How to Write an Argumentative Essay

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How to Write an Argumentative Essay
Jennifer Lockman

Writing an argumentative essay requires thorough preparation and planning. You need to prove that your claims are correct, applying strong evidence. Find out what elements you need to incorporate to create an outstanding paper. Let us show you how to write an argumentative essay step by step.

What Is an Argumentative Essay

An argumentative essay is a common academic assignment that requires a student to discuss a controversial view or idea. Argumentative writing is different from expository and analytical pieces because it requires its author to take a stance and prove that his or her point of view is correct.  It is not a piece of cake as a person needs to apply critical thinking skills, use persuasive techniques, and be able to refute opposing opinions to create a successful essay. 

Argument Types

Traditionally, we distinguish three types of arguments: the Toulmin argument, the Rogerian argument, and the Aristotelian argument. They help to organize an essay and persuade a reader in the veracity of your words. 

  • The Toulmin argument

This argument type is based on the statement of opinion, which is grounded on solid facts and data from reliable sources. The author should link their claims to the grounds and provide additional support. It allows introducing an opposing thought and providing a counter-argument, using a “rebuttal.” 

  • The Rogerian argument

The Rogerian argument allows recognizing the existence of opposing opinions before you introduce your own claim. This type of argument has the aim of finding a compromise between the two sides. Thus, the author should work towards a balanced view discussing any controversial issue. 

  • The Aristotelian argument

Using the Aristotelian argument, you should express your claim and convince the reader that it is true. First, introduce the problem and take a stance. Then, mention the opposing opinion and prove it is wrong, providing undeniable evidence. Ethos, pathos, and logos can serve you as persuasion tools.

The Aristotelian argument

The Elements of Argumentative Essays

  • Clear and concise language 
  • Arguable argumentative essays topics
  • Thorough research of a controversial issue
  • Organized structure of an argumentative essay
  • Persuasive techniques 
  • Logical argument
  • Effective transitions between paragraphs
  • Strong evidence and reason

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Argumentative Essay Format

Proper structure is the foundation of a successful paper. You need to understand the structure of an argumentative essay before formulating your arguments. So, how to organize a good argumentative essay? Start with a compelling introduction, add 3-4 purposeful body paragraphs, and create a reasonable conclusion. Take a close look at the argumentative essay format. 

Argumentative Essay Outline

You should carefully organize and structure your essay. It will help the reader to understand your point. Your argument and reasoning must be evident and clear. The traditional outline includes the following components:

  1. Introduction with a thesis statement
  2. Body:
  • Paragraph 1 that discusses your first claim
  • Paragraph 2 that discusses your second claim
  • Paragraph 3 that discusses your third claim (optional)
  • Paragraph 4 that considers and refutes opposing opinions
  1. Conclusion

How to Start an Argumentative Essay

If you feel intimidated by a blank page and do not know how to start an argumentative essay introduction, pause and think about your argument. You should clearly understand what you are going to write about. Determine why you are interested in the topic and why it is relevant for society in general. 

The introductory paragraph does not have to be long. You need only 3-5 sentences to introduce the topic. Start with a hook, which will catch the reader’s attention. You may use a quotation, provide statistics, or address the audience directly by asking a question. 

For example:

  • Nelson Mandela once said that “the greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
  • As the Inter-Parliamentary Union reports, only 17% of government ministers are female. 
  • Are people morally obliged to save the planet? 

Then, provide general information about the topic and outline the context within which you will discuss it. Finally, create a thoughtful thesis statement as the last sentence of the introductory paragraph. 

Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is one of the most important elements of an argumentative essay. It should be formulated in a way that makes it arguable, allowing the reader to support it or disagree. A thesis statement reflects the main claim of the paper. It should be precise and give the reader a hint about the author’s position and findings. For an argumentative essay, you can either state your main point or mention the opposing view and refute it right away.  Remember that each body paragraph should support the thesis statement and provide claims with adequate reasoning. 

