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How to Write a Five Paragraph Essay

Written by tutor Jackie D.

Have you ever opened up a document to sit and stare at the blank pages for awhile, not even knowing how to start writing a five-paragraph essay that’s due soon? Most of us have. Essay writing can seem overwhelming at times, but breaking it down into sections helps most people write a great essay. Let’s see how.

First, figure out what subject matter will be about. Is this an assignment your teacher gave you with a specific topic, or do you have to find a topic of your own?

When you decide on the topic, ask yourself the following five W questions: Who is this about? What is this about? When and where did this happen? Why is it important? And, last but not least, how did it happen?

Second, research facts that backup your thesis, the argument or point of your essay. Research facts and figures, as well as anecdotal, or interesting supplemental, material that will bring life to your essay.

Third, start the actual writing process by creating a simple outline. This will help you organize your thoughts so writing will be all the easier for you. This is where you can figure out how much information you have researched, as well as determine how you want to go about fleshing out your essay’s argument.

For instance, an outline would look similar to this one I used in writing this essay:

I.     Tips on how to write a five-paragraph essay
       A. Research topic:
             i. Read what other WyzAnt tutors have written about this topic
             ii. Read what other writers have written about this topic online
             iii. Start jotting down my own tips that I've used to teach other students about writing essays
       B. Determine thesis:
             i. Writing a five-paragraph essay is not difficult once the writer has streamlined his or her research and thoughts
       C. Write outline
             i. This is my outline!
       D. Write essay
             i. Introduction - one paragraph introducing the subject and why it's an important topic for the reader. It establishes
             the who, what, when, and where.
             ii. Body - three paragraphs backing up the introduction. This part establishes the how and the why.
             iii. Conclusion - one paragraph tying together the essay's argument.

Introduction of the Essay

I recommend writing a brief introduction to start. This sets the stage for your essay. For the first draft, your introduction does not need to be spectacular. It only needs to answer three of the four W questions, who, what, where and when. You can elaborate more with the introduction after writing the body.

Body of the Essay

The body is sometimes the easiest part of the essay to write. In the body, it’s throwing in all the research you’ve found. Thankfully, with Microsoft Word and other related programs, you can throw in all the research you’ve done and then move around sentences that make a better. Think of it as throwing all the ingredients in a stew, and then adding, removing, and mixing ingredients as you need.

The key for writing the body is to think of it in three separate parts. The first paragraph should explain one or two facts with backup research. The second paragraph should pick one or two more related facts. The third paragraph follows the same recipe.

To start with the first body paragraph, pick a fact or statement that seems most important for your essay’s thesis. This is one that you feel most passionately or strongly about, one that makes complete sense to you. This is one that’s usually easiest to write because you have somehow connected with this fact or statement and know it to be true for the purpose of your essay.

Write one or two sentences about this fact, then provide evidence in two more sentences that back up the introduction and provide a simple yet effective argument. Do the same for the second and third paragraphs. But in this case, the second argument should contain the second most important argument or point, and the third paragraph the third most important argument or point. By this time, you will have completed the body of your essay.

Pretty simple, right?

Conclusion of the Essay

The concluding paragraph is little more than a revised version of your introduction. It should not make any new statements, but instead only serve to reaffirm or re-strengthen your thesis statement that you made in the introduction. The conclusion is the place to make one last effort to explain your thesis and sum up the points you made in the body of your essay. The last sentence should be a very concise and simple statement that puts a point at the end of the essay. It may even be something like a call to action in a persuasive essay like this one here.

When you break down how to write the essay, it will no longer seem as overwhelming to write. It’s just about taking the time to collect not only your thoughts, but also the research and the outline, of your paper. A blank page is only the start of the writing process. Think of it as a canvas to paint your words. It’s about expressing yourself through writing in a very practical yet easy manner. You can do it, so now let’s get to it!

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