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How to Write a Good 5-Paragraph Essay With Tips, Outline, and Sample

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Written by
Dr. Simon Robbins
  • Icon Calendar 18 May 2024
  • Icon Page 2891 words
  • Icon Clock 14 min read

Writing academic papers is an essential exercise in academics. In this case, learning how to write a 5-paragraph essay refers to compositions that contain an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Basically, the opening passage contains background information on the topic considered. This part should start with a catchphrase, attracting readers’ attention and including a thesis statement that guides the entire composition. Then, the first body section supports the central claim. The second passage refutes the main perspective, while the third one gives credible refutations. In turn, the three parts must follow a sandwich rule, which allows learners to organize ideas in chronological order. Also, students must use credible scholarly evidence to support different claims. In turn, the conclusion restates the thesis and summarizes the main substantiations presented in the good 5-paragraph essay. The closing part does not entail new evidence or citations.     

General Guidelines on How to Write a Five-Paragraph Essay

Lecturers require students to write essays during their studies. Basically, writing a 5-paragraph essay contributes towards the total grades scored every semester and allows learners to gain practical writing skills. In this case, effective essays must communicate ideas and arguments. Also, a five-paragraph essay contains three main parts that enhance the flow of ideas presented. Writers use the introduction to provide brief explanations of significant ideas, discussions, and concepts. In practice, operational opening paragraphs contain a central claim. In turn, a thesis statement guides the other sections of a composition. For instance, body subsections contain detailed information supporting fundamental applications. Besides, the closing section reaffirms the thesis statement and summarizes central arguments without introducing new concepts.  

How to write a 5 paragraph essay

Definition of a 5-Paragraph Essay

A five-paragraph essay presents credible arguments supporting specific opinions. Basically, the composition contains three main parts that enhance the organization of main ideas. In this case, the opening paragraph gives an overview of the purpose and objective of writing. Besides, this part contains a debatable thesis statement, which states the primary writer’s thoughts. Then, three body paragraphs contain the primary evidence, counterarguments, and refutations. For example, counterclaims present ideas that oppose the central argument while revealing significant weaknesses of the opposing views. Also, the last paragraph restates the thesis statement and summarizes the main concepts addressed. Therefore, a 5-paragraph essay contains an introduction, three body sections, and a summative ending.

Argumentative Five-Paragraph Essay

Argumentative essays contain five paragraphs. In this case, the primary goal of a writer is to justify the validity of a specific argument. Also, one should consider the different perspectives, relating e to the selected topic. For instance, students gather adequate evidence to support the most credible argument and possible refutations. Besides, writers must show the weakness of rebuttal claims presented. In turn, the main goal is to show that only one perspective remains valid when compared to other compelling aspects. Therefore, a 5-paragraph argumentative essay seeks to prove the validity of a specific argument that relates to the selected topic.  

Writing a 5-Paragraph Essay Outline


The paragraph gives a summary of the topic under consideration. The opening section provides the direction for the composition.

Thesis statement: The thesis statement gives the main central points. In this case, writers use the thesis to present a unique point of view.

Body Paragraph 1: Main Idea

This section of a 5-paragraph essay contains the main ideas, supporting the thesis statement.

  • Opening sentence – This sentence contains the concept discussed in the paragraph. In particular, the topic sentence must connect to the central argument presented in the thesis statement.
  • Supporting evidence – The second sentence in a paragraph contains credible evidence obtained from credible sources. In this case, writers present substantiation that supports the topic sentence. Also, operational compositions include accurate citations.
  • Explanation of evidence – Writers provide an adequate account of the cited information. In turn, satisfactory clarifications make a paragraph plausible. 
  • Another supporting evidence – One should provide a sentence that supports the topic sentence of this paragraph. In particular, this sentence should have an in-text citation.
  • Description of the second supportive statement – This sentence must contain an adequate and clear explanation of the cited information.
  • The third point supporting the topic sentence in the section – Students must provide accurate and relevant substantiations. In this case, a correct citation should help the paraphrased information.  
  • Adequate supporting of the topic should follow the third claim – Authors must ensure that explanations provided support the main ideas discussed in the first passage.
  • Transitional sentence – The last sentence should summarize the main ideas discussed and link the paragraph to the next section.  

Body Paragraph 2: Counterargument

This section of a 5-paragraph essay contains the main counterargument for the thesis statement.

  • Topic sentence – Writers provide the main argument to oppose the thesis statement. Basically, the counterclaim guides the evidence provided in this paragraph.
  • The first supporting evidence – This statement supports the opposing assertion. Also, this sentence must contain an accurate in-text citation.
  • Expounding on evidence – Students should expound on the evidence presented to oppose the central argument in the 5-paragraph essay. The main goal is to ensure that readers appreciate the credibility of contrasting thoughts.   
  • The second supporting suggestion – This sentence should explain the weakness in the thesis statement presented in the 5-paragraph essay. Besides, accurate in-text citations allow authors to substantiate the perspective that the central claims in the compositions do not hold.   
  • The third substantiation – One should explain how the counterclaims merge the knowledge gap in the central justifications presented in the first paragraph. Also, in-text citations make this validation reliable.
  • Closing remarks – Authors should summarize counterarguments and provide a link to the next paragraph.

