on a point.

Example : “Frogs are amphibians. In other words, they live on the land and in the water.”

3. To put it another way

Usage : This phrase is another way of saying “in other words”, and can be used in particularly complex points, when you feel that an alternative way of wording a problem may help the reader achieve a better understanding of its significance.

Example : “Plants rely on photosynthesis. To put it another way, they will die without the sun.”

4. That is to say

Usage : “That is” and “that is to say” can be used to add further detail to your explanation, or to be more precise.

Example : “Whales are mammals. That is to say, they must breathe air.”

5. To that end

Usage : Use “to that end” or “to this end” in a similar way to “in order to” or “so”.

Example : “Zoologists have long sought to understand how animals communicate with each other. To that end, a new study has been launched that looks at elephant sounds and their possible meanings.”

Adding additional information to support a point

Students often make the mistake of using synonyms of “and” each time they want to add further information in support of a point they’re making, or to build an argument. Here are some cleverer ways of doing this.

6. Moreover

Usage : Employ “moreover” at the start of a sentence to add extra information in support of a point you’re making.

Example : “Moreover, the results of a recent piece of research provide compelling evidence in support of…”

7. Furthermore

Usage :This is also generally used at the start of a sentence, to add extra information.

Example : “Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that…”

8. What’s more

Usage : This is used in the same way as “moreover” and “furthermore”.

Example : “What’s more, this isn’t the only evidence that supports this hypothesis.”

9. Likewise

Usage : Use “likewise” when you want to talk about something that agrees with what you’ve just mentioned.

Example : “Scholar A believes X. Likewise, Scholar B argues compellingly in favour of this point of view.”

10. Similarly

Usage : Use “similarly” in the same way as “likewise”.

Example : “Audiences at the time reacted with shock to Beethoven’s new work, because it was very different to what they were used to. Similarly, we have a tendency to react with surprise to the unfamiliar.”

11. Another key thing to remember

Usage : Use the phrase “another key point to remember” or “another key fact to remember” to introduce additional facts without using the word “also”.

Example : “As a Romantic, Blake was a proponent of a closer relationship between humans and nature. Another key point to remember is that Blake was writing during the Industrial Revolution, which had a major impact on the world around him.”

12. As well as

Usage : Use “as well as” instead of “also” or “and”.

Example : “Scholar A argued that this was due to X, as well as Y.”

13. Not only… but also

Usage : This wording is used to add an extra piece of information, often something that’s in some way more surprising or unexpected than the first piece of information.

Example : “Not only did Edmund Hillary have the honour of being the first to reach the summit of Everest, but he was also appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.”

14. Coupled with

Usage : Used when considering two or more arguments at a time.

Example : “Coupled with the literary evidence, the statistics paint a compelling view of…”

15. Firstly, secondly, thirdly…

Usage : This can be used to structure an argument, presenting facts clearly one after the other.

Example : “There are many points in support of this view. Firstly, X. Secondly, Y. And thirdly, Z.

16. Not to mention/to say nothing of

Usage : “Not to mention” and “to say nothing of” can be used to add extra information with a bit of emphasis.

Example : “The war caused unprecedented suffering to millions of people, not to mention its impact on the country’s economy.”

Words and phrases for demonstrating contrast

When you’re developing an argument, you will often need to present contrasting or opposing opinions or evidence – “it could show this, but it could also show this”, or “X says this, but Y disagrees”. This section covers words you can use instead of the “but” in these examples, to make your writing sound more intelligent and interesting.

17. However

Usage : Use “however” to introduce a point that disagrees with what you’ve just said.

Example : “Scholar A thinks this. However, Scholar B reached a different conclusion.”

18. On the other hand

Usage : Usage of this phrase includes introducing a contrasting interpretation of the same piece of evidence, a different piece of evidence that suggests something else, or an opposing opinion.

Example: “The historical evidence appears to suggest a clear-cut situation. On the other hand, the archaeological evidence presents a somewhat less straightforward picture of what happened that day.”

19. Having said that

Usage : Used in a similar manner to “on the other hand” or “but”.

Example : “The historians are unanimous in telling us X, an agreement that suggests that this version of events must be an accurate account. Having said that, the archaeology tells a different story.”

20. By contrast/in comparison

Usage : Use “by contrast” or “in comparison” when you’re comparing and contrasting pieces of evidence.

Example : “Scholar A’s opinion, then, is based on insufficient evidence. By contrast, Scholar B’s opinion seems more plausible.”

21. Then again

Usage : Use this to cast doubt on an assertion.

Example : “Writer A asserts that this was the reason for what happened. Then again, it’s possible that he was being paid to say this.”

22. That said

Usage : This is used in the same way as “then again”.

Example : “The evidence ostensibly appears to point to this conclusion. That said, much of the evidence is unreliable at best.”

Usage : Use this when you want to introduce a contrasting idea.

Example : “Much of scholarship has focused on this evidence. Yet not everyone agrees that this is the most important aspect of the situation.”

Adding a proviso or acknowledging reservations

Sometimes, you may need to acknowledge a shortfalling in a piece of evidence, or add a proviso. Here are some ways of doing so.

24. Despite this

Usage : Use “despite this” or “in spite of this” when you want to outline a point that stands regardless of a shortfalling in the evidence.

Example : “The sample size was small, but the results were important despite this.”

25. With this in mind

Usage : Use this when you want your reader to consider a point in the knowledge of something else.

Example : “We’ve seen that the methods used in the 19th century study did not always live up to the rigorous standards expected in scientific research today, which makes it difficult to draw definite conclusions. With this in mind, let’s look at a more recent study to see how the results compare.”

26. Provided that

Usage : This means “on condition that”. You can also say “providing that” or just “providing” to mean the same thing.

Example : “We may use this as evidence to support our argument, provided that we bear in mind the limitations of the methods used to obtain it.”

27. In view of/in light of

Usage : These phrases are used when something has shed light on something else.

Example : “In light of the evidence from the 2013 study, we have a better understanding of…”

28. Nonetheless

Usage : This is similar to “despite this”.

Example : “The study had its limitations, but it was nonetheless groundbreaking for its day.”

29. Nevertheless

Usage : This is the same as “nonetheless”.

Example : “The study was flawed, but it was important nevertheless.”

30. Notwithstanding

Usage : This is another way of saying “nonetheless”.

Example : “Notwithstanding the limitations of the methodology used, it was an important study in the development of how we view the workings of the human mind.”

Giving examples

Good essays always back up points with examples, but it’s going to get boring if you use the expression “for example” every time. Here are a couple of other ways of saying the same thing.

31. For instance

Example : “Some birds migrate to avoid harsher winter climates. Swallows, for instance, leave the UK in early winter and fly south…”

32. To give an illustration

Example : “To give an illustration of what I mean, let’s look at the case of…”

Signifying importance

When you want to demonstrate that a point is particularly important, there are several ways of highlighting it as such.

33. Significantly

Usage : Used to introduce a point that is loaded with meaning that might not be immediately apparent.

Example : “Significantly, Tacitus omits to tell us the kind of gossip prevalent in Suetonius’ accounts of the same period.”

34. Notably

Usage : This can be used to mean “significantly” (as above), and it can also be used interchangeably with “in particular” (the example below demonstrates the first of these ways of using it).

Example : “Actual figures are notably absent from Scholar A’s analysis.”

35. Importantly

Usage : Use “importantly” interchangeably with “significantly”.

Example : “Importantly, Scholar A was being employed by X when he wrote this work, and was presumably therefore under pressure to portray the situation more favourably than he perhaps might otherwise have done.”

Summarising

You’ve almost made it to the end of the essay, but your work isn’t over yet. You need to end by wrapping up everything you’ve talked about, showing that you’ve considered the arguments on both sides and reached the most likely conclusion. Here are some words and phrases to help you.

36. In conclusion

Usage : Typically used to introduce the concluding paragraph or sentence of an essay, summarising what you’ve discussed in a broad overview.

Example : “In conclusion, the evidence points almost exclusively to Argument A.”

37. Above all

Usage : Used to signify what you believe to be the most significant point, and the main takeaway from the essay.

Example : “Above all, it seems pertinent to remember that…”

38. Persuasive

Usage : This is a useful word to use when summarising which argument you find most convincing.

Example : “Scholar A’s point – that Constanze Mozart was motivated by financial gain – seems to me to be the most persuasive argument for her actions following Mozart’s death.”

39. Compelling

Usage : Use in the same way as “persuasive” above.

Example : “The most compelling argument is presented by Scholar A.”

40. All things considered

Usage : This means “taking everything into account”.

Example : “All things considered, it seems reasonable to assume that…”

How many of these words and phrases will you get into your next essay? And are any of your favourite essay terms missing from our list? Let us know in the comments below!

