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Five-Paragraph Essay Writing Guide

As a rule, students pursuing a high school education or a university degree (and thus becoming productive members of society) face a lot of learning challenges. Their most common concern is that they can't find a way to organize their study schedule efficiently. This primarily relates to their obligations to accomplish a certain number of tasks within a limited period. One of the tasks they need to do every now and then is the much feared and loathed five-paragraph essay. Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing tricky about writing such essays. Just take a look at the stuff we have prepared for you and see for yourself!

Essays are typically divided into six basic types:

  • Persuasive
  • Argumentative
  • Narrative
  • Expository
  • Compare and Contrast
  • Cause and Effect

Yes, that may seem intimidating, but the thing is, they are all structured the same way. As you might have guessed, the five-paragraph essay should be made up of five parts. The old approach to creating an essay consists of treating it as a hamburger: two buns (an introduction and conclusion) hold together three burgers (three body paragraphs). To come up with a good hamburger, you should follow a simple pattern which is the same for every essay. It usually works like this:

  1. Create an essay outline
  2. Come up with an introduction
  3. Write three body paragraphs
  4. Execute a conclusion
  5. Proofread

The Structure - One-Three-One Essay

First, you should create a five paragraph essay outline. Basically, this is a roadmap using which you'll be able to track your progress. Having an outline is like having a sense of sight - both help you not lose your bearings and guide you in the right direction.


The introductory paragraph should attract the reader's attention. It should start with a "hook" or a sentence which conveys an interesting fact or an anecdote. The next sentence should have the subject you are writing about, which is why you should formulate it in such a way as to prevent the audience from understanding everything at once. In the third sentence, you should provide the reader with more details about the topic and come up with a thesis. Being the final part of your introduction, it determines the success or failure of your essay, hence you should be very careful writing the last sentence for this paragraph.

Body Paragraphs

Each of the three body paragraphs should convey a strong idea. Put the strongest ones in the third body paragraph to convince the reader. Provide as many details and facts as necessary. Place the weakest argument in the second body paragraph your second strongest one in the first.

Each body paragraph is supposed to reflect only one idea and begin with a topical sentence which should direct the reader to the thesis. Continue with the quotes relating to the thesis. Whether you are writing a persuasive, argumentative, narrative, or any other type of essay, do not forget to provide research, evidence or examples in your paragraphs. Your commentary is indispensable as it shows how your examples and evidence are related to your arguments. A well-written statement at the end of these central paragraphs will be a good sauce added to the burger.


Write a paragraph summing up your arguments and making them clear to the reader. Keep in mind that this paragraph should reiterate the ideas conveyed in your thesis. But do not just copy-paste - convince the reader that your research helped you arrive at such conclusions. Then, write a few sentences that will explain how each body paragraph relates to and supports your thesis. Use appropriate words to convince the audience that your reasoning is sound. If you don't want to have your score lowered, refrain from introducing new ideas in the concluding paragraph. Instead, restate what you have mentioned before.

The final sentence of your essay should get the reader thinking. A good example of a concluding sentence can be a call to action or universal statement; you can also invoke a picture or a feeling in the reader's mind or simply warn them about what can happen if your ideas are not followed.

5-Paragraph Essay Outline Template Sample

  1. The first paragraph (Introduction)
    • A catchy sentence (Hook statement)
      • (Question, statistics, anecdote, experience, fact, or quotation)
    • Topic introduction (Background info about general theme)
    • Your thesis statement (a road map) with an overview of your supporting arguments
      • (Must NOT be a fact, personal preference, or something nobody cares about.)
  2. Three body paragraphs (with the same structure) 5-8 sentences each
    • Topic sentence with one main supporting idea
      • (Remember to use your most persuasive argument in the last body paragraph.)
    • Sentences with details and examples - the extension of your topic sentence
    • Concluding sentence with a transition to the next paragraph
  3. The last paragraph (Conclusion)
    • Your thesis statement paraphrased (not copied)
    • Concluding thoughts that can vary based on your essay type:
    1. The answer to the "So what?" question
    2. Call to action
    3. Concluding quotations
    4. Rhetorical question to ponder about
    5. A simple summary of the essay's central points
      • (A combination of the above is also possible)
      • (Do NOT introduce any new information in your conclusion.)

Edit Your Writing

Even after finishing up, there's still a long way to go before you can submit your essay. You have to edit and proofread your paper. You can always do this job manually, but the majority of students uses the spell checkers, and to do this for you would make a lot more sense. But do not over-rely on such tools because they do not always provide you with 100% fail-safe prompts. That's why it is advisable to read through the sentences again in order to avoid poorly "corrected" mistakes.

It is also a good idea to take a break from writing and then have a fresh look at your essay to be able to easily spot typos and misspelled words.

Make certain that your sentences are easy to read - they should have an easy flow. The reader must feel as if they're going down a calm river. A good idea would be to use a transitional hook or a phrase that can help you join your sentences more efficiently. Keep in mind that a good essay uses words and phrases like "in the same way," "also," "currently," "during," "accordingly," "thus," "finally," "additionally," etc. Include these transitions in your paper to avoid choppy, jumpy, and run-on sentences. Break up long sentences into briefer ones and ensure that your thesis is duly addressed. Following these simple yet effective rules will save you a lot of time and effort during the proofreading stage. Check your fonts, spacing, margins, and page numbers before submitting your paper. If you have any citations, include the reference page formatted in the respective style.

Now that you are ready to take on your writing task, it's time to provide you with some of our tips on writing formal essays:

  • A good writer does not use abbreviations and contractions.
  • Stay away from using personal pronouns, like "I," "me," "my." Instead, choose more generalized phrases: "it is commonly believed," "scientists think," "we tend to assume," "it is widely accepted," etc.
  • Avoid using slang and language that is too casual.
  • Do not start your sentences with: "but," "because," "and."

10 Examples of 5-Paragraph Essay Topics

The ideas below are based on topics that will always be discussed in our society. Hence, you can develop your original approach and views to make your writing more gripping and fresh.

  1. Science is truth multiplied by doubt.
  2. History will always repeat itself.
  3. Why education in the USA must be ten times cheaper.
  4. Animal testing must be banned.
  5. Humanity's self-destruction is imminent.
  6. The consequences of successful Mars colonization.
  7. Can a society exist without wars and conflicts?
  8. Why so many people don't care about environmental issues.
  9. Cases that can justify the death penalty.
  10. They will never invent a perfect grading system in schools.

To sum up, one of the goals of high school students and their university counterparts is to develop their writing skills. We hope that our guide will help you get a better idea of how to achieve your objectives and prepare for standardized exams and tasks.

Good luck!

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