How to Write a 5-Paragraph Essay [+Bonus Template]

How to Write a 5-Paragraph Essay [+Bonus Template]

Writing an essay, choose a credible structure used by thousands of students around the world. This format is called 5-paragraph essay, and has a couple of simple rules to follow.

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The best part about this type of outline is that it fits any topic. Whether you’re creating a paper on technology, friendship, or global warming, you can use this structure and get a fantastic logical essay with statements, details, and conclusions.

In this article, you’ll know all you need to turn your ideas into an excellent piece of academic writing.

Can’t wait?

So, let’s start!

🎂 How is an essay like a cake?

Did you know that you can effectively unleash your creative capacity and astonish everyone with your talent by creating just 5 paragraphs? Writing a 5-paragraph essay can be easier and faster than baking a 5-layer cake if you know the secret ingredient. Keep reading to get to the essence of 5-PE mastery.

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You may be wondering: “What does this kind of essay have in common with a 5-layer cake?”

In fact, both are well-structured. All their components are coherent and interrelated.

  • They start with a solid background (in the essay, an introduction = in the cake, a firm biscuit base).
  • They contain 3 middle layers (3 body paragraphs = 3 cheesecake layers).
  • They finish with a summary that wraps it all up (conclusion = berry jelly with fruits).
5 Paragraphs Essay Structure1.
5 Paragraphs Essay Structure2.

🗼 The 3 pillars of a consistent 5-paragraph essay

The 5-paragraph essay writing method helps inexperienced writers to state their ideas within the given topic in the most clear and logical way. Once you understand and get used to this writing formula, you’ll become more comfortable with it. The basic elements of a 5-paragraph essay are 3 pillars you will come to lean on.

So you’ve got a five-paragraph essay assignment.

What does 5 mean here? Why not 2 or 7?

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In fact, it consists of 5 paragraphs, made up of 3 main parts:

  1. Introduction
  2. Body
  3. Conclusion

Here are the key insights to each component of a correctly structured essay:

Essay partGuidelines
Introduction– Sets the tone and grabs the reader’s attention. (Tip: Often the best way to start an essay is with a curious quote, short anecdote or challenging question)
– Introduces the basic ideas of the essay
– Provides the thesis statement (which is just 1 sentence but gives the topic, focus and 3 main points to build from)
Body– Consists of 3 supporting paragraphs
– The best and the strongest argument should go first, while the final body paragraph gives the weakest point of the 3, providing for the hierarchical structure of the ideas that support the exposition
– Each body paragraph starts with a transition and focuses on a single point, idea, reason or example to support the thesis statement. (Tip: use linking words like “In fact”, “First”, “Further”, “Furthermore”, “Likewise”, “Similarly”, “Naturally”, “By comparison” etc.)
– The first sentence of the paragraph states your topic sentence
– The topic sentence explains what the paragraph is about (it’s like a mini version of a thesis statement)
– The remainder of the paragraph is made of supporting sentences (at least 4 to each paragraph), addressing both the topic sentence and the thesis statement
– Use appropriate details and examples to convey clear and convincing ideas
Conclusion– The final, summarizing part of all five-paragraph essays
– Takes the reader back to the basic ideas of the essay and restates the thesis statement in an original way (do not copy and paste from the Introduction)
– Shouldn’t give any new ideas but only summarize the essay content that has already been presented
– Summarizes the argument under discussion, leaving the reader without any doubts or questions as to the author’s position
– Should be strong and powerful – it’s the last thought you leave the reader with. In other words, this section represents your last chance to persuade the reader

🍰 Feature of the cake layers

Our “cake study comparison” reveals the following distinctive features of the cake layers:

  • Introduction: the solid biscuit base of the cheesecake sets the overall style of your culinary masterpiece. Its sweet and melting taste makes it the most promising part for the end-consumer.
  • Main body: 3 magnificent cheesecake layers, each one different in taste and color, each complementing the creamy flavor of the basic cheesecake part of the cake.
  • Conclusion: a berry jelly with fruits to conclude. Its sour-sweet taste complements the main body and contrasts with the cheesecake, contributing to the inimitable aftertaste.

As for the 5-paragraph essay conclusion, its “aftertaste” is exactly what will stay with your readers after they put down your paper. So carefully consider the structure of your essay to make sure all its parts are coherent and balanced. Take a look at some essay examples to have a better idea of how it can look like.

Now you know about structure, which is the secret ingredient that makes your essay convincing and your cake delicious.

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📑 Create a refined essay with our writing hacks

Whatever project you have to complete ‒ creating a 5-paragraph essay or a 5-layer cake ‒ the perfectionist in you may not feel fully satisfied until your masterpiece is flawless. Harness these useful tips if you need to create an engaging essay that your readers will enjoy reading and talking about.

  1. Organization
    • To make an effective start, you first need to get organized.
    • Analyze your task in detail.
    • Determine your purpose.
    • Think about your step-by-step plan.
  2. Outline
    • Don’t get lost in the detail. Before you set out with the actual writing, map it out. Otherwise, you may get lost.
    • Divide your future essay into sections; develop each piece separately and incrementally.
    • First figure out how to make an outstanding outline, and then you can go ahead and start your essay-building process.
  3. Writing style
    • Develop your unique writing style and stick to it.
    • Start strong by grabbing the reader’s attention. Aim to keep it until you reach your final point. Stay powerful and convincing.
    • Use active voice instead of passive whenever possible.
    • Don’t let your reader fall asleep: play with your English, vary sentence structures, avoid repetition, sharpen and diversify your vocabulary when you revise the text.
    • Brainstorm to search for the best ideas that support your case. Include only the arguments that are effective and that you have some knowledge of, otherwise you won’t do a good job of presenting them.
    • Writing introductory paragraphs on different topics can be very helpful. It will help set the tone for the paragraph, making it easier to write the supporting sentences. Moreover, seeing your pattern progress is always inspiring!
    • Supporting ideas, examples and other details should all be relevant to the subtopic. It will help you and the readers to stay focused.
  4. Specific writing tips
    • There are some other specific rules that you can use as a guide to creating an outstanding 5-paragraph essay.
    • Don’t use abbreviations and contractions.
    • Avoid casual language (it’s better not to begin sentences with “sure”, “well”, “yes” or “no”).
    • Don’t use slang (there’s a big difference between academic writing and a message to your friend).
    • Try not to begin your sentences with “There is/are”. For example, instead of “There is a need to edit the essay”, write “Essay editing is essential”.
    • Don’t begin sentences with conjunctions (“and”, “but”, “for”, “yet”, “so”, “or”, “nor”).
    • Avoid using phrases like “a lot”, “lots” and “lots of”. Think about replacing them with “many”, “most”, “much” or “often”.
    • Avoid using exclamation points; stay more or less neutral in your writing.
  5. Essay revision
    • Forget about your writing! Get some rest… and then read it again with fresh eyes. Polish and refine your essay as many times as you need to ‒ you won’t be sorry for spending time on it. Ask someone knowledgeable to review and criticize your essay as well – they may make suggestions that surprise you.
    • Check your writing for spelling and grammar mistakes.
    • Make sure your ideas flow logically.
    • Avoid too much detail or wordiness.
    • Be concise, specific and brief, but do give details and examples.

Also, make sure to check out free handout about essay writing.

🕔 Draft an astonishing essay with a 5-minute outline

Humans crave order. Anything else can lead them astray. A 5-paragraph essay outline is essential for those who want to create their short essay in the most effective and timely way. An essay outline will streamline your writing; it will also make you focus on the main topic and on the subtopics exposed in each separate part of the paper.

Have a look at our 5-paragraph essay writing outline for “How to Make Lemonade When Life Gives You Lemons”, and use it as an essay sample whenever you need inspiration for the framework of your own essay. It will take you just 5 minutes, and it will considerably save time when it comes to your own essay writing.

How to Make Lemonade When Life Gives You Lemons

Paragraph #1. Introduction
Thesis statementCreate benefits from any problem life presents.
1. Subtopic #1Life problems are lessons to learn from.
2. Subtopic #2Life problems help one to develop a grateful spirit, which helps in personal growth.
3. Subtopic #3Life problems help one to develop healthy coping skills.
Body paragraph #2
1. Topic sentence (subtopic #1 from the Introduction)Life problems are lessons to learn from.
2. 3 specific supports1. Experience will make it easier to cope with future challenges.2. Experience improves our personal qualities.3. Perceiving a life challenge as a task to be overcome makes it easier to cope.
3. Concluding sentenceWe have to learn from our life lessons to avoid similar situations in the future.
Body paragraph #3
1. Topic sentence(subtopic 2 from the Introduction)Life problems help one to develop a grateful spirit, which helps in personal growth.
2. 3 specific supports1. There are benefits to life challenges: finding more happy moments in life, preventing loneliness, developing a better immune system.2. Simple, minor things can make us feel happy.3. Writing about challenges in a gratitude journal creates an opportunity to express gratitude.
3. Concluding sentenceRaising a grateful spirit makes people feel happier and helps them to live their lives more consciously.
Body paragraph #4
1. Topic sentence(subtopic 3 from the Introduction)Life problems are the best way to develop healthy coping skills.
2. 3 specific supports1. Changing your attitude towards an issue can help you to fight stress.2. Developing healthy coping skills can have a positive effect on personal growth.3. Improving everyday habits to fall back on during upsetting times is key to a better quality of life.
3. Concluding sentenceStressful circumstances are an opportunity to concentrate on the things that will bring our lives back to balance.
Paragraph #5. Conclusion
1. Topic sentence(restating the thesis statement)Whenever life decides to give us a sour lemon, we should turn it to our advantage.
2. Support sentence #1 (subtopic #1)It is a good opportunity to gain new experience of the lessons we have been taught.
3. Support sentence #2 (subtopic #2)Troubles in life are our chance to become grateful for whatever happens to us, thus to grow personally.
4. Support sentence #3 (subtopic #3)Finding ourselves under pressure can also become a trigger for considerable self-improvement in all spheres of our lives.
5. Concluding sentence (repeating the main idea).Life can be tough, but we can always change for the better.

