A Guide To Writing 5 Paragraph Essays

Here is a guide to writing five paragraph essays. Firstly, you are introduced to why the five paragraph essay is important in a student setting. If you understand the purpose of writing a five paragraph essay beyond getting the information down, then you are better suited to creating a good one. Secondly, this article lists the elements of an essay and how you may approach them.

The hated 5-paragraph essay

Google the term “5 paragraph essay” and you will see lots of articles coming out against them. There are a lot of reasons why they are bad things, but as teaching tools, they do have their benefits. A student is forced to abide by a word count in many cases, and this is partly to help them refine their ideas into a smaller form. It is also to put a limit on how much extraneous information a student gives and stops professors and teachers having to read hundreds of pages every time they set a project. They can be used as good teaching tools.

Why they should be used in schools

It is not so much about teaching them the subject matter, although it happens anyway. It all comes back to limits. A student is not limited by word count. Instead, a student is limited by structure and readability. The structure limit is simple; there are five paragraphs and at least two of them are designated--one for the introduction and one for the conclusion.

Readability is the other limitation, as there is no rule that says you cannot make a paragraph 59,000+ words if you wish. However, it would become harder to read than if a paragraph were (for example) six to ten lines. It is even harder if you are writing content for the Internet as more than four lines starts to become difficult to read.

Readably, structure and limits are a big part of real life, which means that the occasional sprinkling of five paragraph essays is a good thing.

Memorize your essay question and do preliminary

Read your essay question at least two times, and do a little preliminary research to sure-up your ideas. Re-read the essay question as you do your preliminary research and brain storming because it helps you grasp the concept and helps you later during the planning process.


This is the most important element of any essay and it is brushed over by teachers because they are sadists. Well, maybe they aren’t sadists, but it is not drilled into students because they want you to find your own method of writing your essay (or maybe they don’t know the value of the planning portion).

Just to make it clear, anything that happens in life that is not planned is an accident. Bad luck and good luck only exist in the sphere of accidents. People that plan are people that don’t need luck.

How to plan

This is the part you are supposed to figure out yourself, but as a rough guide, you should write a bullet point list of the points you wish to add to your essay. Add a note next to each point for where you may find out more on the subject, such as “page 2-7, OCR textbook.” Put your essay question at the top of your plan, and if there is more than one question, then dedicate your time according to the marks you get for each bit.

For example, there may be 2 marks for background info, but 10 marks for “why xxxxx,” so obviously dedicate more time and resources to the “why” section of the essay.


Does it have to be as brief as your regular essay introduction? Not at all, it is quite okay to give just a little more background info during the introduction. After all, you are limited through structure and not word count, so giving your introduction and fleshing it out to cover things that may come later is okay.


This needs to be in the introduction paragraph. It is okay to put your thesis in other places on other essays, but with the five-paragraph essay, you have limited options.


You have three paragraphs here, so over-write your paragraphs in pretty simple English. Keep referring back to your plan to be sure you are including all the points you know are going to get you those marks. Once your three paragraphs are done, you need to go over them and refine them. Cut away the rough until you are left with pure gold. Do not be afraid to condense it down so long as it makes sense and you are getting your point across. Do not worry about the impact of your words, as this is not a persuasive essay (unless it is).


If you included all the points from your plan, then concluding should be nothing more than concluding on the bullet points in your plan. Start by referring back to your thesis and then go on to conclude on it using the information in your essay. If you added more points than you originally planned, then conclude on them too and bring it all together. If any part of your essay is going to be slightly too long, then this is the part where it is permissible. Just remember to refine it down when you are done--a little like you did with the body of the essay.

Do not forget that refining the work down to its key points whilst making it understandable is a key skill you will need in your future. Whether you are creating a business proposal to hand over to a sexy advisor at HSBC, or are writing an online article where  you are restricted to under 1000 words, refining your points to keep to limits is an important skill to learn.