How to Write an Argumentative Essay: Examples & Tips
Writing an argumentative essay involves presenting a well-supported argument in favor of a particular thesis statement. Whether you encounter this task in high school or at the university level, mastering the art of argumentation is crucial. This article provides a guide on how to write an argumentative essay, along with examples and tips to enhance your writing skills.
When do you write an argumentative essay?
Argumentative essays are commonly assigned in high school or university composition classes. The prompts often ask you to take a stance on a particular issue and support it with evidence. The essay might be prompted by a specific question or a more open-ended topic.
Example 1: Two-sided argumentative essay prompt Has the rise of the internet had a net positive or negative impact on education? Support your argument with evidence.
Example 2: Open argumentative essay prompt What is the greatest challenge facing young people today?
At the university level, most essays involve some form of argumentation. Even if you are not explicitly asked to write an argumentative essay, making an evidence-based argument is a fundamental aspect of academic writing.
Examples of Argumentative Essay Prompts
Consider the following examples of argumentative essay prompts:
- Discuss the effects of globalization on the economy of Nigeria.
- Do develop a focused argument about the overall effect and why it matters, backed up by evidence from sources.
- Assess the effectiveness of workplace anti-discrimination measures in the last decade.
- Do build up your own argument about which kinds of measures have been most or least effective, and why.
- Analyze the role of the doppelgänger in 19th-century Gothic fiction.
- Do form an argument about specific texts, comparing and contrasting how they express their thematic concerns through doppelgänger characters.
Approaches to Argumentative Essays
Argumentative essays should maintain objectivity, relying on logic and evidence rather than emotional appeals. Two common models can help structure your arguments: the Toulmin model and the Rogerian model.
- Make a claim.
- Provide the grounds (evidence) for the claim.
- Explain the warrant (how the grounds support the claim).
- Discuss possible rebuttals to the claim, identifying the limits of the argument and showing consideration for alternative perspectives.
- Discuss what the opposing position gets right and why people might hold this position.
- Highlight the problems with this position.
- Present your own position, showing how it addresses these problems.
- Suggest a possible compromise—what elements of your position would proponents of the opposing position benefit from adopting?
While you don’t have to strictly adhere to one model, considering elements of both can enhance the structure of your essay.
Structuring Your Essay
Regardless of the approach you choose, every argumentative essay should have a clear structure comprising an introduction, body, and conclusion.
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Introducing Your Argument
Like other academic essays, an argumentative essay begins with an introduction. The introduction aims to capture the reader’s interest, provide background information, present the thesis statement, and outline the structure of the body.
Example Introduction: “The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts is on the rise, and its role in learning is hotly debated.”
Developing Your Argument
The body of an argumentative essay is where you present detailed evidence, analysis, and reasoning to convince the reader that your thesis statement is true. Each paragraph should contribute to your overall argument, and irrelevant information should be avoided.
Example Body Paragraph: “A common frustration for teachers is students’ use of Wikipedia as a source in their writing.”
Concluding Your Argument
The conclusion summarizes and reflects on the arguments made in the body. It does not introduce new arguments but may discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your argument and suggest topics for future research.
Example Conclusion: “The internet has had a major positive impact on the world of education; occasional pitfalls aside, its value is evident in numerous applications.”
In conclusion, mastering the art of writing argumentative essays involves understanding the prompt, developing a clear thesis, supporting your argument with evidence, and structuring your essay effectively. Whether you follow the Toulmin model, the Rogerian model, or a combination of both, maintaining objectivity and logical reasoning is key to crafting a compelling argumentative essay.