The 5 paragraph essay is considered to be the standard essay writing assignment. Once you have learned how to write it, you are prepared to tackle any other one. Keep reading the detailed guide from the EssayPro team to perfect your writing skills to the level of an experienced essay writer.
What Is a 5 Paragraph Essay?
The 5 paragraph essay format is the most common essay a student can be faced with. The name is a result of the five paragraph structure: one introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. Because of the layered structure, you might have also heard this type of essay being called a hamburger essay, one three one, or a three-tier essay.
It is used in most exams, such as the TOEFL, IELTS, and SAT. Since most of these exams limit students’ time on the "Writing" section of an exam, students are trained to memorize this format. This allows students to answer the exam prompt quickly and efficiently.
How many words is a 5 paragraph essay you may wonder? Typically, they are around 250 to 500 words long. The format’s plasticity allows students to experiment with various essay styles. Persuasive, Arguntative, Expository, Narrative, and Cause and Effect essays can all be written in this format.
Types of 5 Paragraph Essay on Standardized Tests
The most challenging assignment is the one written during a standardized test. The type of essay may define the topic and the thesis. It means that some essays are better off with narrow and serious topics, while other essays are better suited to students who might write creative stories full of jokes. The various types of essays include:
- Definition — adds a personal interpretation of the term or phrase, along with the official one paraphrased from the dictionary.
- Descriptive — adds as many details as possible to illustrate the research problem.
- Narrative — tells a story with vivid examples.
- Argumentative & persuasive — the difference between these academic projects is that the writer only has to mention and explain his or her personal position towards the analyzed problem in an argumentative essay. While in a persuasive essay, it is also important to defend your position and convince readers of your truth.
- Compare & contrast — shows the differences & similarities between several subjects.
- Cause & effect — explains the reasons for something to happen and the consequences of these actions.
- Literary analysis — picks the specific literary text like a poem or essay and evaluates/criticizes it.
While sometimes it is enough to answer a question, in other cases, a student has to conduct in-depth research and offer more solutions to the problems discussed.
Train hard at home to master the art of academic writing. Remember that any essay you have to write for a standardized test is limited by time, so you might have to prepare an outline and write the text itself at the speed of light.
Video Guide to 5 Paragraph Essay
10 Good Example Topics
Look at the 10 topic example ideas from different categories below. The 5 paragraph essay topics listed here are some of the most common topics students write essays about. Choose those you like, or offer new approaches to discuss:
- Can one learn a life lesson from an experience that they didn't have?
- Wealthy nations should share goods with countries living in poverty
- Should education be free for all students?
- The discrimination of female employees at work.
- Should the death penalty be abolished completely?
- Separate classes for male and female students
- The importance of investing money in space exploration
- Living in a world without any rules
- Should same-sex marriage be allowed?
- The role of advanced technologies in education
Before choosing a topic and starting the writing process, students should come up with a catchy title to grab the reader’s attention right from the get-go. It may influence the final grade.
When writing a 5 paragraph essay, it is important to follow the structure. As it is said, the typical format for an essay starts with an introuction, has three body paragraphs, and sums everything up with a conclusion. Each body paragraph serves a specific purpose, and the essay should take the form of a keyhole. This means that it starts very broad, gets increasingly narrow, and finishes out broad.
Introduction: 3-5 Sentences
So, let’s look at how to write an introduction paragraph for an essay. To start out impressively, think about a hook. A hook is a 1-2 sentence bang that makes the reader want to keep on reading the entire text. It can be a rhetorical question, literary quote, joke, anecdote, metaphor, simile, a famous person saying, fact, or statistic. It is essential to check the credibility of the information you use.
- The introduction sets the structure for the rest of the essay, with the first sentence being the hook sentence.
- The hook sentence is kind of like the spark to a flame. It grabs the reader's attention.
- The hook is usually either a rhetorical question, some life example, or a stunning fact.
For Example: If your essay is about the preservation of our environment, you could say something like: "Do we want to live on a planet where we are surrounded by desert and wasteland?". This is a rhetorical question, meaning it does not need an answer because it is obvious.
Brief Introduction of Supporting Arguments (1-3)
Here you are taking your supporting arguments and briefly introducing them to the reader, without revealing too much information.
Quick Tip: think of it as a trailer for a movie. It should be exciting, but can’t give away the “PLOT."
For Example:Preservation of our environment is one of the keys to keeping our planet in a healthy state.
The Thesis Statement is an essential part of your entire essay: this is your argument. This statement will be the basis for the rest of your essay. Since we have already been talking about nature preservation, an example of a good thesis would be:
Thesis example: “The preservation of our planet is the most important aspect of keeping Mother Nature in check and avoiding draconian disasters.”
Quick Tip: if you find that your body paragraphs have nothing to do with your thesis, you can go back and change the argument.
Body Paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 (5-7 Sentences)
Let’s figure out how to start a body paragraph. Even though all body paragraphs are equally vital, keep in mind that the opening paragraph should be the strongest one; it may include the most potent argument. The writer should come up with the most vivid example, the smartest illustration, and an obvious starting point — the topic sentence. Do not forget to add a “reverse hook” sentence. Each argument of the body must relate to the thesis. Here are some other facts about the body::
- This is the “meat” of your 5 paragraph essay, where you explain the position you are defending. In other words, it has to relate to your thesis sentence.
