How to write a 5-Paragraph Essay (Plus Outline and Example)

author By Mary Boies

Most people like reading a well-structured, organized, and formatted essay. At least, this earns you a great grade in the eyes of the professor, teacher, or instructor. One way to achieve better grades is to organize your essay into five paragraphs. 

If you are assigned to write an essay about yourself, technology, leadership, friendship, global warming, and other subjects, you will find the five-paragraph essay format quite helpful. It enables you to write an essay with sound arguments backed by solid evidence and facts and can convince your readers.

5-paragraph Essay

The famous 5 paragraph essay is preferred for the formal essay writing process. You will have to choose a topic, come up with points, write a thesis statement, craft an outline, write the paper, and edit it before submitting it on time.

Because writing such an essay is not as hard as it is purported, let�s delve directly into the writing process. In this post, you will learn everything you need to know about writing five-paragraph essays.

What is a 5-paragraph essay?

A 5-paragraph essay is an essay that is five paragraphs long. The first paragraph is the introduction, and the last is the conclusion. In between these two paragraphs are three body paragraphs.

In brief, the five-paragraph essay can be outlined as follows:

Paragraph 1: Introduction

Paragraph 2: First Main Point

Paragraph 3: Second Main Point

Paragraph 4: Third Main Point

Paragraph 5: Conclusion

Five-paragraph essays are very popular at the college and graduate levels. The best way to write them is to research and create a detailed outline. 

Length: the standard length of a five-paragraph essay is between 500 words and 1200 words.  

Types of 5-paragraph essays common in standardized tests

There are five major types of five-paragraph essays.

  1. Persuasive essays. A persuasive essay assignment will require you to choose a position and persuade or convince the reader. To write an excellent persuasive essay, you should use persuasive methods or strategies such as logos, pathos, and ethos in your essay.
  2. Expository essays. Expository essays reveal or expose information. To write an excellent expository essay, you must conduct thorough research to get good and reliable information. And you must present the information in a structured way.
  3. Descriptive essays. A descriptive essay assignment will require you to present information about a subject. To write an excellent descriptive essay, you must provide comprehensive information on the topic to ensure the reader can visualize and understand it.
  4. Definition essays. A definition essay assignment will require you to define a concept, a premise, an idea, or something. When writing a definition essay, you must provide a comprehensive definition to get a high grade.
  5. Argumentative essays. Argumentative essays are common in high school and college. They require students to research a topic, take a position, and defend the position with evidence. To write an excellent argumentative essay, you must include and refute a counterargument to your position.

Related Reading: How to write explanatory essays.

The 5-paragraph essay structure

Five-paragraph essays have a simple structure with three parts-introduction, body, and conclusion. Having looked at the brief structure earlier in the introductory stages of this article, let's delve deep into the structure so that you can know what goes where in an essay with five paragraphs.

1. Introduction

The introduction paragraph is the first paragraph. It is essential to take your time when writing your introduction. This is because a good introduction will give your reader a good first impression of your essay and make them want to read the rest of your essay.

A good introduction will also be like a lighthouse for you. It will have a strong thesis statement that will tell you what to focus on throughout the essay.

The introduction sets the tone of your essay. It also grabs the attention of the readers.

2. Body

The body of your five-paragraph essay will include three paragraphs. It is the core of your essay. In the body of your essay, you want to provide all the information you gather during research to prove your thesis.

You should use relevant transition words to ensure some flow. Using linking words makes it easy to connect ideas.

Make sure each body focuses on a single argument supporting your central argument. Also, ensure your strongest supporting argument is in your first body paragraph and your second strongest supporting argument is in your second body paragraph. Follow the paragraph writing rules for formal writing when crafting the body paragraphs.

A well-written five-paragraph essay body section will give you the most marks in your essay. Remember always to use transition words between your sentences.

3. Conclusion

The conclusion paragraph is the last paragraph of the five. It is the one that your reader will read last. Therefore, it should leave a good impression. Start your conclusion paragraph by summarizing your thesis and your supporting arguments. You should avoid mentioning specific examples you already mentioned.

You should also avoid introducing new information or evidence in your conclusion paragraph. Once you have restated your supporting arguments, you should wrap everything up with a nice concluding sentence.

General Outline for a five-paragraph essay

In the section above, you discovered the standard structure of the five-paragraph essay. In this section, you will discover exactly what to write in each five-paragraph essay paragraph.

Creating an essay outline helps you to map out ideas in your essay.

The general outline of the five-paragraph essay has five paragraphs: the introduction paragraph, the first body paragraph, the second body paragraph, the third body paragraph, and the conclusion paragraph.

I. Introduction

II. Body paragraph 1

III. Body paragraph 2

IV. Body paragraph 3

V. Conclusion

If you follow this general outline to prepare your five-paragraph essay outline, you will have an excellent outline that you can use to write an excellent essay.

Example of a five-paragraph essay outline

Topic: Why the United States defence budget should be cut

I. Introduction

II. Body paragraph 1

III. Body paragraph 2

IV. Body paragraph 3

V. Conclusion

Step-by-step guide for writing a 5-paragraph Essay

A good five-paragraph essay must communicate the stance of the writer. You must plan adequately, research widely, choose sources, and write an organized essay in five paragraphs. To do so, and in the best way that would yield good results, follow the steps below.

