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This handout will help you figure out what your college instructors expect when they give you a writing assignment. It will tell you how and why to move beyond the five-paragraph essays you learned to write in high school and start writing essays that are more analytical and more flexible. High school students are often taught to write essays using some variation of the five-paragraph model. A five-paragraph essay is hourglass-shaped: it begins with something general, narrows down in the middle to discuss specifics, and then branches out to more general comments at the end. The five-paragraph model is a good way to learn how to write an academic essay. Setting a limit of five paragraphs narrows your options and forces you to master the basics of organization. Furthermore—and for many 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 five-paragraph essay format.
Introduction: Introductory Paragraph See, first, Writing Introductory Paragraphs for different ways of getting your reader involved in your essay. The introductory paragraph should also include the thesis statement, a kind of mini-outline for the paper: it tells the reader what the essay is about. The last sentence of this paragraph must also contain a transitional "hook" which moves the reader to the first paragraph of the body of the paper. The first paragraph of the body should contain the strongest argument, most significant example, cleverest illustration, or an obvious beginning point. The first sentence of this paragraph should include the "reverse hook" which ties in with the transitional hook at the end of the introductory paragraph.
When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use. The expository essay is a genre of essay that requires the student to investigate an idea, evaluate evidence, expound on the idea, and set forth an argument concerning that idea in a clear and concise manner.