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.
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.
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.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
- 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:
- 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
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
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
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. https://www.collegeessay.org/blog/argumentative-essay-writing.
2 MasterClass. “How to Write a Good Argumentative Essay: Easy Step-by-Step Guide.” September 10, 2021. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-write-a-good-argumentative-essay.
3 Purdue Online Writing Lab. “Argumentative Essays.“ Purdue University. Accessed January 9, 2023. https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/essay_writing/argumentative_essays.html.
4 Umer. “A Step-By-Step Guide On How To Write An Argumentative Essay.” PerfectEssay. November 7, 2022. https://perfectessay.com/blog/how-to-write-an-argumentative-essay-step-by-step.