How to Write a Cause and Effect Essay

Updated: Dec 6, 2016
 

In writing a Cause and Effect Essay, the student is generally required to illustrate a scenario in which one or more actions or events ultimately cause (or caused) certain effects to occur.

When choosing a topic to investigate (it could be a major event, either personal in nature or one of historical significance, depending on the assignment and the course in which the assignment is given), the student should pick a topic they know thoroughly and accurately. Cause and effect essays can take two major patterns: the so-called ‘domino effect’, where one event triggers a series of consequent events, and a scenario, where one cause triggers multiple events simultaneously.


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Steps to Writing the Cause and Effect Essay

Step 1. Understand the Assignment and its Purpose

Professors will often explain a writing assignment in class; if not, information about it will surely be included in the course’s syllabus. Rarely will an assignment be given without a somewhat detailed list of requirements or directions accompanying them. If a student is to write a Cause and Effect Essay, they must understand that they have to first explore a scenario (for example, an event in history, a social problem), and analyze it to illustrate how certain actions or events caused a specific effect, consequence or outcome to occur.

Step 2. Choose a General Topic or Event

In this step, the student must consider a topic or event that can be dissected according to its causes and effects. It should also be one that directly pertains to the course in which the assignment is given. In an American History class, a student, for example, may decide to write about the Civil War, which has several causes and effects.

Step 3. Narrow That Topic

But then authors write entire books on the causes and effects of the American Civil War. It was brought on (caused by) by economical, social, philosophical and political differences (like slavery, which perpetuated the South’s agricultural industry, as well as state’s rights). Regarding its effects, the war left the South in ruins – its industry in shambles – but then slavery was abolished forever; the Union, the country as a whole, was preserved, and the Federal government recognized that, in order to maintain a democratic nation, states had to maintain rights and powers of their own. However, the student, to write a brief (that is, in just a few paragraphs), quality essay in a reasonable amount of time needs to either narrow their topic or focus on just one set of causes and effects. Instead of illustrating every cause and effect of the Civil War, the student, for the sake of producing a quality academic essay, should focus on, perhaps, just the element of slavery – how slavery caused the war and what the effects of slavery are.

Step 4. Plan and Outline

Once their topic has been narrowed, the student can tackle the writing process, which begins with an outline of what they’re going to say in the rest of their essay. It should consist of enough pertinent information to form an introductory paragraph, that also includes a Thesis Statement (in this case, the specific causes and effects of slavery in the context of the Civil War); the subsequent three to four paragraphs are essentially the student’s opportunity explain their Thesis at length – illustrating how slavery played a part in causing the war, as well as how slavery affected life after the war ended after slavery was ultimately abolished. It may be best if the student uses the first body paragraph or two to explain causes; then they should demonstrate the effects of the Civil War. Finally, the conclusion paragraph should sum up the essay, restating the Thesis and the points illustrating it – which here is the causes and effects of slavery in the context of the Civil War.

Step 5. Write the Paper or Essay, Edit it; Then Submit for Evaluation

Using the outline as a guide, the student should write the paper. It should be told in a confident, assertive tone, with enough evidence to support the argument of their Thesis, and it should be free of improper grammar, misspellings, and careless punctuation mistakes. Before submitting it for evaluation, the student should proofread and reread their essay to confirm it makes a legitimate argument of their topic’s causes and effects.

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