How to Write a Cause and Effect
Essay That Completely Illustrates
a Chain of Events


Writing an essay is like holding a conversation with someone in person. In both cases, you introduce a topic, share your thoughts about that topic, and provide proof to support whatever it is that you’re saying about that topic. The only difference between writing an essay and holding a conversation, of course, is that an essay is planned out ahead of time, it goes through multiple drafts, and it’s eventually given to someone who reads it without having an opportunity to respond to you in real-time.

Because of that, any essay you write needs to have a clear purpose behind it and plenty of examples to support it in order to be an effective piece of communication.

While there are many different styles of essays out there, one that you will likely come across in school is the cause-and-effect essay. And to help you master this style of writing, we will discuss cause-and-effect essays in detail.


What is a Cause and Effect Essay

A cause-and-effect essay is a piece of formal writing where you discuss one or more events that, in turn, cause other events to take place. With this style of writing, you can mention the cause or causes, focusing mainly on the events that happened afterward. Or, you can focus on the cause or causes themselves and only briefly mention the events that resulted from them.

For example, your teacher may ask you to write about a historical event, a social injustice, a scientific reaction, or an environmental disaster to name a few. And in any of these examples, your essay could go into great detail about what caused this historical event, social injustice, scientific reaction, or environmental disaster to take place.

On the other hand, it could also introduce the cause or causes of any of these topics but really focus on what happened after the fact.

Whatever the case may be, your teacher will likely assign a topic to you, let you choose from a list of topics provided to you, or allow you to come up with a topic of your own. Once you have your topic in place, it’s up to you to write your essay outline, gather evidence to support your claims, write the first draft of your cause-and-effect essay, and then complete the revision process.

Keep in mind that all cause-and-effect essays have certain requirements that you must meet. And becoming familiar with these requirements will help you write a stronger cause-and-effect essay before you turn it in.

Requirements for a Cause-and-Effect Essay

While all cause-and-effect essays do have similar requirements, your teacher may also require certain things from you based on their own experience as a teacher and the standards determined by your school district. In most cases, you’ll be given an essay rubric that outlines these requirements for you.

By paying close attention to the essay rubric and asking questions in class, you can make sure that you are meeting all of the cause-and-effect essay requirements your teacher has given you.

Plus, you can ask yourself the following questions to keep yourself on track:

  • Have I looked at both good and bad examples of cause-and-effect essays?
  • Did I take the time to plan out my essay outline?
  • Is my essay organized in the basic cause-and-effect essay structure?
  • Does my essay stay on topic or do my thoughts wander?
  • Have I included enough evidence to show the relationship between cause and effect?
  • Did I provide evidence that supports my claim or did I accidentally provide evidence that goes against my claim?
  • Have I used formal language in the essay?
  • Have I avoided using slang words?
  • Did I fix all spelling and grammar errors during the revision process?
  • Did I have a partner review my essay and give me honest feedback?

The answers to these questions will either assure you that you are on the right track and ready to turn in your cause-and-effect essay or it will show you where you can make improvements to your essay before you turn it in.

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Topics for a Cause and Effect Essay

When it comes to finding an interesting topic to write a cause-and-effect essay on, you really can’t go wrong. There are all kinds of great examples of cause and effect throughout history, literature, science, and social science among other subjects. Based on the expectations of your class, the topic you write about may be given to you or chosen by you. Either way, it’s important that you think about the cause-and-effect relationship that exists within your topic during the planning process.

Here are some common cause-and-effect topics you may want to consider:

    • The end of a civilization

    • A political campaign and the election results that followed

    • Any of the major wars that have taken place and how they ended

    • Slavery and its impact on the economy

    • Oil drilling and the environmental outcome

    • Global warming

    • Famine and how it affected a generation

    • Pollution and the rates of cancer in the area

    • School uniforms and how kids feel about wearing them

    • Cell phones banned on school campuses and what happened next

  • School violence as a result of bullying

Cause and effect relationships are all around you. If you really think about it, you can identify a cause-and-effect relationship much easier than you might imagine.


Cause and Effect Essay Structure

Even though your essay requirements will be determined by your teacher, all cause-and-effect essays do have a similar structure to them. Following this structure as it’s designed will make it easier for you to write your introduction, body, and conclusion paragraphs without all the guesswork.

Here is the most common cause-and-effect essay structure you can expect:

An introductory paragraph that starts with a hook and ends with a thesis statement
The first body paragraph that discusses a cause or effect and provides evidence to support your claim
The second body paragraph that discusses a cause or effect and provides evidence to support your claim
The third body paragraph that discusses a cause or effect and provides evidence to support your claim
A conclusion that restates your thesis statement, summarizes your reasoning and brings an end to your essay

Essay structures are meant to keep your thoughts organized and give you the proper place to include evidence where it makes the most sense. By following this structure, you can be sure that your essay will effectively communicate your thoughts to the reader.

How to Write a Cause and Effect Essay

You can learn how to write a cause-and-effect essay a lot quicker than you think. Once you understand the purpose behind writing a cause-and-effect essay and its basic structure, it’s pretty simple to move on from there.

  • First, you want to familiarize yourself with the topic you will be discussing. Put some real thought into it, ask your teacher for help, and even consider talking about ideas for it with a friend or parent.
  • Next, you want to put some real effort into planning it out. Create an outline, collect and organize your evidence, and write your thesis statement first so you know exactly what you will be discussing throughout your essay.
  • Then, you’ll want to jump right in and start writing. Remember that good essays always have more than one draft. Get your thoughts out on paper first and then go back to improve your writing, spelling, and grammar later.

Don’t forget that all writers need a fresh pair of eyes to look over their work. Take the opportunity to have your teacher, a parent, or a classmate review your first draft and help you see any errors you’ve made or give you feedback on how you can make your essay even better.

From there, it’s as simple as taking that feedback and creating your final draft.


Cause and Effect Essay Examples

Whenever you’re asked to produce any style of writing for the first time, it’s always best to review examples of it first. That way, you know exactly what is expected of you and you can determine what you like and dislike about certain samples of work so that you can either include or avoid those elements in your own writing.

Remember, plagiarism can get you in a lot of trouble, so be sure that you never copy anything word for word and present it as your own writing.

Here is a well-written cause and effect essay example for you to review:

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Once you become familiar with what a cause and effect essay is and how to write a cause and effect essay that completely illustrates a chain of events, you’ll feel a lot more confident about the essay you’re turning in now and any you are required to complete in the future. All styles of writing take practice.

Take your time, plan ahead, be patient, and update your writing through the revision process to make it even better. Doing so will ensure that your cause-and-effect essay is the best writing you produce at this point in your education.

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