How to Write a Cause and Effect Essay

7
min read
September 14, 2020

Writing essays is inevitable for all students. And while many of them consider this kind of academic assignment difficult and boring, others truly enjoy writing their essays on the widest array of topics. Do you want to know their secret? It’s simple: they just know how to write essays well!


If you are reading this article, then you’re already on your way to start loving essay writing. By the time you finish reading it, you will have all the necessary instruments at hand to craft an impressive essay of one particular type – that is, a cause and effect essay (sometimes also called cause-effect or reason and result essay).


In the following paragraphs, you will learn about the definition, structure, and outline of a cause and effect essay, and find out how to write a cause and effect essay step by step.

TABLE OF CONTENT

Definition

Structure

   Outline

    Introduction

    Body Paragraphs (Causes)

    Body Paragraphs (Effects)

    Conclusion

Topics

Examples

Wrapping Up

What Is a Cause and Effect Essay?

It is impossible to do something well without knowing what exactly it is that you have to do. So, let’s start with the basics – the cause and effect essay definition.


A cause and effect essay (also called cause-effect or reason and result essay) is a type of an analytical academic paper in which the relationship between causes and effects of a particular event or phenomenon is being analyzed. It usually answers the questions, “why?” (cause) and “what is the result?” (effect), and utilizes subjunctive mood extensively.

How to Make a Correct Cause and Effect Essay Structure

Now that we know what a cause and effect essay is, we can start working on its structure. Having a clear structure is essential for the successful completion of your assignment. So, it’s highly important to devote enough time to this part of the task.


There are two main ways to structure a cause and effect essay – using a block or a chain pattern. Your essay outline will differ depending on what option you choose.

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Cause and Effect Essay Outline

A cause and effect essay outline consists of a minimum of four sections – an introduction, at least two body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Each section, in turn, consists of several parts, and their contents vary depending on what pattern – block or chain – you choose.


Let’s start with a block structure.  This is how it will look like:


  • Introduction;
  • Body paragraph I: cause;
  • Body paragraph II: effect;
  • Conclusion.


Depending on your topic and approach, you can focus more on the effects or the causes and have various numbers of both. For example, if you put the main focus on the effects, your outline may look like this:


  • Introduction;
  • Body paragraph I: effect #1;
  • Body paragraph II: effect #2;
  • Body paragraph III: cause;
  • Conclusion.


If you choose the chain pattern, it will mean that in your body paragraphs, every cause will be immediately followed by its effect. The outline will then be as follows:


  • Introduction;
  • Body paragraph I: cause #1 -> effect #1;
  • Body paragraph II: cause #2 -> effect #2;   
  • Conclusion.


In this case, too, the numbers of causes and effects may vary – it is their sequence that matters.


Now, let’s look closer at every section of the structure.

Introduction

Every essay starts with an introduction. In this section, you must introduce your topic to the reader, give some background information, and explain how you’re going to approach the discussion.


This is what an introduction section of a cause and effect essay must include:


  • Hook;
  • Background information;
  • Thesis statement.


If you’re wondering how to start a cause and effect essay, you can use some of the proven techniques like using a quote, a rhetorical question, or a statement that is surprising or paradoxical. Then, after giving some background information, move on to a thesis statement.


A thesis is the part of your essay in which the main point of discussion is stated. It should be clear and concise and allow no ambiguity.


Example: “The gender gap is still very far from being closed. Globally, gender parity stands at 68.6%, according to the Global Gender Gap Report (2020). In this essay, we’ll look closely at some of the causes and effects of this phenomenon”.

Body Paragraphs (Causes)

Depending on what type of structure you choose, your body paragraphs may be slightly different. But, in any case, they should contain the following elements:


  • thesis (main cause or effect);
  • arguments (evidence);
  • conclusion, and transition to the next section.


These may be arranged in a different way, but their presence is essential. Let’s again turn to our gender inequality topic and see how it works. In the causes section, we will list the various causes of the discussed phenomena:


  • Cause #1 – societal mindset;
  • Cause #2 – lack of sufficient childcare;
  • Cause #3 – lack of political representation.


Each of these causes should be supported by evidence to be persuasive to the reader. This is how it may be put in a paragraph:


“One of the main causes of such inequality is the societal mindset that still regards women as primarily being responsible for providing home comfort and childcare. Most men still expect their wives to stay at home and sacrifice their careers in order to take the majority of household responsibilities (support with evidence – statistical figures, etc.).


Treat the next causes in the same manner.

Body Paragraphs (Effects)

This paragraph is basically the same as the previous one, with the only difference that here, we will discuss the effects of the phenomenon. Let’s continue with our topic:


  • Effect #1 – higher levels of frustration;
  • Effect #2 – lower income;
  • Effect #3 – feelings of insecurity and vulnerability.


Keep in mind that the effects must be direct consequences of your causes – you can’t just pick random facts. You should also make that connection clear in your text.


Example: “Such prejudiced societal mindset regarding women and their role in the society results in higher levels of frustration among women. They feel that they have reached their glass ceiling just because of the fact that they have been born female – i.e., something they just couldn’t affect in any way (support with evidence)”.


Then, go on in the same manner in the next body-effects paragraphs.

Conclusion

After you’ve discussed all the causes and effects that you planned, continue with making a short conclusion. It must contain the following points:


  • Reiteration of your thesis;
  • Short summary of the essay’s key points;
  • Concluding afterthoughts.


