Exploratory essay is different from the majority of other types of academic writing because its very name presupposes that you pass through unknown territory and should find your own way in it.
Speaking less metaphorically, you begin writing without knowing to what conclusions you are going to come. Usually, you have a point in the beginning and should prove it in the essay; here you should write an essay in order to find a point.
This leads to a number of specific features:
- Exploratory essay is more about a problem or a question, than about an idea.
- It would be reasonable to analyze several possible solutions of the problem in course of the essay, showing their strong and weak points, before you choose any of them.
- There are two ways of writing an exploratory essay: impromptu (which is by default in this case) and retrospective (first conclusion is chosen, and then the “exploratory” part is written in order to fit it). The former looks more natural, which is held in great esteem by some teachers; the latter lets you make the essay smoother.
Exploratory essay is often assigned when students are wanted to learn something on their own, rather than having it explained by teachers. To some people it may be baffling, the others learn better this way; anyway, you are supposed to do it and to perceive some information on the way. So, try and do it.
Typically, an exploratory essay should be formed along such scheme:
- Define the topic, limit its boundaries. This may be done in various ways – by a quotation from a research paper, description of some event or concept, directly asking a question in the first line and so on.
- Explain the problem, why it is important. Enumerate the general points of view on it or your ideas about solving it.
- Give some additional background information.
- Analyze one of the points of view you have already mentioned; repeat it with all the other points, compare them.
- Choose what you consider to be the best solution or offer your own if you are not satisfied with the pre-existing ones.
- Return to the opening paragraph, ask yourself whether you have answered the question, share your thoughts about the decision.
The main thing you should remember about the exploratory essay is that you are supposed to explore, find solutions, and understand something new, not to recite truisms like “to kill people is bad”; of course it is bad, but why?