Your guide to writing a 5 paragraph essay
Instructors and professors often assign a five paragraph essay to their beginning composition students. The five paragraph essay is a useful assignment because the rigid structure helps students get a good grasp on how to organize an argumentative essay, allowing them to continue on to write longer and more sophisticated essays.
Basics of the Five Paragraph Essay
The basic structure of the five paragraph essay includes an introduction, three supporting paragraphs, and a conclusion. Each section should include specific information and should be structured in a specific manner. The instructor may or may not require research, so it is important to review the assignment criteria carefully.
The introduction of the five paragraph essay should present the problem or situation that the author will be discussing. The introduction should be engaging and capture the audience's interest. If the instructor requires research, the author should use the appropriate sources to help prove that the issue is a problem. For example, if the essay is about how student debt is going to be a large scale economic problem in the future, the student might provide facts and statistics about student debt and how it has increasingly become a problem.
In addition to presenting the background of the problem, the introduction should contain a thesis. The thesis is a statement that tells the audience the position that the author is taking. In a five paragraph essay, the thesis should also state the three major points the author is using to support their argument. For example, a thesis for the student debt topic might be: "Student loan debt is a mounting problem because students are taking on more student loan debt, students are sometimes not finding well-paying jobs after graduation, and the interest rates on student loans has risen."
The three supporting paragraphs should each deal with one of the points mentioned in the thesis. In the student debt thesis example, because the problem of students taking on more student loan debt is mentioned first, it should also be discussed first. This organization helps the reader follow along with the author's argument. A clear topic sentence should tell the reader which point is being discussed. The supporting sentences should then provide evidence that backs up the author's point.
The conclusion to a five paragraph essay should effectively summarize the argument. In addition, it should restate the author's position on the topic, and depending on the topic, it may call the reader to do something about the problem.