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3. Read the Question

This sounds quite simple, but not reading the question is a common mistake people make when writing an essay.

Don't make the mistake of writing everything you know about a topic! Make sure you ANSWER THE QUESTION.

Spend time thinking about the question. What is it asking you to do? Is it asking you to compare? describe? discuss?

Look at these essay topics.

1. Smoking in moderation is okay. Discuss.

2. Compare life in 1910 with life in 2010.

3. Country life is better than city life. Discuss.

4. The education system is different in different countries. Describe the education system in your country.

If you are asked to discuss a topic, you have to look at both sides of the topic. If you are asked to compare, you need to look at similarities and differences. If you are asked to describe, you need to talk about a system, the way something works or the way it looks.

Some common kinds of essays are:
compare and contrast - look at the similarities and differences between two or more things
narrative - narrate or tell a story
descriptive - describe, don't argue
persuasive - persuade/argue