How to Write A Good Argumentative Essay

Introduction

The argumentative essay is the most common essay that every student has to write at some point in their school life, whether in high school standardized tests or college write-ups. Making an effective stand as to why you take a specific position as opposed to another is not just for the debate club. So, if you have always wanted to be in a debate contest but could not talk yourself into standing in front of a crowd of spectators, this is your chance to redeem your cool self. In this article, we will cover the following areas:

·         What is an argumentative essay?

·         What are some of the features of an argumentative essay?

·         how to write a good argumentative essay step by step

·         Popular types of arguments

·         How should one write a strong argument?

·         Examples of argumentative essays

·         Some interesting argumentative essay topics

Definition

An argumentative essay is a piece of writing that requires the writer to argue for a position on a specific subject. In a bid to persuade the reader, a writer introduces a strong argument and backs it up with facts, meaning that research is an essential part of writing the essay. While writing the say, you should remember what the goal is (to persuade the audience). It may help to imagine yourself as the audience – if you were the reader, would you be persuaded to agree with the writer’s point of view?

For instance, assuming your argumentative essay is highlights how drug abuse has increased crime rates in your neighborhood, it is not enough to assume your knowledge about your neighborhood is sufficient. Such a topic would require factual support such as how prevalent drug abuse is and the number of crimes linked with the same. You may need to interview residents in your neighborhood and even seek information from authorities in your area.

Features of an Argumentative Essay   

An argumentative essay has numerous characteristics that can guide you to writing an award-winning argumentative essay. They include:

·         An interesting topic that is debatable, researchable, manageable and current

A debatable topic is one that can be argued in more than one way. For instance, the topic about the role of drug abuse in increasing crime rates is debatable because there are many other factors that trigger increased crime rates. It could be argued that drug abuse has no significant relation to high crime rates. On the other hand, a researchable topic should make it easy for a writer to source credible information to support their claim. For the above topic, a writer can use state or county websites to check crime rates and current drug abuse data, and establish a link between the two. Alternatively, they may choose to interview officials in charge of either matter and gain credible information to use in their essay. Further, a manageable topic is one that allows the writer to cover all it aspects within the essay. This means that the topic should not be too broad. Finally, current topics are more reasonable to use for argumentative essays as most people have a clue about them and thus, can have an opinion on the same.

·         A thesis that is debatable

All essays require writers to develop a strong thesis. Since an argumentative essay entails picking a side and explaining your reasons for doing so, a debatable thesis is essential. It not only communicates the argument to your audience but also leaves room for them to disagree or agree with you, depending on their stance regarding the subject.  

·         Factual background information

Background information is important in argumentative essay as it informs readers about the topic of discussion and shapes their perspective. Like all other information, the background information needs to be based on facts, not assumptions.

·         Smooth transitions

Transitions are an important feature for any essay, more so argumentative essays. The smoother the transition the easier your essay is to understand. Smooth transitions show that you have a good understanding of the topic, and you are a competent researcher.

·         Exhaustive research

The importance of conducting thorough research cannot be downplayed. As mentioned above, extensive research improves a writer’s understanding of the topic and makes their interpretation of the same flawless. It also gets rid of possible ambiguities and clearly explains your position regarding the topic subject.

·         Logos, pathos and ethos

Logos is defined as logic; pathos as the use of emotion; and ethos as the utilization of credibility. A writer must use logic if they are to persuade readers, hence the importance of logos. However, logic alone cannot win a reader over, which is where pathos comes in. Persuasion is often linked to emotional investment. For instance, the use of pathos in marketing is very common and has earned advertising companies a lot of success. The same applies to integrating pathos in argumentative essays. The more emotionally invested the audience is, the more likely it is to persuade them. Then there is ethos, which is the integration of credibility. It involves supporting your arguments with information from credible sources and is a highly recommended strategy.

Argumentative Essay Structure

The structure of an argumentative essay is guided by two popular models; the Toulmin model and the Rogerian model. The Toulmin model is more popularly used and includes the following elements: introduction, thesis statement and data to support the writer’s position. Counterarguments and rebuttals are also a common feature in this model. On the other hand, the Rogerian model requires a writer to examine two sides of an argument by including the strengths and weaknesses of each, and concluding by choosing one of the two.

The basic structure of argumentative essays is as follows:

1.      Introduction

The introductory paragraph is always the first paragraph of any essay, whether argumentative or not. Here, the writer introduces the topic by providing the background information relevant in increasing the reader’s understanding of the argument. For instance, if the topic was about whether women should receive more income than men, a writer may consider discussing the history of pay gaps as their background information, before making their claim.

2.      Thesis statement

The thesis is always included as the last sentence of the introductory paragraph. When writing an argumentative essay, a thesis statement communicates the main point and makes readers aware of the writer’s stance on the subject of interest. For instance, in the above-mentioned topic, the writer may choose to agree or disagree with the idea that women deserve higher incomes than men.   

3.      Body paragraphs

In the body of the essay, the writer explains their reasons for making the claims represented in the thesis statement, with supporting evidence from credible sources. The number of body paragraphs required for an argumentative essay are the same with any other type of essay – a minimum of three. Each paragraph communicates a different idea from the other, and begins with a topic sentence followed by supporting evidence and an explanation. An important step in writing body paragraphs is the inclusion of a counterargument, which goes a long way to show your position and persuade your audience.

