How to Use ChatGPT to Write an Essay: The Step-by-Step Guide

Kim Koh 9 min read
How to Use ChatGPT to Write an Essay: The Step-by-Step Guide

This is a complete guide on how to use ChatGPT to write an essay.

You'll learn everything from setting up an account to training the AI model, assembling the paragraphs, and more.

I'll also answer some of the frequently asked questions that you might be interested to know.

Let's get started.

  1. Setting Up an Account
  2. Training ChatGPT
  3. Understanding the Essay Prompt
  4. Creating an Essay Outline
  5. Writing the Introduction
  6. Developing Body Paragraphs
  7. Concluding Your Essay
  8. Editing and Proofreading
  9. Avoiding Plagiarism

Step #1: Setting Up an Account

Head to OpenAI’s website and sign up.

After creating an account, you should now have access to the default model (GPT-3.5).

GPT-3.5 is good enough if you’re new to ChatGPT and want to learn how it works.

Keep in mind, though:

Your usage might be throttled during high demand.

If you want the best performance and are willing to invest a small amount of money, subscribe to ChatGPT Plus.

Not only will you get exclusive access to GPT-4 and future new releases, but you’ll also get better usability, even during high demand.

Just note that you’re limited to 25 messages every 3 hours.

Once you’re all set, you can unlock the full potential of ChatGPT for your essay writing (or any writing) journey.

Step #2: Training ChatGPT

To unleash ChatGPT's full potential, you have to train it to meet your unique writing style.

Here are a few tips on how to do it:

1. Clarity is king

To get the best results, offer detailed instructions and specific examples.

The more precise your guidance, the more accurate ChatGPT's output will be.

For instance, instead of saying this:

"Write an introduction about climate change."

Try this:

"Write a compelling introduction that highlights the urgency of addressing climate change and its consequences on ecosystems."

2. Master role prompting

Role prompting is a powerful tool for setting the context and tone of your conversation with ChatGPT.

Kick off the dialogue with a prompt like this:

"You are an assistant that speaks like Shakespeare. Help me write an essay about climate change."

This helps ChatGPT understand your expectations from the get-go.

3. Iterate and improve

You ask ChatGPT for a product description, and the output isn't quite what you had in mind.

Instead of giving up, try refining your prompt and providing more specific details, such as the target audience or product features.

For instance:

"Write a product description for a lightweight hiking backpack designed for millennials who value sustainability."

Continuous improvement is crucial to success with ChatGPT.

Be bold, provide feedback, refine your prompts, and test new techniques.

You'll discover more effective ways to communicate with the AI as you experiment.

4. Personalize your ChatGPT experience

To make ChatGPT more attuned to your preferences, share examples of your writing style, tone, or desired formatting.

For example:

"Write a blog post introduction on eco-friendly living using a conversational tone and short sentences, similar to how I usually write."

This will help ChatGPT generate content that feels more like your own.

5. Practice patience and persistence

Say you're using ChatGPT to create social media captions, but the initial results aren't quite right.

Instead of getting frustrated, continue refining your prompts and providing feedback on what you like and dislike about the generated content.

As you interact with ChatGPT, it adapts and learns from your inputs, leading to increasingly tailored content.

Stay patient and persistent in your efforts to optimize your experience with this powerful AI tool.

Step #3: Understanding the Essay Prompt

Cracking the essay prompt.

Why is it crucial? It sets the foundation for your essay.

To start:

  1. Read the prompt thoroughly.
  2. Identify the key question or theme.
  3. Pay attention to specific instructions.

Next, break it down:

  • What's it asking?
  • What points should you cover?
  • Understand the expectations, underlying themes, and nuances.

Once you've got a solid grasp, let ChatGPT work its magic.

Feed the AI your prompt. It'll help you craft a winning essay by providing tailored ideas, suggestions, and content based on the prompt's requirements.

Step #4: Creating an Essay Outline

Time to create an essay outline.

Why does it matter? It's your roadmap to a well-structured essay.

First, determine your main points. Then, break them down into sub-points. This helps you stay organized and focused.

With ChatGPT, outlining becomes a breeze. Feed the AI your main points and watch it generate a structured outline:


"Outline an essay on the benefits of a plant-based diet."


I. Introduction
II. Environmental benefits
 A. Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
 B. Lower water consumption
III. Health benefits
 A. Weight loss and improved digestion
 B. Reduced risk of chronic diseases
IV. Ethical considerations
 A. Animal welfare
 B. Sustainable food systems
V. Conclusion

Boom! You've got a solid foundation for your essay.

Step #5: Writing the Introduction

The introduction is your essay's first impression. Make it count.

The goal?

Hook readers and present your thesis statement.

When prompting, give the AI your essay topic and desired tone. It'll craft an engaging intro for you:


"Write a captivating introduction for an essay on the benefits of adopting a plant-based diet, using an informative yet engaging tone."


As the world grapples with mounting environmental and health challenges, a simple yet powerful solution emerges — adopting a plant-based diet.

By choosing leafy greens over juicy steaks, individuals can significantly reduce their ecological footprint and bolster their well-being.

In this essay, we'll explore the myriad benefits of plant-based eating, unveiling how it fosters a healthier planet and healthier lives.

And just like that, you've got a compelling introduction to kick off your essay.

Step #6: Developing Body Paragraphs

Body paragraphs are the heart of your essay.

