Have to write an argumentative essay? Are you nervous about it? If your answer to both questions is “YES”, then you came to the right place. Sure, writing an essay is always a source of concern for many students, but it doesn’t have to be like that. With a practical guide, you can master the art of writing an argumentative essay before you know it. Here’s how.
The main idea behind an argumentative essay is to defend a debatable position on a specific issue with the goal to persuade readers to accept your argument. As a writer, your goal is to choose a side and declare whether you agree or disagree with something. The argument has to be supported by valid and reliable evidence.
The point of this paper is to demonstrate knowledge of the subject and the ability to start, develop, and finalize an argument without losing reader’s attention. The argumentative essay provides a deeper insight into a certain topic, scratches below the surface to highlight some important ideas.
Structure of an Argumentative Essay
There can be no single structure that can fit all argumentative essays. Each essay has its purpose, and one should be careful to determine the audience of the essay in order to use the right language, pattern, and structure. There are, however, certain steps that must be taken when writing an argumentative essay. These measures lead to a situation whereby all argumentative essays have generally the same structure.
Like all other essays, argumentative essays start with an introduction. The introductory part seeks to capture the interest of the reader. It is also important to give some background on the topic under consideration in the essay. Some topic-specific information may be needed here; if for example, the essay is about a movie, issues like the release date, director, and theme of the movie are inserted here. This means that in writing an argumentative essay the writer is required to conduct thorough research of the topic. It should be noted that a reader is either attracted or put off by the introduction. Consequently, the introduction should capture the mind of the reader.
This section is intended to keep the reader abreast with information concerning the topic of discussion. It is here that the writer mentions the writings that are instrumental in his or her argument. Other matters such as an explanation of the theory underpinning the writer’s arguments. The writer also needs to explain the meaning of terms that are likely to appear repeatedly in the essay. One should not make an assumption that the reader knows certain terms.
A supporting paragraph is intended to provide proof for a claim in an argumentative essay. Like all proper paragraphs, this paragraph should have a topic sentence. In this context, the topic sentence is a statement of the argument the essay writer wants to prove. Since the topic sentence is just a statement, a writer may want to use the next sentence in the paragraph to break down the topic. The next agenda in the support paragraph is to present evidence to support the premise introduced in the topic sentence.
To ensure that the reader understands the evidence adduced, there should be an explanation provided for the evidence in this paragraph. Usually, an explanation of evidence informs the reader on how they should interpret evidence. It also goes on to paint an explicit picture of how the evidence adduced supports the claim made in the topic sentence in the paragraph. This statement of how the evidence supports the topic does not necessarily have to be based on anything solid. It could simply be the opinion of the author of the assay. The last sentence of the paragraph is the concluding sentence which in this case reiterates the claim made in the topic sentence. Paragraphs with this supporting structure should be written over and over until all the writers’ points for arguments are finished.
The intention is, to sum up, what has appeared in the essay. The writer at this point restates the point of discussion, the evidence adduced in writing, and how that argument supports the writer’s claim. The conclusion should also give the way forward concerning the information that has been presented in the essay.
Benefits of Writing an Argumentative Essay
No, your professor doesn’t assign an argumentative essay just because he (or she) feels like it. Once you graduate you will realize that every single assignment in school and college had its own purpose. The idea is to help students develop certain skills through work on the task at hand. Skills that you develop with argumentative essays include:
- Anticipating objections – this paper isn’t just about proving you’re right, it also requires addressing opposing views (see below). The writing process entails outlining alternative perspectives and answering questions that the reader may have. This allows you to master the art of anticipating objections to understand both sides of the issue. You’ll rely on this skill in your personal and professional life
- Critical thinking – as you analyze the evidence, arguments, and claims you gradually develop and strengthen critical thinking skills. These skills allow you to understand potential weaknesses in your own arguments and assess any subject or idea in an unbiased manner
- Writing skills – it’s simple; practice makes perfect. The more you write, the better your essay writing skills will be. This is one of the most important reasons why professors assign essays
- Logic and rhetoric – argumentative essay helps you master the basic rules of logic such as learning to avoid emotional appeals, and writing clear statements rather than generalizations. You’ll also enhance rhetoric skills by emphasizing the importance of the subject and potential outcomes
- Research skills – the secret behind high-quality essays is thorough research. You’ll need great research skills throughout your academic life, even when you get a job later on
Areas of Interest
The beauty of the argumentative essay is that you can write about anything you want including:
- Law and other legal topics
- Advertising and media
Argumentative Essay Outline
The process of writing an argumentative essay can be very simple when you follow a well-structured argumentative outline. Below, you can see what your paper should look like:
- Introduction – first contact between a reader and your essay. This is your chance to make a great first impression and keep the reader eager to see how you developed the argument. An introductory paragraph consists of:
- Hook – first sentence or two; catches the reader’s attention. It can be a quote, question, anecdote, statistics, etc.
- Background – useful background information about the subject
- Thesis statement – announces the argument you’re going to make or side of the issue that you’ll defend
- Developing the argument – are you pro or against some idea, event, policy, etc? Explain why you’re right, and create an engaging argument that stirs debate in a reader’s mind too. The number of paragraphs isn’t specified, it depends on the claims you make:
- Claim 1 – evidence – each paragraph should start with a claim that contributes to your argument and evidence to support it
- Claim 2 – evidence
- Claim 3 – evidence
- Debunking opposing views – you want a reader to know you’re right and the best way to do so is to debunk some opposing claims in the process. After developing your argument, dedicate a body paragraph or two to opponents’ viewpoints:
- Opposing view 1 – refutation – mentions common claims that contradict yours and provides evidence to show why they’re wrong
- Opposing view 2 – refutation
- Conclusion – restates the main premise or argument and summarizes key claims. Describes what could happen if your premise isn’t followed and proposes potential solutions for a certain problem (if applicable)
Now that you know more about the outline to follow when writing the argumentative essay, it’s necessary to learn more about different tips and tricks that make the process easier. Follow these useful strategies while working on your paper:
- Research the subject – this is a must; even if you think you already know everything about the subject, still do thorough research to get more information and take notes
- Choose claims wisely – the number of claims about your argument isn’t as important as their quality. If you can’t find evidence to support some claim, then don’t include it. Remember, your goal is to convince the reader your opinion is the right one and you need evidence-backed claims to do that
- Quality of evidence matters too – Wikipedia, blogs, and unreliable websites aren’t really helpful. An argumentative essay is an academic paper that requires the use of reputable sources, journals, publications, books
- Write everything that comes to your mind – take a blank piece of paper (or open MS Word) and write everything that comes to your mind regarding the topic. Don’t think about typos, grammar, claims, and such. When you’re done, read everything from top to bottom, and eliminate things you can’t use. Then, use the rest to construct your essay
- Give credit where credit is due – to support the claims you need evidence, but don’t forget to include references. When using someone else’s thoughts or ideas to complement your own, you should always give credit where credit is due
- Be concise – don’t use random words and expressions just to reach the word count limit. Always be concise and make sure that every word contributes to the meaning of a sentence, paragraph, and thereby the entire essay
- Think outside the box – essays should spark a debate and they are often controversial. Feel free to explore your creativity, think outside the box, and approach the subject in a nonconventional manner