Write an Essay From Scratch With Chat GPT: Step-by-Step Tutorial

Chat GPT Essay Writer
Santiago Mallea

Santiago Mallea

Chief of Content At Gradehacker

Chat GPT Essay Writer: Step-by-Step Tutorial

To write an essay with Chat GPT, you need to:

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How amazing would it be if there was a robot willing to help you write a college essay from scratch?

A few years ago, that may have sounded like something so futuristic that could only be seen in movies. But actually, we are closer than you might think so.

Artificial Intelligence tools are everywhere, and college students have noticed it. Among all, there is one revolutionary AI that learns over time and writes all types of content, from typical conversations to academic texts.

But can Chat GPT write essays from scratch?

We tried it, and the answer is kind so (for now at least.)

Here at Gradehacker, we have years of being the non-traditional adult students’ #1 resource.

We have lots of experience helping people like you write their essays on time or get their college degree sooner, and we know how important it is to be updated with the latest tools.

AIs and Chat GPT are going to stay for a while, so you better learn how to use them properly. If you ever wondered whether it was possible to write an essay from scratch with Chat GPT, you are about to find out!

Now, in case you aren’t familiarized with Chat GPT or don’t know the basics of how it works, we recommend watching our video first!

How we Used Chat GPT to Write Essays

So, to try our experiment with Chat GPT, we created two different college assignments that any student could find:

Our main goal is to test Chat GPT’s essay-writing skills and see how much students can use it to write their academic assignments.

Now, we are pretty aware that this (or any) artificial intelligence can carry a wide range of problems such as:

That’s why after receiving our first rough draft, we’ll edit the parts of the text that are necessary and run what we get through our plagiarism checker. After our revision, we’ll ask the AI to expand on the information or make the changes we need.

We’ll consider that final version after our revision as the best possible work that Chat GPT could have done to write an essay from scratch.

And to cover the lack of citations, we’ll see what academic sources the chatbot considers worthy for us to use when writing our paper.

Now, we don’t think that AIs are ready to deliver fully edited and well-written academic writing assignments that you can simply submit to your professor without reading them first.

But is it possible to speed up the writing process and save time by asking Chat GPT to write essays?

Let’s see!

Can Chat GPT Write an Argumentative Paper?

First, we’ll see how it can handle one of the most common academic essays: an argumentative paper.

We chose the American healthcare system as our topic, but as we know that we to find a specific subject with a wide range of sources to write a strong and persuasive essay, we are focusing on structural racism in our healthcare system and how African Americans accessed it during covid.

It’s a clear and specific topic that we included in our list of best topics for your research paper. If you want similar alternatives for college papers, be sure to watch our video!

Instructions and Essay Prompt

Take a position on an issue and compose a 5-page paper that supports it.

In the introduction, establish why your topic is important and present a specific, argumentative thesis statement that previews your argument.

The body of your essay should be logical, coherent, and purposeful. It should synthesize your research and your own informed opinions in order to support your thesis.

Address other positions on the topic along with arguments and evidence that support those positions. 

Write a conclusion that restates your thesis and reminds your reader of your main points.

First Results

After giving Chat GPT this prompt, this is what we received:

To begin with, after copying and pasting these paragraphs into a word document, it only covered two and a half pages.

While the introduction directly tackles the main topic, it fails to provide a clear thesis statement. And even if it’s included in a separate section, the thesis is broad and lacks factual evidence or statistics to support it.

Throughout the body of the text, the AI lists many real-life issues that contribute to the topic of the paper. Still, these are never fully explained nor supported with evidence.

For example, in the first paragraph, it says that “African Americans have long experienced poorer health outcomes compared to other racial groups.” Here it would be interesting to add statistics that prove this information is correct.

Something that really stood up for us, was that Chat GPT credited a source to back up important data, even though it didn’t cite it properly. It talks about a study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation that supports that in 2019, 11% of African Americans and 6% of non-Hispanic Whites were uninsured. 

We checked the original article and found that the information was almost 100% accurate. The correct rates were 8% for White Americans and 10.9% for African Americans, but the biggest issue was that the study included more updated statistics from 2021.

The source had more updated statistics

Then, when addressing other issues like transportation and discrimination, the problem is presented without any problems, but once again, there are no sources that support them.