📝 Write a killer paper using our 5-paragraph essay example as a guideline

How to Make Lemonade When Life Gives You Lemons
1. Introduction (thesis statement + 3 subtopics)
The popular saying “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade” is a great way to tell people to be optimistic and to gain advantage from the problems life presents. We can learn and grow from the problems that appear in our lives. Another positive side-effect of being thrown a lemon is that it’s an opportunity to develop a grateful spirit, which can bring personal growth. Moreover, learning how to cope with a particular problem helps to develop our healthy coping skills in general, like staying active, reading and cultivating positive friendships. Getting the most out of the issues we have to deal with is the best possible approach to difficult situations, which can often deliver opportunities for self-improvement.
2. Main body (subtopic #1 + 3 specific supports)
Looking for a lesson in problems that arise is a great way to embrace life. We can always learn from any negative situations we encounter. This allows us to constructively cope with further challenges we will meet; we can apply the experience we gain this time around to problems we will face in the future. Learning new lessons also makes us stronger, wiser and more self-confident. Once a problem appears we should perceive it as just another assignment given to us; considering it a lesson will certainly make it easier to cope with. It is through stressful situations that we learn and grown, and our task is to learn to avoid future mistakes.
3. Main body (subtopic #2 + 3 specific supports)
Facing a problem in life is likely to raise our grateful spirit, which is another important step in our personal growth. There are many benefits to being grateful, including appreciating the happy moments in life, feeling less lonely and developing a better immune system. Practicing sincere gratitude for everything that happens in our lives makes us notice and value aspects of our lives that are small but wonderful: a child’s laughter, a cup of hot tea, a hug from a loved one. A gratitude journal to keep track of the daily minor kindnesses shown to us by others takes this attitude one step further and can soothe us in difficult times. Raising a grateful spirit makes us happier and helps us to lead a more conscious life.
4. Main body (subtopic #3 + 3 specific supports)
A problem tossed into our lives presents the best opportunity to develop our healthy coping skills. You may have already heard that often it’s our attitude to a challenging situation that matters more than the situation itself; that’s why being an optimist is the best way out. Positive reactions to stressful circumstances develop healthy coping skills we can use in the future: skills like making new friends, exercising regularly, reading, yoga and meditation. Improving our everyday habits during upsetting times can be a key to success and a better quality of life. When things are not going the way we expected, there comes a period when we have to concentrate on the things that will bring us back to balance.
5. Conclusion (restated thesis statement + 3 subtopics)
Whenever life decides to give us a sour lemon, we should turn it to our sweet advantage. Difficult times present a good opportunity to gain new experience, which can reinforce the lessons and values we already have under our belts. Facing troubles in life represent a chance to express our gratitude for whatever happens to us and to take steps towards further personal growth. Finding ourselves under pressure can also become a trigger for considerable self-improvement in all spheres of our lives. Life can be tough, but we are always able to change for the better and not let stress weaken us. As American comedian and actor Ron White said: “If life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade… And try to find somebody whose life has given them vodka, and have a party”.

🅰 Getting an A+ grade for 5 paragraphs writing is easy!

You will soon discover that it’s not that difficult to learn how to write a 5-paragraph essay that will hit the spot and win you the highest grade. Our tips for writing a good essay can help you to communicate your ideas clearly and effectively.

Think about all the possible 5-paragraph essay topics and select the one that’s best for you – that’s the one that will make five-paragraph essay writing interesting for you!

Good luck with your writing!

Comments (14)

Justina Joseph

I’m so grateful to have found this nugget because my students are struggling with essay writing. Thanks.

Ivy Panda

Thanks for your feedback, Justina! Glad you found my guide helpful 🙂


You’ve got it in one. Couldn’t have put it better.

Ivy Panda

Glad you liked, Cherilynn!

Sophy A

Good tips! I think it can be useful for my writing.

Ivy Panda

Thanks for the feedback, Sophy!


Actually I have difficulties in the introduction of each type of essay, for example, the expository essay “developed by examples or developed by definition”. I need more explanations about each type, please.

Ivy Panda

Thanks for the feedback, Rawya! We will take into account your suggestion for our next post on essays.


Your essay writing system is very good.

Ivy Panda

Thank you so much!


Thank you so much. It’ s really great and amusing explanation of how to write an essay.

Ivy Panda

You’re welcome, Doha! Glad you enjoyed the article.

Poorva Shukla

Breathtakingly amazing article!

Ivy Panda

Thank you for your feedback! We greatly appreciate it!