October 30, 2020

Top 10 Essential Features of a High-Grade Academic Essay

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Here are the essential features of a high-quality academic essay.

You would surely want to make these important aspects of an English test essay part of the paper you will be submitting to your invigilator, examiner, tutor, supervisor or lecturer.

These major characteristics of a standard English essay are good for you to learn and apply if ever you find yourself in any of the following situations:

  • Undergraduate or graduate student
  • Senior High School student
  • External examination candidate. Example: IGCSE, GCSE, GCE, WASSCE, ABCE, DBS, SAT, JAMB, College Entrance Examination, University Entrance Examination for Mature Applicants.

Below are the attributes of a high-quality English essay with the potential of attracting a very high score.

1. Introduction

A good English essay begins with a clear, interesting introduction and thesis statement.

A thesis statement is usually a single sentence stating what you intend to do in the essay or what will form the subject matter of your essay.

Example: In this article, I will discuss four major causes of social conflicts and recommend measures which can be taken to minimize them. 

2. Consistency

A high-grade essay maintains focus on one central issue, argument or opinion right from the beginning to the end. The writer does not stray unnecessarily from one side to the other.

3. Coherence

An essay which promises to earn the writer a very high score flows seamlessly from one point to the next. It ensures that ideas or points are arranged in a logical order. Also, linking words and expressions are used to connect each succeeding point to the previous one.

4. Relevance

A super-quality academic essay contains only ideas, perspectives and arguments that are relevant to the particular topic or test question. The writer avoids adding irrelevant material. Irrelevant material is simply subject matter the question has not asked for.

5. Development

An A-grade essay goes beyond a mere statement of skeleton points. Each point or idea is fully developed with explanations, examples and supporting ideas.

6. Paragraphing

A high-class examination essay carefully follows the standard rules of effective paragraphing.

There is clear indentation to separate the various units of ideas.

Each paragraph begins with a topic sentence. This refers to a clear statement of the main idea to be discussed.

The topic sentence is then followed by other supporting ideas.

A good paragraph usually ends with a clincher sentence. You will hardly find more than one major idea in a single paragraph.

7. Subject Matter

The writer of a super-grade essay displays a thorough knowledge of the subject matter.

There is ample evidence from the way the writer mentions names, quotes figures, cites examples and explains peculiar ideas and terms to suggest that they know exactly what they are talking about.

8. Standard or Acceptable English

Every high-quality essay complies with the conventions of Standard English. These are practices in English language usage universally accepted for any kind of academic writing.

Here, have a look at some key attributes of the kind of English found in a good essay.

  • Easy-to-comprehend and varied sentence structure
  • Appropriate and effective vocabulary
  • Effective subordination and coordination


An academic essay, written in standard English, will show signs of excellent editing and proofreading.

Such an essay would have taken adequate care of most, if not all, issues relating to tense, concord, spelling, punctuation and capitalization.

9. Formal Features

An examination essay with the potential of earning a very good grade is presented in the required, appropriate essay format.

An article for publication in the news media, for example, will have a format totally different from a school report or a speech to be delivered to a particular kind of audience.

10. Conclusion

A high-scoring examination essay ends properly.

Every top quality academic essay ends with a concluding paragraph.

In this last paragraph, the author makes a final statement, often restating the salient points that form the subject matter of the body.

Final word

For you to score the excellent grade you rightly deserve for all your examination or school essays, you will have to consider the above top 10 features of a high-grade English essay.

Do you have any problems or ideas about learning independently for an examination?  Please let me know in a comment below.

And remember to share this post.

Thank you.

Ralph Nyadzi

Ralph has a passion for the teaching and learning of Language and Literature mainly because these two help him to understand and appreciate why people act the way they do. Over the past two decades, he has coached over 5000 students and adult learners to achieve their educational goals. Ralph is the founder and CEO of Cegast Academy.

View all posts by Ralph Nyadzi →

One thought on “Top 10 Essential Features of a High-Grade Academic Essay

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