The 5-paragraph essay is the most common academic task a student may face. You can meet it in such tests as TOEFL, IELTS, and the SAT.
Because the majority of these examinations restrict the student in time, you should be ready for the writing section. Try to memorize the structure of the 5-paragraph academic paper on any topic. It makes it possible to complete the assignments faster and efficiently. The best part of the five-paragraph essay is that it is rather flexible regarding the topic choice and various writing formats.
There are six basic types of five-paragraph academic papers. You should be aware of each type before facing your examination:
- Cause and Effect
- Compare and Contrast
All of these 5-paragraph essays should stick to the five paragraph structure!
Examples of Good Essay Topics
Try to choose the best topic from the pool of good topic ideas.
- Do we learn from other people's mistakes?
- Who is responsible for our destiny?
- Is it ethical to use animals for tests?
- What are the advantages of allowing same-sex marriage?
- How can the government minimize the criminal activity?
- Who must be punished to death?
- Is LSD that dangerous as most people think?
- Why should education become entirely free?
These are topics which students usually choose. There are much more topics on different academic disciplines so that you may come up with your own suggestions.
Writing Your Outline
Any academic 5-paragraph essay is limited to the following organization:
- Introduction paragraph with thesis
- Three body paragraphs
- Conclusion paragraph
- References page
Catch the eye of your reader with an effective introduction to your topic. Each paragraph of the body must contain a specific main point about the topic known as an argument. Sum up your writing in conclusion. The 5-paragraph essays usually start out very broad, get narrower, and end up broad as well.
- This paragraph should contain 3-5 sentences.
- This paragraph predetermines the entire structure.
- The first sentence is a hook sentence.
- The last sentence is your thesis statement.
- The hook of the paragraph may be a rhetorical question, shocking fact, joke, quote, or some real life experience.
E.g. If you want to talk about the topic of racial discrimination and human rights, you can start with something like: "Why should we treat people with the different color of skin worse? Don't they have the same two legs and two hands?"
There is no need to answer this question so that it can be defined as a rhetorical question. You may find examples of good introductions or even buy a custom 5-paragraph essay at professional writing companies.
Short Introduction of Supporting Arguments (up to three)
- Introduce your arguments in one paragraph (3 sentences). No need for details
- You may pretend that you're writing a video trailer when working on this part.
- Example: Establishing more organizations that defend the rights of minorities is one of the ways to resist racial discrimination.
- It is your strongest claim.
- The rest of the 5-paragraph essay should be based on your thesis statement.
- It is better to change thesis if you discover that your body paragraphs are not related to it.
Body Paragraphs (5-7 sentences each)
Involve 3-5 arguments to defend your thesis statement.
Stick to this general structure of the body paragraphs: Introduction sentence (1), Evidence/Arguments (3-5), Conclusion (1).
THE FORMAT FOR ALL BODY PARAGRAPHS REMAINS THE SAME
Check the order of your arguments:
- First body paragraph is dedicated to the most powerful point
- The second paragraph may contain the weakest point
- Leave another strong argument for the last body paragraph
Conclusion paragraph (up to 5 sentences):
- The last few sentences of this paragraph should reflect the nature of your entire text. Begin with the restated thesis.
- Recall all 3-5 supporting arguments. Paraphrase each main point to speed up the process.
- Avoid using citations in this paragraph.
- Join similar arguments together in one sentence.
The final stage is the so-called concluding paragraph hook. You may include it or not. It is a good idea to finish your writing with something your reader can't expect. Surprise the readers with the sudden question for continuous discussion or unknown fact.
In other words, put some sugar and spice to make the dish tastier. "Did you know that Oslo was called the most expensive city of the year?"
You can find more tips on the conclusion paragraph in this blog.
Overall Grading Rubric
Students write 5-paragraph essays to earn the highest grades. These grades are part of their final score per course. That is why it is important to know the grading rubric shared by your teacher in the syllabus.
- Focus: Did the writer prove his thesis effectively? Were all the objectives met successfully?
- Organization: What about the way 5-paragraph essay flows? Are there the smooth transitions between paragraphs? Are they logical? Did the author follow the outline and general writing standards?
- Conventions: Is there any wordiness in the text? Are there some grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors? Is the text easy to read?
- Style: Did the student use high-level vocabulary? Was he creative enough?
- Content: Was the student right when defending his arguments? Was his evidence logical and factual? Did he develop powerful, persuasive arguments?
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The five-paragraph essay is a format of essay having five paragraphs: one introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs with support and development, and one concluding paragraph. Because of this structure, it is also known as a hamburger essay, one three one, or a three-tier essay.
The five-paragraph essay is a form of essay having five paragraphs:
- one introductory paragraph,
- three body paragraphs with support and development, and
- one concluding paragraph.
