Have you just been asked to write an expository essay? Are you a bit stressed about it? Don’t worry, you don’t need to be! The name comes from the same root as “exposure,” and it’s just a fancy label that means you’ve been asked to explain something. In fact, whether you’ve been asked to write an academic essay or prepare a persuasive speech, they both involve the same procedure. Basically, you’re writing about a theme or topic, choosing your main take or angle on it, analysing evidence, and then explaining it. And the easiest way to practice is by writing a five-paragraph essay.
The five-paragraph essay is a short essay (usually 500 or so words) that explains your take on a topic. Arguably the most common of expository essays, it’s pretty straightforward with an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. So let’s go over all the elements you need for a five-paragraph, expository essay:
The first paragraph is the introduction, where the thesis statement lives. Your thesis statement keeps you focused on the goal of your essay and gives readers an idea of what the essay will be about.Say your essay topic is career choice. You might want to start your essay with an opening statement like this:
“Various factors contribute to people’s career choices.”
Followed by a thesis statement:
“People do not necessarily choose their careers in isolation but make career choices based on a variety of external factors. Some of the factors affecting a person’s career choice include income level or salary, working hours, and commute time.”
Notice that the three factors included in the thesis statement will be the main ideas for each of your three body paragraphs. If you want to learn how to write a good thesis statement, check out our blog on it.
The Body Paragraphs
The second paragraph is where the body paragraphs starts. This is where the first main idea comes to play, with supporting evidence (or examples) and explanation. Your paragraph should begin with its own topic sentence. Here’s an example body paragraph:
“The primary factor affecting a person’s career choice is their income or level of salary (topic sentence). Various research studies have shown that 95 to 97.5% of people choose a certain career based on how much they can make in exchange for their time (evidence). Annual surveys by JobMarket.com also show that the most popular consideration is salary level while career progression, passion for job, and skills match are not considered as important when deciding on careers. Hence it is clear that when a person is choosing their career their main consideration is the compensation level.” (tie back to thesis)
Similarly, the third and fourth paragraphs will be where your second and third ideas around factors affecting a person’s career choice will be discussed. The format remains the same where you use a topic sentence to introduce the main idea, include an example or evidence (explaining that evidence if necessary) and have a sentence that ties it all back to your thesis statement.
Remember that the flow of your arguments must reflect the order in which they were stated in the introductory paragraph. In this case, body paragraph two would be about working hours, and the third body paragraph would be about commute time.
The concluding paragraph is where you get to restate the thesis statement as a summary of your arguments. Remember no new ideas should be introduced here. On the other hand, you can leave readers with a new perspective to consider. For example:
“Salary, working hours, and commute time are the three most common factors that influence a person’s career choice. However, it should be noted that the degree to which these factors affect a person’s decision will be unique to each individual and their own priorities including living circumstances and personal motivations.” (new perspective)
In simple terms, the expository essay has an introduction with a thesis statement that also clearly states three main points. Then there are three body paragraphs that expand on those three main points. Finally, there is a conclusion that sums it all up. Easy! But if you find you need more guidance through the actual writing process, check out our five-paragraph essay template via an EssayJack free-trial.
Useful samples and examples: