English Essay Writing Practice

Do you need essay writing practice before a major English test? If you teach ESL classes, do you need materials to help your students practice basic essay writing skills? 

Keep reading for an overview of things to consider in English essay writing practice (and in order to get high scores on essays for classes and writing tests.) Below that are inexpensive packets of essay practice materials for individual or classroom use.

Key Points for English Essay Writing

When writing an essay for a class assignment or for a major test like the IELTS essay writing or TOEFL Writing Tests, it’s important to understand the essay prompt—the instructions on what to write about.  

Pay attention to exactly what the essay prompt asks for. Be sure to give your own ideas and opinions when asked for them. (Just restating the ideas or arguments of other writers is less likely to be interesting, besides being obvious to the essay examiners if they requested your views.) 

Be especially careful about using someone’s exact words. If you use someone else’s words without giving them credit, it’s plagiarism, which is a very serious offense in English writing. 

The only time not to express your own opinion is when you are specifically asked to paraphrase (restate) or summarize other people’s ideas or when asked to objectively (i.e. without personal bias or opinion) present or analyze data.

Although it is important to understand the exact meaning of the words in the essay prompt (a main purpose of the essay practice packets below, it is not necessary to use those words yourself. 

Write your essay with English words you feel comfortable using. It is NOT a good idea to try to impress examiners with fancy vocabulary you do not understand completely!

There are certain rules you need to learn for organizing essays in English. (See the packets below, or Essay Organization.)

However, most of the requirements for writing good essays are the same as for any formal writing in English. 

  • Be careful that your subjects agree with your verbs. (Use singular verbs for singular subjects and plurals for plurals: Jim thinks, but he and Judy think.)
  • Watch your spelling, capitalization (first word of each sentence, proper names like England and English, etc.), and punctuation.
  • Write in complete, active sentences. (Avoid passives: “1984 was written by George Orwell.” Better: “George Orwell wrote 1984.”) 
  • Vary your words and sentence structure. Use strong verbs and less adverbs. (“She whispered a name, and then ordered, “Do it now!” is much stronger than “She said a name softly, then said loudly. “Do it now!”) 
  • Write clear transitions between ideas and paragraphs.
  • Do not use contractions. (You may notice that I use them a lot in EnglishHints. That’s because I’m writing conversational English. I don’t want a formal tone. Academic writing, on the other hand, usually requires formality.)

Pay special attention to your introduction. Make sure it clearly states your main point or argument and is as interesting as you can make it.

English Essay Writing Practice on Your Own

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You can get essay writing practice by yourself using the guidelines above.

Also check Writing Test Vocabulary to be sure you understand the exact meanings of words commonly used in essay instructions (prompts), so you can give your examiners what they are looking for. It can make a real difference in your score!

If you would like a more detailed, step-by-step approach to essay writing practice, study this inexpensive pdf of English essay writing explanations, examples, and practice exercises.

It includes the information and pages mentioned above and much more:

  • Introduction: Why you need to understand English essay organization and essay prompt vocabulary- page 3 
  • How Many Prompt Words Do You Already Know?- 4 
  • Answers to the pre-check- 5 
  • Sharing Ideas: Talking vs. Writing (This introduces words often used in essay prompts)- 6 
  • Comparing Apples & Peaches- 7 
  • Essay Organization- 8 
  • Types of Transitions- 9 
  • Practice Transitions with a Comparative Essay- 10 
  • Try Writing an Essay (Use the Essay Planning form to think about each part.)- 11 
  • 3-page Revision and Proofreading Checklist (Use this to check your work when you write an essay.)- 12-14 
  • Practice with Proofreading: sample essay on Unintended Consequences- 15-16 
  • Crossword- 17 
  • Vocabulary Quiz- 18-19 
  • Answers:
  • Transitions Practice (Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Learning) Answers- 20 
  • Corrected (proofread) essay on the bomb with essay parts and transition words marked and a short example of a summary- 21-22 
  • Crossword Answers- 23 
  • Vocabulary Quiz Answers- 24 
  • Credits & link to more practice- 25 

This packet is quite similar to the classroom pdf packet below, except without the lesson plans or Scientific Method vocabulary section and with a little more explanation of some ideas.

Click the button below to buy it now for $6.00. 


You will need Adobe or another pdf reader to download these pdfs. If you do not have Adobe Reader you can download it, free, here.

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Basics of Essay Writing (for Classrooms)

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Help your English learners master the vocabulary of writing test prompts and the basics of English essay writing.

Basics of Essay Writing includes six lessons demonstrating and practicing essential academic vocabulary and essay writing skills.

It includes brief readings on communication and essay organization, a vocabulary game and crossword puzzle and practice with transition words and proofreading before students try essay writing themselves.

This packet is a less expensive version of my Basic Academic Vocabulary packet. It is 33 pages and contains almost all of the resources and practice activities in the Basic Academic Vocabulary packet except the task cards.

Common Core Standards addressed CCSS.W8,2 &2c.,8.5, 9-10.2c & 5; L.8,4a ,& L.9-10.4a.

Click below to download it for $8.00.


See English Grammar Worksheets if you would like to practice different tenses (especially irregular past tense verbs). It also has a free download of the Revision & Proofreading Checklist included in the packets above.

Home > ESL Worksheets> English Essay Writing Practice.

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