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How to Write an Argumentative Essay | Examples & Tips

Published on July 24, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

An argumentative essay expresses an extended argument for a particular thesis statement . The author takes a clearly defined stance on their subject and builds up an evidence-based case for it.

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Table of contents

When do you write an argumentative essay, approaches to argumentative essays, introducing your argument, the body: developing your argument, concluding your argument, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about argumentative essays.

You might be assigned an argumentative essay as a writing exercise in high school or in a composition class. The prompt will often ask you to argue for one of two positions, and may include terms like “argue” or “argument.” It will frequently take the form of a question.

The prompt may also be more open-ended in terms of the possible arguments you could make.

Argumentative writing at college level

At university, the vast majority of essays or papers you write will involve some form of argumentation. For example, both rhetorical analysis and literary analysis essays involve making arguments about texts.

In this context, you won’t necessarily be told to write an argumentative essay—but making an evidence-based argument is an essential goal of most academic writing, and this should be your default approach unless you’re told otherwise.

Examples of argumentative essay prompts

At a university level, all the prompts below imply an argumentative essay as the appropriate response.

Your research should lead you to develop a specific position on the topic. The essay then argues for that position and aims to convince the reader by presenting your evidence, evaluation and analysis.

  • Don’t just list all the effects you can think of.
  • Do develop a focused argument about the overall effect and why it matters, backed up by evidence from sources.
  • Don’t just provide a selection of data on the measures’ effectiveness.
  • Do build up your own argument about which kinds of measures have been most or least effective, and why.
  • Don’t just analyze a random selection of doppelgänger characters.
  • Do form an argument about specific texts, comparing and contrasting how they express their thematic concerns through doppelgänger characters.

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tips on writing an argument essay

An argumentative essay should be objective in its approach; your arguments should rely on logic and evidence, not on exaggeration or appeals to emotion.

There are many possible approaches to argumentative essays, but there are two common models that can help you start outlining your arguments: The Toulmin model and the Rogerian model.

Toulmin arguments

The Toulmin model consists of four steps, which may be repeated as many times as necessary for the argument:

  • Make a claim
  • Provide the grounds (evidence) for the claim
  • Explain the warrant (how the grounds support the claim)
  • Discuss possible rebuttals to the claim, identifying the limits of the argument and showing that you have considered alternative perspectives

The Toulmin model is a common approach in academic essays. You don’t have to use these specific terms (grounds, warrants, rebuttals), but establishing a clear connection between your claims and the evidence supporting them is crucial in an argumentative essay.

Say you’re making an argument about the effectiveness of workplace anti-discrimination measures. You might:

  • Claim that unconscious bias training does not have the desired results, and resources would be better spent on other approaches
  • Cite data to support your claim
  • Explain how the data indicates that the method is ineffective
  • Anticipate objections to your claim based on other data, indicating whether these objections are valid, and if not, why not.

Rogerian arguments

The Rogerian model also consists of four steps you might repeat throughout your essay:

  • Discuss what the opposing position gets right and why people might hold this position
  • Highlight the problems with this position
  • Present your own position , showing how it addresses these problems
  • Suggest a possible compromise —what elements of your position would proponents of the opposing position benefit from adopting?

This model builds up a clear picture of both sides of an argument and seeks a compromise. It is particularly useful when people tend to disagree strongly on the issue discussed, allowing you to approach opposing arguments in good faith.

Say you want to argue that the internet has had a positive impact on education. You might:

  • Acknowledge that students rely too much on websites like Wikipedia
  • Argue that teachers view Wikipedia as more unreliable than it really is
  • Suggest that Wikipedia’s system of citations can actually teach students about referencing
  • Suggest critical engagement with Wikipedia as a possible assignment for teachers who are skeptical of its usefulness.

You don’t necessarily have to pick one of these models—you may even use elements of both in different parts of your essay—but it’s worth considering them if you struggle to structure your arguments.

Regardless of which approach you take, your essay should always be structured using an introduction , a body , and a conclusion .

Like other academic essays, an argumentative essay begins with an introduction . The introduction serves to capture the reader’s interest, provide background information, present your thesis statement , and (in longer essays) to summarize the structure of the body.

Hover over different parts of the example below to see how a typical introduction works.

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts is on the rise, and its role in learning is hotly debated. For many teachers who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its critical benefits for students and educators—as a uniquely comprehensive and accessible information source; a means of exposure to and engagement with different perspectives; and a highly flexible learning environment.

The body of an argumentative essay is where you develop your arguments in detail. Here you’ll present evidence, analysis, and reasoning to convince the reader that your thesis statement is true.

In the standard five-paragraph format for short essays, the body takes up three of your five paragraphs. In longer essays, it will be more paragraphs, and might be divided into sections with headings.

Each paragraph covers its own topic, introduced with a topic sentence . Each of these topics must contribute to your overall argument; don’t include irrelevant information.

This example paragraph takes a Rogerian approach: It first acknowledges the merits of the opposing position and then highlights problems with that position.

Hover over different parts of the example to see how a body paragraph is constructed.

A common frustration for teachers is students’ use of Wikipedia as a source in their writing. Its prevalence among students is not exaggerated; a survey found that the vast majority of the students surveyed used Wikipedia (Head & Eisenberg, 2010). An article in The Guardian stresses a common objection to its use: “a reliance on Wikipedia can discourage students from engaging with genuine academic writing” (Coomer, 2013). Teachers are clearly not mistaken in viewing Wikipedia usage as ubiquitous among their students; but the claim that it discourages engagement with academic sources requires further investigation. This point is treated as self-evident by many teachers, but Wikipedia itself explicitly encourages students to look into other sources. Its articles often provide references to academic publications and include warning notes where citations are missing; the site’s own guidelines for research make clear that it should be used as a starting point, emphasizing that users should always “read the references and check whether they really do support what the article says” (“Wikipedia:Researching with Wikipedia,” 2020). Indeed, for many students, Wikipedia is their first encounter with the concepts of citation and referencing. The use of Wikipedia therefore has a positive side that merits deeper consideration than it often receives.

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An argumentative essay ends with a conclusion that summarizes and reflects on the arguments made in the body.

No new arguments or evidence appear here, but in longer essays you may discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your argument and suggest topics for future research. In all conclusions, you should stress the relevance and importance of your argument.

Hover over the following example to see the typical elements of a conclusion.

The internet has had a major positive impact on the world of education; occasional pitfalls aside, its value is evident in numerous applications. The future of teaching lies in the possibilities the internet opens up for communication, research, and interactivity. As the popularity of distance learning shows, students value the flexibility and accessibility offered by digital education, and educators should fully embrace these advantages. The internet’s dangers, real and imaginary, have been documented exhaustively by skeptics, but the internet is here to stay; it is time to focus seriously on its potential for good.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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An argumentative essay tends to be a longer essay involving independent research, and aims to make an original argument about a topic. Its thesis statement makes a contentious claim that must be supported in an objective, evidence-based way.

An expository essay also aims to be objective, but it doesn’t have to make an original argument. Rather, it aims to explain something (e.g., a process or idea) in a clear, concise way. Expository essays are often shorter assignments and rely less on research.

At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).

Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

The majority of the essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Unless otherwise specified, you can assume that the goal of any essay you’re asked to write is argumentative: To convince the reader of your position using evidence and reasoning.

In composition classes you might be given assignments that specifically test your ability to write an argumentative essay. Look out for prompts including instructions like “argue,” “assess,” or “discuss” to see if this is the goal.

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Caulfield, J. (2023, July 23). How to Write an Argumentative Essay | Examples & Tips. Scribbr. Retrieved April 6, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/academic-essay/argumentative-essay/

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8 Effective Strategies to Write Argumentative Essays

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In a bustling university town, there lived a student named Alex. Popular for creativity and wit, one challenge seemed insurmountable for Alex– the dreaded argumentative essay!

One gloomy afternoon, as the rain tapped against the window pane, Alex sat at his cluttered desk, staring at a blank document on the computer screen. The assignment loomed large: a 350-600-word argumentative essay on a topic of their choice . With a sigh, he decided to seek help of mentor, Professor Mitchell, who was known for his passion for writing.

Entering Professor Mitchell’s office was like stepping into a treasure of knowledge. Bookshelves lined every wall, faint aroma of old manuscripts in the air and sticky notes over the wall. Alex took a deep breath and knocked on his door.

“Ah, Alex,” Professor Mitchell greeted with a warm smile. “What brings you here today?”

Alex confessed his struggles with the argumentative essay. After hearing his concerns, Professor Mitchell said, “Ah, the argumentative essay! Don’t worry, Let’s take a look at it together.” As he guided Alex to the corner shelf, Alex asked,

Table of Contents

“What is an Argumentative Essay?”

The professor replied, “An argumentative essay is a type of academic writing that presents a clear argument or a firm position on a contentious issue. Unlike other forms of essays, such as descriptive or narrative essays, these essays require you to take a stance, present evidence, and convince your audience of the validity of your viewpoint with supporting evidence. A well-crafted argumentative essay relies on concrete facts and supporting evidence rather than merely expressing the author’s personal opinions . Furthermore, these essays demand comprehensive research on the chosen topic and typically follows a structured format consisting of three primary sections: an introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph.”

He continued, “Argumentative essays are written in a wide range of subject areas, reflecting their applicability across disciplines. They are written in different subject areas like literature and philosophy, history, science and technology, political science, psychology, economics and so on.

Alex asked,

“When is an Argumentative Essay Written?”

The professor answered, “Argumentative essays are often assigned in academic settings, but they can also be written for various other purposes, such as editorials, opinion pieces, or blog posts. Some situations to write argumentative essays include:

1. Academic assignments

In school or college, teachers may assign argumentative essays as part of coursework. It help students to develop critical thinking and persuasive writing skills .

2. Debates and discussions

Argumentative essays can serve as the basis for debates or discussions in academic or competitive settings. Moreover, they provide a structured way to present and defend your viewpoint.

3. Opinion pieces

Newspapers, magazines, and online publications often feature opinion pieces that present an argument on a current issue or topic to influence public opinion.

4. Policy proposals

In government and policy-related fields, argumentative essays are used to propose and defend specific policy changes or solutions to societal problems.

5. Persuasive speeches

Before delivering a persuasive speech, it’s common to prepare an argumentative essay as a foundation for your presentation.

Regardless of the context, an argumentative essay should present a clear thesis statement , provide evidence and reasoning to support your position, address counterarguments, and conclude with a compelling summary of your main points. The goal is to persuade readers or listeners to accept your viewpoint or at least consider it seriously.”

Handing over a book, the professor continued, “Take a look on the elements or structure of an argumentative essay.”

Elements of an Argumentative Essay

An argumentative essay comprises five essential components:

Claim in argumentative writing is the central argument or viewpoint that the writer aims to establish and defend throughout the essay. A claim must assert your position on an issue and must be arguable. It can guide the entire argument.

2. Evidence

Evidence must consist of factual information, data, examples, or expert opinions that support the claim. Also, it lends credibility by strengthening the writer’s position.

3. Counterarguments

Presenting a counterclaim demonstrates fairness and awareness of alternative perspectives.

4. Rebuttal

After presenting the counterclaim, the writer refutes it by offering counterarguments or providing evidence that weakens the opposing viewpoint. It shows that the writer has considered multiple perspectives and is prepared to defend their position.

The format of an argumentative essay typically follows the structure to ensure clarity and effectiveness in presenting an argument.

How to Write An Argumentative Essay

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to write an argumentative essay:

1. Introduction

  • Begin with a compelling sentence or question to grab the reader’s attention.
  • Provide context for the issue, including relevant facts, statistics, or historical background.
  • Provide a concise thesis statement to present your position on the topic.

2. Body Paragraphs (usually three or more)

  • Start each paragraph with a clear and focused topic sentence that relates to your thesis statement.
  • Furthermore, provide evidence and explain the facts, statistics, examples, expert opinions, and quotations from credible sources that supports your thesis.
  • Use transition sentences to smoothly move from one point to the next.

3. Counterargument and Rebuttal

  • Acknowledge opposing viewpoints or potential objections to your argument.
  • Also, address these counterarguments with evidence and explain why they do not weaken your position.

4. Conclusion

  • Restate your thesis statement and summarize the key points you’ve made in the body of the essay.
  • Leave the reader with a final thought, call to action, or broader implication related to the topic.

5. Citations and References

  • Properly cite all the sources you use in your essay using a consistent citation style.
  • Also, include a bibliography or works cited at the end of your essay.

6. Formatting and Style

  • Follow any specific formatting guidelines provided by your instructor or institution.
  • Use a professional and academic tone in your writing and edit your essay to avoid content, spelling and grammar mistakes .

Remember that the specific requirements for formatting an argumentative essay may vary depending on your instructor’s guidelines or the citation style you’re using (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago). Always check the assignment instructions or style guide for any additional requirements or variations in formatting.

Did you understand what Prof. Mitchell explained Alex? Check it now!

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Prof. Mitchell continued, “An argumentative essay can adopt various approaches when dealing with opposing perspectives. It may offer a balanced presentation of both sides, providing equal weight to each, or it may advocate more strongly for one side while still acknowledging the existence of opposing views.” As Alex listened carefully to the Professor’s thoughts, his eyes fell on a page with examples of argumentative essay.

Example of an Argumentative Essay

Alex picked the book and read the example. It helped him to understand the concept. Furthermore, he could now connect better to the elements and steps of the essay which Prof. Mitchell had mentioned earlier. Aren’t you keen to know how an argumentative essay should be like? Here is an example of a well-crafted argumentative essay , which was read by Alex. After Alex finished reading the example, the professor turned the page and continued, “Check this page to know the importance of writing an argumentative essay in developing skills of an individual.”

Importance of an Argumentative Essay

Importance_of_an_ArgumentativeEssays

After understanding the benefits, Alex was convinced by the ability of the argumentative essays in advocating one’s beliefs and favor the author’s position. Alex asked,

“How are argumentative essays different from the other types?”

Prof. Mitchell answered, “Argumentative essays differ from other types of essays primarily in their purpose, structure, and approach in presenting information. Unlike expository essays, argumentative essays persuade the reader to adopt a particular point of view or take a specific action on a controversial issue. Furthermore, they differ from descriptive essays by not focusing vividly on describing a topic. Also, they are less engaging through storytelling as compared to the narrative essays.

Alex said, “Given the direct and persuasive nature of argumentative essays, can you suggest some strategies to write an effective argumentative essay?

Turning the pages of the book, Prof. Mitchell replied, “Sure! You can check this infographic to get some tips for writing an argumentative essay.”

Effective Strategies to Write an Argumentative Essay

StrategiesOfWritingArgumentativeEssays

As days turned into weeks, Alex diligently worked on his essay. He researched, gathered evidence, and refined his thesis. It was a long and challenging journey, filled with countless drafts and revisions.

Finally, the day arrived when Alex submitted their essay. As he clicked the “Submit” button, a sense of accomplishment washed over him. He realized that the argumentative essay, while challenging, had improved his critical thinking and transformed him into a more confident writer. Furthermore, Alex received feedback from his professor, a mix of praise and constructive criticism. It was a humbling experience, a reminder that every journey has its obstacles and opportunities for growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

An argumentative essay can be written as follows- 1. Choose a Topic 2. Research and Collect Evidences 3. Develop a Clear Thesis Statement 4. Outline Your Essay- Introduction, Body Paragraphs and Conclusion 5. Revise and Edit 6. Format and Cite Sources 7. Final Review

One must choose a clear, concise and specific statement as a claim. It must be debatable and establish your position. Avoid using ambiguous or unclear while making a claim. To strengthen your claim, address potential counterarguments or opposing viewpoints. Additionally, use persuasive language and rhetoric to make your claim more compelling

Starting an argument essay effectively is crucial to engage your readers and establish the context for your argument. Here’s how you can start an argument essay are: 1. Begin With an Engaging Hook 2. Provide Background Information 3. Present Your Thesis Statement 4. Briefly Outline Your Main 5. Establish Your Credibility

The key features of an argumentative essay are: 1. Clear and Specific Thesis Statement 2. Credible Evidence 3. Counterarguments 4. Structured Body Paragraph 5. Logical Flow 6. Use of Persuasive Techniques 7. Formal Language

An argumentative essay typically consists of the following main parts or sections: 1. Introduction 2. Body Paragraphs 3. Counterargument and Rebuttal 4. Conclusion 5. References (if applicable)

The main purpose of an argumentative essay is to persuade the reader to accept or agree with a particular viewpoint or position on a controversial or debatable topic. In other words, the primary goal of an argumentative essay is to convince the audience that the author's argument or thesis statement is valid, logical, and well-supported by evidence and reasoning.

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How to Write an Argumentative Essay

How to Write an Argumentative Essay

4-minute read

  • 30th April 2022

An argumentative essay is a structured, compelling piece of writing where an author clearly defines their stance on a specific topic. This is a very popular style of writing assigned to students at schools, colleges, and universities. Learn the steps to researching, structuring, and writing an effective argumentative essay below.

Requirements of an Argumentative Essay

To effectively achieve its purpose, an argumentative essay must contain:

●  A concise thesis statement that introduces readers to the central argument of the essay

●  A clear, logical, argument that engages readers

●  Ample research and evidence that supports your argument

Approaches to Use in Your Argumentative Essay

1.   classical.

●  Clearly present the central argument.

●  Outline your opinion.

●  Provide enough evidence to support your theory.

2.   Toulmin

●  State your claim.

●  Supply the evidence for your stance.

●  Explain how these findings support the argument.

●  Include and discuss any limitations of your belief.

3.   Rogerian

●  Explain the opposing stance of your argument.

●  Discuss the problems with adopting this viewpoint.

●  Offer your position on the matter.

●  Provide reasons for why yours is the more beneficial stance.

●  Include a potential compromise for the topic at hand.

Tips for Writing a Well-Written Argumentative Essay

●  Introduce your topic in a bold, direct, and engaging manner to captivate your readers and encourage them to keep reading.

●  Provide sufficient evidence to justify your argument and convince readers to adopt this point of view.

●  Consider, include, and fairly present all sides of the topic.

●  Structure your argument in a clear, logical manner that helps your readers to understand your thought process.

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●  Discuss any counterarguments that might be posed.

●  Use persuasive writing that’s appropriate for your target audience and motivates them to agree with you.

Steps to Write an Argumentative Essay

Follow these basic steps to write a powerful and meaningful argumentative essay :

Step 1: Choose a topic that you’re passionate about

If you’ve already been given a topic to write about, pick a stance that resonates deeply with you. This will shine through in your writing, make the research process easier, and positively influence the outcome of your argument.

Step 2: Conduct ample research to prove the validity of your argument

To write an emotive argumentative essay , finding enough research to support your theory is a must. You’ll need solid evidence to convince readers to agree with your take on the matter. You’ll also need to logically organize the research so that it naturally convinces readers of your viewpoint and leaves no room for questioning.

Step 3: Follow a simple, easy-to-follow structure and compile your essay

A good structure to ensure a well-written and effective argumentative essay includes:

Introduction

●  Introduce your topic.

●  Offer background information on the claim.

●  Discuss the evidence you’ll present to support your argument.

●  State your thesis statement, a one-to-two sentence summary of your claim.

●  This is the section where you’ll develop and expand on your argument.

●  It should be split into three or four coherent paragraphs, with each one presenting its own idea.

●  Start each paragraph with a topic sentence that indicates why readers should adopt your belief or stance.

●  Include your research, statistics, citations, and other supporting evidence.

●  Discuss opposing viewpoints and why they’re invalid.

●  This part typically consists of one paragraph.

●  Summarize your research and the findings that were presented.

●  Emphasize your initial thesis statement.

●  Persuade readers to agree with your stance.

We certainly hope that you feel inspired to use these tips when writing your next argumentative essay . And, if you’re currently elbow-deep in writing one, consider submitting a free sample to us once it’s completed. Our expert team of editors can help ensure that it’s concise, error-free, and effective!

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12 Essential Steps for Writing an Argumentative Essay (with 10 example essays)

Bonus Material: 10 complete example essays

Writing an essay can often feel like a Herculean task. How do you go from a prompt… to pages of beautifully-written and clearly-supported writing?

This 12-step method is for students who want to write a great essay that makes a clear argument.

In fact, using the strategies from this post, in just 88 minutes, one of our students revised her C+ draft to an A.

If you’re interested in learning how to write awesome argumentative essays and improve your writing grades, this post will teach you exactly how to do it.

First, grab our download so you can follow along with the complete examples.

Then keep reading to see all 12 essential steps to writing a great essay.

Download 10 example essays

Download 10 great example essays

Why you need to have a plan

One of the most common mistakes that students make when writing is to just dive in haphazardly without a plan.

Writing is a bit like cooking. If you’re making a meal, would you start throwing ingredients at random into a pot? Probably not!

Instead, you’d probably start by thinking about what you want to cook. Then you’d gather the ingredients, and go to the store if you don’t already have them in your kitchen. Then you’d follow a recipe, step by step, to make your meal.

Preparing to cook a dish in an organized way, just like we prepare to write an essay

Here’s our 12-step recipe for writing a great argumentative essay:

  • Pick a topic
  • Choose your research sources
  • Read your sources and take notes
  • Create a thesis statement
  • Choose three main arguments to support your thesis statement —now you have a skeleton outline
  • Populate your outline with the research that supports each argument
  • Do more research if necessary
  • Add your own analysis
  • Add transitions and concluding sentences to each paragraph
  • Write an introduction and conclusion for your essay
  • Add citations and bibliography

Grab our download to see the complete example at every stage, along with 9 great student essays. Then let’s go through the steps together and write an A+ essay!

