Essay Writing FAQ – Can I use my personal experience in an expository or argumentative essay?

Can I use my personal experience in an expository or argumentative essay?

Ms Tham says:

Most schools will recommend that you do not use your personal experience, but the Cambridge examiners are actually open to it. The only danger is if it becomes a narration rather than a elaboration for your argument or point.

So the short answer is ‘yes’, but only if you ensure that it is a relevant personal experience written to support and substantiate your main point. It is not so much WHAT you say, but HOW you say it.

An important factor is that your personal experience also reflects the experience of most other people as well. In that way, your personal experience carries as much weight as a universal example.

Of course, if you are able to give more universal or current examples, your essay would also be viewed favourably. Also, you should use personal experience as an example sparingly; that means, if you have 3 paragraphs in your essay, 2 of them should be universal examples and the last one can be a personal example. That way, you ensure that your essay has a broad scope and your arguments are not just based on your own personal experience.