1. Choose a topic

Before you start writing your five-paragraph essay, you must choose a topic. In many cases, you will be given a short list of topics in the instructions and asked to select one. So choose a topic that you are familiar with and can easily research.

In some cases, the topic is already chosen or set for you. If this is the case, skip to the step below.

2. Conduct research

Once you choose a topic or read and understand the topic you�ve been given, you should start your research. Google the topic and skim the reliable information you can find. Identify about five reliable sources with information on your topic and note these down.

Once you narrow down your sources, read the information available more keenly. Try to find the most relevant information according to your topic from your selected sources. Note down all the important ideas and points.

3. Write your thesis

Once you have conducted thorough research and noted all the important ideas and points, you should write your thesis. Your thesis should be the strongest idea or point you have noted in your research. You will surely find plenty of information to back it up if you have conducted thorough research.

When writing your thesis, make sure it is detailed, precise, and to the point. This will make it easier for you to research and find supporting arguments for your thesis. Rank your supporting arguments in terms of strength.

4. Create your outline

Using the information you have gathered in step 2 and the thesis you wrote in step 3, you should find it easy to create an outline for your five-paragraph essay. Simply use the essay outline template and example provided above to create your outline.

5. Write your first draft

Once you have created your outline, you should start writing your first draft immediately. A detailed outline will make it very easy for you to write your five-paragraph essay. Since it will be like a map to show you the way to the finish line (closing sentence). So make sure you create a comprehensive outline.

When writing your first draft, don�t try to make it perfect. Just write the words that come to mind and stick to your outline.

6. Edit and Proofread your first draft

After you write your essay and cite all your sources, you should start proofreading your essay. Read it out loud to make sure every sentence is understandable and in the right place. Edit everything challenging to understand.

Then edit all grammar mistakes and typos. Use software like Grammarly to proofread further and edit your first draft. Give it to a friend and tell them to highlight anything difficult to understand. Make modifications where necessary to further improve your draft.

After proofreading, as explained above, your essay will be ready to submit.

Also Read:

Essay Topics and Ideas

Below are ten good five-paragraph essay example topics. Choose a topic and practice writing a five-paragraph essay when you have time.

Tips when writing a 5-paragraph Essay

  1. Do not use abbreviations.
  2. Do not share personal opinions or stories unless you are writing about your experience.
  3. Do not use slang or casual language to avoid losing marks.
  4. Avoid starting sentences with conjunctions. Doing this may be okay when writing articles but never okay when writing essays.
  5. Do good research and structure your essay for maximum points.
  6. Proofread your work thoroughly to eliminate all minor and major errors.
  7. Cite where you get information from.
  8. Do not exceed the word count to avoid getting penalized.

5-Paragraph Essay FAQs

Here are some common questions we get asked by clients regarding 5-paragraph essays.

How do you create an excellent five-paragraph essay?

Simply follow the information provided in this guide. But, most importantly, do not forget to conduct thorough research, create an outline, follow the outline, and proofread your work. You must proofread your work to discover and eliminate all errors and make your work extremely easy to understand.

How do I create an essay without major errors?

You eliminate all the minor and major mistakes by reading and re-reading your essay. Make sure your essay is easy to understand when reading it. After you read your essay, send it to your friend and ask them to read it and highlight mistakes for you. Your friend will most likely be able to catch some of the mistakes you failed to catch. If you eliminate these mistakes, your essay will be error-free.

What are run-on sentences?

Run-on sentences are sentences that contain two sentences joined together unwisely or incorrectly. You must avoid run-on sentences as they will make your work difficult to understand, and you will lose marks. Two or more sentences joined together correctly are welcome as they will make your work look creative and sophisticated. They will increase your chances of getting a good grade.

Should I use the thesaurus when writing my essay?

Yes, you should. When editing your work, you should use the thesaurus to find alternative words to the words that frequently appear throughout your essay. This will make your work sound more academic. However, you should not use too many uncommon words or vocabulary as they could make your essay sound unnatural or difficult to read.

Should I eliminate common phrases or clich�s in my essay?

Yes, you should. College professors and admission officers read dozens of essays per month. Therefore, using common phrases or clich�s in your essay will make your essay sound boring and unoriginal. So eliminate the common phrases and clich�s throughout your essay unless they are absolutely necessary.

Is flow important in my essay?

Yes, flow is essential. Flow is very important because it will make your essay easy to read and understand. To ensure your essay is flowing, you should conduct thorough research and organize the information you get in a proper outline. Outlining your essay before you write it will give it structure and flow. Also, make sure you use transition words in your essay to enhance flow further.

How do I create a good first impression for my essay?

The easiest way to create a good first impression for your essay is to start with an attention-grabbing hook statement. Use an interesting fact to grab your reader's attention with your first sentence. And then make sure the rest of your introduction is spot on. This will create a good first impression, making the reader assume the rest of the essay is as good as the intro.

Final Remarks!

You will have to write five-paragraph essays, especially in the first half of your college life. So if you do not know how to write one, you should learn how to do so. The information in this post should be sufficient for you to learn how to write an excellent five-paragraph essay.

Also Read:

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