How to Write an Argumentative Essay
An argumentative essay is a piece of writing that addresses a controversial problem from a particular standpoint and justifies the applicability of that approach to the reader. This activity presupposes a considerable amount of preliminary research on the topic you are about to address. Writing an argumentative essay is a thought provoking process which demands concentration, attention to detail and the ability to articulate one’s points clearly. It is not surprising, therefore, that an argumentative essay is a popular assignment in colleges and universities in courses that touch upon the issues of politics, science, and humanities.
In other words, the purpose of an argumentative essay is to make the audience acknowledge the reasonability of a particular approach towards a disputable issue. This goal is commonly achieved by outlining all sides of the argument and providing solid research in support of the one the author finds appropriate.
It is necessary not to confuse an argumentative essay with two other common assignments, namely:
- An expository essay – the purpose of this type of writing is to present the existing debate on an issue to the reader. However, as the name of the essay suggests, the purpose is only to outline the differing perspective on the matter without conducting in-depth research on their rationalizations. Therefore, expository assignments often precede argumentative writing as they allow a student to gather general information on their topics of interest to elaborate on their investigations later on.
- A persuasive essay which compels the reader to agree with the writer’s point of view instead of merely presenting that perspective in sufficient detail.
The latter definition compels us to take a closer look on the subtle differences between argumentative and persuasive writing, which are:
- Argumentative writing is based on facts. Statistics and credible research are the key sources used for an effective argumentative essay. Anecdotic evidence is permissible, but it must be used sparingly and come from stakeholders for the chosen problem. For example, when writing on political topics, it is appropriate to conduct an interview with people holding certain political views. Persuasive writing, on the other side, presupposes blending facts with emotions to make the author’s standpoint appealing in addition to being reasonable.
- The previous point justifies the differential research tactics for these essay types.
- For an argumentative essay, you need to research your topic in significant detail. It is important to look into all sides of the discussion to acknowledge the arguments given by the opposition and refute them thoroughly.
- While research on the the subject matter is significant for persuasive writing as well, it also requires identifying the target audience and researching it in order to develop effective strategies of influence.
Argumentative Essay Structure
Diligent and thorough research on the topic is only a part of success in argumentative writing. You must make sure that your essay is structured properly to ensure that the arguments you present are clear and easy for the reader to follow. A proper argumentative essay consists of at least five paragraphs including introduction, body paragraphs (at least three of them), and conclusion. Let’s have a closer look at each of the sections.
The purpose of this opening paragraph is to explain to the reader what you are writing about. Introduce your topic briefly and mention why it is important to consider opposing viewpoints and take a stance on the matter. The introduction shall close with a thesis statement that presents your position on the topic and provides a few supporting arguments which will serve as the basis for the body of the paper.
As already mentioned, a typical brief argumentative essay has three body paragraphs that support thesis statement by elaborating on the arguments mentioned in it.
Things to remember when writing body paragraphs:
- Start with the topic sentence which connects the paragraph to your thesis by rephrasing the argument the paragraph will focus on.
- Make sure that each body paragraph addresses a single subtopic of the paper. It is necessary to avoid jumping from one point to another.
- It is always a good idea to devote one of the body paragrap[hs to the discussion of the perspective that opposes the one that you are arguing for.
- Neither start nor finish your paragraphs with cited information. Remember that the bulk of your essay must be comprised of your own analysis based on the available research results.
This paragraph closes the essay by restating the main points and finishing with a rephrased thesis statement. An important thing to bear in mind is that you should not introduce any new points in this section. It means, for example, that no cited information should be included in the concluding paragraph.
Steps in Writing an Argumentative Essay
- Decide on the topic.
- Research it well before you start writing. Do not assume that you will get an idea what to look into in the process of writing, you should have a clear vision of what to discuss before starting.
- Introduce the topic briefly.
- End the introduction with the thesis statement that restates the problem, states the proposed solution, and provides several arguments in its favor. The alternative viewpoints should be acknowledged as well.
- Start each of your body paragraphs with a topic sentence that indicates which of the arguments will be discussed next. Explain the claim in more detail. Support your argument with examples from research, statistics or anecdotal evidence (if appropriate). Close the paragraph by reminding the reader why this argument is important for understanding your thesis statement.
- Close your essay with the conclusion that summarizes its main points.