Online Writing Lab

The Five Paragraph Essay

In the beginning, many student writers learn to write academic essays by following the five paragraph model.  This model allows a writer to organize his/her essay into three main points that support the thesis and become a full paragraph each. 

The five paragraph essay is fairly straightforward:

  • A one paragraph Introduction with an identifiable thesis
  • Three body paragraphs, each containing one main point of support for the thesis
  • A one paragraph conclusion

The five paragraph essay is a helpful model for beginning writers and for those writing relatively short essays (2-3 pages or less).  However, as a writer becomes more advanced and writing assignments become longer, the five paragraph model cannot always be used.  For example, if writing an essay that is five or more pages, using the five paragraph model will result in paragraphs that are a page or longer each, which is probably too long. 

However, the same general model can always be followed: an introduction that presents the topic and thesis and is shorter than the body; several body paragraphs that support the thesis and offer specific claims and evidence; and a conclusion that is shorter than the body and brings the essay to a satisfactory end.