How to Write in the Format of a 3.5 Essay

Updated on October 12, 2014

About the Author

Dreamhowl was an English major throughout her college career and has excelled at reading and writing since elementary school.

What is 3.5 Essay Format?

The 3.5 essay format is a common homework assignment for students from elementary school all the way to high school. Most essays focus on a theme, such as why homework helps students, or why bullying is wrong. These essays, being only five paragraphs in length, are fairly short and easy to compose. This essay format is a favorite of English teachers, and are often used for essay tests.

A 3.5 essay is made up of five paragraphs: an introduction, three body paragraphs and a conclusion. The introduction includes a thesis statement of which the essay focuses on, such as:

“The best place for a summer family vacation is Cooperstown because of the rural scenery, the educational attractions and the Baseball Hall of Fame.”

The following three body paragraphs focus on the three points made in the thesis statement; in this case, the scenery, attractions and Baseball Hall of Fame. After these three points have been made, the conclusion summarizes the essay. Most 3.5 essays are short in length and very concise. Many people have a tendency to repeat the same information over and over - try to avoid being repetitive in making your point.

Writing essays can be tough, so remember to research and outline!
Writing essays can be tough, so remember to research and outline! | Source

How to Write a 3.5 Essay

There are many steps to writing a 3.5 essay. Without the proper planning and research, your essay may not validate your points or sound convincing. If your essay doesn’t cover three specific points related to your topic, it doesn’t follow the format of a 3.5 essay, so remember to be thorough.

1. Research and outline the topic

Once you know what the topic is for your essay, start your research! Some assignments might assign a specific essay topic and others might allow you to choose as long as it relates to the content you learned in class; if you read A Separate Peace in your English class, your teacher might ask you to write an essay about Finny and Gene’s (the main characters’) friendship and / or rivalry. If your essay requires using an outside source for support, researching via the internet or school library is a must.

Outlining your essay is a good way to organize your thoughts and flesh out your essay topic. For some students, making an outline is simply making an organized list of facts to write about - for others, outlining an essay involves more work. Whatever process helps you focus on the format and organization of your essay topic is fair enough. Listing your topic and supporting ideas in paragraph order constitutes a basic outline.

As part of the introduction, you will need to form a thesis statement that includes all three of your essay’s points. The thesis statement is generally the last sentence of your introduction and is very straightforward; the thesis statement doesn’t need to be fancy or clever, it needs to be simple and understandable. This sets the layout for the rest of your essay. This is why researching your topic beforehand is so important!

Follow your teacher's guidelines to formatting your essay in Microsoft Word.
Follow your teacher's guidelines to formatting your essay in Microsoft Word. | Source

2. Write your introduction

When writing an introduction to a 3.5 essay, you don’t want to be complex; your introduction and thesis statement give the reader a sense of what your argument is about. Your opening sentence should be a general statement - bonus points if it pulls in the reader. For example, if you are writing about women and wit in Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night, you might start with:

“In William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, the topics of women and wit are of great play and interest.”

After your opening sentence, add a couple more sentences expanding on your topic. Don’t make your introduction too long - try to remain as straight-to-the-point as possible. And remember to end your introduction with your thesis statement! If you are writing your Twelfth Night essay, your thesis statement can be the following:

“It is ironic that Viola is able to match the wit of Feste and have wordplay with him, while Maria completely towers over the aptitude of Sir Toby and Sir Andrew in tricking Malvolio.”

Have you written a 3.5 essay before?

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3. Write three body paragraphs

The middle of your 3.5 essay is made up of three body paragraphs; each paragraph should focus on a point mentioned in your introduction and thesis statement. Subsequently, each body paragraph should start with a topic sentence to transition readers from point to point. If your body paragraph is discussing how the character Viola displays wit, you might start with:

“Viola is a great display of wit in the play, with wit being equivalent to awareness, intelligence, and the manipulation of language.”

The remaining sentences of your body paragraph should include examples from the source to defend your argument. Quotations from the work are a fantastic way to validate your essay. If you used other resources when researching your essay topic, you can include quotations from them as well! When you use direct quotations from a source, be sure to credit your source in parenthesis. For example:

"When Feste calls words but a tool to wit, Viola remarks, “They that dally nicely with words may quickly make them wanton” (III.i.ll 14-15)."

Using information directing from your source shows that you have read the material and know your topic. Most English teachers require that you use quotations from the work directly. To qualify as 3.5 format, your essay needs three body paragraphs. Of the entire essay, your three body paragraphs should contain the most information.

Websites like Purdue Online Writing Lab can help with formatting and citations.
Websites like Purdue Online Writing Lab can help with formatting and citations. | Source

4. Write your conclusion

Like your introduction, your conclusion should be fairly short and to the point; try not to write more than five or so sentences. The point of the conclusion is to summarize your essay but not in a repetitive way; don’t simply copy and paste your introduction and change a few words around. Re-state your thesis and add a new sentence or two in contemplation of what you have just written. In your Twelfth Night essay, you can end your conclusion with:

“In this way, Shakespeare uses wit to express the smarts and manipulation of Viola and Maria, while ironically leaving men like Sir Toby and Sir Andrew to be dull minded and ignorant in comparison.”

Remember to tie everything together in your conclusion; words like “overall”, “therefore” or “in conclusion” can help transition your essay to a close. Once you’ve done that, your essay is finished! Before you hand it in to be graded, look it over carefully - check for spelling, grammar and other mistakes. Make sure you sourced your quotes properly, included a works cited page (if required) and wrote your name on the top! Good luck on your 3.5 format essay!

Questions & Answers

  • Does a 3.5 essay have to be 3.5 pages long?

    No - 3.5 only refers to the number of paragraphs in the essay (three paragraphs, an intro, and a conclusion).

© 2013 Jessica Peri


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    Post Comment
    • Dreamhowl profile imageAUTHOR

      Jessica Peri 

      2 years ago from United States

      @MarcelinaSamora Thanks for reading - I'm glad it helped!

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Thank you so much! Really helpful, and I appreciate it.

    • profile image

      3 years ago

      did not help :(

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      5 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      My pleasure.

    • Dreamhowl profile imageAUTHOR

      Jessica Peri 

      5 years ago from United States

      @KristenHowe Thank you so much!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      5 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Jessica, this was useful for anyone who needed a refresher course on essay writing. Voted up!

    • Dreamhowl profile imageAUTHOR

      Jessica Peri 

      6 years ago from United States

      Thanks! I'm glad you found it helpful.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      This is useful information which I will share with my middle school age child. I'm not sure what we used to call this when I was going to school? And I even started out as an English major. Hmm. Thanks for writing on this topic.

    • Dreamhowl profile imageAUTHOR

      Jessica Peri 

      7 years ago from United States

      Thank you! It's a common essay format for most students, and I guess it could be helpful to beginners too.

    • Ben Freedom profile image

      Benjamin K. Freedom 

      7 years ago from USA

      Useful material for beginning Hub ers and students!


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