How to Write a 5 Paragraph Essay

May 03, 2017 How To Write
How to Write a 5 Paragraph Essay

Imagine this: you have to write your first essay, but you’re not sure where to start. You have a hundred questions, and more are coming to you every minute, but you’re afraid to ask the teacher for help. What’s the difference between an argumentative essay and an informative essay? How will I be graded? What must I include? The list goes on. Well, first, take a breath. Before you tackle different essay varieties, grading rubrics, and the bullet points of exactly what should go in your essay, you need to make sure you understand structure. The 5 paragraph essay format is a classic example of an essay and once you know how to create a 5 paragraph essay outline, you can write any essay that’s assigned to you.

Besides structure, though, there’s one other important point you should know about writing: the first sentence of every paragraph you write, whether it’s in an essay or not, should be a topic sentence. In other words, you must start each paragraph with a clear topic so the reader can follow your train of thought. Each subsequent sentence in that paragraph should relate back to your topic sentence in some way. Using topic sentences is how you create coherence, allowing the reader to follow what you’re saying within the paragraph, and cohesion, which is what ties your essay together and makes it a unified whole. Did you notice that each sentence in this paragraph is talking about the topic presented in the first sentence? By doing the same, you’ll ensure that your paragraphs don’t stray into unrelated topics, and people will love your writing because they can understand it.

The 5 Paragraph Essay Outline

Don’t know the 5 paragraph essay structure? It’s pretty simple. Here’s the basic outline you should follow:

  • Paragraph 1: Introduction
  • Paragraph 2: First Main Point
  • Paragraph 3: Second Main Point
  • Paragraph 4: Third Main Point
  • Paragraph 5: Conclusion

Now let’s discuss what should go in each paragraph. The following 5 paragraph essay template should tell you exactly what you need to do to complete your assignment.

Paragraph 1: Introduction

In the introduction, you should provide background information on your topic. Usually, this information should be factual, especially for a history paper, but you can be creative in how you present it. The key is that you want to intrigue the reader. You want to draw the reader into your topic by creating a natural curiosity about it.

Somewhere in the middle of your introduction, you need to present the 3 main points you will discuss in your 5 paragraph essay. These 3 points are crucial for the basic essay, as you need to ensure you have enough to talk about, and it’s best to introduce them in the first paragraph. However, keep in mind that as your essays get longer, you may need to use more than 3 main points. That’s not something you should worry about now, though.

In any essay, your introductory paragraph should end with a strong thesis statement that tells readers exactly what you aim to prove. If the essay is meant only to inform, the thesis statement should clarify to readers exactly what you’re going to inform them of.

Paragraph 2: First Main Point

The second paragraph is where you begin laying out the 3 main points that you promised in your introduction. In this paragraph, the first sentence should transition from the previous paragraph to the current one. It should also clearly introduce the topic, your first main point.

The sentences that follow should provide examples and support, or evidence, for your topic. Readers should see that every example and every piece of support you provide (e.g., quotes, graphs, paraphrased information) is connected to your topic. They should never be left wondering why you included something.

Paragraph 3: Second Main Point

The third paragraph of your 5 paragraph essay is where you lay out the second main point. As the previous paragraph, it should begin with a transition and a description of the topic you’re about to discuss. Any examples or support you provide should be related to the topic at hand.

Paragraph 4: Third Main Point

The fourth paragraph is where you lay out the third main point that you promised in your essay’s introduction. Like any paragraph, it should have a transition and a topic sentence, and any examples or support should be related and interesting.

Paragraph 5: Conclusion

The last paragraph of a 5 paragraph essay — or any length should be a conclusion. It should not present new information, but it should always wrap up your discussion. One way to conclude is to summarize your 3 main points and then leave the reader with some key takeaways or a final thought about your thesis that drives your essay home.

However, your essay should not end with a cliffhanger. Remember that idea of cohesion? When the reader finishes your essay, he or she should feel like the information or argument is complete and fascinating.

Creating the 5 Paragraph Essay Graphic Organizer

Now that you understand the 5 paragraph essay format, it’s time to begin planning and writing your essay. To do that, you can use a graphic organizer. This can be a simple outline in bullet points, or it can be more visual in nature.

For example, you can create a mind map with your thesis idea — or even the whole thesis sentence — in the middle. Circle your thesis. From there, you can draw lines from the thesis outward and create new bubbles for your mind map, perhaps showing the main points you intend to discuss. Your mind map can include any information that’s helpful, and you may find that you want to expand on each main point with new bubbles.

PRODUCTION: Create a simple drawing of a mind map. Put the word “Thesis” in the middle (circled), and then put the words “Point 1,” “Point 2,” and “Point 3” around it. Draw circles around those words, and connect them to “Thesis” using lines. See example below.

5 paragraph essay graphic organizer

Don’t spend too much time creating a graphic organizer, though. At some point, you need to start writing your 5 paragraph essay! Then the real fun begins.

The 5 Paragraph Essay Rubric

If you’re wondering how your essay will be graded, you’re not alone. While the exact rubric your teacher uses will vary, here’s a basic one that may help you see what’s expected in your essay.

Grade A: Excellent

  • Both introduction and thesis are strong.
  • Details and examples are strong and well organized.
  • The conclusion is strong enough.
  • Grammar is correct.

Grade B: Good

  • Both introduction and thesis are strong.
  • Details and examples are strong and well organized.
  • The conclusion is strong enough.
  • Has some spelling and grammar errors.

Grade C: Fair

  • The introduction is good, but the thesis is weak.
  • Examples used are weak.
  • The conclusion is weak.
  • Has major spelling and grammar errors.

Grade D: Poor

  • Introduction and thesis are weak.
  • Details and examples are weak and somewhat unorganized.
  • Details or examples are few.
  • Does not have a conclusion.
  • Has serious spelling and grammar errors.

Grade F: Unsatisfactory

  • Does not contain a thesis, and introduction is weak.
  • Details and examples are weak and have no clear organization, or there are none at all.
  • Does not have a conclusion.
  • Has serious spelling and grammar errors.
  • Illegible.

In some cases, your teacher may give you a rubric before you start your essay. If so, make sure you read it carefully and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand something. The rubric should tell you exactly what the teacher is looking for, whether it’s a 5 paragraph essay or something much longer.

Final Thoughts on the 5 Paragraph Essay

Once you’ve mastered the format of the 5 paragraph essay, you can write a paper at any length imaginable. Remember that it’s helpful to create an outline or graphic organizer to organize your ideas before you start writing, especially for a longer essay. If you have a rubric ahead of time, you’ll know exactly what you need to watch out for as you edit and polish your paper.

With the above information at your disposal and a rubric in-hand, you should have no excuses for a poor grade. Just be mindful of how much time you have to work, and break the writing into small chunks if you need to. Always start early to get the best grade possible.

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