1. Pick a topic

Sometimes you might be assigned a topic by your instructor, but often you’ll have to come up with your own idea! 

If you don’t pick the right topic, you can be setting yourself up for failure.

Be careful that your topic is something that’s actually arguable —it has more than one side. Check out our carefully-vetted list of 99 topic ideas .

Let’s pick the topic of laboratory animals . Our question is should animals be used for testing and research ?

Hamster, which could potentially be used for animal research

Download our set of 10 great example essays to jump to the finished version of this essay.

2. Choose your research sources

One of the big differences between the way an academic argumentative essay and the version of the assignment that you may have done in elementary school is that for an academic argumentative essay, we need to support our arguments with evidence .

Where do we get that evidence?

Let’s be honest, we all are likely to start with Google and Wikipedia.

Now, Wikipedia can be a useful starting place if you don’t know very much about a topic, but don’t use Wikipedia as your main source of evidence for your essay. 

Instead, look for reputable sources that you can show to your readers as proof of your arguments. It can be helpful to read some sources from either side of your issue.

Look for recently-published sources (within the last 20 years), unless there’s a specific reason to do otherwise.

Support all your points with evidence

Good places to look for sources are:

  • Books published by academic presses
  • Academic journals
  • Academic databases like JSTOR and EBSCO
  • Nationally-published newspapers and magazines like The New York Times or The Atlantic
  • Websites and publications of national institutions like the NIH
  • Websites and publications of universities

Some of these sources are typically behind a paywall. This can be frustrating when you’re a middle-school or high-school student.

However, there are often ways to get access to these sources. Librarians (at your school library or local public library) can be fantastic resources, and they can often help you find a copy of the article or book you want to read. In particular, librarians can help you use Interlibrary Loan to order books or journals to your local library!

More and more scientists and other researchers are trying to publish their articles for free online, in order to encourage the free exchange of knowledge. Check out respected open-access platforms like arxiv.org and PLOS ONE .

How do you find these sources?

If you have access to an academic database like JSTOR or EBSCO , that’s a great place to start.

Example of a search on JSTOR

Everyone can use Google Scholar to search for articles. This is a powerful tool and highly recommended!

Google scholar search

Of course, if there’s a term you come across that you don’t recognize, you can always just Google it!

How many sources do you need? That depends on the length of your essay and on the assignment. If your instructor doesn’t give you any other guidance, assume that you should have at least three good sources.

For our topic of animal research, here’s a few sources that we could assemble:

Geoff Watts. “Animal Testing: Is It Worth It?” BMJ: British Medical Journal , Jan. 27, 2007, Vol. 334, No. 7586 (Jan. 27, 2007), pp. 182-184.

Kim Bartel Sheehan and Joonghwa Lee. “What’s Cruel About Cruelty Free: An Exploration of Consumers, Moral Heuristics, and Public Policy.” Journal of Animal Ethics , Vol. 4, No. 2 (Fall 2014), pp. 1-15.

Justin Goodman, Alka Chandna and Katherine Roe. “Trends in animal use at US research facilities.” Journal of Medical Ethics , July 2015, Vol. 41, No. 7 (July 2015), pp. 567-569.

Katy Taylor. “Recent Developments in Alternatives to Animal Testing.” In Animal Experimentation: Working Towards a Paradigm Change . Brill 2019.

Thomas Hartung. “Research and Testing Without Animals: Where Are We Now and Where Are We Heading?” In Animal Experimentation: Working Towards a Paradigm Change . Brill 2019.

Bonus: download 10 example essays now .

3. Read your sources and take notes

Once you have a nice pile of sources, it’s time to read them!

As we read, we want to take notes that will be useful to us later as we write our essay.

We want to be careful to keep the source’s ideas separate from our own ideas . Come up with a system to clearly mark the difference as you’re taking notes: use different colors, or use little arrows to represent the ideas that are yours and not the source’s ideas.

We can use this structure to keep notes in an organized way:

Download a template for these research notes here .

Petri dish in laboratory research

For our topic of animal research, our notes might look something like this:

Grab our download to read the rest of the notes and see more examples of how to do thoughtful research!

Student taking notes on research project

4. Create a thesis

What major themes did you find in your reading? What did you find most interesting or convincing?

Now is the point when you need to pick a side on your topic, if you haven’t already done so. Now that you’ve read more about the issue, what do you think? Write down your position on the issue:

Animal testing is necessary but should be reduced.

Next, it’s time to add more detail to your thesis. What reasons do you have to support that position? Add those to your sentence.

Animal testing is necessary but should be reduced by eliminating testing for cosmetics, ensuring that any testing is scientifically sound, and replacing animal models with other methods as much as possible.

Add qualifiers to refine your position. Are there situations in which your position would not apply? Or are there other conditions that need to be met? 

Cancer research

For our topic of animal research, our final thesis statement (with lead-in) might look something like this:

The argument: Animal testing and research should not be abolished, as doing so would upend important medical research and substance testing. However, scientific advances mean that in many situations animal testing can be replaced by other methods that not only avoid the ethical problems of animal testing, but also are less costly and more accurate. Governments and other regulatory bodies should further regulate animal testing to outlaw testing for cosmetics and other recreational products, ensure that the tests conducted are both necessary and scientifically rigorous, and encourage the replacement of animal use with other methods whenever possible.

The highlighted bit at the end is the thesis statement, but the lead-in is useful to help us set up the argument—and having it there already will make writing our introduction easier!

The thesis statement is the single most important sentence of your essay. Without a strong thesis, there’s no chance of writing a great essay. Read more about it here .

See how nine real students wrote great thesis statements in 9 example essays now.

5. Create three supporting arguments

Think of three good arguments why your position is true. We’re going to make each one into a body paragraph of your essay.

For now, write them out as 1–2 sentences. These will be topic sentences for each body paragraph.

Laboratory setup

For our essay about animal testing, it might look like this:

Supporting argument #1: For ethical reasons, animal testing should not be allowed for cosmetics and recreational products.

Supporting argument #2: The tests that are conducted with animals should be both necessary (for the greater good) and scientifically rigorous—which isn’t always the case currently. This should be regulated by governments and institutions.

Supporting argument #3: Governments and institutions should do more to encourage the replacement of animal testing with other methods.

Optional: Find a counterargument and respond to it

Think of a potential counterargument to your position. Consider writing a fourth paragraph anticipating this counterargument, or find a way to include it in your other body paragraphs. 

Laboratory mouse

For our essay, that might be:

Possible counterargument: Animal testing is unethical and should not be used in any circumstances.

Response to the counterargument: Animal testing is deeply entrenched in many research projects and medical procedures. Abruptly ceasing animal testing would upend the scientific and medical communities. But there are many ways that animal testing could be reduced.

With these three arguments, a counterargument, and a thesis, we now have a skeleton outline! See each step of this essay in full in our handy download .

6. Start populating your outline with the evidence you found in your research

Look through your research. What did you find that would support each of your three arguments?

Copy and paste those quotes or paraphrases into the outline. Make sure that each one is annotated so that you know which source it came from!

Ideally you already started thinking about these sources when you were doing your research—that’s the ideas in the rightmost column of our research template. Use this stuff too! 

A good rule of thumb would be to use at least three pieces of evidence per body paragraph.

Think about in what order it would make most sense to present your points. Rearrange your quotes accordingly! As you reorder them, feel free to start adding short sentences indicating the flow of ideas .

Research at the National Cancer Institute

For our essay about animal testing, part of our populated outline might look something like:

Argument #1: For ethical reasons, animal testing should not be allowed for cosmetics and recreational products.

Lots of animals are used for testing and research.

In the US, about 22 million animals were used annually in the early 1990s, mostly rodents (BMJ 1993, 1020).

But there are ethical problems with using animals in laboratory settings. Opinions about the divide between humans and animals might be shifting.

McIsaac refers to “the essential moral dilemma: how to balance the welfare of humans with the welfare of other species” (Hubel, McIsaac 29).

The fundamental legal texts used to justify animal use in biomedical research were created after WWII, and drew a clear line between experiments on animals and on humans. The Nuremburg Code states that “the experiment should be so designed and based on the results of animal experimentation and a knowledge of the natural history of the disease or other problem under study that the anticipated results will justify the performance of the experiment” (Ferrari, 197). The 1964  Declaration of the World Medical Association on the Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects (known as the Helsinki Declaration) states that “Medical research involving human subjects must conform to generally accepted scientific principles, be based on a thorough knowledge of the scientific literature, other relevant sources of information, and adequate laboratory and, as appropriate, animal experimentation. The welfare of animals used for research must be respected” (Ferrari, 197).

→ Context? The Nuremberg Code is a set of ethical research principles, developed in 1947 in the wake of Nazi atrocities during WWII, specifically the inhumane and often fatal experimentation on human subjects without consent.

“Since the 1970s, the animal-rights movement has challenged the use of animals in modern Western society by rejecting the idea of dominion of human beings over nature and animals and stressing the intrinsic value and rights of individual animals” (van Roten, 539, referencing works by Singer, Clark, Regan, and Jasper and Nelkin).

“The old (animal) model simply does not fully meet the needs of scientific and economic progress; it fails in cost, speed, level of detail of understanding, and human relevance. On top of this, animal experimentation lacks acceptance by an ethically evolving society” (Hartung, 682).

Knight’s article summarizes negative impacts on laboratory animals—invasive procedures, stress, pain, and death (Knight, 333). These aren’t very widely or clearly reported (Knight, 333). → Reading about these definitely produces an emotional reaction—they sound bad.

Given this context, it makes sense to ban animal testing in situations where it’s just for recreational products like cosmetics.

Fortunately, animal testing for cosmetics is less common than we might think.

A Gallup poll published in 1990 found that 14% of people thought that the most frequent reason for using animals to test cosmetics for safety—but figures from the UK Home Office in 1991 found that less than 1% of animals were used for tests for cosmetics and toiletries (BMJ 1993, 1019). → So in the early 1990s there was a big difference between what people thought was happening and what actually was happening!

But it still happens, and there are very few regulations of it (apart from in the EU).

Because there are many definitions of the phrase “cruelty-free,” many companies “can (and do) use the term when the product or its ingredients were indeed tested on animals” (Sheehan and Lee, 1).

The authors compare “cruelty-free” to the term “fair trade.” There is an independent inspection and certification group (Flo-Cert) that reviews products labeled as “fair trade,” but there’s no analogous process for “cruelty-free” (Sheehan and Lee, 2). → So anyone can just put that label on a product? Apparently, apart from in the European Union. That seems really easy to abuse for marketing purposes.

Companies can also hire outside firms to test products and ingredients on animals (Sheehan and Lee, 3).

Animal testing for recreational, non-medical purposes should be banned, like it is in the EU.

Download the full example outline here .

Research at the National Cancer Institute

7. Do more research if necessary

Occasionally you might realize that there’s a hole in your research, and you don’t have enough evidence to support one of your points.

In this situation, either change your argument to fit the evidence that you do have, or do a bit more research to fill the hole!

For example, looking at our outline for argument #1 for our essay on animal testing, it’s clear that this paragraph is missing a small but crucial bit of evidence—a reference to this specific ban on animal testing for cosmetics in Europe. Time for a bit more research!

A visit to the official website of the European Commission yields a copy of the law, which we can add to our populated outline:

“The cosmetics directive provides the regulatory framework for the phasing out of animal testing for cosmetics purposes. Specifically, it establishes (1) a testing ban – prohibition to test finished cosmetic products and cosmetic ingredients on animals, and (2) a marketing ban – prohibition to market finished cosmetic products and ingredients in the EU which were tested on animals. The same provisions are contained in the cosmetics regulation , which replaced the cosmetics directive as of 11 July 2013. The testing ban on finished cosmetic products applies since 11 September 2004. The testing ban on ingredients or combination of ingredients applies since 11 March 2009. The marketing ban applies since 11 March 2009 for all human health effects with the exception of repeated-dose toxicity, reproductive toxicity, and toxicokinetics. For these specific health effects, the marketing ban applies since 11 March 2013, irrespective of the availability of alternative non-animal tests.” (website of the European Commission, “Ban on animal testing”)

Alright, now this supporting argument has the necessary ingredients!

You don’t need to use all of the evidence that you found in your research. In fact, you probably won’t use all of it!

This part of the writing process requires you to think critically about your arguments and what evidence is relevant to your points .

Cancer research

8. Add your own analysis and synthesis of these points

Once you’ve organized your evidence and decided what you want to use for your essay, now you get to start adding your own analysis!

You may have already started synthesizing and evaluating your sources when you were doing your research (the stuff on the right-hand side of our template). This gives you a great starting place!

For each piece of evidence, follow this formula:

  • Context and transitions: introduce your piece of evidence and any relevant background info and signal the logical flow of ideas
  • Reproduce the paraphrase or direct quote (with citation )
  • Explanation : explain what the quote/paraphrase means in your own words
  • Analysis : analyze how this piece of evidence proves your thesis
  • Relate it back to the thesis: don’t forget to relate this point back to your overarching thesis! 

If you follow this fool-proof formula as you write, you will create clear, well-evidenced arguments.

As you get more experienced, you might stray a bit from the formula—but a good essay will always intermix evidence with explanation and analysis, and will always contain signposts back to the thesis throughout.

For our essay about animal testing, our first body paragraph might look like:

Every year, millions of animals—mostly rodents—are used for testing and research (BMJ 1993, 1020) . This testing poses an ethical dilemma: “how to balance the welfare of humans with the welfare of other species” (Hubel, McIsaac 29) . Many of the fundamental legal tests that are used to justify animal use in biomedical research were created in wake of the horrors of World War II, when the Nazi regime engaged in terrible experimentation on their human prisoners. In response to these atrocities, philosophers and lawmakers drew a clear line between experimenting on humans without consent and experimenting on (non-human) animals. For example, the 1947 Nuremberg Code stated that “the experiment should be so designed and based on the results of animal experimentation and a knowledge of the natural history of the disease or other problem under study that the anticipated results will justify the performance of the experiment” (Ferrari, 197) . Created two years after the war, the code established a set of ethical research principles to demarcate ethical differences between animals and humans, clarifying differences between Nazi atrocities and more everyday research practices. However, in the following decades, the animal-rights movement has challenged the philosophical boundaries between humans and animals and questioned humanity’s right to exert dominion over animals (van Roten, 539, referencing works by Singer, Clark, Regan, and Jasper and Nelkin) . These concerns are not without justification, as animals used in laboratories are subject to invasive procedures, stress, pain, and death (Knight, 333) . Indeed, reading detailed descriptions of this research can be difficult to stomach . In light of this, while some animal testing that contributes to vital medical research and ultimately saves millions of lives may be ethically justified, animal testing that is purely for recreational purposes like cosmetics cannot be ethically justified . Fortunately, animal testing for cosmetics is less common than we might think . In 1990, a poll found that 14% of people in the UK thought that the most frequent reason for using animals to test cosmetics for safety—but actual figures were less than 1% (BMJ 1993, 1019) . Unfortunately, animal testing for cosmetics is not subject to very much regulation . In particular, companies can use the phrase “cruelty-free” to mean just about anything, and many companies “can (and do) use the term when the product or its ingredients were indeed tested on animals” (Sheehan and Lee, 1) . Unlike the term “fair trade,” which has an independent inspection and certification group (Flo-Cert) that reviews products using the label, there’s no analogous process for “cruelty-free” (Sheehan and Lee, 2) . Without regulation, the term is regularly abused by marketers . Companies can also hire outside firms to test products and ingredients on animals and thereby pass the blame (Sheehan and Lee, 3) . Consumers trying to avoid products tested on animals are frequently tricked . Greater regulation of terms would help, but the only way to end this kind of deceit will be to ban animal testing for recreational, non-medical purposes . The European Union is the only governmental body yet to accomplish this . In a series of regulations, the EU first banned testing finished cosmetic products (2004), then testing ingredients or marketing products which were tested on animals (2009); exceptions for specific health effects ended in 2013 (website of the European Commission, “Ban on animal testing”) . The result is that the EU bans testing cosmetic ingredients or finished cosmetic products on animals, as well as marketing any cosmetic ingredients and products which were tested on animals elsewhere (Regulation 1223/2009/EU, known as the “Cosmetics Regulation”) . The rest of the world should follow this example and ban animal testing on cosmetic ingredients and products, which do not contribute significantly to the greater good and therefore cannot outweigh the cost to animal lives .

Edit down the quotes/paraphrases as you go. In many cases, you might copy out a great long quote from a source…but only end up using a few words of it as a direct quote, or you might only paraphrase it!

There were several good quotes in our previous step that just didn’t end up fitting here. That’s fine!

Take a look at the words and phrases highlighted in red. Notice how sometimes a single word can help to provide necessary context and create a logical transition for a new idea. Don’t forget the transitions! These words and phrases are essential to good writing.

The end of the paragraph should very clearly tie back to the thesis statement.

As you write, consider your audience

If it’s not specified in your assignment prompt, it’s always appropriate to ask your instructor who the intended audience of your essay or paper might be. (Your instructor will usually be impressed by this question!) 

If you don’t get any specific guidance, imagine that your audience is the typical readership of a newspaper like the New York Times —people who are generally educated, but who don’t have any specialized  knowledge of the specific subject, especially if it’s more technical.

That means that you should explain any words or phrases that aren’t everyday terminology!

Equally important, you don’t want to leave logical leaps for your readers to make. Connect all of the dots for them!

See the other body paragraphs of this essay, along with 9 student essays, here .

9. Add paragraph transitions and concluding sentences to each body paragraph

By now you should have at least three strong body paragraphs, each one with 3–5 pieces of evidence plus your own analysis and synthesis of the evidence. 

Each paragraph has a main topic sentence, which we wrote back when we made the outline. This is a good time to check that the topic sentences still match what the rest of the paragraph says!

Think about how these arguments relate to each other. What is the most logical order for them? Re-order your paragraphs if necessary.

Then add a few sentences at the end of each paragraph and/or the beginning of the next paragraph to connect these ideas. This step is often the difference between an okay essay and a really great one!

You want your essay to have a great flow. We didn’t worry about this at the beginning of our writing, but now is the time to start improving the flow of ideas!

10. The final additions: write an introduction and a conclusion

Follow this formula to write a great introduction:

  • It begins with some kind of “hook”: this can be an anecdote, quote, statistic, provocative statement, question, etc. 

(Pro tip: don’t use phrases like “throughout history,” “since the dawn of humankind,” etc. It’s good to think broadly, but you don’t have to make generalizations for all of history.)

  • It gives some background information that is relevant to understand the ethical dilemma or debate
  • It has a lead-up to the thesis
  • At the end of the introduction, the thesis is clearly stated

This makes a smooth funnel that starts more broadly and smoothly zeroes in on the specific argument.

Essay intro funnel

Your conclusion is kind of like your introduction, but in reverse. It starts with your thesis and ends a little more broadly.

For the conclusion, try and summarize your entire argument without being redundant. Start by restating your thesis but with slightly different wording . Then summarize each of your main points.

If you can, it’s nice to point to the larger significance of the issue. What are the potential consequences of this issue? What are some future directions for it to go in? What remains to be explored?

See how nine students wrote introductions in different styles here .

11. Add citations and bibliography

Check what bibliographic style your instructor wants you to use. If this isn’t clearly stated, it’s a good question to ask them!

Typically the instructions will say something like “Chicago style,” “APA,” etc., or they’ll give you their own rules. 

These rules will dictate how exactly you’ll write your citations in the body of your essay (either in parentheses after the quote/paraphrase or else with a footnote or endnote) and how you’ll write your “works cited” with the full bibliographic information at the end.

Follow these rules! The most important thing is to be consistent and clear.

Pro tip: if you’re struggling with this step, your librarians can often help! They’re literally pros at this. 🙂

Now you have a complete draft!

Read it from beginning to end. Does it make sense? Are there any orphan quotes or paraphrases that aren’t clearly explained? Are there any abrupt changes of topic? Fix it!

Are there any problems with grammar or spelling ? Fix them!

Edit for clarity.

Sharpening a pencil, just like you should sharpen your argument.

Ideally, you’ll finish your draft at least a few days before it’s due to be submitted. Give it a break for a day or two, and then come back to it. Things to be revised are more likely to jump out after a little break!

Try reading your essay out loud. Are there any sentences that don’t sound quite right? Rewrite them!

Double-check your thesis statement. This is the make-or-break moment of your essay, and without a clear thesis it’s pretty impossible for an essay to be a great one. Is it:

  • Arguable: it’s not just the facts—someone could disagree with this position
  • Narrow & specific: don’t pick a position that’s so broad you could never back it up
  • Complex: show that you are thinking deeply—one way to do this is to consider objections/qualifiers in your thesis

Try giving your essay to a friend or family member to read. Sometimes (if you’re lucky) your instructors will offer to read a draft if you turn it in early. What feedback do they have? Edit accordingly!

See the result of this process with 10 example essays now .

You’re done!

