An argumentative essay is a writing style that requires investigating a topic, collecting and assessing evidence, and establishing a position on the topic concisely. This form of academic essay is commonly assigned as a final project in advanced composition courses and extensive research. The aim is not just to be persuasive of your viewpoint or stance, but also to promote critical thinking. This article provides a step-by-step guide to composing an effective argumentative essay.
Definition: Argumentative essay
An argumentative essay is a form of academic writing where students must explore a certain topic that requires extensive research to collect and evaluate pertinent evidence. The primary goal of this type of essay, is to articulate and defend a specific stance on an issue. The process entails critical analysis of various perspectives, selection of a position based on this analysis, and the development of a coherent argument to assert the chosen stance. The backbone of a well-crafted argumentative essay lies in the presentation of logical reasoning, supplemented by credible and reliable evidence, to substantiate the writer’s viewpoint. This evidence can come from a variety of sources, such as scholarly articles, reports, or personal experiences. In addition, an effective argumentative essay also acknowledges opposing viewpoints and provides counterarguments to refute them. This meticulous process not only helps to build a strong argument, but also hones students’ critical thinking, research, and analytical skills.
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. The question can either be two-sided or open-ended.
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:
- 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. A good thesis statement should:
- Establish the central focus of your essay
- 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
- The final sentence
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.
The conclusion summarizes the arguments in the body. Your argumentative essay conclusion should feature the following:
- 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.
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.
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.
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. 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. 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. 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 compromise
Examples of argumentative essay prompts
Three different prompts imply an argumentative essay as a response. They include:
- Discuss the effects
- Assess the effectiveness
- Analyze the role
- Develop a focused argument about the overall effect and its relevance.
- Build your argument about the most and least effective measures.
- Form an argument about a specific role or compare and contrast specific roles.
- Don’t just list all the effects that come to mind.
- Do not provide a selection of effectiveness measures.
- Do not analyze a random selection or roles.
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.