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A High School Student's Guide to Mastering the 5 Paragraph Essay

Most students do not need to be professional writers or a wizard in English class to learn how to write outstanding five paragraph essays. Practice makes perfect and with some basic skills and a lot of practice, any student can be writing proper essays in no time.

The five paragraph essay is of utmost importance because it is the chosen standard for measuring a student's writing skills and proficiency. Most grade schools use the five paragraph essay for class assignments and standardized testing. Mastering the patterned format of this essay will help to ensure that students score high marks and are prepared for secondary schooling such as colleges and universities. The five paragraph essay sets the groundwork for all other levels of schooling and research and is a simplified mainstay for reports in the professional world as well.

Look to the following resources for guidance and extra help on perfecting the five paragraph essay. Mastering this basic essay form is the first step to success in a student's academic career.

Structure of the Essay 

The introductory paragraph is the first paragraph in the essay. An introductory paragraph is based on a thesis statement that defines the problem or question being addressed in the essay. The introductory paragraph should hint at the writer’s conclusion while not examining the topic in depth.

The next three paragraphs should each describe a position regarding the topic. These different points should be addressed in order of importance. The second paragraph should describe the most important point; the third paragraph a lesser important point, etc. Each paragraph should begin by stating the fact, follow with facts supporting the writer’s point, and end in summarizing a writer’s conclusion about this point.

Finally the fifth paragraph should summarize the conclusions of the essay drawing on the conclusions arrived at in the middle three paragraphs. Ideally the first sentence should restate the problem or question introduced in the introduction, reiterate the writer’s conclusions regarding the facts involved in the topic, and then be summarized in a final sentence which unites the observations made in the middle paragraphs into an overall conclusion about the topic.

Getting Started

The first step to writing a five-paragraph essay is to determine the thesis statement. This statement articulates the topic of the essay, and is usually the opening sentence of the introduction. It is best to use an outline to organize the essay. An outline would summarize the thesis statement, list the subjects examined in the body paragraphs, and summarize the conclusion made from those facts.

How to Write The Essay

Once one has an outline, and a thesis statement they can begin actually writing the essay. Paragraphs in an essay should usually be a minimum of three sentences, though four to six is common. The first draft of the essay lays down the overall ideas formulated in the outline, but it is only the first step. A first draft typically needs to be revised, and edited to better organize or clarify points, or to correct grammar.

Editing, Revising, Evaluating

Once one has a good first draft the next step is to proof read the first draft. Usually as one proof reads their draft they will make notes on what might be better phrased another way, or located in a different part of the essay. Further grammatical or spelling errors can be addressed. Also one can ask someone else to review their first draft to see whether the ideas presented are clear to readers or some mistakes were not found by the author.

Expository Essays

In Expository essays the writer is describing facts involving data, or statistics. These types of essays would be used a lot in mathematical, or scientific situations. There is little room for a writers opinion, and statements made in these essays should be easily derived from the data, and provide details if challenging the data at hand.

Narrative Essays 

Narrative essays describe events. Often these are told in the form of a story. In a narrative essay the middle three paragraphs may describe a sequence of events chronologically rather in order of importance. Still Narrative essays begin with an introductory paragraph describing the situation, and a concluding paragraph that summarizes the story, and draws a conclusion related to the story’s events.

Persuasive Essays

Persuasive essays are designed to persuade a reader to adapt the writer’s conclusion. It can be easy to assume this form of writing is subjective, however it is anything but. 

It is critical when persuading a reader to adopt a view that one provides accurate evidence related to their point. Further dissenting conclusions related to the topic should be addressed with counterpoints, and a rationale for adopting the prevailing conclusion.

Conclusion, and Further Resources

Essay writing, especially in the format provided by the Five-Paragraph essay can be a fun and interesting experience for the writer, and the reader alike. Because the reader knows what to expect they do not have to worry about the structure presented. The writer also does not have to think about a structure to present their topic in, and can focus more on their point. Five-paragraph essays are a useful life sill, and critical to success in Education.