Your essay should consist of a focused introduction, followed by body paragraphs which provide the rationale and support for your position. In the body of your essay, you will display your critical thinking skills by explaining, with reasoning and details, your response to the text and question. You're encouraged to use your own experience and observation and to use first person ("I"), but remember to maintain an academic voice throughout. Though it's wise to end your essay by reminding the reader of how the individual portions of your argument contribute to the whole, you will probably have neither the time nor the need for an elaborate conclusion.
Many students are accustomed to using a five-point (or five-paragraph) structure for their papers, but this structure is not always the most effective one. Deciding upon an arbitrary number of paragraphs before you begin your essay may limit the extent to which you can explore your ideas and may force you to pay more attention to structure than to content. After all, who says you always have three points? You may have two, or four, depending on how you intend to support your argument. Also, sometimes you may need more than one paragraph to fully develop a point, especially if you're aware of the need for detailed support and examples. As you're planning your essay, weigh content and structure equally as you decide how many main points you want to make and how many paragraphs you need to make each point.
One key to properly structuring an essay for the WPA is getting off to a good start that guides what you do and don't do in the rest of the essay. An effective introduction contains the following elements: