Types of essays

The most common type of essay is the analytical essay, which requires you to develop an argument and support your ideas with evidence. The following are some of the different types of analytical essays:

Discursive essays

This type of essay requires you to describe both sides of the argument presented in the question, which usually starts with task words like ‘describe' or ‘discuss'.

Comparative essays

In a comparative essay, you describe similarities and differences in the question, which sets up two opposing ideas. This type of question usually starts with task words like ‘compare' or ‘contrast'.

Argumentative essays

An argumentative essay is when you develop your own argument from a general essay question. The question might be a quotation describing a number of different ideas, followed by the word ‘discuss'.

Discursive and comparative essays are both types of argumentative essays.

Most of the essays you write at school require you to develop an argument and then prove it with evidence from your research.



If you can identify the kind of essay you're being asked to write, you're more likely to structure your essay correctly.