This handout will assist you to figure out what your college instructors expect when they offer you a writing assignment.

It will inform you how and exactly why to move beyond the five-paragraph essays you learned to publish in senior high school and start writing essays that are more analytical and more flexible.

What is a five-paragraph essay?

Twelfth grade students in many cases are taught to write essays using some variation associated with five-paragraph model. A essay that is five-paragraph hourglass-shaped: it starts with something general, narrows down in the middle to go over specifics, and then branches out to more general comments at the end. In a classic five-paragraph essay, the very first paragraph starts with an over-all statement and ends with a thesis statement containing three “points”; each body paragraph discusses some of those “points” in turn; additionally the final paragraph sums up what the student has written.

Why do high schools teach the model that is five-paragraph?

The five-paragraph model is an excellent way to learn to write an academic essay. It’s a simplified type of academic writing that will require you to state a thought and support it with evidence. Setting a limit of five paragraphs narrows your options and forces you to definitely master the basic principles of organization. Furthermore—and for a lot of high school teachers, this is basically the crucial issue—many mandatory end-of-grade writing tests and college admissions exams such as the SAT II writing test reward writers who follow the essay format that is five-paragraph.

Writing a essay that is five-paragraph like riding a bicycle with training wheels; it is a device that can help you learn. That doesn’t mean you should put it to use forever. Once you can write well without it, it is possible to cast it well and not look back.

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The way in which college instructors teach is probably different from everything you experienced in high school, and so is what they expect away from you.

While senior high school courses tend to focus on the who, what, when, and where for the plain things you study—”just the important points”—college courses ask you to think about the how as well as the why. You certainly can do very well in twelfth grade by studying hard and memorizing a complete lot of facts. Although college instructors still expect you to understand the facts, they really worry about the manner in which you analyze and interpret those facts and exactly why you imagine those facts matter. Once you know what college instructors are seeking, you can view some of the factors why essays that are five-paragraph work very well for college writing:

  • Five-paragraph essays often do a job that is poor of up a framework, or context, that will help the reader determine what the writer is attempting to state. Students learn in twelfth grade that their introduction should begin with something general. College instructors call these “dawn of time” introductions. As an example, a student asked to go over what causes the Hundred Years War might begin, “Since the dawn of time, humankind happens to be suffering from war.” The student would fare better with a far more concrete sentence directly related to what she or he is planning to say in the remaining portion of the paper—for example, a sentence such as “In the first 14th century, a civil war broke out in Flanders that will soon threaten Western Europe’s balance of power. in a college course” Before you turn in the final draft if you are accustomed to writing vague opening lines and need them to get started, go ahead and write them, but delete them. For more on this subject, see our handout on introductions.
  • Five-paragraph essays often lack a disagreement. Because college courses concentrate on analyzing and interpreting instead of on memorizing, college instructors expect writers not only to know the known facts but additionally to create a quarrel concerning the facts. The very best five-paragraph essays may do this. However, the normal essay that is five-paragraph a “listing” thesis, for instance, “I will show how the Romans lost their empire in Britain and Gaul by examining military technology, religion, and politics,” as opposed to an argumentative one, as an example, “The Romans lost their empire in Britain and Gaul because their opponents’ military technology swept up using their own at exactly the same time as religious upheaval and political conflict were weakening the sense of common purpose on the home front.” To get more on this subject, see our handout on argument.
  • Five-paragraph essays tend to be repetitive. Writers who stick to the five-paragraph model tend to repeat sentences or phrases through the introduction in topic sentences for paragraphs, instead of writing topic sentences that tie their three “points” together into a coherent argument. Repetitive writing does help to move n’t a disagreement along, plus it’s no fun to read through.
  • Five-paragraph essays often lack “flow.” Five-paragraph essays often don’t make transitions that are smooth one considered to the next. The “listing” thesis statement encourages writers to take care of each paragraph and its own main idea as a entity that is separate instead of to attract connections between paragraphs and ideas to be able to develop a quarrel.
  • Five-paragraph essays often have weak conclusions that merely summarize what’s gone before and don’t say anything new or interesting. Inside our handout on conclusions, these“that’s are called by us my story and I’m adhering to it” conclusions: they are doing absolutely nothing to engage readers and work out them glad they read the essay. Most of us can remember an introduction and three body paragraphs without a repetitive summary at the end to aid us out.
  • Five-paragraph essays don’t have any counterpart into the world that is real. Read your newspaper that is favorite or; look through the readings your professors assign you; listen to political speeches or sermons. Is it possible to find something that looks or sounds like a five-paragraph essay? One of the important skills that college can teach you, far beyond the subject case of any particular course, is just how to communicate persuasively in every situation that comes your way. The five-paragraph essay is too rigid and simplified to match most real-world situations.
  • Perhaps most significant of most: in a essay that is five-paragraph form controls content, with regards to must be the other way around. Students begin with a plan for organization, in addition they force their suggestions to fit it. On the way, their ideas that are perfectly good mangled or lost.

Let’s take a good example predicated on our handout on thesis statements. Suppose you’re taking a United States History class, and the professor asks you to publish a paper on this topic:

    Compare and contrast the reasons why the North and South fought the Civil War.

Alex, preparing to write her first college history paper, chooses to write a five-paragraph essay, the same as she learned in senior high school. She begins by thinking, “What are three points I’m able to talk about to compare the good reasons the North and South fought the Civil War?” She does a brainstorming that is little and she says, “Well, in class, my professor talked in regards to the economy, politics, and slavery. I guess i could do a paper about this.” So she is written by her introduction:

    A civil war occurs when two sides in one country become so angry at each other that they turn to violence. The Civil War between North and South was a conflict that is major nearly tore apart the young united states of america. The North and South fought the Civil War for a lot of reasons. These reasons were the same, but in other cases they were very different in some cases. In this paper, i shall compare and contrast these good reasons by examining the economy, politics, and slavery.

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