Essay Guidelines: A Sample Essay

Essay Guidelines

In a previous article on Essay Writing Tips, I explored some of the best ways to begin writing your essay. I then finished with a promise of an essay sample, and here it is! This essay sample comes complete with all essay guidelines and should be able to help you complete your essay as it will give you something to follow closely.

Essay Guidelines

Essay writing is one of the skills taught in school that many students believe will never be used once they graduate. Most adults can remember the dreaded essay question on high school and college exams. In truth, the ability to write a well-structured and compelling essay is a helpful skill in many different careers and aspects of life, which is where these essay guidelines come in.

Writing a good essay requires the ability to logically present your ideas to the reader in a well-organized manner. The skill it takes to think through and organize an essay is one that transfers to other things easily. In fact, essay writing is a skill that used in some form in just about any career that involves educating, informing, or persuading others.

In fact, if you review the essay guidelines and essay sample provided below, you will see that the organizational skills you need to write a good essay are also helpful if you ever need to persuade a jury, market or sell a product, create a power point presentation, or write a proposal.

Essential Essay Sections


The introduction includes an attention grabber for your audience. It’s important to get your reader’s attention right from the start. The attention grabber is often a quote or a shocking statistic relevant to your Thesis statement which is what comes next in the introduction. The essay guidelines for a thesis statement are that it must be clear and specific and have a definable claim that can be argued. A thesis is not:

  • a yes or no question
  • a topic
  • fact
  • opinion
  • a list
  • a question
  • vague or confrontational

Essentially the sentences in your introduction will be a “mini-outline” telling the reader what the essay will be about. Another one of the key essay guidelines is that the last sentence of your introductory paragraph is the “transitional hook” or sentence that engages the reader to keep reading.

Essay Guidelines for the Body

Paragraph I

For the first paragraph in your essay, you’ll want to start out with your strongest point, your best argument, or your most compelling reason. Follow this with your strongest example. The topic of this first paragraph will be in the 1st or 2nd sentence, and it must relate back to the thesis statement that was part of your introduction. The last sentence in this first paragraph should transition the reader very smoothly into paragraph two.

Paragraph II

In the second paragraph, you will lay out your second strongest point or argument along with your second strongest example. If you are following standard essay guidelines, the topic of paragraph two relates to the thesis in your introduction and somehow ties back to the hook at the end of the first paragraph. Your last sentence will be a transitional hook that again compels the reader to keep reading to the third paragraph.

Paragraph III

If you have a weaker point or additional argument like in the essay sample below, save it for paragraph three and pair it with your third strongest or your weakest example. Don’t forget to allude somehow to the hook at the end of paragraph two. In the final sentence, you need to signal the reader that this is the last point you will be making and transition easily into the conclusion.

Wrap it Up- The Conclusion

The conclusion of the essay is just that. It will be your final paragraph. A key element in all essay guidelines for this section is that you summarize your three main points, to remind the reader that you kept your promise.

It’s important to point out to the reader that you delivered what you said you would deliver. Restate the thesis, but don’t just repeat the entire thesis statement word for word. Make it clear in your last sentence of this section that this is your final statement. If you are persuading or selling something, this last sentence is your call to action.

Now that we’ve gone over the standard sections typically recommended, use the suggestions in the essay sample outline below to write your essay. Keep in mind that the purpose of your essay may dictate how your essay is structured as well. If your essay is an assignment for a course, a contest, a college application, or something else, make sure that you check and follow those essay guidelines exactly, if there are any discrepancies or additional requirements.


  • Attention Grabber/Introductory Points
  • Thesis Statement
  • Transitional Hook


  • Paragraph I
  • Strongest Main Point (topic sentence)
  • Strongest sub-point or compelling reason
  • Most relevant example
  • Transitional hook to next paragraph

Paragraph II

  • Second strongest point
  • Second strongest sub-point
  • Second most relevant example
  • Transitional hook to paragraph III

Paragraph III

  • Third Strongest or Weakest Main Point
  • Third strongest sub-point
  • Third most relevant example
  • Transition to conclusion


  • Summarize or review your three main points (Remind readers what the essay was about—your promise from the introduction)
  • Restate your thesis (do not duplicate word for word)
  • Final statement or call to action

So now that you’ve taken some time to review the basic essay guidelines and the above sample essay outline, it’s time to get started on your essay. Take time before you start writing—clarify the purpose of your essay, refine your topic carefully, and create an outline like the one above.

These things will not only guide you and save you time but give the reader a more organized, logical, and compelling essay to read. You can also use writing software to help you. If you want to go down this road, be sure to read our article on Grammarly: Is Grammarly Worth It?

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