Once the essay starts developing the thesis statement on how these issues could be fixed, we can see the same problem.

But even if they lack supporting evidence, the arguments listed are cohesive and make sense. These were:

These are all strong ideas that could be stronger and more persuasive with specific information and statistics.

Still, the main problem is that there is no counter-argument that is against the essay’s main arguments.

Overall, Chat GPT delivered a cohesive first draft that tackled the topic by explaining its multiple issues and listing possible solutions. However, there is a clear lack of evidence, no counter-arguments were included, and the essay we got was half the length we needed.

Changes and Final Results

In our second attempt, we asked the AI to expand on each section and subtopic of the essay. While the final result ended up repeating some parts on multiple occasions, Chat GPT wrote more extensively and even included in-text citations with their corresponding reference.

By pasting all these new texts (without editing) into a new document, we get more than seven pages, which is a great starting point for writing a better essay.

Explanation of the issues and use of sources

The new introduction stayed pretty much the same, but the difference is that now the thesis statement is stronger and even had a cited statistic to back it up. Unfortunately, while the information is correct, the source isn’t.

Clicking on the link included in the references took us to a non-existing page, and after looking for that data on Google, we found that it actually belonged to a study from the National Library of Medicine.

The new introduction had a more solid thesis statement

But then, the AI did a solid job expanding on the issues that were related to the paper’s topic. But again, while some sources were useful, sometimes the information reflected in the text didn’t correspond to it.

For example, when citing an article posted in KFF to evidence the importance of transportation as a critical factor in health disparities, when we go to the site, we don’t find any mention of that issue.

Similarly, when addressing the higher rates of infection and death compared to White Americans, the AI once again cited the wrong source. The statistics came from a study conducted by the CDC, but from a different article than the one that is credited.

And sometimes, the information displayed was incorrect.

In that same section, when listing the percentages of death in specific states, we see in the cited source that the statistics don’t match.

However, what’s interesting is that if we search for that data on Google, we find a different study that backs it up. So, even if Chat GPT didn’t include inaccurate information in the text, it failed to properly acknowledge the real source.

And so did this problem of having correct information but citing the wrong source continued throughout the paper.

Solutions and counter-arguments

When we asked the AI to write more about the solutions it mentioned in the first draft, we received more extensive arguments with supporting evidence for each case.

As we were expecting, the statistics were real, but the source credited wasn’t the original and didn’t mention anything related to what was included in the text. 

And it wasn’t any different with the counterarguments. They made sense and had a strong point, but the sources credited weren’t correct. 

For instance, regarding telehealth services, it recognized the multiple barriers it would take for low-income areas to adopt this modality. It credited an article posted in the KKF mainly written by “Gillespie,” but after searching for the information, we see that the original study was conducted by other people.

Still, the fact that Chat GPT now provided us with multiple data and information we could use to develop counter-arguments and later refute them is excellent progress. 


The good news is that none of the multiple paragraphs that Chat GPT delivered had plagiarism issues.

After running them through our plagiarism checker, it only found a few parts that had duplicated content, but these were sentences composed of commonly used phrases that other articles about different topics also had.

For example, multiple times it recognized as plagiarism phrases like “according to the CDC” or “according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation.” And even these “plagiarism issues” could be easily solved by rearranging the order or adding new words.

Checking for plagiarism is a critical part of the essay writing process. If you are not using one yet, be sure to pick one as soon as possible. We recommend checking our list of best plagiarism checkers.

Key Takeaways

So, what did we learn by asking Chat GPT to write an argumentative paper?

It’s clear that we still need to do a lot of editing and writing.

However, considering that Chat GPT wrote this in less than an hour, the AI proved to be a solid tool. It gave us many strong arguments, interesting and accurate statistics, and an order that we cal follow to structure our argumentative paper.

If writing these types of assignments isn’t your strength, be sure to watch our tutorial on how to write an exceptional argumentative essay!

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Want to Know Who is Helping You?

At Gradehacker, you have direct communication with your writer. We are here to help!

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Can Chat GPT Write a Book Review?

For our second experiment, we want to see if Chat GPT can write an essay for a literature class.

