There is a format for a mini-essay or paragraph-essay that works well for responses to essay questions which should be around 150 words. This format is presented by Edward P. Bailey, et.al. in The Practical Writer. [Some of its pages can be viewed on the internet.]
This "Stage II paragraph essay" is large enough for students to demonstrate their understanding because it contains a topic sentence that contains two major points which are then developed into subtopics that are supported with details, examples, statistics, or testimonials from authorities.
Here is the format of the Stage II paragraph essay:
- The first sentence is a statement of the idea the writer wants the readers to accept--the topic sentence (This is sometimes referred to as the writer's "judgment" on the topic) The topic sentence has a "limited subject" and "a precise opinion."
- This topic sentence contains two parts, called subtopics. (They are 2 generalization that derive from the main generalization of the topic sentence.) e.g. Topic Sentence, then Subtopic #1: "For one thing...." and Subtopic #2 "Another way that...."
- The first subtopic comes after the topic sentence
- Supporting details follow this subtopic. (examples, statistics, quotes from the text under question, testimonials from authorities, and the like)
- The second subtopic then follows
- Supporting details follow this second subtopic
- A reworded topic sentence and a "clincher" end the paragraph. The "clincher" is a phrase or clause that extends the ideas of the paragraph to make the readers consider what has already been written. It is often a re-affirmation of the main idea in a varied way.