How to Improve Your Essay Writing Skills

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Whether you have a learning disability in writing or just want to improve your writing grades, learning how to follow this basic essay writing method will improve your writing.

The Three-Point Five Paragraph Essay

  1. Tells readers what about the topic you intend to show or prove;
  2. Explains three main supporting ideas that prove your argument or support your position; and
  3. Summarizes the main point, supporting ideas, and reinforces your conclusions about the topic.

Understanding Your Assignment

A three-point five paragraph paper, also called a 3.5 paper, is a type of essay that includes five paragraphs and three main ideas, or points:

  1. The first paragraph is an introduction.
  2. The second, third, and fourth paragraphs each include one main point or idea.
  3. The final paragraph is a conclusion.

A 3.5 paper is a type of essay that organizes and presents your topic in a clear, well-supported, and complete way.

You can use this form of writing for many types of assignments such as:

  • Classroom homework assignments;
  • Essay tests and examinations;
  • Articles for the school or local newspaper;
  • Presentations using PowerPoint or other slideshow software;
  • Speeches and oral presentations;
  • Poster presentations for science fairs or other academic presentations; and
  • Workplace assignments for papers or presentations on the job.

Improve Essay Writing With Pre-Writing Tasks

As with any type of writing project, performing pre-writing tasks is an important first step:

  • Get clear instructions from your teacher, and check your understanding with her.
  • Ask if there are handouts on the assignment or a rubric explaining how the assignment will be scored.
  • Ask for a sample 3.5 paper your teacher thinks is a good example. Teachers may not always do this, but if a sample is available, it can give you important information on what kind of writing your teacher considers good work. Use it as inspiration, but never copy anyone else's writing.

Think About and Research Your Topic

List your thoughts on the topic in brief sentences. Write at least twelve sentences on separate index cards. To get started, use these questions to get your thoughts going:

  • What do you already know about the topic?
  • What does your teacher think is important about it?
  • What does your textbook or the media say about it?
  • What would most people want to know about the topic?

Read your sentences, and think about how they can be grouped. Combine your sentences into three main groups.

Organize Your Ideas in Groups

Look for relationships between your ideas, and identify three main groups. Examples:

Separate your index cards into three piles, one for each main idea.

  • A time sequence such as first, second, and third events;
  • Three social studies themes such as political, social, and economic influences;
  • A shift in focus from how your topic affects one person, a community, and a nation;
  • Development of a piece of art from an idea to creation, to its impact on the art world; and
  • Background research on a science project, design of the project, and analysis of results.

Analyze and Organize

Now you're ready to begin writing the three paragraphs that will form the body of your paper.

Working with one stack of cards at a time, organize the cards into logical order within each pile.

Order the piles in the sequence you will use them in the paper. Examples of order:

  • Temporal order as in which came first, second, and third in time;
  • Order of importance, as in the least important, more important, and most important idea;
  • Order of construction as in the foundation, main parts, and finishing touches; or
  • Other order that makes sense for your unique topic.

Write the First Draft of Each Paragraph

Working with one stack at a time, write each paragraph on a separate piece of paper:

  1. Write using the sentences you created in your first stack.
  2. As you write, feel free to make small edits, such as choosing more descriptive words or correcting the wrong tense.
  3. Include any important new ideas you think of as you write.
  4. Exclude any sentences that no longer seem to fit.
  5. When you've finished with the first paragraph, write the second and third following the same steps.

Develop the Introduction Paragraph

Many students find that writing the essay's introduction after the main points are developed is much easier because it enables you to focus your writing. Your introduction should include at least two parts:

  1. A sentence stating the main purpose or idea your essay will address
  2. One to three sentences that briefly introduce the three main supporting points that will prove, support, or justify the main idea of the paper.

Develop the Closing Paragraph

The conclusion paragraph should be a brief restating of your introduction should include at least two parts:

  1. A sentence that reminds your reader of the main purpose or idea your essay addressed; and
  2. A sentence that briefly reminds readers that your three points prove your main idea or shows that your position is correct.

Final Editing

As you work toward the final version of your paper:

  • Ask your teacher if you can submit a draft for your teacher to make suggestions for improvement that you can use in your final version;
  • Ask a parent, another student, or a friend to read your paper and offer suggestions; and as always,
  • Check spelling, word use, and your teacher's input to make final revisions.


  1. You can adapt these steps using a computer or word processor if that is the way you prefer to write.
  2. Writing on paper with pencils, however, helps some students reflect more on the content of their essays.
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