The Causal Analysis Essay


The Causal Analysis Essay
“Why did it happen? What caused it? What does it cause? What are the effects? How is it related
to something else?”
Purpose of Causal Analysis Essay
This mode of academic writing attempts to answer the “why” in our lives. It helps to clarify the
world in which we live. The Causal Analysis academic essay allows us to begin to understand
the complex series of events that shape our lives.
In essence, a Causal Analysis academic essay probes the why of specific actions, events,
attitudes, and/or conditions and then examines the effect of specific consequences.
In the simplest terms, a Causal Analysis academic essay may be reduced to the equation:
Cause(s) + Effect(s) = Specific Consequence(s)
The focus is on the connections made between the cause and effect which produce specific
The three main purposes for an Causal Analysis academic essay are:
• To prove a point
• To argue against a widely accepted belief
• To speculate on a theory
Often this mode of writing will include the rhetorical forms of narrative/descriptive, example and
compare/contrast to develop the essay.
There are many variations on the organizational patterns used in this mode. For example, to
answer the “Why did it happen?”question, the writer must decide if one cause has one effect
OR several effects. For example, the “Poor Listening Skills” may result in the consequence a
student taking inadequate notes ; Or “ Poor Listening Skills” may result in many consequences,
such as inadequate notes, memory lapses on written tests, and lost points in class due to failure to
follow directions.)
Or the writer may decide the most appropriate organizational pattern is the causal chain. This
pattern focuses the logical sequence of causes (sometimes called a “line of reasoning”). For
example, “internal motivation to attend college class” may cause “absence in class” which may
cause “failure on exams.” The effect may be “failing class” and/or “losing financial aid.”
The focus, however, of this pattern is on the connections between these events/actions. That is,
a writer must explain that the “tie” or relationships are, in fact, legitimate and backed up by fact
and sufficient specific details/examples.
Guidelines/Check List for an Effective Causal Analysis Essay


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