Guidelines on Writing Essays for Standardized Exams

College and high school standardized exams have a writing section in all, if not most jurisdictions. Students get a prompt to help them write essay pieces on the subject provided. As such, most learners fear these exams because they always lack ideas on what to anticipate. Understanding the various types of essays and ways of writing them in five paragraphs can calm your nerves while facing such standardized tests.

The various essay types a student can get instructed to write include expository, narrative, persuasive, literary, argumentative, etc. However, a standardized exam can either require you to write a persuasive or literary essay with five paragraphs.

Standardized Exam Essay Paragraphs

It always comes in five paragraphs with an approximate word count of five hundred to eight hundred words. An introduction, having a single paragraph, three body paragraphs, and another paragraph that concludes the essay piece.  

  • Introductory Paragraph

It ranks as the most vital paragraph in an essay as it directs the whole essay piece. The paragraph introduces the topic and sets the essay tone. You can write the introduction by describing the primary idea in a sentence then, follow the initial sentence with a thesis statement in describing what your train of thought entails concerning the primary idea. In a scenario where the prompt comes as a question, then your thesis becomes the response to the prompt. The next three sentences after the thesis statement should incorporate three arguments or points to support the thesis. But please ensure that you arrange them in their order of significance. 

  • Body Text (second paragraph, third paragraph, and fourth paragraph)

The three paragraphs should have details supporting the introduction, and they generally form the essay’s body text. Such paragraphs give facts, examples, concrete statistics, and quotes. It can help if you can have the three introductory points after your thesis statement and discuss each in its paragraph. 

Each paragraph should have a subject sentence as the first sentence, which has to summarize your point. You then need to pen down your argument and reasons for such a stance. Finally, demonstrate your evidence (examples, facts, statistics, quotes) in support of your argument.

You should repeat the process for the third and fourth paragraphs using the second the third points respectively. One excellent thing about having the primary points introduced in the first paragraph entails the elimination of the necessity to use transitions among paragraphs. 

  • Conclusion

It contains the fifth and last paragraph of the essay piece. The conclusion summarizes the entire essay and constitutes one of the most complex paragraphs to pen down. You have to restate your thesis then link it with the body text in a single sentence. It should explain how every point backs the thesis. The final sentence of the conclusion should uphold the primary concept compellingly and clearly. Try and avoid incorporating fresh information in this section.


A student must outline their essay when writing a standardized exam essay. Outlining can help you write each paragraph quickly and finish up the essay piece within the stipulated exam timelines. Remember, a completed essay piece will score better than the one you don’t finish writing as the examiner anticipates the beginning, body, and the end of the essay piece. It’s crucial to review everything you write in case time allows you to. It can help you cut out grammar, flow, and spelling mistakes. 

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