Old Pueblo Academy

How to structure an Exploratory Essay

By its nature, an exploratory essay shouldn’t really have a structure. If that confuses you, think of it this way: you write an essay of this type because you’re exploring a topic that you don’t know about. Since you have to start without an end in mind and now knowing how you feel about the subject, it goes without saying that you can’t use an outline or do research ahead of time. Because of this, the only structure is how you organize your thoughts as you go. For example, you could choose a few questions to have in mind while reading and researching, and answer each question with each book that you read. Here are some examples. While researching, when you come upon a new source, ask these for each one:

  • What do I feel about this? Is it controversial or morally gray?
  • Does this make sense?
  • Is there any parts of this source that reminds you of something else?
  • What is the most interesting aspect, the most boring?
  • Is there anything new you learned?
  • How might this information change your life?

That’s just a few ideas to get you started. There are many other ways you can explore each source and talk about it in your essay. At its heart, an essay of this type is more about the journey and the learning than anything other part. You don’t have to prove anything or argue positions; it’s all just about your thoughts and opinions through the experience of researching and learning.

Writing an Exploratory Essay

As with all essay types, you should consult the instructions from your teacher on a regular basis so that you know what’s expected of you. Make sure to talk to your teacher directly if anything confuses you, or you need some clarification and help with a particular part of your essay. Your teacher is there to help, and don’t be hesitant to take advantage of that. Writing your exploratory essay shouldn’t be very hard; after all, it’s about your own experience of the topic and there’s hardly anything that can be “wrong” since each essay will be very unique to each student. As long as you follow the basic requirements, it’s very easy to get a good mark with this type of essay. Structure it however you like, and in the editing stage you can also make improvements to it for a more solid structure.