How to Approach an Exploratory Essay

Sometimes, professors want to throw you into deep water and let learn something on your own from the very beginning. For this purpose, there exists an exploratory essay. This assignment is called to lead you to uncharted territories and go off the beaten track in order to make an important discovery for yourself. In other words, unlike in usual essays where you have a point to prove, with an exploratory essay, you will have to investigate an issue to arrive at a certain conclusion.

As you see, an exploratory essay is nowhere near all other academic paper you wrote before. Therefore, before writing it, you should find out more about its key features. First, these essays should be focused on a problem in question instead of a claim. Second, it should contain several solutions. There should be considered both strong and weak options so that you could eventually make a decision about the most appropriate one. Lastly, there are two strategies to approach the task. You may either write in a way described above (impromptu strategy) or choose a solution and then adjust the essay to it (retrospective strategy). The methods will make your essay look either natural or smooth respectively.
The structure of an exploratory essay should be the same as that of any other paper, i.e., consist of an introduction, body, and conclusion. Nevertheless, each of these parts is to be developed in a somewhat different manner.

Have a look at a helpful model:

  • Introduction

    1. Determine the scope of your topic and highlight the limits. The tools to do it are a reference to a source, definition of a concept, description of an event, or a direct question asked right in the first line.
    2. Provide details about the problem and explain why it is considered to be important. Make a brief overview of existing opinion regarding its resolving or share own point of view.
  • Body

    1. Write one paragraph aimed to provide a reader with additional background information if relevant.
    2. Speculate about the solutions to the problem explaining what each of them implies. Discuss them one by one devoting a single paragraph or section to each. It might be appropriate to compare and contrast ideas.
    3. Select one solution that you consider to be actually capable of mitigating the situation. If neither of the options presented seems fitting, make your own suggestion.
  • Conclusion

Restate the points outlined in the introductory paragraph, mention the solution chosen again, and reflect on the decision.
Of course, it might be a bit frightening to start studying something on your own. However, such an experience is very rewarding, which your professor actually wants you to understand. Try and, perhaps, you will realize that this learning style is the most suitable for you.

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