Up to Snuff #52 Writing Basics, Getting Started with a Simple 5 Paragraph Essay

Up to Snuff #52:  Writing Basics, Getting Started with a Simple 5 Paragraph Essay

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu


-Think of your hand and a basic 5 paragraph format that includes:

  1. Introduction
  2. Body paragraph one
  3. Body paragraph two
  4. Body paragraph three
  5. Conclusion


**Always include that skeleton of five paragraphs.  If your paper does not have that much then sometimes it is not even a paper yet because it lacks development.

-Before you start writing mentally note your basic “plan” then thread your document with cadence

What should be in a plan?

Start by summarizing in one statement a clear thesis.  A thesis statement should be your choice of one statement that sums up your whole paper that is your controlling idea.  Your thesis statement is your helm that will guide your whole document.

Then create a short roadmap of what will be included in your document with descriptive language to form your introduction.  You may add things like rhetorical questions to build your document.

Think of linking all your paragraphs with good transitions and progression.  Build your body paragraphs with sophisticated transitions.  Research language you may use for transitions in magazines, books and newspapers.  Avoid using language that is too redundant or simplistic like first, second and third.

When your essay is scored, readers will look for three main areas:

  • Organization
  • Elaboration
  • Conventions

When readers are looking for organization they will look at:

  • Your thesis statement
  • Transitions
  • Introduction and conclusion, and generally your 5 paragraphs
  • Progression
  • Variety

When readers look at your elaboration they are looking for “evidence” that supports your thesis in your body paragraphs that should not be vague or general but specific, factual, and cited.

It is very important to use citations in all of your writing.  It is important to learn how to write a short bibliography, to use in text citations and quotations or to cite the source within your sentence with quotations.

It is important to write in your own words and to read the source material and organize and pull from it without text copying.


When scoring your paper readers will look at the density of errors, the number of errors and the kinds of errors.  They will look to see if you have a partial command of grammar, usage, capitalization, basic sentence structure of subject and verb, no run on’s, no comma splicing, spelling, proper nouns capitalized, first letter of the sentence capitalization, correct contractions, correct tense, correct punctuation, and no grade level errors.



-Put meat on the bones into your essay.  The more you write the more opportunity you have for development and elaboration.  Shorter essays get lower scores.  You have to write a progressive, tight, longer essay to get the highest score.

-Use your domain specific language to help you with spelling.

-Avoid confusion, avoid off topic or tangential writing, be creative, but not too creative. Be precise.

-How to build your vocabulary is by reading a variety of writings including books, newspapers, magazine articles and journals.

-Build your library of writing reference books, see list.

-Make sure you know what goes into a basic sentence and see books like “Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences” by Janis Bell

-Make sure each sentence is strong and warranted as some Professors grade sentence by sentence and look for truth in your writing.

-What is indicative of a higher scored writing is very often “maturity,” length that suggests development, good understanding and organization, good grammar is an easy good grade, good mature transitions, all five paragraphs,  a plan you thread through, nothing missing, no shortcomings, want the highest score and get it


Notes extracted from” Writing in the Disciplines” pg. 31 (Harcourt Brace)

-“Make certain introduction catches readers attention and establishes thesis of your argument”

-“Make certain statistics and other data are derived from respected sources.”

-“Make certain you have not used unfounded emotional appeals.”

-“Make certain your rational appeals are logical and valid.”

-“Make certain your conclusion follows logically from the evidence you have presented.”

-“Make certain you proofread carefully.”















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