How to Write Argumentative Essay

and what you have to know to avoid extra efforts

If you ask one of the sources most favored by students (a.k.a. Wikipedia) what an argument is, you will get the following definition:

In logic and philosophy, an argument is a series of statements typically used to persuade someone of something or to present reasons for accepting a conclusion.

It is only logical to assume that an argumentative essay will do the same, i.e. present arguments to support a certain opinion. A lot has been said about persuasive writing, but, in fact, only one out of five students knows how to do it properly. Here are a few quick tips (based on the experience of previous generations) to help you understand the basics.

The structure

There are various possible structures to use in an argumentative essay. I, however, strongly recommend you to use this one:

  1. Introductory paragraph with a thesis statement
  2. A few paragraphs to support your thesis
  3. An opposing point of view and its refutation
  4. Conclusion

NB: Title and references pages are included by default.

Some prefer to alternate contradicting arguments through the body part. I myself prefer (and naturally recommend) the above structure as it facilitates a smoother flow of thought. You won’t have to jump between pros and cons. Instead, you will describe why you are right first, and why other people are wrong after. It is simply more convenient that way.

ND: Create a Word file and use text boxes to visualize the structure of your essay. They will be handy to store in and sort out your ideas before you write the first draft.

The topic

Trust me, there are more than just a few good topics out there. Some people will recommend you to avoid traditional and overused ones saying that you won’t find any new material. I say, go for it. If you care about abortions or legal use of marijuana, why not write about it? Interest in a certain area beats any reasons to discard it. Write about something exciting, something that matters, and most importantly – something that is not a generally accepted truth.

NB: If you have ever gotten drunk and philosophized until morning, you already know how to write an argumentative essay. I am not offering you to boost creativity with alcohol, but looking for a topic to write among the things you argued over with your friends is a good start.

Research

You already know everything about it, right? There is no other way to do it but the traditional one. All I can recommend here is to make it as harmless as possible. Allocate a day or two to deal with books. Make yourself a good nice cup of coffee and prepare snacks. Find a comfortable place to study. Banish your roommates and turn off your phone if necessary. You have to deal with it. And the sooner you are done, the better.

NB: If you are not taking any notes in the course of reading, at least write down where the ideas are taken from. Otherwise, you might end up rereading the entire stack when preparing the reference list.

Putting it all together

Once you have filled up the text boxes with appropriate arguments and writing ideas, you can start blending it all together. Be sure to spice your essay with link words that will reveal cause-and-effect relationships (just to be on the safe side) and enumerate your arguments. Then set your essay aside and don’t even look at it for a couple of days. Then edit and proofread it. Sigh with relief and hand it in. You have done everything you could, and more worrying won’t help.

NB: When you receive your graded paper, analyze the mistakes. I know it sounds obvious, but you will be surprised to know how much it might help.