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

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

It will inform you how and why to move beyond the five-paragraph essays you learned to publish in senior high school and start writing essays that are more analytical and more flexible.

What is a essay that is five-paragraph?

Senior high school students tend to be taught to write essays with a couple variation associated with five-paragraph model. A essay that is five-paragraph hourglass-shaped: it begins with something general, narrows down in the middle to go over specifics, and then branches out to more general comments at the end. In a vintage five-paragraph essay, the first paragraph starts with a broad statement and ends with a thesis statement containing three “points”; each body paragraph discusses some of those “points” in turn; plus the final paragraph sums up what the student has written.

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

The five-paragraph model is a great solution to learn how to write an academic essay. It’s a simplified type of academic writing that needs you to state a thought and support it with evidence. Setting a limit of five paragraphs narrows your alternatives and forces one to master the basics of organization. Furthermore—and for most senior high 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 stick to the essay format that is five-paragraph.

Writing a essay that is five-paragraph like riding a bicycle with training wheels; it is a device that helps you learn. That doesn’t mean you should put it to use forever. Once you can write well without one, you are able to cast it off and do not look back.

Just how college instructors teach is probably distinctive from everything you experienced in senior school, and thus is exactly what they expect away from you.

While senior high school courses tend to concentrate on the who, what, when, and where for the plain things you study—”just the facts”—college courses ask you to think about the how and the why. You could do very well in high school by studying hard and memorizing a complete lot of facts. Although college instructors still expect you to understand the known facts, they really worry about the method that you analyze and interpret those facts and just why you imagine those facts matter. Once you know what college instructors are searching for, you can see a few of the reasoned explanations why five-paragraph essays don’t work very well for college writing:

  • Five-paragraph essays often do a poor job of setting up a framework, or context, that can help the reader understand what the author is trying to express. Students learn in twelfth grade that their introduction must start with something general. College instructors call these “dawn of time” introductions. As an example, a student asked to discuss the causes of the Hundred Years War might begin, “Since the dawn of time, humankind happens to be affected by war.” In a college course, the student would fare better with a more concrete sentence directly pertaining to what she or he is going to say into 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 could soon threaten Western Europe’s balance of power.” Before you turn in the final draft if you are accustomed to writing vague opening lines and need them to get started, go ahead and write them, but delete them. To get more on this subject, see our handout on introductions.
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  • Five-paragraph essays often lack an argument. Because college courses focus on analyzing and interpreting in the place of on memorizing, college instructors expect writers not just to know the known facts but in addition to make an argument about the facts. The very best essays that are five-paragraph repeat this. However, the conventional 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 instance, “The Romans lost their empire in Britain and Gaul because their opponents’ military technology caught up using their own at exactly the same time as religious upheaval and political conflict were weakening the sense of common purpose regarding 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, rather than writing topic sentences that tie their three “points” together into a argument that is coherent. Repetitive writing doesn’t assist to move a disagreement along, plus it’s no fun to see.
  • Five-paragraph essays often lack “flow.” Five-paragraph essays often don’t make smooth transitions from one considered to the next. The “listing” thesis statement encourages writers to deal with each paragraph and its main idea as a entity that is separate instead of to draw connections between paragraphs and ideas in order to develop a quarrel.
  • Five-paragraph essays often have weak conclusions that merely summarize what’s gone before and don’t say anything interesting or new. Inside our handout on conclusions, we call these “that’s my story and I’m sticking to it” conclusions: they are doing nothing to engage readers while making them glad they read the essay. The majority of us can remember an introduction and three body paragraphs without a repetitive summary in the final end to simply help us out.
  • Five-paragraph essays don’t have any counterpart in the real world. Read your favorite newspaper or magazine; look through the readings your professors assign you; listen to political speeches or sermons. Could you find anything that looks or sounds like a five-paragraph essay? One of several important skills that college can teach you, far above the topic matter of any particular course, is just how to communicate persuasively in just about any situation which comes your way. The essay that is five-paragraph too rigid and simplified to fit most real-world situations.
  • Perhaps most critical of most: in a essay that is five-paragraph form controls content, with regards to ought to be the other way around. Students start out with a plan for organization, plus they force their tips to fit it. Along the way, their perfectly good ideas get mangled or lost.

Let’s take an example predicated on our handout on thesis statements. Suppose you’re taking a United States History class, and you are asked by the professor to write 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 essay that is five-paragraph similar to she learned in high school. She begins by thinking, “What are three points I am able to speak about to compare the 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 in regards to the economy, politics, and slavery. I suppose i could do a paper about this.” So she writes her introduction:

    A war that is civil when two sides in one single country become so angry at each and every other which they move to violence. The Civil War between North and South was a conflict that is major nearly tore apart the young united states of america. 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.

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