You did it! Feel proud of yourself 🙂

We regularly help students work through all of these steps to write great academic essays in our Academic Writing Workshop or our one-on-one writing tutoring . We’re happy to chat more about what’s challenging for you and provide you customized guidance to help you write better papers and improve your grades on writing assignments!

Want to see what this looks like when it’s all pulled together? We compiled nine examples of great student essays, plus all of the steps used to create this model essay, in this handy resource. Download it here !

tips on writing an argument essay

Emily graduated  summa cum laude  from Princeton University and holds an MA from the University of Notre Dame. She was a National Merit Scholar and has won numerous academic prizes and fellowships. A veteran of the publishing industry, she has helped professors at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton revise their books and articles. Over the last decade, Emily has successfully mentored hundreds of students in all aspects of the college admissions process, including the SAT, ACT, and college application essay. 

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Praxis Core Writing

Course: praxis core writing   >   unit 1, argumentative essay | quick guide.

  • Source-based essay | Quick guide
  • Revision in context | Quick guide
  • Within-sentence punctuation | Quick guide
  • Subordination and coordination | Quick guide
  • Independent and dependent Clauses | Video lesson
  • Parallel structure | Quick guide
  • Modifier placement | Quick guide
  • Shifts in verb tense | Quick guide
  • Pronoun clarity | Quick guide
  • Pronoun agreement | Quick guide
  • Subject-verb agreement | Quick guide
  • Noun agreement | Quick guide
  • Frequently confused words | Quick guide
  • Conventional expressions | Quick guide
  • Logical comparison | Quick guide
  • Concision | Quick guide
  • Adjective/adverb confusion | Quick guide
  • Negation | Quick guide
  • Capitalization | Quick guide
  • Apostrophe use | Quick guide
  • Research skills | Quick guide

Argumentative essay (30 minutes)

  • states or clearly implies the writer’s position or thesis
  • organizes and develops ideas logically, making insightful connections between them
  • clearly explains key ideas, supporting them with well-chosen reasons, examples, or details
  • displays effective sentence variety
  • clearly displays facility in the use of language
  • is generally free from errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics
  • organizes and develops ideas clearly, making connections between them
  • explains key ideas, supporting them with relevant reasons, examples, or details
  • displays some sentence variety
  • displays facility in the use of language
  • states or implies the writer’s position or thesis
  • shows control in the organization and development of ideas
  • explains some key ideas, supporting them with adequate reasons, examples, or details
  • displays adequate use of language
  • shows control of grammar, usage, and mechanics, but may display errors
  • limited in stating or implying a position or thesis
  • limited control in the organization and development of ideas
  • inadequate reasons, examples, or details to explain key ideas
  • an accumulation of errors in the use of language
  • an accumulation of errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics
  • no clear position or thesis
  • weak organization or very little development
  • few or no relevant reasons, examples, or details
  • frequent serious errors in the use of language
  • frequent serious errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics
  • contains serious and persistent writing errors or
  • is incoherent or
  • is undeveloped or
  • is off-topic

How should I build a thesis?

  • (Choice A)   Kids should find role models that are worthier than celebrities because celebrities may be famous for reasons that aren't admirable. A Kids should find role models that are worthier than celebrities because celebrities may be famous for reasons that aren't admirable.
  • (Choice B)   Because they profit from the admiration of youths, celebrities have a moral responsibility for the reactions their behaviors provoke in fans. B Because they profit from the admiration of youths, celebrities have a moral responsibility for the reactions their behaviors provoke in fans.
  • (Choice C)   Celebrities may have more imitators than most people, but they hold no more responsibility over the example they set than the average person. C Celebrities may have more imitators than most people, but they hold no more responsibility over the example they set than the average person.
  • (Choice D)   Notoriety is not always a choice, and some celebrities may not want to be role models. D Notoriety is not always a choice, and some celebrities may not want to be role models.
  • (Choice E)   Parents have a moral responsibility to serve as immediate role models for their children. E Parents have a moral responsibility to serve as immediate role models for their children.

How should I support my thesis?

  • (Choice A)   As basketball star Charles Barkley stated in a famous advertising campaign for Nike, he was paid to dominate on the basketball court, not to raise your kids. A As basketball star Charles Barkley stated in a famous advertising campaign for Nike, he was paid to dominate on the basketball court, not to raise your kids.
  • (Choice B)   Many celebrities do consider themselves responsible for setting a good example and create non-profit organizations through which they can benefit youths. B Many celebrities do consider themselves responsible for setting a good example and create non-profit organizations through which they can benefit youths.
  • (Choice C)   Many celebrities, like Kylie Jenner with her billion-dollar cosmetics company, profit directly from being imitated by fans who purchase sponsored products. C Many celebrities, like Kylie Jenner with her billion-dollar cosmetics company, profit directly from being imitated by fans who purchase sponsored products.
  • (Choice D)   My ten-year-old nephew may love Drake's music, but his behaviors are more similar to those of the adults he interacts with on a daily basis, like his parents and teachers. D My ten-year-old nephew may love Drake's music, but his behaviors are more similar to those of the adults he interacts with on a daily basis, like his parents and teachers.
  • (Choice E)   It's very common for young people to wear fashions similar to those of their favorite celebrities. E It's very common for young people to wear fashions similar to those of their favorite celebrities.

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PrepScholar

Choose Your Test

Sat / act prep online guides and tips, how to write an a+ argumentative essay.

Miscellaneous

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You'll no doubt have to write a number of argumentative essays in both high school and college, but what, exactly, is an argumentative essay and how do you write the best one possible? Let's take a look.

A great argumentative essay always combines the same basic elements: approaching an argument from a rational perspective, researching sources, supporting your claims using facts rather than opinion, and articulating your reasoning into the most cogent and reasoned points. Argumentative essays are great building blocks for all sorts of research and rhetoric, so your teachers will expect you to master the technique before long.

But if this sounds daunting, never fear! We'll show how an argumentative essay differs from other kinds of papers, how to research and write them, how to pick an argumentative essay topic, and where to find example essays. So let's get started.

What Is an Argumentative Essay? How Is it Different from Other Kinds of Essays?

There are two basic requirements for any and all essays: to state a claim (a thesis statement) and to support that claim with evidence.

Though every essay is founded on these two ideas, there are several different types of essays, differentiated by the style of the writing, how the writer presents the thesis, and the types of evidence used to support the thesis statement.

Essays can be roughly divided into four different types:

#1: Argumentative #2: Persuasive #3: Expository #4: Analytical

So let's look at each type and what the differences are between them before we focus the rest of our time to argumentative essays.

Argumentative Essay

Argumentative essays are what this article is all about, so let's talk about them first.

An argumentative essay attempts to convince a reader to agree with a particular argument (the writer's thesis statement). The writer takes a firm stand one way or another on a topic and then uses hard evidence to support that stance.

An argumentative essay seeks to prove to the reader that one argument —the writer's argument— is the factually and logically correct one. This means that an argumentative essay must use only evidence-based support to back up a claim , rather than emotional or philosophical reasoning (which is often allowed in other types of essays). Thus, an argumentative essay has a burden of substantiated proof and sources , whereas some other types of essays (namely persuasive essays) do not.

You can write an argumentative essay on any topic, so long as there's room for argument. Generally, you can use the same topics for both a persuasive essay or an argumentative one, so long as you support the argumentative essay with hard evidence.

Example topics of an argumentative essay:

  • "Should farmers be allowed to shoot wolves if those wolves injure or kill farm animals?"
  • "Should the drinking age be lowered in the United States?"
  • "Are alternatives to democracy effective and/or feasible to implement?"

The next three types of essays are not argumentative essays, but you may have written them in school. We're going to cover them so you know what not to do for your argumentative essay.

Persuasive Essay

Persuasive essays are similar to argumentative essays, so it can be easy to get them confused. But knowing what makes an argumentative essay different than a persuasive essay can often mean the difference between an excellent grade and an average one.

Persuasive essays seek to persuade a reader to agree with the point of view of the writer, whether that point of view is based on factual evidence or not. The writer has much more flexibility in the evidence they can use, with the ability to use moral, cultural, or opinion-based reasoning as well as factual reasoning to persuade the reader to agree the writer's side of a given issue.

Instead of being forced to use "pure" reason as one would in an argumentative essay, the writer of a persuasive essay can manipulate or appeal to the reader's emotions. So long as the writer attempts to steer the readers into agreeing with the thesis statement, the writer doesn't necessarily need hard evidence in favor of the argument.

Often, you can use the same topics for both a persuasive essay or an argumentative one—the difference is all in the approach and the evidence you present.

Example topics of a persuasive essay:

  • "Should children be responsible for their parents' debts?"
  • "Should cheating on a test be automatic grounds for expulsion?"
  • "How much should sports leagues be held accountable for player injuries and the long-term consequences of those injuries?"

Expository Essay

An expository essay is typically a short essay in which the writer explains an idea, issue, or theme , or discusses the history of a person, place, or idea.

This is typically a fact-forward essay with little argument or opinion one way or the other.

Example topics of an expository essay:

  • "The History of the Philadelphia Liberty Bell"
  • "The Reasons I Always Wanted to be a Doctor"
  • "The Meaning Behind the Colloquialism ‘People in Glass Houses Shouldn't Throw Stones'"

Analytical Essay

An analytical essay seeks to delve into the deeper meaning of a text or work of art, or unpack a complicated idea . These kinds of essays closely interpret a source and look into its meaning by analyzing it at both a macro and micro level.

This type of analysis can be augmented by historical context or other expert or widely-regarded opinions on the subject, but is mainly supported directly through the original source (the piece or art or text being analyzed) .

Example topics of an analytical essay:

  • "Victory Gin in Place of Water: The Symbolism Behind Gin as the Only Potable Substance in George Orwell's 1984"
  • "Amarna Period Art: The Meaning Behind the Shift from Rigid to Fluid Poses"
  • "Adultery During WWII, as Told Through a Series of Letters to and from Soldiers"

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There are many different types of essay and, over time, you'll be able to master them all.

A Typical Argumentative Essay Assignment

The average argumentative essay is between three to five pages, and will require at least three or four separate sources with which to back your claims . As for the essay topic , you'll most often be asked to write an argumentative essay in an English class on a "general" topic of your choice, ranging the gamut from science, to history, to literature.

But while the topics of an argumentative essay can span several different fields, the structure of an argumentative essay is always the same: you must support a claim—a claim that can reasonably have multiple sides—using multiple sources and using a standard essay format (which we'll talk about later on).

This is why many argumentative essay topics begin with the word "should," as in:

  • "Should all students be required to learn chemistry in high school?"
  • "Should children be required to learn a second language?"
  • "Should schools or governments be allowed to ban books?"

These topics all have at least two sides of the argument: Yes or no. And you must support the side you choose with evidence as to why your side is the correct one.

But there are also plenty of other ways to frame an argumentative essay as well:

  • "Does using social media do more to benefit or harm people?"
  • "Does the legal status of artwork or its creators—graffiti and vandalism, pirated media, a creator who's in jail—have an impact on the art itself?"
  • "Is or should anyone ever be ‘above the law?'"

Though these are worded differently than the first three, you're still essentially forced to pick between two sides of an issue: yes or no, for or against, benefit or detriment. Though your argument might not fall entirely into one side of the divide or another—for instance, you could claim that social media has positively impacted some aspects of modern life while being a detriment to others—your essay should still support one side of the argument above all. Your final stance would be that overall , social media is beneficial or overall , social media is harmful.

If your argument is one that is mostly text-based or backed by a single source (e.g., "How does Salinger show that Holden Caulfield is an unreliable narrator?" or "Does Gatsby personify the American Dream?"), then it's an analytical essay, rather than an argumentative essay. An argumentative essay will always be focused on more general topics so that you can use multiple sources to back up your claims.

Good Argumentative Essay Topics

So you know the basic idea behind an argumentative essay, but what topic should you write about?

Again, almost always, you'll be asked to write an argumentative essay on a free topic of your choice, or you'll be asked to select between a few given topics . If you're given complete free reign of topics, then it'll be up to you to find an essay topic that no only appeals to you, but that you can turn into an A+ argumentative essay.

What makes a "good" argumentative essay topic depends on both the subject matter and your personal interest —it can be hard to give your best effort on something that bores you to tears! But it can also be near impossible to write an argumentative essay on a topic that has no room for debate.

As we said earlier, a good argumentative essay topic will be one that has the potential to reasonably go in at least two directions—for or against, yes or no, and why . For example, it's pretty hard to write an argumentative essay on whether or not people should be allowed to murder one another—not a whole lot of debate there for most people!—but writing an essay for or against the death penalty has a lot more wiggle room for evidence and argument.

A good topic is also one that can be substantiated through hard evidence and relevant sources . So be sure to pick a topic that other people have studied (or at least studied elements of) so that you can use their data in your argument. For example, if you're arguing that it should be mandatory for all middle school children to play a sport, you might have to apply smaller scientific data points to the larger picture you're trying to justify. There are probably several studies you could cite on the benefits of physical activity and the positive effect structure and teamwork has on young minds, but there's probably no study you could use where a group of scientists put all middle-schoolers in one jurisdiction into a mandatory sports program (since that's probably never happened). So long as your evidence is relevant to your point and you can extrapolate from it to form a larger whole, you can use it as a part of your resource material.

And if you need ideas on where to get started, or just want to see sample argumentative essay topics, then check out these links for hundreds of potential argumentative essay topics.

101 Persuasive (or Argumentative) Essay and Speech Topics

301 Prompts for Argumentative Writing

Top 50 Ideas for Argumentative/Persuasive Essay Writing

[Note: some of these say "persuasive essay topics," but just remember that the same topic can often be used for both a persuasive essay and an argumentative essay; the difference is in your writing style and the evidence you use to support your claims.]

body_fight

KO! Find that one argumentative essay topic you can absolutely conquer.

Argumentative Essay Format

Argumentative Essays are composed of four main elements:

  • A position (your argument)
  • Your reasons
  • Supporting evidence for those reasons (from reliable sources)
  • Counterargument(s) (possible opposing arguments and reasons why those arguments are incorrect)

If you're familiar with essay writing in general, then you're also probably familiar with the five paragraph essay structure . This structure is a simple tool to show how one outlines an essay and breaks it down into its component parts, although it can be expanded into as many paragraphs as you want beyond the core five.

The standard argumentative essay is often 3-5 pages, which will usually mean a lot more than five paragraphs, but your overall structure will look the same as a much shorter essay.

An argumentative essay at its simplest structure will look like:

Paragraph 1: Intro

  • Set up the story/problem/issue
  • Thesis/claim

Paragraph 2: Support

  • Reason #1 claim is correct
  • Supporting evidence with sources

Paragraph 3: Support

  • Reason #2 claim is correct

Paragraph 4: Counterargument

  • Explanation of argument for the other side
  • Refutation of opposing argument with supporting evidence

Paragraph 5: Conclusion

  • Re-state claim
  • Sum up reasons and support of claim from the essay to prove claim is correct

Now let's unpack each of these paragraph types to see how they work (with examples!), what goes into them, and why.

Paragraph 1—Set Up and Claim

Your first task is to introduce the reader to the topic at hand so they'll be prepared for your claim. Give a little background information, set the scene, and give the reader some stakes so that they care about the issue you're going to discuss.

Next, you absolutely must have a position on an argument and make that position clear to the readers. It's not an argumentative essay unless you're arguing for a specific claim, and this claim will be your thesis statement.

Your thesis CANNOT be a mere statement of fact (e.g., "Washington DC is the capital of the United States"). Your thesis must instead be an opinion which can be backed up with evidence and has the potential to be argued against (e.g., "New York should be the capital of the United States").

Paragraphs 2 and 3—Your Evidence

These are your body paragraphs in which you give the reasons why your argument is the best one and back up this reasoning with concrete evidence .

The argument supporting the thesis of an argumentative essay should be one that can be supported by facts and evidence, rather than personal opinion or cultural or religious mores.

For example, if you're arguing that New York should be the new capital of the US, you would have to back up that fact by discussing the factual contrasts between New York and DC in terms of location, population, revenue, and laws. You would then have to talk about the precedents for what makes for a good capital city and why New York fits the bill more than DC does.

Your argument can't simply be that a lot of people think New York is the best city ever and that you agree.

In addition to using concrete evidence, you always want to keep the tone of your essay passionate, but impersonal . Even though you're writing your argument from a single opinion, don't use first person language—"I think," "I feel," "I believe,"—to present your claims. Doing so is repetitive, since by writing the essay you're already telling the audience what you feel, and using first person language weakens your writing voice.

For example,

"I think that Washington DC is no longer suited to be the capital city of the United States."

"Washington DC is no longer suited to be the capital city of the United States."

The second statement sounds far stronger and more analytical.

Paragraph 4—Argument for the Other Side and Refutation

Even without a counter argument, you can make a pretty persuasive claim, but a counterargument will round out your essay into one that is much more persuasive and substantial.

By anticipating an argument against your claim and taking the initiative to counter it, you're allowing yourself to get ahead of the game. This way, you show that you've given great thought to all sides of the issue before choosing your position, and you demonstrate in multiple ways how yours is the more reasoned and supported side.

Paragraph 5—Conclusion

This paragraph is where you re-state your argument and summarize why it's the best claim.

Briefly touch on your supporting evidence and voila! A finished argumentative essay.

body_plesiosaur

Your essay should have just as awesome a skeleton as this plesiosaur does. (In other words: a ridiculously awesome skeleton)

Argumentative Essay Example: 5-Paragraph Style

It always helps to have an example to learn from. I've written a full 5-paragraph argumentative essay here. Look at how I state my thesis in paragraph 1, give supporting evidence in paragraphs 2 and 3, address a counterargument in paragraph 4, and conclude in paragraph 5.

Topic: Is it possible to maintain conflicting loyalties?

Paragraph 1

It is almost impossible to go through life without encountering a situation where your loyalties to different people or causes come into conflict with each other. Maybe you have a loving relationship with your sister, but she disagrees with your decision to join the army, or you find yourself torn between your cultural beliefs and your scientific ones. These conflicting loyalties can often be maintained for a time, but as examples from both history and psychological theory illustrate, sooner or later, people have to make a choice between competing loyalties, as no one can maintain a conflicting loyalty or belief system forever.

The first two sentences set the scene and give some hypothetical examples and stakes for the reader to care about.

The third sentence finishes off the intro with the thesis statement, making very clear how the author stands on the issue ("people have to make a choice between competing loyalties, as no one can maintain a conflicting loyalty or belief system forever." )

Paragraphs 2 and 3

Psychological theory states that human beings are not equipped to maintain conflicting loyalties indefinitely and that attempting to do so leads to a state called "cognitive dissonance." Cognitive dissonance theory is the psychological idea that people undergo tremendous mental stress or anxiety when holding contradictory beliefs, values, or loyalties (Festinger, 1957). Even if human beings initially hold a conflicting loyalty, they will do their best to find a mental equilibrium by making a choice between those loyalties—stay stalwart to a belief system or change their beliefs. One of the earliest formal examples of cognitive dissonance theory comes from Leon Festinger's When Prophesy Fails . Members of an apocalyptic cult are told that the end of the world will occur on a specific date and that they alone will be spared the Earth's destruction. When that day comes and goes with no apocalypse, the cult members face a cognitive dissonance between what they see and what they've been led to believe (Festinger, 1956). Some choose to believe that the cult's beliefs are still correct, but that the Earth was simply spared from destruction by mercy, while others choose to believe that they were lied to and that the cult was fraudulent all along. Both beliefs cannot be correct at the same time, and so the cult members are forced to make their choice.

But even when conflicting loyalties can lead to potentially physical, rather than just mental, consequences, people will always make a choice to fall on one side or other of a dividing line. Take, for instance, Nicolaus Copernicus, a man born and raised in Catholic Poland (and educated in Catholic Italy). Though the Catholic church dictated specific scientific teachings, Copernicus' loyalty to his own observations and scientific evidence won out over his loyalty to his country's government and belief system. When he published his heliocentric model of the solar system--in opposition to the geocentric model that had been widely accepted for hundreds of years (Hannam, 2011)-- Copernicus was making a choice between his loyalties. In an attempt t o maintain his fealty both to the established system and to what he believed, h e sat on his findings for a number of years (Fantoli, 1994). But, ultimately, Copernicus made the choice to side with his beliefs and observations above all and published his work for the world to see (even though, in doing so, he risked both his reputation and personal freedoms).

These two paragraphs provide the reasons why the author supports the main argument and uses substantiated sources to back those reasons.

The paragraph on cognitive dissonance theory gives both broad supporting evidence and more narrow, detailed supporting evidence to show why the thesis statement is correct not just anecdotally but also scientifically and psychologically. First, we see why people in general have a difficult time accepting conflicting loyalties and desires and then how this applies to individuals through the example of the cult members from the Dr. Festinger's research.

The next paragraph continues to use more detailed examples from history to provide further evidence of why the thesis that people cannot indefinitely maintain conflicting loyalties is true.

