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How To Write a Five Paragraph Essay

Updated on April 11, 2011

Paragraph One

     So you’re ready to write your first paragraph. Unfortunately the first paragraph is the hardest. It is also the most structured. So to make sure that you get a kick-butt first paragraph we will break it down into manageable sections.

     The very first sentence of your essay is important because this is where you must catch the interest of your reader. You can accomplish this by using either a quote, statement, statistic or question. An example of a use of one of these interest catchers can be found in this essay that I wrote on Hurricane Katrina. My first sentence was this: “Over one thousand left people dead; seven hundred people remain missing, over 900,000 people lost power, thousands left without homes.” The use of these statistics, as with any of these openers, should make the reader want to read on and listen to what you have to say.

     The next sentence should introduce your question. Your question will be the driving force behind your thesis statement. These two parts can be thought of as your whole paper. For example your question might be “Are Dogs Better Then Cats?” and your answer could be “Yes”. Once you know your question and your answer you basically have your first paragraph. The only things left to put in are your three ideas that support your answer. So to summarize: first catch interest in the first sentence or two, then find your question and answer it, and last follow up with three supporting ideas. Here is an example of a first paragraph.

     Skin Cancer

     “One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of their lifetime, making it the most common of all form of cancer in the United States (Polsky, Wang). So one of the most relevant questions for Americans could be this; what is the best way to fight skin cancer? This question has two sides, prevention and treatment. To answer this question it is necessary to determine how we get skin cancer as well as the describing the types of skin cancer, before examining how to treat and prevent it.”

Paragraphs Two through Four

     Now that we have gotten the hard part out of the way it is time to get down to writing the meat of your essay. This part should be fairly easy because you have your three supporting ideas already. Each idea should have its own paragraph and at least one of the paragraphs should address the opposing side of the question you are attempting to answer, because if there wasn’t an opposing side to your argument then it wouldn’t be very interesting or hard to argue about would it? So start your second paragraph by restating the idea. You don’t want to copy the same words you originally used because it would be to repetitive, however you do want it to be the same idea. Follow up the idea with several sentances about the idea. Using my example from previously here is my idea (prevention) and my paragraph body.

     “Prevention is the best way to avoid becoming one of the many people who get skin cancer. Simple actions can be performed at anytime to help protect skin against damage. Applying sunscreen before leaving the house, whether it is summer or winter, can be a vital way to protect your skin. Sunscreen protects skin by blocking and scattering the photons that reach your skin. Sunscreen has the added benefit of being label according to levels of protection provided, which allows for greater control over usage by the user who might need stronger protection (Sottery). Clothes are also important for protecting skin because they can provide a basic screen against sunlight. While clothes are not as effective as sunscreen there are companies that now produce special clothes that are designed to be UV resistant (“Skin Cancer Prevention and Early Detection”).”

Final Paragraph

     At this point all that’s left to do is summarize your thesis and wrap up your paper with a final statement. So just reword your thesis and give a few final remarks on what you have concluded about your answer and idea. And that’s all! You have your paper! As a last example:

     “The future of skin cancer treatments looks hopeful; the survivability of the disease is a good indicator that skin cancer has a good chance of becoming nothing more than a routine problem that takes a matter of minutes to remove. The large number of people with skin cancer has lead to much research into prevention and treatment. Skin cancer researchers are already creating lotions that can repair skin damage caused by UV rays (Karow). Specific molecules have now been identified that play a central role in creation and growth of non-melanoma skin cancer.”


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    • visionandfocus profile image

      visionandfocus 6 years ago from North York, Canada

      This was a great analysis. Almost made me wish I had a 5-para essay to write. ;) Voted up!