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How to Write a 5 Paragraph Essay

How to Write 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 format’s plasticity allows students to experiment with various essay styles. Persuasive, Argumentative, Expository, Narrative, and Cause and Effect essays can all be written in this format.

Perfecting the 5 paragraph essay is a practice that can turn a rookie into an experienced essay writer. Do you need some help? At our experienced academic writing service, every student can count on the support of professional tutors and editors.

Table Of Contents

Types of Essays on Standardized Tests and More

A student should be aware of various types of academic papers if they wish to learn how to write an essay on an A+ level. The most challenging assignment is the one written for a standardized test. It is critical to decide on the type of essay at the beginning by either following a prompt or choosing on your own. The type of essay may define the topic and thesis. It means that some essays are better off with narrow and serious topics while the rest of the essays suit better if the student writes a creative story full of jokes. The various types of essays include:

  • Definition - add a personal definition of the term or phrase along with the official one paraphrased from the dictionary
  • Descriptive - add as many details as possible to illustrate the research problem
  • Narrative - tell a story with vivid examples
  • Argumentative & persuasive - the difference between these academic projects is the writer has to mention and explain personal position towards the analyzed problem in argumentative essay while it is also important to defend the position and convince the readers of your truth when it comes to persuasive one
  • Compare & contrast - show the differences & similarities between several subjects
  • Cause & effect - explain the reasons for something to happen and the consequences of these actions
  • Literary analysis - pick the specific literary text like a poem or essay and evaluate/criticize 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 discussed problems. Standardized tests ask for the 5 paragraph essays. It means the writing should not be longer than 500-800 words and contain the opening part, three supporting paragraphs, and a meaningful conclusion.
Train hard at home mastering the art of academic writing. Remember that any essay you have to write for a standardized test is limited by time, so you will have to prepare a 5 paragraph essay outline and write the text itself with the speed of light.

20 Good Example Topics

Look at these 20 ideas from different categories. Choose those you like or offer new approaches to discuss:

  • Can one learn a life lesson from an experience that they didn't have?
  • Factors that make higher education important
  • Things you would do as the President of the United States
  • Wealthy nations should share goods with countries living in poverty
  • The role of fashion in modern mass media
  • Should marijuana be legalized?
  • Should education be free for all students?
  • Allowing students to grade their tutors
  • The discrimination of female employees at work
  • The destruction of the globe’s forests and its consequences
  • Should laws on gun-control be more strict?
  • Should the death penalty be abolished completely?
  • Separate classes for male and female students
  • Actors in the United States are overpaid
  • The importance of investing money in space exploration
  • Living in the world without any rules
  • Is animal testing ethical?
  • Should same-sex marriage be allowed?
  • The role of advanced technologies in education
  • Ways to protect endangered species

The paper topics listed above are some of the most common topics students write essays about. Of course, they are not limited to only these. Before choosing a topic and starting the writing process, students should come up with a catchy title. The reason for doing so is centered around grabbing the readers attention right from the get-go. It may influence the final grade.

Academic Paper Outline

A typical essay format 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 very BROAD, gets more NARROW and finishes out BROAD.

Here you can get more info about Five-Paragraph Essay Outline

Introduction: 3-5 Sentences

An outline format is essential. To start your essay 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: rhetorical question, literary quote, joke, anecdote, metaphor, simile, a famous person saying, fact, or statistic. It is essential to check the credibility of information twice.

  • 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 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.

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 essential part of your entire essay; this is your argument.

  • This statement will be the basis for the rest of your custom 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 argument.

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

Grab this five paragraphs essay graphic organizer! 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. A writer should come up with the most vivid example, smartest illustration, and an obvious starting point - topic sentence. Do not forget to add the “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 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 the planet but reduces air quality and increases the likelihood of disease!
  • What about 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 weak 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 arguments should go in this order:
  • The 1st body paragraph should be your second strongest argument
  • The 2nd body should be your weakest argument
  • The 3rd body should be your most persuasive argument

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

Basic 5-paragraph essay outline

The Role of Transition Words & Phrases

Between the paragraphs, a student should have transition words from different categories:

  • Agreement / Addition / Similarity
  • Opposition / Limitation / Contradiction
  • Cause / Condition / Purpose
  • Examples / Support / Emphasis
  • Effect / Consequence / Result
  • Conclusion / Summary / Restatement
  • Time / Chronology / Sequence
  • Space / Location / Place

Why do transition words matter? Could they be the reason for the better grade? Many students fail to include these essential building bridges between different paragraphs, and it makes the paper lose its sense. Inserting a transition is critical. Do it either at the end of the paragraph or the beginning of the upcoming one. Here are the questions you have to consider to choose the appropriate transition word out of the pool of choices:

Decide whether the 1st paragraph reveals a pro and the next one stands for a con;
Think about whether the 2nd paragraph share something of more significant importance;
Is there an earlier historical example to serve as evidence?
Is there another sort of consideration?

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

The last paragraph of your paper must contain these elements:

  • An allusion to the pattern applied in the opening part,
  • A rewritten thesis statement with the help of 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.

Restate Your Thesis (Sentence 1): You take your main argument (thesis) and restate it conclusively. You are paraphrasing it assertively. 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.

Conclude 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.

What if some of the supporting arguments are similar? Combine them into one sentence to keep the 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 in improving the health of our planet.”

Concluding Hook Sentence (Optional)

An excellent way to end an essay is 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 right 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.

How about a 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 five segments: Focus, Organization, Conventions, Style, and Content.

  • Focus: Did the writer spends his time proving his thesis? Did he accomplish his goal?
  • Organization: Was the essay readable; 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 sentence structures?
  • Content: Did the writer adequately prove his argument and were his statements logical, reliable, and factual?


5 paragraph essay example

5 paragraph essay example

5 paragraph essay example

5 paragraph essay example

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! Are you a beginner essayist? My tip for you is to learn how to ensure that each paragraph has its 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 to let the readers can follow along with ease. While writing, always keeps 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!

Best Brian, from EssayPro

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