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Exploratory Essay: The A to Z Guide

November 1, 2020
Julia Stewart

An exploratory essay, the most fun-filled essay writing, differs from every other essay. Here, there is no need for additional research; instead, you explore your ideas and the ideas of others. An exploratory essay entails speculation, digression, and rumination.

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Exploratory Essay

Unlike other forms of writing, this essay does not try to impose its thesis on its reader. To write an excellent exploratory essay, you would need to stick to its outline, thinking deeply about the topic. This article will help you understand an exploratory essay definition, and walk you through the building blocks to writing an outstanding exploratory essay.

What is an Exploratory Essay?

An exploratory essay, also called an investigative piece, is a speculatively written essay. Here, the writer peruses over the various overviews of people regarding an issue or a topic. Afterward, they walk through the problem, and air their view without refuting or drawing a biased conclusion.

This type of essay tables the different perspectives of people on a topic from a neutral angle, and at the same time, highlights their mutual understanding. To deliver a great essay, you need to think introspectively about the topic and not delve into idle speculation. An exploratory essay requires that you first reflect on the subject of discussion. 

In real cases, sentiments may cloud your judgment, especially when you’re very passionate about the topic.  You’re most likely to rush to a conclusion or try to influence others’ opinions without hearing their takes on the matter. An exploratory essay sets to beat this fashion.

It is advisable to consider the rationale of at least three persons on a topic, an event, or an issue as you can make a thorough presentation with detailed logical reasonings this way. Limiting your investigation to a few relevant sources may result in making only similar findings. Diversity creates spice in your presentation!

Exploratory Questions: Types

Having a clear understanding of the information you aim to get helps you stay on track while carrying out your investigation. Here are the types of exploratory questions you need to ask when writing this essay:

  1. Fact questions
  2. Convergent questions
  3. Divergent questions
  4. Evaluative questions

Fact questions

A fact question usually has an exact answer. It is the “who…?” “what…? “where…?” and “when….?” question. This question aims to confirm the parties involved in the topic/event/issue, what incited the problem, if there is a case for a geographical problem, and answers if there was a similar case in the past to analyze the possibility of a future recurrence.

Example: Who invented the payphone?

Convergent questions

Though similar to a fact question, a convergent question differs in that it calls for a lengthier explanation than those mentioned above. However, like a fact question, it has an exact answer. It often starts with words like: “according to,” “why,” and “how.”

Example: According to most health scientists, what factor is most responsible for the coronavirus’ fast spread?

Divergent questions

A divergent question or an idea question aims to incite people’s reasoning to hear their ideas on a topic. It can have many acceptable answers. This question often starts with words like: “what if,” “how would,” “how could.” 

Example: How would you brew your coffee fast if your espresso machine broke down?

Evaluative questions

Also known as the opinion question, this question aims to provoke more detailed opinions to rule out judgment on a topic/issue. It may start with words like: “how well,” “do you think,” and “why should.”

Example: Do you think the lack of social amenities in a state is a result of poorly generated revenue or mismanagement?

Exploratory Essay Outline

Essay outlines help you organize your thoughts and structure your paragraphs better to avoid leaving out any relevant information while writing.

An excellent exploratory essay should follow this pattern:

  1. Introduction,
  2. Body paragraphs,
  3. Conclusion.

The essay Introduction

An introduction serves as a hook to gain the reader’s attention and keep them focused until the writing ends. This introduction must be informative, eye-catching, and promising. It should make the reader feel they would be missing out on vital information if they don’t remain engaged until the end.

This introduction should also outline the scope, describe the issue or topic being addressed, highlight its challenges, and include a brief overview of your approach to tackling the problem. This approach will have your reader yearning to know more.

A disorganized, vague, and error-filled introduction creates an overall wrong impression about your writing. Starting your essay on such a wrong foot can cause your reader’s interest level to drop! Achieving this might appear a bit difficult, and so, below are some hacks to writing a persuasive introduction:

  • Start with a fascinating story related to the topic: Telling a story that connects with your readers’ emotions automatically buys their interest.
  • Make the issue being tackled appear critical
  • Describe the issue discussed as an unresolved puzzle: The problem-solving nature of humans would also leap to solve this riddle; that way, they will stay hooked to your essay.
  • Cite a captivating quote
  • Pose a thought-provoking question or series of questions: Provocative questions challenge accepted thesis and stir the reader to rethink.
  • Use statistics: Quoting reputable sources, describing past events, and how long the issue has lingered also does the trick.