4.      Conclusion

In the conclusion, you as the writer must restate your thesis statement and summarize the arguments made in the body paragraphs. The conclusion is not a place to bring in new information, rather, use it to make the reader more emotionally invested, and persuade them that your point of view is theirs as well. Considering the need for persuasion, some writers prefer to include their personal experience with the subject of discussion.  

Popular Argument Types

Nothing is as good as having an idea of popularly used argument techniques because it helps a writer stick with the strategy that works best for them. Some of the common ones as explained in  are as follows:

·         Narrative arguments

Narrative arguments entail telling a story that is related to your argument. These type of arguments are helpful in appealing to the reader’s emotions. For example, while discussing whether women deserve to receive higher incomes than men, a writer may narrate a story of a single mother who has to work two jobs to provide for her family, and the emotional and physical effort it takes her to do so.

·         Rebuttal arguments

A rebuttal argument is based on stating counter-arguments, or in other words, challenging what has been the norm in the past. For instance, in the above-mentioned topic, it may help to show how higher incomes for men affirmed them as the superior gender and the problems that arose from that. 

·         Causal arguments

Causal arguments are based on making an argument about how a specific situation has led to the occurrence of another. The earlier topic regarding the link between drug abuse and crime rates can use this argument strategy, where the reader discussed drug abuse first, then proceeds to link it to increased crime rates.

·         Evaluative arguments

Evaluative arguments are based on whether something is “good” or “bad”. This is done by first identifying the criteria for evaluation. For example, evaluating the issue of gender pay gaps and whether they are good or bad, a writer must first establish what good is and what bad is in regards to the same.

·         Proposal arguments

These arguments require a writer to provide a solution to a problem. As such, the argument begins with highlighting the problem and the supporting evidence includes a possible solution(s). For instance, if the problem in question is gender pay gaps, you may want to argue for a proposal that helps attain equal pay for both genders.

Writing a Strong Argument

When writing an argumentative essay, you want to build a strong argument, as it gives you more room to persuade your audience. You can turn any topic, boring or interesting, into a persuasive argumentative essay by composing a strong argument. One of the important tips for developing a strong argument is a strong thesis statement . No matter what your background information says, the thesis statement decides whether a reader goes through your essay or not. Thus, besides communicating your ideas, making it as captivating as possible, to make the reader want to find out more.

Another tip is to develop clear topic sentences that discuss exactly what is needed instead of taking the reader in circles. The topic sentences in your body paragraphs should be brief and in sync with the thesis statement. Also, the transition from one paragraph to the next should be smooth. This means your work should feel like reading an interesting story that does not leave the reader wondering how ideas relate to each other. For more effectiveness, concrete evidence should be provided (as has severally been mentioned in the article).

The final tip is to make the conclusion equally interesting. Do NOT introduce any new ideas here; focus on summing up the ones already discussed in a nice way and showing the audience your mastery of the subject being discussed. Anything that appeals to the reader’s emotion in the conclusion is a plus.   

Example Topic: How Close is Reality TV to Real Life?

Introduction

o   Research the background of reality TV and summarize it into a captivating background.

Thesis Statement

o   Develop a thesis statement (Could be something like: reality TV is in no way close to real life as it only represents a very small percentage of the population)

Body Paragraphs

o   Develop clear topic sentences that are aligned with the thesis statement, and communicate your claims

o   Provide supporting evidence from credible sources

Examples of Possible Topic Sentences

o   The voyeuristic element of reality shows is hardly a unifying factor for individuals in real life

o   Reality TV is an attempt to simulate real life

o   The characters of “ordinary people” depicted in reality TV is unrelated to those of ordinary people in real life

Counterargument

o   Reality TV includes the high and low moments people experience in real life

o   You can use this counterargument for your benefit by explaining that while highs and lows are part of real life, the portion of the population that relate to the experiences of characters in reality TV is very small.

Conclusion

o   Reinstate your thesis statement

o   Summarize the arguments made in the body paragraph

o   Include an example of real life situation that has been downplayed in reality TV in the past to appeal to the reader’s emotion  

Interesting Argumentative Essay Topics

1.      Here is a compilation of the top 20 interesting argumentative essay topics for any level:

2.      Should women receive more income that men?

3.      Being street smart is more rewarding than being book smart.

4.      Does performance in school determine one’s success in life?

5.      Homeschooling has more disadvantages than benefits.

6.      Technology has done more harm than good.

7.      Technology should only be left to adults.

8.      Vegetarians live a healthier lifestyle than meat lovers.

9.      Poor government policies are responsible for obesity.

10.  There should be one universal currency.

11.  Climate change mitigation is an impossible goal to achieve.

12.  Social media has made brought people closer than ever.

13.  Success is tied to individual socioeconomic background.

14.  Unavailable parents influence poor grades in school children.

15.  Showbiz is a business like any other.

16.  People in authority should be respected regardless of their actions.

17.  Gender is not a determining factor for a successful career.

18.  Sex education should be introduced as a subject in school.

19.  Religion keeps the world together.

20.  Paternity leaves are important as maternity leaves.