Body Paragraph 3: Rebuttal

The refutation section reveals that counterarguments provided fail to reject the thesis statement.

  • Topic sentence – This phrase refutes counterarguments while affirming the thesis statement provided in the 5-paragraph essay.
  • The first rebuttal – Writers must show that the counterclaims provided in the 5-paragraph essay do not hold.
  • Supporting evidence from credible sources – It convinces the target audience that counterarguments appear weaker than the main ideas presented.
  • Explanation – Students provide clear and accurate explanations for the first supporting evidence.
  • The second suggestion – It should reveal the weakness in the negations provided in the previous section to show the significant gap in the thesis statement. Also, one must give clear evidence to show that the central claims remain valid.
  • Opposition – One should oppose the third substantiation provided to support counterclaims. In this case, the primary goal is to show that divergent arguments do not merge the knowledge gap in the study.
  • Summarizing – The last sentence should summarize rebuttals by affirming the credibility of central arguments provided in the 5-paragraph essay.


Writers need to restate the thesis statement provided in the introductory paragraph. Moreover, closing remarks contain a summary of the main arguments presented in body paragraphs.

Writing A 5-Paragraph Essay

I. Introduction Part

The introduction begins with an intriguing opening phrase. Basically, the first sentence in the introductory paragraph should grab the reader’s attention. In this case, a writer must make a practical choice of words that can motivate the target audience to have the urge to read through the 5-paragraph essay. Therefore, the first line of the introduction paragraph should contain catchphrases.

The introduction should provide adequate background information about the topic. For instance, the author should begin with the broad concepts that relate to the primary subject under discussion. Also, relevant details ensure that readers develop a clear interpretation of the topic. In turn, academic guidelines do not require learners to cite information presented in the opening section. However, students need to summarize the main arguments presented in some relevant academic sources. Therefore, the introduction should give adequate background information on the topic.

The last sentence in the introduction should contain the central argument. For instance, a thesis statement expresses the main ideas for the persuasive 5-paragraph essay. In particular, students must make a specific statement that summarizes the points discussed in the body of the five-paragraph essay. Also, strong central claims provide a direct answer to the research question. In turn, the following points make the thesis statement useful:

  • Specific information – One should avoid broad claims by identifying precise facts that relate to a topic.
  • Answering the question “how?” – In this case, writers should avoid words like “can” when writing the thesis statement to ensure that readers do not raise unnecessary questions.
  • Making a debatable claim in the thesis statement – One can support arguable assertions from different points of view.
  • Readers’ point of view – Writers should avoid making claims that interest them. As a rule, an author should consider if the target audience should care about the writing.
  • Developing valid central claims – Scholars achieve this objective by ensuring that a thesis statement provides a new but unique perspective to the topic in question.
  • Strong thesis statement – It acts as the point of reference for the entire 5-paragraph essay.  

The introduction should be approximately 10% of the entire paper. For example, writers should not use a large section when writing a 5-paragraph essay. In this case, successful students provide only adequate background information. In turn, avoiding a lot of information in this section makes essays appear balanced.

II. Body Part

Body paragraphs should support the thesis statement provided in the introduction section. For instance, one must ensure that each section gives details that relate to the central claims. In particular, writers must gather adequate evidence to support the topic and claims made. Moreover, scholarly sources contain credible facts that allow writers to substantiate their perspectives. Therefore, body paragraphs of a 5-paragraph essay must follow a specific format to present evidence and facts that advance the topic. Also, all body paragraphs must follow the sandwich rule to meet academic standards. In turn, the following points elucidate on the sandwich rule:

1. Topic Sentence

Each body paragraph should start with a topic sentence. The first line contains a claim that relates to the thesis statement. Basically, a writer must ensure that the assertion catches the reader’s attention. As a rule, students communicate the point that they wish to make in supporting the topic. Therefore, the sandwich rule requires one to make a central claim that relates to the subject.

The topic sentence allows scholars to use adequate facts to support them. In practice, topic sentences should contain reasonable opinions that can motivate people to connect with the central claim. Also, academic standards require authors to give a general statement that expresses the overall subject and answers the question under consideration. However, the phrase must be specific enough to ensure that readers understand the central theme and point presented in the section.

The topic sentence should guide the evidence presented in the specific section. For instance, the first sentence should guide the writer on the most appropriate evidence to include. As a rule, one should not involve additional assertions in a paragraph. Therefore, the topic sentence should direct the information that a writer provides in every subsection.

2. Supporting Evidence

Supporting evidence must follow the topic sentence in every paragraph. Some examples of evidence include supporting details, illustrations, testimonies, and in-text citations. In this case, a writer must come up with evidence to substantiate the introductory sentence. Moreover, sufficient supporting information should support the main idea in the section directly. In practice, readers should feel that the substantiations relate to the direction taken in the paragraph.

