5. Structure : how the sections of an essay are organized and stitched together. College essays are frequently organized either by repetition (where each paragraph develops evidence of the same proposition: “X is clearly present”) or by chronology (where evidence appears in the essay in the same order that it appears in the text): both of these patterns are inadequate. Sections of a good argument proceed in a logical way, but also develop the implications of a thesis more deeply as the essay progresses. The reader should understand how each new section extends the argument that’s come before and prepares for the argument that’s still to come. Reflective sentences at moments of transition often guide this review/preview, and complex essays frequently include 1-2 sentences of this type in their introductions.
Longer essays may also contain an introductory page that defines words and phrases of the essay's topic. Most academic institutions require that all substantial facts, quotations, and other porting material in an essay be referenced in a bibliography or works cited page at the end of the text. This scholarly convention helps others (whether teachers or fellow scholars) to understand the basis of facts and quotations the author uses to support the essay's argument and helps readers evaluate to what extent the argument is supported by evidence, and to evaluate the quality of that evidence. The academic essay tests the student's ability to present their thoughts in an organized way and is designed to test their intellectual capabilities.
Some assignments are given page count requirements instead of word count. A normal, typed, double-spaced essay without footnotes is said to yield approximately 250 words per page. Page count requirements are open to cheating by doing things like extending the line height, widening all four margins, increasing the font size or using a wider-style font, using footnotes, and other style elements that help spread the content over the pages. While this may satisfy the requirement, keep in mind that your instructor is expecting a certain level of content in the essay, and an incomplete essay stretched over the required amount of pages is still an incomplete essay. Conversely, an essay that blathers on will still seem to blather even if the student creatively crams more words into a smaller space.