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This handout will assist you to determine what your college instructors expect once they offer you a writing assignment.

It will let you know how and just why to go beyond the five-paragraph essays you learned to publish in high school and start writing essays that are more analytical and much more flexible.

What is a five-paragraph essay?

Senior school students tend to be taught to publish essays using some variation associated with model that is five-paragraph. A five-paragraph essay is hourglass-shaped: it starts with something general, narrows down at the center to talk about specifics, and then branches out to more general comments at the conclusion. The first paragraph starts with a general statement and ends with a thesis statement containing three “points”; each body paragraph discusses one of those “points” in turn; and the final paragraph sums up what the student has written in a classic five-paragraph essay.

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

The five-paragraph model is a great method to learn to write an academic essay. It’s a simplified type of academic writing that needs one to state an idea 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 several senior school teachers, here is the crucial issue—many mandatory end-of-grade writing tests and college admissions exams like the SAT II writing test reward writers who proceed with the five-paragraph essay format.

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 forever use it. Once you can write well without one, you can cast it well and not look back.

The way college instructors teach is probably not the same as everything you experienced in senior school, and so is really what they expect from you.

While twelfth grade courses tend to concentrate on the who, what, when, and where for the things you study—”just the important points”—college courses ask you to think about 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 you to know the known facts, they really worry about how you analyze and interpret those facts and just why you might think those facts matter. Once you know what college instructors are looking for, you can view a few of the reasons 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 helps the reader know very well what the writer is wanting to say. Students learn in senior school that their introduction must start with something general. College instructors call these “dawn of the time” introductions. For instance, a student asked to discuss what causes the 100 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 pertaining to what he or she is going to say when you look at the other countries in the paper—for example, a sentence such as “In the early 14th century, a civil war broke out in Flanders that would soon threaten Western Europe’s balance of power. in a college course” if you should be accustomed to writing vague opening lines and need them to get started, go right ahead and write them, but delete them before you turn into the final draft. To get more with this subject, see our handout on introductions.
  • Five-paragraph essays often lack an argument. Because college courses focus on analyzing and interpreting in place of on memorizing, college instructors expect writers not only to understand the facts but in addition to create a disagreement concerning the facts. The greatest five-paragraph essays may repeat this. However, the standard essay that is five-paragraph a “listing” thesis, for instance, “I will show the way the Romans lost their empire in Britain and Gaul by examining military technology, religion, and politics,” in place of an argumentative one, for example, “The Romans lost their empire in Britain and Gaul because their opponents’ military technology caught up making use of their own in addition as religious upheaval and political conflict were weakening the feeling of common purpose regarding the home front.” For lots more on this subject, see our handout on argument.
  • Five-paragraph essays tend to be repetitive. Writers who follow the five-paragraph model have a tendency to repeat sentences or phrases through the introduction in topic sentences for paragraphs, as opposed to writing topic sentences that tie their three “points” together into a argument that is coherent. Repetitive writing does help to move n’t a quarrel along, and it’s no fun to read.
  • Five-paragraph essays often lack “flow.” Five-paragraph essays often don’t make smooth transitions from one considered to the following. The “listing” thesis statement encourages writers to take care of each paragraph and its particular main idea as a separate entity, instead of to attract connections between paragraphs and ideas to be able to develop an argument.
  • 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, we call these “that’s my story and I’m adhering to it” conclusions: they do absolutely nothing to engage readers and make them glad they read the essay. Many 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 when you look at the world that is real. Read your newspaper that is favorite or; look over the readings your professors assign write my paper you; pay attention to political speeches or sermons. Could you find anything that looks or sounds like a five-paragraph essay? One of the important skills that college can show you, far beyond the subject matter of any course that is particular is how exactly 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 crucial of all: in a five-paragraph essay, form controls content, when it should be the other way around. Students start with a plan for organization, and they force their ideas to fit it. As you go along, their perfectly good ideas get mangled or lost.

Let’s take a good 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 create a paper on this topic:

    Compare and contrast the good factors 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, similar to she learned in twelfth grade. She begins by thinking, “What are three points i will speak about to compare the reasons the North and South fought the Civil War?” She does a little brainstorming, and she says, “Well, in class, my professor talked concerning the economy, politics, and slavery. I suppose a paper can be done by me 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 major conflict that nearly tore apart the young united states of america. The North and South fought the Civil War for a lot of reasons. In some instances, these reasons were the same, however in other cases they certainly were very different. In this paper, i shall compare and contrast these good reasons by examining the economy, politics, and slavery.