Are you an international student preparing to attend college in the United States? With CISL’s Pathway Program, students first attend CISL’s English for Academic Purposes Program and master the academic English skills necessary to succeed in the rigorous American classroom. Students then transfer to one of CISL’s esteemed Pathway Partner schools, such as Palomar College or Santa Barbara City College, to complete their degree.

One of the main aspects of CISL’s EAP program is learning how to write an effective essay. This is the cornerstone of the American academic system! Mastering the essay begins with mastering the paragraph. Do you know how to write an effective paragraph?


Writing an Effective Body Paragraph

An essay typically consists of the following:

  • An introduction
  • Body paragraphs (2-3, but this varies)
  • A conclusion

We are going to take a look at the body paragraphs and how to write them effectively. But first, let’s look at their parts.

A paragraph consists of several parts:

  • An introductory sentence. This is the sentence that introduces the main idea of the paragraph. It tells the reader exactly what the paragraph will be about.
  • Supporting sentences. These sentences support the main idea of the introductory sentence. Every sentence in the paragraph should directly relate to this main idea. Although this sounds simple, in the end it’s very easy to begin writing and get off topic!

Here are two examples of paragraphs with an introductory sentence and supporting sentences. Where do you imagine that these paragraphs would be placed in the essay?


Paragraph 1

Researchers also discovered that flights affect one’s ability to reason. In a study of over 1,000 participants, scientists asked each person to complete puzzles and other problem-solving exercises while on the ground and then again in the air. Researchers reported a 20% decreased in the participants’ abilities to problem solve while flying versus in the air.

This next example has a sentence which doesn’t belong. Can you find it? Why do you think it doesn’t belong in the paragraph?


Paragraph 2

The first reason I believe that school uniforms are beneficial is a personal one. I attended two high schools: the first required us to wear uniforms while the second did not. I found that the morning routine during my first two years of school (in which I wore uniforms) were significantly less stressful than my last two (in which I did not wear uniforms). With uniforms, I knew exactly what to wear each day and. Also, I found it easier to make friends in the school where I wore uniforms because we did not have the distraction of fashionable clothing and the status associated with wearing certain brands.


Further practice:

Rewrite Paragraph 2 so that it meets the requirements of a good paragraph.

Write another body paragraph after Paragraph 2. What would you say?