How Much Is A 5-Paragraph Essay?

December 27, 2022 F WP

How Much Is A 5-Paragraph Essay?

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The major activity in schools and colleges is to learn the knowledge and be able to apply it in the real world. There is a small percentage of that that students need to showcase as proof of understanding and command. After lessons, teachers ask students to do some homework on what has been taught. More often than not, it turns out to be something written that is unique and original to its creator.

Essay writing, in all its forms, shapes, and sizes is a major part of academics. Students struggle to produce riveting works of art and science and only a fraction hits the mark. In this blog, we will cover the premise of a 5 paragraph essay – the most common essay written by students in schools and colleges.

Essay Writing 101

In its purest form, an essay is an attempt to explain a topic or a phenomenon to readers and make them convinced that the writer’s version is the truth. There are many types of essays among which many share various characteristics. The topics and areas for exploration in essays can range from anywhere to anything including technology, politics, history, and beyond.

An essay follows a logical path with reasonable relation between different sections. It follows a single focal point throughout its length, be it 5 paragraphs or 500 pages. The most common pitfalls that students fall into regarding essay writing include poor planning and a lack of solid editing. 

The scope of essay writing is vast and deep as any subject or topic can be explored with greater flexibility. That’s why it is one of the most common practices to help students become better researchers, writers, and editors.

5 Paragraph Essay – A Standard In Schools

Essays exist in different forms but which one is the most influential? We have seen from experience that a 5 paragraph essay is the most common, almost standard, in schools and colleges. The structure of that essay will be discussed in the upcoming section. Many students find them to be confusing and misleading which should not be the case since they are straightforward in their formatting and structure. The distribution of paragraphs among sections is a crucial take that we will cover for the sake of students.

5 Paragraph Essay Structure

If you have ever read a book or studied an essay critically, you can make the case that it has three distinct sections. The first one sets the stage for action. The second one allows the action to play out. The third sums it up with takeaways. This is a standard theme for a large range of writings, including essays. In the same manner, a 5 paragraph essay is not something else to be worried about. The key here is the distribution of paragraphs and word count among major sections so that each one has enough space to contribute to the overall quality of the essay. With that in mind, let’s dig in to probe further!

Opening/ Introduction (One Paragraph)

This is where the essay takes off. The opening lines of essays are often adorned with hooks. These are literary lures that writers set to catch the reader’s attention. They want them to be invested in the topic or idea before presenting their take to him. Just after the hook, it is necessary to have some context or background information for the main topic. Once this is out of the way, it is time to put down the thesis statement. It is a summation of the main idea or ideas of the whole essay.

Main Body (Three Paragraphs)

Students are often fooled by three paragraphs range of this section which leads to disasters. Even though this section has more paragraphs and eventually word count, writers must make every word count and ensure that they make points succinctly. The stage setting in the opening section leads to the action and this is where it plays out. Whether you are writing a narrative or an argumentative essay, this is where the cream of the cream will be. It should be self-explanatory and can exist without the aid of both opening and closing sections.

Closing/ Conclusion (One Paragraph)

There is no point in going through an opening and the main body of an essay if the reader cannot learn anything from them. Even though scholars can come to objective conclusions after studying on their own, writers need to state key takeaways that they think will be beneficial for the readers. A conclusion sums up the main idea for the readers and allows them to understand what was the rationale behind that exercise. Conclusions do not add anything to the main argument or point of the essay but merely reiterate it for the readers.

Types of Essays Common In Academia

Realistically, there can be infinite types of essays that writers can create and mold to get their message across. Traditionally, there are three major types of essays that are recognized and promoted in academia.

In this section, we will take a look at these three essays and help students in understanding them, especially under the premise of 5 paragraph essay structure. Interestingly, it is common and quite appealing for all of these essays. That’s the main reason behind their immense popularity and adoption.

Narrative Essay

A narrative essay, as the name indicates, tells a story from the writer’s perspective. It often revolves around a personal incident or accident that changed the further course of events for the author. It is the most common and often the easiest type of essay since it does not require extensive research. The writing follows the 5 paragraph structure from the opening to the conclusion. The elements of narrative essay writing include thesis, characters, conflict, resolution, etc.

Descriptive Essay

There is no need to describe a descriptive essay since it is self-explanatory. A descriptive essay describes a subject, a person, an event, a place, or an object to the readers through figurative language and sensory details. The main purpose behind doing so is to transcend the idea through space and time and familiarize readers with the subject. Writers employ different literary techniques to make their points including metaphors, similes, and so on. It is more complicated to handle than a narrative essay.

Expository Essay

Expository essays are the most complex ones. The simple definition of an expository essay is one where writers communicate an idea to the readers using only objective content. There is no room for personal views, opinions, and subjectivity in expository essays. There are several types of these essays, including compare and contrast, problem and solution, research papers, and so on. They require extensive research and in-depth knowledge of the subject to stand out. They are usually written at high academic levels.

Transitioning Between Sections

Another problem that students face while writing a 5 paragraph essay is transitioning between different sections. They often move quickly and change the subject drastically which leaves the readers with a bad taste in their mouths. To avoid that, there should be a logical transition between different major sections of the essay. To do that, students need to learn how to open and close individual paragraphs. They need to start easy and close the thought with every paragraph. This way, readers will expect a new thing in the upcoming paragraph which they will get eventually, making it a smooth change.


The structure of a 5 paragraph essay does not dictate or set a specific number of sentences for students. It is up to them and the subject matter they are dealing with. Essays with scientific or more formal language end up with long sentences, resulting in an overall lower number of sentences. On the other hand, simple sentences are shorter and can make the sentence count higher.

This depends on several factors. The most common among them is spacing. For a single-spaced 5 paragraph essay, it can take around 2 to 3 pages. As for the double-spaced essay with 5 paragraphs, you should expect something around 5 to 6 pages.

Essays in schools and colleges diverge greatly in terms of word count. The simplest ones start from at least 300 to 450 words and then reach around 2000 words. So, there are no standards for 5 paragraph essays as the ultimate word count will depend on the depth and scope of the essay. Usually, it is around 800 to 1200 words in schools and colleges.

Here are the major milestones that students need to cover in writing a 5 paragraph essay:

  • Choosing a suitable topic
  • Collecting relevant data
  • Outline the complete essay
  • Write the initial draft
  • Proofreading and editing

This is a misconception that many students have for 5 paragraph essays. Granted, it will stretch the paragraphs too long, with 200 words on average in each paragraph, but the practice has been around in academia for decades. That’s why it is not considered to be too much.

A 5 paragraph essay is well-structured and polished around the edge. The clear segregation between sections allows readers to follow the thought of the writer with ease. It also helps the writer navigate through the extensive information with ease.

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