How to Write an Argumentative Essay
Published byat August 16th, 2021 , Revised On June 29, 2022
An argument essay presents an original argument for a given thesis statement. In an argumentative essay, the author takes a clear stand on the topic and justify their position with supporting evidence material.
While there are many types of essays, an argumentative essay is hands down the most popular type of essay at the college and university level.
When Should You Write an Argumentative Essay
You could be asked to produce an argumentative essay in a composition class or as a course assignment. In most cases, the essay brief will prompt you to argue for one of two positions.
An argumentative essay title includes keywords such as “argument”, “assert”, “claim”, and usually take the form of a question.
The title of an argumentative essay can be either open or two-sided. Here are examples of argumentative titles, so you know when to write an argumentative essay.
Open argumentative essay title
What was the most outstanding achievement of Manchester United FC under Sir Alexander Chapman Ferguson CBE?
Two-sided argumentative essay title
Has distance learning had a positive or negative impact on education?
Writing an Argumentative Essay for College or University Assignment
Most essay assignments at the college and university level involve some sort of argumentation. For example, literary analysis and rhetorical analysis also build up arguments about the text.
Even when the essay prompt does not tell you to write an argumentative essay, you should remember that the goal of academic writing in most cases is to express an argument and back it with evidence. This means that your default approach to essay writing should be to make evidence-based arguments unless you are told otherwise.
Examples of Argumentative Essay Titles
The following essay titles suggest that the essays in response should be argumentative in nature.
You will be able to develop an exact position as you dig deep to collect data and improve your knowledge. Once you have taken a defined stance, you will need to express the essay’s main argument and convince the reader to agree to your position by presenting analysis, evidence, and evaluation.
Discuss the effects of climate change on the human population.
- The above title does not merely ask you to state all the effects of climate change you can think of.
- It would be best if you instead built a focused argument about the overall effects of climate change on the human population, stated the significance of your argument, and backed it up by providing evidence from authentic academic sources.
Evaluate the efficacy of anti-racism measures put in place at workplaces in the UK.
- Just providing a selection of statistics about anti-racism measures will not be sufficient.
- Present your argument about what measures have proved to be the most effective or least effective.
Assess the impact of the conquest of Constantinople in the 15th century on world history.
- Don’t just assess a few random details of the battle of Constantinople.
- Present your argument about the specific impact of the conquest of Constantinople on the power dynamics of the world.
How to Approach an Argumentative Essay
An argumentative essay should be based on rational thinking. The approach of the author should be objective in nature. Rather than basing your argument on emotions, you should rely on logic and evidence.
While there are many approaches to writing an argumentative essay, the two most common methods that would enable you to write a first-class piece are: The Rogerian method and the Toulmin method.
Toulmin Argument Building Model
The Toulmin method involves four key steps to build an argument. The same strategy can be applied throughout the essay where necessary.
- Make a claim
- Present yourevidence to support the claim
- Provide the warrantwhich explains the evidence support the claim
- State the potential refutationsto the claim, which involves establishing the limits of the argument to demonstrate that you took into consideration the alternates.
The Toulmin model is a popular argument-building strategy in academic essays. While using the specific terms (refutations, warrants, claim) is not necessary, you should show a clear link between your claim and the grounds of your claim in an argumentative essay.
For example, if you are making an argument about the efficacy of anti-racism measures put in place at workplaces in the UK, then you should follow these four steps:
- Enlighten that anti-racism training programs are not bringing about the desired results, and it would be better to invest the resources in other approaches.
- Back your claim with evidence from authentic academic sources. The evidence could take the form of numbers, statistics, and quotations.
- Explain how the data shows the inefficacy of the current training and educational programs.
- Expect objections to your argument based on counter data that might indicate why your argument is unsound, and so provide justifications accordingly.
Rogerian Argument Building Model
The Rogerian model of building an argument also involves four steps:
- Start by indicating what the counter-argument gets right and why people might agree to this argument.
- State the problems with the counter-argument.
- Present your argument and demonstrate how it solves the problem—showing why your position is stronger than the opposition will enable you to convince the reader.
- Suggest a possible middle-ground – what components of your argument would advocates of the opposing claim can adopt?
The Rogerian model is an interesting way to reach a compromise between two sides of an argument. It is advised to approach an argumentative essay with this method when people strongly disagree on the issue under discussion.
Also read: How to write a summative essay
For example, if you had to make an argument about the positive effects of distance learning on the quality of education, then you might:
- Recognize that distance learning has helped mature students upgrade their qualifications.
- Claim that many critics view distance learning as more unreliable than it really is.
- Argue that distance learning programs can enable many students worldwide to upgrade their skills without leaving the comfort of their homes.
- Suggest critical engagement with distance education providers as a possible task for opponents who doubt its effectiveness.
When writing an argumentative essay, you can use elements of both models. It is not necessary to stick to one of these two methods, but it would be helpful to do so to structure your argument appropriately.
However, regardless of the argument-building model you choose, your essay structure will include an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
How to Introduce an Argument in an Essay?
Like other essay types, an argumentative essay also begins with an introduction. This section includes a hook to grab the reader’s attention, background information to set up the main argument, a thesis statement, and a summary of the essay structure (for more extended essays).
Here is a how an introduction paragraph of an argumentative essay arguing for the positive effects of distance learning may look like:
Argumentative Essay Introduction Example
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The Body of Your Argumentative Essay
This is where you present the details to support your arguments. The main body of your argumentative essay should present analysis, evidence, and interpretation to persuade readers to agree with your viewpoint.
For a high school essay that typically follows the standard five-paragraph format, the body comprises three to four paragraphs. However, there will be many more paragraphs in a university-level longer essay, and so the body can be divided into dedicated sections with headings.
Each paragraph starts with a topic sentence that must support the central argument. Avoid presenting any irrelevant information here.
Here is an example of a paragraph taken from the main body of an argumentative essay on the positive effects of distance learning on education.
Argumentative Essay Main Body Paragraph Example
How to Conclude Your Argument?
Your argumentative essay should end with a conclusion that provides a summary of the points discussed in the main body.
Refrain from presenting any new information here. The conclusion of an argumentative essay is made up of a concise summary or synthesis of the arguments made in the main body, the significance and relevance of your argument, and the strengths and weaknesses of your argument.
Argumentative Essay Conclusion Example
Frequently Asked Questions
An argumentative essay is arguably the most popular type of essay in academic writing. It involves independent research and presenting an original argument about the topic in discussion in the form of a thesis statement. The claim made in the thesis statement must be supported by evidence and analysis.
An expository essay aims to explain an idea, topic, or process clearly and concisely. It does not express an original argument but is somewhat objective in nature. Expository essays are almost always less extensive as compared to argumentative essays.
All essays written for college and university level assignments should include in-text citations and a list of references. You should use citations in an appropriate referencing style whenever you quote or paraphrase any information from another academic source. The in-text citations must match the items in the list of references or bibliography at the end of your essay.
It would be best to use the referencing style or citation style according to your institution’s instructions. Harvard referencing is the most popular style of academic referencing in the UK.
Most essays at university are argumentative. Unless told otherwise, you should aim to build an argument in an essay you have been assigned.
Argumentative essays include keywords like ‘discuss’, ‘claim’, ‘evaluate’, ‘argue’, so look out for these keywords and instructions in the essay title.
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