Paragraph 4

Some will claim that it is possible to maintain conflicting beliefs or loyalties permanently, but this is often more a matter of people deluding themselves and still making a choice for one side or the other, rather than truly maintaining loyalty to both sides equally. For example, Lancelot du Lac typifies a person who claims to maintain a balanced loyalty between to two parties, but his attempt to do so fails (as all attempts to permanently maintain conflicting loyalties must). Lancelot tells himself and others that he is equally devoted to both King Arthur and his court and to being Queen Guinevere's knight (Malory, 2008). But he can neither be in two places at once to protect both the king and queen, nor can he help but let his romantic feelings for the queen to interfere with his duties to the king and the kingdom. Ultimately, he and Queen Guinevere give into their feelings for one another and Lancelot—though he denies it—chooses his loyalty to her over his loyalty to Arthur. This decision plunges the kingdom into a civil war, ages Lancelot prematurely, and ultimately leads to Camelot's ruin (Raabe, 1987). Though Lancelot claimed to have been loyal to both the king and the queen, this loyalty was ultimately in conflict, and he could not maintain it.

Here we have the acknowledgement of a potential counter-argument and the evidence as to why it isn't true.

The argument is that some people (or literary characters) have asserted that they give equal weight to their conflicting loyalties. The refutation is that, though some may claim to be able to maintain conflicting loyalties, they're either lying to others or deceiving themselves. The paragraph shows why this is true by providing an example of this in action.

Paragraph 5

Whether it be through literature or history, time and time again, people demonstrate the challenges of trying to manage conflicting loyalties and the inevitable consequences of doing so. Though belief systems are malleable and will often change over time, it is not possible to maintain two mutually exclusive loyalties or beliefs at once. In the end, people always make a choice, and loyalty for one party or one side of an issue will always trump loyalty to the other.

The concluding paragraph summarizes the essay, touches on the evidence presented, and re-states the thesis statement.

How to Write an Argumentative Essay: 8 Steps

Writing the best argumentative essay is all about the preparation, so let's talk steps:

#1: Preliminary Research

If you have the option to pick your own argumentative essay topic (which you most likely will), then choose one or two topics you find the most intriguing or that you have a vested interest in and do some preliminary research on both sides of the debate.

Do an open internet search just to see what the general chatter is on the topic and what the research trends are.

Did your preliminary reading influence you to pick a side or change your side? Without diving into all the scholarly articles at length, do you believe there's enough evidence to support your claim? Have there been scientific studies? Experiments? Does a noted scholar in the field agree with you? If not, you may need to pick another topic or side of the argument to support.

#2: Pick Your Side and Form Your Thesis

Now's the time to pick the side of the argument you feel you can support the best and summarize your main point into your thesis statement.

Your thesis will be the basis of your entire essay, so make sure you know which side you're on, that you've stated it clearly, and that you stick by your argument throughout the entire essay .

#3: Heavy-Duty Research Time

You've taken a gander at what the internet at large has to say on your argument, but now's the time to actually read those sources and take notes.

Check scholarly journals online at Google Scholar , the Directory of Open Access Journals , or JStor . You can also search individual university or school libraries and websites to see what kinds of academic articles you can access for free. Keep track of your important quotes and page numbers and put them somewhere that's easy to find later.

And don't forget to check your school or local libraries as well!

#4: Outline

Follow the five-paragraph outline structure from the previous section.

Fill in your topic, your reasons, and your supporting evidence into each of the categories.

Before you begin to flesh out the essay, take a look at what you've got. Is your thesis statement in the first paragraph? Is it clear? Is your argument logical? Does your supporting evidence support your reasoning?

By outlining your essay, you streamline your process and take care of any logic gaps before you dive headfirst into the writing. This will save you a lot of grief later on if you need to change your sources or your structure, so don't get too trigger-happy and skip this step.

Now that you've laid out exactly what you'll need for your essay and where, it's time to fill in all the gaps by writing it out.

Take it one step at a time and expand your ideas into complete sentences and substantiated claims. It may feel daunting to turn an outline into a complete draft, but just remember that you've already laid out all the groundwork; now you're just filling in the gaps.

If you have the time before deadline, give yourself a day or two (or even just an hour!) away from your essay . Looking it over with fresh eyes will allow you to see errors, both minor and major, that you likely would have missed had you tried to edit when it was still raw.

Take a first pass over the entire essay and try your best to ignore any minor spelling or grammar mistakes—you're just looking at the big picture right now. Does it make sense as a whole? Did the essay succeed in making an argument and backing that argument up logically? (Do you feel persuaded?)

If not, go back and make notes so that you can fix it for your final draft.

Once you've made your revisions to the overall structure, mark all your small errors and grammar problems so you can fix them in the next draft.

#7: Final Draft

Use the notes you made on the rough draft and go in and hack and smooth away until you're satisfied with the final result.

A checklist for your final draft:

  • Formatting is correct according to your teacher's standards
  • No errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation
  • Essay is the right length and size for the assignment
  • The argument is present, consistent, and concise
  • Each reason is supported by relevant evidence
  • The essay makes sense overall

#8: Celebrate!

Once you've brought that final draft to a perfect polish and turned in your assignment, you're done! Go you!

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Be prepared and ♪ you'll never go hungry again ♪, *cough*, or struggle with your argumentative essay-writing again. (Walt Disney Studios)

Good Examples of Argumentative Essays Online

Theory is all well and good, but examples are key. Just to get you started on what a fully-fleshed out argumentative essay looks like, let's see some examples in action.

Check out these two argumentative essay examples on the use of landmines and freons (and note the excellent use of concrete sources to back up their arguments!).

The Use of Landmines

A Shattered Sky

The Take-Aways: Keys to Writing an Argumentative Essay

At first, writing an argumentative essay may seem like a monstrous hurdle to overcome, but with the proper preparation and understanding, you'll be able to knock yours out of the park.

Remember the differences between a persuasive essay and an argumentative one, make sure your thesis is clear, and double-check that your supporting evidence is both relevant to your point and well-sourced . Pick your topic, do your research, make your outline, and fill in the gaps. Before you know it, you'll have yourself an A+ argumentative essay there, my friend.

What's Next?

Now you know the ins and outs of an argumentative essay, but how comfortable are you writing in other styles? Learn more about the four writing styles and when it makes sense to use each .

Understand how to make an argument, but still having trouble organizing your thoughts? Check out our guide to three popular essay formats and choose which one is right for you.

Ready to make your case, but not sure what to write about? We've created a list of 50 potential argumentative essay topics to spark your imagination.

Courtney scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT in high school and went on to graduate from Stanford University with a degree in Cultural and Social Anthropology. She is passionate about bringing education and the tools to succeed to students from all backgrounds and walks of life, as she believes open education is one of the great societal equalizers. She has years of tutoring experience and writes creative works in her free time.

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Tips on How to Write an Argumentative Essay

  • M.Ed., Education Administration, University of Georgia
  • B.A., History, Armstrong State University

To be effective, an argumentative essay must contain elements to help persuade the audience to see things from your perspective. These components include a compelling topic, a balanced assessment, strong evidence, and persuasive language.

Find a Good Topic and Point of View

To find a good topic for an argumentative essay, consider several issues and choose a few that spark at least two solid, conflicting points of view. As you look over a list of topics , find one that really piques your interest, as you'll be more successful if you're passionate about your topic.

Once you have selected a topic you feel strongly about, make a list of points for both sides of the argument. When shaping an argument you'll have to explain why your belief is reasonable and logical, so list points you can use as evidence for or against an issue. Ultimately, determine your side of the argument and make sure you can back up your point of view with reasoning and evidence. Work against the opposing point of view and prove why your stance is correct.

Gather Evidence

One of your essay's first objectives will be to assess both sides of your issue. Consider strong arguments for both your side, as well as the "other" side—in order to shoot their statements down. Provide evidence without drama; sticking to the facts and clear examples that support your stance.

You may look for research that provides statistics on your topic that support your reasoning, as well as examples of how your topic impacts people, animals, or even the Earth. Interviewing experts on your topic can also help you structure a compelling argument.

Write the Essay

Once you've given yourself a solid foundation of information, begin to craft your essay. An argument essay, as with all essays, should contain three parts: the introduction , the body, and the conclusion . The length of paragraphs in these parts will vary depending on the length of your essay assignment.

As in any essay, the first paragraph of your argument essay should introduce the topic with a brief explanation of your topic, some background information, and a thesis statement . In this case, your thesis is a statement of your position on a specific controversial topic.

Present Both Sides of the Controversy

The body of your essay should contain the meat of your argument. Go into more detail about the two sides of your topic and state the strongest points of the counter-side of your issue.

After describing the "other" side, present your own viewpoint and then provide evidence to show why your position is the correct one. Work to discredit the other side using some of the information you discovered in your research. Choose your strongest evidence and present your points one by one. Use a mix of evidence, from statistics to other studies and anecdotal stories.

A strong conclusion can help summarize your point of view and reinforce with your reader why your stance is the best option. You might consider reserving one overwhelmingly shocking statistic for the conclusion, one that leaves no room for doubt in your reader's mind. At the very least, use this final paragraph or two as an opportunity to restate your position as the most sensible one.

When writing your essay, consider these tips to help craft the most rational and poignant argument for your readers. Avoid emotional language that can sound irrational. Know the difference between a logical conclusion and an emotional point of view.

Don't fabricate evidence and don't use​ ​ untrustworthy sources for evidence, and be sure to cite your sources .

  • 5 Steps to Writing a Position Paper
  • Writing an Opinion Essay
  • How To Write an Essay
  • Preparing an Argument Essay: Exploring Both Sides of an Issue
  • How to Structure an Essay
  • How to Write a Persuasive Essay
  • How to Write a Solid Thesis Statement
  • How to Write a Narrative Essay or Speech
  • The Five Steps of Writing an Essay
  • Definition and Examples of Analysis in Composition
  • What Is Expository Writing?
  • 6 Steps to Writing the Perfect Personal Essay
  • Persuasive Writing: For and Against
  • How to Write a Great Process Essay
  • How to Write and Structure a Persuasive Speech
  • How to Write Your Graduate School Admissions Essay

Argumentative Essay Examples to Inspire You (+ Free Formula)

Argumentative Essay Examples to Inspire You (+ Free Formula)

Table of contents

tips on writing an argument essay

Meredith Sell

Have you ever been asked to explain your opinion on a controversial issue? 

  • Maybe your family got into a discussion about chemical pesticides
  • Someone at work argues against investing resources into your project
  • Your partner thinks intermittent fasting is the best way to lose weight and you disagree

Proving your point in an argumentative essay can be challenging, unless you are using a proven formula.

Argumentative essay formula & example

In the image below, you can see a recommended structure for argumentative essays. It starts with the topic sentence, which establishes the main idea of the essay. Next, this hypothesis is developed in the development stage. Then, the rebuttal, or the refutal of the main counter argument or arguments. Then, again, development of the rebuttal. This is followed by an example, and ends with a summary. This is a very basic structure, but it gives you a bird-eye-view of how a proper argumentative essay can be built.

Structure of an argumentative essay

Writing an argumentative essay (for a class, a news outlet, or just for fun) can help you improve your understanding of an issue and sharpen your thinking on the matter. Using researched facts and data, you can explain why you or others think the way you do, even while other reasonable people disagree.

Free AI argumentative essay generator > Free AI argumentative essay generator >

argumentative essay

What Is an Argumentative Essay?

An argumentative essay is an explanatory essay that takes a side.

Instead of appealing to emotion and personal experience to change the reader’s mind, an argumentative essay uses logic and well-researched factual information to explain why the thesis in question is the most reasonable opinion on the matter.  

Over several paragraphs or pages, the author systematically walks through:

  • The opposition (and supporting evidence)
  • The chosen thesis (and its supporting evidence)

At the end, the author leaves the decision up to the reader, trusting that the case they’ve made will do the work of changing the reader’s mind. Even if the reader’s opinion doesn’t change, they come away from the essay with a greater understanding of the perspective presented — and perhaps a better understanding of their original opinion.

All of that might make it seem like writing an argumentative essay is way harder than an emotionally-driven persuasive essay — but if you’re like me and much more comfortable spouting facts and figures than making impassioned pleas, you may find that an argumentative essay is easier to write. 

Plus, the process of researching an argumentative essay means you can check your assumptions and develop an opinion that’s more based in reality than what you originally thought. I know for sure that my opinions need to be fact checked — don’t yours?

So how exactly do we write the argumentative essay?

How do you start an argumentative essay

First, gain a clear understanding of what exactly an argumentative essay is. To formulate a proper topic sentence, you have to be clear on your topic, and to explore it through research.

Students have difficulty starting an essay because the whole task seems intimidating, and they are afraid of spending too much time on the topic sentence. Experienced writers, however, know that there is no set time to spend on figuring out your topic. It's a real exploration that is based to a large extent on intuition.

6 Steps to Write an Argumentative Essay (Persuasion Formula)

Use this checklist to tackle your essay one step at a time:

Argumentative Essay Checklist

1. Research an issue with an arguable question

To start, you need to identify an issue that well-informed people have varying opinions on. Here, it’s helpful to think of one core topic and how it intersects with another (or several other) issues. That intersection is where hot takes and reasonable (or unreasonable) opinions abound. 

I find it helpful to stage the issue as a question.

For example: 

Is it better to legislate the minimum size of chicken enclosures or to outlaw the sale of eggs from chickens who don’t have enough space?

Should snow removal policies focus more on effectively keeping roads clear for traffic or the environmental impacts of snow removal methods?

Once you have your arguable question ready, start researching the basic facts and specific opinions and arguments on the issue. Do your best to stay focused on gathering information that is directly relevant to your topic. Depending on what your essay is for, you may reference academic studies, government reports, or newspaper articles.

‍ Research your opposition and the facts that support their viewpoint as much as you research your own position . You’ll need to address your opposition in your essay, so you’ll want to know their argument from the inside out.

2. Choose a side based on your research

You likely started with an inclination toward one side or the other, but your research should ultimately shape your perspective. So once you’ve completed the research, nail down your opinion and start articulating the what and why of your take. 

What: I think it’s better to outlaw selling eggs from chickens whose enclosures are too small.

Why: Because if you regulate the enclosure size directly, egg producers outside of the government’s jurisdiction could ship eggs into your territory and put nearby egg producers out of business by offering better prices because they don’t have the added cost of larger enclosures.

This is an early form of your thesis and the basic logic of your argument. You’ll want to iterate on this a few times and develop a one-sentence statement that sums up the thesis of your essay.

Thesis: Outlawing the sale of eggs from chickens with cramped living spaces is better for business than regulating the size of chicken enclosures.

Now that you’ve articulated your thesis , spell out the counterargument(s) as well. Putting your opposition’s take into words will help you throughout the rest of the essay-writing process. (You can start by choosing the counter argument option with Wordtune Spices .)

tips on writing an argument essay

Counterargument: Outlawing the sale of eggs from chickens with too small enclosures will immediately drive up egg prices for consumers, making the low-cost protein source harder to afford — especially for low-income consumers.

There may be one main counterargument to articulate, or several. Write them all out and start thinking about how you’ll use evidence to address each of them or show why your argument is still the best option.

3. Organize the evidence — for your side and the opposition

You did all of that research for a reason. Now’s the time to use it. 

Hopefully, you kept detailed notes in a document, complete with links and titles of all your source material. Go through your research document and copy the evidence for your argument and your opposition’s into another document.

List the main points of your argument. Then, below each point, paste the evidence that backs them up.

If you’re writing about chicken enclosures, maybe you found evidence that shows the spread of disease among birds kept in close quarters is worse than among birds who have more space. Or maybe you found information that says eggs from free-range chickens are more flavorful or nutritious. Put that information next to the appropriate part of your argument. 

Repeat the process with your opposition’s argument: What information did you find that supports your opposition? Paste it beside your opposition’s argument.

You could also put information here that refutes your opposition, but organize it in a way that clearly tells you — at a glance — that the information disproves their point.

Counterargument: Outlawing the sale of eggs from chickens with too small enclosures will immediately drive up egg prices for consumers.

BUT: Sicknesses like avian flu spread more easily through small enclosures and could cause a shortage that would drive up egg prices naturally, so ensuring larger enclosures is still a better policy for consumers over the long term.

As you organize your research and see the evidence all together, start thinking through the best way to order your points.  

Will it be better to present your argument all at once or to break it up with opposition claims you can quickly refute? Would some points set up other points well? Does a more complicated point require that the reader understands a simpler point first?

Play around and rearrange your notes to see how your essay might flow one way or another.

4. Freewrite or outline to think through your argument

Is your brain buzzing yet? At this point in the process, it can be helpful to take out a notebook or open a fresh document and dump whatever you’re thinking on the page.

Where should your essay start? What ground-level information do you need to provide your readers before you can dive into the issue?

Use your organized evidence document from step 3 to think through your argument from beginning to end, and determine the structure of your essay.

There are three typical structures for argumentative essays:

  • Make your argument and tackle opposition claims one by one, as they come up in relation to the points of your argument - In this approach, the whole essay — from beginning to end — focuses on your argument, but as you make each point, you address the relevant opposition claims individually. This approach works well if your opposition’s views can be quickly explained and refuted and if they directly relate to specific points in your argument.
  • Make the bulk of your argument, and then address the opposition all at once in a paragraph (or a few) - This approach puts the opposition in its own section, separate from your main argument. After you’ve made your case, with ample evidence to convince your readers, you write about the opposition, explaining their viewpoint and supporting evidence — and showing readers why the opposition’s argument is unconvincing. Once you’ve addressed the opposition, you write a conclusion that sums up why your argument is the better one.
  • Open your essay by talking about the opposition and where it falls short. Build your entire argument to show how it is superior to that opposition - With this structure, you’re showing your readers “a better way” to address the issue. After opening your piece by showing how your opposition’s approaches fail, you launch into your argument, providing readers with ample evidence that backs you up.

As you think through your argument and examine your evidence document, consider which structure will serve your argument best. Sketch out an outline to give yourself a map to follow in the writing process. You could also rearrange your evidence document again to match your outline, so it will be easy to find what you need when you start writing.

5. Write your first draft

You have an outline and an organized document with all your points and evidence lined up and ready. Now you just have to write your essay.

In your first draft, focus on getting your ideas on the page. Your wording may not be perfect (whose is?), but you know what you’re trying to say — so even if you’re overly wordy and taking too much space to say what you need to say, put those words on the page.

Follow your outline, and draw from that evidence document to flesh out each point of your argument. Explain what the evidence means for your argument and your opposition. Connect the dots for your readers so they can follow you, point by point, and understand what you’re trying to say.

As you write, be sure to include:

1. Any background information your reader needs in order to understand the issue in question.

2. Evidence for both your argument and the counterargument(s). This shows that you’ve done your homework and builds trust with your reader, while also setting you up to make a more convincing argument. (If you find gaps in your research while you’re writing, Wordtune Spices can source statistics or historical facts on the fly!)

tips on writing an argument essay

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3. A conclusion that sums up your overall argument and evidence — and leaves the reader with an understanding of the issue and its significance. This sort of conclusion brings your essay to a strong ending that doesn’t waste readers’ time, but actually adds value to your case.

6. Revise (with Wordtune)

The hard work is done: you have a first draft. Now, let’s fine tune your writing.

I like to step away from what I’ve written for a day (or at least a night of sleep) before attempting to revise. It helps me approach clunky phrases and rough transitions with fresh eyes. If you don’t have that luxury, just get away from your computer for a few minutes — use the bathroom, do some jumping jacks, eat an apple — and then come back and read through your piece.

As you revise, make sure you …

  • Get the facts right. An argument with false evidence falls apart pretty quickly, so check your facts to make yours rock solid.
  • Don’t misrepresent the opposition or their evidence. If someone who holds the opposing view reads your essay, they should affirm how you explain their side — even if they disagree with your rebuttal.
  • Present a case that builds over the course of your essay, makes sense, and ends on a strong note. One point should naturally lead to the next. Your readers shouldn’t feel like you’re constantly changing subjects. You’re making a variety of points, but your argument should feel like a cohesive whole.
  • Paraphrase sources and cite them appropriately. Did you skip citations when writing your first draft? No worries — you can add them now. And check that you don’t overly rely on quotations. (Need help paraphrasing? Wordtune can help. Simply highlight the sentence or phrase you want to adjust and sort through Wordtune’s suggestions.)
  • Tighten up overly wordy explanations and sharpen any convoluted ideas. Wordtune makes a great sidekick for this too 😉

tips on writing an argument essay

Words to start an argumentative essay

The best way to introduce a convincing argument is to provide a strong thesis statement . These are the words I usually use to start an argumentative essay:

  • It is indisputable that the world today is facing a multitude of issues
  • With the rise of ____, the potential to make a positive difference has never been more accessible
  • It is essential that we take action now and tackle these issues head-on
  • it is critical to understand the underlying causes of the problems standing before us
  • Opponents of this idea claim
  • Those who are against these ideas may say
  • Some people may disagree with this idea
  • Some people may say that ____, however

When refuting an opposing concept, use:

  • These researchers have a point in thinking
  • To a certain extent they are right
  • After seeing this evidence, there is no way one can agree with this idea
  • This argument is irrelevant to the topic

Are you convinced by your own argument yet? Ready to brave the next get-together where everyone’s talking like they know something about intermittent fasting , chicken enclosures , or snow removal policies? 

Now if someone asks you to explain your evidence-based but controversial opinion, you can hand them your essay and ask them to report back after they’ve read it.

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How‌ ‌to‌ ‌Write‌ ‌an‌ ‌Argumentative‌ ‌Essay: Step by Step 🤓| Studyfy

How‌ ‌to‌ ‌Write‌ ‌an‌ ‌Argumentative‌ ‌Essay

tips on writing an argument essay

An argumentative essay is on the more serious side of things when it comes to academic papers It involves a lot of effort and time on behalf of a student. It is frequently used as an ultimate test to see if learners have fully grasped a given topic. The scale of this assignment can get pretty overwhelming. But if you know how to handle yourself and do serious academic research - well, then there's nothing to fear.

What Is an Argumentative Essay

An argumentative essay is a type of academic writing that requires a student to take a stance on an oftentimes controversial topic. You'll collect and compile evidence in support of a chosen stance, and attempt to prove the viewpoint using the gathered material. 

This task is frequently used as a final test due to the amount of in-depth research and knowledge of the topic that is required. 

Argumentative essays topics come in all shapes and sizes. But they don't define this format of writing. Truly defining features of an argumentative essay are its type and elements.

Struggling with your Argumentative Essay Homework?

Get your assignments done by real pros. Save your precious time and boost your marks with ease.

Argumentative Essay Types

Argumentative writing comes in several different forms. The most common of them are the following:

Persuasive essay

Persuasive essays are frequently used as thought experiments. In this format, the author is trying to make a case for one side of the argument that should be undeniably better than the other. Oftentimes the stance picked opposes the one the author agrees with, which makes learners look at the topic from a totally different angle;

Analysis essay

Analysis essays focus on looking into other argumentative type essays instead of good old argumentative essays topics. These usually take a form of a dialogue or debate, in which one author refutes or affirms the claims of another one;

Personal essay

This type does not usually require much research. The presented arguments are based on the author's subjective reasoning and personal opinion. But you are still expected to make a compelling case even though the objective and logical approach are off-limits.

Argumentative Essay Elements

An argumentative essay has a range of essential elements that make this task stand out from other forms of academic writing. These basic features should be distinctly identifiable in your paper:

Ordinarily, it is not simply a flow of the author's thoughts. In most cases, it should be based on extensive research or previous work.

The structure is what makes it easy to read and understand the author's arguments. A typical argumentative essay consists of an introduction paragraph complete with a thesis statement, 3-4 body paragraphs, and a conclusion section.

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of this kind of essay is the style of writing. It is usually presented in the form of a scientifically founded debate or argument (hence the name) in which the author attempts to prove a specific claim.

Argumentative Essay Format

Following rather strict structure guidelines is an important part of any research writing assignment. It is meant to serve a practical purpose of helping the reader follow along with the author's argument. It is also one of the major factors that influence your grade.

What are the 5 parts of an argumentative essay? Here is a rough outline. The most common form is a 5-paragraph model -there should be an introduction paragraph completed with a thesis statement, three body paragraphs showcasing evidence in support of your claim (there can be more or fewer of them depending on your assignment guidelines), and a conclusion paragraph with a quick summary of your work.

Here's a more detailed breakdown for you:

  • Introduction

1 paragraph

  • Body: Argument + supporting evidence
  • Body: Opposing argument + refuting evidence

3-5 paragraphs

Did you like our inspiring Argumentative Essay Guide?

For more help, tap into our pool of professional writers and get expert essay editing services!

How to Start an Argumentative Essay: Introduction

Even though an argumentative essay introduction is probably the easiest part of the work that is ahead of you, many students still have questions about how to start an argumentative essay. 

Introduction and thesis are usually merged into one paragraph. But even though they serve largely the same purpose, there are also some distinct differences. An introduction is a general overview of the problem you are addressing in your essay. It should also offer a context overview to the readers.

Here you can allow yourself some liberties. Your main goal throughout the introduction paragraph is to prepare your audience for the onslaught to come. 

Briefly go through what your paper is going to be about, and why it is important. You don't have to go into very much detail, save that for the body paragraphs. 

An introduction is a sort of buildup that culminates in your thesis statement. Once you hit the latter, you should start getting serious. Now you know how to start an argumentative essay. 

This is probably the most important component of the introduction. A thesis in an argumentative essay doesn't really have many differences when compared to other types of writing. 

When working on this part, your job is to build a foundation on which you'll be building the rest of your argumentative writing. While the introduction in general leads your audience to the main problem covered in an essay, the thesis should nail that issue.

It is important to get this part right. The thesis statement is the cornerstone that largely defines the rest of your essay. Try to make it as clear and concise as possible. It may be tempting to make this part purposefully vague to have more room for maneuver later on. But that's going to cause more harm than good down the line.

Pay attention to the specifications of your assignment. Your thesis statement should be narrowed down to fit it. Nothing extra. A good way to check if your thesis hits the mark is to test it against the rest of your essay. The point brought up throughout a good argumentative essay should all serve as a logical extension of the thesis statement and complete it.

Body Paragraphs

The majority of your essay will be comprised of body paragraphs. As opposed to the introduction, where you raise the questions, here you have the opportunity to provide the answers. 

Argumentative essays should be based on extensive research and\or previous work. So before you get to shaping the body paragraphs, make sure you do the legwork to the fullest extent.

Maintaining a clear structure should be your first priority. The exact number of paragraphs may vary. But each one should address one specific argument. This serves several purposes, such as:

  • It helps your audience navigate the text;
  • It allows for readers to follow your reasoning;
  • It helps in organizing your thoughts clearly.

The main purpose of the body part of the text is to present the evidence that guides your audience along with you from your thesis statement all the way to the conclusion. 

It's the perfect time to make use of all that research you might have done previously. Don't go overboard by writing down your entire thought process. Instead, take a shortcut. If an argument doesn't drive the point forward, then it probably can be omitted.

It is also a good idea to use at least one paragraph to look at the topic from another angle. Analyzing and pointing out the flaws in arguments that oppose your conclusion is a valid approach. It can support and complete your previous observations and claims as well as further reinforce your argument. 

If you are sticking to this approach, it's best to put it after paragraphs in which you make a positive claim.

Every paragraph should be interconnected with the preceding and following ones. Even though they are showcasing different pieces of evidence, they are still all parts of consistent reasoning. Smooth and logical transitions are what keeps a good argumentative essay together. 

The gaps in your flow may not be so apparent when you are in the process of writing. But beware that they will jump out at you during proofreading.

By this point, you are done arguing. It is time to summarize all your findings. Do not present any new information in the conclusion section. Instead, use this space to reiterate the main points. Come back to your introduction once again. Here's what you should do:

  • Remind your reader what your thesis is;
  • Focus on why it is important;
  • Rehash it in light of all the information you have presented throughout your essay.

Another thing you can briefly address in conclusion is the white spots in your research. In some cases, you won't have the time or resources to get conclusive answers for all the questions your problem poses. 

It's okay to admit that you don't have the full picture yet. Write about what scientific research should be done in the future in order to get a more educated answer.

How to Write an Argumentative Essay Step by Step Tips

What are the steps in writing an argumentative essay? These are the main phases you should go through when writing it. Allocate a certain amount of time for each step so that you wouldn't get stuck with one of them. 

Follow our instructions on how to write an argumentative essay step by step, and you will end up with a great paper to turn in when the deadline comes.

Check the Assignment Details

This might seem like an obvious thing to do. But you'd be surprised to know how many students fall flat on their faces with their essays just because they didn't understand the specifications of the assignment. 

Read the initial instructions. Then, read them again. Read it a third time out loud. Make sure you understand everything. If you don't - ask for clarification. It's better to be safe than sorry.

Gather the Materials

This phase is dedicated entirely to gathering as much information on your argumentative essay topic as you can. Even if you consider yourself fairly knowledgeable in the given field, take your time with this one. 

Look for hard facts to confirm your thoughts, try approaching the issue from a different angle, challenge your understanding of the subject. You may very well change your opinion on the topic while doing your research.

Create a Structure

You already have a rough outline of what paragraphs of your essay should be there. Based on those, create a more specific structure of an argumentative essay. 

Think about what arguments you will use, where you will put them, how you will transition between them, and so on. This is the logistics step and getting it right will make creating your first draft much easier.

Make the First Draft

With a decent chunk of research and a good outline of how to write it all down, making the first draft should be a piece of cake. Most of this process is just assigning what you already know to paragraphs and making sure you maintain the structure of an argumentative essay.

Edit Without Mercy

Write without fear and edit without mercy. This is a golden rule every student should keep in mind. Your first draft is unlikely to make the cut. That's when proofreading comes in. 

Ideally, you should have a day or two in between the first draft and editing steps. This will help you spot the mistakes easier. But if you are pressed for time, you could recruit friends, family, or fellow students to assist you. It is always better to get a second opinion.

Submit the Final Version

Your final draft will never be perfect. You can make minor improvements here and there pretty much forever. But following the deadlines is imperative in higher ed. 

So you will have to settle with what you have eventually. Don't get too worked up over minor details. 

How Many Paragraphs Should an Argumentative Essay Have?

The exact number depends on your preference and assignment specifications. But the basic lineup usually includes five paragraphs.

These are the introduction, conclusion, and three body paragraphs showcasing your arguments. You can increase or decrease the number of body paragraphs as long as you stay within the guidelines.

Can You Use Personal Experience?

Yes, you can use personal experience in an essay. However, in order for it to be compelling, it should fulfill the same criteria as the rest of your arguments. 

If you use a personal experience to set up a claim, you should look at it in a general sense and as a part of a greater picture rather than equating your personal feelings as infallible truth.

How Do You Introduce an Argument?

Introducing an argument should follow a clear and logical structure. Look at your thesis and create a transition to each of your arguments. It's sort of like opening the door to a pathway you are about to explore. 

Go step by step, presenting your evidence, thought process, and logic. Don't jump to conclusions. Things that might seem obvious to you may not appear so to your audience. 

Can You Use First-Person in an Argumentative Essay

You should definitely avoid using first-person sentences like 'I believe' or 'I feel' in an argumentative essay. Sentences like these can give off the impression that your arguments lack a proper evidential basis and are supported only on your personal opinion. Using matter of fact statements instead of first-person will make for a much stronger writing voice.

Example of an Argumentative Essay

Using essay examples as a rough template is one of the easiest and quickest ways to complete your assignment. Use this essay to get the hang of the structure and style of writing what's required when working on an argumentative-type paper.

Here’s a sneak-peek for you:

tips on writing an argument essay

Argumentative essay format may seem a bit too intimidating. It's especially true for those who encounter this type of writing for the very first time. 

After all, it really does require extensive research and a deep understanding of the topic of your writing. But even though this type of essay is a bit more serious than you might be used to, you shouldn't worry about getting caught off-guard.

An argumentative essay is usually given as some sort of final assignment after you've amassed some knowledge on a given topic. Using that intellectual baggage, you should have no problem at all navigating the pitfalls ofyour essays. 

So instead of stressing about your understanding of the subject, you should probably focus more on the technical aspects of the assignment like its structure or language. The most difficult part about writing is to write the first word. So don't hesitate and go straight to working on your assignment after reading this guide. 

The earlier you start, the better. With this guide on how to write an argumentative essay, it will be a cakewalk. And if you still encounter any issues, our custom essay order, rewrite essay, write a paper for me , write an essay for me , and admission essay writing service can provide you with expert assistance. Don't hesitate to contact us right away to proofread your essay or get more help!

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How To Write An Argumentative Essay

Monali Ghosh

Table of Contents

Crafting a convincing argumentative essay can be challenging. You might feel lost about where to begin. But with a systematic approach and helpful tools that simplify sourcing and structuring, mastering good argumentative essay writing becomes achievable.

In this article, we'll explore what argumentative essays are, the critical steps to crafting a compelling argumentative essay, and best practices for essay organization.

What is an argumentative essay?

An argumentative essay asserts a clear position on a controversial or debatable topic and backs it up with evidence and reasoning. They are written to hone critical thinking, structure clear arguments, influence academic and public discourse, underpin reform proposals, and change popular narratives.

What-is-argumentative-essay

The fundamentals of a good argumentative essay

Let's explore the essential components that make argumentative essays compelling.

1 . The foundation: crafting a compelling claim for your argumentative essay

The claim is the cornerstone of your argumentative essay. It represents your main argument or thesis statement , setting the stage for the discussion.

A robust claim is straightforward, debatable, and focused, challenging readers to consider your viewpoint. It's not merely an observation but a stance you're prepared to defend with logic and evidence.

The strength of your essay hinges on the clarity and assertiveness of your claim, guiding readers through your argumentative journey.

2. The structure: Organizing your argument strategically

An effective argumentative essay should follow a logical structure to present your case persuasively. There are three models for structuring your argument essay:

  • Classical: Introduce the topic, present the main argument, address counterarguments, and conclude . It is ideal for complex topics and prioritizes logical reasoning.
  • Rogerian: Introduce the issue neutrally, acknowledge opposing views, find common ground, and seek compromise. It works well for audiences who dislike confrontational approaches.
  • Toulmin: Introduce the issue, state the claim, provide evidence, explain the reasoning, address counterarguments, and reinforce the original claim. It confidently showcases an evidence-backed argument as superior.

Each model provides a framework for methodically supporting your position using evidence and logic. Your chosen structure depends on your argument's complexity, audience, and purpose.

3. The support: Leveraging evidence for your argumentative essay

The key is to select evidence that directly supports your claim, lending weight to your arguments and bolstering your position.

Effective use of evidence strengthens your argument and enhances your credibility, demonstrating thorough research and a deep understanding of the topic at hand.

4. The balance: Acknowledging counterarguments for the argumentative essay

A well-rounded argumentative essay acknowledges that there are two sides to every story. Introducing counterarguments and opposing viewpoints in an argument essay is a strategic move that showcases your awareness of alternative viewpoints.

This element of your argumentative essay demonstrates intellectual honesty and fairness, indicating that you have considered other perspectives before solidifying your position.

5. The counter: Mastering the art of rebuttal

A compelling rebuttal anticipates the counterclaims and methodically counters them, ensuring your position stands unchallenged. By engaging critically with counterarguments in this manner, your essay becomes more resilient and persuasive.

Ultimately, the strength of an argumentative essay is not in avoiding opposing views but in directly confronting them through reasoned debate and evidence-based.

How to write an argumentative essay

The workflow for crafting an effective argumentative essay involves several key steps:

Step 1 — Choosing a topic

Argumentative essay writing starts with selecting a topic with two or more main points so you can argue your position. Avoid topics that are too broad or have a clear right or wrong answer.

How-to-choose-a-topic-for-argumentative-essays

Use a semantic search engine to search for papers. Refine by subject area, publication date, citation count, institution, author, journal, and more to narrow down on promising topics. Explore citation interlinkages to ensure you pick a topic with sufficient academic discourse to allow crafting a compelling, evidence-based argument.

Discover-research-papers-using-SciSpace

Seek an AI research assistant's help to assess a topic's potential and explore various angles quickly. They can generate both generic and custom questions tailored to each research paper. Additionally, look for tools that offer browser extensions . These allow you to interact with papers from sources like ArXiv, PubMed, and Wiley and evaluate potential topics from a broader range of academic databases and repositories.

Review-the-papers-online-using-SciSpace-chrome-extension

Step 2 — Develop a thesis statement

Your thesis statement should clearly and concisely state your position on the topic identified. Ensure to develop a clear thesis statement which is a focused, assertive declaration that guides your discussion. Use strong, active language — avoid vague or passive statements.  Keep it narrowly focused enough to be adequately supported in your essay.

Develop-a-thesis-statement

The SciSpace literature review tool can help you extract thesis statements from existing papers on your chosen topic. Create a custom column called 'thesis statement' to compare multiple perspectives in one place, allowing you to uncover various viewpoints and position your concise thesis statement appropriately.

Use-SciSpace-AI-literature-review-tool-to-extract-thesis-statements

Ask AI assistants questions or summarize key sections to clarify the positions taken in existing papers. This helps sharpen your thesis statement stance and identify gaps. Locate related papers in similar stances.

Step 3 — Researching and gathering evidence

The evidence you collect lends credibility and weight to your claims, convincing readers of your viewpoint. Effective evidence includes facts, statistics, expert opinions, and real-world examples reinforcing your thesis statement.

Use the SciSpace literature review tool to locate and evaluate high-quality studies. It quickly extracts vital insights, methodologies, findings, and conclusions from papers and presents them in a table format. Build custom tables with your uploaded PDFs or bookmarked papers. These tables can be saved for future reference or exported as CSV for further analysis or sharing.

Automate-literature-review-using-SciSpace

AI-powered summarization tools can help you quickly grasp the core arguments and positions from lengthy papers. These can condense long sections or entire author viewpoints into concise summaries. Make PDF annotations to add custom notes and highlights to papers for easy reference. Data extraction tools can automatically pull key statistics from PDFs into spreadsheets for detailed quantitative analysis.

Use-SciSpace-Copilot-AI-Research-assistants-to-extract-core-arguments

Step 4 — Build an outline

The argumentative model you choose will impact your outline's specific structure and progression. If you select the Classical model, your outline will follow a linear structure. On the other hand, if you opt for the Toulmin model, your outline will focus on meticulously mapping out the logical progression of your entire argument. Lastly, if you select the Rogerian model, your outline should explore the opposing viewpoint and seek a middle ground.

While the specific outline structure may vary, always begin the process by stating your central thesis or claim. Identify and organize your argument claims and main supporting points logically, adding 2-3 pieces of evidence under each point. Consider potential counterarguments to your position. Include 1-2 counterarguments for each main point and plan rebuttals to dismantle the opposition's reasoning. This balanced approach strengthens your overall argument.

As you outline, consider saving your notes, highlights, AI-generated summaries, and extracts in a digital notebook. Aggregating all your sources and ideas in one centralized location allows you to quickly refer to them as you draft your outline and essay.

Save-notes-from-research-papers-for-argumentative-essays

To further enhance your workflow, you can use AI-powered writing or GPT tools to help generate an initial structure based on your crucial essay components, such as your thesis statement, main arguments, supporting evidence, counterarguments, and rebuttals.

Step 5 — Write your essay

Begin the introductory paragraph with a hook — a question, a startling statistic, or a bold statement to draw in your readers. Always logically structure your arguments with smooth transitions between ideas. Ensure the body paragraphs of argumentative essays focus on one central point backed by robust quantitative evidence from credible studies, properly cited.

Refer to the notes, highlights, and evidence you've gathered as you write. Organize these materials so that you can easily access and incorporate them into your draft while maintaining a logical flow. Literature review tables or spreadsheets can be beneficial for keeping track of crucial evidence from multiple sources.

tips on writing an argument essay

Quote others in a way that blends seamlessly with the narrative flow. For numerical data, contextualize figures with practical examples. Try to pre-empt counterarguments and systematically dismantle them. Maintain an evidence-based, objective tone that avoids absolutism and emotional appeals. If you encounter overly complex sections during the writing process, use a paraphraser tool to rephrase and clarify the language. Finally, neatly tie together the rationale behind your position and directions for further discourse or research.

Step 6 — Edit, revise, and add references

Set the draft aside so that you review it with fresh eyes. Check for clarity, conciseness, logical flow, and grammar. Ensure the body reflects your thesis well. Fill gaps in reasoning. Check that every claim links back to credible evidence. Replace weak arguments. Finally, format your citations and bibliography using your preferred style.

Chat-with-PDF-using-SciSpace-Copilot

To simplify editing, save the rough draft or entire essay as a PDF and upload it to an AI-based chat-with-PDF tool. Use it to identify gaps in reasoning, weaker arguments requiring ample evidence, structural issues hampering the clarity of ideas, and suggestions for strengthening your essay.

SciSpace-AI-Citation-Generator

Use a citation tool to generate citations for sources instantly quoted and quickly compile your bibliography or works cited in RIS/BibTex formats. Export the updated literature review tables as handy CSV files to share with co-authors or reviewers in collaborative projects or attach them as supplementary data for journal submissions. You can also refer to this article that provides you with argumentative essay writing tips .

Final thoughts

Remember, the strength of your argumentative essay lies in the clarity of your strong argument, the robustness of supporting evidence, and the consideration with which you treat opposing viewpoints. Refining these core skills will make you a sharper, more convincing writer and communicator.

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How to Write an Argumentative Essay: 101 Guide [+ Examples]

An argumentative essay is a genre of academic writing that investigates different sides of a particular issue. Its central purpose is to inform the readers rather than expressively persuade them. Thus, it is crucial to differentiate between argumentative and persuasive essays.

While composing an argumentative essay, the students have to demonstrate their research and analytical skills. The secret of a successful paper lies behind strong arguments and counterarguments. So, the writer should focus on facts and data rather than personal values and beliefs.

Besides, a good argumentative essay should be structured appropriately:

  • The introduction and conclusion have to create a frame for the entire essay.
  • The body paragraphs are supposed to cover the essential points.
  • Supporting evidence should make a paper more professional and reputable.

Are you still wondering what an argumentative essay is and how to write it? Check out the sections below prepared by our experts . Here, you can find the most valuable info, helpful tips, and useful examples.

📜 Classic Strategy

📋 toulmin strategy, 🗣️ rogerian strategy, ✒️ fill in the blanks, 🔍 edit and proofread, 🔗 references, 📌 argumentative essay in a nutshell.

Are you trying to figure out what an argumentative essay is? It’s a type of academic paper that covers both sides of a given issue. An author can decide whether they aim to present both sides equally or support one side more dynamically.

One of the mistakes among students is the confusion of argumentative and persuasive essays . Do you want to figure out the differences? Take a look at the following table.