This is what it will look like in our case:


“As we see, gender inequality is still a pressing issue in the modern world, and it’s far from being solved. This phenomenon has multiple causes, the most obvious of which are society’s prejudiced attitude, lack of childcare, and lack of political representation for women. The effects of these problems are plausible: women end up feeling frustrated, having lower income, and being generally vulnerable. In order to change the situation, we mustn’t avoid discussions of this issue and should try to find solutions to the problems that cause it”.

Interesting Cause and Effect Essay Topics

If you’re looking for an interesting topic for cause and effect essay, this section is for you. Listed below are some good cause and effect essay topics on various popular themes – history, politics, society, and more. Use them as examples to brainstorm ideas of your own.


History and politics:


  • The economic consequences of the Civil War in the U.S.
  • The collapse of the Soviet Union and its effect on the world’s power balance.
  • World War II and its effect on the world economy.
  • Brexit: was it necessary and how it will affect the U.K.


Society:


  • Gender inequality as a major source of stress for modern women.
  • How having children changes the life of a family.
  • Social media as the major source of procrastination for students.
  • Why do people commit crimes?


Career:


  • How outstanding writing skills can help your future career.
  • Burnout at work as a major career threat.
  • Why it is important to go to college.
  • Starting a business as a student. How it can affect your studies and future career.  


Environment:


  • Air pollution as one of the main threats to public health.
  • The effects of COVID-19 pandemic on the environment.
  • How melting glaciers in the Arctic affect climate change on our planet.
  • Multiple effects of global warming on the Earth’s population.
  • Why we all need to go green right now.

Cause and Effect Essay Examples

Now that you have all the tools necessary to create a good cause and effect essay of your own let’s look at an example to see how all the components work together. Let’s assume that our topic is “Procrastination among college students.” Here, we will use a block structure, and this is how our example cause and effect essay will look like.


Procrastination Among College Students.


Our first paragraph is an introduction. Here we introduce our topic with a hook statement, give some background information, and make a thesis statement. 


Procrastination is dangerous for college students. At the same time, it’s extremely common among them: various studies show that up to 95% of college students engage in it from time to time, and almost 50% do this systematically. The causes of this phenomenon are multi-faceted and profound, and it’s vital to discover them in every particular case to be able to fight procrastination effectively. But to start treating procrastination as a problem, students must be aware of its harmful consequences. There are many of them, but one of the most acute ones for college students is its negative effect on their academic performance.


Here, the topic suggests that we have to focus more on the effects than on the causes, so the first body paragraph will be about an effect mentioned in the title. First, we will name the effect and then bring arguments and evidence to support our claim.


Procrastination is putting off things one has to do till the last minute and spending one’s time on some other, less important occupations. When students procrastinate instead of doing their academic assignments, they usually end up not having enough time to complete their tasks properly by the deadline. As a result, they only do what they can in the amount of time left, and the quality of their work may suffer. For most students, it means receiving lower grades than they could have achieved had they spent their time more wisely. And this is not a mere assumption: a study conducted by Warwick Business School has proven that procrastination leads students to lower grades (2019). One may argue that it depends largely on how gifted a student is, but even the talented ones may get to the point when the assignment is so difficult that they cannot do it well quickly.


Our second body paragraph will be about another effect. We will write it using the same scheme as in the previous paragraph.


What’s worse, procrastination can also cause mental health problems among students (Source, year). When a person finds out that they only have several hours to complete an assignment that requires several days to be done well, they are most likely to succumb to anxiety. Science proves this, too: for example, a 2010 study titled “I’ll Go to Therapy, Eventually” found a clear connection between procrastination and poorer mental health. Then, worries about failing to do a task properly resulted in even more anxiety and stress, and if a student eventually gets a lower grade than expected, it may lead to a feeling of guilt, regret, and even to depression, especially if the situation is repeated often.


In the third body paragraph, we will talk about the causes. 


It may be tempting to just label students who keep putting off their assignments as sluggards, but there are more complex and profound reasons for procrastination than mere laziness. As A. Chris Heath, MD, a psychiatrist from Dallas, says, procrastination usually happens because the task seems too difficult. It can also be an issue of self-esteem, he adds, – when a person thinks he or she is not good enough to cope with a demanding task. There are many other causes for procrastination among students, like having trouble concentrating or not possessing enough organizational skills. But whatever the reasons are, the results procrastination leads to are always devastating.


Conclusion. Here, we reiterate our thesis, site the significance of the topic, and add some afterthoughts.


As we see now, procrastination is a huge problem for college students. Being considered a result of pure laziness by many, it is often overlooked as a common problem. But this approach can be very dangerous.
In reality, procrastination has deeper roots, and the effects it causes are quite harmful. If treated lightly, systematic procrastination eventually leads college students to lower grades, mental health problems, and poorer overall academic performance.
So, it’s essential for every college student not to ignore the problem and find the causes of procrastination in their particular case as early as possible to be able to avoid its dreadful consequences.


That’s it! Feel free to use this essay as a model to generate your unique cause and effect essay ideas. If you need another example, download cause and effect essay sample here.   

Wrapping Up

In this article, we’ve covered all the important issues on how to write a cause and effect essay. After reading it thoroughly, you should know what a cause and effect essay is, how to structure it well, and make an outline that will work. We’ve also explained how to work on every paragraph of your text and provided some good essay topics as well as examples of a cause and effect essay with commentary. 


With such detailed instruction, you cannot fail, if you are diligent enough to practice writing essays on your own using the information given. Don’t get downhearted if you won’t be able to write a flawless paper from the first try; remember: practice makes perfect. So, put effort into your essay writing, and this will pay you back in the future – not only with excellent marks but with better critical thinking and logical skills, too.


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