Argumentative Essay – Step-By-Step Guide

30.01.23 Types of academic essays Time to read: 5min

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Every student comes across an argumentative essay assignment in their academic life. This means that you cannot avoid writing this form of essay regardless of your academic level or area of study. This blog post provides a comprehensive guide for writing an argumentative essay.

Argumentative Essay – In a Nutshell

  • An argumentative essay is a piece of writing where you form an opinion about a topic and argue that it is the most logical or correct opinion.1
  • It requires you to investigate and analyze a topic so you can provide evidence for your stance on the subject.2
  • It expresses a protracted argument for a specific thesis statement.
  • There are three forms of arguments you can use to form your argumentative essay, and these are Rogerian, Classical, and Toulmin.

Definition: Argumentative essay

An argumentative essay requires students to research a topic, gather, generate, analyze evidence, and develop a position on the topic.3 It aims to defend a stance on an issue by presenting logical reasoning and providing evidence to back it up.

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When is an argumentative essay written?

It is usually assigned to high school or university students or in a composition class. The academic essay will require you to argue between two positions.1 The question can either be two-sided or open-ended.


What is the greatest global challenge of the 21st century? (open)

Structure of an argumentative essay

This type of essay has a standard structure, regardless of the topic or study field. The essay features the following sections:


Like all academic essays, an argumentative essay commences with an introduction. The introduction features three key parts:

  • Hook3
  • Background
  • Thesis statement

Thesis statement

The thesis statement is part of the first paragraph or the introduction. It is typically a concise summary of your main point or the argument you support.2 A good thesis statement should:

  • Establish the central focus of your essay4
  • Be specific, clear, and concise (usually one sentence)
  • Summarize your main point


The body is where you expound on your argument and reasoning in detail. It should contain the following:

  • Topic sentence
  • Evidence
  • Interpretation
  • Counter-evidence
  • The final sentence2

The standard body of a short persuasive essay contains three paragraphs. However, you can write a longer essay with paragraphs divided into sections with subheadings covering specific topics.1


The conclusion summarizes the arguments in the body. Your argumentative essay conclusion should feature the following:

  • Summary
  • Significance
  • Closing statement

Argumentative essay: Step-by-step guide

Once you know the basic structure, you can write a persuasive essay. Below is a comprehensive guide on how to write this essay:

Step 1: Turning the topic into a question and answering it

This strategy helps you determine your stance on the topic and develop your thesis statement. It also draws readers in, especially if your question is intriguing.2


Topic: The best source of information

Question: What is the best source of information

Answer: The internet

Step 2: Stating and returning an argument

Stating an argument that contrasts your thesis statement will help you form the background for your topic. This method is effective since it uses evidence and demonstrates your credibility at the start of your argumentative essay.2


Many conventional educators believe that the internet is not a reliable source of information, packed with false and misguiding content.

Step 3: Outlining the main points

Outlining your main points will also help you plan the structure of your body and determine the length of your argumentative essay. It serves as the roadmap for your essay.3


  • The internet is readily available
  • It offers thousands of sources
  • It is easily accessible
  • It is an educational tool

Argumentative essay: Types and how to use them

There are three key types of arguments you can apply in an argumentative essay that you can use separately or together.3 They are:


Also known as the Aristotelian argumentative essay approach, this is the most popular and simplest strategy. Use it when your audience does not have much information or a strong stance on the topic.1 It features the following steps:

  • Main argument
  • Your opinion
  • The argument


This is a common approach for academic argumentative essays. Use this approach for polarizing topics. The steps of the Toulmin argument approach are:

  • Making a claim
  • Providing evidence for the claim
  • Explaining how the grounds support your claim
  • Discussing possible rebuttals and limits of the argument to show that you have considered alternative stances


The Rogerian argumentative essay approach provides a clear picture of both sides of an argument and presents a compromise. Use it as a negotiating strategy for an argumentative essay on a polarizing topic.1 It features the following steps:

  • The opposing opinion
  • The problems with the opposing opinion
  • Your stance on the topic and how it addresses the problems
  • A possible compromise2

Examples of argumentative essay prompts

Three different prompts imply an argumentative essay as a response. They include:

  • Discuss the effects

✘ Do not just list all the effects that come to mind.

✓ Develop a focused argument about the overall effect and its relevance, then back it up with evidence from reliable sources.

  • Assess the effectiveness

✘ Do not provide a selection of effectiveness measures.

✓ Build your argument about the most and least effective measures.

  • Analyze the role

Do not analyze a random selection or roles.

✓ Form an argument about a specific role or compare and contrast specific roles.4

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An argumentative essay is a piece of writing where you form an opinion about a topic and argue that it is the most logical or correct opinion.

An argumentative essay aims to defend a stance on an issue by presenting logical reasoning and providing evidence to back it up.

An argumentative essay features an introduction, body, and conclusion. Each of the three sections features sub-sections. The body may contain several paragraphs with headings.

There are three main approaches. These are the classic or Aristotelian, Rogerian, and Toulmin approaches.


1 A., Cathy. “Argumentative Essay – A Complete Writing Guide.” CollegeEssay. June 17, 2020.

2 MasterClass. “How to Write a Good Argumentative Essay: Easy Step-by-Step Guide.” September 10, 2021.

3 Purdue Online Writing Lab. “Argumentative Essays.“ Purdue University. Accessed January 9, 2023.

4 Umer. “A Step-By-Step Guide On How To Write An Argumentative Essay.” PerfectEssay. November 7, 2022.