Time to present your arguments and evidence.

Each paragraph should focus on one central point. Support it with facts, examples, or quotes.

When prompting, provide the AI with your main point and desired supporting evidence:


"Write a body paragraph on the environmental benefits of a plant-based diet, focusing on reduced greenhouse gas emissions."


One of the most significant environmental benefits of adopting a plant-based diet is reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

According to a study by the University of Oxford, plant-based diets can reduce an individual's carbon footprint by up to 73%.

This dramatic reduction stems from the fact that meat production, particularly cattle farming, is a leading contributor to methane and nitrous oxide emissions, both potent greenhouse gases.

Individuals can directly impact the fight against climate change by opting for plant-based alternatives.

Voila! A well-crafted body paragraph that supports your argument.

Step #7: Concluding Your Essay

Concluding your essay.

The grand finale. Time to wrap it up.

Your conclusion should summarize your main points and restate your thesis. Leave a lasting impression.

ChatGPT's got your back. Just ask it to create a conclusion based on your essay's key takeaways:


"Write a conclusion for an essay on the benefits of adopting a plant-based diet, summarizing the environmental and health benefits."


In conclusion, adopting a plant-based diet presents many benefits, both for the individual and the planet.

From significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions to promoting overall health and well-being, the power of plant-based eating cannot be underestimated.

As our world faces unprecedented challenges, embracing sustainable, healthful choices that contribute to a brighter, greener future for all is crucial.

And there you have it — a powerful conclusion that drives your message home.

Step #8: Editing and Proofreading

Editing and proofreading are the final polish.

Don't skip this step.

Go through your essay. Check for clarity, flow, and coherence. Fix grammatical and spelling errors.

Two great options:

ChatGPT and Grammarly.

Both can help you proofread and edit your work. But Grammarly is my choice.

For ChatGPT:


"Please review and edit the following sentence: 'The benifits of plant-based diets are not just limmited to environemntal factors, but also positive impacts on helth.'"


The benefits of plant-based diets are not just limited to environmental factors, but also have positive impacts on health.

For Grammarly:

Copy and paste your text into the Grammarly editor. It'll highlight and suggest corrections for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors.

Or if you're writing in Google Docs, you can install Grammarly's Chrome extension, and it'll do the same for you.

Remember, even the best AI needs a human touch. Double-check your essay before submitting it.

Step #9: Avoiding Plagiarism

Avoiding plagiarism is critical.


Always attribute ideas, quotes, or research to the sources. Give credit where it's due.

ChatGPT is a powerful tool. But it can't check for plagiarism.

Use a dedicated tool, like Copyscape, Turnitin, or Grammarly (another reason I chose Grammarly), to ensure your work is original.

For example:

After writing your essay with ChatGPT, copy and paste the text into a plagiarism checker. It'll scan the web and flag any duplicated content.

For Grammarly, click the "Plagiarism" button at the bottom right section of the editor to activate the feature.

Resolve flagged content. Rewrite, rephrase, or cite the source. Keep it original.

Your integrity. Your responsibility.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does ChatGPT work?

When you provide a prompt or input, ChatGPT generates a contextually relevant response by predicting the most likely next word based on the information and the knowledge it has acquired during its training.

This process continues word by word until the response is complete. The model is designed for various applications, such as writing essays, drafting emails, and even generating code.

How to use Bing with ChatGPT?

Bing, Microsoft's search engine, has integrated ChatGPT powered by GPT-4 into its platform, allowing users to engage in more interactive and dynamic conversations with the AI.

To access this feature, simply visit and look for the Bing Chat icon in the search bar. Clicking the icon opens the Bing Chat interface, where you can interact with ChatGPT.

It's important to note that Bing Chat is different from ChatGPT's standalone interface.

While the same GPT-4 model powers both, Bing Chat primarily focuses on providing information and assistance to search queries.

To use Bing Chat, simply type your question or topic of interest into the chat window, and the AI will generate a relevant response.

You can ask follow-up questions, refine your query, or explore other topics within the same chat session, making your search experience more engaging and informative.

What is the best browser for ChatGPT?

ChatGPT works well with most modern web browsers like Brave, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge.

Just ensure that your browser is up to date for the best user experience and compatibility with ChatGPT.

How many questions can you ask ChatGPT in an hour?

ChatGPT Plus subscribers can generate up to 25 messages every 3 hours, which translates to roughly 8-9 questions per hour.

Free users may experience throttling during peak times, and the number of questions they can ask per hour will vary based on server availability and demand.

How long does ChatGPT stay at capacity?

The capacity of ChatGPT varies depending on factors like the number of users and overall server load.

During peak times or high demand, capacity may be limited, but OpenAI continually works to improve and optimize the system.

Predicting exact durations is difficult, but capacity constraints typically only last a while.

Wrapping Up

And that wraps up this guide on using ChatGPT to write an essay. I hope you found it helpful.

We've explored the ins and outs of leveraging this AI-powered tool to create compelling, well-structured essays.

Remember to begin with a clear understanding of your essay prompt, utilize system messages to set the tone, and experiment to improve your interactions with ChatGPT.

Don't forget the importance of editing, proofreading, and checking for plagiarism to ensure the integrity of your work.

Now — over to you:

Have you tried using ChatGPT for essay writing? What tips and tricks have you discovered?

Share your experiences and insights in the comment section below.

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