One type of assignment that you will most assuredly be given as a college student is the cause and effect essay or paper. Of course, an essay is usually much shorter than a paper and normally doesn’t require research, but the guidelines are the same for each type of assignment, so being a free essay writer and following what has become standard procedure for writing a causal analysis, you will greatly increase your chances of earning a good grade.
The Difference Between Cause and Effect
Whenever you write about cause and effect, you are describing how and why certain events or situations bring about particular observable results. For example, in a history class, you might be asked to examine what initiated the Civil War in 19th century America, with the war being the consequence (result) of the events and situations (causes) that led up to it. In a geography class, on the other hand, you might be asked to write about the weather conditions (causes) that produce a hurricane (result).
The Different Types of Causes and Effects
Causes and their effects can be classified as either immediate or remote):
- An immediate cause occurs just before the result it produces and is directly responsible for the result. For example, Tom’s partying all weekend instead of studying would be the immediate cause of his failing the history exam on Monday.
- A remote cause does not occur directly before the effect it produces but may have a more profound effect than an immediate cause. For instance, Tom’s failure to take his college studies seriously would be the remote cause of his failing the history exam on Monday.
- An immediate effect occurs directly after an event. For example, Tom’s car came to a dead stop in the middle of the highway because it ran out of gas.
- A remote effect occurs long after the cause and any immediate effects. For instance, when Tom smokes a cigarette, it causes his blood pressure and pulse rate to increase (immediate consequence); but if Tom continues smoking for years, it will greatly increase his chances of developing lung cancer and/or heart disease (remote consequence).
Causal Analysis Patterns of Occurrence
When writing about causes and effects, keep in mind that there are several different patterns of occurrence:
- One cause with one effect: Tom didn’t study, so he failed the history exam.
- One cause with several effects: Tom stopped smoking, which lowered his blood pressure and heart rate, increased his endurance, and decreased his chances of developing serious health problems.
- Several causes with one effect: High blood pressure, stress, high cholesterol, and lack of exercise contributed to Tom’s father’s heart attack.
- Several causes with several effects: Tom’s not studying, missing class, and wanting to be known as a “party animal” contributed to his failing history and English, flunking out during his freshman year, having to move back home, and losing his college sweetheart to a more serious student.
Writing a Casual Analysis Assignment
When you discuss the condition that produces something, you are analyzing the cause, and when you discuss the result produced by something, you are analyzing the effect. According to the essay writing guide, while some such assignments focus more on the cause or causes, others focus more on the effect or effects, but regardless of which approach you are asked to take for an assignment, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Present a thesis statement that makes a supportable claim, not an unsupportable one or simply an assertion of opinion.
- Limit the discussion to major causes and effects. Don’t include minor, insignificant events.
- Organize the essay logically. Sometimes organization is determined by the subject matter, but if not, devote some time to deciding how best to arrange the paper and whether to emphasize the reasons or the consequences.
- Make the analysis complete and objective, especially when addressing problems or beliefs. Look at the evidence and examine all sides of an issue.
- Avoid the post hoc fallacy: This error in logic (from the Latin phrase post hoc, ergo propter hoc, meaning after this, therefore because of this) results when we make a temporal connection for a causal relationship. In other words, we assume that because an event followed another event, the first event was the cause of the second. This, however, is not always the case.
- Avoid circular logic: Make sure an assertion can be argued specifically and effectively. An example of circular logic is to argue that there aren’t enough parking spaces on campus because there are too many cars on campus. This type of logic merely repeats in the second half of the statement what is implied in the first half and, therefore, is circular.
How to Write a Thesis Statement for a Paper in College
Many students enter college with little or no idea about what constitutes a thesis statement, at least an effective one, or how to begin composing a statement that lets the reader know the main point or points they intend to make within the body of their essays or papers. All college students, however, can learn this valuable skill and, in so doing, improve the grades they earn on writing assignments not only in their English courses but in other courses as well.
What Is a Thesis Statement for a College Paper?
Expressed in one concise sentence, a thesis statement is a controlling idea or main point of a written work. This statement ordinarily appears within the first paragraph of a paper, and the idea it expresses is then explained, developed, and elaborated upon in subsequent paragraphs throughout the paper.
A thesis statement should answer these three questions:
- What is the subject of the essay?
- What is the writer’s opinion on this subject? (For example, in a persuasive abortion essay, does the writer support freedom of choice or not?)
- What is the purpose of the essay (Is it to present an argument, to persuade, or to inform, etc)?
Note: Although usually the first sentence in the introductory paragraph of an essay or paper, the thesis statement can be placed anywhere within the paragraph, even at the very end.
Avoid Using Statements of Intention in College Papers
Some students, for some unexplained reason (perhaps it’s the lingering influence of high-school English teachers), confuse thesis statements with statements of intention. The essay writing services declare a thesis statement, though, is not the same as a statement of intention, which is a sentence that “announces” to the reader what the writer hopes to accomplish, although whether or not the writer does accomplish that goal is then left for the reader to decide, for example:
- In this paper, I will discuss how a joke I played on my friend, Tom, resulted in serious consequences for everyone involved.
- This essay will examine T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and discuss why its theme can be summarized in one word: regret.
Here are the above statements of intention rewritten as thesis statements:
- A joke I once played on my friend, Tom, resulted in serious consequences for everyone involved.
- The theme of T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” can be summarized in one word: regret.
The Formula for Creating a Thesis Statement
Students create a thesis statement by taking the general subject and standard essay format, which is quite often but not always built into an assignment, finding a limited topic (a particular aspect of the general subject), and then examining that limited topic for a specific angle.
The authors provide this example of a subject, topic, and angle:
- general subject: alternative energy source
- limited topic: wind power
- specific angle: a viable energy source in the Plains states
To develop a working thesis, which is a statement in progress and can be changed if necessary as the paper progresses, students should use this formula:
- limited topic + specific angle = effective thesis statement
Using the example of wind power from above, the formula would look like this:
- Wind power + viable energy source in the Plains states = Wind power provides a viable energy source in the Plains states.
Once they’ve developed a thesis statement, students should then conduct any necessary research, after which they should proceed to write the paper, providing details, explanations, examples, statistics, etc to support their thesis.
Students should remember, though, as they write their papers, especially the final copies, that an effective thesis alone is not enough to guarantee them a good grade. They also need to express themselves clearly and avoid such errors as these:
- Comma splices and fused sentences
- Paragraphs lacking in unity
- Sentence fragments
- Problems with parallelism
- Punctuation mistakes
- Misused words
In summary, if college students develop effective thesis statements and put time and effort into composing their papers, they will greatly improve the chances of those papers earning the highest possible grades, and as every student knows, higher assignment grades translate into higher GPAs.
Writing a cause-and-effect paper or essay doesn’t have to be difficult, not if you learn the difference between a reason and a consequence, as well as the different types of causes and effects, and then follow the proven guidelines for success.