What is the purpose of an essay?

Every essay has a purpose. Sometimes the purpose of your essay is to just finish the assignment. Not surprisingly, these are not usually the best papers. Your teacher will have some purpose in making the assignment. Be sure to ask if you are not sure what this purpose is. However, think also about what you want the essay to do and why. What do you want to learn as a result of writing the essay? Do you want your essay to inform, to entertain, to explore, to persuade? Do you want your readers to feel, do or think something after reading your essay? Do you want to use this essay to try out a new idea or concept?

In many cases at SNL, your purpose will be to persuade your reader that you have obtained a competence. In doing this, you are writing an argument paper in which you need to be sure to address all of the competence criteria. In writing to address a competence statement and in many other SNL assignments, your purpose will be to develop a broader and deeper understanding of what you know from experience. You will be asked to do this by reflecting upon your experience and by studying applicable ideas, theories or principles so that you can analyze your experiential knowledge. In doing this, you take experience-specific knowledge and turn it into conceptual understanding that can be applied to many experiences. For more on writing to competence, see How to Write a College Paper , particularly the section on organization.

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