A Manual for Formatting a School Essay

While an essay in high school is typically not of the same caliber as a college-level synthesis paper (depending on the high school you attend), the skills you acquire writing high school essays will help you transition over to college-level writing without feeling overwhelmed. If you can master writing a high school essay before you head off to the college campus, you’ll be far ahead of many others in your class. The organization and structure of high school essays compared to college essays are actually quite similar, although they differ in terms of analysis, depth, and the subject matter. As a general rule of thumb, your high school essay will still follow the same format of: thesis, support paragraphs, and conclusion.

  • Remember that your thesis statement is always in your introductory paragraph, and is not a statement of fact or truth; it is a statement of your argument. The thesis is where you let the reader know what you will be advocating for and the direction the essay will be going in. Essentially, your entire essay is built around your thesis. Traditionally, the thesis is located as the last one or two sentences of the first paragraph, though anywhere in the opening paragraph is acceptable.
  • You will follow up your introductory paragraph with a number of support paragraphs, typically anywhere from two to four. As another rule of thumb, three support paragraphs is the acceptable number you will need to effectively argue your point. In each support paragraph, you are essentially using facts and statistics in support of the argument you stated in the thesis. Be sure to include specific examples and write why each example supports you thesis. Don’t forget to include nice transition sentences in between paragraphs to make the essay flow better.
  • Your conclusion paragraphs will the last paragraph of your essay. This is where you restate the argument you made in the thesis and tie it in with the support. Wrap up the essay by writing down any final thoughts you may have.
  • Last but not least, be sure to proofread your work for any possible spelling and grammatical errors you may have accidentally made. Also make sure that the essay stays on topic, transitions well in between paragraphs and that your thesis is effectively argued for. If you need to go back and make any changes, that’s perfectly fine if you feel it will enhance your essay. If the clock is against you, don’t feel afraid to talk to your instructor about allotting more time.