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How to Write a 5 Paragraph Essay

October 12, 2017 Types of essays
How to Write a 5 Paragraph Essay

What is a 5-Paragraph Essay?

The 5 paragraph essay is considered to be the standard essay writing assignment. It is used in most exams such as TOEFL, IELTS, and the SAT. Since most of these exams limit the student time-wise in the "Writing" section, students are trained to memorize this format. This allows the student to answer the exam prompt quickly and efficiently. The best aspect of this kind of assignment is its plasticity in terms of different essay styles. Persuasive, Argumentative, Expository, Narrative, and Cause and Effect essays are just some examples of essays that can be written within the 5 paragraph format!


Good Example Topics

  • Can one learn a life lesson from an experience that they didn't have? Can you learn from other people's mistakes?
  • Is animal testing ethical?
  • Should same-sex marriage be allowed?
  • Should laws on gun-control be more strict?
  • Should the death penalty be abolished completely?
  • Should marijuana be legalized?
  • Should education be free for all students?

The topics listed above are some of the most common topics students write 5-paragraph essays about. Of course, they are not limited to only these.

Outline

This type of essay has a very specific outline; It starts with an Introduction, goes to Body Paragraph 1, Body Paragraph 2, Body Paragraph 3, and sums things up with a Conclusion. Each body paragraph serves a specific purpose, and the essay is in the form of a keyhole. This means that it starts out very BROAD, gets more NARROW and finishes out BROAD.

Follow the link to learn more about How To Create A Winning Outline

Introduction: 3-5 Sentences

  • 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 or some life example or a stunning fact

For Example: If your essay is about preservation of our environment, you could say something like: "Do we want to live in 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.

Tip: Think of it as a trailer for a movie, like it should be exciting but can’t give away the “PLOT”.

Example: Preservation of our environment is one of the keys to keeping our planet in a healthy state.

Five Paragraph Essay Structure

Thesis Statement

  • The most important part of your entire essay; this is your argument.
  • This statement will be the basis for the rest of your essay
  • Since we are talking about nature preservation, an example of a good thesis would be:
  • “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 thesis.

Learn how to write a killing THESIS

Body Paragraphs 1,2,3 (5-7 Sentences)

  • This is the “meat” of your 5 paragraph essay, where you explain the side you are defending (Thesis Sentence)
  • Structure of the body paragraphs is usually: Intro sentence (1), Supporting Argument
  • Explanation (3-5), Concluding Sentence (1)
  • Intro sentence should briefly bring out your argument without revealing too much information
    • Example: Deforestation and air pollution not only hurt's the planet but reduces air quality and increases the likelihood of disease!
  • Supporting Argument and Explanation: This is taking the topic and going into detail, while still most importantly DEFENDING YOUR THESIS!
    • Example: Greed and selfishness are big players that damage our environment with methods that kill our trees and worsen our air. Though short term it may be profitable for the few, long term it is hazardous for all. In Beijing for example, the air quality is so poor that it is 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, transitioning into your next one.
    • Example: To conclude, the destruction of our natural resources and our air quality not only worsens the planet’s health, but humanity’s as well.

THE FORMAT FOR ALL 3 BODY PARAGRAPHS IS THE SAME

KEY TIP:

  • The arguments should go in this order:
  • First body paragraph should be your second strongest argument
  • Second body should be your weakest argument
  • Third body should be your strongest argument

To give our readers a nice keyhole format visual, we have a picture of a standard Graphic Organizer below.

Basic 5-paragraph essay organizer

Conclusion (3-5 Sentences): This is the “mirror” of your intro

  • Restating Your Thesis (Sentence 1): You take your main argument (thesis) and restate it in a conclusive way. You are paraphrasing it in an assertive manner to show that you have “proved your point.”
    • 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 nourish the process, the more beneficial it will be for all.
  • Concluding your supporting arguments (1-3 Sentences): This is taking your supporting arguments (your body paragraphs) and rephrasing the main points you made in one sentence per paragraph.
  • If some of your supporting arguments are similar then you can combine them into one sentence to keep the good structure.
    • So for example, if one of your supporting arguments was about limiting use of resources, you could say “Limiting the use of our natural resources and improving their efficiency are key steps in improving the health of our planet.”

Concluding Hook Sentence (Optional)

A good way to end an essay is with something unexpected, to surprise the reader.
Create a second hook, but this time it should be a hook that SUMS things up in a few words, rhetorical questions are good for this.

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.

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, where it is broken down into 5 segments: Focus, Organization, Conventions, Style, and Content.

  • Focus: Did the writer spend his time proving his thesis? Did he accomplish his goal?
  • Organization: Was the essay fluid and were the transitions in between paragraphs smooth? Did the writer follow the proper outline 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 creative were his sentence structures?
  • Content: Did the writer properly prove his argument? Were his statements logical and factual? Did he create strong arguments?

Example

Download PDF: Should laws on gun-control be more strict?

Essay Writing Advice From Our Professional Writers

A five paragraph essay is the first big writing assignment that your teacher will have you do in middle school! If you’re a beginner essayist, then my tip for you is to learn how to ensure that each paragraph has its own unique idea. Once you’ve mastered that, you can practice making your paragraphs flow into each other with transition sentences. Later on, in high school and college, this will be a very valuable skill to have. Connect your ideas together so your readers can follow along with ease. While writing, always keep in mind what your next paragraph is about and try to lead up to it. In the first essays that you write, using words like “Firstly, Secondly, and In conclusion” is acceptable, but later on, you will need to find ways to separate your ideas without those linking words. Don’t make them a habit. Good luck with your writing!

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