To do so, we picked one of the novels we consider one of the 5 must-read books any college student should read: 1984 by George Orwell. There is so much written and discussed about this literary classic that we thought it would be a perfect choice for an artificial intelligence chatbot like Chat GPT to write something about.

Instructions and Essay Prompt

Write a book review of the book 1984 by George Orwell. The paper needs to include an introduction with the author’s title, publication information (Publisher, year, number of pages), genre, and a brief introduction to the review.

Then, write a summary of the plot with the basic parts of the plot: situation, conflict, development, climax, and resolution.

Continue by describing the setting and the point of view and discussing the book’s literary devices.

Lastly, analyze the book, and explain the particular style of writing or literary elements used.

And then write a conclusion.

First Results

This is the first draft we got:

Starting with the introduction, all the information is correct, while including the number of pages is worthless as it depends on the edition of the book.

The summary is also accurate, but it relies too heavily on the plot instead of the context and world described in the novel, which is arguably the reason 1984 transcended time. For example, there is no mention of Big Brother, the leader of the totalitarian superstate.

Now, the setting and point of view section is the poorest section written by Chat GPT. It is very short and lacks development.

The literary devices are not necessarily wrong, but it would be better to focus more on each. For instance, talk more about the importance of symbolism or explain how the book critiques propaganda, totalitarianism, and individual freedom.

The analysis of Orwell’s writing is simple, but the conclusion is clear and straightforward, so it might be the best piece that the AI wrote.

Changes and Final Results

For the second draft, instead of submitting the entire prompt, we wrote one command per section. As a result, Chat GPT focused on each part of the review and tossed more paragraphs with more detailed information in every case.

It’s clear that this way, the AI can write better and more developed texts that are easier to edit and improve. Each section analyzes more in-depth the topic it’s reviewing, which facilitates the upcoming process of structuring the most useful paragraphs into a cohesive essay.

For example, it now added more literary devices used by Orwell and gave specific examples of the symbolism of the novel.

Of course, there are many sentences and ideas that are repeated throughout the different sections. But now, because each has more specific information, we can take these parts and structure a new paragraph that comprises the most valuable sentences.


Now, even if sometimes book reviews don’t need to include citations from external sources apart from the novel we are analyzing, Chat GPT gave us five different options for us to choose from.

The only problem was that we couldn’t find any of them on Google.

The names of the authors were real people, but the titles of the articles and essays were nowhere to be found. This made us think that it’s likely that the AI picked real-life writers and created a title for a fictional essay about 1984 or George Orwell.

The sources listed by Chat GPT weren't real


Finally, we need to see if the texts are original or plagiarized material.

After running it through our plagiarism detection software, we found that it was mostly original content with only a few issues on sight. But nothing too big to worry about.

One easy-to-solve example is in the literary devices section, where it directly quotes a sentence from the book. In this case, we would just need to add the in-text citation.

The biggest plagiarism problem was with one sentence (or six words, to be more specific) from the conclusion that linked to the introduction from a summary review. But by rearranging the word order or adding synonyms, this issue can be easily solved too.

Key Takeaways

So, what are the most important tips we can take from Chat GPT writing a book review?

Once again, there is still a lot of work to do.

The writing sample chat GPT gave us is a solid start, but we need to rearrange all the paragraphs into one cohesive essay that perfectly summarizes the different aspects of the novel. Plus, we would also have to find scholarly sources on our own.

Still, the AI can do the heavy lifting and give you a great starting point.

If writing book reviews isn’t your strong suit, you have our tutorial and tips!

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Save Time And Use Chat GPT to Write Your Essay

We know that writing essays can be a tedious task.

Sometimes, kicking off the process can be harder than what it looks. That’s why understanding how to use a powerful tool like Chat GPT can truly make the difference.

It may not have the critical thinking skills you have or write a high-quality essay from scratch, but by using our tips, it can deliver you a solid first draft to start writing your entire essay.

Santiago Mallea

Santiago Mallea

Santiago Mallea is a curious and creative journalist who first helped many college students as a Gradehacker consultant in subjects like literature, communications, ethics, and business. Now, as a Content Creator in our blog, YouTube channel, and TikTok, he assists non-traditional students improve their college experience by sharing the best tips. You can find him on LinkedIn.