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types of essays for students

The Australian educational system is one of the most challenging ones on a global level. Students from all over the world come to study here, simply because they get high-quality education and great opportunities to work while studying. In May 2018, there were 556,987 international students in Australia.

Needless to say, Aussies appreciate having great schools in their proximity, so they do their best to get in and graduate on time.

Speaking of graduating on time, there’s a problem for many students. In 2017, the drop-out rates reached record heights. The biggest reason for this problem is the fact that most students have to work while studying. That makes time management tricky. When they realize they have to deal with all types of essay writing while studying, it’s simply too much.

Education should be challenging, but the professors are constantly pushing the limits. They assign different types of college student essays without providing clear guidelines, so the students have no other choice but to turn to online sources.

Most of those online guides will only identify 5 types of essay writing:

  • Descriptive
  • Narrative
  • Argumentative
  • Expository
  • Cause and Effect

That’s not a complete classification of different types of students essay. Throughout your education, you’ll encounter at least 10 different types of essays. This guide will help you recognize these types and write relevant papers.

What Are the Different Types of Essays?

After getting one kind of assignment after another, you might end up wondering: “What types of essays are there, anyway?”

This list will help you understand the most common types of essays. When you understand what your assignment calls for, it will be easier for you to write it.

Are you ready? Here are the different types of essays that all Australian students should be aware of:

1. Descriptive Essay

descriptive essay type

This is one of the most common types of essays requested in high-school education. Still, students at universities are often required to complete descriptive essays, too.

In its simplest explanation, the descriptive essay calls for a detailed description of the topic. Here are few tips to help you write it:

  • Brainstorm! Write down everything you know about the topic.
  • Write some descriptive words that help you grasp the point. Here are few examples of such words: tenacious, committed, dynamic, mature, direct, persistent, bbright, brave, grim, mellow, luxurious, flexible…
  • Rely on your senses. What do you see, smell, hear, taste, and feel to the touch when this topic is in question?
  • Describe your feelings, too!

Now you might be wondering: “What are some topics for descriptive types of essays?” Maybe your professor didn’t give you a precise topic and told you to be flexible about it. We have few suggestions on easy essay topics for high school students:

  • Your cat
  • Your favorite vacation
  • A place that frightens you
  • A nightmare
  • A memory from your childhood
  • Your best friend

2. Expository Types of Essay Formats

expository types of essay formats

An expository essay is a bit more challenging when compared to the descriptive type. It involves investigating an idea and evaluating evidence. Then, you’ll need to present that idea and support it with the evidence you found.

Usually, this type of writing is presented through comparison and contrast. Still, expository and compare/contrast are not necessarily the same types of essays in college. Here, you will include definitions, examples, and analyses of causes and effects. It’s a complex type of paper.

  • You have to come up with a thesis statement, which you’ll present at the end of the introductory paragraph. It should include an idea that’s related to the topic of your essay.
  • Each paragraph should provide evidence that goes in favor of the thesis statement. Present a single idea per paragraph, since you’ll only create confusion with more of them.
  • Do your research! Use Google Scholar to locate reliable sources that you can feel free to reference in the paper.

So what about the topics for these types of essays? Here are few suggestions for you:

  • Pros and cons of uniforms at school
  • If you could change education, what would you do?
  • Who do you admire and why?
  • Do people need to go to school?

3. Persuasive (Argumentative) Types of Essays

persuasive essay type

The persuasive (also known as argumentative) essay is often being confused with the expository essay. What professors fail to explain is that there are different types of argumentative essays. The expository is just one of them.

The expository essay simply presents some facts. You should expose your ideas and then present facts that prove it. The argumentative essay, on the other hand, should view both sides of the coin. It should present arguments that support your thesis statement, but it should also mention the arguments on the opposite side.

Here are few topics to consider for argumentative/persuasive types of essays in college:

  • Should smoking in public places be allowed?
  • Are school textbooks doing more harm than good?
  • Is obesity a problem when it’s a choice?
  • Should hockey be banned as a dangerous sport?
  • When should young people be allowed to drink legally?

4. Narrative Essay

narrative essay type

Although you’ll mostly write descriptive and persuasive papers for school, there are other types of essay you should definitely be aware of. Narrative writing, in particular, is very common for high school and university.

To explain narrative writing in the simplest way, it should tell a story. It’s a personal type of paper, so it doesn’t need much research. Still, it needs a point, just like the expository and persuasive types of academic essays need their thesis statement. So brainstorm to come up with a story you’re going to tell, as well as its point that you’ll clarify.

