Student Essay Types

A great essay topic idea is only the beginning; before you write a word, you need to choose what type of essay you’re going to write. There are 9 essay types, each with certain benefits that will show off your topic in a certain way.

Argumentative essay

Argumentative essays persuade the reader toward a certain point-of-view using facts and research. They are also called “persuasive essays.”


  • Why is the death penalty unconstitutional?
  • Why should religion be taught in schools?


Cause and effect essays describe an event and explain why it occurs. You can approach the topic from either the cause (what will happen if…) or the effect (why did something happen?).


  • What causes global warming?
  • How does smoking cigarettes negatively affect your health?


A comparison essay analyzes the similarities and differences between two objects or ideas. Comparison essays may include an opinion, if the facts show that on object or idea is superior to another.


  • Compare and contrast two political systems
  • Compare and contrast two political candidates
  • Compare and contrast two books by the same author


Literary essays discuss and interpret a written work, with particular attention given to literary elements and the theme of the work.


  • “The Wizard of Oz” as an allegory for economics
  • Symbolism in the works of William Shakespeare


A classification essay categorizes objects or ideas and explains how they are different. This type of essay is popular project help online in science and history classes.


  • Types of animals
  • Styles of poetry


Like a dictionary, a definition essay explains the meaning of something, and provides additional information to help the reader distinguish the object from similar things.


  • What is a parable?
  • What is classical music?


A narrative essay tells the story of an event. It is usually told from the author’s point of view, but it can also be told from a different perspective.


  • First day of school
  • Summer vacation


Expository essays explain an event or idea in an informative, fact-based way. Expository essays can include other approaches, such as classification or cause-and-effect.


  • Major Revolutionary War battles
  • Historical treatments of personality disorders


A reflective essay shares a personal story from your life and explains how it has shaped who you are. These are popular with school entrance and exit exams, as they require the student to think introspectively about their life experiences.

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