Body Paragraphs

After the introduction, next comes the body of the essay. The body paragraphs extensively explain the highlighted scope, context, background information, and purpose of the topic under investigation. This part of the essay is divided into two segments:

  1. The body: Part one
  2. The body: Part two

The body: Part one

The first part of the body aims to answer and clarify the following:

  • What the issue or problem is
  • The level at which this issue has escalated
  • The groups discussing the issue
  • The persons that have made the topic to be of utmost importance to them
  • Past opinions from many authors
  • If the writer shares the same views with any of its readers
  • If there is any force repressing the audience from expressing their beliefs
  • What the issue has demanded overtime
  • The evolution of its pitch of interest and the values it passes across

The body: Part two

In complementing the first part of the body, this second part gives room to air people’s diverse views. It aims to explain why they understand the situation from the angle represented in the essay. In tabling their thoughts, you should take note of the following when writing:

  • Elaborate their view on the issue
  • Why they have such perspective
  • State the cases that pitched their opinions to these
  • Support their perspectives with facts
  • Compare their diverse points of view

Tips on writing impressive body paragraphs:

  • Start each paragraph with a topic sentence, usually the main point of interest in a paragraph, and stress this sentence. 
  • Back this main interest for each paragraph up with facts, quotes, or data. These act as supporting points to give more meaning to the main point and lead to a logical conclusion.
  • Try to balance the number of sentences for each paragraph where possible and where not possible, achieve a closer number. Underwritten paragraphs may appear to the reader as having underdeveloped points and vice versa.

Essay conclusion

An exploratory essay conclusion does not imply a repetition of the summary of your findings. In drawing your conclusion in this essay, you should state your contribution to the issue being discussed while maintaining a neutral tone about others’ perspectives.

In the same manner, as you’ve done in the essay body, support your claims with arguments. In most cases, people tend to think that you summarise and support one argument/ opinion while concluding. This is far from the case.

While concluding, discuss your reflections and why you think there is a need for further research on the topic you just explored. Also, give your readers the impression that you are delighted to keep it going. It is excellent to end by calling your readers or audience to action.

When drawing your conclusion, you should avoid:

  • Stuffing it with unnecessary information. You should be concise while stating your insights, evaluation, and analysis.
  • Statements like, “There may be other better methods” or “Better approaches to this issue state that…” These phrases undermine confidence in your opinion.
  • Derailing from the initial subject of discussion. Ensure your conclusion is in line with your introduction’s objectives.

Exploratory Essay Examples

Do not be deterred. Writing an exploratory essay isn’t as tedious as it may sound. Below are some great examples of exploratory essays you can study to learn the narration style:

  1. https://www3.dbu.edu/uwc/documents/ExploratoryEssayMar17_000.pdf

30 Exploratory Essay Topics

Another aspect you may need help with is finding topics for exploratory essays. While you may feel tempted to pick any topic for discussing randomly, a good exploratory essay question should tick the following boxes:

  • Must be arguable
  • Must be unresolved
  • There should be resources and facts to back people’s opinion
  • Choose a topic that lies within your strength
  • Must touch  an exciting topic

There is a wide range of categories to choose a topic from. Exploratory essay topics can be crafted on :

  • Politics
  • Entertainment
  • Sports
  • Technology
  • Music & Arts
  • Religion, among others.

The following make for good exploratory essay topics:

  1. Children with distant parents tend to grow more independent than ones inhabiting with theirs.
  2. The chain of divorce extends to the children.
  3. Handling a mobile phone at an early age inhibits a child’s creativity.
  4. Smartphones result in poor communication through speech.
  5. How does technology curb job opportunities
  6. Social media increases the rate of depression and anxiety among teens.
  7. Shelving pints of milk extend the life span.
  8. Professional sports affect the player’s psychological well-being.
  9. Is Opera overrated?
  10. Actors pose to be the best role models.
  11. Is e-learning the solution to poor teaching techniques?
  12. Do graphic sex and scenes influence the high rate of rape?
  13. What is the possibility you have a doppelganger on earth?
  14. What don’t women buy into the surrogacy idea when conceiving proves difficult?
  15. Does diversity in a workplace increase productivity?
  16. The maximum amount of money that guarantees happiness
  17. Which is healthier for newborn babies: processed or breast milk?
  18. Who suffers during divorce the most: the husband, wife, children, or close relatives?
  19. Who always seeks divorce: men or women?
  20. Why don’t inter-tribal marriages work out?
  21. Do marathon races impair the body muscles?
  22. Does a high concentration of plastics increase the greenhouse effect in our environment?
  23. Is nuclear energy the future of energy resources?
  24. How important is it to cite heavy industries away from the residential areas?
  25. Will technology ease out the work stress or worsen the situation?
  26. Which makes for easy reading: hard copy or soft copies?
  27. What is the best online dating app?
  28. How does the chemistry between same-sex form?
  29. Who is the blame for the high rate of immigration? Friends? or The government?
  30. Who shows the most moral decadence: boys or girls?

Writing Tips for an Exploratory Essay

Without knowing the right mountaineering tricks, the summit will look unreachable. The same goes for this writing. Without adhering to these tips, you may never know how to write an exploratory essay.

Now note the following tips to land your five-star essay:

  • Try to hear as many diverse perspectives as possible.
  • Note your findings
  • Reflect deeply on the topic
  • Stick to the outline as mentioned earlier when writing
  • Include pictorial representations to back up claims, if there are any
  • Write from the third-person perspective, except when told not to
  • Take time to proofread and also have a second eye go over the essay for you.

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