How to Write a Five Paragraph Essay

An essay is a highly creative and relatively flexible writing genre, compared to other, more formalistic academic papers. However, even in essay writing, the author has to follow a certain structure and format. For example, the most common essay format is the so-called five paragraph essay. Here I would like to teach you how to write a basic five paragraph essay and give several useful recommendations on making it strong and focused.

What is a Five Paragraph Essay?

A five paragraph essay is the most common essay format. It simply means that an essay consists of five parts, arranged into paragraphs. In fact, five is the average number of paragraphs seen in the majority of college essays written with no restrictions on the structure. This is why it has become a kind of example of a perfect college essay. Often, professors insist that their students write an essay consisting of five parts, as this volume is enough to cover all major academic topics and to answer most research questions.

A five paragraph essay would contain up to 3 arguments, which is perfectly enough to support a statement and the author’s point of view. Anything longer than that would require more extensive research and would most likely be classified as a term paper, coursework, or a thesis.

The Structure of a Five Paragraph Essay

Remember, the first thing you should do before writing your essay is to make a plan. In writing, it is called an outline and is basically a rough sketch of what your essay is going to be about. Think of an outline as a route, which you plan whenever you go to an unknown place – in your smartphone, you put in GPS coordinates of the destination, plan how you are going to get there, where you need to make turns, pinpoint the milestones on your way, etc.

A good outline in a five paragraph essay is like a structure; it should reflect everything: the hook in the introductory part, your thesis statement, the format of your work, the main body with its arguments, and the conclusion.     

  1. Introduction. The introductory part should normally take up one paragraph. The purpose of the introductory paragraph is to present the topic to the reader(s), to introduce the research question, and thesis statement, and to provide an intrigue so that the reader will become interested to see the rest of the text. The intriguing part is also called a “hook”, which is meant to grab the reader’s attention and hold it till the conclusion part.
  2. The first body paragraph. This is the first out of the three body paragraphs that make up a five paragraph essay. Here you should place your most convincing argument. If you need to use figurative speech (for example, allegories, metaphors, sarcasm, etc.) – do it in proper format and style. Once you finish your first body paragraph, you may want to consider using transition words and phrases.
  3. The second body paragraph. Here, you can place your second most important statement (for example, an idea, fact, argument, reasoning, etc.). It is important to keep it within the size limits of the first body paragraph. In general, avoid excessive wording and too long sentences, as they only obscure the meaning and make your reader want to skip further.
  4. The structure of a five paragraph essay stipulates using a third body paragraph. It is a good place to finish your reasoning with the most compelling, yet not overly long argument. Alternatively, you can use this place to formulate your key takeaway, the bottom line, and a logical ending of your story to avoid overloading the final part.
  5. Conclusion. This is the final part of your five paragraph essay. Here, you should reiterate the initial statement and other important information, for example, a thesis statement, key research question, and intriguing statistics, which you gave in the introductory part. It is not necessary to repeat everything, but the key inputs and outputs should be reflected.   
Five Paragraph Essay

Topic Selection

Many authors face the problem of choosing a topic for an essay. It is necessary to choose from a variety of questions that are really interesting to the writer. An effective way to solve such a problem is to search for amazing facts, phenomena, and patterns in ordinary things or events. Once the topic of the five paragraph essay is formulated, it is important to write down the title so as not to forget it. The author is not limited in choosing the subject of the work, which may reflect his individual interests, life position, fears, or dreams. For example, common topics may be:

  1. You can select an event as the topic. This is a relatively simple task since something is constantly happening around a person. If you write about an event that happened recently, it is easy to describe its details without missing important details.
  2. A popular technique is called detachment, which is analyzing familiar things from a new angle.
  3. Remembering their own impressions received in the past tense, writers manage to discover topics that are important and interesting to them.
  4. Personal experiences are special events that are much deeper than other things like format and structure. Making sense of experiences allows you to immerse yourself in a topic and reflect on important personal issues.

In search of a topic for a five paragraph essay, authors often pay attention to people, the events that happened to them, and their impressions and experiences. In general, essay topics can be based on any subject. For example, a very interesting solution is a new look at familiar things.

Key Considerations for Writing a Five Paragraph Essay

  • In the introduction and conclusion, you need to focus your reader’s attention on the topic;
  • An introduction involves posing a question, and in the conclusion, you as a writer should summarize your own opinion;
  • When writing an essay, it is necessary to highlight paragraphs, and red lines, and establish logical connections so that the work follows a unified format and structure;
  • The style of presentation can be diverse, for example: emotional, expressive, artistic, etc.

Before you start writing a five paragraph essay, you should ask yourself about its content. For example, you can prepare short answers to the following questions:

  • How am I different from other people?
  • Why am I doing my work?
  • Why do I remember this event?
  • How did the event impact my personality?
  • Why am I interested in this person?
  • Would I like to be in this person’s place?
  • What have I learned from this situation?

Effective wording and the use of short, simple, and varied sentences will help to interest your reader. Remember that style reflects the personality of the author.

Five Paragraph Essay Burger

Standard Phrases and Clichés

There are common phrases that are often used when writing an essay. Such clichés are universally applied in academic writing; they will allow you to express your own thoughts as competently and clearly as possible. For example, the introductory part of the work can include:

  • the author of the statement means that …;
  • the author of the quote raises the following question …;
  • this topic is relevant for the reason …;
  • in our time, one can often observe …;
  • in my life, I have repeatedly encountered the problem …;
  • the situation is relevant not only for me personally, but for the whole world;
  • this statement suggests the idea …;
  • I strongly disagree with…

In the main part, the author, as a rule, reveals the topic using various terms and definitions, such as an example from real life, an experience, practice, and so on. To present information and reasoning, writers resort to using the following phrases:

  • considering the problem of this theory …;
  • the theoretical argumentation of the problem lies in …;
  • this issue should be considered from different angles …;
  • I can prove the statement with the help of the following example…;
  • after carefully considering the issue, I have concluded that …;
  • in confirmation of my point of view, let’s turn to …;
  • as evidence, we use such a vivid example from history …;
  • the format and structure of this work mean that…

In conclusion, the author re-formulates the problem and presents the final thoughts on the topic of their five paragraph essay. Exact copying of the wording of the question that was given in the introduction should be avoided. A few popular clichés will help to effectively summarize:

  • from the above, we can conclude …;
  • thus …;
  • in conclusion, I would like to note …;
  • summing up, we can say …;
  • based on the foregoing, it can be argued that…

Common Errors When Writing a Five Paragraph Essay

In most essay assignments, deadlines are rather loose. Everyone has plenty of time to rewrite the text to correct shortcomings and adjustments. An effective solution is a pilot reading with friends or relatives for a preliminary assessment of the work, and a check of the plot, format, structure, and grammar. In most cases, a responsible approach to writing is the key to the success of afive paragraph essay. Nevertheless, authors often make the following mistakes:

  • neglect to check the text for literacy, for the absence of ambiguous expressions, redundant formulations, and similar shortcomings;
  • insufficient number of details, tedious introduction, the main body without argumentation;
  • ideas that are not related to the topic, repetition of the same thoughts, a lot of words that divert the reader’s attention from the main point;
  • using too long and complex phrases;
  • incorrect use of terms.

You should write your five paragraph essay in a language accessible to a wide audience. Proper presentation of information (structure and format) will help to better convey your thoughts and the main idea to the reader. Editing and proofreading will not take much time, but instead, it will allow you to identify and correct shortcomings and errors, which will positively affect your academic grade.