How to Write A Five-Paragraph Essay
Step-by-step instructions for planning, outlining, and writing a five-paragraph essay.
The most important part of writing a five-paragraph -- or any other style -- essay has little to do with the actual essay writing: When it comes to a successful essay, the most crucial step is the planning. In fact, a properly planned essay will practically write itself.
The first advice you should provide students about to embark on an essay-writing adventure, therefore, is to plan what you will write about -- and plan to write about the assigned topic.
The second part of that advice might seem obvious and unnecessary, but we all know those students who fail to carefully read the question or prompt and then too quickly write about a vaguely related topic; or those who believe essays are graded on word count and prefer to write a lot about a topic they know well -- or everything they know about a variety of topics -- rather than risk writing too little about a less familiar, though assigned, topic.
Students need to be made aware that assigned topics for most writing assessments already are quite broad; they often need to be narrowed and focused; they rarely should be broadened.
Consider the following assignment:
Mark Twain once said: "Suppose you were an idiot... And suppose you were a member of Congress... But I repeat myself." Discuss whether you agree or disagree with Mark Twain's statement.
An essay about some silly bills passed by Congress, an essay about a few brilliant and respected members of Congress, even an essay about the factors that influenced Samuel Clemens' beliefs about Congress might be appropriate responses; an essay about Tom Sawyer or the history of Washington, D.C. would not be.
According to the College Board Web site, the only way to get a zero on the SAT's new essay section is to fail to write about the assigned topic. A little planning can prevent that.
After students have read and understood the assigned topic, they can go on to the next step of the essay-writing process. This step does involve writing -- but not yet essay writing. In step two, students write an outline of their proposed essay. The outline should look something like this:
Congress According to Twain
1) Topic: The question or prompt rephrased in the student's own words. Rephrasing the prompt will help students understand the assignment and narrow and focus the topic of their essay. For example, "Mark Twain once said that all members of Congress are idiots."
2) Position: The student's position or opinion about the question or prompt. For example, "I see no reason to disagree."
Most writing assessments ask students to take a position. Students should be aware that, if the test directions ask them to take a position, they need to take one side of the issue and defend it, not consider and defend both sides of the issue.
3) Reasons: Three reasons the student has taken his or her stated position.
a) Reason 1: The most important reason. For example, "Congress has passed a number of bills without considering where the funding for those bills would come from."
i) Evidence: Example that demonstrates Reason 1. For example, "The Americans with Disabilities Act, the Clean Air Act, and the No Child Left Behind Act are just three examples of laws that were passed without considering how cities and states would pay to implement their mandates."
b) Reason 2: The second most important reason. For example, "Congress has passed a number of silly bills based on narrow political interests."
i) Evidence: Example that demonstrates Reason 2. "For example, federal laws have been passed making it a crime to imitate Smokey the Bear or transport wooden teeth across state lines."
c) Reason 3: The third most important reason. For example, "The members of Congress from my state are idiots."
i) Evidence: Example that demonstrates Reason 3. For example, "I met John Smith, a member of Congress from my state, and he had never heard of my hometown."
The outline now is complete, and the essay -- as you can see by reading the italicized text in the outline -- is practically written.
The Five-Paragraph Essay
Finally! Students have arrived at the easiest part of the essay-writing process -- writing the essay. All they have to do now is arrange their outline text into a five-paragraph-essay format and add a few transitions, and they're done!
Paragraph 1: This is the Introduction. Here, students restate the assigned topic, state their position on the topic, and list the three reasons for their position. They end the paragraph with a transition sentence.
Mark Twain once said that all members of Congress are idiots. I see no reason to disagree. Members of Congress are often financially irresponsible, politically motivated, and unaware of the real concerns of their constituents. Let me explain.
Paragraph 2: This is the first of three paragraphs in the body of the essay. Here, students name and explain the most important reason for their stated position. They end the paragraph with a transition sentence.
Congress is financially irresponsible because it has passed a number of bills without considering where the funding for those bills would come from. The Americans with Disabilities Act, the Clean Air Act, and the No Child Left Behind Act are just three examples of laws that were passed without considering how cities and states would pay to implement their mandates. Congress doesn't just waste money, though, it wastes time too.
Paragraph 3: This is the second of three paragraphs in the body of the essay. Here, students name and explain the second most important reason for their stated position. They end the paragraph with a transition sentence.
Congress has wasted time by passing a number of silly bills based on narrow political interests. For example, federal laws have been passed making it a crime to imitate Smokey the Bear or transport wooden teeth across state lines. Congress doesn't only do idiotic things as a group, though.
Paragraph 4: This is the third of three paragraphs in the body of the essay. Here, students name and explain the third most important reason for their stated position. They end the paragraph with a transition sentence.
Even the individual members of Congress from my state are idiots. I met John Smith, a representative from my state, and he had never heard of my hometown.
Paragraph 5: This is the Conclusion. Here, students rephrase and recap their position on the issue and their reasons for it, and then write a concluding sentence. The conclusion might emphasizes their position, expand it, offer a solution, or express a hope or prediction for the future.
So you can see why I think Mark Twain was correct when he said that all members of Congress are idiots. Often financially irresponsible, politically motivated, and unaware of the real concerns of their constituents, I believe that members of Congress need to spend less time immersed in the politics of Washington, D.C. and more time amid the voters at home.
Congratulations! You passed!
Additional Essay-Writing Resources
Article by Linda Starr
Copyright © 2017 Education World
Last updated 10/02/2017
Writing essay for middle school is the base for an essay on school in higher grades. These middle school essay topics can cover one to five paragraphs, so they don’t need to be too long.
Middle school essay examples include a variety of short essays such as narrative, persuasive and analytical. The middle school essay format is simple and fairly easy to work with on each of these styles.
To write a middle school essay outline the first step is to identify the type of essay you need to write. Usually Middle school essays topics are designed to focus very specifically on a single story or to delve into one particular topic.
The most common type of essay for middle school s usually 5 paragraph essay. Like most essay structures, the 5 paragraph essay uses an introduction, a body and a conclusion. It’s a nice, easy essay format to follow and allows students to focus on the topic they are writing about.
Your introduction is where you present what the middle school essay is about. The introduction will contain a thesis statement. A thesis statement or essay hook is usually one sentence that summarizes the main point of the essay.
The majority of the content will be contained in the body. In the 5 paragraph essay, the body is three paragraphs long. Each paragraph includes one supporting point that provides more information or proof about your thesis statement.
Transition each paragraph in the body into the next. Transition words work well for this and middle school essays are the perfect place for students to practice using their transitions and making sure the essay is easily read.
The conclusion of a short essay should be the most memorable part for a reader. In the conclusion, you summarize the main points of the essay. The conclusion can summarize the introduction or thesis statement by rewording it.
Finally, before turning the middle school essay in, you should proofread it and correct any errors in grammar, spelling and readability.