The introduction serves to inform the reader of the basic premises, and then to state the author's thesis, or central idea. A thesis can also be used to point out the subject of each body paragraph. When a thesis essay is applied to this format, the first paragraph typically consists of a narrative hook, followed by a sentence that introduces the general theme, then another sentence narrowing the focus of the one previous. (If the author is using this format for a text-based thesis, then a sentence quoting the text, supporting the essay-writer's claim, would typically go here, along with the name of the text and the name of the author. Example: "In the book Night, Elie Wiesel says..."). After this, the author narrows the discussion of the topic by stating or identifying a problem. Often, an organizational sentence is used here to describe the layout of the paper. Finally, the last sentence of the first paragraph of such an essay would state the thesis the author is trying to prove. The thesis is often linked to a "road map" for the essay, which is basically an embedded outline stating precisely what the three body paragraphs will address and giving the items in the order of the presentation. Not to be confused with an organizational sentence, a thesis merely states "The book Night follows Elie Wiesel's journey from innocence to experience," while an organizational sentence directly states the structure and order of the essay. Basically, the thesis statement should be proven throughout the essay. In each of the three body paragraphs one idea (evidence/fact/etc.) that supports thesis statement is discussed. And in the conclusion everything is analyzed and summed up.
Sections of the five-part essay
The five-part essay is a step up from the five-paragraph essay. Often called the "persuasive" or "argumentative" essay, the five-part essay is more complex and accomplished, and its roots are in classical rhetoric. The main difference is the refinement of the "body" of the simpler five-paragraph essay. The five parts, whose names vary from source to source, are typically represented as:
- a thematic overview of the topic, and introduction of the thesis;
- a review of the background literature to orient the reader to the topic; also, a structural overview of the essay;
- the evidence and arguments in favor of the thesis;
- the evidence and arguments against the thesis; these also require either "refutation" or "concession";
- summary of the argument, and association of the thesis and argument with larger, connected issues.
In the five-paragraph essay, the "body" is all "affirmation"; the "narration" and "negation" (and its "refutation" or "concession") make the five-part essay less "thesis-driven" and more balanced and fair. Rhetorically, the transition from affirmation to negation (and refutation or concession) is typically indicated by contrastive terms such as "but", "however", and "on the other hand".
The five parts are purely formal and can be created and repeated at any length, from a sentence (though it would be a highly complex one), to the standard paragraphs of a regular essay, to the chapters of a book, and even to separate books themselves (though each book would, of necessity, include the other parts while emphasizing the particular part).
Another form of the 5 part essay consists of
- Introduction: Introducing a topic. An important part of this is the three-pronged thesis. This information should be factual, especially for a history paper. Somewhere in the middle of introduction, one presents the 3 main points of the 5 paragraph essay. The introductory paragraph should end with a strong thesis statement that tells readers exactly what an author aims to prove.
- Body paragraph 1: Explaining the first part of the three-pronged thesis. The first sentence should transition from the introductory paragraph to the current one. The sentences that follow should provide examples and support, or evidence, for the topic.
- Body paragraph 2: Explaining the second part of the three-pronged thesis. 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 provided should be related to the topic at hand.
- Body paragraph 3: Explaining the third part of the three-pronged thesis. Like any paragraph, it should have a transition and a topic sentence, and any examples or support should be related and interesting.
- Conclusion: Summing up points and restating thesis. It should not present new information, but it should always wrap up the discussion.
In essence, the above method can be seen as following the colloquialism "Tell 'em what you're gonna tell 'em, tell 'em, tell 'em what you told 'em" with the first part referring to the introduction, the second part referring to the body, and the third part referring to the conclusion. The first sentence of every paragraph should be a topic sentence.
The main point of the five-part essay is to demonstrate the opposition and give-and-take of true argument. Dialectic, with its formula of "thesis + antithesis = synthesis", is the foundation of the five-part essay.
One could also use:Introduction: Hook (3 sentences), Connector (3 sentences), Thesis Body 1: Topic sentence, Evidence, Analysis (1), Analysis (2), Analysis (3), Transition, Evidence 2, Analysis (1), Analysis (2), Analysis (3), Concluding sentence Body 2: Topic sentence, Evidence, Analysis (1), Analysis (2), Analysis (3), Transition, Evidence 2, Analysis (1), Analysis (2), Analysis (3), Concluding sentence Body 3: Topic sentence, Evidence, Analysis (1), Analysis (2), Analysis (3), Transition, Evidence 2, Analysis (1), Analysis (2), Analysis (3), Concluding sentence
Introduction, Hook Statement, Background Information, Thesis Statement, Body Paragraph 1, Topic Sentence, Claim, Evidence, Concluding Statement, Body Paragraph 2, Topic Sentence 2, Claim #2, Evidence, Concluding Statement, Body Paragraph 3, Topic Sentence 3, Claim #3, Evidence, Concluding statement, Conclusion, Restatement of Thesis, Summarization of Main Points, Overall Concluding Statement, Conclusion: Sum up all elements, and make the essay sound finished. (Use about seven sentences similar to the Introduction)
Another type of 5-paragraph essay outline:
According to Thomas E. Nunnally and Kimberley Wesley, most teachers and professors consider the five-paragraph form ultimately restricting for fully developing an idea. Wesley argues that the form is never appropriate. Nunnally states that the form can be good for developing analytical skills that should then be expanded. Similarly, American educator David F. Labaree claims that "The Rule of Five" is "dysfunctional... off-putting, infantilising and intellectually arid" because demands for the essay's form often obscure its meaning and, therefore, largely automatize creating and reading five-paragraph essays.
- Corbett, Edward P.J. Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student. 4th ed. Oxford UP, 1999.
- Hodges, John C. et al. Harbrace Handbook. 14th ed.