5 paragraph essay outline

How To Write A 5 Paragraph Essay

Smartest writing strategies for a stellar essay

If you are a student, chances are you’ve already been given a five paragraph essay assignment. Such essays are pretty standardized themselves or are a part of a standardized test. Some argue that such a way of writing leads students into thinking inside the box. However, it is a very convenient way to evaluate a student’s writing prowess and logical thinking. Even if the words “standardized essay” seem frightening, fear not: here we discuss in depth the strategies for writing and polishing such an essay.

First of all, you need to understand what kind of paper your instructor wants you to write. All the various types of essay styles can be divided into two categories: persuasive, in which you need to answer a question, and literary, in which you have to write about something you read.

A standardized five paragraph essay execution means writing an introductory paragraph, three paragraphs with supporting details and a concluding paragraph. Let’s walk you step by step through writing a five paragraph essay using the following prompt:

“Shakespeare’s plays should be performed using the Shakespearean language and not the Modern English”.


We will introduce the topic in the first paragraph. This is the part that will define the whole essay and set its tone. You want to engage, to get your reader involved. That’s why the best way to start an introductory paragraph is a hook sentence.
It can be a rhetorical question, an anecdote or a stunning piece of information. Let’s use the following:

“Two houshold Frends alike in dignitie,
(In faire Verona, where we lay our Scene)
From ciuill broyles broke into enmitie,
Whose ciuill warre makes ciuill hands vncleane

Does this sentence make sense to you? Chances are it doesn’t, because it was written in the 16th century and the language has changed way too much since then”.

This will indubitably stun the reader.

After that, you can briefly outline the arguments you are going to use in the body of your essay.

Example: “The language that the author uses is vital for understanding the inner workings of a literary piece. You cannot understand a play or a poem without understanding its language.”

The last sentence is your thesis. This is the most important part, as it is the basis for the rest of your essay. Take your stance and stick to it. Be brief and cut to the chase. Your thesis has to be really specific because of the format and the limited volume that it implies.

Example: “The works of Shakespeare should be performed on stage using Elizabethian English”.

The body of your essay

The body of your essay consists of the three paragraphs that develop, expand and support your stance.

Paragraph 1-3

Every paragraph of the body of the text has a structure. Usually, it consists of an introductory sentence, three to five sentences explaining your arguments and a concluding sentence.
The introductory sentence must outline your argument briefly without revealing too much.

Example: “Wittgenstein stated: “The limits of my language stand for the limits of my world.”

Supporting arguments and explanation speak for themselves. You use evidence to explain and defend your thesis. Don’t just make up examples on the spot.

Example: “Countless research papers confirm that reading the literary piece in the language it was written helps to understand the author’s intent clearly.”

You finish your paragraph with a concluding sentence, summarizing your argument and moving onto next one.

The same pattern works for two other paragraphs.

A tip to make strong argumentation is to present your argument in a specific order:

1) Second strongest argument;
2) Weakest argument;
3) Strongest argument.

Using such a format will hammer your opinion home more efficiently than any other.


The concluding paragraph consists of three to five sentences restating your position. It effectively mirrors the introductory paragraph. You should write assertively.
Rephrase your arguments in one sentence per paragraph or combine them into one phrase if they are similar.

Example: “Using the original Shakespearean language on stage helps to experience the Elizabethan England again. Understanding certain terms and culture-specific elements of such a literary treasure better also deepen the experience.”

A tip for ending your essay is to use a hook again the way you did in the introduction. The same rules apply: use something unexpected, ask a rhetorical question or cite an anecdote.

Example: “I finish this essay hoping that there comes a day when the readers and the audience will understand clearly, why nere was heard a Storie of more woe,
Than this of Iuliet and her Romeo.”


Stop here and take a breather. Ideally, you should sleep on your essay, because after sleep you will be well rested and able to see the mistakes you’ve missed when you were tired. If there is no time for that, you should at the very least have a cup of tea or walk outside for a couple of minutes.

After you’ve unwound a bit, you can return to your essay. For a flawless execution, you have to revise it at very least twice. Is there a claim you’ve forgotten to support with an argument? Is there an inconsistent sentence sticking out like a sore thumb? Do all the arguments back up your stance? Did you cite all your sources?
The good idea is to send your essay to a friend to read. There’s a high probability that they will see all the mistakes and weak points (and consequently will make fun of you).

After careful polishing and refining, you are good to go and wow everyone with your essay!