How to Write the Five Paragraph Essay
Advanced Placement U.S. History Mrs. Burton, NBCT
What is the correct form for a DBQ Essay?
Topic Sentence with introductory paragraph Three supporting ideas or pieces of evidence Conclusion No paragraph with less than 5 sentences
Getting Started First the teacher gives you a topic
You begin by preparing an outline or diagram of your ideas. Write an essay about your favorite thing
Let’s Talk About the Topic Sentence
Always start with a topic sentence. This is the main point of your essay, your thesis statement. It will have 2 parts. The first will state the topic. The second will state the point of the essay. My favorite thing is American History.
Let’s Talk About the Introduction
The introduction is a signpost at the beginning of the trail It tells the reader where you are going to take them and what they will see along the way.
Let’s Talk About the Body
The body of the essay moves the reader along toward the destination or goal you have set. It usually has several paragraphs, each related to one of the points you want to make.
Let’s Talk About The Body of the Essay
In your map or outline write three reasons justifying the topic sentence. These are your sub-points. They will head your paragraphs. I love being challenged. I love Mrs. Burton. I love learning about my ancestors.
My Favorite Thing My favorite thing is American History.
I love being challenged. I love Mrs. Burton. I love learning about my ancestors. These are just three of the many reasons why I love American History.
Writing the Body Paragraphs
Use each subtopic as the topic sentence for the supporting points you wish to make. Generally you will use 3 or less specific details or examples supporting each subtopic. I love being challenged. I get bored if I am not challenged. I enjoy learning new things. I believe education is power.
More on The Body Each supporting statement should elaborate on the sub point. These should make your ideas clear and convincing. Just remember you are not only proving the topic sentence of each paragraph with your specific examples, but the topic sentence of the whole paper as well! Always write in the active (action) voice. It is much more powerful.
Writing the Conclusion
The last paragraph is the easiest. Begin with a paraphrasing of your main point. Do not just repeat what you said. Sum up your arguments and provide a culminating statement.
Let’s Talk About the Conclusion
The conclusion is the end of the journey. Every essay needs a strong conclusion. Now you have completed your map for your essay. You have a thesis, subtopics 1,2,and 3 and a concluding statement. These are just three of the many reasons why I love American History.
Writing the Conclusion
Emphasize the importance of your topic and significance of your view. This paragraph needs to bring closure to your essay and provide a final perspective on your topic. Remember this is the idea with which you will leave your reader.
My Favorite Thing In conclusion, there are many reasons American History is my favorite thing. Challenges are great motivators, especially when you enjoy the teacher. It is through American History that one is able to learn about their heritage. These are just three of the many reasons why American History will always be one of my favorite things.
Some Final Thoughts Check the order of your paragraphs.
Your strongest argument should be first, your second strongest last. Your weakest argument should be in the middle. (I love Mrs. Burton) Be sure it makes logical sense Reread and add transition words to connect your thoughts smoothly.
On Using the Words of Others
There are three ways to use the words of others Summary – condensation of the main ideas of someone else. Quote – direct word for word quote which must be placed in quotation marks. Paraphrase – retelling of an idea in different words.
What about DBQs? Be sure to read the task carefully before you begin your plan. Identify the historical period on which the task is based. Brainstorm relevant issues, historical terms, names or events which are significant to that period of history. Read the primary documents. In the margin make notes to focus your ideas. Highlight important points.
I love my DBQ Only after you understand the task you have been given can you compose your thesis statement. Write your thesis statement. Identify the three or four sub-topics (logical arguments) which support your thesis Recheck the directions to make sure you have accurately identified the required goal.
Careful with that DBQ If the directions say DISCUSS it means “to make observations about using facts, reasoning, and argument.” Show means “to set forth clearly a position or idea by stating it and giving data to support it.” Explain means “to give reasons for or causes of; to show the logical development or relationships of.” Describe means “to illustrate something in words or tell about it.”
What is the Next Step? Now that you know where you are headed, create your plan, outline, web. Be sure to reference the documents as you make the map. This will save you from haphazardly inserting them later or leaving them out altogether. Also support your points with relevant outside information from your brainstormed list. Accurate student supplied information will earn points, even without support from the documents. The use of the primary documents not supported with outside information will NOT garner points and should be avoided. You may need more than three paragraphs to complete the assignment. Be sure each one has a topic sentence and supporting details.
Then What? Finally write the conclusion
Summarize the subject by restating the question in a different way A conclusion is not necessary, but it will score extra points if done properly. Check your citations (Burton, 2004) or “According to Burton (2004)”
Finally or Are We Done Yet?
Students who received top scores: Made analytical and thematic use of most documents Brought in significant outside information Made only minor errors that did not detract from the knowledgeability of the essay. Students who received lower scores: Restated the documents with little interpretation Provided little outside information Offered no analysis Had major errors Simply paraphrased or restated the question.
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