How to Write an Exemplification Essay

January 13, 2017 How To Write
How to Write an Exemplification Essay

The approach to an exemplification essay follows its definition. It is very similar to any other type of essay within the academic world, but it has its quirks. For instance, a synthesis essay, which you can read about here, focuses on integrating sources into an argument. In this case, taking full advantage of examples to get the point across is imperative.

What is an Exemplification Essay?

So what is an exemplification? As previously discussed, this is an exercise to support argumentation with outside sources through the use of examples. The goal is to provide as much detail as possible to convince an audience of the writer’s stance on a particular subject. It is imperative to realize that the information that used as a reference must be relevant.

The best way to start your argument is a strong topic - one which is not too broad or too specific. Then move on to a cohesive thesis and a clear outline to enhance the quality of your argument. Remember that your essay is only as good as the framework you precede it with - it is much easier to model a paper based on a plan than to improvise its content.

How to Start

  • Choose a topic
    • The most important thing about picking an item of discussion is to make sure that it is not too broad or too specific. The biggest problem that students encounter is a topic that is too broad because they cannot zone in on a particular essay focus. Too much information makes a piece feel disjointed, and it could prove to be a challenge to connect the sources to the writer’s claim.
  • Start research and document it
    • If your essay requires some investigation, and in most cases it does, make sure to keep track of the information you find to implement it into your writing later. The more compelling sources you can base your examples off, the more persuasive and pressing your essay will be. However, try not to overdo it as there can always be too much of one thing.
  • Outline
    • A definite plan is easy to come back to when you are stuck somewhere in the body of an essay. Interpreting an outline as a blueprint is a topic that will be addressed later on.
  • Draft
    • Keep in mind that an effective essay takes a position that defends, challenges or qualifies a claim based on examples. Synthesizing sources from the previous steps is vital to control a range of elements of effective writing.
  • Peer Review and Final Draft
    • Get someone to go over the essay with you and double check that all of the sources that you utilized converge to make a compelling argument. The last thing you should do is focus on the grammatical and syntax side of the paper. Make sure the biggest concerns are covered and worry about the smaller details last.

Exemplification Essay Topics

Exemplification Essay Topics

The available factual reinforcements characterize a good topic. In other words, you must be extremely familiar with the sources you intend to utilize (unless your subject is anecdotal, and even then, try to gather factual evidence alongside it). So to start off here is some food for thought when trying to come up with topic ideas.

Topics List

  • Religion in schools and its downsides
    • Religion is a sensitive subject, especially now that atheists have become a lot more aggressive and skeptical. You could take a side on the dispute and argue for or against religious studies in developing teen minds.
  • Why it is bad that developed countries snatch talent from developing countries
    • You could tackle Europe’s immigrant crisis and explore the general reasons for the problem. Most people either seek asylum, or they intend to explore opportunities. You could look at it from an antagonistic point of view which implies that developed countries do not want to take in people because of security risks, or because they want potential reformers to stay within their countries of origin.
  • Why humanity is destined to collapse/succeed
    • Broad topics like humanity’s future, are recommended to be approached with an open and philosophical mind and narrow it down to specifics.
  • The impact of rapidly evolving technology in modern society
    • Companies like SpaceX and Tesla, run by Elon Musk, are a great example to refer to when exploring this domain. With bold predictions of return flights to Mars within the next decade, it is a fascinating matter to wade through.
  • The speed of architectural advancement in the age of the internet
    • People today can experience architecture from the drawn plans which social media implements and the success of the design is gauged by the community reaction. This narrow example does not have to apply only to residential or community architecture, but to street planning and city infrastructure.
  • Friendship
    • Essays about friendship could work as an examination of human attachment and human nature. This type of essay implies a lot of personal examples within its content, which is convenient considering the required criteria of this type of assignment.
  • Soccer moms: a plague or a blessing
    • A mother, so involved in the betterment of her children that she lacks her life agenda. The opposite of parental neglect, perhaps, leads to the lack of freedom and creative expression. In other words, a Soccer Mom can be a positive attribute to a child’s life; but most of the time, it hinders the child’s self-growth.

Related: How to Choose Essay Topics

Formulating a Thesis Statement

A thesis is like an architectural blueprint. The thesis's objective is to gather the entire arsenal and summarize it into a comprehensive plan of action. It must include but is not limited to: a factual statement, observation, a personal opinion or the question you intend to answer. The following is a thesis statement example discussed previously in the topic suggestion section.

“Elon Musk’s energy efficiency revolution is still in its early life cycle; thus its slow progress must be put into a socioeconomic perspective.”

Now let us put this thesis statement under the microscope.

Topic: The impact of rapidly evolving technology in modern society.

Opinion: Elon Musk’s progress with the transport and energy revolution is slow due to certain socioeconomic boundaries.

Reasoning: Market cost of coal vs. electric (energy), the lack of competition in the electric car market (transport), and the lack of US government’s subsidies into commercial space travel (SpaceX).

While the thesis statement is vague, the use of “socioeconomic perspective” implies a more elaborate description, which the reasoning section of the thesis statement mentioned. Such specifics allow for much room for research and the focus on comprehensive examples as opposed to brief examples.

When formulating a thesis statement, you must distinguish between the type of paper you want to write. Longer essays need more extensive thesis statements to encompass a wider range of arguments. If you are struggling with formulating an effective thesis statement, try to apply it to a particular formula to check its validity:

object acts upon subject because of something.”

“Even though Opposing view (conflicting evidence), your object still acts upon subject because of reasons.

As you can see, it is quite easy to dissect the essay just by formulating your thesis, and thus giving you a direction when heading into the exemplification essay outline. Remember, keep track of your sources and extract only the most relevant examples. It is much better to use fewer but more elaborate examples rather than many inefficient ones. Make every single one work in your favor.

Exemplification Essay Structure

To efficiently lay out arguments and reasoning, try to uphold a particular organizational pattern that divides the arguments into an order of importance.

  • Chronological
    • Narrative focus - required to be told from beginning to end based on the events.
    • Analytical focus - sequence of events (like a scientific investigation)
    • Cause and effect - one leads to another
  • Ascending
    • Use of the most compelling argument last to have an unyielding effect on the reader by the end of the paper.
  • Descending
    • Using the most compelling argument first, primarily to grab the attention of an audience from the get-go.

Outline Example


  • Provide some context with a personal anecdote or opinion to lure attention
  • Thesis (Elon Musk’s energy efficiency revolution is still in its early life cycle; thus its slow progress must be put into a socioeconomic perspective)
    • Point 1 - coal vs solar (or coal < solar)
    • Point 2 - lack of electric car competition
    • Point 3 - commercial space travel subsidies


  • Point 1 expanded
    • Evidence (Best if accompanied by a source or quote, the more sources you use, the more credible your writing will seem)
    • Evidence Analysis/example
  • Point 2 expanded
    • Evidence
    • Example
  • Point 3
    • Evidence
    • Example
  • Counterargument (if applicable from the thesis)


  • Restate main points and their significance; integrate them into a final statement.

Exemplification Essay Rubric

The exemplification essay is assessed on specific criteria that define the writer’s ability to integrate them in their essay. The following is a foundation you need to base the piece on. You should be able to clearly identify the specific instances of the use of each of these:

  • Thesis
    • Does the thesis adequately unify all subtopics presented in the essay?
    • Is it well written within the context of the subject matter and the introductory paragraph?
  • Example Quality
    • Are examples effectively used to clarify and explain the generalization presented to the reader?
  • Example Amount
    • Are the given examples sufficient when presented within the context of the claim?
  • Logical Order
    • Are opinions, ideas, examples and paragraphs arranged coherently?
  • Transitions / bridge
    • Are the used transitions effective when directed from one topic/idea/example to the next?
  • Detail
    • Are the examples developed sufficiently to maximize their usefulness?
    • Does the writer’s argument clearly portray their side in the discussion?
  • Grammar and Mechanics
    • Are there more than a few grammatical errors?
    • Does the writer effectively use language to persuade the reader? Word Usage
    • Does the range of the vocabulary convey sophistication within the writer’s voice?

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