Thesis Statement

Body

A typical body of an argumentative essay usually includes 3-4 paragraphs. Each must focus on one particular claim that is connected with the thesis statement. Make sure you provide your reasoning for each idea. You can use proven facts, statistical data, examples, and quotations of professionals to make your argument look trustworthy. 

Each paragraph of the main body requires the following format:

  1. Topic sentence with a claim that backs up the thesis statement
  2. Evidence 1 that supports the first sentence with reasoning
  3. Evidence 2 that supports the first sentence with reasoning
  4. Evidence 3 that supports the first sentence with reasoning
  5. Concluding sentence

However, the last body paragraph has a slightly different format. Here you should address the claims of your opponents and prove them wrong. It allows you to discuss the problem from various perspectives and make your writing look more reliable for the reader. This paragraph includes:

  1. Opposing view with its description
  2. Refutation of the opponents’ claims

Conclusion 

A good concluding paragraph will reinforce your arguments. Ideally, it should summarize your claims and motivate the audience to research the topic further. Do not add any new information, only restate your argument, so that your audience knows what is most important in your piece of writing. It would be a good idea to appeal to the emotions of your readers and include your personal experience.

How to Write an Argumentative Essay Step by Step

You must be wondering: what are the steps in writing an argumentative essay? The writing process can be generally divided into six smaller chunks of work. Let us look at them more closely.

Come Up with an Idea

To find a suitable topic for your argumentative essay, you should find a controversial issue you care about. Then, you can practice brainstorming to gather the thoughts you have about it. It would be a good idea to create a mind map, diagram, or list with the ideas that come up in your mind. When they are written down, it will be easy to sort them and form claims on their basis. Besides, you can use such preparation for creating an outline of your argumentative essay. 

Gather Evidence 

You need to find solid evidence to make sure that your viewpoint is correct and to persuade the audience in the credibility of your words. Research the topic of your choice and choose the facts, statistics, and quotes you can potentially use in the paper. Focus only on reliable sources, such as books, scholarly journals, websites of governmental organizations, etc. You need to find a piece of evidence to support each claim you make and then comment on it. 

Plan and Organize

It is necessary to create an outline of a 5 paragraph essay to make it organized and well-structured. You should use the basic structure we mentioned before as a template and insert your claims and pieces of evidence in it. The plan does not have to be detailed. You just need to write short phrases that will put everything in order. This outline will guide you during the next step, which is the actual writing process. 

Write

This step is the most responsible one as you need to put together all the information you have found and clearly formulate your argument. Start with an introductory paragraph and think carefully about the thesis statement. It is the basis of your paper, as all the claims from the body must support your thesis statement. 

Do not forget to work on transitions between sentences. The argumentative essay must be smooth to allow you to persuade the audience. The smooth flow of the text, its logical structure, and the use of persuasive techniques will help you get the grade you want.  

Proofread

When you are through with the writing stage, you need to have some rest to go back to your argumentative essay with a fresh mind. Read your paper and correct grammar and style mistakes. Do not neglect this stage as, in most cases, the initial draft is imperfect and requires improvements. You know that your teacher can lower your grade even for spelling and punctuation mistakes. All your efforts will be in vain if you do not proofread the paper.

Submit

Even though all the hard work is done by this stage, submitting an argumentative essay may still be intimidating. However, you should not be afraid to get your work graded. It is a great chance to grow as a writer and develop your skills. We are sure that if you follow your assignment instructions and our guidelines, the result will be outstanding.

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FAQ

How many paragraphs should an argumentative essay have?

An argumentative essay should have 5-6 paragraphs: introduction, 3-4 body paragraphs, and conclusion. This depends on your assignment and word count limits. Be sure to include at least 2 body paragraphs with your claims and 1 paragraph that refutes an opposing view. 

Can I use personal experiences in an argumentative essay?

Yes, you can use personal experience as evidence to support your argument in an argumentative essay. However, make sure that it relates to the topic and adds something unique to your claims. 

How do I introduce an argument?

You can introduce an argument by outlining the context of an issue and providing some background information. Provide solid evidence to make it credible and formulate it in a well-thought-out thesis statement.

