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NOTE: Not all teachers like this approach to writing because they feel it stifles creativity and is too structured. I have found that strong writers do not like this approach and are capable of creating their own organizational pattern that works well for them. However, I have also found that struggling writers enjoy this approach because of its structure, and I have seen great improvement in their writing. It seems to be very beneficial to students with learning disabilities and those who are learning English as a second language.

TRADITIONAL
FIVE PARAGRAPH ESSAY

This approach is meant for essays only. It is not meant for personal narratives, stories, or any other type of writing that does not lend itself to a strict structure.

In this approach, there are five paragraphs. The first is the lead, the middle three make up the body, and the fifth is the conclusion. The purpose of this approach is develop the body of an essay with specific details. Below is an explanation of each paragraph.

Lead Paragraph

This is the attention-getter, or hook. Any type of lead that is appropriate for the essay may be used. The lead must be at least three sentences long. It also needs to directly relate to the body of the essay.

Body Paragraph 1

This paragraph is the first of the body paragraphs. There should be some type of transition to connect the lead paragraph to it. It should also contain a topic sentence the states the main idea of the paragraph. There should be a least four more sentences containing specific details that support the main idea of the paragraph. The paragraph should end with a good closing sentence.

Body Paragraph 2

This paragraph is the second of the body paragraphs. There should be some type of transition to connect the second body paragraph to it. It should also contain a topic sentence the states the main idea of the paragraph. There should be a least four more sentences containing specific details that support the main idea of the paragraph. The paragraph should end with a good closing sentence.

Body Paragraph 3

This paragraph is the third of the body paragraphs. There should be some type of transition to connect the second body paragraph to it. It should also contain a topic sentence the states the main idea of the paragraph. There should be a least four more sentences containing specific details that support the main idea of the paragraph. The paragraph should end with a good closing sentence.

Conclusion Paragraph

This paragraph ties everything together. Any type of conclusion that is appropriate for the essay may be used. A transition is needed at the beginning of the paragraph to bridge the third body paragraph to it. It must be at least three sentences long and directly relate to the body of the essay.

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5-Paragraph Essay Graphic Organizer (PDF)

 

Sites with Other Five Paragraph Essay Ideas

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The Five Paragraph Essay -- found at University of St. Thomas

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Expanded Five Paragraph Essay -- an excellent example found at Glendale Community College

 

 

 

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This site last updated 14 November 2007.

External links last verified 2 September 2007.

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