Additional Information ( more examples)

+20 examples of important transition words, additional information.

There are many linking words which can lead us into additional information and while it is useful to vary your vocabulary beyond ‘ and ,’ these words are not mere replacements for ‘ and .’ They have nuanced differences, thus, by these particular meanings, we can offer a more delicate illustration of the relationships between our ideas.

  • ‘Furthermore’ is used to add information that expands upon the previous point. It precedes information that expands upon that already given. It usually occurs at the beginning of an independent clause.
  • ‘Moreover’ and ‘More so’ are both similar to ‘furthermore’ while giving special emphasis to the greater importance of the following clause.
  • “Despite cutting back on other staff, her father gave her a position, furthermore , he gave her an enviable office while still not having a role for her.”
  • Writers also sequence additional information. ‘Firstly,’ ‘secondly’ and ‘thirdly’ are obvious options used to achieve this, however, there are others. For example, we can look into the past with ‘previously,’ ‘until the present’ or ‘preceded by.’
  • “Present growth in the company was *preceded by several quarters of stagnation”*
  • ‘Meanwhile’ and ‘simultaneously’ talk about things which are happening at the same time as another, while ‘concurrently’ does this while emphasising that the two ideas have played out in conjunction with one another.
  • Usually, ‘incidentally’ is used to add relevant information while downplaying its significance compared with that of other ideas.
  • “The priority of the zoo had been to protect species’ from extinction. The panda breeding program was enjoying some rare success, while simultaneously , other programs to increase the numbers of endangered species were being trialled. Meanwhile , the zoo was being visited by an influx of tourists who were, incidentally , able to enjoy seeing the young animals.”
  • ‘Subsequently’ and ‘afterward’ lead into information after the fact.

Compare and Contrast

When writers need to illustrate similarity they can employ words such as ‘in like manner,’ ‘comparatively,’ and ‘correspondingly.’ Whereas , when they wish to highlight difference they have phrases like ‘on the contrary,’ ‘however,’ ‘notwithstanding,’ ‘nevertheless’ and ‘on the other hand.’

Notwithstanding the vehement opposition to online education programs being made available to inmates, considerable improvements were made to the re-employment prospects of many offenders who benefited from the trial. On the contrary, prisoners who were not able to access education while incarcerated were found to be more likely to reoffend and return to prison.

Clarification

When it comes time to clarify an argument or point, some of the transitional phrases which are used are, ‘to reiterate,’ ‘specifically,’ or ‘inasmuch as.’

Consequence and Conclusion

When we have lead our reader through our flow of logic, there might be nothing more rewarding than driving our point home by showing consequence or concluding our arguments. There are a lot of strong phrases such as ‘accordingly,’ ‘hence,’ ‘thus’ and ‘thereupon’ which can do this.

I hope you will feel encouraged, by this article, to continue to further your understanding of how transitional words can work to guide your reader through your flow of logic. When used well, they add power and order to your argument and can add to the result you see from your work.

How To Write A Great Essay Hook (With Examples)

How To Write A Great Essay Hook (With Examples)

  • Smodin Editorial Team
  • November 24, 2023

Learning the secrets behind an effective essay starts with understanding the power of a hook. Your hook is the opening statement of your introduction and ultimately acts as an invitation to your readers. It invites them to explore the ideas you’re presenting, while also engaging their attention for a long enough time to read your work.

With a great hook, you can improve your writing skills and set the stage for a masterfully written essay. But what else is a good hook able to do? And what kind of hook can you use to write an incredible essay?

This guide (complete with hook sentence examples) will help walk you through the steps of writing a hook and how to use it to boost your grades and make your work more compelling than ever!

What Is An Essay Hook?

An essay hook is the opening sentence or paragraphs of your essay and is designed to pique the curiosity of your reader while also holding their attention long enough to read the rest of your work. Think about it – would you want to read an essay if the first sentence is long-winded and boring?

Generally, writers use an effective hook to set the tone for the rest of the work and give you a quick look ‘behind the curtain’. The hook tells you exactly what the essay is about in a thoughtful and thought-provoking way that leaves you hungry for more.

For example: “ Did you know that the average person eats around five pounds of shark meat every year? In a shocking study by the Shark Lovers World Organization, it was revealed that around 4% of all fish-based products contain shark meat. ”

Of course, this isn’t true (at least, we hope not!). But it did capture your interest and make you want to find out more. That’s exactly what a hook does.

A good essay hook can keep your readers interested and helps to engage them in what you’re saying. It also leaves a lasting impression on them, which means you’ve accomplished your goal of starting a conversation about your essay topic.

Types Of Essay Hooks

With the many types of essays and writing structures you can use for your work, there are just as many hooks to suit your topic. But which ones are relevant? And which one should you use to effectively introduce your writing?

Below, we’ve listed some of the most common types of essay hooks to help you narrow down your search.

Question hook

If you start your essay with a thought-provoking question, you have a great chance of engaging your readers from the get-go. This is because a question can encourage them to actively think about what you’re saying and spark curiosity about what the real answer to the question is.

It’s important to ensure that your question is relevant and intriguing, but it’s even more important that it aligns with the theme of your essay. Usually, your readers will want to keep reading to find the answers in the body of your essay.

Quotation hook

When you open your essay with a quote from a notable person or reputable organization, you add credibility to your work. This can be particularly important when you’re discussing a topic that needs expertise to build trust.

After you use a relevant quote, you’ll also need to explain why it’s relevant to set the stage for the discussion or argument that you’re presenting.

Statistic hook

Introducing your topic with a compelling statistic or data is another great way to add credibility to your paper. It shows your reader that you’ve done your research, and you have proof to back up the claims that you may be making in the body of your essay.

It’s essential to use statistics that are accurate, though, and they should come from credible sources. Otherwise, you may be undermining your work, which could lead to losing the trust of your reader.

Anecdote hook

The last time I started an essay with an anecdote, my professor gave my work a stellar review and I got the best grades in my class .

Did we grab your attention? Good. That’s how an anecdote hook works. An anecdote is a short personal story that establishes trust with your reader and creates an emotional connection. It can also add a layer of interest to narrative or descriptive essays.

In some essays, you can write an anecdotal hook from the perspective of a fictional character. As long as it sounds like a personal experience, it should reel your readers in.

Surprising statement hook

If you can, try to capture your reader’s attention with a bold or unexpected statement. When you catch them off guard, you can stimulate their curiosity. They’re going to want to keep reading to see how you address or support your surprising statement.

You can use this type of hook in several different ways. Whether you’re challenging a common misconception, giving counterintuitive insights, or presenting intriguing facts that will wow or shock your reader, you can start your essay off on the right note.

Description hook

A description hook helps to engage readers by painting an image or setting a scene using descriptive language. Typically, it appeals to the senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell) and describes something in enough detail that it makes the reader feel as if they’re actually experiencing it for themselves!

This type of hook is suited for narrative or descriptive essays because it allows you to set the tone, establish a certain atmosphere, and even evoke an emotional response in your reader. In turn, the reader becomes fully immersed in the scene that you’re setting.

How To Write A Great Essay Hook

Now that you understand the basics, it’s time to put your pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard) and write a hook that will draw readers in and keep them reading. If you follow the steps we’ve outlined below, you’re sure to craft a hook that will reel in your audience – hook, line, and sinker .

1. Know your audience

Knowing your audience is perhaps one of the most important things to consider when you’re writing an essay hook. Are you writing for your teachers, peers, or a broader audience? Once you know that, you can move on to understanding their motives, and values, and how their emotions will affect how impactful your hook is.

Creating a connection with your audience grabs the reader’s attention and encourages them to keep reading your essay. And, by fostering this connection, you can make them more receptive to the message you’re trying to convey.

2. Understand the purpose of your essay

Before you can write your hook, you’ll need to know what the purpose of your essay is. Generally, your essay will try to inform, persuade, or narrate your subject. Either way, narrowing down the motivation behind writing the essay will help you on your quest to write a hook that suits your writing.

Your hook should always align with the concept of your essay since it’s used to introduce the main theme or argument. You can think of it as a preview of what you’re going to talk about – it gives your readers a glimpse into the direction of your written work and sets expectations for what your essay will cover.

3. Choose the right type of hook

The type of essay hook you choose significantly impacts your essay’s style and whether it will keep your reader’s interest. You can pick from a question, quotation, anecdotal hook, or any of the others we’ve listed.

By carefully selecting what types of hook sentences will captivate your reader and establish the right tone for your essay, you’re guaranteed to have a compelling introduction. You just need to make sure that your hook suits the essay you’re writing.

For example, if you’re writing a personal story hook as an introduction to a historical essay that relies on a chronological structure, it wouldn’t be very impactful. Instead, a quotation or statistic hook may be better suited to an academic essay like this.

