Organizing Tips for Students: Sample Outline Essays

Often, if you know the structure of the essay you’re writing, you can create a great outline, and turn this later into an extended outline, if you want more of a well sketched outline with working sentences under your outline components.

There are basically only two types of essay structures behind every paper – the personal experience, memorable experience, or reflective essays (all of which follow a basic narrative essay approach) or the analytic, persuasive, or argumentative style.

Narrative essays typical follow one basic structure

  1. Creative, Attention-Getting Introduction that moves to an “I” thesis at the end that narrows down specifically what you’re going to discuss.
  2. Body Paragraphs: which explain the experience.
  3. A Conclusion: typically about how this experience continues to imprint you or affect your life today.

On Thesis Statements

I want to address a common issue in narrative types of essays. The major mistake most students make when they write these types of essays is that they think they have to create suspense. But this is not a story—it is still an essay, and you need a clarified thesis that sums up the “epiphany” (all narrative essays should have them, your ultimate realization because of this experience.

Sample Thesis Statements for Narrative Essays

At the end of paragraph one, after some creative musing about the experience, you should have a thesis that goes something like the following:


What I learned from this experience is that although I may feel I am alone, many people are going through an experience like mine or has gone through such an experience in the past.


Because of this experience, I have learned to step out of my comfort zone and try new things because new experiences enrich your life in a way I never imagined.

Body Paragraphs and Conclusions in Narrative Essays

The body paragraphs are the place to step back and recount the experience in an analytical kind of way – NOT a very detailed blow-by-blow account of the experience.

The conclusion is the place to move to how this experience has shaped you and continues to shape your life today. Really important experiences mark us – pick experience that you think upon often – that is often the topic you need.

Structuring an Argumentative Essay

All other types of essays are really persuasive, argumentative essays if you think about it. Any research paper or analytical essay strives to persuade the reader that you are in the right, yes? So the trick to all these essays is to not forget a solid thesis and to acknowledge the major refutation the other side will make to your claim and then refute it or move to a great closing that subtly acknowledges their point of view and then reasserts what is right about your point of view.

Structure of Persuasive/Argumentative Essays

  1. Introduction: The Intro must have a solid, narrow thesis at the end of paragraph one—with some interesting sentences that move up to it.
  2. For example:

    Americans could help take steps toward ending global warming by doing two specific things. I am going to discuss ways we can fight global warming now.

  3. Body Paragraphs: Here you must have solid evidence of this thesis. For example, for this essay above, you would prove you are correct by discussing the two chief ways we can fight global warming through behavioral change.
  4. Conclusion: Here you want to discuss what this experience ultimately means to us today, or brings you essay in to the very current historical moment of today.

Example of a Concluding Paragraph

One good example I have of leading into a closing on global warming is the following:

Last week, polar bears were put on the endangered species list because of the melting of glaciers in the North Pole because of global warming. Wouldn’t you hate to lose these beautiful animals and others like them? I know that I’m going to start changing my behavior beginning with an honest assessment of all my most environmentally destructive behavior.

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