How to Write an Essay

Step two and Three

All good essay writers begin begin with an outline.  Missing this step is like driving somewhere new without knowing where you are going or consulting a map.

An essay outline is an important part of prewriting. Good prewriting skills are critical to achieving a high grade and include brainstorming, research, planning, and organizing – all of the activities that students should do before writing the rough draft. Students often fail to spend enough time in the prewriting stage, particularly when it comes to planning what they will say and organizing the essay structure.

Students can learn how to write an essay outline by following these instructions.

Writing Outlines

Students should write the outline after they’ve brainstomed their ideas, narrowed their topic, gathered their research, and have a thesis statement. The outline does not need to be lengthy – one page is usually enough – as it is not a rough draft; it is simply an organized list of ideas for the essay.

Five Paragraph Essay Outline

A five paragraph essay outline has three parts: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion.


The introduction contains a clear thesis statement that tells readers what the essay is about. The introduction also includes a summary of the three topic sentences that will be presented in the essay body.


The five paragraph essay contains three paragraphs in the main body that are used to develop the thesis statement. Each paragraph has one topic sentence that is related to the thesis.

The outline of each paragraph should have four parts:

  • a topic sentence,
  • an explanation of the topic sentence,
  • an example, piece of evidence, or quotation that supports the topic sentence, and
  • an explanation of the significance of that example/evidence/quotation.


The conclusion gives closure to the essay and signals to the reader that the writer is finished his or her discussion. The conclusion should summarize the three topic sentences and discuss how they support the thesis statement. It is okay if the conclusion looks similar to the introduction, in fact, it probably will.


The fastest way to write an outline is by using jot-notes that the student can build into full sentences later, during the essay writing.

Some students prefer to write complete sentences in their outlines. A full sentence outline takes longer to complete than a jot-note outline, but the advantage is that those sentences can go directly into the essay, making the essay writing quicker and easier.

Students who begin writing outlines typically find that their academic writing skills improve dramatically. The five paragraph essay outline is easy to learn, however students should feel free to adapt it or make up their own outline until they find a style that works well for them and their topic.

Once the outline is filled out, the essay is quite easy to write. Your ideas are organized. It is important to have good transition words between each main paragraph, such as first, second, third, also, furthermore, hence, etc. The five paragraph essay includes an introduction, three body paragraphs and a conclusion.

Another tip is not to start the essay with “my essay will be about” or “I am going to write about.” These are boring and not interesting essay beginnings. Think about interesting facts about the topic or famous quotes about the topic to put in the introduction. Make sure to include a thesis statement to inform the reader about the essay’s topic. The introduction can be the hardest part to write; however, it is very important that it is strong.

Another part of the essay that many students forget to write is the conclusion. An essay must have one that wraps up the essay. A good way to get the reader to remember your essay is to leave the reader with an interesting thought. Do not give any new information in this section.

It is important to write a rough draft to share with a friend or parent to edit. When editing, ask someone to check that you stayed on topic and used proper writing conventions, such as good spelling, usage, mechanics and grammar.

Last, you want to write a final copy. This should be error free. It can be written in pen or typed. Most teachers like a typed copy; however, neatly written essays in pen are acceptable as well. Teachers generally grade an essay on the following criteria: interesting content, organization and writing conventions.

Writing a good five paragraph essay can take some time. Do not wait until the last minute and make sure to have someone edit it before you turn in the final copy to your teacher.

%d bloggers like this: