Teach English in Mexico


How to Do an Outline for an Essay: Easy Guides for Students

It is no secret that students have difficulty writing essay outlines. Students tend to think they can just “wing it” and write whatever they feel like writing. Teachers know that this is the not the best way to plan and write an essay. Instructors need to teach their students simple ways to plan their essays with easy outlines. Students need tips and tricks to help them plan their essays in order to successfully organize their essays so they no longer write whatever they feel like writing.

No Roman Numerals

Instead of using the traditional outlines with Roman numerals, students do well using an outline that is broken down into paragraphs. Students write a plan for their introduction, each body paragraph, and the conclusion. Organizing an outline with Roman numerals creates one more distraction for students who have not learned Roman numerals in math. It is easier for students to remember what needs to go in the different paragraphs, so they can chunk their plans together.

Introduction Needs

Students can remember what needs to go into an introduction. They can remember that the introduction includes a hook, bridge, and thesis/claim. Every introduction is created the same way, so they never have to worry about changes. Their introduction can be planned out in a box, a bulleted list, or whatever style works for the student.

Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs are also easy to organize. Each body paragraph should include a topic sentence, alternative sentences with evidence and explanation, and then ending with a sentence that ties the entire paragraph together. Students can use their own thoughts on the explanations as long as their evidence sentences include word-for-word quotes from articles that support their claims. Students should plan at least three paragraphs in this way. Again, these can be organized in a bulleted list, three separate boxes, or whatever technique will work for students.

Conclusion Needs

The conclusion paragraph should be the opposite of the introduction. Good conclusions restate the hook, reconnect to the main ideas of the body paragraphs, and then reconnect to the hook.

Once students understand the basic structure of an essay, they can use that formula for absolutely any essay they are assigned. Some essays will need more body paragraphs, but the formula remains the same. With practice, students will understand how to outline any essay with success.


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