What is a division essay?
The purpose of the division essay, also known as the classification essay or the division and classification essay, is to separate things into categories. For example, you might write about diseases that have similar symptoms, or about categories of comedy, or about the causes behind social unrest. The key to a division essay is to discuss the differences and delineations between things that are in many ways similar or contribute toward a similar whole.
You need three or more categories
A division essay must contain at least three categories. When you have only two categories, your essay would be classified as compare and contrast.
Look for something new to compare
The best division essays find categories that haven’t already been discussed to death. The three branches of the United States government have been categories a million times. An essay that categorizes how the three branches can overturn a state law would be more specific and less commonly used.
Use an outline
Outlines are useful for most types of essays, but they are especially useful for division essays because they give you the opportunity to quickly review the criteria you are using to differentiate each category. Make sure that, you have researched and identified the key comparison points for each category.
Use the same elements for each category
Classifications should use the same elements for each item in the category. If you classify one category by size, speed, color, and price, you need to classify every category by size, speed, color, and price.
Use the same criteria every time
Make sure that your categories can all be divided using the same criteria. If two categories are similar and the rest are different, your essay may feel unbalanced.
Mention every category and criteria in the introduction
Your introduction should mention all of the categories you wish to discuss and mention the criteria you intend to use to differentiate between the categories.
Give every category an equal amount of attention and discussion. If one category merits a full page of discussion, all the categories should receive about a page of discussion.
Try to be thorough, don’t leave a category out. If it looks like there are too many categories to discuss using the amount of space and time you have available, then look for a less complex topic. For short essays, it is usually better to stick to topics that can be divided into three or four categories.