High-school and college professors give different writing tasks to students. The goal of these assignments is to teach students structured writing and encourage them to express their thoughts and knowledge in a logical way.

One of such writing tasks is a five-paragraph essay. Not sure what it is?

Here's the only guide you need on how to write a five-paragraph essay and deliver a top-notch result.

What is a Five-Paragraph Essay?

A five-paragraph essay is an essay format consisting of five components - an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. You can also come across such notions as a three-tier, one-three-one, or hamburger essay - all of them describe the same format.

Why is this assignment important?

The format of a five paragraph essay teaches the basic rules of college writing. The three body sections require a student to do short but in-depth research, preparing them for more complicated tasks, such as a thesis or a research paper.

Now, let's take a look at the components of this essay type and figure out how to write it.

Five-Paragraph Essay Outline

As we mentioned, the five-paragraph essay has a very specific structure. Here it is in detail, along with the most crucial requirements to follow for each section.

  • In this part, your task is to get the reader's attention, uncover the most important ideas your essay will touch upon, and provide a thesis statement.
  • This is a big section divided into three parts, and it explores the topic idea by idea.
    • First body paragraph. Describe the first idea, introduce its roots, and explain how it supports your thesis.
    • Second body paragraph. Introduce the second point you want to make, discuss how it is related to your thesis.
    • Third body paragraph. Here, you explore the third idea and explain what relation it has to your thesis and why.
  • This is the final section that reiterates the thesis and the ideas introduced throughout the essay.

As you can see, the five-paragraph essay outline is pretty straightforward. But what does it actually look like in practice?

Here's an example to give you an idea (you can find more by visiting a website of a college paper writing service). Let's the topic is The Importance of Time Management, so the outline will look something like this:

  • Why is it important to know how to manage time in this day and age?
  • Three ideas supporting the importance of time management.
    • First body paragraph. What is time management? Who needs it and why?
    • Second body paragraph. What skills does time management entail? How does one learn them?
    • Third body paragraph. Why is it hard for some to master time management?
  • The main outtakes of why time management matters and how to learn it.

That's it. You don't have to add anything else to write a five-paragraph essay, its structure is quite clear and simple. However, there are still some limitations to this essay type. Let's take a quick look at them in the next section.

Limitations of the Five-Paragraph Essay

The five-paragraph essay example above illustrates well how this assignment can teach students structured writing. However, its format is also its biggest limitation. Let us explain to you why.

When you have to follow a strict structure, it limits your ability to express your thoughts. In other words, by giving you this assignment, your professors put form before content. Unfortunately, it results in repetitiveness and the illusion of informative writing.


Also, since the five-paragraph format is limited, it doesn't give you enough space for in-depth research. Such essays often scratch the surface but don't present anything of real value. Essentially, you're molding the general ideas into something seemingly valuable instead of giving a student a chance to explore their opinions and reactions to the topics.

Nevertheless, the five-paragraph essay is still a good way to teach students solid writing skills, especially if they have little to no experience in academic writing. 

Useful Tips

Now that you know everything about the five-paragraph essay structure, let's move on to the ideas on how to improve the final result. Here are some recommendations that will help you get a better grade.

1)   Extend the outline

Yes, we said that a five-paragraph essay has a specific structure you cannot deviate from, but it's not our point. To help yourself speed up the writing process, you can extend your outline a bit - it will guide you through the main points you want to present in your essay.

For instance, you can include more details in each body paragraph by creating bullet lists. It will help you not deviate from the main topic and provide strong points to support the thesis.

2)   Use clear language

Five-paragraph essays can take any form, but they are often descriptive, which means that you have to explain something from your own point of view. However, professors can also ask you to craft an argumentative five-paragraph essay to assess your critical thinking skills.

Either way, make sure to use clear language that doesn't confuse the reader. Remember - you're trying to explain something, so the reader should receive the answer to their question after reading your essay.

3)   Include transition sentences

Finally, you want to create a clear flow in your essay to help the reader follow your arguments. You can achieve it by creating transition sentences after each paragraph, giving a sneak peek of what's in store for the reader next.

Format of a Five-Paragraph Essay

What is a five paragraph essay? Why is it important?

We've answered these questions, and now let's reiterate the structure of this essay format. We've prepared a handy little graph that you can download and use at any moment you receive such an assignment.


What is important to reiterate is that you should maintain coherence and create transitions throughout the essay.


So, there's nothing really difficult about writing a five-paragraph essay; you just have to follow the structure. Start with an intro, present your thesis, follow by showcasing three main ideas to support your thesis, and finish by summarizing all your points.

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