There’s a formula to get an A+ college paper. 5 sections is all it takes to set-up the perfect paper every time. Check out the 5 sections to ensure a top grade for your next paper.

To reach this sought-out graduation day, college students have to write countless papers with a great set-up.
To reach this sought-out graduation day, college students have to write countless papers with a great set-up.
Photo by MD Duran on Unsplash

College Paper Set-up

As a recent college graduate, I’ve had to write paper after paper. I’ve even tutored college students with long, confusing papers. I’ve become a self-declared expert in this field. Eventually, I figured out the formula all college professors seem to live by. Set-up your paper into 5 sections to ensure you cover all of your points, add enough details, and please your college professors.

  1. Introduction (ending in a thesis statement)
  2. Point 1
  3. Point 2
  4. Point 3
  5. Conclusion (starting with a re-phrased thesis statement)

This is our basic paper set-up. If you have to discuss any specific points in your paper, three is usually a safe number to go with. If you have a larger page requirement, bump up the number of ‘point’ paragraphs until you reach your requirement. It’s a simple way to reach all of your college paper requirements.

If you’re writing a paper comparing two opposing views, you can use the third ‘point’ paragraph as a space to compare and contrast. Either way you write it, three detailed paragraphs in the mid-section seem to work. It’s important that you follow this general set-up, as it’s what professors usually look for in college papers.


Your introduction paragraph should immediately catch your reader’s attention. Be bold about your topic. This is the paragraph where we tell the readers what your major points are for your paper. You can also tell your readers what stance your taking in your paper. It’s good to tackle a college paper from a creative angle.

For this example, our paper will be about the show Riverdale. We’ll compare the television show to the comic book that inspired the characters. We must establish our primary points, our stance, and our thesis statement.

“A thesis statement is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.” – The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The introductory paragraph in your paper will end with your thesis statement. This sentence will give a quick summary of every important point in your paper and your take on it. Piece together a statement that readers will easily follow. Ours would look something like this:

“The show Riverdale encompasses every situation the Archie Comics didn’t but uses every stereotype the comics did.”

From this statement, you’re aware that we’re comparing the show to the comics for our paper. It’s clear we will tackle the character stereotypes, and the situations they go through. We’ve given our readers a general idea of our topic. Now we dive in.

A college paper set-up requires research, detail, and patience. Take notes in class to ensure you're prepared.
A college paper set-up requires research, detail, and patience. Take notes in class to ensure you’re prepared.
Photo by The Climate Reality Project on Unsplash

Discussing Our Major Points

The paragraphs between the introduction and the conclusion are dedicated to discussing our major points. This requires research, sources, and clean sentences. Keep your paragraphs between 5-10 sentences. Watch out for run-away sentences that could get you marked down, or confusing sentences that only complicate your paper.

A problem I’ve noticed a lot in college papers are run-away topics. You might start your paragraph talking about battles during the Civil War, but quickly drift off into what war is like in present-day. That has nothing to do with your topic, and will only lower your paper grade.

For our example, we would use our first paragraph in the paper to discuss the television show Riverdale. I would dedicate our second paragraph in the paper to discussing the Archie Comics. Our third paragraph would compare and contrast the two. It’s a simple set-up for college papers that allows us to stay on track with clean, straight-forward information.


The conclusion paragraph is the place where you sum up everything you’ve talked about. Establish your final thoughts. “After looking at both Riverdale and the Archie Comics, it’s clear that Riverdale attracts a teen audience with their edgy situations. They could also lure in a generation that loved the simple comics.”

You also need to re-phrase your thesis statement in a way that concludes the thought. Give your readers the information outright:

“With mystery after mystery and murder after murder, Riverdale doesn’t mirror the comics in the slightest. Even the fun-loving characters have changed.”

Finally, look back on your paper to make sure your paragraphs transition together smoothly and your paragraphs are factual. Include a bibliography at the bottom of your paper with all of your sources. Be sure to cite any statistics or quotes that you used in your paper.

Any tips to add for an A+ college paper set-up? Let us know in the comments below.