- The structure of a body paragraph is usually: Intro sentence (1), Supporting Argument Explanation (3-5), Concluding Sentence (1)
- The intro sentence should briefly bring about your argument, without revealing too much information
Example: Deforestation and air pollution not only hurt the planet but reduces air quality and increases the likelihood of disease.
- What about the Supporting Argument and Explanation? Here is an example of taking the topic and going into detail, while still, most importantly, defending your thesis.
Example: Greed and selfishness are the biggest factors that damage our environment. They result in methods that kill our trees and worsen our air. Though short-term, it may be profitable for the few; in the long-term, it is hazardous for all. In Beijing, for example, the air quality is so poor that it can often become mandatory to wear masks — just for its large population to walk around in the streets.
- The Concluding Sentence should be the opposite of the intro. Instead of introducing your argument, you are briefly concluding your argument, and transitioning into your next one.
Example: To conclude, the destruction of our natural resources and our air quality not only worsen the planet’s health, but humanity’s as well.
The format for all 3 body paragraphs is the same.
The arguments should go in this order:
- The 1st body paragraph should be your strongest argument.
- The 2nd body should be your weakest argument.
- The 3rd body should be your most persuasive argument.
To give our readers an outline template, we have a picture of a standard Graphic Organizer below.
Conclusion (3-5 Sentences): The “Mirror” of Your Intro
The last paragraph of your paper must contain these elements:
- An allusion to what was said in the opening part.
- A rewritten thesis statement, using your own new, original language and interpretation — do not merely copy-paste the thesis.
- A summary of the three major points from the paper’s body.
- A closing statement that alarms the reader that the discussion is about to be over.
Look at the detailed descriptions of the recommended steps in order to craft a good conclusion paragraph.
Restate Your Thesis (Sentence 1)
Take your main argument (thesis) and restate it conclusively. Paraphrasing it assertively. Show that you have “proved your point.”
Concluding paragraph example: The safety and survival of the Earth are incredibly dependent upon how we, as people, decide to treat it, and the more carefully we treat the process, the more beneficial it will be for all.
Conclude your supporting arguments (1-3 Sentences)
Take your supporting arguments (your body paragraphs) and rephrase the main points you made in one sentence per paragraph. What if some of the supporting arguments are similar? – Combine them into one sentence to keep a proper structure.
So, for example, if one of your supporting arguments was about limiting the use of resources, you could say: “Limiting the use of our natural resources and improving their efficiency are key steps to improving the health of our planet.”
Concluding Hook Sentence (Optional)
An excellent way to end an essay is to do something unexpected, to surprise the reader. Create a second hook. This time, it should be a hook that sums things up in a few words—rhetorical questions are great for this.
Concluding paragraph example: “The health of our planet is of great importance, and after all, we don’t want to live in a wasteland, do we?”
This gives the 5 paragraph essay some spice at the end and makes the reader question your statement.
5 Paragraph Essay Outline Example: Why Are History and Culture Important to Society?
- Humans tend to repeat mistakes, whether it be personal ones or general faults of our species. Thankfully, we finally understand that war never changes, and this acceptance has brought great prosperity. (Hook)
- Introducing the importance of traditions, understanding our roots, and dialoguing the growth of the human race. (Background info)
- Remembering and embracing our past, while simultaneously learning and building from it, can help the human race achieve great things at an ever increasing rate!
Body Paragraph 1
- Topic sentence that introduces traditions and why they hold value.
- Linking the value of our traditions and how we can build from them.
- Evidence of this done in the past (Sounds → Language) (Sticks + Stones → Rifles).
- Concluding statement about the significance of tradition.
Body Paragraph 2
- Topic sentence that introduces the importance of embracing our culture.
- Showing our origins and highlighting the value of understanding ourselves.
- Provide examples (Civilizations → Empires → Cities).
- Concluding statement about the value of our origins.
Body Paragraph 3
- Topic sentence that exclaims the importance of dialoguing our race.
- Using our past to better our future and learning from our mistakes.
- Examples (Less War, Technological Growth, Human Rights).
- Significance of the documentation.
- By analyzing our cultural and historical past, we can build a future for a better tomorrow! (Thesis Restatement)
- Summary of traditions claim.
- Summary of the cultural claim.
- Summary of value that comes from dialoguing our race.
- If we don’t consider our past as a valuable pool from where to obtain information, then we are showcasing ourselves as an ignorant race. (Overall Concluding Statement)
General Grading Rubric
Several schools and universities worldwide use several different types of rubrics, but one of the most standard rubric styles is the 5 point style. This style is broken down into five segments: Focus, Organization, Conventions, Style, and Content.
- Focus: Did the writer spend his time proving his or her thesis? Did they accomplish their goal?
- Organization: Was the essay readable, were the transitions between paragraphs smooth, and did the writer follow the proper outline format and not diverge from the set structure?
- Conventions: Did the writer make many grammatical mistakes? Did they have run-on sentences?
- Style: Did the writer use high-level vocabulary, were words rarely repeated, how original were his or her sentence structures?
- Content: Did the writer adequately prove his argument and were his or her statements logical, reliable, and factual?
Five Paragraph Essay Examples
Conclusion: Things to Remember
- The 5 paragraph essay includes 1 introductory paragraph, 3 body paragraphs and 1 concluding paragraph.
- Each body paragraph serves a specific purpose.
- The format for all 3 body paragraphs is the same.
- Typical 5 paragraph essays are up to 500 words long.
- One of the most challenging assignments is the one written for a standardized test, as there are various types of essays and a limitation on time.
- Writing an essay outline helps structurize your thoughts and saves you time.