Demerits of the Five-Paragraph Essay

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  3
Wordcount:  711 Words
Date:  2022-08-15


The five-paragraph essay is a format in writing articles. The arrangement clearly states that an essay should contain an introductory paragraph which should, in turn, have a thesis statement as the last line in that paragraph. The thesis statement should introduce the central idea that is to be discussed in the essay. The essay should have a body made up of three or four paragraphs that support the ideas that were introduced in the first paragraph. It should end with a conclusion paragraph that ties up all the concepts discussed in the essay. This method "stunts the students' critical thinking abilities" and limits the learners' ability to express themselves fully and should not be taught in schools due to the reasons discussed below.

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To begin with, this format limits the number of paragraphs that a writer has to have in their essay. The format states that they should have about five paragraphs which are an introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph. The format makes it hard for students with a comprehensive understanding of the topic being discussed to exhaustively discuss it in this format (O'Brien 10). Kathleen observes that her "old backpack (FPT format) was too tight and too small to hold her growing ideas." The Five-paragraph theory may be "helpful for new writers as it sets up a foundation for them in essay formatting." The strict order that the format needs makes it even easier for the new writers to follow and apply without much difficulty (Seo 15). This strictness, however, serves as a restriction for writers who are well established and have a broad scope of knowledge. It becomes hard for writers to fit several pages of notes into five paragraphs. Wesley compares the five paragraph theory to a Bonsai tree that is kept by a gardener at nine inches high and in a pot which would have otherwise grown eighty feet tall and on the side of a mountain (57). This shows how much the five-paragraph theme limits the growth of experience for writers.

In addition to that, the five-paragraph essay makes it hard to develop a students' thinking skills as it is static over the years. The format does not allow students to take risks in explaining their discoveries (Wesley 59). Since the format outlines what should be contained in the essay paragraphs, "the students have very little rhetorical analysis of the issue provided" in a paper. As a method to cope with this, instructors can set some rhetorical questions to be discussed in the essay. There are also suggestions that the number of paragraphs should not be limited to three but the body should not have a set number of paragraphs. This will increases space for writers with a lot of knowledge on certain issues to exhaustively discuss them.

Finally, the five-paragraph essay format may lead to the development of very weak points in essays. Due to the strict nature of the format, writers may decide to cover aspects that are not helpful in the context as a way to fulfill the fact that the body has three paragraphs. Some instructors force the students to write according to this format so much that it becomes a daily routine. As a result, the writers who have little knowledge of specific tasks try to follow the order despite having exhausted their points in the first two body paragraphs. This method is not right to be taught in schools.


The five-paragraph theory has been used in learning systems for ages and has been introduced as a basis for learning essay writing. The method has many disadvantages such as limiting the number of paragraphs that an essay should have, limiting the growth of a students' ability to think and imagine different situations as well as making it hard to discuss points in an article exhaustively. This proves that the format is not a proper method to teach essay writing and should not be taught in schools.

Work Cited

Seo, Byung-In. Defending The Five-Paragraph Essay. 97th ed., 2004, pp. 15-16, Accessed 25 Sept 2018.

O'Brien Kathleen. My Love/Hate Relationship With The Five Paragraph Essay. 13th ed., Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004, pp. 10-11, Accessed 25 Sept 2018.

Wesley, Kimberly. The Ill Effects Of The Five Paragraph Theme. The National Council Of Teachers Of English, 2000, Accessed 25 Sept 2018.

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Demerits of the Five-Paragraph Essay. (2022, Aug 15). Retrieved from

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