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5-paragraph essay: how to cover the topic in 5 paragraphs and correctly organize them
5-paragraph essay, essay writing

5-paragraph essay: how to cover the topic in 5 paragraphs and correctly organize them

Jan 06, 2013
Writing was considered an art, a gift and a talent that people were born with, totally ignoring the fact that we take about a year to speak anything that makes sense and a year more to be able to write anything that others can understand and probably many years more to master it. With time people understood it's a skill that can be acquired and a technical ability that can be learnt. This understanding brought writing as a skill that needs to be taught into schools and essay writing as a competency that every student is expected to have.
There are different frameworks on how to build an essay, but the most popular methodology is the 5-paragraph essay. There is a school of thought that says just pen the thoughts as they flow. Although honest, such an approach can often lead to disorganized writing that can be a pain to the reader to follow and understand. A better way is to think through the topic and organize the thoughts to fit the 5-paragraph essay model. Let's begin with what the five paragraphs should comprise of.

Paragraph 1: Introduction

The purpose of the introduction paragraph is to give an idea to the reader on what you are going to write about, the need for the writing and what the reader will gain out of it. This can vary slightly depending on the topic and the target readers.
You either grab the attention of the reader that lasts till the end or lose it forever in the first few lines of your essay. To create a positive impact, start with a startling fact, an introspective question or a strong opinion. Then state the central idea by elaborating on the title in a couple of sentences. End the paragraph with a transition line that shifts the reader seamlessly into the second paragraph.
Some good starts include 'The world would've ended but for the audacious Egyptian civilization's constructions...', 'The immigrants into US increase by over 10% every year, that's 3 million every year' and 'Does capital punishment really help prevent crime?', etc.

Paragraph 2: The strongest point

This paragraph is the soul of your essay, the make or break instrument that should ensure the reader is exposed to the strongest point in support of your thesis. It should contain a strong example with arguments or supporting information to establish the point. Once the point is put across, it is critical to support it with credible data. If possible, provide alternate examples from different domains to emphasize on the validity of your point. It should end by widening the essay to bring in your second strongest point.

Paragraph 3: The supporting points

If the reader has reached this paragraph, you have won three-fourths of your battle. The strength of the above paragraph would've pumped the adrenaline in your reader and they are now eager and waiting for you to continue the story. Here, you provide the readers with a couple more points that are different from your strongest point but are connected closely to your thesis. Follow the same framework you used in the second paragraph as the reader is now accustomed to it and is tuned towards the pattern. It also gives your essay a strong structure and a smooth flow.
It is imperative that the supporting points are not stronger than the point in the second paragraph, else, you are taking too long to build the momentum and that will mean either your essay will reach an abrupt end or will be too lengthy.

Paragraph 4: The counter examples

It is always important to give the impression to the reader that you are open minded, that you have done your research, weighted the options and have reached the logical conclusion to state your thesis. What will help here is stating counter examples to your points and crisply explaining why your points are still valid. This will add credibility to the thesis and will bake it optimally for the reader's consumption. Important it is not to overdo this as it can divert the attention of the reader. A good balance is to keep this paragraph to four to five sentences.

Paragraph 5: Conclusion

By now, your victory is complete and you would like to state it to the reader. A good way is to summarize quickly and crisply the central idea by paraphrasing your introductory thesis statement. Put together your conclusions in a simple, clear and convincing manner. Moreover, you would want the reader to leave with certain thoughts and ideas on your thesis subject. End your essay by triggering these thoughts through a subtle sentence or a remark.

Points to remember:

  • Ensure smooth transition between paragraphs. Understand the reader may not anticipate what is coming next, and hence a sudden change in tone, a contrasting point or an abrupt example will disrupt the flow and confuse the reader.
  • Use active voice throughout your essay and avoid using 'I' unless it is a narrative. It is the best style to grab the attention of the reader.
  • Once done, check for redundancy, grammar and consistency in approach.
  • Conclusion is critical; it is what will make the last impression and is necessary to bind your article together. Don't rush through it and ensure it is tight and not too elaborate.
  • Ensure you provide counter examples and use them to diffuse any counter arguments so that your points are put across and the reader is convinced with your viewpoints. Else the essay can come out as one-sided.
Following this framework is a guideline and not a rule. This is more of a skeleton for your essay and would stand for nothing if you do not brainstorm in advance, prioritize your points and put your thoughts together to bind it into a beautiful story. Practicing essay writing on various diverse topics is a good way of building your confidence and your skill and with time, writing essays will be an easy task and following the framework a mere habit.
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