Essays are very common in high school and college, and you’re usually required to write these essays without much input from the teacher about them. Much of your learning about the types of essays is expected to have come from elementary school and junior high school.
If you’re writing an argumentative essay and need some help, try the examples and tips below. If you want to know more about the argumentative essay, read a brief summary on four essay types in this article.
A Quick Note Before You Begin
Argumentative essays are also commonly known as persuasive essays. However, there are some differences between the two even if they’re commonly considered to be the same.
Persuasive essays are short, around five to six paragraphs. They usually focus on your side with occasionally one paragraph devoted to the opposing side. Persuasive essays focus more on the emotions of the reader.
Argumentative essays are usually longer in length, ranging from as little as five paragraphs to as many as necessary. While the focus is mainly on your side, there is also a discussion regarding the opposing side that goes far beyond a single sentence or a paragraph. Argumentative essays focus more on the facts to persuade the reader as opposed to calling to their emotions on a topic or issue.
Before You Write
It’s important that you plan your essay out before you write, and that includes several different aspects. You’re going to want to pick a topic first, but your topic should be something that has two conflicting points or different conclusions. Only consider topics that interest you – it will make your writing that much easier. Try this list of 100 topics to help you find a topic.
Keep in mind that an argumentative essay is based more on facts as opposed to emotion. When picking a topic you’re interested in, be sure to pick one that you can support with evidence and reasoning. Look through the list of topics carefully, and begin making a mental list of the evidence you can use on topics you like.
Once you find an interesting topic, don’t just research your side – if you already know it. Do some reading on both sides of the argument, and list the points for both sides. It will come in handy later when you go to write, and this way you’ll know that the side you pick is based on the facts instead of just your emotions.
As an example, consider the topic from the above link regarding traditional versus alternative medicine. The AHHA has an excellent page that lists the different points of holistic (alternative) medicine compared to conventional (traditional) medicine. Using a page like this, you can easily find the main points of both sides and consider the side you would take. Afterward, you would do more thorough research on each topic to find evidence to support each point. Write quality paragraphs and essays with this online course.
As You Write
Like all essays, the argumentative essay has three important parts – the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. Each area is described in further detail below. Keep in mind that the length of your essay depends on the assignment given to you. Write better essays with an online class.
The first paragraph should introduce the topic and give your thesis statement. Your thesis will be the position you’re going to be taking on whatever topic you chose. Read this example essay entitled School Choice: An Unwise Option, and see if you can find the topic and thesis in the very first paragraph. Your introductory paragraph should be clear and concise just like the example.
The next few paragraphs will make up the bulk of your essay. This particular area can include as little as three paragraphs to as many as necessary to complete your assignment requirements. Within the body, you will detail both sides of the argument. Use one paragraph for each point, including the strongest points of the opposing side.
Because the idea of this essay is to argue for your position, be sure to spend more time on your side than on the opposing side. Introduce the opposing side first, and present the strongest points along with any evidence used to support them. Depending on your topic and assignment length, this could take anywhere from one to three paragraphs.
Once you’ve detailed the opposing side, introduce your position. Again, you should use one paragraph per point, and include all evidence to support your position. You can even include examples of how your evidence refutes the evidence of the opposing side. This particular portion of your essay should be longer than the opposing side.
This final paragraph should restate your position. Emphasize that your position is the best by summarizing the main points of your argument. Include the best evidence. Most conclusions are only a paragraph in length as the conclusion is expected to be a summary of the entire essay.
Read this example essay entitled School Choice: An Educational Fit, and decide if the conclusion is a good summary for the essay. This is the opposite position from the above example essay.
After You Write
At this point, you may very well be thinking that you’re done with your essay, but you’re not. The most important part of an argumentative essay is the revision and editing. Without it, your essay could have large holes in the logic, or it could have grammatical issues that make it difficult for your readers to read. Consider a course in proofreading to help you revise and edit your essay.
Editing and Revising Tools
If you need extra help with editing and revising, there are a couple of free tools available online. Try EditMinion and ProWritingAid to help you. If you’re typing up your draft on a computer, most word processors come with some basic built-in editing tools.
Practice Your Editing and Revising
If you’re concerned your skills aren’t up to snuff for your own essay, consider editing a couple of example essays first. Read through one of the example essays on this page, and see if you can spot any editing and revising errors. You can also try using the above editing and revising tools to test them out before inputting your own essay.
The Final Check
Before you turn in your assignment, you’ll want to look over it one last time. Read through the list below. These are common items that are missed during the first and second reading, and they’re usually not caught by editing and revising tools either.
Emotional Language Should Be Avoided
This is an argumentative essay, not a persuasive essay. You are not attempting to draw people to your side with emotions. The idea behind an argumentative essay is to draw people to your position by detailing the important points of both sides and giving the evidence to support your claim. Let the evidence you provide speak for itself.
NEVER Make Up Evidence
Your facts should be truthful. If someone were to ever check your evidence, it would only harm your argument if you made something up. Technology makes it easy to find facts on anything, and use that to your advantage when collecting your evidence. Don’t make up evidence supporting your side, and don’t make up evidence that makes the other side look bad.
Always Cite Sources
If you’re quoting from a book, cite it. Did you paraphrase something from a magazine article? Cite it. Include a reference page or works cited page. Citing your sources will depend on whether you’re writing in MLA or APA format. Check with your instructor if you’re uncertain which you’re writing in.
Use an Outline for Help
Before you write your essay, you should consider writing an outline. This can include the thesis statement you come up with, a short summary of your topic, and the main points you plan to cover for both the opposing side and the side you support. This outline can be very helpful when it comes to writing your conclusion too.
Know Your Stuff
Your argument is useless if you don’t actually know what you’re talking about. Know as much as you can about your side, but know just as much if not more about the opposing side too. This will come in handy if your argument ends up challenged by the instructor or a fellow student.