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How to Write an Argumentative Essay and Impress Your Professors

10 Aug 2018

By now you have figured out how much you are going to have to write in college. You will have to compose many types of essays on many different issues, and one of the papers is the argumentative essay.

how to write an argumentative essay

What is an Argumentative Essay?

In this type of work, you must develop an argument - an informed opinion - and support it with sound, logical assertions. These are actually rather enjoyable to write, because it gives you a chance to write what you think on the issues that have been discussed in class.

How to Start an Argumentative Essay

Getting started can be terribly difficult, because most likely you have many different ideas and opinions, and you simply can’t express them all at once. That is not surprising, since our thought processes work very quickly, much faster than we can contemplate. The trick is, though, to slow down these processes and think about the following:

  • Choosing a Topic
  • Doing Careful Research
  • Prewriting
  • Outlining
  • Writing
  • Formatting

How to Choose a Topic

Two things might happen in class. Firstly, a professor may allow you to choose your own topic, or, he might assign you a topic. If he assigns a topic, it might be something you could care less about; however, you’re simply going to have to grin and bear it the best you can. That’s just the way of things at a university. But, hopefully, you have a professor who is willing to cut you some slack by letting you write about what interests you, because this will make your "write an argumentative essay" task more enjoyable.

When choosing a topic, make sure it is class-related by reading through your notes and textbook. You’ll never go wrong by choosing to write about something a professor lectured about.

Conducting Research

Before even begin working on any essay, first read up on the topic so that you know what to write about, because your arguments can only be properly defended by factual evidence that supports your claims - not opinions. A professor is going to expect you to use primary and secondary sources. The best place to find these is in your textbook. Each textbook comes with a bibliography or a ‘recommended reading list’, if not both. In these books you are going to find more than enough research material. You can also find a lot of very good information on the reference section of a Wikipedia article that covers the subject you are investigating. It is a very good idea to take notes on what you read and write down the publishing information of each source you took notes on. These notes will come in handy when you are putting together your bibliography.

Don’t Forget to Pre-write

Before you start working on an argumentative essay outline, engage in what writers call “pre-writing.” Pre-writing is a process of recording all the thoughts that come to your mind regarding the topic of your choosing. Sit down with a pen and paper and jot down every single word or phrase that comes into mind until your brain stops talking. After finishing, you will see a lot of coherent thoughts and ideas written on the paper, which can be used in your writing.

How to Create an Argumentative Essay Outline

Before start working, you must create an outline for your project. Think of an outline at the foundation and frame of a home. Without these things the house will collapse, as will your essay. The basic outline of a five page essay looks like the following:

  • Introductory Paragraph: Introduce the position you’ve taken to the reader and state your opinion in a one to two sentence thesis statement. It is in your thesis statement where you clearly state your opinion.
  • Your Arguments: This is where your research comes in handy. Briefly state the background of the topic, and then present the reader with facts that support your assertions.
  • Refutations: Your research will also come in handy for this section, especially if the position of those with a differing viewpoint is built on sand, i.e. factoids, bias, and deliberate misinformation. As one person once said, “You are entitled to your opinions, but not your own set of facts.”
  • Conclusion: In the conclusion you finalize the case, and you can do this in several ways. One, summarize all of your previous arguments and clearly state that for these reasons the opposing viewpoint is wrong, or use this as an opportunity to call your audience to action.

Write down this argumentative essay structure on a piece of paper, and under each section (introduction, arguments, refutations, conclusion) scribble down what you want to say in each section. You can borrow the material you wrote from your pre-writing to do this.

Writing an Argumentative Essay

Composition is a very difficult task, but if you’ve done all of the above, you’ve fought half the battle. All you have to do now is drive your attack home by dedicating time throughout the day to completing the task of composing a text. Our advice is not to wait until the last minute to start; doing this will make your work look hurried, resulting in your professor thinking you to be a low-quality writer. Instead, work a little bit every day until you are done.

Another thing to do well is learn how to transition between paragraphs. Learning which words and phrases to use in order to properly connect your paragraphs together will greatly improve your writing.

Also, take into consideration readers who may not be as familiar with the subject as you are. Always write so that they can understand the material in your essay.

Once you are done, proofread the paper, scanning it for grammatical and spelling errors, as well as any logical fallacies you might find. Also seek help from your professor during his office hours. Ask him to read your rough draft and ask him for advice. Not only will this improve your paper, but it is going to help you to build rapport with your professor.

What Argumentative Essay Format Should I Use?

There are many different citation formats, which can be used for citation, such as MLA, Harvard, and APA. A professor will most likely determine the formatting style. Just be sure to follow whichever citation style your professor chooses, and do not deviate from it whatsoever.

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Also make sure that you properly cite any sources of information, which was used to support your ideas in accordance with your professor’s formatting guidelines. Forgetting to do this makes it look like you are trying to pass the ideas of the other author as your own. This is plagiarism - even if you it is accidental plagiarism.

Good Luck With Your Writing!

Writing can be quite a chore but being able to do it consistently well will pay dividends for you in the future. Just remember to follow the advice in this article, and if you need extra help with your essay, you can always ask our experts for help.

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