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ICSE Class 9 Comprehension and Composition Revision Notes for Essay Writing

Introduction to Essay Writing

What is an Essay?
An essay is a piece of writing that revolves around a particular theme and contains the academic opinions of the person writing it.

An essay can perform one or more of the following functions:

  • Analyses and critically evaluates a topic

  • Presents the writer‘s argument for or against an idea

  • Describes something

  • Narrates a story

  • Persuades the reader

Aldous Huxley described an essay as A literary device for saying almost everything about almost anything‘.

Characteristics of a Good Essay

  • Brevity: Express what you want concisely. Do not beat around the bush.

  • Coherence: Every sentence and paragraph should flow smoothly and logically from the previous one. A clumsily written essay reflects not only the lack of preparation but also the absence of clarity of thought.

  • Unity: The essay should never stray from its main purpose. Different points of view can be introduced, but they should all be used for the same subject.

  • Lucidity: The essay should be easy to read and understand. Using tough words or difficult phrases may impress a few but can confuse many others. Great writers are praised not only for their beautiful ideas but also for the simplicity of their language. 

Objective of Essay Writing

Essay writing often forms a part of English written exams to test the ability of students to

  • Think critically: Critical thinking involves understanding the task at hand and evaluating it appropriately.

  • Structure the ideas logically: The essay has to be structured and coherent. The ideas have to neatly flow from one paragraph to the other.

  • Express views eloquently: The student should be fluent in the language he or she is writing in. Ideas when presented shoddily may not make the right impact.

Parts of an Essay


Types of Essays

Narrative Essay: A narrative essay tells the reader a story or narrates an incident. This type of composition is addressed in detail in the chapter 'Introduction to Story Writing‘.

The characteristics of narrative essays are

  • They follow a chronological order.

  • They may contain firsthand accounts of the narrator.

  • They may use first person, second person or third person narrative techniques.

  • They may contain dialogues or conversations between characters.

  • They use vivid descriptions of scenes, characters and moods in the story.

  • They can contain elements of suspense of twists in the conclusion.

Descriptive Essay: A descriptive essay simply describes something to the reader.
The characteristics of descriptive essays are
  •  They appeal to one or more of the five senses of the reader—sight, smell, sound, taste and feel.
  • Sight: The light travelled through the canopy of leaves to break into various fragments. The flowers in various colours stood in full bloom.
  • Smell: As soon as you enter her house, you will be greeted by the fresh, warm and savoury smell of bread baking. You also catch a citrusy whiff of her famous lemon pie.
  • Sound: The corridor reverberated with the sound of sharp clicks emanating from the heels of somebody‘s shoes. The sounds were well spaced with a difference of a second between each click.
  • Taste: As soon as I bit into the exotic-looking fruit, my mouth was flooded with its succulent juices. It was the tastiest thing I had ever had.
  • Feel: Tinkerbelle my Persian cat brushed against my face in a rare show of affection. Her soft, cottony fur grazed against my chin and her pointy whiskers tickled me.
  • They try to replicate in the reader the emotions or feelings experienced by the writer