That is a vintage five-paragraph essay introduction.

That is a vintage five-paragraph essay introduction.

But Alex’s professor doesn’t want it. She underlines the very first two sentences, and she writes, “This is too general. Arrive at the true point.” She underlines the next and sentences that are fourth and she writes, “You’re just restating the question I asked. What’s your point?” She underlines the final sentence, and then writes in the margin, “What’s your thesis?” because the last sentence in the paragraph only lists topics. It does not make an argument.

Is Alex’s professor just a grouch? Well, no—she is wanting to show this student that college writing isn’t about following a formula (the five-paragraph model), it’s about making a quarrel. Her first sentence is general, the way she learned a five-paragraph essay should start. But through the professor’s perspective, it is way too general—so general, in fact, she didn’t ask students to define civil war that it’s completely outside of the assignment. The third and fourth sentences say, in so many words, they just restate the prompt, without giving a single hint about where this student’s paper is going“ I am comparing and contrasting the reasons why the North and the South fought the Civil War”—as the professor says. The sentence that is final that should make an argument, only lists topics; it doesn’t commence to explore how or why something happened. Read more