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Does an Essay Have to Have 5 Paragraphs?


It is common belief and teaching theory in elementary, middle, and high schools that are public that the needed amount of a properly written essay is five paragraphs. While this may be true depending on certain teachers grading rubrics and scales, it is not essential to have a well written essay.

The reason for this common belief is because starting an elementary school the easiest way to teach a class of 20-30 young aged children to write an essay is to tell them exactly what they need to do. Many teachers are not fans of their students running their imagination or thinking for themselves, there is this belief that children need to be told exactly what to do with clear expectations of amount of words, sentences, and paragraphs.

Most middle school curriculums continue the rule of the 5 paragraph essay rule because the students have already had that engrained in them. Another reason middle teachers will teach that five paragraphs are required is that reteaching the concept would take weeks.

Then in high school the higher level teachers may start to break the five paragraph rule and give more freedom to students since they are almost legally adults. Many teachers believe students should be thinking for themselves after a certain age.

While in college barely any teachers will tell you that five paragraphs are needed for your essay. The important factor in college is the length of the essay in words, not in paragraphs. Realistically a perfectly written essay of 1,000 words can be written in 3-7 paragraphs if need be. An introduction and conclusion is essential to every essay to be considered well written. The body paragraph amount is where as a student in higher education you have nearly complete freedom to place as many body paragraphs you deem fit enough to prove your point.

Depending on your essay topic and the direction you are taking it, you may need fewer or more paragraphs than the generally taught five. There is no reason to be worried or feel like you have an inadequate essay if you 3 of 4 paragraphs. The amount of paragraphs required for your essay depends on you, your subject, and your reader (the teacher grading your assignment).

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