4. Make sure your hook is relevant

Relevance is the key to creating a compelling essay hook. The hook should always connect to the topic of your essay, and the link between the two needs to be clear from the get-go.

This does mean, however, that you need to avoid unrelated information in your hook. Keeping with the example of writing a historical essay, we can illustrate this point perfectly.

Say you’re writing an essay on World War II, and you’ve chosen a statistical hook to open your writing. Adding statistics about coffee sales during the same time period is completely irrelevant and won’t have much of an impact.

Unrelated hooks can confuse your audience and completely lose the reader’s interest. On the other hand, a focused and relevant hook can grab the reader’s attention and make your essay more exciting.

5. Spark curiosity

The way that you phrase your essay hook is just as important as the type of hook you use. Ideally, your hook should excite the reader and spark curiosity that makes them want to keep reading.

A poorly worded hook can be confusing or – let’s face it – boring! And you don’t want to bore your audience before they even get past your introduction. Whether you’re asking a question or introducing the topic for your ideas, your hook should set the stage for the rest of your essay.

You may need to use some creativity for this step. But putting yourself in the shoes of your reader can help. Ask yourself ‘What would make me want to keep reading?’. Your answer is usually a good place to start!

6. Keep it short

Although an attention-grabbing hook is ideal, it’s essential to keep it short. You should focus on using impactful language that can effectively convey your message. This is mainly because a shorter hook can keep your reader’s attention without overwhelming them with too much information.

Remember, it’s all about balance. When it comes to essay hooks, you want to strike a balance between capturing your audience’s attention and giving them a concise overview of what your essay is about.

7. Tweak the tone

The tone of your hook sets up the tone for the rest of your essay – so it’s pretty important that you align your tone with the topic. To do this, you first have to ask yourself what the tone is . Is it serious? Or perhaps you want to come across as humorous? Either way, you’ll want to maintain a consistent tone throughout.

A good example of this would be when writing a personal essay. In this case, an anecdote hook would be a great way to kick off your writing. However, if your personal story is serious, a funny anecdote isn’t necessarily the best choice. Instead, you’ll want to pick an anecdote that matches the seriousness of what you’re discussing in the body of your work.

8. Revise your hook with Smodin

After you’ve written your hook, it might still need a little nip and tuck to go from almost perfect to perfectly polished. To do this, you can use several different techniques to rewrite it.

But the easiest way to ensure that your hook is bulletproof is to use Smodin’s AI Paraphrasing tool . It can spin your words to sound like it was crafted by an expert – in a matter of seconds. It’s also a good way to avoid plagiarism and check your text to see how well it performs (the flow, tone, and relevance).

You can also use our free AI Writer to generate a unique, plagiarism-free, and professional essay in just a few prompts. This can help you draft a rough copy of your work before making any adjustments or modifications to your final product.

Catchy Hook Examples For Your Essay

With a better understanding of the types of essay hooks, and how to use them, you are well on your way to crafting an effective and attention-grabbing introduction to your writing. But, if you still need a little help with tailoring hook types to suit your writing structure, take a look at some of these examples of hooks for different types of essays:

Argumentative essay hook examples

Statistical hook: “ According to a recent study conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans generate around 4.48 pounds of trash every day. This highlights the urgent need for recyclable products and packaging to address this pressing issue. ”

Question hook: “ Have you ever wondered how our experiences as children impact our daily lives and our resulting choices as adults? This critical question has prompted us to explore the topic of childhood trauma and the profound implications that it could have on our futures. ”

Persuasive essay hook examples

Statistic hook: “ Did you know that over 1.3 million tons of plastic waste are dumped into our oceans every year? This alarming statistic demands our attention and immediate action to address the pressing issue of plastic pollution. ”

Surprising statement: “ In a world that’s run by technology, it’s shocking to realize that the average person spends more time in their day scrolling through social media than sleeping. The digital age has not only revolutionized communication but has also left us questioning the true value of our time and relationships. ”

Narrative essay hook examples

Anecdotal hook: “ Raindrops tapped lightly on the window pane, and the slight rustling of the leaves seemed to whisper secrets in the wind. Little did I know that this ordinary evening would soon become an extraordinary chapter in the story of my life. It all began with a letter—an old, weathered envelope that held the key to a long-buried family mystery .”

Question hook: “ Have you ever wondered what it feels like to stand at the edge of a cliff, staring into the vast unknown below? The adrenaline coursing through your veins, the wind tousling your hair—each moment pregnant with the possibility of adventure. What if I told you that such a moment would change the course of my life forever? ”

Compare and contrast essay hook examples

Quotation hook: “ In the words of Aristotle, ‘Excellence is an art won by training and habituation’. As we delve into the realms of two seemingly disparate subjects, we must consider how their unique qualities and shared traits contribute to the pursuit of excellence in their own distinct ways. ”

Anecdote hook: “ As the sun went down, the city lit up with its busy streets, and I stood there, feeling stuck between two different places—the lively city and the peaceful countryside. In that moment, I noticed how city life and rural living are alike in some ways but also have their unique features. ”

Can I use the same type of hook for different essays?

While some hooks are versatile, it’s best to tailor your hook to the specific essay you’re writing and the topic you’re covering. You’ll need to consider the audience, purpose, and nature of your writing before choosing a hook.

Can I use a combination of different types of hooks in one essay?

Yes, you can experiment with combining different types of essay hooks in your writing, especially if your topic allows for different approaches. However, you should always make sure to include a smooth transition between the hooks and keep them simple. Otherwise, you risk confusing your reader.

Writing catchy hooks is more than just finding something clever to say at the opening of your essay. It’s about leaving an impression on your reader that will carry through the body of your work and leave them hanging on every word you say. Ultimately, your hook can make or break your essay.

With Smodin, coming up with, writing, and revising your hook is as simple as one, two, three. So why not try out our tools to streamline your writing process? There’s nothing to lose – and everything to gain!

PrepScholar

Choose Your Test

Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 177 college essay examples for 11 schools + expert analysis.

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College Admissions , College Essays

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The personal statement might just be the hardest part of your college application. Mostly this is because it has the least guidance and is the most open-ended. One way to understand what colleges are looking for when they ask you to write an essay is to check out the essays of students who already got in—college essays that actually worked. After all, they must be among the most successful of this weird literary genre.

In this article, I'll go through general guidelines for what makes great college essays great. I've also compiled an enormous list of 100+ actual sample college essays from 11 different schools. Finally, I'll break down two of these published college essay examples and explain why and how they work. With links to 177 full essays and essay excerpts , this article is a great resource for learning how to craft your own personal college admissions essay!

What Excellent College Essays Have in Common

Even though in many ways these sample college essays are very different from one other, they do share some traits you should try to emulate as you write your own essay.

Visible Signs of Planning

Building out from a narrow, concrete focus. You'll see a similar structure in many of the essays. The author starts with a very detailed story of an event or description of a person or place. After this sense-heavy imagery, the essay expands out to make a broader point about the author, and connects this very memorable experience to the author's present situation, state of mind, newfound understanding, or maturity level.

Knowing how to tell a story. Some of the experiences in these essays are one-of-a-kind. But most deal with the stuff of everyday life. What sets them apart is the way the author approaches the topic: analyzing it for drama and humor, for its moving qualities, for what it says about the author's world, and for how it connects to the author's emotional life.

Stellar Execution

A killer first sentence. You've heard it before, and you'll hear it again: you have to suck the reader in, and the best place to do that is the first sentence. Great first sentences are punchy. They are like cliffhangers, setting up an exciting scene or an unusual situation with an unclear conclusion, in order to make the reader want to know more. Don't take my word for it—check out these 22 first sentences from Stanford applicants and tell me you don't want to read the rest of those essays to find out what happens!

A lively, individual voice. Writing is for readers. In this case, your reader is an admissions officer who has read thousands of essays before yours and will read thousands after. Your goal? Don't bore your reader. Use interesting descriptions, stay away from clichés, include your own offbeat observations—anything that makes this essay sounds like you and not like anyone else.

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Technical correctness. No spelling mistakes, no grammar weirdness, no syntax issues, no punctuation snafus—each of these sample college essays has been formatted and proofread perfectly. If this kind of exactness is not your strong suit, you're in luck! All colleges advise applicants to have their essays looked over several times by parents, teachers, mentors, and anyone else who can spot a comma splice. Your essay must be your own work, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting help polishing it.

And if you need more guidance, connect with PrepScholar's expert admissions consultants . These expert writers know exactly what college admissions committees look for in an admissions essay and chan help you craft an essay that boosts your chances of getting into your dream school.

Check out PrepScholar's Essay Editing and Coaching progra m for more details!

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Want to write the perfect college application essay? Get professional help from PrepScholar.

Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We'll learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay that you'll proudly submit to your top choice colleges.

Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now :

Craft Your Perfect College Essay

Links to Full College Essay Examples

Some colleges publish a selection of their favorite accepted college essays that worked, and I've put together a selection of over 100 of these.

Common App Essay Samples

Please note that some of these college essay examples may be responding to prompts that are no longer in use. The current Common App prompts are as follows:

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. 2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? 3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? 4. Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you? 5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. 6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

Now, let's get to the good stuff: the list of 177 college essay examples responding to current and past Common App essay prompts. 

Connecticut college.

  • 12 Common Application essays from the classes of 2022-2025

Hamilton College

  • 7 Common Application essays from the class of 2026
  • 7 Common Application essays from the class of 2022
  • 7 Common Application essays from the class of 2018
  • 8 Common Application essays from the class of 2012
  • 8 Common Application essays from the class of 2007

Johns Hopkins

These essays are answers to past prompts from either the Common Application or the Coalition Application (which Johns Hopkins used to accept).

  • 1 Common Application or Coalition Application essay from the class of 2026
  • 6 Common Application or Coalition Application essays from the class of 2025
  • 6 Common Application or Universal Application essays from the class of 2024
  • 6 Common Application or Universal Application essays from the class of 2023
  • 7 Common Application of Universal Application essays from the class of 2022
  • 5 Common Application or Universal Application essays from the class of 2021
  • 7 Common Application or Universal Application essays from the class of 2020

Essay Examples Published by Other Websites

  • 2 Common Application essays ( 1st essay , 2nd essay ) from applicants admitted to Columbia

Other Sample College Essays

Here is a collection of essays that are college-specific.

Babson College

  • 4 essays (and 1 video response) on "Why Babson" from the class of 2020

Emory University

  • 5 essay examples ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 ) from the class of 2020 along with analysis from Emory admissions staff on why the essays were exceptional
  • 5 more recent essay examples ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 ) along with analysis from Emory admissions staff on what made these essays stand out

University of Georgia

  • 1 “strong essay” sample from 2019
  • 1 “strong essay” sample from 2018
  • 10 Harvard essays from 2023
  • 10 Harvard essays from 2022
  • 10 Harvard essays from 2021
  • 10 Harvard essays from 2020
  • 10 Harvard essays from 2019
  • 10 Harvard essays from 2018
  • 6 essays from admitted MIT students

Smith College

  • 6 "best gift" essays from the class of 2018

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Books of College Essays

If you're looking for even more sample college essays, consider purchasing a college essay book. The best of these include dozens of essays that worked and feedback from real admissions officers.

College Essays That Made a Difference —This detailed guide from Princeton Review includes not only successful essays, but also interviews with admissions officers and full student profiles.

50 Successful Harvard Application Essays by the Staff of the Harvard Crimson—A must for anyone aspiring to Harvard .

50 Successful Ivy League Application Essays and 50 Successful Stanford Application Essays by Gen and Kelly Tanabe—For essays from other top schools, check out this venerated series, which is regularly updated with new essays.

Heavenly Essays by Janine W. Robinson—This collection from the popular blogger behind Essay Hell includes a wider range of schools, as well as helpful tips on honing your own essay.

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Analyzing Great Common App Essays That Worked

I've picked two essays from the examples collected above to examine in more depth so that you can see exactly what makes a successful college essay work. Full credit for these essays goes to the original authors and the schools that published them.

Example 1: "Breaking Into Cars," by Stephen, Johns Hopkins Class of '19 (Common App Essay, 636 words long)

I had never broken into a car before.

We were in Laredo, having just finished our first day at a Habitat for Humanity work site. The Hotchkiss volunteers had already left, off to enjoy some Texas BBQ, leaving me behind with the college kids to clean up. Not until we were stranded did we realize we were locked out of the van.

Someone picked a coat hanger out of the dumpster, handed it to me, and took a few steps back.

"Can you do that thing with a coat hanger to unlock it?"

"Why me?" I thought.

More out of amusement than optimism, I gave it a try. I slid the hanger into the window's seal like I'd seen on crime shows, and spent a few minutes jiggling the apparatus around the inside of the frame. Suddenly, two things simultaneously clicked. One was the lock on the door. (I actually succeeded in springing it.) The other was the realization that I'd been in this type of situation before. In fact, I'd been born into this type of situation.

My upbringing has numbed me to unpredictability and chaos. With a family of seven, my home was loud, messy, and spottily supervised. My siblings arguing, the dog barking, the phone ringing—all meant my house was functioning normally. My Dad, a retired Navy pilot, was away half the time. When he was home, he had a parenting style something like a drill sergeant. At the age of nine, I learned how to clear burning oil from the surface of water. My Dad considered this a critical life skill—you know, in case my aircraft carrier should ever get torpedoed. "The water's on fire! Clear a hole!" he shouted, tossing me in the lake without warning. While I'm still unconvinced about that particular lesson's practicality, my Dad's overarching message is unequivocally true: much of life is unexpected, and you have to deal with the twists and turns.

Living in my family, days rarely unfolded as planned. A bit overlooked, a little pushed around, I learned to roll with reality, negotiate a quick deal, and give the improbable a try. I don't sweat the small stuff, and I definitely don't expect perfect fairness. So what if our dining room table only has six chairs for seven people? Someone learns the importance of punctuality every night.

But more than punctuality and a special affinity for musical chairs, my family life has taught me to thrive in situations over which I have no power. Growing up, I never controlled my older siblings, but I learned how to thwart their attempts to control me. I forged alliances, and realigned them as necessary. Sometimes, I was the poor, defenseless little brother; sometimes I was the omniscient elder. Different things to different people, as the situation demanded. I learned to adapt.

Back then, these techniques were merely reactions undertaken to ensure my survival. But one day this fall, Dr. Hicks, our Head of School, asked me a question that he hoped all seniors would reflect on throughout the year: "How can I participate in a thing I do not govern, in the company of people I did not choose?"

The question caught me off guard, much like the question posed to me in Laredo. Then, I realized I knew the answer. I knew why the coat hanger had been handed to me.

Growing up as the middle child in my family, I was a vital participant in a thing I did not govern, in the company of people I did not choose. It's family. It's society. And often, it's chaos. You participate by letting go of the small stuff, not expecting order and perfection, and facing the unexpected with confidence, optimism, and preparedness. My family experience taught me to face a serendipitous world with confidence.

What Makes This Essay Tick?

It's very helpful to take writing apart in order to see just how it accomplishes its objectives. Stephen's essay is very effective. Let's find out why!

An Opening Line That Draws You In

In just eight words, we get: scene-setting (he is standing next to a car about to break in), the idea of crossing a boundary (he is maybe about to do an illegal thing for the first time), and a cliffhanger (we are thinking: is he going to get caught? Is he headed for a life of crime? Is he about to be scared straight?).

Great, Detailed Opening Story

More out of amusement than optimism, I gave it a try. I slid the hanger into the window's seal like I'd seen on crime shows, and spent a few minutes jiggling the apparatus around the inside of the frame.

It's the details that really make this small experience come alive. Notice how whenever he can, Stephen uses a more specific, descriptive word in place of a more generic one. The volunteers aren't going to get food or dinner; they're going for "Texas BBQ." The coat hanger comes from "a dumpster." Stephen doesn't just move the coat hanger—he "jiggles" it.

Details also help us visualize the emotions of the people in the scene. The person who hands Stephen the coat hanger isn't just uncomfortable or nervous; he "takes a few steps back"—a description of movement that conveys feelings. Finally, the detail of actual speech makes the scene pop. Instead of writing that the other guy asked him to unlock the van, Stephen has the guy actually say his own words in a way that sounds like a teenager talking.

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Turning a Specific Incident Into a Deeper Insight

Suddenly, two things simultaneously clicked. One was the lock on the door. (I actually succeeded in springing it.) The other was the realization that I'd been in this type of situation before. In fact, I'd been born into this type of situation.

Stephen makes the locked car experience a meaningful illustration of how he has learned to be resourceful and ready for anything, and he also makes this turn from the specific to the broad through an elegant play on the two meanings of the word "click."

Using Concrete Examples When Making Abstract Claims

My upbringing has numbed me to unpredictability and chaos. With a family of seven, my home was loud, messy, and spottily supervised. My siblings arguing, the dog barking, the phone ringing—all meant my house was functioning normally.

"Unpredictability and chaos" are very abstract, not easily visualized concepts. They could also mean any number of things—violence, abandonment, poverty, mental instability. By instantly following up with highly finite and unambiguous illustrations like "family of seven" and "siblings arguing, the dog barking, the phone ringing," Stephen grounds the abstraction in something that is easy to picture: a large, noisy family.

Using Small Bits of Humor and Casual Word Choice

My Dad, a retired Navy pilot, was away half the time. When he was home, he had a parenting style something like a drill sergeant. At the age of nine, I learned how to clear burning oil from the surface of water. My Dad considered this a critical life skill—you know, in case my aircraft carrier should ever get torpedoed.

Obviously, knowing how to clean burning oil is not high on the list of things every 9-year-old needs to know. To emphasize this, Stephen uses sarcasm by bringing up a situation that is clearly over-the-top: "in case my aircraft carrier should ever get torpedoed."

The humor also feels relaxed. Part of this is because he introduces it with the colloquial phrase "you know," so it sounds like he is talking to us in person. This approach also diffuses the potential discomfort of the reader with his father's strictness—since he is making jokes about it, clearly he is OK. Notice, though, that this doesn't occur very much in the essay. This helps keep the tone meaningful and serious rather than flippant.

body-oil-spill

An Ending That Stretches the Insight Into the Future

But one day this fall, Dr. Hicks, our Head of School, asked me a question that he hoped all seniors would reflect on throughout the year: "How can I participate in a thing I do not govern, in the company of people I did not choose?"

The ending of the essay reveals that Stephen's life has been one long preparation for the future. He has emerged from chaos and his dad's approach to parenting as a person who can thrive in a world that he can't control.

This connection of past experience to current maturity and self-knowledge is a key element in all successful personal essays. Colleges are very much looking for mature, self-aware applicants. These are the qualities of successful college students, who will be able to navigate the independence college classes require and the responsibility and quasi-adulthood of college life.

What Could This Essay Do Even Better?

Even the best essays aren't perfect, and even the world's greatest writers will tell you that writing is never "finished"—just "due." So what would we tweak in this essay if we could?

Replace some of the clichéd language. Stephen uses handy phrases like "twists and turns" and "don't sweat the small stuff" as a kind of shorthand for explaining his relationship to chaos and unpredictability. But using too many of these ready-made expressions runs the risk of clouding out your own voice and replacing it with something expected and boring.

Use another example from recent life. Stephen's first example (breaking into the van in Laredo) is a great illustration of being resourceful in an unexpected situation. But his essay also emphasizes that he "learned to adapt" by being "different things to different people." It would be great to see how this plays out outside his family, either in the situation in Laredo or another context.

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Example 2: By Renner Kwittken, Tufts Class of '23 (Common App Essay, 645 words long)

My first dream job was to be a pickle truck driver. I saw it in my favorite book, Richard Scarry's "Cars and Trucks and Things That Go," and for some reason, I was absolutely obsessed with the idea of driving a giant pickle. Much to the discontent of my younger sister, I insisted that my parents read us that book as many nights as possible so we could find goldbug, a small little golden bug, on every page. I would imagine the wonderful life I would have: being a pig driving a giant pickle truck across the country, chasing and finding goldbug. I then moved on to wanting to be a Lego Master. Then an architect. Then a surgeon.

Then I discovered a real goldbug: gold nanoparticles that can reprogram macrophages to assist in killing tumors, produce clear images of them without sacrificing the subject, and heat them to obliteration.

Suddenly the destination of my pickle was clear.

I quickly became enveloped by the world of nanomedicine; I scoured articles about liposomes, polymeric micelles, dendrimers, targeting ligands, and self-assembling nanoparticles, all conquering cancer in some exotic way. Completely absorbed, I set out to find a mentor to dive even deeper into these topics. After several rejections, I was immensely grateful to receive an invitation to work alongside Dr. Sangeeta Ray at Johns Hopkins.

In the lab, Dr. Ray encouraged a great amount of autonomy to design and implement my own procedures. I chose to attack a problem that affects the entire field of nanomedicine: nanoparticles consistently fail to translate from animal studies into clinical trials. Jumping off recent literature, I set out to see if a pre-dose of a common chemotherapeutic could enhance nanoparticle delivery in aggressive prostate cancer, creating three novel constructs based on three different linear polymers, each using fluorescent dye (although no gold, sorry goldbug!). Though using radioactive isotopes like Gallium and Yttrium would have been incredible, as a 17-year-old, I unfortunately wasn't allowed in the same room as these radioactive materials (even though I took a Geiger counter to a pair of shoes and found them to be slightly dangerous).

I hadn't expected my hypothesis to work, as the research project would have ideally been led across two full years. Yet while there are still many optimizations and revisions to be done, I was thrilled to find -- with completely new nanoparticles that may one day mean future trials will use particles with the initials "RK-1" -- thatcyclophosphamide did indeed increase nanoparticle delivery to the tumor in a statistically significant way.

A secondary, unexpected research project was living alone in Baltimore, a new city to me, surrounded by people much older than I. Even with moving frequently between hotels, AirBnB's, and students' apartments, I strangely reveled in the freedom I had to enjoy my surroundings and form new friendships with graduate school students from the lab. We explored The Inner Harbor at night, attended a concert together one weekend, and even got to watch the Orioles lose (to nobody's surprise). Ironically, it's through these new friendships I discovered something unexpected: what I truly love is sharing research. Whether in a presentation or in a casual conversation, making others interested in science is perhaps more exciting to me than the research itself. This solidified a new pursuit to angle my love for writing towards illuminating science in ways people can understand, adding value to a society that can certainly benefit from more scientific literacy.

It seems fitting that my goals are still transforming: in Scarry's book, there is not just one goldbug, there is one on every page. With each new experience, I'm learning that it isn't the goldbug itself, but rather the act of searching for the goldbugs that will encourage, shape, and refine my ever-evolving passions. Regardless of the goldbug I seek -- I know my pickle truck has just begun its journey.

Renner takes a somewhat different approach than Stephen, but their essay is just as detailed and engaging. Let's go through some of the strengths of this essay.

One Clear Governing Metaphor

This essay is ultimately about two things: Renner’s dreams and future career goals, and Renner’s philosophy on goal-setting and achieving one’s dreams.

But instead of listing off all the amazing things they’ve done to pursue their dream of working in nanomedicine, Renner tells a powerful, unique story instead. To set up the narrative, Renner opens the essay by connecting their experiences with goal-setting and dream-chasing all the way back to a memorable childhood experience:

This lighthearted–but relevant!--story about the moment when Renner first developed a passion for a specific career (“finding the goldbug”) provides an anchor point for the rest of the essay. As Renner pivots to describing their current dreams and goals–working in nanomedicine–the metaphor of “finding the goldbug” is reflected in Renner’s experiments, rejections, and new discoveries.

Though Renner tells multiple stories about their quest to “find the goldbug,” or, in other words, pursue their passion, each story is connected by a unifying theme; namely, that as we search and grow over time, our goals will transform…and that’s okay! By the end of the essay, Renner uses the metaphor of “finding the goldbug” to reiterate the relevance of the opening story:

While the earlier parts of the essay convey Renner’s core message by showing, the final, concluding paragraph sums up Renner’s insights by telling. By briefly and clearly stating the relevance of the goldbug metaphor to their own philosophy on goals and dreams, Renner demonstrates their creativity, insight, and eagerness to grow and evolve as the journey continues into college.

body_fixers

An Engaging, Individual Voice

This essay uses many techniques that make Renner sound genuine and make the reader feel like we already know them.

Technique #1: humor. Notice Renner's gentle and relaxed humor that lightly mocks their younger self's grand ambitions (this is different from the more sarcastic kind of humor used by Stephen in the first essay—you could never mistake one writer for the other).

My first dream job was to be a pickle truck driver.

I would imagine the wonderful life I would have: being a pig driving a giant pickle truck across the country, chasing and finding goldbug. I then moved on to wanting to be a Lego Master. Then an architect. Then a surgeon.

Renner gives a great example of how to use humor to your advantage in college essays. You don’t want to come off as too self-deprecating or sarcastic, but telling a lightheartedly humorous story about your younger self that also showcases how you’ve grown and changed over time can set the right tone for your entire essay.

Technique #2: intentional, eye-catching structure. The second technique is the way Renner uses a unique structure to bolster the tone and themes of their essay . The structure of your essay can have a major impact on how your ideas come across…so it’s important to give it just as much thought as the content of your essay!

For instance, Renner does a great job of using one-line paragraphs to create dramatic emphasis and to make clear transitions from one phase of the story to the next:

Suddenly the destination of my pickle car was clear.

Not only does the one-liner above signal that Renner is moving into a new phase of the narrative (their nanoparticle research experiences), it also tells the reader that this is a big moment in Renner’s story. It’s clear that Renner made a major discovery that changed the course of their goal pursuit and dream-chasing. Through structure, Renner conveys excitement and entices the reader to keep pushing forward to the next part of the story.

Technique #3: playing with syntax. The third technique is to use sentences of varying length, syntax, and structure. Most of the essay's written in standard English and uses grammatically correct sentences. However, at key moments, Renner emphasizes that the reader needs to sit up and pay attention by switching to short, colloquial, differently punctuated, and sometimes fragmented sentences.

Even with moving frequently between hotels, AirBnB's, and students' apartments, I strangely reveled in the freedom I had to enjoy my surroundings and form new friendships with graduate school students from the lab. We explored The Inner Harbor at night, attended a concert together one weekend, and even got to watch the Orioles lose (to nobody's surprise). Ironically, it's through these new friendships I discovered something unexpected: what I truly love is sharing research.

In the examples above, Renner switches adeptly between long, flowing sentences and quippy, telegraphic ones. At the same time, Renner uses these different sentence lengths intentionally. As they describe their experiences in new places, they use longer sentences to immerse the reader in the sights, smells, and sounds of those experiences. And when it’s time to get a big, key idea across, Renner switches to a short, punchy sentence to stop the reader in their tracks.

The varying syntax and sentence lengths pull the reader into the narrative and set up crucial “aha” moments when it’s most important…which is a surefire way to make any college essay stand out.

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Renner's essay is very strong, but there are still a few little things that could be improved.

Connecting the research experiences to the theme of “finding the goldbug.”  The essay begins and ends with Renner’s connection to the idea of “finding the goldbug.” And while this metaphor is deftly tied into the essay’s intro and conclusion, it isn’t entirely clear what Renner’s big findings were during the research experiences that are described in the middle of the essay. It would be great to add a sentence or two stating what Renner’s big takeaways (or “goldbugs”) were from these experiences, which add more cohesion to the essay as a whole.

Give more details about discovering the world of nanomedicine. It makes sense that Renner wants to get into the details of their big research experiences as quickly as possible. After all, these are the details that show Renner’s dedication to nanomedicine! But a smoother transition from the opening pickle car/goldbug story to Renner’s “real goldbug” of nanoparticles would help the reader understand why nanoparticles became Renner’s goldbug. Finding out why Renner is so motivated to study nanomedicine–and perhaps what put them on to this field of study–would help readers fully understand why Renner chose this path in the first place.

4 Essential Tips for Writing Your Own Essay

How can you use this discussion to better your own college essay? Here are some suggestions for ways to use this resource effectively.

#1: Get Help From the Experts

Getting your college applications together takes a lot of work and can be pretty intimidatin g. Essays are even more important than ever now that admissions processes are changing and schools are going test-optional and removing diversity standards thanks to new Supreme Court rulings .  If you want certified expert help that really makes a difference, get started with  PrepScholar’s Essay Editing and Coaching program. Our program can help you put together an incredible essay from idea to completion so that your application stands out from the crowd. We've helped students get into the best colleges in the United States, including Harvard, Stanford, and Yale.  If you're ready to take the next step and boost your odds of getting into your dream school, connect with our experts today .

#2: Read Other Essays to Get Ideas for Your Own

As you go through the essays we've compiled for you above, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can you explain to yourself (or someone else!) why the opening sentence works well?
  • Look for the essay's detailed personal anecdote. What senses is the author describing? Can you easily picture the scene in your mind's eye?
  • Find the place where this anecdote bridges into a larger insight about the author. How does the essay connect the two? How does the anecdote work as an example of the author's characteristic, trait, or skill?
  • Check out the essay's tone. If it's funny, can you find the places where the humor comes from? If it's sad and moving, can you find the imagery and description of feelings that make you moved? If it's serious, can you see how word choice adds to this tone?

Make a note whenever you find an essay or part of an essay that you think was particularly well-written, and think about what you like about it . Is it funny? Does it help you really get to know the writer? Does it show what makes the writer unique? Once you have your list, keep it next to you while writing your essay to remind yourself to try and use those same techniques in your own essay.

body-gears-cogs-puzzle-cc0

#3: Find Your "A-Ha!" Moment

All of these essays rely on connecting with the reader through a heartfelt, highly descriptive scene from the author's life. It can either be very dramatic (did you survive a plane crash?) or it can be completely mundane (did you finally beat your dad at Scrabble?). Either way, it should be personal and revealing about you, your personality, and the way you are now that you are entering the adult world.

Check out essays by authors like John Jeremiah Sullivan , Leslie Jamison , Hanif Abdurraqib , and Esmé Weijun Wang to get more examples of how to craft a compelling personal narrative.

#4: Start Early, Revise Often

Let me level with you: the best writing isn't writing at all. It's rewriting. And in order to have time to rewrite, you have to start way before the application deadline. My advice is to write your first draft at least two months before your applications are due.

Let it sit for a few days untouched. Then come back to it with fresh eyes and think critically about what you've written. What's extra? What's missing? What is in the wrong place? What doesn't make sense? Don't be afraid to take it apart and rearrange sections. Do this several times over, and your essay will be much better for it!

For more editing tips, check out a style guide like Dreyer's English or Eats, Shoots & Leaves .

body_next_step_drawing_blackboard

What's Next?

Still not sure which colleges you want to apply to? Our experts will show you how to make a college list that will help you choose a college that's right for you.

Interested in learning more about college essays? Check out our detailed breakdown of exactly how personal statements work in an application , some suggestions on what to avoid when writing your essay , and our guide to writing about your extracurricular activities .

Working on the rest of your application? Read what admissions officers wish applicants knew before applying .

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Anna scored in the 99th percentile on her SATs in high school, and went on to major in English at Princeton and to get her doctorate in English Literature at Columbia. She is passionate about improving student access to higher education.

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Ultimate Guide to Writing Your College Essay

Tips for writing an effective college essay.

College admissions essays are an important part of your college application and gives you the chance to show colleges and universities your character and experiences. This guide will give you tips to write an effective college essay.

Want free help with your college essay?

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Stuck on what to write your college essay about? Here are some exercises to help you get started.

How formal should the tone of your college essay be?

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Student Story: Admissions essay about a formative experience

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Student Story: Admissions essay about personal identity

Get the perspective of a current college student on how she approached the admissions essay.

Student Story: Admissions essay about community impact

Student story: admissions essay about a past mistake, how to write a college application essay, tips for writing an effective application essay, sample college essay 1 with feedback, sample college essay 2 with feedback.

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Some experts argue that focusing on individual actions to combat climate change takes the focus away from the collective action required to keep carbon levels from rising. Change will not be effected, say some others, unless individual actions raise the necessary awareness.

While a reader can see the connection between the sentences above, it’s not immediately clear that the second sentence is providing a counterargument to the first. In the example below, key “old information” is repeated in the second sentence to help readers quickly see the connection. This makes the sequence of ideas easier to follow.  

Sentence pair #2: Effective Transition

Some experts argue that focusing on individual actions to combat climate change takes the focus away from the collective action required to keep carbon levels from rising. Other experts argue that individual actions are key to raising the awareness necessary to effect change.

You can use this same technique to create clear transitions between paragraphs. Here’s an example:

Some experts argue that focusing on individual actions to combat climate change takes the focus away from the collective action required to keep carbon levels from rising. Other experts argue that individual actions are key to raising the awareness necessary to effect change. According to Annie Lowery, individual actions are important to making social change because when individuals take action, they can change values, which can lead to more people becoming invested in fighting climate change. She writes, “Researchers believe that these kinds of household-led trends can help avert climate catastrophe, even if government and corporate actions are far more important” (Lowery).

So, what’s an individual household supposed to do?

The repetition of the word “household” in the new paragraph helps readers see the connection between what has come before (a discussion of whether household actions matter) and what is about to come (a proposal for what types of actions households can take to combat climate change).

Sometimes, transitional words can help readers see how ideas are connected. But it’s not enough to just include a “therefore,” “moreover,” “also,” or “in addition.” You should choose these words carefully to show your readers what kind of connection you are making between your ideas.

To decide which transitional word to use, start by identifying the relationship between your ideas. For example, you might be

  • making a comparison or showing a contrast Transitional words that compare and contrast include also, in the same way, similarly, in contrast, yet, on the one hand, on the other hand. But before you signal comparison, ask these questions: Do your readers need another example of the same thing? Is there a new nuance in this next point that distinguishes it from the previous example? For those relationships between ideas, you might try this type of transition: While x may appear the same, it actually raises a new question in a slightly different way. 
  • expressing agreement or disagreement When you are making an argument, you need to signal to readers where you stand in relation to other scholars and critics. You may agree with another person’s claim, you may want to concede some part of the argument even if you don’t agree with everything, or you may disagree. Transitional words that signal agreement, concession, and disagreement include however, nevertheless, actually, still, despite, admittedly, still, on the contrary, nonetheless .
  • showing cause and effect Transitional phrases that show cause and effect include therefore, hence, consequently, thus, so. Before you choose one of these words, make sure that what you are about to illustrate is really a causal link. Novice writers tend to add therefore and hence when they aren’t sure how to transition; you should reserve these words for when they accurately signal the progression of your ideas.
  • explaining or elaborating Transitions can signal to readers that you are going to expand on a point that you have just made or explain something further. Transitional words that signal explanation or elaboration include in other words, for example, for instance, in particular, that is, to illustrate, moreover .
  • drawing conclusions You can use transitions to signal to readers that you are moving from the body of your argument to your conclusions. Before you use transitional words to signal conclusions, consider whether you can write a stronger conclusion by creating a transition that shows the relationship between your ideas rather than by flagging the paragraph simply as a conclusion. Transitional words that signal a conclusion include in conclusion , as a result, ultimately, overall— but strong conclusions do not necessarily have to include those phrases.

If you’re not sure which transitional words to use—or whether to use one at all—see if you can explain the connection between your paragraphs or sentence either out loud or in the margins of your draft.

For example, if you write a paragraph in which you summarize physician Atul Gawande’s argument about the value of incremental care, and then you move on to a paragraph that challenges those ideas, you might write down something like this next to the first paragraph: “In this paragraph I summarize Gawande’s main claim.” Then, next to the second paragraph, you might write, “In this paragraph I present a challenge to Gawande’s main claim.” Now that you have identified the relationship between those two paragraphs, you can choose the most effective transition between them. Since the second paragraph in this example challenges the ideas in the first, you might begin with something like “but,” or “however,” to signal that shift for your readers.  

  • picture_as_pdf Transitions

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great essay words

The 50 Best Vocab Words for the ACT Essay

great essay words

When taking the ACT essay section, students have 45 minutes to write a well-reasoned argumentative essay about a given prompt. The new ACT Essay prompts tend to be about “debate” topics — two sides of an issue are presented, with no obviously “right” side. Oftentimes, these subjects carry implications for broader issues such as freedom or morality. Test-takers are expected to convey some stance on the issue and support their argument with relevant facts and analysis.

In addition to some of the more obvious categories, like grammar and structure, students’ essays are also evaluated on their mastery of the English language. One way to demonstrate such mastery is through the correct usage of advanced vocabulary words. Below are 50 above-average vocabulary words sorted by the contexts in which they could most easily be worked into an ACT essay.

(Key: N = Noun, V= Verb, Adj. = Adjective)

Context 1: Factual Support For ACT Essay

These words can easily be used when stating facts and describing examples to support one’s argument. On ACT essays, common examples are trends or patterns of human behavior, current or past events, and large-scale laws or regulations.

1. Antecedent – a precursor, or preceding event for something – N

2. Bastion – an institution/place/person that strongly maintains particular principles, attitudes, or activities – N

3. Bellwether – something that indicates a trend – N

4. Burgeon – to begin to grow or increase rapidly – V

5. Catalyst – an agent that provokes or triggers change – N

6. Defunct – no longer in existence or functioning – Adj.

7. Entrenched – characterized by something that is firmly established and difficult to change – Adj.

8. Foster – to encourage the development of something – V

9. Galvanize – to shock or excite someone into taking action – V

10. Impetus – something that makes a process or activity happen or happen faster – N

11. Inadvertent – accidental or unintentional – Adj.

12. Incessant – never ending; continuing without pause – Adj.

13. Inflame – to provoke or intensify strong feelings in someone – V

14. Instill – to gradually but firmly establish an idea or attitude into a person’s mind – V

15. Lucrative – having a large reward, monetary or otherwise – Adj.

16. Myriad – countless or extremely large in number – Adj.

17. Precipitate – to cause something to happen suddenly or unexpectedly – V

18. Proponent – a person who advocates for something – N

19. Resurgence – an increase or revival after a period of limited activity – N

20. Revitalize – to give something new life and vitality – V

21. Ubiquitous – characterized by being everywhere; widespread – Adj.

22. Watershed – an event or period that marks a turning point – N

great essay words

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Context 2: Analysis

These words can often be used when describing common patterns between examples or casting some form of opinion or judgement.

23. Anomaly  – deviation from the norm – N

24. Automaton – a mindless follower; someone who acts in a mechanical fashion – N

25. Belie – to fail to give a true impression of something – V

26. Cupidity – excessive greed – Adj.

27. Debacle – a powerful failure; a fiasco – N

28. Demagogue – a political leader or person who looks for support by appealing to prejudices instead of using rational arguments – N

29. Deter – to discourage someone from doing something by making them doubt or fear the consequences – V

30. Discredit – to harm the reputation or respect for someone – V

31. Draconian – characterized by strict laws, rules and punishments – Adj.

32. Duplicitous – deliberately deceitful in speech/behavior – Adj.

33. Egregious – conspicuously bad; extremely evil; monstrous and outrageous – Adj.

34. Exacerbate – to make a situation worse – V

35. Ignominious – deserving or causing public disgrace or shame – Adj.

36. Insidious – proceeding in a subtle way but with harmful effects – Adj.

37. Myopic – short-sighted; not considering the long run – Adj.

38. Pernicious – dangerous and harmful – Adj.

39. Renegade – a person who betrays an organization, country, or set of principles – N

40. Stigmatize – to describe or regard as worthy of disgrace or disapproval – V

41. Superfluous – unnecessary – Adj.

42. Venal – corrupt; susceptible to bribery – Adj.

43. Virulent – extremely severe or harmful in its effects – Adj.

44. Zealot – a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals – N

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C ontext 3: Thesis and Argument

These words are appropriate for taking a stance on controversial topics, placing greater weight on one or the other end of the spectrum, usually touching on abstract concepts, and/or related to human nature or societal issues.

45. Autonomy – independence or self governance; the right to make decisions for oneself – N

46. Conundrum – a difficult problem with no easy solution – N

47. Dichotomy – a division or contrast between two things that are presented as opposites or entirely different – N

48. Disparity – a great difference between things – N

49. Divisive – causing disagreement or hostility between people – Adj.

50. Egalitarian – favoring social equality and equal rights – Adj.

Although it’s true that vocabulary is one of the lesser criteria by which students’ ACT essays are graded, the small boost it may give to a student’s score could be the difference between a good score and a great score. For those who are already confident in their ability to create and support a well-reasoned argument but still want to go the extra mile, having a few general-purpose, impressive-sounding vocabulary words up one’s sleeve is a great way to tack on even more points.

How Does Your ACT Score Impact Your College Chances?

Selective colleges use a metric called the Academic Index (AI) to represent the strength of applicants’ grades and test scores. If your AI is too low, a school may not even review the rest of your application. 

We’ve made it easy to understand the impact of your ACT score by creating a free Admissions Chances Calculator . This calculator will let you know how your score stacks up against other applicants’, and give you tips on improving the rest of your profile, including grades and extracurriculars.

You can also search for schools based on preferences like location, major, cost, and more. Give it a try to get a jumpstart on your college strategy. 

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To learn more about the ACT test, check out these CollegeVine posts:

What Is a Good ACT Score?

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33 Transition Words and Phrases

Transitional terms give writers the opportunity to prepare readers for a new idea, connecting the previous sentence to the next one.

Many transitional words are nearly synonymous: words that broadly indicate that “this follows logically from the preceding” include accordingly, therefore, and consequently . Words that mean “in addition to” include moreover, besides, and further . Words that mean “contrary to what was just stated” include however, nevertheless , and nonetheless .

as a result : THEREFORE : CONSEQUENTLY

The executive’s flight was delayed and they accordingly arrived late.

in or by way of addition : FURTHERMORE

The mountain has many marked hiking trails; additionally, there are several unmarked trails that lead to the summit.

at a later or succeeding time : SUBSEQUENTLY, THEREAFTER

Afterward, she got a promotion.

even though : ALTHOUGH

She appeared as a guest star on the show, albeit briefly.

in spite of the fact that : even though —used when making a statement that differs from or contrasts with a statement you have just made

They are good friends, although they don't see each other very often.

in addition to what has been said : MOREOVER, FURTHERMORE

I can't go, and besides, I wouldn't go if I could.

as a result : in view of the foregoing : ACCORDINGLY

The words are often confused and are consequently misused.

in a contrasting or opposite way —used to introduce a statement that contrasts with a previous statement or presents a differing interpretation or possibility

Large objects appear to be closer. Conversely, small objects seem farther away.

used to introduce a statement that is somehow different from what has just been said

These problems are not as bad as they were. Even so, there is much more work to be done.

used as a stronger way to say "though" or "although"

I'm planning to go even though it may rain.

in addition : MOREOVER

I had some money to invest, and, further, I realized that the risk was small.

in addition to what precedes : BESIDES —used to introduce a statement that supports or adds to a previous statement

These findings seem plausible. Furthermore, several studies have confirmed them.

because of a preceding fact or premise : for this reason : THEREFORE

He was a newcomer and hence had no close friends here.

from this point on : starting now

She announced that henceforth she would be running the company.

in spite of that : on the other hand —used when you are saying something that is different from or contrasts with a previous statement

I'd like to go; however, I'd better not.

as something more : BESIDES —used for adding information to a statement

The city has the largest population in the country and in addition is a major shipping port.

all things considered : as a matter of fact —used when making a statement that adds to or strengthens a previous statement

He likes to have things his own way; indeed, he can be very stubborn.

for fear that —often used after an expression denoting fear or apprehension

He was concerned lest anyone think that he was guilty.

in addition : ALSO —often used to introduce a statement that adds to and is related to a previous statement

She is an acclaimed painter who is likewise a sculptor.

at or during the same time : in the meantime

You can set the table. Meanwhile, I'll start making dinner.

