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

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

What exactly is a essay that is five-paragraph?

High school students tend to be taught to publish essays using some variation of the five-paragraph model. A essay that is five-paragraph hourglass-shaped: it starts with something general, narrows down in the middle to talk about specifics, and then branches out to more general comments at the end. In a vintage 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 one of those “points” in turn; in addition to final paragraph sums up what the student has written.

Why do high schools teach the five-paragraph model?

The five-paragraph model is an excellent solution to learn to write an academic essay. It’s a version that is simplified of writing that requires you to state an idea and support it with evidence. Setting a limit of five paragraphs narrows your choices and forces you to master the fundamentals of organization. Furthermore—and for all senior school teachers, this is basically the crucial issue—many mandatory end-of-grade writing tests and college admissions exams like the SAT II writing test reward writers who follow the five-paragraph essay format.

Writing a five-paragraph essay is like riding a bicycle with training wheels; it’s a device that will help you learn. That doesn’t mean you really need to put it to use forever. Once you can write well you can cast it off and never look back without it.

The way college instructors teach might be different from what you experienced in twelfth grade, and thus is exactly what they expect from you.

While senior school courses tend to focus on the who, what, when, and where of the plain things you study—”just the important points”—college courses ask you to look at the how and the why. You could do very well in senior high school by studying hard and memorizing a complete lot of facts. Although college instructors still expect one to understand the facts, they really worry about how you analyze and interpret those facts and why you might think those facts matter. Once you know what college instructors are looking for, you can observe some of the reasoned explanations why five-paragraph essays don’t work so well for college writing:

  • Five-paragraph essays often do a poor job of setting up a framework, or context, that will help the reader determine what the author is attempting to express. Students learn in senior high school that their introduction has to start with something general. College instructors call these “dawn of the time” introductions. As an example, a student asked to go over what causes the 100 years War might begin, “Since the dawn of the time, humankind has been affected by war.” In a college course, the student would fare better with a far more concrete sentence directly pertaining to what he or she is going to say into the rest 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.” If you are used to writing vague opening lines and need them to get going, go ahead and write them, but delete them before you turn when you look at the final draft. For lots more with this subject, see our handout on introductions.
  • Five-paragraph essays often lack a disagreement. Because college courses concentrate on analyzing and interpreting as opposed to on memorizing, college instructors expect writers not just to know the facts but in addition to produce a quarrel concerning the facts. The best essays that are five-paragraph try this. However, the standard five-paragraph essay has a “listing” thesis, as an example, “I will show how the Romans lost their empire in Britain and Gaul by examining military technology, religion, and politics,” in place of an argumentative one, for instance, “The Romans lost their empire in Britain and Gaul because their opponents’ military technology caught up making use of their own on top of that as religious upheaval and political conflict were weakening the feeling of common purpose in the home front.” For more with this subject, see our handout on argument.
  • Five-paragraph essays are often repetitive. Writers who stick to the five-paragraph model have a tendency to repeat sentences or phrases through the introduction in topic sentences for paragraphs, in the place of writing topic sentences that tie their three “points” together into a coherent argument. Repetitive writing does help to move n’t a quarrel along, and it’s no fun to read through.
  • Five-paragraph essays often lack “flow.” Five-paragraph essays often don’t make smooth transitions from one thought to the following. The “listing” thesis statement encourages writers to deal with each paragraph and its particular main idea as a entity that is separate as opposed to to draw connections between paragraphs and ideas so that you can develop a disagreement.
  • Five-paragraph essays often have weak conclusions that merely summarize what’s gone before and don’t say anything new or interesting. Within our handout on conclusions, we call these “that’s my story and I’m sticking to it” conclusions: they do absolutely nothing to engage readers while making them glad they browse the essay. A lot 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. Are you able to find something that looks or appears like a essay that is five-paragraph? One of several important skills that college can teach you, above and beyond the subject question of any particular course, is how exactly to communicate persuasively in every situation that comes your path. The essay that is five-paragraph too rigid and simplified to match most real-world situations.
  • Perhaps most critical paper writing service of all: in a essay that is five-paragraph form controls content, when it ought to be the other way around. Students start with an idea for organization, and so they force their tips to fit it. As you go along, their perfectly good ideas get mangled or lost.

Let’s take an example based on our handout on thesis statements. Suppose you’re taking a United States History class, and you are asked by the professor to publish a paper about this topic:

    Compare and contrast the good factors why the North and South fought the Civil War.

Alex, getting ready to write her first college history paper, decides to write a five-paragraph essay, similar to she learned in senior school. She begins by thinking, “What are three points I can 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 about the economy, politics, and slavery. I assume I’m able to do a paper about that.” So she writes her introduction:

    A civil war occurs when two sides in one country become so angry at each and every other which they move to violence. The Civil War between North and South was a major conflict that nearly tore apart the young United States. The North and South fought the Civil War for several 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.