writing a 5-paragraph essay

One simple method for organizing an essay is the 5-paragraph essay format. Here is an outline. Remember, a paragraph in a student essay is usually 3-5 sentences.

PARAGRAPH ONE: Intro sentence (grabber). Can be a question or a controversial statement. Example: "the Internet is harmful, and should be banned." The next 1-3 sentences can be examples that support the statement: "Intenet sites can be misleading, a waste of time or dangerous." "Young people can be fooled by cybercriminals, agreeing to meet them and then being kidnapped." Thesis sentence (last sentence): "The Internet should be banned because people can get wrong information there, people can waste hours of valuable time surfing the net, and predators can find innocent young people who will fall for their traps." (The thesis is the point you want to prove or disprove).

PARAGRAPH TWO: "People often get completely wrong information on the Internet." The next 1-3 sentneces give examples of wrong  information. These examples can be personal, something from the news, or hypothetical (imaginary possibilities). The last sentence summarizes and transitions to the next paragraph: "Not only is the information too often wrong, it's too easy to waste hours looking up information."

PARAGRAPH THREE: "Have you ever wasted precious time surfing the web?" Then give examples, as in paragraph two, and a transition sentence.

PARAGRAPH FOUR: "The Internet can be dangerous." Then give examples of people who lure young people into dangerous situations, and write a transition sentence.

CONCLUSION: This is the hardest part of the essay to write. You may feel that you've proven your thesis and are ready to wrap it up. But imagine that at least one reader is not convinced. You need to summarize your points and restate your thesis, but not in a boring way. Throw in your strongest example here, to catch the reader's attention before you lose it completely. And end the essay with the "clincher," the sentence in which you prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that your thesis is correct.

As you become more skillful in writing essays, you can try to anticipate common objections and refute them: "Some people say that the Internet is so valuable that it should not be banned, in spite of these drawbacks. But is it worth the risk of one young person being led into danger to keep the Internet available?"

A typical 5-paragraph essay will be about 200-250 words long. If you are writing on a work of literature, you can include quotes from the text to back up your thesis. If you're writing about history, use excerpts of historical documents; if about politics, use quotes from speeches and news releases.

You really can't go wrong with a 5-paragraph essay if you need a quick, short piece of writing with a thesis and proof. It's not all that original, but a decent 5-paragraph essay will do the job.


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