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What Are Expository Essays?

What Are Expository Essays

Expository essays serve as an essential tool for conveying information, explaining concepts, and offering insights into various subjects. Unlike narrative essays, which focus on storytelling, expository essay writing emphasises clarity, structure, and factual representation. Mastering the structure and strategies of this type of essay can significantly improve one's academic writing. Let's explore the different types and strategies that make expository essays stand out.

What is an Expository Essay?

Expository essays aim to describe, explain, or inform the reader about a particular topic

Expository essays aim to describe, explain, or inform the reader about a particular topic objectively and factually. They are often used in academic settings to test a student's understanding and ability to present information clearly while providing depth and analysis. Essay outlines help frame the structure effectively, guiding readers through a logical flow.

There are two key points to keep in mind. First, schools rarely teach students on writing expository essays. Second, the reason for this is that most primary school students are not yet cognitively prepared to tackle this form of writing, especially in an exam setting where reference materials aren't available.

To illustrate this, let's consider the topic of "an unforgettable incident" to highlight the distinctions between styles. An interesting note: the narrative writing example comes from our Primary Three Creative Writing class materials.

Narrative Writing

Narrative writing is a style of creative writing that tells a story, either real or imagined. It is designed to engage the reader by presenting a narrative arc with a beginning, middle, and end, often involving characters, settings, and plot developments that evoke a range of emotions. The primary purpose is to entertain, inform, or convey an experience through detailed description and character development.

Here is an example of narrative writing:


“Not again!” I exclaimed, anguished as I watched the penguin plushie fall once more from the claw machine’s claws. It was my birthday. With blessings and a twenty-dollar note from my grandmother, I was at the arcade, trying to fish for a plushie I had longed for.

Unfortunately, on my nineteenth attempt, I was still nowhere close to my goal. With eyes burning an unquenchable fire of resolve, I clenched tightly to my last coin and whispered a silent prayer before slotting it in.


Learning from my past mistakes, I made the claw grab the one closest to the mouth of the prize chute from its side and tried to propel it down the chute. The claw gripped firmly onto the plushie, causing me to grin from ear to ear. As soon as it lifted up, I watched the claw slip away effortlessly, causing the plushie to move a millimetre forward before stopping dead in its tracks.


My smile was wiped off cleanly. Before I knew it, a river of tears flowed uncontrollably down my cheeks as I could no longer hold back my utter dismay.

“What’s wrong, kid?” came a concerned voice. I looked up and saw that it was the owner of the arcade.


“I- I tried t-to get this f-for my b-birthday,” I managed between sobs before I bawled out even more loudly. Without saying a word, the owner took out a key, unlocked the front panel of the claw machine, took out the plushie and gave it to me, saying with a big smile on his face, “Happy birthday!”


My eyes widened like saucers, unable to believe what I was seeing. I looked hesitant before gently cradling it in my hands. I thanked the owner profusely before scooting back home, as happy as a dog with two tails. It was so unforgettable how I earned my favourite stuffed toy. 

This narrative captures a memorable incident involving emotional highs and lows, detailed character interactions, and a climax that resolves the central conflict, making it a quintessential example of narrative writing.

Narrative Writing

Expository Writing

Expository writing is a style that seeks to explain, describe, or inform the reader about a specific topic in a clear, logical, and objective manner. It often requires the writer to present information using facts, evidence, and a structured approach to create a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. This form of writing can analyse processes, describe concepts, compare ideas, or clarify complex subjects, making it a valuable tool in academia and professional communication.

Here's an example of an expository writing piece:

An Unforgettable Incident: Triumph at an Arcade

An unforgettable day often encompasses events that leave a lasting impact due to their emotional or personal significance. One such instance occurred during a visit to an arcade on a seemingly ordinary birthday. That day was marked not just by the activity but by the unexpected outcome of what started as a game of chance.

On that particular day, a person ventured into an arcade with the intention of winning a plushie from a claw machine. Armed with twenty dollars, a birthday gift from a relative, the individual attempted to secure a coveted penguin plushie. Despite the claw machine's reputation for difficulty, the determination to win was driven by the sentimental value of the day itself.

After numerous attempts — nineteen, to be precise — the plushie remained elusive. Each attempt to manoeuvre the claw brought a fleeting moment of success, followed by disappointment as the plushie repeatedly slipped and only advanced slightly towards the prize chute. This pattern is characteristic of arcade games, which are designed to offer a challenge that tests patience and skill. Claw machines, in particular, provide just enough hope to encourage continued play while rarely guaranteeing success, ensuring consistent engagement and revenue for the arcade.

The turning point of the day did not come from a successful capture of the plushie by the claw, but from an act of kindness by the arcade owner. Noticing the individual's distress and understanding the day's significance, the owner intervened by handing the plushie directly to the birthday celebrant. This gesture not only resolved the game of chance but also highlighted the human aspect of the experience.

The arcade owner's kindness transformed an ordinary game into a memorable event, illustrating how unexpected generosity can profoundly affect someone's day. The individual left not only with a plushie but also with a story of perseverance and generosity.

In conclusion, what defines an unforgettable day isn't solely the events that happen but the emotions and outcomes linked to them. This arcade visit exemplifies how a simple act of kindness and an unexpected result can leave a lasting impression, turning an ordinary day into an unforgettable one.

Expository Writing

This piece exemplifies expository writing by presenting factual details about the incident while maintaining an objective and structured perspective. It analyses the situation to explain why the day was memorable, and the logical progression from the struggle at the claw machine to the resolution by the arcade owner clearly conveys the story.

The expository essay sample provided here illustrates the significance of logical progression and factual storytelling. Mastering the art of the expository essay requires practice, understanding, and strategic planning. Given the complexity and demands of writing expository essays, they are not commonly taught at the primary level, allowing students to first develop foundational writing skills.

In primary school, narrative writing is a fundamental skill taught to students. This type of writing involves telling a story with a clear sequence of events, engaging characters, and a cohesive plot. Through narrative writing, students learn to express their ideas creatively, develop their writing style, and improve their language skills.

Parents of primary school students can enhance their children's writing skills

Parents of primary school students can enhance their children's writing skills by enrolling them in AGrader’'s Primary Creative Writing Tuition Programme, which focuses on narrative writing and aligns with the MOE syllabus. Lessons are planned to complement the school curriculum, accompanied by high-quality, in-house worksheets. With a robust curriculum and experienced, qualified teachers, AGrader offers students invaluable guidance that they might not receive in school.

All AGrader students also receive free access to EverLoop Modules without additional charges, the additional after-class resources on top of weekly lessons. 



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