What is a Cause and Effect Essay?

A cause and effect essay is a short writing piece that deals with the analysis of a particular situation or event. The purpose of this analysis is to prove the existence of a “reason-result” relation between two or more facts. Unlike a lot of other types of essays, this one doesn’t heavily rely on the author’s opinion but rather on facts and data.

To prepare a cause and effect essay, you must demonstrate a deep understanding of your chosen topic and have to conduct a thorough research process. Additionally, such a writing piece requires a well thought-out thesis statement and persuasive arguments that lay the foundation for the conclusion. An essay of this kind is considered to be successful if it manages to convince the reader of the cause-effect connection between two events without raising any doubts.

How to Choose a Good Cause and Effect Essay Topic

If you were given a list of possible topics for your essay, you should base your decision on the following criteria:

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  • Are you interested in the proposed topic?
  • Do you have sufficient background knowledge to formulate certain opinions on the subject?
  • Can you see how to prove the correlation between the events or facts mentioned in the topic?

For most cause and effect essay assignments, you will be required to choose and analyze a specific historical, social or political fact. Logically, you have a better chance of writing a high-quality essay on a topic that is important to you and that you already have a formed opinion about.

If you weren’t given a list of topics by your teacher or professor, it’s recommended to create one yourself. You should base such a list on your interests and the relevancy of the subject. Afterward, evaluate the possible topics based on the number of available research materials and your readiness to create a thesis statement for it.

In case you struggle to come up with any ideas on your own, consider talking to your tutor and classmates or visiting the library. Alternatively, you can research newspapers or journals to find out which topics are relevant to your area of study.

The range of potential topics available for this type of essays is virtually endless. Regardless of your field of study, almost all events or facts can be traced back to a set of causes that led to them. As long as you select a topic that resonates with you, you have a chance to create an essay that will be both informative and interesting.

Cause and Effect Essay Structure

Before you begin writing, you have to create an essay outline that consists of five integral parts: a thesis statement, a cause explanation, an effect analysis, proofs of the correlation between the reason and the result, and a conclusion.

Thesis statement

This section includes a short description of the relation between two or more facts that you are going to prove.

Next, you have the main part of the essay that usually consists of three sections. Their purpose is to present the results of your research and provide the details of your findings.

Cause explanation

Begin this part with the description of the reasons that created the effect mentioned in your topic. The number of paragraphs in this section should depend on the number of causes you analyze. Each paragraph should concentrate on a single reason that is directly tied to the effect. The primary purpose of this section is to introduce the reader to your topic and help them better understand the rest of the essay.

Effect analysis

In this part, you have to present your thoughts and data about the effect in question. You can start with a more abstract description of the result before going into detail. Be sure to accurately explain which particular causes led to which effects. You should also provide several examples and back them up with arguments and facts.

Proof of the connection between the reason and the result

The penultimate paragraph of your essay is dedicated to the explanation of the importance of the cause-effect relation presented in the previous two sections. This is also the place where you reiterate and prove your thesis statement.


End the essay with a summary that includes all the essential points raised in the main part. Emphasize the meaning of your findings to the world and the reader.

You can break your essay into more paragraphs, as long as they are coherent and don’t diverge from the main subject. There are also cases when you are required to focus your essay either on a specific cause or effect. In this scenario, you should replace the unnecessary section with an additional paragraph about the aspect you were asked to focus on.

Writing Tips for a Cause and Effect Essay

The key to writing a successful essay on any topic is proper research. And to make this process more efficient, you should adhere to the following advice:

  • Before you start writing, gather all the data you can find. A thorough material analysis will help you create a more convincing thesis statement.
  • Be sure to use reliable sources in your research. Unlike opinion-driven pieces, this type of essay has value only if based on proven facts and numbers.
  • Take notes during reading so that you wouldn’t forget any important thoughts. Diligent note-taking can also help you find fact patterns that may slip out of your attention otherwise.
  • When reading, focus only on passages that can serve to prove your thesis statement and that don’t distract you from the main point of the essay.

Once you’ve completed your research and have started writing, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Don’t be afraid to come to your teachers with questions, should any appear during the writing process. No one can better explain to you what is expected from your essay than the person that gave you the assignment.
  • Don’t forget to include citations, statistics, data, dates, and other materials that you’ve acquired during your research. Place them according to your plan to highlight the logic behind your arguments.
  • After you’ve established a correlation between two facts and came to a certain conclusion, pause for a moment and consider other possible explanations to be sure of the truthfulness of your statement. Remember that in most situations, a specific effect is a result of multiple causes. Thus, it’s important not to make the mistake of stating that a single event has led to a particular outcome when in reality it’s a combination of several factors.
  • Take into account that it isn’t always possible to make the correct connection between two factors based solely on statistics. Without an in-depth analysis, you might make the mistake of creating correlations between events or situations that aren’t closely related.
  • As essays are limited in size, don’t try to cover all the potential causes that lead to a single effect, as that would lead to an overabundance of information. Instead, concentrate on the reasons that you find the most important or serve to prove a specific point of your thesis statement.

After you’ve completed the first draft of your essay, you need to do the following:

  • Check the text for being coherent and void of any unnecessary parts. Make sure that each paragraph is dedicated to a single aspect that you are trying to explain.
  • Make sure that your transitions have logic behind them. You have to be certain that the reader can easily distinguish the point where you stop talking about the causes and begin explaining the effects.
  • Ask someone to read your cause and effect essay to verify the clarity of your writing and the persuasiveness of your arguments. If your friend doesn’t find the text convincing enough, consider adding more facts and data that prove your point.
  • Reread the essay yourself. Carefully proofread the text and read it out loud to locate any possible mistakes.

Cause and Effect Essay Examples

An example of a cause and effect essay can be the one dedicated to the childhood events that determined the subject matter of Ernest Hemingway’s works. Thus, the author of such an essay would have to draw parallels between the events of the books and real-life situations. For instance, Ernest Hemingway had a close relationship with his father who worked as a doctor. As a result, the writer was subjected to death and suffering at a very young age. This fact is reflected in a significant portion of his books. Additionally, growing up in Oak Park, the writer has always felt a strong connection to nature, and its influence can be found in the “The Old Man and the Sea” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” stories among others.

An essay dedicated to the 2008 Financial Crisis would mention the Community Reinvestment and Gramm-Rudman acts as one of the primary causes of that disaster. The main part of the piece would explain the effects that the crisis has had on the nation’s economy. In the conclusion of such an essay, the author would express his opinion about whether a repetition of a similar scenario is possible in the current economic situation.

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