How to Write a Cause and Effect Essay

How to Write a Cause and Effect Essay

Why am I failing? Why do I have to go to the Dean’s office? How come I got suspended? How can I avoid getting slapped by the brunette in the third row? Why do we have to do this? Avoid these and other stupid questions by teaching how to write a cause and effect essay.

Need more essay writing lessons for the common core. This guide includes the following:

  1. How to Write a Persuasive Essay
  2. How to Write a Cause and Effect Essay
  3. How to Write a Problem/Solution Essay
  4. How to Write a Comparison Essay
  5. How to Write a Definition Essay

Each lesson contains instructions for writing each type of essay (for your students), a list of common core objectives covered (for your administrator), one or more graphic organizers (for your students), and a rubric to make grading easy (for your sanity).


ELA Common Core Standards

Writing a cause and effect essay accomplishes the following ELA Common Core Standards.

Common Core Writing Standard 1. Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
Common Core Writing Standard 2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
W.9-10.4  Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in W.9-10.1-3.)
W.9-10.5  Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of L.9-10.1-3.)
W.9-10.7  Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
W.9-10.8  Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

The Importance of Cause and Effect (Notes)

Exploring cause and effect is critical to understanding life. Knowing how to write a cause and effect essay is crucial for communicating ideas. A successful cause and effect essay does the following:

  1. clearly identifies the relationship between cause and effect.
  2. gives background information.
  3. organizes logically and includes transitions that clarify cause-and-effect relationships. Cause and effect essays can be organized as follows.

4.  uses appropriate language and supporting details suited to the intended audience.
5.  summarizes the cause and effect relationship in the conclusion.

Prewriting for a Cause and Effect Essay

Think before you write.

  1. Before committing your thoughts to paper, analyze your assumptions about cause and effect. Are the events really linked by cause and effect or are you jumping to conclusions? Could there be multiple causes or multiple effects? Beware of the cause and effect fallacy — the false assumption that one event caused another simply because it preceded it.
  2. The audience will determine what background information to include. For example, a cause and effect essay on World War II written for World War II veterans would require far less background information than the same essay written for 20-year old pacifists.
  3. Gather supporting information. Just because you think so, doesn’t mean it is. Do the required fact checking. Some essays require actual research or interviews; others may just require personal observation, reflection, and common sense.
  4. Outline your ideas. The best way to organize cause and effect writing is a web diagram.
  • Draw a circle in the middle of your paper.
  • Write either the cause or the effect. Writing the exact thesis statement is best.
  • Draw lines from the center circle to at least three orbiting circles.
  • Write either the causes or the effects, depending on how the essay is organized.

Drafting and Revising the Essay

A good outline and thorough research (if necessary) makes drafting the essay a breeze. Consider the following as you write.

  1. Be sure to clearly state the cause and effect relationship that’s being explored. This should be the thesis statement.
  2. Use facts, statistics, examples, quotations, logic, reasoning, analysis, and interpretation for support.
  3. When revising, answer the following questions.
  • How would you summarize the cause and effect relationship presented in the essay?
  • What evidence most strongly supports the thesis statement? What evidence is weakest?
  • Which parts could use clarification?

4.   Be sure to use cause and effect transitions: if…then, because, as a result, consequently, therefore, etc.

Types of Essays

Step-by-step instructions for writing different types of essays can be accessed by the following links.

  1. Problem-Solution Essay
  2. Persuasive Essay
  3. Narrative Essay
  4. Instructional Article
  5. Literary Analysis
  6. How to Write a Tall-Tale
  7. How to Write an Article Critique
  8. Cause and Effect Essay

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