A classification essay is a very specific type of assignment that students are likely to be asked to complete during their time at high school or college. The concept of classification is one where the student is asked to categorize or divide things (or ideas) into groups on the basis of a logical classification. Essentially, essays of this type deal with the organization of classifications and establishing coherent links to these classifications. If you are tasked with writing this type of essay you will be expected to arrange or sort the main points of the items in questions into suitable categories. This type of essay is not always easy to write, and success often depends on how well you organize the basis for your classification at the outset. Below are some essential tips on how to develop your classification essay’s content, create a good thesis statement, and generally organize your writing. If you adhere to these few simple steps, you will soon be on your way to writing a winning essay.

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The Main Steps Involved in Writing a Classification Essay

  • Create a solid essay plan. As is the case with any type of writing, it is a good idea to make some time for preparation at the outset. Do some brainstorming to generate ideas and make a note of these in draft form. Writing a classification essay requires you to look at a group or collection of things, concepts, ideas, or people and sort them into logical divisions. It can help to think of this process in terms of dividing things by their type or category. For example, if you look at your college tutors, you could possibly categorize them in accordance with their style of teaching. In a learning environment, you have certain types of teachers who are parental and nurturing in their style of teaching. By contrast, there is also the type of teacher who is very stern and strict in their approach. Then there are teachers who take a much more relaxed and laid-back approach. While there are no correct or incorrect teaching styles, these are mere examples of types.

Consider how you might classify football fans for example. Undoubtedly, there are many different types of people who are followers of the sport, but how would you go about dividing or grouping them?

  • Put all your ideas into order. Once you have come up with some ideas and have made a rough note of these, it should be relatively easy to create a rough or initial outline of your essay. Create your outline so that it has a list of all your main categories and classifications. Then try and develop each point with supporting examples and ideas.
  • You will now need to write a thesis statement. A thesis statement usually appears towards the end of the first or opening paragraph of any essay. Put simply, a thesis is a statement that provides readers with an overview of what the essay will cover as it progresses. In the case of a classification essay, it is essential the thesis statement describes the type of essay this is and that it sets out the central idea or theme. If, for instance, you take the previous example of the different types of teaching, these could be grouped into the three main styles e.g. nurturing, strict, and relaxed. The following are a few examples of words that writers tend to use when denoting classification: classify, divide,separate and sort.
  • Start writing your essay. First, it is essential to ensure any classifications you choose have a similar or common basis and that they are logical. It is also really important you provide sufficient detail and explicit examples in the body paragraphs of your essay. These are necessary to illustrate clearly to your readers what each one of your classifications is. You could, for instance, write a sentence like this:

“Strict teachers can be found in classrooms everywhere. This type of teacher is dreaded by the majority of students. They tend to delight in asking difficult questions of those students they know are not adequately prepared; the tests they set are often ferociously difficult and they generally enjoy tormenting their students. Every student knows this type of teacher. The torture of sitting through a strict teacher’s class is made much worse if or when they develop a dislike of you and they monitor every move you make. Their aim is clearly to identify some form of misbehavior so that they can reprimand you in front of fellow students. Fortunately for me, however, and although they exist everywhere, there are not many teachers like this in my school.”

  • The last step is writing a strong conclusion. In this closing section, you need to refer back to the thesis statement from your opening paragraph, sum-up all the main points from the body paragraphs of your essay, and leave your readers with a strong and memorable finale. Once you have done this that is all that there is to it. You have written your classification essay, and if you have followed these steps, it should be a great success.

Two last things worth mentioning are formatting and proofreading

Let us first address formatting. Virtually every essay and academic assignment you will be asked to produce during your academic career will need to be formatted in a particular style. The most popular formatting styles are APA, Chicago, Harvard, MLA, and Turabian. The style you use will often be one stipulated by your tutor, but sometimes you will have the freedom to choose your own style. An important thing to remember is to be consistent in whatever style you are using. Formatting usually applies to:

  • The font size and style you use.
  • How your essay’s title and headings are presented and what they contain.
  • What line spacing you use e.g. single or double.
  • How and whether quotations and references are cited within your essay’s text.  
  • Whether you use an endnotes or footnotes system of referencing.
  • Whether you include a reference list, Works Cited page, or bibliography at the end of your essay.

The next piece of advice is about proofreading. Perhaps it hardly needs saying but every essay, whether it is a classification essay or some other genre, should be thoroughly checked for mistakes upon completion. As you read through, look for punctuation, spelling and grammar errors as well as any possible inconsistencies in organization, structure, and layout. While the spell-checking features found in most word processing programs are a great help, there are some errors these do not usually pick up. Therefore, it is advisable to proofread every paper you write manually to catch those errors your spell-checker may have missed. It is also an excellent idea to ask another person to read through your work because they may well find glaring errors you and your spell-checker missed. While content is often considered more important than spelling, you can lose marks for a text that is laden with excessive errors. Therefore, it would be a great shame if your hard work was wasted just because you didn’t allow time for a final polishing.

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