Can I use first person in an argumentative essay?

As an argumentative essay is a formal piece of writing, you should refrain from using first-person pronouns. Stay impersonal even when you choose a specific viewpoint and prove that it is correct.

Example of Argumentative Essay

Look through this example of an argumentative essay. It is formatted according to the APA style guidelines, but when writing your paper, you should use the citation style required by your teacher: MLA, Harvard, Chicago citation, etc. 

Higher Education Increases the Chances of Employment

Today the necessity of higher education becomes controversial. Some people refuse to acquire a college degree. They claim it to be an old-fashioned way of learning that only imposes outdated norms, standards, and decision-making patterns on students. On the contrary, there are those who believe that higher education is essential for better employment opportunities as it gives excellent preparation for the future job. Nevertheless, although college education undergoes some critique, it is still useful for building a successful career, seeking employment, and improving promotion chances.

First, university education increases the chances of being successfully employed. Organizations are often looking for people with a formal degree to be sure that these candidates have sufficient knowledge and qualifications for the job. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2019), students with a bachelor’s degree demonstrate the highest employment rate, which constitutes 86%, in comparison with non-graduates. An academic degree makes people more sustainable as a part of the labor market. In addition, it becomes a decisive factor for occupying certain jobs, for example, at a hospital or research institution. Therefore, higher education enhances employment chances. 

Second, higher education allows students to have more opportunities for personal development, which is useful for improving future promotion chances. According to Kopzhassarova et al. (2016), the curriculum of most educational institutions is built with a focus on independent learning that enhances critical thinking skills. This helps students to learn how to analyze, structure, and interpret information. Moreover, they can become more responsible and improve personal discipline. Thus, education allows students to develop the skills necessary for promotion. 

Finally, college and university graduates are more likely to get the desired job and eventually earn more. As the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2019) claims, the salaries of people with a formal degree tend to be higher than those of non-graduates. Most organizations set higher education as a requirement for their vacancies. This means that employers value people with qualifications and recognize the importance of education. Thus, graduating from a college or university gives a significant advantage for employment and potentially higher salaries. 

Naturally, some people doubt the necessity of higher education. They believe that young people gain experience and soft skills easier through practice. What is more, college or university education is expensive and sometimes not effective. It does not provide enough practice and soft skills training. However, a solid knowledge base students get at educational institutions is undeniable. It allows them to grow as professionals and become competent experts in their subject area. Besides, they can still get practice as most educational programs allow students to participate in the actual working process during internships. Thus, higher education can get the necessary experience in addition to theoretical knowledge. 

To sum up, higher education provides a solid competitive advantage in the long term. It multiplies employment chances for graduates and allows them to earn more. Although universities may not always provide students with all the skills, a diploma is still valued by most employers. Therefore, acquiring higher education is the right way to successful employment.

References

Kopzhassarova, U., Akbayeva, G., Eskazinova, Z., Belgibayeva, G., & Tazhikeyeva, A. (2016). Enhancement of students’ independent learning through their critical thinking skills development. International Journal of Environmental & Science Education, 11(18),11585-11585.

National Center for Education Statistics. (2019). Employment rates of college graduates. https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=561

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2019, September 4). Unemployment rates and earnings by educational attainment. https://www.bls.gov/emp/chart-unemployment-earnings-education.htm

In Conclusion 

Argumentative essays can be rather challenging as you need to present your argument and prove it is the correct viewpoint. It requires critical thinking skills and basic knowledge of argument types. Besides, the structure of an argumentative essay is not a piece of cake as apart from your claims, you need to address the opposing opinions and prove them wrong. All of these aspects can be successfully handled with the help of proper preparation, organized writing process, and attentive proofreading. 

With this information, you can cope with an argumentative essay without services that provide custom essay writing. However, if you feel that you need help with your assignment, feel free to contact EssayService. You can find a qualified writer on our essay writing service to assist you in writing or editing your paper. This way, you will get the grade you want without extra effort.

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