Guide to help you practice and succeed at this form of writing

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The Five Paragraph Essay

The five paragraph essay measures a student's basic writing skills, and is often a timed exercise. Use this Guide to help you practice and succeed at this form of writing.

While the classic five paragraph essay is a form seldom if ever used by professional writers, it is commonly assigned to students to help them organize and develop their ideas in writing.

Proficiency in writing the five-paragraph essay is not only important to pass the test, it is an essential first-tool-basic for research papers for all levels of schooling, and a simplified mainstay basic in writing reports within the professional world. Mastering this form is a first step to success.

Here's How:

  1. Before you begin writing, decide on your answer to the question asked of you. This is your basic thesis.

  2. Before you begin writing, decide on what three pieces of evidence/support you will use to prove your thesis.

  3. Write your introductory paragraph. Place your thesis along with your three pieces of evidence in order of strength (least to most) at the end of this paragraph.

  4. Write the first paragraph of your body. You should begin by restating your thesis, focusing on the support of your first piece of evidence.

  5. End your first paragraph with a transitional sentence that leads to paragraph number two.

  6. Write paragraph two of the body focusing on your second piece of evidence. Once again make the connection between your thesis and this piece of evidence.

  7. End your second paragraph with a transitional sentence that leads to paragraph number three.

  8. Repeat step #6 using your third piece of evidence.

  9. Begin your concluding paragraph by restating your thesis. Include the three points you've used to prove your thesis.

  10. End your concluding paragraph with a statement of extension which will (hopefully) cause the reader to look beyond what you have written. You do not include new evidence in your last paragraph.


  1. Never use I or you (Unless specifically told that it is allowed.).

  2. Do not use contractions in formal writing.

  3. Organization is one of the most important parts of good writing. Make sure to organize from the first paragraph on.

Because the five-paragraph essay is a chosen vehicle for measuring a student's writing proficiency, it is essential that each master this patterned format writing to score well. As part of that patterned process, the student needs to develop specific thinking and organizational patterns that will aid in the timed creation of an essay that state and other testing is demanding. It can also be a very useful way to write a complete and clear response to an essay question on an exam. It has, not surprisingly, five paragraphs:

Outline your five paragraph essay; include these elements:

Introductory Paragraph

General Topic Sentence:   memorable present

  1. Subtopic One: the reason it was given

  2. Subtopic Two: a description of it

  3. Subtopic Three: how you felt when you got it


First Supporting Paragraph

Restate Subtopic One

Supporting Details or Examples


Second Supporting Paragraph

Restate Subtopic Two

Supporting Details or Examples


Third Supporting Paragraph

Restate Subtopic Three

Supporting Details or Examples


Closing or Summary Paragraph

Synthesis and conclusion of the thesis 

rephrasing main topic and subtopics.

Edit and revise your essay

Check your spelling and grammar Examine your whole essay for logic
Subjects and verbs agree, and verb Thought builds and flows? tenses are consistent Avoid gaps in logic, or too much detail

Review individual sentences

  • Use active verbs to be more descriptive
    Avoid passive constructions and the verb "to be"

  • Use transitional words and phrases
    Avoid sentences beginning with pronouns, constructions as "There are....,"
    Example: "There is a need to proofread all works" becomes "Proofreading is a must."

  • Be concise
    though vary the length and structure of sentences

Ask a Writing Center Tutor or knowledgeable friend to review and comment on your essay

Adapted from: AND AND

LATTC Writing Center Rev. January 4, 2009 Title V Funded

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