Tips on Writing a Diagnostic Essay

Tips on Writing a Diagnostic Essay
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A diagnostic essay has little to do with the traditional definition of an essay. Its main purpose is not to communicate with readers but to test your writing skills. Such essays help evaluate a student’s writing abilities and detect areas that need some improvement. Learn more about diagnostic essays with the lords of the words from

Diagnostic Essays

Usually, students have to write a diagnostic essay at the beginning of an academic course. You may get a question or prompt devoted to a specific topic that you should address in your essay. When evaluating your essay, instructors will focus on the strengths and weaknesses of your writing. Based on this essay, the teaching staff can provide you with the necessary instructions and recommendations. Understanding a student’s level of writing also enables teachers to adjust future tasks to the needs of a specific student.

Usually, diagnostic essays imply strict time limits so that students have to write fast. Given that your time is limited, you won’t be able to do proper research. As soon as you get a prompt, you should start to write. Therefore, you will have to demonstrate your time management skills, writing every section, editing, and proofreading it quickly.

Although such tasks may seem too difficult, the truth is that you shouldn’t be afraid of diagnostic essays. Such essays are rarely graded. They won’t affect your academic performance. However, you may need to write a diagnostic essay during tests like the SAT. In this case, such essays are also used to determine a student’s writing abilities.

Diagnostic Essay Topics

Most likely, you will be assigned a topic or a specific question. However, some professors also allow students to choose what they want to write about. In this case, it becomes possible to evaluate not only writing skills but also creativity.

If you have an opportunity to choose your topic, we recommend that you come up with something unique. You should be very interested in the subject so that you can approach the writing process prepared and demonstrate your skills in the best way. To make choosing a topic easier for you, we’ve prepared this list of topics:

  • Can social media influencers be called celebrities?
  • Is race a real or imaginative concept?
  • If teenagers have an IQ of an adult, should they be allowed to buy alcohol?
  • Do we need any traditional gender roles?
  • What is more important: hygiene or sleep?
  • Is political correctness in media good?
  • Is spending time on social media or YouTube a hobby?
  • Can books become as popular as websites and TV shows?


Although you have a limited time, you still have to plan the structure of your essay before writing it. Otherwise, you’ll waste much more time editing and proofreading your paper, trying to organize the content logically.

Diagnostic essays are no different from other types of essays in terms of structure. They have three major sections: an introduction, body, and conclusion.


The introduction should state the question or topic from your prompt. After this, briefly describe your key points that you’re going to provide in the main body. Finally, you should come up with a thesis statement that summarizes your main arguments in one sentence.

Main Body

The main body should include three paragraphs. Every paragraph must focus on a specific point, starting with an argument and then providing an explanation that will support the thesis statement. If you have any data, facts, and sources that can support your thoughts, make sure to include them in this section.


The last section of your essay must summarize the arguments from the main body. You should also explain how your arguments are connected to the main idea. In this section, you should also restate your thesis statement. However, we recommend that you rewrite and don’t repeat it word-for-word from the introduction. At the end of your conclusion, write a meaningful sentence that will motivate your audience to think about the topic.


  • Introductions and conclusions are especially important for this type of essays. An introduction is the first thing your readers see, while a conclusion should emphasize your main thoughts.
  • Don’t forget to present your thesis statement in the introduction.
  • When writing, make sure that you perfectly understand your topic sentence and all the information is relevant.
  • The number of body paragraphs depends on how many arguments you have. Keep in mind that each paragraph should only focus on one idea.
  • Organize your ideas in a logical order.
  • Develop your ideas and support them with evidence. You should provide specific details because ideas that are not backed by evidence don’t provide value for readers.
  • Once you’ve finished writing a diagnostic essay, read it a few times to fix errors and make sure that the whole content is clear and easy to understand.
  • The length of your essay depends on a particular assignment. However, usually, diagnostic essays are at least 600 words long.

Write an Outline

A diagnostic essay should have three important sections: an introduction, main body, and conclusion. Each of these sections has its own unique features and we recommend that you remember them to avoid some common mistakes.

1. The introduction must begin with a hook sentence that grabs attention. It should also contain a summary of the main points and present a thesis statement.

2. The body of the essay must include three paragraphs, with one argument in each one of them. Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence. After this, provide your argument and explain how it’s related to the thesis statement and your topic.

3. The conclusion is the last section where you need to summarize all the important points from your essay. Paraphrase your thesis statement and main arguments. After this, write a meaningful conclusion that will keep your readers interested in the topic.


Most often, diagnostic essays have topics that don’t require you to do any research. Therefore, your topic may be a personal question or a relevant social issue that you can consider in the general context.

For instance, you may need to answer the question “What is the biggest advantage of studying abroad?” In this case, you can say that the biggest advantage is learning another language. You need to come up with three arguments that support this thesis, addressing each argument in one body paragraph.

For example, in the first body paragraph, you may say that learning a new language helps understand the culture of another country. In the second body paragraph, you can state that knowing this language offers countless communication opportunities. In the third paragraph, you can mention career opportunities associated with knowing this language.

In the conclusion section, summarize your ideas and the arguments you’ve presented before.

Let’s consider another example where you’re being asked to write about things that motivate people to change. In your thesis statement, you can say that what motivates people most is pressure. In the first body paragraph, you may describe how friends and family members constantly motivate you to improve your lifestyle. In the second body paragraph, you can write about schools and other organizations that force people to change so that they can fit in with other students or employees. You can also devote the third paragraph to society in general.

In the conclusion section, summarize your arguments and ask your readers to think about the consequences of ignoring all these factors, as well as their impact on one’s self-esteem.

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