Different kinds of student texts
For any writing assignment, it is important that you understand what kind of text you are expected to submit.
Students who are new to the demands of university writing may find it difficult to grasp what kind of text they need to write. Similarly, students transferring from one discipline or faculty to another may experience new demands. Some general formats for writing at university are described in brief below. Links then direct you to pages where you will find further information.
As writing practices vary considerably between departments and disciplines, the information on AWELU is of a general kind. For detailed instructions, you always need to consult your teacher or supervisor.
'Essay' is a general term used for argumentative and expository texts. The two main essay formats are described below.
The three-part essay
A standard format for expository and argumentative essays is the so-called three-part essay consisting of an introduction, a body and a conclusion. In its most brief format, this kind of essay is sometimes referred to as the 'five-paragraph-essay', as it then typically consists of one introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs, and one concluding paragraph. More often than not, however, university writing involves longer essays and more complex structures. For further information about the three-part essay format, see
The IMRaD essay
In many fields, the standard text structure for essays and research articles is referred to as IMRaD, which is an acronym for Introduction, Method, Results, and Discussion. Read more about the IMRaD structure here:
A response paper is a short essay which responds to (reacts to) something, usually one or several texts that the writer has read. For more information about the structure of a response paper and advice on how to write such an essay, see
Essay / exam question
In some disciplines, students are assessed by exams consisting of so-called essay questions. This is common in take-home exams and in open-book exams. Read more here:
As a student you may be asked to produce a literature review, which is a text in which you present and discuss several texts on a particular topic. Note that the literature review is not identical with the kind of text you may recognize from school as a book review or book report in which you were probably asked to share your reading of one particular book (often a work of fiction).
While working on your degree project or in connection with other course work, you might be asked to produce an annotated bibliography which is a list of works you have read with brief comments on each of these works. Read more here: