How To Build An Ideal 5 Paragraph Essay Outline

October 14, 2020

The 5 paragraph essay is a common assignment in colleges and universities. If a student knows how to write such an essay, other types of assignments will be a piece of cake. In this detailed guide, we will explain how to come up with a perfect 5 paragraph essay outline. You will find useful recommendations and guidelines that will surely enhance your writing.

5 Paragraph Essay: What Is It?

The 5 paragraph essay is a standard format that every student should master. It is called so because of its five-paragraph structure. There is an introduction, 3 main paragraphs (body), and, of course, a conclusion. This type of essay is sometimes called a hamburger essay due to the layered structure.

The 5 paragraph essay structure is common for TOEFL, IELTS, and SAT. Students have limited time during each of these exams, and a 5 paragraph format is very helpful. When they use this structure, their answers are more efficient and quick. 

If we are talking about word count, the 5 paragraph essay is usually 250-500 words long. This format can be used for writing many various types of essays: persuasive, narrative, expository, etc.

What is an Outline for a 5 Paragraph Essay?

Consider an outline, a short plan, a core of your essay. It helps you to organize all arguments so that nothing would be missed in the process of writing. Is it possible to write a decent essay without creating a proper outline first? Technically, it is. However, the task will be more challenging. Outlining is a part of the professional approach that can do wonders.

If you are a beginner and writing is like uncharted territory for you, a 5 paragraph essay outline is where you should start practicing. It will provide you with the necessary discipline and order. Without an outline and flow, your sentences or paragraphs may sound incoherent and disordered.

Here is why a good outline will be very helpful in the process of essay writing:

  1. Your ideas will be more organized. In the research process, you gather huge amount of information and can easily get lost in it.
  2. The text will be properly structured, and your essay will have a natural information flow. 
  3. Important details and thoughts won’t be missed.
  4. You will be able to write essays and other types of papers faster and without much effort. 

Besides, your essay outline is a nice way of testing your topic and checking whether you’ve made the right choice. You will know whether you can reach the word count and write an interesting and informative essay. You see, 5 paragraph essays include all the crucial segments that make your essay complete and logical. If you can fit all the ideas into the outline, it is a sign that you have chosen a good topic.   

Creating an Outline for a 5 Paragraph Essay

Following the structure is extremely important when you work on a 5 paragraph essay. As already know, these 5 parts are the introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Let’s see how it should look. 


Your essay introduction is like a movie trailer. This part should impress and captivate without revealing the plot. That is why you need a hook – a few sentences that encourage the reader to go on reading the whole essay. You can insert a rhetorical question, a shocking fact, a joke, or a famous quote. Be sure to use only credible and relevant information. 

For instance, if you are writing an essay about environmental problems, try starting with something like this:

Would you be happy living on a planet where forests are gone, and drinking water is scarce?

Of course, this question is rhetorical, and the answer is not really needed.

Introduce your supporting arguments briefly, without giving away too much information. Don’t forget to provide a thesis statement – your argument. It will serve as a basis for the entire essay.

Here is a thesis example:

If we want to prevent disastrous consequences, our planet’s preservation should be a priority for all continents and countries. 

Body Paragraphs

So, how can you start the first body paragraph? Although all three paragraphs should be vital and informative, the first one is usually the most powerful. Provide your strongest argument first. Think of the most striking example, the most appropriate graphic, and a topic sentence. You can also use a “reverse hook” sentence. Remember that all of your arguments should be connected to the thesis. 

Remember that this essay format is called a “hamburger essay”? So, body paragraphs are meat. All three paragraphs should follow the same pattern. Here is a typical structure for each body paragraph: introductory sentence, explanation of a supporting argument explanation, concluding sentence.

Here is a good example of an introductory sentence:

Cutting down trees and polluting air and water not only harms our Mother Earth but also negatively affects human health. 

Delve deeper into detail, for example:

People became so selfish and greedy that they fail to notice the catastrophic consequences of their doings. Rapidly developing industry worsens air quality, kills forests, and endangers many animal species. While focusing on short-term profits, we choose not to consider long-term effects. If you take China, for example, air pollution is a huge problem in Beijing. Most people wear masks while walking around on the streets.

At the end of a paragraph, add a concluding sentence:

To conclude, the damage we inflict on the planet is not only devastating to nature but our well-being as well.


Make sure that the concluding paragraph contains the following components:

  1. An allusion to your introduction.
  2. A rephrased thesis statement. Here you should use fresh interpretation instead of simply copying the thesis. 
  3. Major points’ summary.
  4. A finishing statement that signals about the closing of the discussion.

Be assertive while paraphrasing the thesis. The readers should be convinced that your point has been proved. To make a strong and lasting impression on the audience, try a concluding hook. Write something unanticipated, add some spice, and surprise the readers. Think of a rhetorical question that sums everything up.  

Let’s look at a proper conclusion example:

Our deeds determine whether the planet survives or dies. People should reconsider their attitude to nature and take the necessary steps to prevent ecological disasters. Using natural resources efficiently and responsibly is crucial if we want to keep living in a world without suffering. The future of our planet depends on us, doesn’t it?

Outline Format

The most common approach to essay outline formatting is a linear style. It implies ranking arguments from the most important and strongest to the weakest ones.

Note that your outline does not have to consist of complete sentences. Make it comfortable, visually clear, and understandable for you. A good outline should allow you to see whether something needs to be modified, supplemented, or removed. It will help to avoid repetition and redundancy.

Here is one more advice. Do not assume that your readers are familiar with the topic, even if you are. Imagine that your audience knows nothing about it and arrange everything logically.

Key Point to Remember

To sum up, the 5 paragraph essay outline is the most popular and effective format. It is a perfect starting point for beginners who want to improve their writing. Even experienced writers use this outline format to better organize their ideas. Hopefully, this article helps you make all your essays more structured and logical and bring your writing skills to the next level. 

Let’s highlight the most important points of this article:

  • the 5 paragraph essay should consist of one intro paragraph, the main body, and one concluding paragraph;
  • each body paragraph has a certain object;
  • all three body paragraphs should be formatted the same way;
  • normally, 5 paragraph essays are 250-500 words long;
  • assignments for standardized tests are the toughest – there are different essay types, and you have limited time.
  • creating an outline for your essay is a good way to organize your thoughts and save time. 

Professional Help

With the help of these guidelines and recommendations, you can write a brilliant 5 paragraph essay outline. No more poor grades! Just make sure that you manage your time properly and start as early as possible.

However, we understand that deadlines are sometimes merciless and time pressure inflicts too much stress. If you feel stuck or overwhelmed with a challenging assignment, consider getting professional help. We know how to build a perfect outline for your 5 paragraph essay and help you learn how to do it properly. Our professional team deals with all kinds of assignments, so if you need assistance with any task, feel free to contact us and get quality support.

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