Here are few suggestions for narrative essay topics for school students:

  • The most memorable experience of your childhood
  • Your grandfather’s life journey
  • The moment you met a person that became an important part of your life
  • A sad experience that changed you

5. Analytical Essay

analytical essay type

Among the various types of essays, the analytical has to be the most detailed one. It’s similar to the descriptive essay, but it goes into more details. The style is still descriptive, but you will reorganize the information into categories. In a way, the analytical paper is somewhere between descriptive and classification essay topics for college students.

  • Never forget the outline. It’s important for all types of analytical essays, since it gives you a detailed format to follow. This paper will involve classifications, so you’ll get lost if you don’t have the outline.
  • Mention advantages and disadvantages for the categories you identify.
  • Make the paragraphs clear. Mention only one of the analytical categories in each paragraph.
  • If there are more categories to your topic, feel free to go beyond the usual 5-paragraph format. Remember: there are more flexible types of essay formats, too. Use as many paragraphs as you need; just make sure to stick with the recommended word count.

Here are few topic suggestions for analytical writing:

  • Drugs in sports
  • Body types in the fashion industry
  • Political systems in the European Union

6. Classification Essay

classification essay type

Similarly to the analytical essay, the classification essay also requires you to organize things into categories. But here, the classification is the main point. In the analytical essay, the topic does not necessarily involve categories. You’re just analyzing it and mentioning categories if applicable. Here, your specific focus is on the categories.

Here are few classification essay topics for college students:

  • Types of martial arts
  • Political parties in Africa
  • Types of democracies
  • Types of leadership

7. Critical Types of Essays

critical essay type

Students in postgraduate programs are expected to have developed critical thinking skills. That’s why this is the most common type of paper among all different types of essays they get to complete.

This essay is similar to the persuasive, but there’s one major difference: the persuasive/argumentative paper requires you to discuss a point of view; while critical writing imposes a discussion of at least two points of view. So these are different kinds of essays after all.

Here are few topics you could use for critical types of essays:

  • Discuss how Napoleon is portrayed in War and Peace
  • What are the environmental benefits of recycling?
  • Discuss the ending of a TV show

8. Communication Essay

communication essay type

Since communication courses are so common at Aussie universities and they request so many written assignments, the types of communication essay have a category of their own. These are usually argumentative types of essays that require you to communicate and defend an idea.

As for topic suggestions, here they come:

  • Importance of communication skills
  • Importance of writing skills for doctors
  • Is technology negatively affecting the communication skills of children?
  • Communication methods in Medieval times
  • Reasons for miscommunication between team members

9. Compare and Contrast Types of Essays

compare and contrast essay type

Sometimes you need to write a comparison essay. This assignment requires you to discuss the similarities between two things. The contrast essay, on the other hand, requires you to discuss the differences.

Most professors, however, will combine these two different types of essays into a single one, so they will ask you to write a compare and contrast essay.

  • You need to choose two subjects that you can compare and contrast. They should have both similarities and differences. For example, you can discuss the similarities and differences between herbal tea and green tea.
  • These types of essays involve a lot of research. You can spot the obvious similarities and differences without digging into academic resources, but you’ll still need to research in order to reference reliable sources of information.
  • Make a point out of this discussion. No one wants to see a plain list of similarities and differences. What’s the point of comparing these two things?

Different types of students essay are easier to write when you have the actual topic. Such is the case with compare & contrast essays, too. So here are few suggestions you can work with:

  • Christmas at a restaurant vs. Christmas at home
  • Slow juicers vs. traditional juicers
  • Similarities and differences between cats and dogs as pets
  • Homemade vs. restaurant meals: what’s better?

10. Cause and Effect Types of Essays

cause and effect types of essay

This assignment is not as common as the different types of essays we mentioned above, but you’ll still encounter it at university. The cause and effect essay is usually requested in history class. The thing that makes it different from other types of essay is the focus on the relation between a cause and effect.

For example, your professor may ask you to discuss the causes of World War II and the effects that these events led to. It’s one of the most complex types of essays, simply because most causes lead to complex effects and most effects are caused by multiple factors that work in combination.

You’ll have to conduct in-depth research to write a great cause and effect essay! Here are few topic suggestions to get you started:

  • The causes and effects of global pollution
  • The causes and effects of the Napoleonic Wars
  • What caused realism as a genre in literature and what effects did it have on the reading culture?


Now that you got a classification of the different types of essays and examples, you’re ready to start working on your papers. Remember: first you need to understand a problem, so you can solve it. That’s why it’s important for all students who face troubles with academic writing to recognize the different kinds of essays.