Across High School students, the two words “Essay” and “Composition” are synonymous and therefore can be used interchangeably. However, students are right to some extent as “An essay is a type of composition”. Strictly speaking though, there is a huge difference between an essay and a composition.

An Essay

We tend to use an essay when we are thinking of a literary (yes, in Literature) composition that is describing, discussing, arguing, analyzing, or evaluating a certain topic or an issue. Thus, an essay can be descriptive, narrative, argumentative, expository, persuasive and discursive.

A Composition

It is a piece of creative work, where a given language is used in the formation of a literary piece such as poetry, prose, drama, short story, novel, music, or free verse, to mention a few.

There are rules and regulations, however, that one needs to follow in the creation of either an essay or a composition.



A short piece of literary writing. A piece of creative work.
A type of composition. It is a mini-composition. Some and not all compositions are essays.
It is typically a combination of facts and figures; personal and opinions as well as ideas of the writer. A Composition can be prose or verse (poetry).
This is a type commonly used for academic writing. It can be both academically or for public consumption.
Examples include argumentative, descriptive, expository, discursive and narrative. Examples include a novel, poetry, essay on drama, a piece of music, research paper.
Typically made up three parts: introduction; Body paragraphs and a Conclusion Typically made up three parts: introduction; Body paragraphs (maybe longer) and a Conclusion
Typically made up three parts: introduction; body paragraphs and a conclusion. There are rules and regulations intended for the creation of that particular literary form
It often explores a given topic, often analytically
It is based on your thinking, that of others or both.
It is often based on information from multiple sources.

Now that you know what an essay is, and what a composition is; let us further explore how a student can write a brilliant essay in English at High School. This is the subject of my next two posts:

  • Essential Skills For Academic Writing Style In English@High School

  • Hints On Writing A Good To Excellent Essay In English Literature

Until then, be the best you can be.

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