How to Write a “Describe & Explain” Essay: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Write a Describe & Explain Essay A Step-by-Step Guide (

In order to succeed in AP English, you’ll need to hone your writing skills. Fortunately, writing essays is one of the easier aspects of the course. That being said, essays still require a lot of practice in order to perfect your craft. That’s why it’s important to understand the different ways you can structure an essay when crafting it from scratch. This guide will help you easily write a “describe and explain” essay.

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What Is a “Describe & Explain” Essay?

A “describe & explain” essay is a two-part essay in which you describe a topic and then explain your stance on the topic through examples. The “describe” portion of the essay is where you’ll describe the topic you’ll be focusing on, often using a list or a brief outline. The “explain” portion of the essay is where you’ll explain your stance on the topic using a flowchart, a table of examples, or a clear argument.

Why is a “Describe & Explain” Essay Used in AP English?

A “describe & explain” essay is a great way to introduce a topic that is relevant to the world around you, even in a very broad way. You’ll also get practice in outlining topics and writing about them in a way that is interesting to your readers. When writing a “describe & explain” essay, it’s important that you not only describe the topic but also explain your stance on it and give examples to support your argument. This will help to ensure that your essay reads smoothly and doesn’t get too complicated in its explanations.

Steps to Writing a “Describe & Explain” Essay

When writing a “describe & explain” essay, you’ll want to follow the same steps as you would when writing any other essay. In this section, we’ll detail these steps to help you master the art of “describe & explain” essays.

Part 1: Choose a topic and brainstorm ideas for topics on your chosen topic. While you can choose any topic that you find relevant or interesting, it’s best to choose a topic that relates to the overall expectations of your AP exam. You can find more information about the topics that are expected on the AP Exam website.

Part 2: Outline your outline and outline your list. With your outline in place, you can better determine how to outline your list. An outline is a general outline of the structure of your essay. A list describes specific facts about a topic you want to discuss in your essay. Your outline will help you keep your essay clear and focused, while your list will help you discuss specific topics discussed in your essay.

Part 3: Write your introductory paragraph and write your body paragraphs. Your introductory paragraph is where you’ll introduce your topic and give a brief overview of the essay. Your body paragraphs are where you’ll discuss your topics and use examples to support your argument. Your body paragraphs should flow seamlessly from one to the next, so it’s best to avoid unnecessary details and focus on the main points of your argument.

The 3 parts of a “Describe & Explain” Essay

Introduction: In this section, you’ll briefly introduce the essay topic and give an overview of your essay. You’ll also want to include any relevant background information you want to share with your readers.

Body Paragraphs: These sections are where you’ll discuss your topic in more detail by using relevant examples to support your argument. It’s important that you don’t get too sidetracked in your examples and stay focused on your argument.

Conclusion: This section is where you’ll summarize the essay topic and restate your stance on the topic through the conclusion of your essay.


When writing a “describe & explain” essay, you’ll want to describe your topic in a detailed way while also explaining your stance. You’ll also want to keep your essay as concise as possible while staying focused on your argument’s main points. In this way, your essay will be easy to read and follow while also being informative and interesting to your readers. Finally, when finishing your essay, you’ll want to recap the essay topic and summarize your stance on the topic. This will help ensure that your essay makes sense and follows a clear structure while reading smoothly.

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