Before writing an argument essay, it would be helpful to choose an appropriate model to rely on. There are three strategies to consider: Classical, Toulmin, and Rogerian.

Look at the following sections and choose the most suitable one for you.

Are you wondering how to write an argumentative essay? Consider using the classical approach. It is the most popular way of composing an argumentative paper.

Under the classical strategy, the author has to follow these rules:

  • research the issue;
  • present both sides;
  • express own opinion;
  • prove the reader the validity of the conclusion.

It is up to the audience to decide whether your position is right or wrong. Yet, you should try to convince the readers of the effectiveness of your opinion.

Usually, the classical argument paper is structured in the following way:

  • Introduction . Use the hook to catch the readers’ attention. State the problem and explain why your topic is relatable to the audience.
  • General background. Introduce the general info and several facts about your issue.
  • Thesis statement . State your position clearly and concisely.
  • The central argument. Provide valid evidence and appropriate examples to support your position. Refer only to reliable sources.
  • Rebuttal . Include a counter paragraph in your essay, presenting the opposing arguments. Provide specific examples to make the reader understand your position. Also, explain to the audience why the counterclaims are incorrect.
  • Conclusion . Synthesize your arguments and counterarguments. Give the readers a question for further investigation of your problem. To make your essay more impressive, compose a memorable concluding sentence.

Toulmin strategy is the most suitable for the discussion of controversial issues. This model aims to find common ground through clear logic and valid evidence. Besides, the Toulmin strategy eliminates unnecessary things and limits the points to agree upon.

An argumentative essay written by the Toulmin model includes the following elements:

  • Claim . A viewpoint that the author aims to prove.
  • Evidence . Supportive facts from reliable resources that highlight the significance of the claim.
  • Warrant . An element that connects the claim and that evidence.
  • Backing . Additional reasoning that underlines the warrant’s validity.
  • Rebuttal . Counterarguments that contradict the author’s position.
  • Qualifier . An additional element (usually, a word or a short phrase) that narrows the claim’s capacity. Several examples of qualifiers: “typically,” “usually,” “occasionally,” etc.
  • Exceptions . Specific limitations that indicate the cases where that claim may not be valid.

Like the Toulmin approach, Rogerian strategy attempts to find common ground between two sides of one issue. However, the technique is slightly different.

The Rogerian model is often used in highly controversial debates when the parties do not accept each other’s position. Thus, the given strategy focuses on finding the agreement by proving the validity of the opposing arguments.

Below, you can find the primary outline for the Rogerian argumentative essay:

  • Introduce the problem. Present the issue clearly and explain why it is worth the readers’ attention.
  • Summarize and analyze the counterarguments. Take into consideration all the possible counterpoints and look at them from different perspectives. Discuss the cases in which the opposing claims could be valid. Demonstrate your open-mindedness. This will make the opposite party more loyal to you.
  • Present your position. After discussing the counterpoints, state your opinion. Convince the audience about the validity of your points.
  • Prove the advantages of your position. Explain to the opposite party how the acceptance and adoption of your points will benefit them.

🧐 How to Write an Argumentative Essay

Before working on your essay, carefully read the assignment. Make sure you understand all the instructor’s requirements and the purpose of the paper.

  • Pay enough attention to the task. Did your professor assign you a topic? Or do you need to choose it yourself ? Make sure you have an idea that will turn into an outstanding essay.
  • Select the strategy you are going to apply. An argumentative essay format will depend on the model you choose to compose your paper. Analyze the issue you will arise and decide what strategy is the most suitable. Is it the Classical model, the Toulmin, or the Rogerian one?

After that, start composing your argumentative essay. Check out the following sections. We have a lot of insightful info to share with you!

📚 Research the Topic

The first step of writing an argumentative paper is an in-depth investigation of the topic. To validate your arguments, you have to refer to credible resources. The essay will look more professional if you use reliable sources in it.

How to research for an argumentative essay.

To research like a professional , do the following:

  • Use only credible sources. You can refer to the books, research articles, materials from academic databases, or Google Scholar. Webpages registered as governmental or educational institutions (.gov, .edu.) and widely-known news websites (New York Times, BBC, CNBC) are also considered appropriate. Avoid using blog posts, outdated materials, and any other data from unreliable sources. You may get into huge trouble, taking information from random websites, since it may be invalid.
  • Pay attention to the publishing date . You may be required to use the sources released no later than five years ago. Yet, it is not always the case, especially when you’re dealing with historical documents. Thus, double-check your instructions regarding recommended sources.
  • Keep your topic in mind. Concentrate on what you are writing about and select the sources for your exact issue. Avoid sources that provide too general information and look for more limited ones. If your idea is World War II’s economic consequences, the history book from ancient times to modern days will not be the best option.
  • Become an expert. Take enough time to investigate the issue you are writing about. Read numerous articles, compare and contrast the scientists’ opinions. Prove your reader that you are a reliable person who selected the best sources.

📝 Outline Your Essay

The majority of students tend to underestimate the power of outlining. Don’t do this! An argumentative essay outline is a helpful tool for planning, structuring, and composing.

Firstly , a well-developed outline helps the writer to put all their thoughts in an appropriate order. None of the essential points will be lost if the student plans the essay before writing.

Secondly , it lets the writer figure out what evidence suits what argument most. Before writing, draft your essay first. Put examples, facts, etc. in the right parts of the paper. Then, write the entire text.

Thirdly , an outline provides a perfect opportunity to change the essay’s parts without rewriting the paper. Are you unsure of specific details? Not a problem. Change them in the outline without ruining the text.

There are essential elements that your outline should contain. Check out the following section to see them.

Introduction

How to start an argumentative essay? First and foremost, include an argumentative essay introduction in your outline.

This part should grab the readers’ attention from the first words. Thus, put enough effort into composing a compelling hook . What can it be? An impressive statistic or an exciting fact? Be creative – decide yourself! But make sure that your intro is catchy enough.

After the hook, introduce your topic’s general background . Prove the readers the significance of your issue and gradually come to the thesis statement .

The concept of studying abroad is becoming increasingly popular in both developed and developing countries. Students around the globe strive to explore the world and broaden their minds, and studying in a foreign country is an excellent opportunity to do so. Such experience may be extremely beneficial because meeting new people and discovering foreign cultures help students to gain valuable knowledge and see the world from a new perspective. However, while presenting significant opportunities for personal growth, it may also bring about some challenges.

Thesis Statement

A thesis is an essential part of your argumentative essay. It should state your position regarding the issue clearly and concisely. Avoid general statements, vague words, and be as specific and possible. Your thesis statement should guide the readers throughout the main points of the paper.

The location of the thesis in the essay plays a crucial role. The most appropriate place for it is the last sentence of the introductory paragraph.

Although students face difficulties such as loneliness while studying abroad, it is a worthy experience to introduce them to new knowledge, people, and culture and promote their independence.

Body Paragraphs

The body of your paper is supposed to develop your position, provide valid evidence and examples. Each paragraph has to focus only on one idea. This will ensure the logical structure of your argumentative essay.

A body paragraph should start from the topic sentence and end with the concluding sentence . Such a frame around every section will make your readers stay concentrated on your ideas and get your opinion.

  • The topic sentence is the first sentence of the passage. It should reflect its point and correspond to the thesis statement.
  • The concluding sentence aims to wrap up the author’s thoughts. Thus, make sure that the last sentence of a paragraph is insightful enough.

Each body paragraph should include an argument (or a counterargument) with supporting evidence. Get your proof from credible sources and ensure that it directly corresponds to the point.

An example of a topic sentence :

The benefits of education abroad are almost innumerable, prominent examples being gaining new knowledge, making friends with people who have different mindsets, and discovering new cultures.

An example of a concluding sentence:

Participants of student exchange programs usually return more driven and eager to develop both themselves and their country.

A conclusion plays a critical role in understanding the entire paper. It summarizes the body and leaves the final impression. Besides, it may push the readers on further investigation of the issue.

  • To make your argumentative essay conclusion powerful, it is not enough just to summarize the arguments. It has to synthesize your ideas and show the connection between them. In other words, your points should be summarized and analyzed.
  • Moreover, a conclusion refers to the thesis statement . A mere restatement of the central idea is not the most successful way of finishing your paper. You should try to develop it to demonstrate the reason you’ve written the previous paragraphs.

One more tip:

  • Give the audience an incentive to explore the topic more in-depth. Insert the questions for further investigation at the end of your essay. It would play a significant role in making an impressive conclusion.

To sum up, studying abroad is beneficial as it helps a person evolve and perceive a world from new perspectives. It is an opportunity for a participant to explore the world, meet new people, gain valuable knowledge and experience, and broaden their horizons. Education abroad might pose problems like homesickness, loneliness, and trouble with getting accustomed to a new environment. However, all of them can be easily overcome if a student is flexible and eager to become autonomous and independent.

The list of references is a crucial part of any argumentative essay. It should contain all the sources the writer uses in the paper.

Before organizing your reference list , double-check your argumentative essay format. Is it written in MLA, APA, or maybe in Chicago style? How many references does the professor expect you to include? What kind of sources are you required to use?

After figuring out these issues, move to the format requirements of the writing style you use for your paper. The most popular ones are APA (7th edition), MLA, and ChicagoAD (author-date) styles. Below, you can find the examples of a reference for the same book in different formatting styles.

Did you develop a good outline? Congratulations! You are almost done with the essay. Now, you need to fill in the blanks and create a final version of your paper. Here is where you need to demonstrate a high level of your writing skills.

  • Make sure your paper has no logical fallacies. Information from an untrustworthy source, a hasty generalization, or a false conclusion may put your reliability as an author under threat. So double-check all the data you include in your essay. Moreover, make sure all your statements are well-developed and supported by valid evidence.
  • Check your argumentative essay structure . All the arguments should refer to the thesis statement and must be presented in the logical sequence. The supporting evidence and examples have to be inserted in the text logically, according to the arguments.
  • Pay enough attention to the citations. References and in-text citations are incredibly tricky. Always check every detail according to your essay format. If you are unsure of specific issues, refer to a citation guide and make your paper free of formatting mistakes.
  • Ensure the coherence of your argumentative essay. Often, the paper’s material seems raw only because it is presented without a logical connection. To ensure a smooth connection between the ideas, use transitions between the paragraphs and linking words inside them. Insert them in the text to connect the points. As a result, you will have a coherent essay with the logical flow of the arguments.

A list of linking words for an argumentative essay.

The final step of your writing process is editing and proofreading. Although it is not that energy and time consuming, it still plays a critical role in the work’s success.

While writing your argumentative paper, plan your time accordingly. This will provide you with an opportunity to polish your essay before submitting it. And take a look at our checklist and always use it to improve your papers:

  • NO first and second person. Use only the third person in your argumentative essay. It is a general requirement for any kind of academic paper.
  • NO slang. The word choice is an essential part of the essay writing process. Ensure you use only formal vocabulary and avoid using informal language (jargon, slang, etc.).
  • NO unchecked words. Sometimes, words can raise questions and lead to misunderstandings. If you are unsure whether the term is used appropriately, double-check its meaning or replace it with another.
  • NO plagiarism. While proofreading, make sure your citations are either properly paraphrased or taken in quotation marks. You can change the sentence structure to avoid plagiarism.
  • NO minor mistakes. Grammar, spelling, punctuation play a crucial role. Want to make your paper look professional? Make sure it is free of minor mistakes then.

Argumentative Essay Topics

  • Should student-athletes benefit from sports?  
  • Do celebrities really have influence on people behavior?  
  • Will decriminalization of drugs increase drug menace?  
  • Does social and environmental reporting promote organizations’ financial success? 
  • Should online learning be promoted?  
  • Can space exploration resolve human problems?  
  • Is success really the outcome of hard work?  
  • Is there discrimination against women in sports?   
  • Will banning tobacco sales promote public health?  
  • Is euthanasia a clemency?  
  • Should college education be free and accessible for every student?  
  • Should football be banned for being too dangerous?  
  • Is it time to change social norms ?  
  • Should public servants’ strikes be prohibited?  
  • Does media create a negative image of ageing and older people?  
  • Is capitalism the best economic system?  
  • Can children under 18 make an appropriate decision on getting tattoo ?  
  • Should net neutrality be protected?  
  • Can an improper use of social media provoke a family crisis?  
  • Is it right to use animals in biomedical research ?  
  • Does the climate change affect our indoor environment? 
  • Are children’s crimes a result of poor parenting?  
  • Should health care be universal?  
  • Does the increased use of technology hurt students’ efficiency? 
  • Is transformative education a key to the system modernization?  
  • Why should patients have access to truthful information?  
  • How does language barrier affect health care access?  
  • Would allowing adoption by same-sex couples benefit the country’s child welfare system? 
  • Is spanking children a proper way to improve their behavior?  
  • Does gun control law lowers crime rates?  
  • Will ban on spamming improve users’ internet experience?  
  • Should behavior be made illegal because it’s immoral?  
  • Is globalization really a progress?  
  • Does aid to developing countries bring more harm than good?  
  • Can parents improve children mental health by restricting internet use ?  
  • Is trusting our senses the best way to get the truth?  
  • Why parents should not have the right to choose their children based on genetics.  
  • Is college education really worth it? 
  • Will wearing a body camera by police officer enhance public trust?    
  • Immigration : a benefit or a threat?  
  • Is it a duty of adult children to take care of their elderly parents?  
  • Should abortions be legal?  
  • Are agents an integral part of professional sports?  
  • Will ban of cellphones while driving decrease the car accident rates? 
  • Should marijuana be legal for medical use?  
  • Is veganism diet universally beneficial?  
  • Should museums return artefacts?  
  • Is water birth beneficial for women’s health?  
  • Will paying people to stay healthy benefit the nation in the long-term perspective?  
  • Is obesity a disease or a choice?  

It is up to you to decide how many parts to include in your essay. However, the 5 paragraph structure is the most appropriate model for an argumentative paper. So, write an introduction, a conclusion, and three body paragraphs.

The pronoun “you” is acceptable for informal writing. Yet, in academic papers, avoid using the second person. The same situation is with the first person. Generally, academic papers require the use of the third person.

A hook aims to grab the readers’ attention. Thus, you could start your essay with an interesting fact about your issue. Another way to create a catchy hook is to prove the audience the relatability of your topic. Make the readers want to explore your essay by demonstrating the significance of your issue.

Yes, you can. A question might become a compelling hook. Just make sure that it is profound, thought-provocative, and concise. A too broad or complicated question will only confuse your readers.

A title is an essential part of the essay since it causes the first impression. While selecting a heading, take into consideration the following points:

1. The title must be catchy.

2. It has to be not too long (5-12 words).

3. The title has to reflect the topic of the paper.

4. It should not be too complicated: the simpler – the better.

Thank you for visiting our page! We hope the information was helpful and insightful. Do you have friends who seek help with writing an argumentative essay? Share our article with them. And don’t forget to leave your comments!

  • Sample Argument Essays: Mesa Community College
  • Argument: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Tips on How to Write an Argumentative Essay: Grace Fleming, ThoughtCo
  • Tips for Organizing an Argumentative Essay: Judith L., Beumer Writing Center, Valparaiso University
  • Argumentative Essay: Oya Ozagac, Bogazici University, Online Writing Lab
  • Argumentative Essays: Purdue Online Writing Lab, College of Liberal Arts, Purdue University
  • How to Write an Argumentative Essay Step by Step: Virginia Kearney, Owlcation
  • Counterargument: Gordon Harvey for the Writing Center at Harvard University
  • Basic Steps in the Research Process: North Hennepin Community College, Minnesota
  • How to Recognize Plagiarism, Overview: School of Education, Indiana University Bloomington
  • 15 Steps to Good Research: Georgetown University Library
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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

What this handout is about

This handout will define what an argument is and explain why you need one in most of your academic essays.

Arguments are everywhere

You may be surprised to hear that the word “argument” does not have to be written anywhere in your assignment for it to be an important part of your task. In fact, making an argument—expressing a point of view on a subject and supporting it with evidence—is often the aim of academic writing. Your instructors may assume that you know this and thus may not explain the importance of arguments in class.

Most material you learn in college is or has been debated by someone, somewhere, at some time. Even when the material you read or hear is presented as a simple fact, it may actually be one person’s interpretation of a set of information. Instructors may call on you to examine that interpretation and defend it, refute it, or offer some new view of your own. In writing assignments, you will almost always need to do more than just summarize information that you have gathered or regurgitate facts that have been discussed in class. You will need to develop a point of view on or interpretation of that material and provide evidence for your position.

Consider an example. For nearly 2000 years, educated people in many Western cultures believed that bloodletting—deliberately causing a sick person to lose blood—was the most effective treatment for a variety of illnesses. The claim that bloodletting is beneficial to human health was not widely questioned until the 1800s, and some physicians continued to recommend bloodletting as late as the 1920s. Medical practices have now changed because some people began to doubt the effectiveness of bloodletting; these people argued against it and provided convincing evidence. Human knowledge grows out of such differences of opinion, and scholars like your instructors spend their lives engaged in debate over what claims may be counted as accurate in their fields. In their courses, they want you to engage in similar kinds of critical thinking and debate.

Argumentation is not just what your instructors do. We all use argumentation on a daily basis, and you probably already have some skill at crafting an argument. The more you improve your skills in this area, the better you will be at thinking critically, reasoning, making choices, and weighing evidence.

Making a claim

What is an argument? In academic writing, an argument is usually a main idea, often called a “claim” or “thesis statement,” backed up with evidence that supports the idea. In the majority of college papers, you will need to make some sort of claim and use evidence to support it, and your ability to do this well will separate your papers from those of students who see assignments as mere accumulations of fact and detail. In other words, gone are the happy days of being given a “topic” about which you can write anything. It is time to stake out a position and prove why it is a good position for a thinking person to hold. See our handout on thesis statements .

Claims can be as simple as “Protons are positively charged and electrons are negatively charged,” with evidence such as, “In this experiment, protons and electrons acted in such and such a way.” Claims can also be as complex as “Genre is the most important element to the contract of expectations between filmmaker and audience,” using reasoning and evidence such as, “defying genre expectations can create a complete apocalypse of story form and content, leaving us stranded in a sort of genre-less abyss.” In either case, the rest of your paper will detail the reasoning and evidence that have led you to believe that your position is best.

When beginning to write a paper, ask yourself, “What is my point?” For example, the point of this handout is to help you become a better writer, and we are arguing that an important step in the process of writing effective arguments is understanding the concept of argumentation. If your papers do not have a main point, they cannot be arguing for anything. Asking yourself what your point is can help you avoid a mere “information dump.” Consider this: your instructors probably know a lot more than you do about your subject matter. Why, then, would you want to provide them with material they already know? Instructors are usually looking for two things:

  • Proof that you understand the material
  • A demonstration of your ability to use or apply the material in ways that go beyond what you have read or heard.

This second part can be done in many ways: you can critique the material, apply it to something else, or even just explain it in a different way. In order to succeed at this second step, though, you must have a particular point to argue.

Arguments in academic writing are usually complex and take time to develop. Your argument will need to be more than a simple or obvious statement such as “Frank Lloyd Wright was a great architect.” Such a statement might capture your initial impressions of Wright as you have studied him in class; however, you need to look deeper and express specifically what caused that “greatness.” Your instructor will probably expect something more complicated, such as “Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture combines elements of European modernism, Asian aesthetic form, and locally found materials to create a unique new style,” or “There are many strong similarities between Wright’s building designs and those of his mother, which suggests that he may have borrowed some of her ideas.” To develop your argument, you would then define your terms and prove your claim with evidence from Wright’s drawings and buildings and those of the other architects you mentioned.

Do not stop with having a point. You have to back up your point with evidence. The strength of your evidence, and your use of it, can make or break your argument. See our handout on evidence . You already have the natural inclination for this type of thinking, if not in an academic setting. Think about how you talked your parents into letting you borrow the family car. Did you present them with lots of instances of your past trustworthiness? Did you make them feel guilty because your friends’ parents all let them drive? Did you whine until they just wanted you to shut up? Did you look up statistics on teen driving and use them to show how you didn’t fit the dangerous-driver profile? These are all types of argumentation, and they exist in academia in similar forms.

Every field has slightly different requirements for acceptable evidence, so familiarize yourself with some arguments from within that field instead of just applying whatever evidence you like best. Pay attention to your textbooks and your instructor’s lectures. What types of argument and evidence are they using? The type of evidence that sways an English instructor may not work to convince a sociology instructor. Find out what counts as proof that something is true in that field. Is it statistics, a logical development of points, something from the object being discussed (art work, text, culture, or atom), the way something works, or some combination of more than one of these things?

Be consistent with your evidence. Unlike negotiating for the use of your parents’ car, a college paper is not the place for an all-out blitz of every type of argument. You can often use more than one type of evidence within a paper, but make sure that within each section you are providing the reader with evidence appropriate to each claim. So, if you start a paragraph or section with a statement like “Putting the student seating area closer to the basketball court will raise player performance,” do not follow with your evidence on how much more money the university could raise by letting more students go to games for free. Information about how fan support raises player morale, which then results in better play, would be a better follow-up. Your next section could offer clear reasons why undergraduates have as much or more right to attend an undergraduate event as wealthy alumni—but this information would not go in the same section as the fan support stuff. You cannot convince a confused person, so keep things tidy and ordered.

Counterargument

One way to strengthen your argument and show that you have a deep understanding of the issue you are discussing is to anticipate and address counterarguments or objections. By considering what someone who disagrees with your position might have to say about your argument, you show that you have thought things through, and you dispose of some of the reasons your audience might have for not accepting your argument. Recall our discussion of student seating in the Dean Dome. To make the most effective argument possible, you should consider not only what students would say about seating but also what alumni who have paid a lot to get good seats might say.

You can generate counterarguments by asking yourself how someone who disagrees with you might respond to each of the points you’ve made or your position as a whole. If you can’t immediately imagine another position, here are some strategies to try:

  • Do some research. It may seem to you that no one could possibly disagree with the position you are arguing, but someone probably has. For example, some people argue that a hotdog is a sandwich. If you are making an argument concerning, for example, the characteristics of an exceptional sandwich, you might want to see what some of these people have to say.
  • Talk with a friend or with your teacher. Another person may be able to imagine counterarguments that haven’t occurred to you.
  • Consider your conclusion or claim and the premises of your argument and imagine someone who denies each of them. For example, if you argued, “Cats make the best pets. This is because they are clean and independent,” you might imagine someone saying, “Cats do not make the best pets. They are dirty and needy.”

Once you have thought up some counterarguments, consider how you will respond to them—will you concede that your opponent has a point but explain why your audience should nonetheless accept your argument? Will you reject the counterargument and explain why it is mistaken? Either way, you will want to leave your reader with a sense that your argument is stronger than opposing arguments.

When you are summarizing opposing arguments, be charitable. Present each argument fairly and objectively, rather than trying to make it look foolish. You want to show that you have considered the many sides of the issue. If you simply attack or caricature your opponent (also referred to as presenting a “straw man”), you suggest that your argument is only capable of defeating an extremely weak adversary, which may undermine your argument rather than enhance it.

It is usually better to consider one or two serious counterarguments in some depth, rather than to give a long but superficial list of many different counterarguments and replies.

Be sure that your reply is consistent with your original argument. If considering a counterargument changes your position, you will need to go back and revise your original argument accordingly.

Audience is a very important consideration in argument. Take a look at our handout on audience . A lifetime of dealing with your family members has helped you figure out which arguments work best to persuade each of them. Maybe whining works with one parent, but the other will only accept cold, hard statistics. Your kid brother may listen only to the sound of money in his palm. It’s usually wise to think of your audience in an academic setting as someone who is perfectly smart but who doesn’t necessarily agree with you. You are not just expressing your opinion in an argument (“It’s true because I said so”), and in most cases your audience will know something about the subject at hand—so you will need sturdy proof. At the same time, do not think of your audience as capable of reading your mind. You have to come out and state both your claim and your evidence clearly. Do not assume that because the instructor knows the material, he or she understands what part of it you are using, what you think about it, and why you have taken the position you’ve chosen.

Critical reading

Critical reading is a big part of understanding argument. Although some of the material you read will be very persuasive, do not fall under the spell of the printed word as authority. Very few of your instructors think of the texts they assign as the last word on the subject. Remember that the author of every text has an agenda, something that he or she wants you to believe. This is OK—everything is written from someone’s perspective—but it’s a good thing to be aware of. For more information on objectivity and bias and on reading sources carefully, read our handouts on evaluating print sources and reading to write .

Take notes either in the margins of your source (if you are using a photocopy or your own book) or on a separate sheet as you read. Put away that highlighter! Simply highlighting a text is good for memorizing the main ideas in that text—it does not encourage critical reading. Part of your goal as a reader should be to put the author’s ideas in your own words. Then you can stop thinking of these ideas as facts and start thinking of them as arguments.

When you read, ask yourself questions like “What is the author trying to prove?” and “What is the author assuming I will agree with?” Do you agree with the author? Does the author adequately defend her argument? What kind of proof does she use? Is there something she leaves out that you would put in? Does putting it in hurt her argument? As you get used to reading critically, you will start to see the sometimes hidden agendas of other writers, and you can use this skill to improve your own ability to craft effective arguments.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Anson, Chris M., and Robert A. Schwegler. 2010. The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers , 6th ed. New York: Longman.

Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, Joseph Bizup, and William T. FitzGerald. 2016. The Craft of Research , 4th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Ede, Lisa. 2004. Work in Progress: A Guide to Academic Writing and Revising , 6th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s.

Gage, John T. 2005. The Shape of Reason: Argumentative Writing in College , 4th ed. New York: Longman.

Lunsford, Andrea A., and John J. Ruszkiewicz. 2016. Everything’s an Argument , 7th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s.

Rosen, Leonard J., and Laurence Behrens. 2003. The Allyn & Bacon Handbook , 5th ed. New York: Longman.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Feb 14, 2023

How to Write An Argumentative Essay (With Examples)

Are you looking for ways how to write an argumentative essay check out these helpful examples.

An argumentative essay is a writing genre that obligates the writer to examine a topic; collect, generate, and evaluate proof; and clearly present a perspective on the issue. It can be tricky to write, but with a little practice, they can become relatively easy.

To write an argumentative essay, it is important to always have a strong argument as your topic and should greatly rely on evidence and logic. However, there is a slight bit of wiggle room within your essay. For example, your thesis statement may include an opinion or a controversial idea, and while you should still support it with facts, it is possible to add your opinion to the essay without going against the objective of the essay.

If you want to create a high-quality argumentative essay, Jenni.ai is here for you! This AI-assistant writing software can easily help you with writing any kind of academic paper, including your argumentative essay.

Tips on how to make an Argumentative Essay

Creating an argumentative essay can be quite daunting, especially if you are not used to writing this kind of essay. However, there are some simple guidelines you can follow to ensure that your essay will be both coherent and convincing:

Make sure to choose a topic with strong talking points. This makes it easier to form strong coherent arguments that will dictate the direction you want to take with your essay.

Use the correct tone when creating your argumentative essay. People mistake assertiveness in argumentative essays to mean being aggressive and argumentative, which will not win you any points with your readers. Convincing arguments should be presented calmly and clearly in the introduction section of your essay, with supporting information being presented throughout the body of your essay.

Make sure to use factual statements when presenting your arguments. This is important if you are writing an academic essay as this ensures that your arguments are well-researched and thought out. Fact-based research is always more reliable than opinions.

Keep your arguments logical and concise. This will make it easy for your readers to follow your train of thought and helps to keep them engaged throughout the essay.

Make sure that you indicate all the relevant talking points in a clear and concise manner in your conclusion section.

Always make sure to proofread your work thoroughly throughout your writing process because typos and grammatical errors will greatly affect the quality and credibility of your work.

With these tips in mind, you are on your way to creating a high-quality argumentative essay that is easy to understand and will be compelling to your readers. 

How to create an Outline for your Argumentative Essay

As we already know, creating an argumentative essay involves a strong topic in order to create a strong argument. Creating an outline for it is a lot easier than most people think, especially for beginners. Here are some simple steps to create an argumentative essay:

1. Research your topic - As mentioned above, you will need to carry out in-depth research to find suitable evidence to back up your argument. If you know what you are going to write about before carrying out your research, then you will be able to structure it more easily. 

2. Introduction - In this part of your essay, you will want to introduce the reader to the topic that you will be discussing. The introductory paragraph works like a hook to entice your readers about your interesting topic. Make sure to create an introduction that is easy to understand so that your readers will be interested in reading. A good way to do this is by providing them with a brief background about the topic so that they understand it better.

3. Hypothesis or Premise - This is where you present your main arguments about your topic. You could provide questions to answer or evidence to support your claims. It will serve as the basis for the argument in your essay. Keep in mind that you will need to support all of your points with evidence from your research.

4. Body - Like any good argumentative essay, your body should contain all of the supporting evidence that you will use to support your argument. Each body paragraph should be dedicated to a different point that you would like to make. Body paragraphs cover different pieces of evidence that you provide to support your claims throughout the essay.

5. Conclusion - This is where you create a summary of all your talking points. This could also serve as a brief refresher of what you have discussed in the body of the essay. The conclusion is one of the most important parts of your essay because this is where you rebut the opposing arguments and remind your reader of the key points that you have discussed in the paper.

Types of Argumentative Essay

1. Rogerian Argumentative Essay - This type of essay is great for controversial topics because its creator, Carl Rogers intended this essay type to be as tame and respectful as possible.

The Rogerian style is centred around maintaining a balance between the two sides of the argument rather than siding with one opinion over the other. After both sides have been considered, a great way to end this essay is with a proper resolution of all the arguments presented. Usually, this results in finding a way to bring the two sides together rather than permanently sidelining one opinion over another.

This approach promotes both intellectual honesty and responsible thinking, which is a great way to approach an argumentative essay!

2. Classic Argumentative Essay - This type of argumentative essay entices the reader to a certain point of view.

This style is developed by Aristotle and it requires the reader to look at both sides of the argument while ultimately deciding which one is the most concise and factual. An essay like this requires a presentation of claims and counterarguments as well as an overall claim about the topic being argued over.

3. Toulmin Argumentative Essay - Arguments are broken down into multiple elements in order to prove a point. The main elements to follow with the Toulmin argumentative essay are the claim, grounds, warrant, qualifier, rebuttal, and backing.

The claim is the thesis that is being argued for, while the grounds are the arguments that back up the claim.

The warrant is the argument from which the claim can be proven; this can be based on historical data, social or cultural research, or scientific research.

The qualifier is the explanation that explains the basis on which the claim was made and the justification provided to justify the claim.

The rebuttal is the part where you respond to the claims that have been presented against your claim. This can be used to acknowledge an opposing viewpoint by proving your reasoning and logic are stronger or more logical than theirs.

And the backing is the part of your essay where you convince your reader to take a side in the argument.

The Toulmin argument is best used when there could be several possible solutions to a certain argument. This style is also very useful for debates and discussions because it allows both sides of an argument to be laid out for consideration.

Argumentative Essay Examples

Now that we've explained the different types of argumentative essays as well as useful tips you can use throughout your writing process, here are some excerpt examples of the different types of argumentative essays:

1. Is School Conductive to Learning? (Classical Argumentative Essay)

"If students get As on a test then they know the material, right? How many of those students would still know the information if you asked them about a week later? How about a month later? Most students will not remember most of the information for very long after the test. Why is that? They learned it, didn't they? Well, that depends on how you define "learning". "Learning" is gaining knowledge and experience which stays in the long-term memory and is of value to the recipient. So we have to ask, is our education system really teaching children?

The way education is set up in this country is simple. There is usually only one teacher in a classroom teaching from 12 to 30 students at a time. Information is written on a blackboard in the front of the room while the children take notes and listen. There may be some variation depending on the school and teacher. Then the students are tested on the material. After the test, the class moves on to new information. The material is usually not looked at again until a final test at the end of the semester, for which students study very hard a few days before. If they pass the test it is assumed that they "learned" the information, regardless of if they forget it later. Our education system is not only not enhancing learning but may actually be inhibiting it.

The education system in the United States today treats the minds of children like bowls to be filled with information. What it does not realize is that if you fill a bowl too quickly most of the liquid will bounce back out. It is the same with the mind of a child. When they are given too much information in such a small amount of time very little of it is actually retained. This is because of the vast amount of information students are given in very small amounts of time. Children study a single topic for two weeks to a month and then they are tested on it. After the test, they study something different for the next two weeks to a month. This causes the previous information to be forgotten and replaced by new information. This means that children end up with only very general knowledge of the topics studied.

A few children do learn this quickly, but not very many. Children learn at greatly varying paces, however, schools assume that all children learn at the same speed. This causes many children to be very frustrated and give up trying to learn. Many children who learn at a slower pace fall behind beyond any hope of catching up. Often the children who learn more quickly get bored and give up completely. Many of these children begin associating learning with boredom or frustration and actually start to dislike and even fight against learning.

Our system of schooling is not set up the way it should be. It was created to enhance learning, to teach children what they needed to know. It has strayed from that purpose. Our school system not only does not teach, but it turns students away from learning. Our children deserve better than this. They deserve to be shown how much fun and how beneficial learning can be. Learning can be what gives our lives value, but we are cheating our children of that. The school system needs to be seriously looked at and changed. The future of our world could be shaped by how well our children are prepared for it. They will be better prepared for it if they are shown how important and how rewarding knowledge and confidence can be. If our children are given these building blocks then they will become stronger adults and they will enhance the structure of the human world."

2. Helmets: Life or Liberty? (Rogerian Argumentative Essay)

"Snowboarding and snow skiing are two of the most enjoyed recreational sports in the world today. They give a unique sense of freedom and satisfaction that is unlike any other sport that can offer. Rob Reichenfeld remarked after his first lesson, “When you’re onto a good thing you stick with it, and like millions around the world I had discovered something undefinably special” (2). The freedom to carve down an entire mountain as fast or as slowly as desired, to drop off a twenty-foot cliff into five feet of fluff, to weave a line through a patch of technical trees, or to float down a steep face with bottomless powder is just a few reasons so many people are determined to make it to the mountains every year in search of a supreme rush. Snow sports provide an outlet for people to express themselves in unconventional ways by taking risks they normally would not take.

Snow sports are becoming more popular than ever before. They are prevalent in movies such as Extreme Days, Out Cold, several James Bond films, and Aspen Extreme, just to name a few. Now we see the X Games on television and snow sports in the Olympics. And the commercial market has taken full advantage of the extreme side of these sports as well. Mountain Dew has created an entire marketing scheme based solely on extreme sports, with snowboarding being a large part. Not only are snow sports becoming exceeding popular in the media, but more and more newcomers are also picking up a board or a set of skis every day of the winter season.

Along with all of this new popularity and thousands of new partakers in these sports, head injuries are becoming an increasing element of the equation. Although the percentage of head injuries due to snow sports is fairly low, about 0.3—6.5 skiers or snowboarders per thousand a day (“Heads you win?…”), a lot of people are affected when you consider how many thousands of people might be skiing or snowboarding in the entire U.S. on any given day. These numbers have raised a question of some magnitude: should ski resorts intrude on their guests’ individual liberties by implementing helmet rules?

Helmets do have several distinct drawbacks, despite their many benefits. Though opinions are starting to change, helmets are sometimes viewed as uncool or “nerdy”. These ideas are similar to those people used to have about motorcycle helmets, car seat belts, bicycle helmets, and skating elbow- and kneepads. Initially, it seems, any form of safety equipment gets a bad rap, especially from a young crowd that has no real concern for bodily harm.

The benefits of wearing head protection while resort skiing or snowboarding greatly outweigh the disadvantages, so such protective headgear should be required by all ski resorts. With the improvements being made in the comfort, stylishness, and effectiveness of helmets in the industry, there are no excuses left for skiers or boarders not to be wearing them. These types of resort rules could save countless lives as well as possibly save innumerable tax dollars that are spent on the medical costs of people who receive brain damage as a result of snow sport-induced head trauma. Such rules would also serve to lower lift ticket prices, as less money would be spent by resorts to defending against lawsuits brought on by head trauma victims. It would be to the benefit of everyone in the snow sports community if such regulations were to be put into place. I hope that they will indeed be applied in the near future, further insuring many more years of safe and exhilarating snow sporting."  

3. The Power of Black Panther (Toulmin)

  "Despite it just hitting theatres, Black Panther is already labelled as a ‘cultural movement’. Many Marvel fans eagerly waited to see the movie while discussions exploded on social media about Marvel’s new black superhero. However, not all of the discussions have stayed peaceful. With the emergence of this hero comes the emergence of the timeless debate of race, more specifically race in the media and how it is presented. There are some who say that having a black hero should not be this big of a deal and they deny the need for heroes of colour. Morals are colourless; we’ve learned from and enjoyed the millions of white heroes, so why is this black hero so special?

The issue here runs far deeper than this and goes beyond comic book characters. The real issue is the overall representation of minority groups in America. There needs to be a better representation of minorities in media to help the majority understand them and to help minorities feel a part of society. These are important factors in peace and unity within our nation. II. For the longest time, white men have dominated all American media industries, especially cishet men. Cishet refers to a person who is both cisgender and heterosexual. Over the years, women and minorities have fought to get where they are Background and issue questionClaimDefinitionDunne 2in the media today. They are now performing more and more roles outside of their stereotypes.

We need a more understanding majority and minorities who feel like they are an equal part of society, in order to come together and work for a better nation. Having fair media representation for minorities is a vital key to doing so. With the current hate destroying our country, we need to educate ourselves and each other. What better way to change a nation obsessed with its media, than with the media?" 

Creating argumentative essays is quite a complex process and there are multiple styles and ways to approach it. The goal of the process is to convince the audience of your point of view based on evidence or facts rather than personal opinions.

If you want to create high-quality argumentative essays, we recommend using Jenni.ai to speed up your writing process and help you craft more compelling arguments! You can sign up at Jenni.ai for free here !

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Suggestions for Developing Argumentative Essays

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tips on writing an argument essay

1. Select an arguable topic, preferably one which interests, puzzles, or appeals to you.

Make sure your topic is neither too broad--something which warrants a dissertation--nor too limited. Decide what your goals are for the paper. What is your purpose? What opinion, view, or idea do you want to prove? Try to articulate your purpose clearly  before  you begin writing. If you cannot state your purpose clearly, try to freewrite about your topic.

2. Take a position on your topic, and form a thesis statement.

Your thesis must be arguable; it must assert or deny something about your topic. To be arguable, a thesis must have some probability of being true. It should not, however, be generally accepted as true; it must be a statement with which people may disagree. Keep in mind that a thesis contains both an observation and an opinion:

A good way to test the strength of your thesis is to see if it yields a strong antithesis.

Common thesis pitfalls:

  • A thesis expressed as a fragment.
  • A thesis which is too broad.
  • A thesis worded as a question. (Usually the answer to the question yields the thesis)
  • A thesis which includes extraneous information.
  • A thesis which begins with I think or in my opinion.
  • A thesis which deals with a stale or trite issue.
  • A thesis which contains words which lead to faulty generalizations (all, none, always, only, everyone, etc.)

Thesis writing tips:

  • A thesis evolves as you work with your topic. Brainstorm, research, talk, and think about your topic before settling on a thesis. If you are having trouble formulating a thesis, begin freewriting about your topic. Your freewrite may suggest a workable thesis.
  • During the writing process, consider your thesis a  working thesis  and be willing to modify and re-focus it as you draft and revise your paper.
  • Copy your working thesis on an index card and keep it in front of you as you research and write. Having your thesis in plain view may help focus your writing.

3. Consider your audience.

Plan your paper with a specific audience in mind. Who are your readers? Are they a definable group--disinterested observers, opponents of your point of view, etc.? Perhaps you are writing to your classmates. Ask your professor or GSI who you should consider your target audience. If you are not certain of your audience, direct your argument to a general audience.

4. Present clear and convincing evidence.

Strong essays consist of  reasons  supported by  evidence .  Reasons  can be thought of as the main points supporting your claim or thesis. Often they are the answers to the question, "Why do you make that claim?" An easy way to think of  reasons  is to see them as "because phrases." In order to validate your reasons and make your argument successful, support your reasons with ample evidence.

The St. Martin's Guide to Writing  (Axelrod & Cooper, 2nd ed., New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988) lists the following forms of evidence:

  • authorities
  • textual evidence

For most college papers, you will include evidence you have gathered from various sources and texts. Make sure you document your evidence properly. When using evidence, make sure you (1) introduce it properly, and (2) explain its significance. Do not assume that your evidence will speak for itself--that your readers will glean from your evidence that which you want them to glean. Explain the importance of each piece of evidence-- how  it elucidates or supports your point,  why  it is significant. Build evidence into your text, and use it strategically to prove your points.

In addition to using evidence, thoughtful writers anticipate their readers'  counterarguments  Counterarguments include objections, alternatives, challenges, or questions to your argument. Imagine readers responding to your argument as it unfolds. How might they react? A savvy writer will anticipate and address counterarguments. A writer can address counterarguments by  acknowledging ,  accommodating , and/or  refuting  them.

5. Draft your essay.

As is the case with any piece of writing, you should take your argumentative essay through multiple drafts. When writing and revising your drafts, make sure you:

  • provide ample  evidence , presented logically and fairly
  • deal with the  opposing point of view
  • pay particular attention to the organization of your essay. Make sure its structure suits your topic and audience
  • address and correct any  fallacies  of logic
  • include proper  transitions  to allow your reader to follow your argument

6. Edit your draft.

After you have written a developed draft, take off your writer's hat and put on your reader's hat. Evaluate your essay carefully and critically. Exchange a draft of your essay with classmates to get their feedback. Carefully revise your draft based on your assessment of it and suggestions from your peers. For self-assessment and peer response to your draft, you may want to use a peer editing sheet. A peer editing sheet will guide you and your peers by asking specific questions about your text (i.e., What is the thesis of this essay? Is it arguable? Does the writer include ample evidence? Is the structure suitable for the topic and the audience?).

You may also want to avail yourself of the Writing  Drop-In Tutoring  or  By-Appointment Tutoring  at the  Student Learning Center .

Luisa Giulianetti 
Student Learning Center, University of California, Berkeley
©1996 UC Regents

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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9.3: The Argumentative Essay

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  • Examine types of argumentative essays

Argumentative Essays

You may have heard it said that all writing is an argument of some kind. Even if you’re writing an informative essay, you still have the job of trying to convince your audience that the information is important. However, there are times you’ll be asked to write an essay that is specifically an argumentative piece.

