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 tell you how and exactly why to go beyond the essays that are five-paragraph learned to create in twelfth grade and start writing essays that are more analytical and more flexible.

What exactly is a essay that is five-paragraph?

Senior school students are often taught to write essays using some variation associated with the model that is five-paragraph. A five-paragraph essay is hourglass-shaped: it begins with something general, narrows down at the center to discuss 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 solution to discover ways to write an essay that is academic. It’s a simplified type of academic writing that will require you to definitely state an idea and support it with evidence. Setting a limit of five paragraphs narrows your alternatives and forces one to master the fundamentals of organization. Furthermore—and for many senior high school teachers, this is 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 essay format that is five-paragraph.

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

The way college instructors teach might be distinct from everything you experienced in senior school, and so is 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 request you to think about the how as well as the why. You certainly can do very well in senior high school by studying hard and memorizing a complete lot of facts. Although college instructors still expect you to understand the facts, they really worry about the manner in which you analyze and interpret those facts and just why you might think those facts matter. Once you know what college instructors are seeking, you can view some of the factors why five-paragraph essays don’t work very well for college writing:

  • Five-paragraph essays often do a job that is poor of up a framework, or context, that can help the reader understand what the author is wanting to express. Students learn in high school that their introduction should begin with something general. College instructors call these “dawn of the time” introductions. For instance, a student asked to talk about the causes of the Hundred Years War might begin, “Since the dawn of the time, humankind has been plagued 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 when you look at the rest of the paper—for example, a sentence such as “In the first 14th century, a civil war broke out in Flanders that could soon threaten Western Europe’s balance of power.” if you should be accustomed to writing vague opening lines and need them to get going, go ahead and write them, but delete them before you turn into the final draft. To get more on this subject, see our handout on introductions.
  • Five-paragraph essays often lack an argument. Because college courses focus on analyzing and interpreting as opposed to on memorizing, college instructors expect writers not just to know the facts but additionally to make an argument in regards to the facts. The best essays that are five-paragraph repeat this. However, the standard five-paragraph essay has a “listing” thesis, for instance, “I will show how the Romans lost their empire in Britain and Gaul by examining military technology, religion, and politics,” as opposed to 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 in addition as religious upheaval and political conflict were weakening the feeling of common purpose on the home front.” For lots more on this subject, see our handout on argument.
  • Five-paragraph essays tend to be repetitive. Writers who proceed with the five-paragraph model tend to repeat sentences or phrases through the introduction in topic sentences for paragraphs, in place of writing topic sentences that tie their three “points” together into a coherent argument. Repetitive writing does help to move n’t an argument along, also it’s no fun to see.
  • Five-paragraph essays often lack “flow.” Five-paragraph essays often don’t make transitions that are smooth one thought 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 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. In 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 see the essay. A lot of us can remember an introduction and three body paragraphs without a repetitive summary during the final end to help us out.
  • Five-paragraph essays don’t have any counterpart into the real life. Read your newspaper that is favorite or; look through the readings your professors assign you; tune in to political speeches or sermons. Could you find anything that looks or appears like a five-paragraph essay? One of many important skills that college can teach you, far above the topic matter of any particular course, is simple tips to communicate persuasively in almost any situation which comes your way. The essay that is five-paragraph too rigid and simplified to match most real-world situations.
  • Perhaps most important of all: in a five-paragraph essay, form controls content, when it should be the other way around. Students begin with an agenda for organization, in addition they force their tips to fit it. As you go along, their perfectly good ideas get mangled or lost.

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

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

Alex, getting ready to write her first college history paper, decides to write a essay that is five-paragraph exactly like she learned in senior high school. She begins by thinking, “What are three points I can 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 about the economy, politics, and slavery. I suppose i will do a paper about this.” So she writes her introduction:

    A civil war occurs when two sides in one country become so angry at each and every other that 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 most 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 reasons by examining the economy, politics, and slavery.