The evidence sentence should have an accurate citation. Essays that meet academic standards should have in-text citations in their second sentences. In particular, providing the exact location of the evidence makes a composition more credible. Also, such details include the page number for books and journal articles and paragraph numbers for websites. Hence, the sandwich rule requires one to provide cited evidence in the second sentence of a paragraph.

Paragraphs in a five-paragraph argumentative essay should have a maximum of three in-text citations. A writer must gather evidence from scholarly sources that support the ideas presented. In practice, authors can provide a minimum of one in-text citation. Moreover, the strategy ensures that one gives convincing details to the audience. Hence, the sandwich rule requires one to use a maximum of three and a minimum of one in-text citation.    

3. Analysis of Evidence

The third sentence in a paragraph should contain an accurate analysis of evidence. In this case, a writer must explain how the information cited relates to the introductory sentences of the paragraph. Besides, adequate explanations reveal the connection between the evidence and the research question. In turn, some of the factors that authors should consider during the evaluation of the evidence include:

  • How does the article support the thesis statement?
  • Why was the article selected as the most suitable source of information when compared to other sources?
  • How does the cited information make one’s argument credible?
  • Can omitting the evidence hurt the credibility of your main arguments?

The above questions allow writers to determine the most appropriate article or journal to use for the in-text citation. One must use the most persuasive evidence available for supporting the central arguments. Therefore, the sandwich rule requires writers to give adequate explanations to the evidence presented by considering how to write a 5-paragraph essay.

4. Transition

The last sentence in a paragraph should contain a summary and transitional elements. Basically, one should summarize the main arguments without introducing new ideas. In this case, the strategy ensures that a 5-paragraph essay contains a suitable closure to a section. Then, the closure element provides a link between passages. Besides, transitions provide an adequate flow of ideas in the composition. Hence, effective paragraphs end with summative and transitioning phrases.

Writes should remember that the closing sentence should be the most informative part of a body paragraph. For example, one evaluates the necessary evidence before providing the ending section of a 5-paragraph essay. In this case, the unique familiarity with concepts should allow one to make a statement that offers adequate support to the thesis statement. Moreover, academic standards require authors to develop an ending account that enables readers to understand the arguments in the paragraph. In turn, successful writers must avoid restating the thesis statement or topic sentence. Therefore, the last line in a passage must contain the most plausible evidence that supports the topic.

III. Conclusion Part

The body section should end with a concluding paragraph, which restates the thesis statement and summarizes the main ideas presented throughout writing a 5-paragraph essay. In particular, the last part of an article should give a reworded thesis. Also, one should not copy and paste the previous sentence in the introduction when writing a closing sentence for a 5-paragraph essay. In this case, practical ending sections summarize the main thoughts and explanations given in the body sections. Basically, including new evidence in this part makes the entire work to appear vague. In turn, competent writers should restrict the essay to facts presented throughout the work. Therefore, a five-paragraph essay must end with a paragraph that restates the thesis statement and summarizes the main ideas presented in the masterpiece.

Sample of a 5-Paragraph Essay

The file on a 5-paragraph essay example organized in MLA is about the topic “Digital Transformation of Learning.” This sample follows the structure discussed above.

Main Things to Remember

One must remember the following things when preparing a 5-paragraph essay.

  • The main body, counterargument, and rebuttal paragraphs must follow a similar pattern. In this case, three sections must utilize the sandwich rule fully.  
  • One should use a third-person narrative format. Also, academic standards discourage students from using first- or second-person language in essays.
  • The introductory and concluding paragraphs should not contain citations. Basically, these sections include supporting details provided in the essay.
  • Introduction and conclusion parts do not follow the sandwich rule when compared to other body paragraphs.
  • Students must revise the thesis statement after completing writing a 5-paragraph essay to ensure that it captures all the main points connected to topic sentences of paragraphs.
  • A rebuttal paragraph may support some aspects of the counterargument. However, the refutation should affirm the thesis statement while showing the major weakness in the counterclaims.
  • Writers must revise their essays to ensure that they meet the necessary academic standards.  

Differences in Various Academic Levels

An argumentative 5-paragraph essay follows the same format at different academic levels. High school, college, university, and master’s students must include the initial, central claims, counterclaims, rebuttals, and concluding sections. However, the complexity of the thesis statement varies from one academic category to the other. In turn, master’s writers should make central claims that show a high level of critical thinking.

Summing Up on How to Write a 5-Paragraph Essay

A 5-paragraph essay contains an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. In particular, the introduction gives background information about the topic under consideration. Besides, it includes a thesis statement that guides the entire composition. Then, the first body section supports the central claim. In this case, the second passage refutes the main perspective, while the third one gives credible refutations. Moreover, these three parts of a body paragraph must follow a sandwich rule, which allows learners to organize ideas in a logical order. This method supports the use of credible scholarly evidence to support different claims. In turn, the concluding section must restate the main arguments and summarize the main substantiations presented when writing a 5-paragraph essay. Besides, the closing part does not entail new evidence or citations.

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