What do teachers want in an essay?

Expert Answers
carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is no one absolute answer.  Different teachers require and want different things.

Perhaps the most universal of educational tools is the essay. Considering its traditionally short form, the essay has grown to encompass a wide variety of stylistic approaches and runs the gamut of content sources and subjects. For many students, the essay is the foundation of their writing education...

There are at least three kinds of essays that are usually required in writing: informative, argumentative, and contrast/comparison.  Each of these essays has separate purposes and need to be written varying instructions.

On the other hand, teachers do expect certain things in all writing.

Thesis statement

There should be a clear thesis statement that controls the paper.  It must be the best sentence in the paper because it tells the reader what is the topic; what order the supporting ideas will be given; and what the paper will cover.

Research, Information, and Evidence

The research used in the paper to support the thesis should follow certain guidelines:

  • Reliable-not everything on the internet can be trusted.  Be sure that the information comes from an authoritative source.
  • Recent-Depending on the topic, the most recent material should be used.  A good rule of thumb is no later than 2000.  If the topic is historical, the information can be later. There should be several kinds of evidence for each supporting idea--anecdotes, statistics, authorities, and any other pertinent information. 

Remember to source the material that is borrowed within the paper and in the Works Cited page.

  • Relevant-The information must apply to the topic.  It has to be something that is interesting and supports the thesis.

Organizational Plan

  • The organization of the paper must be easy to follow.  The paragraphs should have a clear topic sentence and there should be no fewer than eight or nine sentences per paragraph.  The writer should use transitions or transitional phrases to bridge the gap between ideas, sentences, and paragraphs.

The supporting ideas should be presented in least to most important. An organizational plan should be followed: chronological, spatial, definition, least to most important, and cause and effect.

In addition, it is important to have a well written introduction, with at least three body paragraphs, and clear conclusion that leaves the reader thinking.

Mechanics, Sentence Structure, and Grammar

The grammatical aspect of the essay will be expected to be as perfect as possible.

The mechanics [capitalization, punctuation, and spelling] must be checked not just by the computer but the writer as well.

The teacher may look at the length of sentences, variety of beginnings of sentences, a variance of kinds of sentences [compound, simple, compound-complex], and subject-verb agreement.

An English teacher has trouble grading all the papers that she receives; therefore, sometimes she will only check one or two aspects of the paper. Usually in the semester, there will be one paper that is thoroughly graded.

The four aspects of the essay should be planned, executed, and edited well for the paper to receive the grade desired.

singhmrinalini84 | Student

Basicalyy, you should have an eye catching tiitle and  an interesting start which will make a teacher give you good marks. Else you should have a good handwriting and whenever you start to write an essay you should make few points about the topic you can write them somewhere. It will help you to write your essay in a better way and quickly.