To make your point in a persuasive essay, you need more than just your personal viewpoint. Without adequate organization and the backing of sound argument and evidence, even the strongest position will fail to persuade.
In this simple step-by-step guide, you will learn what an argumentative essay is, what it should include, and how to arrange it differently based on your audience.
What Is an Argumentative Essay?
The term “argumentative essay” refers to a certain type of writing that takes a stand on a controversial topic.
An effective argumentative essay presents the author’s position on a contentious issue and strives to sway the reader to agree with it by laying out the author’s rationale and supporting data.
Writing an argumentative essay is a regular task given to students in secondary school and higher learning. Topics for argumentative essays frequently revolve on these areas of study and public policy as well as healthcare.
Argumentative writing at college level
Most of the essays and papers you write in college will require you to make an argument. Comparatively, both literary analysis essays and rhetorical analyses require the student to argue a point using case studies.
Even though you may not be given explicit instructions to do so, you should assume that you are to write an argumentative essay, since doing so is a central goal of most academic writing.
Also Read: Resume Writing Tips for Students
Simple outline for an argumentative essay
The success of your entire argumentative essay rests on the strength of your article’s organization.
Writing an argumentative essay is already a little more complicated than writing other types of essays because you have to account for opposing arguments.
This fact alone raises more questions, such as which side’s argument to counter first and when to submit crucial evidence.
The five-paragraph structure works well for most short essays, so let’s start there.
- In the opening paragraph of your essay, you should introduce your topic, state your thesis statement, and lay the groundwork for the rest of your paper.
- The body of your paper should be in paragraphs two through four, where you give your main arguments and supporting evidence and counter any counterarguments. Paragraphs should be structured so that they either provide one piece of evidence or refute one counterargument.
- Your paper’s conclusion, the fifth and last paragraph, should restate your thesis in light of the supporting evidence you’ve presented.
This basic format is useful in a hurry, and it works particularly well for timed essay sections of exams. However, advanced essays call for more in-depth frameworks, especially if the assignment calls for more than five paragraphs.
The Toulmin model has four stages, each of which can be repeated as often as necessary to adequately develop the argument:
- Make a claim
- Justify your assertion with supporting details
- Justify the need for the warrant (how the grounds support the claim)
- Provide potential objections to the claim, outlining the argument’s weaknesses and demonstrating your awareness of other viewpoints.
Academic essays frequently use the Toulmin model. While you don’t have to utilize these terms specifically in an argumentative essay, it is essential to make a direct relationship between your claims and the evidence supporting them.
So, let’s say you want to convince someone that anti-discrimination policies in the workplace are worthwhile. Maybe you could:
- You argue that the results of training to reduce unconscious bias are not satisfactory and that the resources would be better spent on other methods.
- Provide evidence for your statement.
- Justify your conclusion that this approach is futile by citing specific examples from the data.
- Plan for potential counterarguments to your claim based on other evidence and explain why your argument stands up or why it doesn’t.
You can use the Rogerian model, which consists of four steps, as a framework for your essay.
- Discuss the merits of the contrasting view and the reasons some may hold it.
- Focus on real problems with this argument.
- Put out your own position and demonstrate how it solves these issues.
- Give some thought to what components of your perspective the other side could benefit from adopting in order to reach a middle ground.
This paradigm takes into account the validity of opposing viewpoints in order to find a middle ground. It’s especially helpful in situations where people have strongly divergent opinions, as it helps you approach arguments from the other side with an open mind.
Let’s say you want to make the case that online learning has improved schooling. Maybe you could:
- Recognize that students spend excessive time on Wikipedia and other online resources.
- Make the case that the skepticism of instructors toward Wikipedia is exaggerated.
- Propose that students can learn from Wikipedia’s citation system.
- Educators who are wary of Wikipedia’s value may benefit from having students engage in critical analysis of the site as part of a class assignment.
- You don’t have to choose one of these models per se, and you might even incorporate pieces of both in different parts of your essay, but they’re both worth examining if you’re having trouble organizing your ideas.
An essay’s structure should consist of an introduction, main body, and conclusion regardless of the technique you use.
Points to consider while crafting an argumentative essay
Use evidence to back up your claims
There are some similarities between argumentative essays and persuasive essays, but they also have some key differences.
Essays that attempt to persuade the reader typically appeal to their emotions, while those that attempt to convince them typically appeal to their logic. This is why it’s important to have access to cold, hard data.
It is imperative that you conduct extensive research in order to back up each of your major claims.
If you want to add more weight to your argument, feel free to quote studies or other sources. Be as objective as possible; let the evidence do the talking.
Be proactive about language
Tone and style matter more than you might think in an argumentative essay, particularly when offering criticism of another’s viewpoint.
Take care with the way you phrase things and with the words you use. Even when countering a terrible viewpoint, using an aggressive tone reflects poorly on the writer more than the subject.