Essay Writing in Education

When it comes to the different disciplines in education, math and science seem straightforward compared to English and composition. Either you can complete the advanced calculus problems or you can’t. Either you know all of the steps in the Krebs cycle, or you don’t. English, however, relies on the art of essay writing in order to evaluate a student’s success. Thus, essay writing is important in evaluating a student’s mastery of material; however, it is important for many other reasons.

In order to best understand the goal of essay writing, one must look at its history. The word essay comes from the French verb essayer, meaning to try. Looking further back, the French verb essayer heralds from the Latin verb exigere, meaning 'to examine' or 'to test'. The essence of the essay then is to ask students to examine their ideas and knowledge on a topic in an in-depth manner.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a tricky think to teach and to measure, but it is a highly valued skill that is incorporated in education. Writing essays is one of the best exercises for students to practice and improve their critical thinking skills.

An essay asks students to formulate their own ideas in articulate ways and to support those ideas with compelling evidence. Structuring those ideas requires great critical thinking on behalf of the student.

First, the student must have an important idea that is worth writing about. Second, the student must be able to support that idea by thinking critically and presenting those thoughts on paper. The more essays students write, the better their critical thinking skills will be over time.


As previously mentioned, essays are used to evaluate students in a variety of ways. In order to get into college, for example, many colleges require personal essays. These essays are meant to reflect the student’s abilities and what value he or she would provide to the school as well as what he or she would gain from going to that school. An essay is a unique opportunity for students to represent themselves to universities in a way other than numbers, such as their grade point average.

Essays are also used to measure a student’s mastery of material. A literature class, for example, would likely ask students to write an essay on the main ideas of a book they read in class in order to gauge whether or not each student carefully read and analyzed the book, thus gaining from the experience.


Writing essays asks that students organize their thoughts in a way that makes logical sense and flows. This requires both logical thinking and use of good transitions in order to move from one point to another. Learning to structure thoughts in this way is key to good communication, providing value outside of solely writing essays.

Many students fail to see the importance of writing in their daily lives and professional lives. However, essay writing ultimately asks students to sharpen their thinking skills and communication skills, which are easily applicable to all areas of life.

Although a student may not be asked to write another ten page paper after his freshman composition class, he will be asked to respond to situations with creative and concise thinking. By writing a number of essays throughout one’s education and genuinely trying with them, any student will be better prepared to respond to such situations, making them a great candidate for job opportunities.