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5-paragraph essay: a guide

As you probably know, an essay is a text which develops a specific topic, an idea or an opinion in a few paragraphs. One of the most common modalities of this type of writing is the 5-paragraph essay. In these 5 paragraphs, the author intends to provide arguments to support a thesis statement which, sometimes, can be a complicated task. A good 5-paragraph essay should be able to explain a full topic or provide full arguments for an opinion in a small number of sentences, which demands good synthesizing skills by the writer. Usually, at school and college, this is one of the formats most widely required by teachers as an assessment for their courses. In this article, we present some information about this type of essay and recommendations to help students to master this format.


The structure of a 5-paragraph essay is similar to any other essay, as it is constituted by three main parts: an introduction, a development section or body, and a conclusion. In a 5-paragraph essay, paragraph number 1 is devoted to the introduction; paragraphs 2,3 and 4 are the body, and the last paragraph is the conclusion. This means that the introduction and conclusion of your essay will be very short: again, you need to put some effort into your synthesizing skills!

The body is the lengthiest section, as it develops all the arguments to support your thesis statement. In a 5-paragraph essay, the body consists of 3 paragraphs, each of them developing one single main idea. In short, you should develop only 3 arguments for your topic, so that the essay is not too dense. The main goal for this type of text is to present clear ideas to the reader, and not a bunch of arguments or opinions that can saturate the essay and obscure the easy understanding of the author’s point of view.

The thesis statement

The thesis statement is the main idea, your opinion regarding the topic. It has to be only one sentence that summarizes your position regarding the central theme of your essay. A good way of figuring out your thesis statement is by asking yourself one question that is the elemental inquiry of your essay, then transform the answer to that question into your thesis statement. 

Where do we find the thesis statement in a 5-paragraph essay? In the introduction. Usually, the last line of the introductory paragraph constitutes the thesis statement of the essay. We recommend that you take a look at different essays of this format and pay attention to the last sentence of the first paragraph in each of them, and try to identify the thesis statement.

The challenges of the concluding paragraph

This is often the most challenging paragraph to write in a 5-paragraph essay. It requires that the writer re-states the thesis statement and shows how the point was proved throughout the body. Usually, the writer mentions the 3 main arguments or ideas presented above in the body paragraphs and offers a reflection about them. The closing sentence should be clear and attractive enough to make your reader feel that you have successfully accomplished to prove your point!

Finally, we suggest that you check out examples of this type of essay and practice by writing about a topic that you feel confident about. The more you practice to synthesize your ideas, the easiest will be to develop body paragraphs that are clear to your audience. Keep it simple, avoid fancy words and long sentences. As the last step, we always suggest that you revise your text beforehand: a second reading could make a change and improve some mistakes you could have missed out at first sight.