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What Are the Different Types of Persuasive Essay?

Published by at August 17th, 2021 , Revised On June 29, 2022

If you have been asked by your academic tutor to write an essay but are unsure what type of essay you should write, then this article will serve as a guide to help you distinguish between different types of essays.

Academic essays require authors to present their viewpoints and arguments on a range of topics with reasoning and evidence. So, what is a persuasive essay, and what are the different styles of persuasive essay writing?

This article aims to discuss the similarities and differences between the most common types of persuasive essays, including argumentative, expository, discursive, and exegetical.

All these four types of essays can be combined under one essay group: persuasive essays. As the name suggests, persuasive essays are developed to persuade readers to believe the author’s opinions and arguments.

Here is all you need to know if you are unsure about the different types of persuasive essays.

Types of Persuasive Essays, with Definitions

Before you look into the similarities and differences between the different types of persuasive essays, it will be sensible to define these four kinds of essays briefly.

While it is important to recognise the characteristics and features that differentiate the various types of persuasive essays, it is equally important to consider the writer’s role.

Here is a similar article; How to Write an Essay?

Argumentative Essays

Argumentative essays give authors and scholars the chance to convince their readers that there is something new in their research area that needs to be considered. This is likely to be a result of collection of data by the author. Argumentative essays are the most popular type of essay at the college and university level.

A well written argumentative essay improves the scholar’s credibility and authority in the respective field of research.

The Purpose of an Argumentative Essay

  •  An argumentative essay’s primary purpose is to add value to the existing literature in any given area of study.
  •  It involves in-depth research and consideration of the opinions of others.
  •  Arguments are backed by evidence.
  •  Argumentative essays are generally longer than other types of essays.
  •  The author should have implications and recommendations for other academicians in the future; they should be original and clearly positioned in existing debates surrounding the essay topic.

What is the Role of the Author in an Argumentative Essay?

The role of the author in an argumentative essay is significant. Based on a given thesis statement, you will be required to demonstrate that your own personal opinions and viewpoints should be considered a new approach, and focus on how this new approach will add value to the existing literature.

This type of essay should be based on rational thinking, with an objective approach from the author. Logic and evidence should take precedence.

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Expository Essays

This particular type of persuasive essay helps to persuade the readers to believe the conclusions of the author through a critical evaluation of the literature material. It should present a balanced and objective argument using readily available material on the topic. The word ‘expository’ is from the word ‘expose’, meaning to lay bare and reveal something. A likely part of your coursework, an expository essay reveals and discusses the evidence around the topic in question.

The Purpose of an Expository Essay

  •  All expository essays intend to grab the attention of the readers by presenting a unique discussion about a topic.
  •  You will be required to back your reasoning with solid evidence.
  •  As an author of an expository essay, you must demonstrate your ability to create an argumentative view and provide the necessary framework.
  •  You will be expected to showcase the ability to critically evaluate information.
  •  An expository essay must include the reasoning for the readers to accept your view as convincing and conclusive.

What is the Role of the Author in an Expository Essay?

Your role in an expository essay assignment is substantial because you will be expected to convince the readers that they should consider your findings on the topic as the most formidable. This can be achieved through thoroughly critical and independent analysis.

The evidence you present for the argument should not be your own opinions and the essay should not show bias. As the essay progresses, it should become clear that one viewpoint or set of evidence is the more convincing; it should not be achieved through the subjective view of the author. Therefore, you should not use the pronouns ‘I’ or ‘you’.

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Discursive Essays

Discursive essays are the less common type of academic persuasive essays. They aim to convince the readers that there is another approach to a topic and that it is important to consider all sides of the debate before coming to any conclusion. It does not necessarily look at polarising for-and-against arguments, there may be several competing, nuanced viewpoints.

If your tutor does not specifically state “Write a discursive essay”, you can deduce the type of essay you are being asked to write from the thesis statement: It should not take any stance on the argument or ask you to do so. An example of such a thesis statement is this:

“Where some studies show that the use of IT in primary classrooms is beneficial to learning, other studies suggest there is no benefit or that it can be detrimental.”

The Purpose of a Discursive Essay

  •  Discursive essays aim to discuss different viewpoints surrounding any given topic. The views presented in discursive essays can be either taken from recognised arguments in existing studies or be the writer’s own.
  •  It should present both sides of an argument and then the author’s stance.
  •  It should be based on correct logic and interpretation.
  •  The author needs to showcase the ability to consider all views fairly and without any bias.

What is the Role of the Author in a Discursive Essay?

Discursive essays do not require the authors to play a significant role in terms of presenting their own views, except that they should clearly differentiate between arguments of other scholars and act as a guide to opposing interpretations. This said, the tone should be formal and balanced without use of the personal pronouns ‘I’ and ‘you’.

The author should be impartial to the various viewpoints. The essay body should develop all sides of the argument equally, providing the same quantity of evidence in support of each. The conclusion should not deliver a definitive answer, it should leave the reader in the position of being able to weigh up the evidence.

The main role of the author in a discursive essay is to present and explore ideas, not to persuade the readers that one idea is best.

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Exegetical Essay

Exegetical essays help writers persuade their readers to understand a certain concept in a new light – giving the writers the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities to understand and interpret challenging topics. This type of essay is frequently used in the examination of religious writings, as many ancient religious texts are interpreted in different ways.

The structure of an exegetical essay is similar to that of other persuasive essays. It has an introduction, main body, and a conclusion.

The Purpose of an Exegetical Essay

  • Exegetical essays aim to provide an exegesis (correct interpretation) of the theories and viewpoints of other authors who have explored a particular topic in the past.
  • Appraisal of arguments and theories on the topic is beyond the scope of this particular type of persuasive essay.
  • The essay should provide reasoning, evidence, and logic concerning viewpoints and theories.

What is the Role of the Author in an Exegetical Essay?

The writer plays little to no role in exegetical essays because the aim is to present other authors’ views. The meaning of exegesis is to explain to the readers what the original writer said – to make it clearer and more accessible. It is not to argue, change, or add anything to that original view.

Difference Between Persuasive Essays and Scientific Articles

The most notable difference between scientific articles and persuasive essays is that scientific articles and journal papers present the facts as they can be seen by anyone else. In contrast, in persuasive essays, the author’s own opinions are the driving force.

How to Write Persuasive Essays

While there are similarities and differences between different types of persuasive essays, it is important to recognise the fact that the author of a persuasive essay may have to mix these approaches in one essay.

For example, you might have to present a brief exegesis of another author’s viewpoints to support your arguments as part of your own argumentative essay. It is possible to have many such combinations but in general, when working with an argumentative essay you will also need to use one or more of the other three styles: exegetical, discursive, and expository.

While there are four types of persuasive essays, all of them are argumentative in nature. You should not be surprised when you see people refer to all these styles of persuasive essay writing as argumentative essays.

The term “argumentative essay”, loosely speaking, is applicable to all four types of persuasive essays because they all involve an expert presentation of arguments to persuade the audience to believe something.

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Writing a Persuasive Essay Checklist

Frequently Asked Questions

Sometimes you will have clear instructions to write a particular type of essay. But on occasion you will have to deduce for yourself what is required by examining the key words in the prompt. The key words used in prompts are suggestive of what is required, but it is not a fixed code. There can be overlap where one key word could mean writing one type of essay or another. If you are unsure, you should seek help to make sure you have the appropriate approach when you start your essay.

Generally, when you see the words ‘assess’ or ‘argue’, you might be required to write an argumentative essay. The words ‘explain’ and ‘explore’, or being asked to ‘compare & contrast’ something suggests that an expository essay is needed. If you are asked to ‘demonstrate’ something, this is likely to require a discursive essay. An exegetical essay could be the requirement when you are asked to ‘clarify’, but the same essay could also be needed if asked to ‘explain’.

The most common form of essay at university is an argumentative essay. Argumentative is by no means a fixed and singular type – there are different types of essays under this heading. The large majority of academic writing comprises making arguments around a vast number of topics. There are several other types of essays; working out what you have been asked to write can often be found by examining the essay prompt or asking an expert.

About Grace Graffin

"Grace has a bachelor's and a master's degree from Loughborough University, so she's an expert at writing a flawless essay. She has worked as a professional writer and editor, helping students of at all academic levels to improve their academic writing skills."