Usually, small essays with a typical structure of five paragraphs are used to evaluate the writing skills of students during standardized tests and other exams. However, you can meet such assignments throughout your studying process as well, especially when learning how to write academic papers. As this is among the simplest types of essays, it is not difficult to write one. Still, there are some useful tips which can guide you on how to write a five-paragraph essay successfully. 

5 Point Essay Structure and Format

A typical essay on exam calls for five paragraphs, where the first and the last ones are introduction and conclusion correspondingly. This is the easiest essay structure, which intends to save students’ time and make the writing process more convenient. Moreover, such a structure covers the majority of essay types the students may wish to choose for writing, including persuasive, argumentative, cause and effect, and compare and contrast essay. Basically, regardless of the type of the essay you are writing about, you will have the following structure:

  1. Introduction.
  2. Body paragraph 1.
  3. Body paragraph 2. 
  4. Body paragraph 3. 
  5. Conclusion.
  6. References.

The First Paragraph: The Introduction

The introduction aims to explain what your essay is going to be about. However, you may go further and work on engaging the reader by writing a killer opener for the introduction, which will definitely catch attention and raise the interest. For this reason, try to start your introduction with a hook — a catchy phrase, fact, or question. After that, you may develop the idea a bit further (in 1-2 sentences) and write a transitional sentence before introducing your thesis statement. A thesis statement is an essential part of your introduction and the paper in general, so you should pay special attention to its development. A thesis statement usually ends introduction; however, you may also split your thesis into two sentences or add a supporting detail, if it’s necessary.

The Second, Third and Fourth Paragraphs: Supporting Details

The body of your essay will consist of three paragraphs, each of which should develop a specific argument. Therefore, be sure that you have carefully designed three separate points that you are going to write about. Your body paragraphs should have the same structure and a similar length. The basic structure of such paragraphs is as follows:

  1. Topic sentence.
  2. Supporting argument.
  3. Additional comments.
  4. Conclusion.

Depending on the word count or complexity, the structure may vary. For instance, you may use more than one argument, which proves the main point of the paragraph. In such a case, you will have an argument-comment-argument-comment structure in the middle. You may also wish to include examples in this section to make it more clear to the reader. 

The Fifth Paragraph: The Conclusion

Wrapping up your essay with a clear conclusion is another crucial step while writing an essay with five paragraphs. The conclusion puts the final point in your paper, so it should be persuasive and concise enough to impress the reader. Generally, you may simply restate your thesis, summarize the main points, and finalize everything with the concluding sentence. However, you may also increase readers’ engagement by adding a call to action, a rhetoric question, or a suggestion for further discussion — if the topic of your paper allows making such a step. 

Tips for Writing a Perfect Essay

Knowing a structure is a massive benefit while writing an essay; however, you can increase your chances for a high mark by following several easy advices. They will help you to polish the paper and avoid typical mistakes that many students make. 

  • Prepare an outline before writing
    It may sound like a waste of time, especially when you don’t have one on your exam; still, even the short outline may actually save some minutes while writing. Instead of forgetting and reminding what you were going to write about, you will already have a plan with the essential points to develop. If you don’t believe that you have spare 5 minutes for drafting an outline, just write the main points on the piece of paper — it will take you no longer than a minute and will help to order your thoughts. 
  • Have a correct order of the arguments
    A sandwich technique is the most appropriate when choosing the correct arrangement of the arguments: use the most persuasive argument in the second paragraph, the weakest — in the third, and the average — in the fourth. In such a way, you will persuade the reader from the very beginning and maintain a positive impression in the end.
  • Keep the introduction and conclusion shorter than the body paragraphs
    Don’t write a lot in your intro and concluding sections: their purpose is to introduce the paper to the reader and to wrap up everything written. Therefore, depending on the overall length of the essay, try to maintain the length of 3-5 sentences for the typical short essay of 5 paragraphs.
  • Always keep in mind your thesis statement
    Your paragraphs should always relate to your thesis statement: therefore, if you feel that the link between the body paragraph(s) and the TS is weak, try to change one or another. If only one of the paragraphs is slightly off-topic, change it to the more relevant one. In case there is a problem with all your paragraphs, consider changing your thesis statement instead. 
  • Add your analysis
    A strong essay should rely on solid arguments and facts. However, your teacher will not accept it if you don’t include any analysis or personal comments. Therefore, be sure not to restate something already written but also introduce your ideas on the topic. 
  • Don’t add new information in the conclusion
    Even though we recommend finishing the essay with a catchy element, it should not introduce any new facts or ideas. Often students want to make the essay stronger by adding another argument or fact in the end; however, that is always a bad idea, which will definitely lead to the commentary “why haven’t you put in your body section?”. 
  • Proofread your paper
    Make sure your essay is amazing by rereading it, even if you are running out of time or think that everything is perfect. Try to read as precisely as possible as the majority of mistakes cannot be detected through the quick scanning.