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5 Paragraph Essay

Teacher/Instructor Katie Aquino
Katie Aquino

Writing, Grammar, Literature, ACT Prep
Education: M.Ed.,Stanford University

Katie is an enthusiastic teacher who strives to make connections between literature and student’s every day lives.

Five paragraph essays are one of the most common essay formats. Five paragraph essays are comprised of an introduction, 3 body paragraphs and conclusion. One trick to remember is that the thesis statement always goes at the end of the introductory paragraph.

I want to talk about the most basic of essays and that's the 5 Paragraph Essay. You're probably going to be expected at some point in high school to produce on of these and the basic format of a 5 Paragraph Essay is an introduction, typically it has a three pronged thesis, which means your thesis statement will have a list of three things that you're going to talk about, then you'll have body paragraph One that will talk about the first thing in your list, body paragraph two that will talk about the second, body paragraph three that'll talk about the third, and you'll finish with a conclusion.
Now hopefully at some point in your high school career your push be on the 5 Paragraph but this is a great starting point, so let's talk about some tips for getting this done. So a couple of things you should know about the 5 Paragraph Essay, the thesis always belongs at the end of your introduction and I don't mean almost the end, I mean the end. I'm okay with thesis statements being two sentences if they need to be, but those two sentences or the one sentence needs to be the last sentence of your introduction.
Then each body paragraph should clearly relate to your thesis, so you should lead off those body paragraphs with a reference to the thesis so it's clear how everything fits together. And then finally, the analysis in each body paragraph should connect back to that larger claim as well. So it's clear to everybody who reads your paper, where this is going and how it fits in to the argument. Now like I said the 5 Paragraph Essay is that basic starting point. So I want to show you one quick trick for really pushing yourself on to the next level and I call it the umbrella trick.
Alright, so imagine you're writing an essay about the Vietnam war and in fact I'm going to get a little bit more specific. Mohammed Ali's protest of the Vietnam War, so if I were sitting down to write that and I did it in the typical three prong fashion, I might say "Ali's protest to the Vietnam war gave African Americans a voice, encouraged activism in their community and focus national attention on racial inequality." So those are three really great things and I could lay them out in a list and my thesis statement. But if I wanted to push it a little bit further and perhaps include some more information not be locked into that 5 Paragraph format.
I'm going to umbrella statement that, and what that means is I'm going to come up with a statement that I fit in here that encompasses these three things and doesn't necessarily lock me into three paragraphs. So I might say something like "Ali's protest of the Vietnam War helped to give the African American community a voice by encouraging activism and focusing national attention on racial equality. So it's not laid out in such a list for you and that would be what I put up here in the umbrella and it would give me a little bit more flexibility in terms of the number of paragraphs I could put in there because people aren't necessarily expecting it to be just 5 Paragraphs.
So hopefully this gave you some good pointers on writing this 5 Paragraph Essay and getting started.