How Can Mind Maps Help in Effective Essay Writing?
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How Can Mind Maps Help in Effective Essay Writing?

Identifying different essay goals with a mind map

An essay is defined as a comprehensive piece of writing, composed on a particular topic that can have different purposes. Essays are usually written in prose and can be both formal and informal. Formal essays are pieces of paper that treat more delicate subjects and can have different goals, including:

- To argue;

- To inform;

- To persuade;

- To explain;

- To entertain.

Moreover, formal essays are characterized by well-researched content and data supported by facts and arguments. On the other hand, informal essays tend to be more personal and express an author subjective thoughts and points of view.

Here is a mind map as an example that you can use to better emphasize the goals of essay writing. Having them clearly defined will help you in determining what is your goal in writing a particular piece of paper.

Essay goals

In the past decade, essays have become a major part of formal education in many countries. Essay writing is a simple way for students to develop the way they think and to assess their learning. Teachers give a different kind of writing assignments for students to develop and train important skills including:

- Critical thinking;

- Deepening of knowledge;

- Analytical skills;

- Organizing ideas;

- Note taking;

- Arguing a case;

- Communicating effectively with a reader.

Essays help for critical thinking

Differentiating the types of essays with a mind map

The purpose and type of an essay are usually differentiated based on the writer’s goal. In fact, essays could be written in different styles depending on what the author wants to achieve. Create a mind map where you will branch out every type of essay with all its characteristics. This mind map could result to be very practical and useful for every writer as it allows to have practical information at the palm of your hand at any time. 

The general classification of types of essays which is widely practiced is the following. Make a different branch for every type of essay you could write: 

Comparison essay

The comparison essay is a piece of writing with which the author makes a contrast between two or more aspects. The purpose of the essay is to analyses and display how these certain aspects are similar and/or different from one another.

Classification essay

In a classification essay, we organize things into categories and give examples of things that fit into each category. For example, if you choose to write about types of computers (PCs and servers), each of your developmental paragraphs will define the characteristics of a different computer type.

Types of essays

The classification essay is mostly used for examining and organizing a number of things into categories. For this type of essay the most important aspect for the writer is to decide on the classification criteria. The essay could be developed in different ways, i.e. the writer can choose to range objects, people, or ideas into categories and list their characteristics.  

Cause/effect essay

At the core of the cause/effect essay stands an approach that explains a cause and effect relationships between events or items. This type of essay could be written in two ways – it can focus on the effects of a cause or on the causes of one effect.

Process essay

The process essay, or also called the ‘how to’ essay is usually used to present to the reader how something occurs or how to do something that is useful. With this piece of paper, the author describes a process, tells why it is useful and with a step-by-step guide explains how it is done.

Argument/persuasive essay

When the author wants to convince or persuade others to accept, agree and share his specific point of view, he writes the persuasive essay. It is a piece of writing in which the writer displays arguments based on trustworthy facts that should ultimately influence on the reader.

Problem/solution essay

The foundation of the problem/solution essay is attracting the reader’s interest in a certain problem present him one or more different solutions and convince him that his offered solution is the best. This type of essay has a persuasive tone that guides the reader through the problem and the provided solution to the point where the author explains the implementation plan.

Following the steps of writing an essay with a mind map

There is a simple formula for writing essays that students and academics use. More specifically, a piece of writing is defined as an essay just by looking at the structure. Essays are written with three standard elements, i.e. introduction, body, and conclusion. This is the main essay structure which may be modified according to the specific assignment or subject. However, there are several steps which are important to cover when writing an essay in order to create a powerful and impressive piece of paper.

Deciding on the type of the essay

Many believe that choosing the topic of the essay is the first and most important step in the process. But this is not the case. The first step that the author should make is deciding on the type of essay he is going to write. Deciding between the above-mentioned types of essays can help the author to deliver the message in the most suitable manner. Create a mind mind where you will present all types of essays and their purpose in order to determine which one can best serve your purpose. 

Choosing a topic

Choosing the topic is the second step. In case you are not assigned a subject and want to write an essay by choice, you need to decide on the topic you essay would revolve around. Deciding on the right topic has to be backed up by extensive and valuable research. Don’t decide on your topic before making a researching and making sure that you have relevant and credible materials and sources to work with. While on this step, create a mind where you will create branches with every potential topic and relevant research and materials you could use. This way, you will easily notice if you have valuable sources for the topic you like. In case, you realize that there is little or no material at all for your potential topic, move on to another one. 

Brainstorming and presenting your ideas

After completing the research and choosing the topic of your essay, it is important to brainstorm different ideas and approaches for writing the story. The point of this step is to practically present your ideas and thoughts in a more organized way and to make a structure which will ease your writing substantially. You can create a separate mind map for this step to help you in the brainstorming process and organizing your thoughts better.

Writing

Once you have decided on the type and topic of your essay, and you have made a mind map with relevant ideas and sources to draw information from, you can start writing. When writing an essay, the best approach is to start with the body and leave the introduction and conclusion for the end. In accordance with the type you have chosen, you will need to follow the appropriate way of describing, arguing and/or explaining the subject. Use your mind maps as guides through the process of writing and let the thoughts flow freely. 

About the author

Kristina Gjorgievska

Kristina Gjorgievska, a content writer and translator. Eternal inspiration: the magical Italy, Jim Morrison's poetry, Bernardo Bertolucci's timeless "Stealing Beauty", and the dynamic and meditative Ashtanga Yoga. You can connect with Kristina on LinkedIn.

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