Paragraph-Level Revision Questions
Each paragraph should have some basic features: a topic sentence, evidence, analysis of the evidence, and a conclusion. Here are some questions designed to help you develop and strengthen the structure of your paragraphs as you revise your essays:
1. What is the main point you are trying to prove in this paragraph?
2. Highlight your topic sentence.
- Does your topic sentence summarize the main argument of your paragraph? If so, what is effective about it? If not, how can you revise your topic sentence so it indicates to the reader what you’ll be proving?
3. Highlight the evidence you provide in your paragraph.
- What kind of evidence did you use? (Summary? Direct quotes? Complete quotes? Specific phrases or words from quotes?) What is effective/ineffective about the kind of evidence you used?
- How much evidence did you use? Have you given the reader enough evidence to prove your point convincingly, or have you given too much evidence and diluted the strength of your argument?
- What strategies have you used to introduce your quotes/evidence, and what is effective/ineffective about those strategies? How would you revise?
4. Does your analysis show how the quote helps to prove your topic sentence and why the quote is significant?
- Does your analysis point out something that is not obvious or does it merely summarize what the quote says?
- What techniques do you use to analyze your quotes? (Analyzing parts of quotes? Analyzing the entire quote? Relating different ideas together?)
- Is the analysis convincing? If so, why? (Do you address and disarm counterarguments? Did you have strong close-readings? Why were your close-readings so strong?) If not, what is unconvincing about the analysis and how could it be strengthened? (Is the analysis too vague? Is it all summary? Are you “over-reading” the quote?)
5. Highlight the “conclusion” of your analysis.*
- How does your analysis relate back to the main argument of the paragraph?
- Does your concluding sentence relate your analysis back to the main argument of the paragraph? If so, what is effective about it? If not, how could it be revised?
- Does your concluding sentence show why your argument is important? Does it show how your argument is essential to helping you prove your thesis?
6. How does your claim in this paragraph help prove your thesis?
Note: It’s is OK if the main point proves just a part of the thesis—in fact, this is one indicator that your thesis isn’t a “5-paragraph” thesis.**
Original handout created by Bonnie Ho, Diana Shu, and Katherine Lee
Student Learning Center, University of California, Berkeley
© 2005 UC Regents
*Points 4 and 5 have been condensed from the original by Ashlyn Oller and Mimi Zhou, Student Learning Center, University of California, Berkeley © 2011 UC Regents
**The explication of Point 6 has been added to the original by Ashlyn Oller and Mimi Zhou, Student Learning Center, University of California, Berkeley, © 2011 UC Regents