How to Write a 5 Paragraph Essay: Step-By-Step

Learning how to write a 5 paragraph essay is an important part of learning the English language and developing core writing skills in high school and beyond. 

Five-paragraph essays are a staple of any writer's education. You can use this concept to develop your writing skills before taking on longer essays, articles, blog posts, and more. That's because writing concisely is harder than writing verbosely. 

Now, here's what you should know about how to write a 5 paragraph essay, writing prompts for essays, and frequently asked questions (FAQ). 

What Is a Five-Paragraph Essay? 

How To Write A 5 Paragraph Essay

A 5 paragraph essay format uses an introduction, three main points in the body, and a conclusion paragraph to create a compelling and interesting piece for readers. A five-paragraph essay can be about nearly any topic and is intended to quickly but thoroughly convey a point or opinion to the target audience. 

When Are Five-Paragraph Essays Used? 

Five-paragraph essays are often used by middle and high school students to help develop their academic writing skills. Learning how to write a five-paragraph essay prepares students to write more in depth content in college and beyond.

Types of Essays 

5 paragraph essays
Which type of essay you write depends largely on the assignment

There are a few different types of essays, including but not limited to:  

  • Descriptive essay 
  • Persuasive essay 
  • Expository essay 

Which type of essay you write depends largely on the assignment. Although the chosen topic can differ between types of essays, the same basic five-paragraph structure can be used for each. 

How to Write a 5 Paragraph Essay 

Step 1: Start With Your Essay Outline 

Many people mistakenly assume that essay writing is done from the top down, starting with the introductory sentence and ending with the concluding sentence. However, the outline is the most important thing to start with because it shapes the entire essay. 

Step 2: Write Your Introduction Paragraph 

After your essay outline is done, write the first sentence of your introductory paragraph. This is where you'll grab the reader's attention and introduce them to your main points, essentially glossing over what you're going to be presenting below in your body paragraphs. 

Step 3: Write Your Last Paragraph 

After your first paragraph, your concluding paragraph should be written relatively early during the writing process so you can have a better understanding of how you'll call the reader to action at the end of the essay. Your last sentence should clearly motivate the reader to click, call, or take another action. 

Step 4: Write Your First Body Paragraph 

Your first body paragraph should be as captivating as your introduction paragraph. When you write this next paragraph, be concise while conveying important information to your readers. Don't get too wordy and avoid a restatement of your introduction. 

Step 5: Write Your Supporting Points

The body of the essay should be written next, with supporting paragraphs that clearly outline detailed information that supports your main points. The second paragraph in your essay body should provide more detail, and the third should use compelling information to secure the reader's attention before the conclusion paragraph. 

Step 6: Include Your Background Information 

If you did any type of research during the writing process for your essay, you should include supporting evidence for each source.

Step 7: Proofread Your Entire Essay 

Essay writers should take the time to proofread their entire essay at least once after its completion. Ideally, you will be able to have another person proofread it as well, just to catch any mistakes you may have missed. 

Writing Prompts for 5 Paragraph Essays 

Persuasive Essays 

  • Many people believe elderly drivers should have to reapply for their driver's licenses after losing some of their ability to hear, see, and react in time. Explain your stance on this issue and why. 
  • Write an essay that persuades readers to give up a bad habit that hurts them emotionally, physically, or financially. For example, you could write an essay that imparts the importance of vaccinations or persuades smokers to quit.
  • Should fathers be offered paternity leave after they and their partners have or adopt a baby? Why or why not? Explain your stance. 
  • Write an essay that persuades a college of your choice to admit you based on your experience and credentials. 

Expository Essays 

  • Describe how two individuals with different core ideas and beliefs form an unlikely alliance. 
  • Write about a celebration or event that meant a lot to you as a child or teenager. Describe the event in great detail throughout your essay. 
  • Explain the mechanisms of and available treatments for a particular health issue like heart disease or diabetes. 
  • Explain the meaning of an adjective and give examples of how you learned about the word and what it means to you. 

Narrative Essays 

  • How someone handles a disappointing turn of events tells a lot about that person's character. Describe a time where you felt disappointed by something and how that impacted your character. 
  • Describe how something that changes your life, like moving, changing jobs, or having a baby, impacted you personally. 
  • Describe a valuable lesson from a mentor in your life, such as a teacher, parent, or other role model. 
  • The first time you try a new thing can be both exciting and terrifying. Write about a time where you tried something new, describing the experience in detail and what you learned about yourself from it. 

Final Word on Writing 5 Paragraph Essays 

Writing a five-paragraph essay generally follows the same format no matter the topic. With practice, you can learn to write compelling, descriptive, and well-researched essays that hone your writing skills and improve your understanding of the English language.

FAQ About Writing a 5 Paragraph Essay 

What is the difference between a five-paragraph essay and a persuasive essay? 

A persuasive essay is a type of essay that is intended to lead readers to agree with the author's opinion or take on a particular topic. You can be persuasive in an essay without following the 5 paragraph essay format and you can write a 5 paragraph essay without necessarily being persuasive. 

What are the best essay topics? 

The best essay topics are provocative and thoughtful, ideally bringing new insight to an already established topic or even bringing an entirely new discussion to light. However, the essay topic you choose should correlate with the type of essay you're writing. For example, you wouldn't want to write a descriptive essay about a naturally persuasive topic. 

What are transition words? 

Transition words are words that help readers transition from one thought process to the next. Examples include “additionally,” “consequently,” etc. Transition sentences use transitional words to help paragraphs flow easily from beginning to end, avoiding reader confusion. 

Is there a standardized test on 5 paragraph essays?

Many standardized tests for students across the country require students to write a five-paragraph essay from scratch, or they may be asked several questions about how to format and write one. 

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