How to Get the Knack of Writing a Two-Paragraph Essay
A two-paragraph essay is short and sweet but how can you put in all the information about the subject in just two paragraphs. Two-paragraph essays are usually used as a writing prompt for students but they can also be used for younger students on a subject that doesn’t require five paragraphs or as a narrative essay.
When you are going to construct a two-paragraph essay, you have to know what the basic paragraph consists of and how to write one. You have to make those two paragraphs count and the structure of them can make or break your essay.
Basic Paragraph Structure
- A basic paragraph is made up of three to five sentences. Too many or few can make your paragraph too vague or overwhelming.
- As in a story, a paragraph has a beginning, middle, and end. This means you have to introduce, explain, and conclude your idea in each paragraph. The last sentence not only has to conclude the paragraph but also should transition it to the next paragraph.
- Each paragraph should have the following sentences, topic, supporting, concluding, and transitional.
Tips on How to Write a Two-Paragraph Essay
- In a two-paragraph essay, you have to put an introduction, body, and conclusion in just two paragraphs, so you need to pick exactly the right information to include in those two paragraphs.
- Don’t go overboard with the information; keep it short and to the point. You don’t want to put in information that is boring or that isn’t relevant to the essay.
A two-paragraph essay is something that is usually assigned to you for an essay. This is different from a five paragraph essay, where you have more space to fully explain your topic. When you are constructing these two paragraphs you should always have the reader or your audience in mind as you are writing. You want to give them all the information and leave them wanting more from the subject.
Giving the audience hard facts can support your thesis. If it is a narrative two-paragraph essay, you want to make sure not to lose the reader with too many or too few details. You want them to read the story and connect with it or at least enjoy the story that you have just told them. So grab the reader early and keep them entertained, this is true with any essay that you are about to write.
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.
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.