Writing the Five Paragraph Essay

My introduction to the five paragraph essay happened in my freshman year of high school.

Our entire textbook for freshman English, The Lively Art of Writing, was based around this type of essay.

In spite of the groans from our class, the five paragraph essay wasn't hard to write.

In fact, it is one of the simplest pieces to write. All you have to do is select three points to illustrate on your topic.

Then you support each point in the body paragraphs and wrap up by restating your points.


The first paragraph is your introduction. It is where you tell the reader what you are writing about and state the three points that you will support in the body of the essay.

Here's an example:

"English is one of the most important classes students take in high school. Students learn how to communicate in writing. They also develop a deeper understanding of the language. Finally, they are introduced to literature that can shape their view of the world. Few other subjects alone offer this broad spectrum of knowledge."

Can you find the three points that will have to be supported in the body of the essay?

Whether you agree with the points the writer makes is not the issue. This is strictly for illustration purposes.


Your body paragraphs will expand on the three points you introduced in the first paragraph.

Let's take from our example introduction. "Students learn how to communicate in writing."

The supporting paragraph might look like:

"English classes teach students how to use the language to convey their thoughts and feelings. One way they do this is through writing assignments. These writing assignments vary from class to class and year to year. However, they include the business letter, the friendly letter, book reviews, research papers and essays. Each such assignment strengthens the students' ability to express themselves through writing. By learning what does and does not work in a piece of writing, the students gain improved communication skills."

Do you see how the first point was expanded upon in this example paragraph?


Finally, you tie up the essay by writing the conclusion paragraph. This paragraph will essentially restate your introduction.

No, you can't just copy and paste the introduction as the conclusion. For one thing, the information needs to be in reverse order.

And in different wording.

From our example:

"It is amazing the vast amount of knowledge students gain in English classes. Not only are they exposed to great literature that can reshape their lives, but they also master the nuances of our ever more complicated language in speaking and writing. This wealth of skill and knowledge makes English classes the most important classes students can take."

Do you see how the information was flipped around and restated for the conclusion? In fact, the three points were combined into a single sentence.

And the final sentence restates the overall theme of the essay, about the importance of English classes.

So, you can see that the five paragraph essay is not that hard to plan and write. If you have a basic understanding of its structure, you can easily produce these pieces in a matter of a couple of hours including research time.

Remember to introduce your points, support them and restate them. Do this consistently and you have a fail-safe method for writing amazing five paragraph essays.

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