Argumentative essays can be very challenging because they require students to be bold and confident in their approach to essay writing. An example of an argumentative essay topic is “Students should not have to go to school but should be able to learn everything online and in virtual classrooms”. The aim of an argumentative essay should be present arguments that prove your opinion, based on strong, and valid evidence. Students often confuse argumentative essays with persuasive essays, but the focus in the argumentative essay is not based on the writer’s opinion so much as it is a presentation of valid and coherent arguments and well-researched evidence.
The Structure of an Argumentative Essay
As with any good essay, you should start with a strong introduction that sets out clearly what you intend to prove with your evidence and the arguments you will make in the main body. There are two models that can be highly effective in ensuring you deliver a professional, well-researched argumentative essay.
The Toulmin model is frequently used in many universities. It consists of an introduction to present the main arguments of the work, followed by a clear statement of intent regarding the purpose and focus of the paper. The body of the text provides data and evidence, in a paragraph-by-paragraph format, with one statement/argument per paragraph, along with supporting evidence. The model ends with a strong conclusion that demonstrates why the presented argument is accurate and valid, but also presents counter-arguments as part of the overall content.
The Rogerian model for an argumentative essay can often be confused with a compare and contrast essay, because it is focused on analysing two sides of an argument. However, the argumentative essay should conclude with a clear statement or opinion, which is based on evaluation of all the presented information and evidence in the body of the text.
Whichever model is used, a standard argumentative essay will generally have around 5 paragraphs (the introduction, three body paragraphs and a conclusion) and following the tips below will ensure that your essay is logical, coherent, and clearly and concisely presents all the arguments, evidence, and information to back up your initial statements. Below we have presented a standard structure to help you produce the perfect argumentative essay.
The intent with the introduction of an argumentative essay is to ensure your readers understand your position and the construct or perspective being discussed. To achieve this, you can use a hook, or clear statement along with a short background to the issue under discussion, including how much research has been undertaken in the area. The end of your introduction should be a thesis statement: a clear declaration of your own attitude regarding the work and how you intend to demonstrate the validity of this view.
Each paragraph in the body of the text should deal with a different reason for the viewpoint you declared in the introduction. It is important to ensure that for each point you present well-researched information to support your view, from credible and reliable sources so that your readers can see that you are well-informed and have evaluated the evidence appropriately. At the start of each paragraph, you should introduce the topic, or point you intend to discuss. This should then be followed up with the evidence which may be statistics, examples, quotes and citations, all correctly referenced at the end of your work.
A good tip is to provide a counter-argument at the close of each paragraph with reasons, backed up by evidence, why you disagree, again using strong evidence to support your perspective. This demonstrates wide reading and understanding of your topic. At the same time, you need to ensure that there is a link between each paragraph so that your essay has a cohesive flow and that the conclusions you draw at the end are logical and appropriate to your arguments. Using the key words below can help you link your paragraphs.
An effective conclusion is one which summarises all the previously made arguments and points and does not deliver any new ideas or perspectives. Referring back to your thesis statement, you can draw the conclusion that your perspective is accurate, and reiterate the reasons why, ensuring your readers are clear about your viewpoint and why you have reached that perspective or taken the stance that you have.
Key Words for an Argumentative Essay
- In the same way
- On the other hand
- On the contrary
- In consequence