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Standardized Tests – How to Write a Passing Five-Paragraph Essay

Standardized tests aren’t fun, but you can’t avoid them. When you’re in school, there will always be a standardized test to take, and passing is mandatory. These tests can be intimidating, and they’re not always easy. If you have difficulty with writing in particular, the essay sections can be challenging. You don’t have to stress yourself out with worry about passing grades, however. With a little preparation, you’ll be able to write a passing five-paragraph essay with ease.

If you’re taking a standardized test in the near future, it’s a good idea to practice writing at least one essay by using a writing prompt. If your teacher doesn’t give you sample questions, ask for them, and show your practice essay to your teacher for feedback on how you can improve before your test. Here are the basics of writing a five-paragraph essay.


Paragraph One: The Introduction

When reading the essay prompt, identify exactly what the question that you need to answer in your essay is. For the first sentence of your introduction, describe the topic in a way that will grab the reader’s attention. You should then write three sentences, each describing one of your three points about the topic that you’ll discuss. Your final sentence should sum up exactly what your answer to the question is. The rest of the essay is going to be supporting that thesis statement and proving your opinion (using the three points you mentioned already).

Paragraphs Two, Three, and Four: The Supporting Details

After your introduction, it’s time to explain to the reader why your thesis statement (what you believe is the answer to the question) is true. For each of these three paragraphs, you can follow a simple pattern for discussing the supporting details.

Proving Your Points

At the beginning of the paragraph, your first sentence should be a statement that is a summary of your point. Your next sentence should say why it is true. The rest of the paragraph should provide evidence to support your point. Evidence might be statistics, quotes from a reading, or anything else that demonstrates why your point is true.

Paragraph Five: The Conclusion

The conclusion of your essay should restate (not in exact words) your thesis statement. You should then reiterate your supporting details and how they prove your thesis. Your final sentence should briefly and confidently reassert your point. In your conclusion, do not give any new evidence that you didn’t discuss before. It is only a review of your essay.
Writing an Outline

During a standardized test, you usually do not have time to write a detailed outline or to go back and make major revisions. If it’s helpful to you, you can sketch a brief outline to follow. The outline should contain your thesis statement/the point you want to prove, and it should list the three supporting details you’ll present. Write no more than one sentence about each, so you can make sure you have time to flesh out the details in your actual essay. Your outline will not be graded.

Elain Valentine is a college student and writing tutor who understands how to write great essays. She loves to blog about everything from literary education to the best grammar checkers available.

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