An argumentative essay is one that makes a clear assertion or argument about some topic or issue. When you’re writing an argumentative essay, it’s important to remember that an academic argument is quite different from a regular, emotional argument. Note that sometimes students forget the academic aspect of an argumentative essay and write essays that are much too emotional for an academic audience. It’s important for you to choose a topic you feel passionately about (if you’re allowed to pick your topic), but you have to be sure you aren’t too emotionally attached to a topic. In an academic argument, you’ll have a lot more constraints you have to consider, and you’ll focus much more on logic and reasoning than emotions.

A cartoon person with a heart in one hand and a brain in the other.

Argumentative essays are quite common in academic writing and are often an important part of writing in all disciplines. You may be asked to take a stand on a social issue in your introduction to writing course, but you could also be asked to take a stand on an issue related to health care in your nursing courses or make a case for solving a local environmental problem in your biology class. And, since argument is such a common essay assignment, it’s important to be aware of some basic elements of a good argumentative essay.

When your professor asks you to write an argumentative essay, you’ll often be given something specific to write about. For example, you may be asked to take a stand on an issue you have been discussing in class. Perhaps, in your education class, you would be asked to write about standardized testing in public schools. Or, in your literature class, you might be asked to argue the effects of protest literature on public policy in the United States.

However, there are times when you’ll be given a choice of topics. You might even be asked to write an argumentative essay on any topic related to your field of study or a topic you feel that is important personally.

Whatever the case, having some knowledge of some basic argumentative techniques or strategies will be helpful as you write. Below are some common types of arguments.

Causal Arguments

  • In this type of argument, you argue that something has caused something else. For example, you might explore the causes of the decline of large mammals in the world’s ocean and make a case for your cause.

Evaluation Arguments

  • In this type of argument, you make an argumentative evaluation of something as “good” or “bad,” but you need to establish the criteria for “good” or “bad.” For example, you might evaluate a children’s book for your education class, but you would need to establish clear criteria for your evaluation for your audience.

Proposal Arguments

  • In this type of argument, you must propose a solution to a problem. First, you must establish a clear problem and then propose a specific solution to that problem. For example, you might argue for a proposal that would increase retention rates at your college.

Narrative Arguments

  • In this type of argument, you make your case by telling a story with a clear point related to your argument. For example, you might write a narrative about your experiences with standardized testing in order to make a case for reform.

Rebuttal Arguments

  • In a rebuttal argument, you build your case around refuting an idea or ideas that have come before. In other words, your starting point is to challenge the ideas of the past.

Definition Arguments

  • In this type of argument, you use a definition as the starting point for making your case. For example, in a definition argument, you might argue that NCAA basketball players should be defined as professional players and, therefore, should be paid.

https://assessments.lumenlearning.co...essments/20277

Essay Examples

  • Click here to read an argumentative essay on the consequences of fast fashion . Read it and look at the comments to recognize strategies and techniques the author uses to convey her ideas.
  • In this example, you’ll see a sample argumentative paper from a psychology class submitted in APA format. Key parts of the argumentative structure have been noted for you in the sample.

Link to Learning

For more examples of types of argumentative essays, visit the Argumentative Purposes section of the Excelsior OWL .

Contributors and Attributions

  • Argumentative Essay. Provided by : Excelsior OWL. Located at : https://owl.excelsior.edu/rhetorical-styles/argumentative-essay/ . License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Image of a man with a heart and a brain. Authored by : Mohamed Hassan. Provided by : Pixabay. Located at : pixabay.com/illustrations/decision-brain-heart-mind-4083469/. License : Other . License Terms : pixabay.com/service/terms/#license

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Tips for Organizing an Argumentative Essay

Addressing “flow”: tips for organizing an argumentative essay.

“Flow”, in regard to a characteristic of an essay, is a fairly murky and general concept that could cover a wide range of issues.  However, most often, if you’re worried about “flow”, your concerns actually have their roots in focus and organization.  Paragraphs may not clearly relate back to the thesis or each other, or important points may be buried by less-important information.  These tips, though by no means exhaustive, are meant to help you create a cohesive, “flowing” argumentative essay.  While this handout was written with argumentative essays (particularly within the humanities) in mind, many of the general ideas behind them apply to a wide range of disciplines.

1) Pre-Write/Outline

  • There are not many aspects of the writing process that are as universally dreaded as the outline. Sometimes it can feel like pointless extra work, but it actually is your best safeguard against losing focus in a paper, preserves organization throughout, and just generally makes it easier to sit down and write an essay.
  • It doesn’t matter what form your outline takes as long as it’s something that details what points you want to make and in what order. Figuring out your main points before you start drafting keeps you on topic, and considering order will make transitions easier and more meaningful.

2) Make sure you begin each paragraph with a topic sentence.

  • Example : Carroll uses Alice’s conversation with the Cheshire Cat about madness both to explain the world of Wonderland and critique a Victorian emphasis on facts and reason.
  • Example : In Alice in Wonderland , Alice has a conversation with the Cheshire Cat about madness.

3) Make sure every topic sentence (and therefore, every paragraph) relates directly back to your thesis statement.

  • e., If your thesis claims that Alice in Wonderland critiques Victorian education for children by doing x and also y, every topic sentence of each of your body paragraphs should have to relate to Victorian education and x and/or y.
  • e., you might want to talk about the White Hare as a symbol for Victorian obsession with time. However, if your paper as a whole is otherwise about passages/paragraphs that critique Victorian education, then it is out of place, and will only confuse your paper’s focus.

4) Use effective transitions between paragraphs

  • Paragraph A: talks about Alice’s encounter with the caterpillar
  • Transition to Paragraph B: Similarly , Alice encounters another strange creature in the form of the Cheshire Cat, with whom, like the caterpillar, she holds a conversation with larger implications for the world of the novel.
  • Paragraph A: details how the madness of Wonderland critiques the fact-based Victorian England
  • Transition to Paragraph B: Despite the nature of madness and this criticism of facts and order, there is a kind of logic to Wonderland, and it is deliberately inversive.
  • NB: These are only two examples of how to involve transitions in your paper; there are many other ways to do so. But no matter what transition you use, it should in some way establish a relationship between a previous point in your essay and the one you’re about to talk about.

5) Re-read your paper!

  • Many issues that might hamper flow are small/general enough that you can catch them just by proofreading–i.e., sentence fragments, clunky/lengthy sentences, etc.
  • Reading your paper out loud is especially helpful for catching awkward phrases/sentences
  • Active and Passive Voice
  • Tips on Writing Effective Dialogue
  • Setting Up an Effective Argument for a CC Paper
  • be_ixf; php_sdk; php_sdk_1.4.26
  • https://www.valpo.edu/writingcenter/resources-for-students/handouts/organizing-argumentative-essay/
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Tips on How to Write a Solid Argumentative Essay

tips on writing an argument essay

Part of being a successful student entails exemplary performance in your assignments and tests. One of the most common tasks is essay writing. The many types of essays have different writing styles and message delivery modes. This article will debunk the most helpful ways to write a solid argumentative essay.

How to Write a Solid Argumentative Essay

Unlike a narrative descriptive essay, an argumentative essay is an academic paper that entails the writer presenting an argument from a firm angle and providing a justification for their views to convince the reader to buy into their idea. 

Simple as it might sound, writing an argumentative essay requires intense research and effort, more than what would ideally go into writing a regular essay. As such, any online essay writing service will recommend getting into the nitty gritty of what goes into writing an argumentative essay. 

You need to pay attention to factors such as the essay’s structure, how to research comprehensively and establish an argument, how to present your evidence, and the vocabulary required for the essay. This writing unpacks all these details in the most palatable way.

When Is an Argumentative Essay Written?

An argumentative essay is written as an assignment to students. Outside the classroom, it can be written as an editorial or blog post. Other situations that prompt you to write an argumentative essay include:

1. Academic Assignments

In schools, tutors task learners to write argumentative essays to build their understanding of specific subjects. It also tests their ability to research and develop their persuasive writing skills.

Argumentative essays are keen on developing ideas and presenting evidence to support them. Debates take the same procedure; hence, along the same line, a learner builds their debating skills and learn how to defend their viewpoints.

3. Opinion Writings

Outside class, you might be tasked to write an opinion piece expressing your opinions on a specific matter. As such, you need to present your argument and include supporting evidence.

4. Policy Proposals

If you work in positions entailing policy-making, you ought to hone argumentative essay writing skills since they will be needed in proposing policies. The process involves floating your proposals and presenting evidence to support them.

5. Persuasive Speeches

Your argumentative skills will be needed when presenting a persuasive speech since the essay forms the foundation of the speech. The argumentative essay writing speech format also presents ways to package your points and show them.

Parts of an Argumentative Essay

Like any essay, an argumentative essay comprises:

An introduction

A thesis statement

Three body paragraphs with the arguments and support statements 

The conclusion

The structure of the essay plays a significant role in determining how your message will be perceived and whether the reader will be convinced to support your claims. Therefore, this writing aims to persuade the reader to support your viewpoint. 

Elements of an Argumentative Essay

tips on writing an argument essay

For context, an argumentative essay has five main elements. Understanding the role of each component is essential in the essay writing process as it serves as a distinguishing point on whether to buy an essay or trust your essay writing skills. These elements include:

1. The Claim

Essentially, the claim is the argument or viewpoint. It forms the premises of your argument and the essay at large. Therefore, it is the most intricate part of the essay since it determines the trajectory of the rest of the writing. 

The support or the evidence comprises factual details. How you package your claims determines how easily the reader will buy into your idea. It also proves how much research you have done and showcases your confidence and understanding of the topic.

3. Counterarguments

Including counterclaims cements your argument. It presents the reader with a contrasting perspective of the subject. 

4. Rebuttal

A rebuttal makes sense after you have presented the reader with a contrasting view of the argument and evidence to prove why your view makes more sense and waters down the counterargument. A strong rebuttal proves to the reader that you have considered diverse perspectives and are prepared to defend your position. 

The Format of an Argumentative Essay

Having gathered the ins and outs of what goes into the contents of an argumentative essay, this is the writing format. This format expresses how to package your ideas to develop a coherent essay.

1. Introduction

This section should start with a compelling sentence or, if possible, a question that captures the reader’s attention. The introduction should also thrust the reader into what the essay is about, usually by providing a history or background of the topic.

2. Thesis Statement

This section provides your position on the topic. However, you should ensure that your thesis statement is strong enough and showcases your confidence.

3. Body Paragraphs

The essay should contain at least three body paragraphs. Each one of the body paragraphs should focus on a specific point. The paraphs should include three to four confident sentences.

Introduce every paragraph with a strong topic sentence. The topic sentence introduces the reader to the evidence supporting the claim highlighted in the thesis statement.

The body paragraphs should also contain results from experiments, statistics, and quotes from renowned people. Providing such details makes your argument more factual. It also boosts your confidence in your work.

4. Counterarguments and Their Rebuttals

Acknowledge the existence of opposing views. Doing so shows the reader your research was wholesome and that you were keen when researching. Provide evidence and supporting claims on why you disagree with the counterarguments. 

5. Conclusion

The conclusion should signal to the reader that you have finished writing the essay. It should also jog their mind on the argument and a summary of why they should support your viewpoint. Let the reader have the final call to action and a broader topic perspective. 

6. Citations and References

Since this kind of writing relies on previous studies, it is essential to be careful when providing references and citations. Remember to be consistent when providing these references. 

7. Formatting Style

Be sure to use the correct formatting style for your paper. Your tutor usually provides the formatting style. It would help if you also strived to ensure that your paper maintains an academic tone throughout.

These tips on how to write an argumentative essay play a vital role in determining how well you will perform. Following them to the latter guarantees exemplary performance. 

tips on writing an argument essay

Ultimate Guide to Writing Your College Essay

Tips for writing an effective college essay.

College admissions essays are an important part of your college application and gives you the chance to show colleges and universities your character and experiences. This guide will give you tips to write an effective college essay.

Want free help with your college essay?

UPchieve connects you with knowledgeable and friendly college advisors—online, 24/7, and completely free. Get 1:1 help brainstorming topics, outlining your essay, revising a draft, or editing grammar.

 alt=

Writing a strong college admissions essay

Learn about the elements of a solid admissions essay.

Avoiding common admissions essay mistakes

Learn some of the most common mistakes made on college essays

Brainstorming tips for your college essay

Stuck on what to write your college essay about? Here are some exercises to help you get started.

How formal should the tone of your college essay be?

Learn how formal your college essay should be and get tips on how to bring out your natural voice.

Taking your college essay to the next level

Hear an admissions expert discuss the appropriate level of depth necessary in your college essay.

Student Stories

 alt=

Student Story: Admissions essay about a formative experience

Get the perspective of a current college student on how he approached the admissions essay.

Student Story: Admissions essay about personal identity

Get the perspective of a current college student on how she approached the admissions essay.

Student Story: Admissions essay about community impact

Student story: admissions essay about a past mistake, how to write a college application essay, tips for writing an effective application essay, sample college essay 1 with feedback, sample college essay 2 with feedback.

This content is licensed by Khan Academy and is available for free at www.khanacademy.org.

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IMAGES

  1. Tips on How to Write an Argumentative Essay

    tips on writing an argument essay

  2. How To Write An Argumentative Essay

    tips on writing an argument essay

  3. What Is an Argumentative Essay? Simple Examples To Guide You

    tips on writing an argument essay

  4. Two Reflective Teachers: A Peek into our Nonfiction Research and

    tips on writing an argument essay

  5. How to Write an Argumentative Essay Step by Step

    tips on writing an argument essay

  6. How To Write an Essay

    tips on writing an argument essay

VIDEO

  1. Success in Planning I Arguments & Counterarguments

  2. Argument Writing

  3. The BEST Way to Break Down the Argument Prompt!

  4. Guidelines for Writing Argument synthesis || BA/BSW 3rd Year Compulsory English New Syllabus

  5. UPSC CAPF AC Exam: Argument Writing Strategy for CAPF AC 2023 I Good Argument, For & Against

  6. How To Write TOPIC SENTENCES For An Argumentative Essay

COMMENTS

  1. How to Write an Argumentative Essay

    Make a claim. Provide the grounds (evidence) for the claim. Explain the warrant (how the grounds support the claim) Discuss possible rebuttals to the claim, identifying the limits of the argument and showing that you have considered alternative perspectives. The Toulmin model is a common approach in academic essays.

  2. How to Write an Argumentative Essay

    An argumentative essay comprises five essential components: 1. Claim. Claim in argumentative writing is the central argument or viewpoint that the writer aims to establish and defend throughout the essay. A claim must assert your position on an issue and must be arguable. It can guide the entire argument.

  3. How to Write an Argumentative Essay

    Tips for Writing a Well-Written Argumentative Essay. Introduce your topic in a bold, direct, and engaging manner to captivate your readers and encourage them to keep reading. Provide sufficient evidence to justify your argument and convince readers to adopt this point of view. Consider, include, and fairly present all sides of the topic.

  4. How to Write a Good Argumentative Essay: Easy Step-by-Step Guide

    1. Introductory paragraph. The first paragraph of your essay should outline the topic, provide background information necessary to understand your argument, outline the evidence you will present and states your thesis. 2. The thesis statement. This is part of your first paragraph.

  5. 12 Essential Steps for Writing an Argumentative Essay (with 10 example

    Here's our 12-step recipe for writing a great argumentative essay: Pick a topic. Choose your research sources. Read your sources and take notes. Create a thesis statement. Choose three main arguments to support your thesis statement —now you have a skeleton outline.

  6. Argumentative essay

    A. As basketball star Charles Barkley stated in a famous advertising campaign for Nike, he was paid to dominate on the basketball court, not to raise your kids. Many celebrities do consider themselves responsible for setting a good example and create non-profit organizations through which they can benefit youths. B.

  7. 3 Key Tips for How to Write an Argumentative Essay

    Focus Area #3: Writing the Conclusion. It's common to conclude an argumentative essay by reiterating the thesis statement in some way, either by reminding the reader what the overarching argument was in the first place or by reviewing the main points and evidence that you covered.

  8. How to Write an A+ Argumentative Essay

    An argumentative essay attempts to convince a reader to agree with a particular argument (the writer's thesis statement). The writer takes a firm stand one way or another on a topic and then uses hard evidence to support that stance. An argumentative essay seeks to prove to the reader that one argument —the writer's argument— is the ...

  9. Tips on How to Write an Argumentative Essay

    Gather Evidence. One of your essay's first objectives will be to assess both sides of your issue. Consider strong arguments for both your side, as well as the "other" side—in order to shoot their statements down. Provide evidence without drama; sticking to the facts and clear examples that support your stance.

  10. Argumentative Essay Examples to Inspire You [+Formula]

    Argumentative essay formula & example. In the image below, you can see a recommended structure for argumentative essays. It starts with the topic sentence, which establishes the main idea of the essay. Next, this hypothesis is developed in the development stage. Then, the rebuttal, or the refutal of the main counter argument or arguments.

  11. How‌ ‌to‌ ‌Write‌ ‌an‌ ‌Argumentative‌ ‌Essay

    Create a Structure. You already have a rough outline of what paragraphs of your essay should be there. Based on those, create a more specific structure of an argumentative essay. Think about what arguments you will use, where you will put them, how you will transition between them, and so on.

  12. PDF HOW TO WRITE AN ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY

    4. Write a rough draft. Now at last you are ready to start writing your paper. Start with a short introduction paragraph and then use your outline to draft the body and conclusion. Don't forget to begin each paragraph in the body with a topic sentence that conveys the main argument of that paragraph.

  13. How To Write An Argumentative Essay

    How to write an argumentative essay. The workflow for crafting an effective argumentative essay involves several key steps: Step 1 — Choosing a topic. Argumentative essay writing starts with selecting a topic with two or more main points so you can argue your position. Avoid topics that are too broad or have a clear right or wrong answer.

  14. How To Write a Compelling Argumentative Essay: Expert Tips & Guide

    An argumentative essay requires you to present effective, meaningful arguments. Writing one in your own voice and style can be tricky: But we make it easier.

  15. How to Write an Argumentative Essay: 101 Guide [+ Examples]

    Secondly, it lets the writer figure out what evidence suits what argument most. Before writing, draft your essay first. Put examples, facts, etc. in the right parts of the paper. Then, write the entire text. Thirdly, an outline provides a perfect opportunity to change the essay's parts without rewriting the paper.

  16. Argument

    In order to succeed at this second step, though, you must have a particular point to argue. Arguments in academic writing are usually complex and take time to develop. Your argument will need to be more than a simple or obvious statement such as "Frank Lloyd Wright was a great architect.". Such a statement might capture your initial ...

  17. How to Write An Argumentative Essay (With Examples)

    To write an argumentative essay, it is important to always have a strong argument as your topic and should greatly rely on evidence and logic. However, there is a slight bit of wiggle room within your essay. For example, your thesis statement may include an opinion or a controversial idea, and while you should still support it with facts, it is ...

  18. How To Write an Argumentative Essay (With Writing Tips)

    5 Types of claims for your essay. How you present your main point or argument influences how readers will respond to your essay. Here are the five types of argumentative claims to consider: 1. Facts. A fact claim states whether something is true or false. A writer may choose this type of claim for presenting data. 2.

  19. Suggestions for Developing Argumentative Essays

    5. Draft your essay. As is the case with any piece of writing, you should take your argumentative essay through multiple drafts. When writing and revising your drafts, make sure you: provide ample evidence, presented logically and fairly; deal with the opposing point of view; pay particular attention to the organization of your essay.

  20. 9.3: The Argumentative Essay

    In an academic argument, you'll have a lot more constraints you have to consider, and you'll focus much more on logic and reasoning than emotions. Figure 1. When writing an argumentative essay, students must be able to separate emotion based arguments from logic based arguments in order to appeal to an academic audience.

  21. Tips for Organizing an Argumentative Essay

    5) Re-read your paper! Many issues that might hamper flow are small/general enough that you can catch them just by proofreading-i.e., sentence fragments, clunky/lengthy sentences, etc. Reading your paper out loud is especially helpful for catching awkward phrases/sentences. Addressing "Flow": Tips for Organizing an Argumentative Essay.

  22. How to Write an Argumentative Essay

    Second, follow these steps on how to write an argumentative essay: Brainstorm: research, free-write, and read samples to choose a debatable topic. Prepare: organize thoughts, craft a thesis, decide on arguments and evidence. Draft: outline an essay, start with an engaging introduction, delve into arguments, and conclude like a boss.

  23. Tips on How to Write a Solid Argumentative Essay

    Other situations that prompt you to write an argumentative essay include: 1. Academic Assignments. In schools, tutors task learners to write argumentative essays to build their understanding of specific subjects. It also tests their ability to research and develop their persuasive writing skills. 2.

  24. Ultimate Guide to Writing Your College Essay

    Sample College Essay 2 with Feedback. This content is licensed by Khan Academy and is available for free at www.khanacademy.org. College essays are an important part of your college application and give you the chance to show colleges and universities your personality. This guide will give you tips on how to write an effective college essay.

  25. 3 Key Ideas For Tips On How To Write An Argumentative Essay

    An argumentative essay requires a lot effort, concentration and time. Sooner or later each pupil faces the problem of an argumentative essay. Choosing a custom argumentative essay writing service presents a reliable avenue to tackle your homework efficiently.