How to Write a Clear Cause and Effect Essay

, Staff Writer
Updated June 24, 2020
Student writing cause and effect essay
    Student writing cause and effect essay
    Petri Oeschger / Moment

Learning how to write a cause and effect essay comes down to choosing a great topic and following some basic guidelines. These step-by-step instructions will help you get started, and you’ll be writing a great essay in no time.

1. Start With a Great Essay Topic

Before you start writing, you need an awesome cause and effect essay topic. If your teacher hasn’t assigned a topic or given you a list of essay prompts to choose from, take some time to brainstorm ideas. The best cause and effect essays start with topics you feel passionate about. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • What do you feel are some of the biggest social issues or problems in the world?
  • What are your core values? Is there a topic here that would make a good essay?
  • Is there an aspect of youth culture that you care about?

Make a list of all the potential topics you’d like to write about, and then begin to narrow down the list. Which topics will be the easiest to research? Which sound the most exciting?


2. Choose Your Angle

One thing many people don’t understand about how to write a cause and effect essay is that you can come at it from two angles. You can look at the topic from the cause, and you can look at it from the effect. You’ll need to cover both in your essay, but the way you approach it will affect your thesis statement.

For example, you can write a cause and effect essay about testing in schools. If you approach it from the cause angle, you can look into the reasons schools have to do testing. If you approach it from the effect angle, you can look at the effect of regular testing on student performance and stress levels.

Take a few minutes and write down all possible causes for your topic and all possible effects for it. Then choose the cause or effect you want to write about.


3. Write a Thesis Statement

Now that you know your cause and you know the effect, it’s time to write a thesis statement. This is one sentence that sums up what your essay will prove. Your thesis statement will include a word or phrase that indicates one thing causes another thing. A few examples of causal phrases include the following:

  • Because
  • Due to
  • Causes
  • Results in
  • Since
  • Thus
  • In order to

You can look at thesis statement examples to get a good idea of how to write yours, or you can use the following cause and effect essay thesis statement examples for inspiration:

  • Regular standardized testing results in higher stress levels for students and teachers.
  • Across the country, schools have implemented more standardized testing because of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

4. Do Your Research

You need to prove your thesis statement, and it takes research to do that. The hardest part of the statement to prove is the cause-and-effect relationship, so focus on finding sources that help you prove something happens because of something else.

There are lots of great places to do research, and your teacher may even make this part of the assignment. Start with the school library and also include online sources your teacher approves.

5. Make an Outline

Writing an outline lets you focus on how to organize your essay to make it as powerful as possible. For a cause and effect essay, your outline should look something like this:

  • Introduction - Capture the reader’s attention with a good introduction and introduce your thesis statement.
  • First body paragraph - Introduce the cause or causes that relate to your topic and give supporting details from your research.
  • Second body paragraph - After a good transition, bring in the effect that relates to your topic. Give the supporting details for the effect.
  • Third body paragraph - Give more supporting details about the causal relationship. Why does one thing lead to the other thing? How can you prove it?
  • Conclusion - In the last paragraph, state your thesis statement again in a new way and mention the most important supporting details.

6. Write the Essay

It’s finally time to sit down and write. Get a first draft written down without worrying too much about whether it’s perfect. The key is to get your ideas down on paper.

Then take some time to read what you’ve written and consider how you could improve it. Does it need more details? Is it confusing in some places? Revise your essay to make it better.

Get More Inspiration if You Need It

If you need some more inspiration, take a look at examples of good cause and effect essays. You’ll see that the formula is simple: Make a cause and effect statement and prove it. You can do that by following these simple steps, and you’ll have an essay you’re proud to turn in.