BESIDES, FURTHER : in addition to what has been said —used to introduce a statement that supports or adds to a previous statement

It probably wouldn't work. Moreover, it would be very expensive to try it.

in spite of that : HOWEVER

It was a predictable, but nevertheless funny, story.

in spite of what has just been said : NEVERTHELESS

The hike was difficult, but fun nonetheless.

without being prevented by (something) : despite—used to say that something happens or is true even though there is something that might prevent it from happening or being true

Notwithstanding their youth and inexperience, the team won the championship.

if not : or else

Finish your dinner. Otherwise, you won't get any dessert.

more correctly speaking —used to introduce a statement that corrects what you have just said

We can take the car, or rather, the van.

in spite of that —used to say that something happens or is true even though there is something that might prevent it from happening or being true

I tried again and still I failed.

by that : by that means

He signed the contract, thereby forfeiting his right to the property.

for that reason : because of that

This tablet is thin and light and therefore very convenient to carry around.

immediately after that

The committee reviewed the documents and thereupon decided to accept the proposal.

because of this or that : HENCE, CONSEQUENTLY

This detergent is highly concentrated and thus you will need to dilute it.

while on the contrary —used to make a statement that describes how two people, groups, etc., are different

Some of these species have flourished, whereas others have struggled.

NEVERTHELESS, HOWEVER —used to introduce a statement that adds something to a previous statement and usually contrasts with it in some way

It was pouring rain out, yet his clothes didn’t seem very wet.

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  • Transition Words & Phrases | List & Examples

Transition Words & Phrases | List & Examples

Published on May 29, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on August 23, 2023.

Transition words and phrases (also called linking words, connecting words, or transitional words) are used to link together different ideas in your text. They help the reader to follow your arguments by expressing the relationships between different sentences or parts of a sentence.

The proposed solution to the problem did not work. Therefore , we attempted a second solution. However , this solution was also unsuccessful.

For clear writing, it’s essential to understand the meaning of transition words and use them correctly.

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Table of contents

When and how to use transition words, types and examples of transition words, common mistakes with transition words, other interesting articles.

Transition words commonly appear at the start of a new sentence or clause (followed by a comma ), serving to express how this clause relates to the previous one.

Transition words can also appear in the middle of a clause. It’s important to place them correctly to convey the meaning you intend.

Example text with and without transition words

The text below describes all the events it needs to, but it does not use any transition words to connect them. Because of this, it’s not clear exactly how these different events are related or what point the author is making by telling us about them.

If we add some transition words at appropriate moments, the text reads more smoothly and the relationship among the events described becomes clearer.

Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Consequently , France and the United Kingdom declared war on Germany. The Soviet Union initially worked with Germany in order to partition Poland. However , Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941.

Don’t overuse transition words

While transition words are essential to clear writing, it’s possible to use too many of them. Consider the following example, in which the overuse of linking words slows down the text and makes it feel repetitive.

In this case the best way to fix the problem is to simplify the text so that fewer linking words are needed.

The key to using transition words effectively is striking the right balance. It is difficult to follow the logic of a text with no transition words, but a text where every sentence begins with a transition word can feel over-explained.

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great essay words

There are four main types of transition word: additive, adversative, causal, and sequential. Within each category, words are divided into several more specific functions.

Remember that transition words with similar meanings are not necessarily interchangeable. It’s important to understand the meaning of all the transition words you use. If unsure, consult a dictionary to find the precise definition.

Additive transition words

Additive transition words introduce new information or examples. They can be used to expand upon, compare with, or clarify the preceding text.

Adversative transition words

Adversative transition words always signal a contrast of some kind. They can be used to introduce information that disagrees or contrasts with the preceding text.

Causal transition words

Causal transition words are used to describe cause and effect. They can be used to express purpose, consequence, and condition.

Sequential transition words

Sequential transition words indicate a sequence, whether it’s the order in which events occurred chronologically or the order you’re presenting them in your text. They can be used for signposting in academic texts.

Transition words are often used incorrectly. Make sure you understand the proper usage of transition words and phrases, and remember that words with similar meanings don’t necessarily work the same way grammatically.

Misused transition words can make your writing unclear or illogical. Your audience will be easily lost if you misrepresent the connections between your sentences and ideas.

Confused use of therefore

“Therefore” and similar cause-and-effect words are used to state that something is the result of, or follows logically from, the previous. Make sure not to use these words in a way that implies illogical connections.

  • We asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their work from 1 to 10. Therefore , the average satisfaction among participants was 7.5.

The use of “therefore” in this example is illogical: it suggests that the result of 7.5 follows logically from the question being asked, when in fact many other results were possible. To fix this, we simply remove the word “therefore.”

  • We asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their work from 1 to 10. The average satisfaction among participants was 7.5.

Starting a sentence with also , and , or so

While the words “also,” “and,” and “so” are used in academic writing, they are considered too informal when used at the start of a sentence.

  • Also , a second round of testing was carried out.

To fix this issue, we can either move the transition word to a different point in the sentence or use a more formal alternative.

  • A second round of testing was also carried out.
  • Additionally , a second round of testing was carried out.

Transition words creating sentence fragments

Words like “although” and “because” are called subordinating conjunctions . This means that they introduce clauses which cannot stand on their own. A clause introduced by one of these words should always follow or be followed by another clause in the same sentence.

The second sentence in this example is a fragment, because it consists only of the “although” clause.

  • Smith (2015) argues that the period should be reassessed. Although other researchers disagree.

We can fix this in two different ways. One option is to combine the two sentences into one using a comma. The other option is to use a different transition word that does not create this problem, like “however.”

  • Smith (2015) argues that the period should be reassessed, although other researchers disagree.
  • Smith (2015) argues that the period should be reassessed. However , other researchers disagree.

And vs. as well as

Students often use the phrase “ as well as ” in place of “and,” but its usage is slightly different. Using “and” suggests that the things you’re listing are of equal importance, while “as well as” introduces additional information that is less important.

  • Chapter 1 discusses some background information on Woolf, as well as presenting my analysis of To the Lighthouse .

In this example, the analysis is more important than the background information. To fix this mistake, we can use “and,” or we can change the order of the sentence so that the most important information comes first. Note that we add a comma before “as well as” but not before “and.”

  • Chapter 1 discusses some background information on Woolf and presents my analysis of To the Lighthouse .
  • Chapter 1 presents my analysis of To the Lighthouse , as well as discussing some background information on Woolf.

Note that in fixed phrases like “both x and y ,” you must use “and,” not “as well as.”

  • Both my results as well as my interpretations are presented below.
  • Both my results and my interpretations are presented below.

Use of and/or

The combination of transition words “and/or” should generally be avoided in academic writing. It makes your text look messy and is usually unnecessary to your meaning.

First consider whether you really do mean “and/or” and not just “and” or “or.” If you are certain that you need both, it’s best to separate them to make your meaning as clear as possible.

  • Participants were asked whether they used the bus and/or the train.
  • Participants were asked whether they used the bus, the train, or both.

Archaic transition words

Words like “hereby,” “therewith,” and most others formed by the combination of “here,” “there,” or “where” with a preposition are typically avoided in modern academic writing. Using them makes your writing feel old-fashioned and strained and can sometimes obscure your meaning.

  • Poverty is best understood as a disease. Hereby , we not only see that it is hereditary, but acknowledge its devastating effects on a person’s health.

These words should usually be replaced with a more explicit phrasing expressing how the current statement relates to the preceding one.

  • Poverty is best understood as a disease. Understanding it as such , we not only see that it is hereditary, but also acknowledge its devastating effects on a person’s health.

Using a paraphrasing tool for clear writing

With the use of certain tools, you can make your writing clear. One of these tools is a paraphrasing tool . One thing the tool does is help your sentences make more sense. It has different modes where it checks how your text can be improved. For example, automatically adding transition words where needed.

If you want to know more about AI for academic writing, AI tools, or writing rules make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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