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How to Write a Classification Essay

If you are a high-school or college student, you are sure to encounter a classification paper at some point. Instructors use this type of essay in assessing a student’s ability to categorize and organize data according to various specificities.

Classification essay

Classification Writing Definition

The essence of a classification essay is the breakdown of a whole subject into smaller portions to enhance the reader’s understanding of the matter. It entails taking items and placing them in different classes.

Classification essays are designed to demonstrate a student’s ability to categorize. Such an essay requires you to organize subjects, elements, or components into similar groups and provide relevant examples of each class.

You may have to identify a classification criterion by yourself. You should use a standard of categorization whose rationale you can explain.

Classification and division essays, however, use a combination of two techniques to breakdown complicated topics into understandable parts. Firstly, it involves the division of a problematic subject into subtopics. Then secondly, the subtopics are further separated into smaller parts. This is all to provide clarity on the subject at hand.

Steps Involved in Writing Your Classification Essay

If you embark on writing your essay without a plan of action, it is unlikely that you will do a good job. You will need some initial planning to produce an outstanding classification write-up.

In writing a classification essay, you will want to organize your items in at least three or more groups. Each class should have specific characteristics that make it different from the rest. Support this information with details of description and examples.

In your description, you should provide the means to identify the distinguishing traits and examples illustrating these characteristic features on the members of each.

There are three essentials to classification; the whole set of items under study, the selective standard for grouping the whole, and the classes into which you place the items.

The set should comprise of items that share similar qualities at a basic level. For instance, academic essays can represent a set. Under this set, there exist different types of essays. Non-academic essays will form another set.

Your standard for selecting the items for each class is your organizing principle. For example, in academic essays, you could categorize items according to the level of education involved, like; high school level essays, undergraduate-level essays, or postgraduate level essays.

Starting Your Classification Essay

Similar to other essays, the first step is to select a topic of interest. The items you wish to classify should revolve around a topic that you find appealing. Once you identify your area of interest, divide it into about three items. These items will translate into three passages in the body of your text

You could brainstorm potential ideas.  From your list of ideas, you could identify a group of people, items, or ideas. You will want to select a subject that has specific categories that allow comparison.

Your classification essay will take the following general outline; broad set, subdivisions of the set, explanation of the subset, and examples for each subgroup.

Understanding the categories is essential since it guides the way you develop your essay’s theme. The theme you identify will determine the nature of your thesis. Your thesis should illustrate your topic as well as your approach to classification.

Your thesis will form part of your introductory paragraph. It shapes the way you approach your essay. Developing a thesis at an early stage may assist you in maintaining the focus of your writing.

Before you start writing your paper, it will be crucial to consider the order in which you will discuss the categories. With pre-planned steps at hand, tackling your essay will be a no brainer. Check out our examples of classification essays below.

Classification Essay Outline

To write an outstanding classification essay, you will have to consider the framework. Having an outline in place will prove useful when you are looking for the appropriate way to present your information.

  1. Introduction

This will be your first paragraph. As you begin your paper, you should identify the subject of your writing. Elaborate on what you will be categorizing and the purpose of subdividing the items under evaluation. You will want to finish your introduction with your thesis statement.

Your thesis should establish the identity of the groups and provide a concise explanation for the criteria used to sort them.

  • Body Paragraphs

The body of your text should discuss your thesis exhaustively. Each point should be connected to your thesis statement because it forms the epicenter of your work.

You will want to organize your body in paragraphs. Each passage should deal with a particular category. Consider using a topic sentence. It will help the reader identify the class under study. It would be best if you began with a statement to explain the measure for comparative examination.

Also, you could highlight the defining characteristics of the diverse groups. You may state the strengths and weaknesses of encompassed in each division. Upon your explanation of a particular collection, provide the relevant examples to prove your claim.

Should you need more than one paragraph to explain a particular set, it is okay. But, you should ensure that there is a smooth and transparent transition between sections as you organize your information.

Your information must be organized in a logical and sequential pattern. You should be able to compare and contrast the data from different subgroups in your body.

  • Conclusion

This is your paper’s final paragraph. The conclusion of a classification essay is the area where you tie together the diverse classes under evaluation. You may want to provide a summary of each category.

According to how you relay your argument, you may recommend a particular category over others. However, should you do this, you will have to provide reasons why.

Classification Essay


Now that you know the elements that make up a classification essay, putting together your paper will be more natural. The skills involved in dissecting a body of information into understandable subdivisions are crucial in much more than just writing your paper.

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