How To Start Off An Essay Paragraphs

Essay Writing for Standardized Tests: Tips for Writing a Five Paragraph Essay

Most, if not all, high school and college standardized tests include a writing portion. Students are provided a writing prompt and must then write an essay on the topic. Writing for standardized tests can strike fear in the hearts and minds of students of all ages, but it doesn’t have to. If you know what to expect and understand how to write a five paragraph essay, you will be prepared to tackle any essay writing prompt.

Types of Essays on Standardized Tests

When you begin to write your essay for a standardized test, you must first decide what type of essay you are being asked to write. There are many different types of essays, including narrative, expository, argumentative, persuasive, comparative, literary, and so on. The type of essay will determine your topic and thesis. Essays for standardized tests are typically either persuasive, in which you will answer a question, or literary, in which you will write about something you read.

For standardized tests, students usually have to write a five paragraph essay, which should be 500 to 800 words long and include an introductory paragraph, three supporting paragraphs and a concluding paragraph.

The First Paragraph: The Introduction

The first paragraph will introduce your topic. The introduction is the most important paragraph because it provides direction for the entire essay. It also sets the tone, and you want to grab the reader’s attention with interest and clarity. The best way to tackle the introduction is to:

  • Describe your main idea, or what the essay is about, in one sentence. You can usually use the essay writing prompt or question to form this sentence.
  • Develop a thesis statement, or what you want to say about the main idea. When the writing prompt is a question, your thesis is typically the answer to the question.
  • List three points or arguments that support your thesis in order of importance (one sentence for each).

Voila! You’ve just written your introductory paragraph.

The Second, Third and Fourth Paragraphs: Supporting Details

These three paragraphs form the body of the essay. They provide details, such as facts, quotes, examples and concrete statistics, for the three points in your introductory paragraph that support your thesis. Take the points you listed in your introduction and discuss each in one body paragraph. Here’s how:

  • First, write a topic sentence that summarizes your point. This is the first sentence of your paragraph.
  • Next, write your argument, or why you feel the topic sentence is true.
  • Finally, present your evidence (facts, quotes, examples, and statistics) to support your argument.

Now you have a body paragraph. Repeat for points two and three. The best part about introducing your main points in the first paragraph is that it provides an outline for your body paragraphs and eliminates the need to write in transitions between paragraphs.

The Fifth Paragraph: The Conclusion

The concluding paragraph must summarize the essay. This is often the most difficult paragraph to write. In your conclusion, you should restate the thesis and connect it with the body of the essay in a sentence that explains how each point supports the thesis. Your final sentence should uphold your main idea in a clear and compelling manner. Be sure you do not present any new information in the conclusion.

Parting Thoughts

When writing an essay for a standardized test, outline your essay and get through each paragraph as quickly as possible. Think of it as a rough draft. When your time is up, a complete essay will score more points than an incomplete essay because the evaluator is expecting a beginning, middle and an end.

If you have time to review your essay before your time is up, by all means do so! Make any revisions that you think will enhance your “rough draft” and be sure to check for any grammatical errors or misspellings.

Online instruction like  the Time4Writing essay writing courses for elementary, middle and high school students can help children prepare for state and college-entrance standardized writing tests. These interactive writing classes build basic writing skills, explain essay types and structure, and teach students how to organize their ideas.

For general tips on test preparation and details about each state’s standardized tests, please visit our standardized test overview page.

It is a good idea to occasionally use linking words and phrases at the start of a new paragraph. They can help to link what you have said in the previous paragraph to what you are about to say in your new paragraph.

These link words and phrases are often referred to as signposts. This is because they help to indicate to the reader when one point ends and other begins, as well as the relationship between each point.

Used with care, they can help to guide examiners and tutors through your essay. As well as bolster the impression of a coherent, flowing and logical piece of work.

Useful linking words and phrases that can be used at the start of new paragraphs:

A contrary explanation is that, …

Although, …

As a consequence, …

As a result, …

As we have seen, …

At the same time, …

Accordingly, …

An equally significant aspect of…

Another, significant factor in…

Before considering X it is important to note Y

By the same token, …

But we should also consider, …

Despite these criticisms, …it’s popularity remains high.

Certainly, there is no shortage of disagreement within…

Consequently, …

Correspondingly, …

Conversely, …

Chaytor, … in particular, has focused on the

Despite this, …

Despite these criticisms, … the popularity of X remains largely undiminished.

Each of these theoretical positions make an important contribution to our understanding of, …

Evidence for in support of this position, can be found in…,

Evidently,

For this reason, …

For these reasons, …

Furthermore, …

Given, the current high profile debate with regard to, …it is quite surprising that …

Given, the advantages of … outlined in the previous paragraph, …it is quite predictable that …

However, …

Having considered X, it is also reasonable to look at …

Hence, …

In addition to, …

In contrast, …

In this way, …

In this manner, …

In the final analysis, …

In short, …

Indeed, …

It can be seen from the above analysis that, …

It could also be said that, …

It is however, important to note the limitations of…

It is important to note however, that …

It is important however not to assume the applicability of, …in all cases.

It is important however not to overemphasis the strengths of …

In the face of such criticism, proponents of, …have responded in a number of ways.

Moreover, …

Notwithstanding such criticism, ….it’s popularity remains largely undiminished.

Notwithstanding these limitations, ….it worth remains in a number of situations.

Noting the compelling nature of this new evidence, …has suggested that.

Nevertheless, …remains a growing problem.

Nonetheless, the number of, …has continued to expand at an exponential rate.

Despite these criticisms, …it’s popularity remains high.

On the other hand, critics of, …point to its blindness, with respect to.

Of central concern therefore to, …sociologists is explaining how societal processes and institutions…

Proponents of…, have also suggested that…

Subsequently, …

Similarly, …

The sentiment expressed in the quotation, embodies the view that, …

This interpretation of, … has not been without it’s detractors however.

This approach is similar to the, …. position

This critique, unfortunately, implies a singular cause of, …

This point is also sustained by the work of, …

Thirdly, …

This counter argument is supported by evidence from, …

The use of the term, …

Therefore, …

There appears then to be an acceleration in the growth of

There is also, however, a further point to be considered.

These technological developments have greatly increased the growth in, …

Thus, …

To be able to understand, …

Undoubtedly, …

While such failures must not be discounted, … there were in comparison small, when compared

Whilst the discussion in the preceding paragraph, …

Whether crime rates were actually lower at this time continues to be a matter of debate. Evidence from…

There are an almost limitless number of linking phrases and words one can use. What is important is that they complement the style of your writing.

Use these examples to arouse your creativity.

Remember that you don’t have to use them all the time. Using words like, ‘therefore’ ‘subsequently’ ‘moreover’ etc. for every new paragraph would probably become repetitive and detract from the key component of most academic work – critical analysis.

Finally, remember to succinctly, identify the key paragraphs and/or sections of your essay during your introductory paragraph. Then restate them along side an unambiguous position in your concluding paragraph. Again this will help to communicate a clear and understandable progression and structure, to those who read or mark your essay.

Best wishes.
S J Tonge.

0 comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *