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How to Write an Argumentative Essay | Examples & Tips

Published on July 24, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

An argumentative essay expresses an extended argument for a particular thesis statement . The author takes a clearly defined stance on their subject and builds up an evidence-based case for it.

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Table of contents

When do you write an argumentative essay, approaches to argumentative essays, introducing your argument, the body: developing your argument, concluding your argument, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about argumentative essays.

You might be assigned an argumentative essay as a writing exercise in high school or in a composition class. The prompt will often ask you to argue for one of two positions, and may include terms like “argue” or “argument.” It will frequently take the form of a question.

The prompt may also be more open-ended in terms of the possible arguments you could make.

Argumentative writing at college level

At university, the vast majority of essays or papers you write will involve some form of argumentation. For example, both rhetorical analysis and literary analysis essays involve making arguments about texts.

In this context, you won’t necessarily be told to write an argumentative essay—but making an evidence-based argument is an essential goal of most academic writing, and this should be your default approach unless you’re told otherwise.

Examples of argumentative essay prompts

At a university level, all the prompts below imply an argumentative essay as the appropriate response.

Your research should lead you to develop a specific position on the topic. The essay then argues for that position and aims to convince the reader by presenting your evidence, evaluation and analysis.

  • Don’t just list all the effects you can think of.
  • Do develop a focused argument about the overall effect and why it matters, backed up by evidence from sources.
  • Don’t just provide a selection of data on the measures’ effectiveness.
  • Do build up your own argument about which kinds of measures have been most or least effective, and why.
  • Don’t just analyze a random selection of doppelgänger characters.
  • Do form an argument about specific texts, comparing and contrasting how they express their thematic concerns through doppelgänger characters.

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argumentative essay assignment sheet

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An argumentative essay should be objective in its approach; your arguments should rely on logic and evidence, not on exaggeration or appeals to emotion.

There are many possible approaches to argumentative essays, but there are two common models that can help you start outlining your arguments: The Toulmin model and the Rogerian model.

Toulmin arguments

The Toulmin model consists of four steps, which may be repeated as many times as necessary for the argument:

  • 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 that you have considered alternative perspectives

The Toulmin model is a common approach in academic essays. You don’t have to use these specific terms (grounds, warrants, rebuttals), but establishing a clear connection between your claims and the evidence supporting them is crucial in an argumentative essay.

Say you’re making an argument about the effectiveness of workplace anti-discrimination measures. You might:

  • Claim that unconscious bias training does not have the desired results, and resources would be better spent on other approaches
  • Cite data to support your claim
  • Explain how the data indicates that the method is ineffective
  • Anticipate objections to your claim based on other data, indicating whether these objections are valid, and if not, why not.

Rogerian arguments

The Rogerian model also consists of four steps you might repeat throughout your essay:

  • 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?

This model builds up a clear picture of both sides of an argument and seeks a compromise. It is particularly useful when people tend to disagree strongly on the issue discussed, allowing you to approach opposing arguments in good faith.

Say you want to argue that the internet has had a positive impact on education. You might:

  • Acknowledge that students rely too much on websites like Wikipedia
  • Argue that teachers view Wikipedia as more unreliable than it really is
  • Suggest that Wikipedia’s system of citations can actually teach students about referencing
  • Suggest critical engagement with Wikipedia as a possible assignment for teachers who are skeptical of its usefulness.

You don’t necessarily have to pick one of these models—you may even use elements of both in different parts of your essay—but it’s worth considering them if you struggle to structure your arguments.

Regardless of which approach you take, your essay should always be structured using an introduction , a body , and a conclusion .

Like other academic essays, an argumentative essay begins with an introduction . The introduction serves to capture the reader’s interest, provide background information, present your thesis statement , and (in longer essays) to summarize the structure of the body.

Hover over different parts of the example below to see how a typical introduction works.

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. For many teachers who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its critical benefits for students and educators—as a uniquely comprehensive and accessible information source; a means of exposure to and engagement with different perspectives; and a highly flexible learning environment.

The body of an argumentative essay is where you develop your arguments in detail. Here you’ll present evidence, analysis, and reasoning to convince the reader that your thesis statement is true.

In the standard five-paragraph format for short essays, the body takes up three of your five paragraphs. In longer essays, it will be more paragraphs, and might be divided into sections with headings.

Each paragraph covers its own topic, introduced with a topic sentence . Each of these topics must contribute to your overall argument; don’t include irrelevant information.

This example paragraph takes a Rogerian approach: It first acknowledges the merits of the opposing position and then highlights problems with that position.

Hover over different parts of the example to see how a body paragraph is constructed.

A common frustration for teachers is students’ use of Wikipedia as a source in their writing. Its prevalence among students is not exaggerated; a survey found that the vast majority of the students surveyed used Wikipedia (Head & Eisenberg, 2010). An article in The Guardian stresses a common objection to its use: “a reliance on Wikipedia can discourage students from engaging with genuine academic writing” (Coomer, 2013). Teachers are clearly not mistaken in viewing Wikipedia usage as ubiquitous among their students; but the claim that it discourages engagement with academic sources requires further investigation. This point is treated as self-evident by many teachers, but Wikipedia itself explicitly encourages students to look into other sources. Its articles often provide references to academic publications and include warning notes where citations are missing; the site’s own guidelines for research make clear that it should be used as a starting point, emphasizing that users should always “read the references and check whether they really do support what the article says” (“Wikipedia:Researching with Wikipedia,” 2020). Indeed, for many students, Wikipedia is their first encounter with the concepts of citation and referencing. The use of Wikipedia therefore has a positive side that merits deeper consideration than it often receives.

An argumentative essay ends with a conclusion that summarizes and reflects on the arguments made in the body.

No new arguments or evidence appear here, but in longer essays you may discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your argument and suggest topics for future research. In all conclusions, you should stress the relevance and importance of your argument.

Hover over the following example to see the typical elements of a conclusion.

The internet has had a major positive impact on the world of education; occasional pitfalls aside, its value is evident in numerous applications. The future of teaching lies in the possibilities the internet opens up for communication, research, and interactivity. As the popularity of distance learning shows, students value the flexibility and accessibility offered by digital education, and educators should fully embrace these advantages. The internet’s dangers, real and imaginary, have been documented exhaustively by skeptics, but the internet is here to stay; it is time to focus seriously on its potential for good.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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  • Appeal to authority fallacy
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  • Sunk cost fallacy

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An argumentative essay tends to be a longer essay involving independent research, and aims to make an original argument about a topic. Its thesis statement makes a contentious claim that must be supported in an objective, evidence-based way.

An expository essay also aims to be objective, but it doesn’t have to make an original argument. Rather, it aims to explain something (e.g., a process or idea) in a clear, concise way. Expository essays are often shorter assignments and rely less on research.

At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).

Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

The majority of the essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Unless otherwise specified, you can assume that the goal of any essay you’re asked to write is argumentative: To convince the reader of your position using evidence and reasoning.

In composition classes you might be given assignments that specifically test your ability to write an argumentative essay. Look out for prompts including instructions like “argue,” “assess,” or “discuss” to see if this is the goal.

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Teaching Intermediate Composition: Writing Arguments

Argumentative writing is frequently assigned in composition and disciplinary courses. This guide is based on the curriculum and course materials for CO300 Writing Arguments, an upper-division writing course at Colorado State University.

CO300, Writing Arguments, focuses on having students critically read and write a variety of arguments, both for academic and nonacademic audiences. In the materials collected here, we lay out key features of the course that make it a part of the All-University Core Curriculum (AUCC). In addition, you will find a collection of various materials developed by teachers for their individual sections of CO300. The course continues to evolve in response to students' needs, so these materials represent approaches taken over the last several years. If you need to see how a specific teacher pulls together all the pieces that appear in different parts of our resource list below, please contact that teacher for a recent syllabus. And please, contribute to this resource. We want it to reflect the full range of creative approaches possible when teaching critical thinking and argument.

About the Course

Course materials.

  • Course Assignments

Workshop Materials

  • Citation Information

Like all our composition courses, CO300 has evolved over many years in response to student needs and program goals. Moreover, as part of the All-University Core Curriculum, the course must meet certain goals set by the University Curriculum Committee. We present here some general information about the course to help teachers new to it understand how it fits into our sequence of courses and how we try to set students' expectations for the work of the course.

CO300 as a University Core Course

When the University adopted its most recent core curriculum in the mid-1990s, CO300 was approved as meeting two core categories: 2A - Advanced Communication and 2B - Logic/Critical Thinking. Students cannot use CO300 to fulfill requirements in both categories, so about half of the students in the course now take the course to fulfill category 2B - Logic/Critical Thinking.

As a department, we have an obligation to be sure that each section of CO300 conforms to the description approved by the University Curriculum Committee. Links below capture key elements of the University core description of and expectations for CO300.

Short Description of the Course

This course builds on the writing principles and processes practiced in CO150. CO300 focuses on reading and writing a range of arguments appropriate for academic and general audiences. This course offers students multiple opportunities to both read and analyze varieties of argumentation and to research, write, and revise their own arguments on controversial issues. Students will complete a carefully sequenced series of assignments that will include summarizing, synthesizing, evaluating, and crafting arguments, many of which will be based on library and field research.

Course Objectives

  • To give students additional critical reading skills beyond the freshman composition level
  • To consider elements of argumentation in detail beyond that of freshman composition
  • To focus on argumentative strategies, patterns, and approaches as readers and writers
  • To emphasize work in the library and review of library resources throughout the course

The following specific learning objectives were also identified. Students in CO300 should be given multiple opportunities to

  • clearly focus an argument
  • meet audience needs
  • present appropriate and adequate support
  • consider and, where appropriate, refute opposition arguments
  • organize arguments logically and coherently
  • adapt appropriate structure for arguments
  • demonstrate research and documentation skills
  • adapt style for the rhetorical context
  • polish final papers for professional presentation

General Overview

The course is divided into two main parts:

1. The first several weeks concentrate on critical reading of other writers' arguments. Most teachers work through two or more analytic approaches to help students with critical reading and thinking. The analytic approaches include close reading (with special emphasis on critical reading strategies), rhetorical analysis, structural analysis (often based on a Toulmin or modified-Toulmin model), or logical analysis (with emphasis on inductive and deductive models and other elements of informal logic).

Writing assignments in this first portion of the course typically include summaries, summary-response essays (with particular emphasis on analytic response), Toulmin analysis, or synthesis/exploratory essays (sometimes called inquiry essays following the terminology in Aims of Argument ).

Depending on the number of assignments, the depth of the analysis, and the use of portfolios rather than individual assignments, this part of the course typically takes up 6-7 weeks of the term.

2. The second main chunk of the course focuses on having students write original arguments. Typically, teachers ask students to pick a single topic that can be shaped into multiple arguments for different target audiences. Teachers then look at the range of argumentative purposes - convincing, persuading, negotiating/mediating - and ask students to research their topic to write arguments for at least two distinctive rhetorical contexts.

Alternative Approaches and Assignments

Many teachers of the course feel strongly that students need a guided collaborative writing experience in this upper-division writing course. Variations have included some collaborative analytic work for the first chunk of the semester and full-scale collaborative projects on an original argument at the end of the semester. More details of these collaborative projects are collected in the "Writing Assignment Sheets" section.

Similarly, many teachers have added analysis of or original visual arguments into their syllabi. The jury is still out on whether the original visual arguments are well suited to our goals for this course. But analysis of visual arguments has been useful for extending students' critical thinking. Again, please find specific assignmentsin the "Writing Assignment Sheets" section.

(Possible) Differences Between CO150 and CO300

CO300 appears to cover some of the same territory as CO150, but keep in mind that at least half the students in CO300 are transfer students who haven't taken our CO150. We outline below some other key features of the kinds of students we typically have seen in CO300 sections and of the relationship between the two courses.

What CO300 Students Are Like

As a group CO300 students surprisingly resemble CO150 students. We need to emphasize at the outset and reiterate throughout the semester how much work this course is; the students don't expect to do so much work in a core course. We need to teach our students how to conduct effective workshops. A full, or nearly full, class period devoted to discussing, modeling, and practicing workshops is well worth the time it takes from other activities. Moreover, those of us who optimistically believed our students would see the value of coming to class and volunteer to be there have needed to return to strong attendance policies. And we have all found ourselves spending much more time than we had planned on building critical reading skills at the beginning of the course.

On the other hand, CO300 students are typically further along in their majors than are CO150 students. Most of your students will be juniors or seniors. Consequently, we have found that when we capitalize on our students' knowledge by constructing assignments that ask them to explore topics in their disciplines, (some of) the students demonstrate in their essays the level of thoughtful and complex analysis and/or synthesis we only hope for in CO150.

After the freshman year, students also talk! Every class is, of course, different, but on the whole we think it safe to say that CO300 discussions are easier to get going, more fruitful, and often a pleasure to participate in. Enjoy! But a word of warning: while our students have consistently impressed us with their verbal skills, their writing skills have very often lagged behind. Therefore, we heartily recommend collecting a piece of writing immediately and spending a significant amount of time with critical reading skills early in the semester.

In the end, it isn't really that that the individual CO300 student is different in nature from the CO150 student; you may well recognize his or her good and bad habits and be pleasantly surprised at students' willingness to interact with each other and you. Rather, the greatest distinction between teaching the two classes seems to be a very real difference in the students as groups of writers: CO300 students bring with them an astounding diversity of writing abilities.

And You Thought Your CO150 Students Represented a Broad Range of Skill Levels!

Two factors influence the variation in skill levels in CO300. First, the course is both an elective and a requirement. Consequently, we sometimes have very strong writers, who want to hone their skills with a class in argumentation. On the other hand, we also have students who have barely passed CO150 but who need this class to fulfill a core requirement. Second, we get lots of students with CO150 transfer credit but without the experience in a CSU composition class. As a result, instructors can't assume that all (or even half) of the students will be familiar with terms like focus, development, and coherence, much less be able to apply the terms in their writing; yet at the same time, some of the students will come into the class writing extremely well and eager to be challenged further.

Your most challenging task, therefore, may well be to make the class flexible enough to meet the needs of all your students. Critically important is making sure unprepared students have a chance to learn key concepts. At the same time, it is important that the well-prepared writers feel challenged. Fortunately, several elements in the current course description work toward flexibility: portfolio grading, the computer classroom, and the semester focus on argument that leaves lots of room to vary activities but gets students ready for more advanced writing.

Beginning with Critical Reading

The early emphasis in the sample syllabi on critical reading and thinking reflects the need to assess your students' analytical skills before they begin writing arguments. We suggest that significant amounts of time be devoted to finding and stating theses, to learning how to establish the rhetorical context of an argument, and to annotating texts. (Even well-prepared students are not necessarily active readers.) As mentioned above, it also seems to be true that, while CO300 students analyze and synthesize essays during discussions better than their counterparts in CO150, they aren't necessarily prepared to write strong summaries, syntheses, or responses. Getting them to accurately represent and synthesize other people's arguments in writing is a necessary prerequisite for writing arguments effectively, so don't grudge the time spent here.

Opportunities for Innovation

Happily, CO300 is meant to be innovative. In the first place, this means that the Comp Faculty counts on you to adapt your section of CO300 to your particular students' needs. CO300's focus is indeed on building the critical reading, writing, and thinking skills necessary to write arguments well, and we are indeed obliged to give our students a wide acquaintance with a variety of argumentative strategies so they can choose the most effective ones to use in given writing contexts. However, precisely what you choose to teach in your section, and the amount of time you spend on various critical reading, writing, and thinking skills, should depend on the particular needs of your students. You are not required to use any particular sequence of activities, nor are you required to teach a particular argumentative strategy.

In the second place, innovation means that CO300 was sold to the university partly on its merit as a class that utilizes creative teaching strategies. Teaching in the computer classroom, mixing work at the computers with lots of small group activities, using portfolios to evaluate student progress are some of the innovations that make the class both challenging and a very fine experience for both student and instructor. While it is not mandatory that you do any of these things, they all come--of course--highly recommended.

Portfolio Grading

Arranging the course around portfolios can also help you meet your students' divergent needs. One of the greatest benefits of a portfolio system is that it allows a student to draft and revise a paper several times over a long period before submitting it for evaluation. In other words, a student can set aside a paper, get some distance from it, (we hope) learn some pertinent skills, and return to it a better or more knowing writer/critic. Additionally, students can afford to take some risks with their papers, risks that are too great when a paper must be written and submitted in a short time. Students are more likely, for example, to experiment with different audiences, voices, types of appeal, or organization because they know they can get feedback on a new approach and either revise until it works or omit the paper from the final portfolio. We would like to think, anyway, that portfolios encourage creativity among all levels of writers. They certainly allow ambitious writers to explore a topic to their heart's content. If a student chooses to emphasize a single paper for several weeks, he or she can really get to know the intricacies of the issue and develop a well-considered argument.

There are, however, drawbacks to portfolio grading. If you'd like still more discussion of the pros and cons of using portfolios, Kate has additional rationales and bibliographis in her office. See also Randy Fetzer's "Portfolio Assessment: Is It Right for CSU's Comp Program?" available in Steve Reid's office. Most importantly, be warned that portfolio grading can be treacherously time-consuming (it doesn't have to be, however!). Choose a grading method that will work for you.

If you do choose to use portfolios, be sure that you plan to return students' first portfolio before the final day on which they can drop and still get a 'W.'

While again not mandatory, portfolio evaluation has been a part of CO300 from the beginning, and most instructors have so far organized their classes around portfolios, though their approaches vary significantly. Some instructors use portfolios throughout the term; some begin the term by evaluating individual papers, then move into a portfolio format; some begin by evaluating portfolios, then move into an individual essay format. Whether or not you choose to use portfolios, it will be helpful if all instructors continue to require between 20 and 25 pages of polished text from each student.

To give you some idea of how you might fashion a plan that suits your individual goals and tastes, we offer here an overview of several approaches.

Plan 1 (Gogela)

  • Summary/Response - (3 weeks) - Ch. 1-5 in Aims ; 10% of semester grade
  • Synthesis/Response - (2 weeks) - Ch. 5 in Aims ; 15% of semester grade
  • Portfolio 1 - (7 weeks) - Ch. 6 & 7 in Aims ; 20% of semester grade; 1 essay, either convincing or persuading
  • Portfolio 2 - (4 weeks) - Ch. 8 in Aims ; 25% of semester grade; 1 essay, either a Rogerian or mediation

Plan 2 (Harper)

  • Portfolio 1 - (collected at midterm) - Ch. 1-6 in Aims ; 25% of semester grade; 8 to 10 polished pages in 3 to 4 papers
  • Portfolio 2 - (collected 1 week before finals' week) - Ch. 7 & 8; 40% of semester grade; 10 to 12 polished pages in 2 papers

Plan 3 (Holtcamp)

  • Uses Cooper, Sheila and Rosemary Patton. Ergo: Thinking Critically and Writing Logically . New York: Harper, 1993.
  • Portfolio 1 - (8 weeks); 35% of semester grade; no less than 12 polished pages in 2 to 3 papers drawn from summaries, responses, synthesis/responses, and pro/con (all of which have been taken to workshop stage)
  • Paper 1- (4 weeks); 20 % of semester grade; 1 paper, either inductive/deductive or Rogerian
  • Paper 2 - (2 weeks); 20 % of semester grade; 1 paper that student designs based on his or her purpose and audience

Plan 4 (Thomas)

  • Portfolio I (due shortly before midterm); 35% of semester grade; 8 to 10 pages in 2 to 3 papers, either analysis or exploratory and an annotated bibliography
  • Portfolio II (due 2-3 weeks before finals' week); 45% of semester grade; at least 10 pages in 2 papers, same topic area, different aims and audiences
  • Final project; 10% of semester grade; collaborative project, presentation given during the final exam period (Students find an argumentative essay in their disciplines, do rhetorical and Toulmin analyses.)

Plan 5 (Kiefer)

  • Portfolio 1 - 5 1/2 weeks Specific requirements: two detailed summaries, one detailed Toulmin or rhetorical analysis, and one summary-and-response essay; 15% of the final grade
  • Portfolio 2 - 7 weeks Two polished arguments on approved topics, totaling approximately 15-18 pages. One paper should argue to "convince," and one should argue to "persuade." 50% of the final grade
  • Portfolio 3 - 3 1/2 weeks This portfolio includes collaborative writing on analytic responses to readings as well as a final individual analysis paper. The paper will make up 60% of the portfolio grade. The remaining 40% of the portfolio grade will be based on collaborative group work. Portfolio 3 accounts for 25% of the course grade.

Just a few comments about why we have enjoyed teaching this class:

Perhaps foremost, CO300 is rewarding because of its potential for connection with so many activities our students engage in. Spending so much time reading and writing arguments, our students truly have the opportunity to grow as critical readers, writers, and thinkers, growth which, obviously, will serve them as students in other courses, as citizens, as consumers, and as explorers of what it means to be human. Thus, the sheer "purposeful-ness" of the course material can make one feel he or she is involved in a very worthwhile project--and one that is often a great deal of fun!

Secondly, CO300 is a place where writers can grow by leaps and bounds. For some, this might just mean learning to draft and revise on-line--and thereby break through a long-standing writer's block; for others, it might mean learning to sustain a complex argument in writing because the writer has the time to be truly dedicated to an essay. Consistently, however, our students have commented that they can see their own growth as writers, even if they do also comment on how much work growth takes! And last, the very stuff of CO300 is fun to work with. Exploring issues in the aim of learning to read and write arguments well can result in illuminating juxtapositions of assigned reading, rewarding interactions with and among students, and crazy mini-activities which actually teach students to be more effective writers.

So we wish you lesson plans that work even better than you expected, inspiring discussions, dedicated students, and a bottomless pot of coffee to keep you going during stretches of grading.

We've organized sample materials into categories that sometimes overlap. Hence, you might see the same handout in more than one section, or you might want to check multiple sections for the handouts most helpful for you. Also, please note that wherever possible we've taken out extra spaces between prompts to save space on the screen. Download the files and adjust spacing (or edit in any other way you want to) to suit your students' needs.

Some of the materials have names to identify the authors. Unless otherwise noted, someone at CSU created all these materials, so give credit to the author if noted or the Writing Center Web site as your resource should you use the materials at another campus in the future.

Audience Awareness and Rhetorical Contexts

Defining a rhetorical context is crucial to students' ability to write effective arguments. Some teachers believe this skill is so important that they establish matching purpose with audience as the baseline criterion for essays in the second portfolio: they simply refuse to read a piece if the rhetorical strategy chosen by a writer does not match the target audience. The idea here is that regardless of a piece's stylistic verve, impressive focus, organization, or development, it is not going to persuade its chosen audience if the writer has selected a rhetorical strategy inappropriate for that audience. Therefore, students need lots of practice in two areas: learning to see how other writers have written within specific rhetorical contexts and learning to match a given audience to a specific argumentative strategy.

To encourage students to think about the importance of audience, many instructors begin by asking students to analyze magazine ads or articles for their intended audiences. Marisa Harper's activity in this section is one good example of such an exercise. Even if you do not do this kind of activity until your students write their first research-based essay, you can begin teaching the importance of rhetorical context during the critical reading unit. Some of us have asked our students to analyze each of the essays they will summarize for rhetorical context, thereby encouraging students to see discrete arguments as parts of a larger and dynamic context. Giving your students essays with editorial headnotes makes this easier. Included is a set of questions about rhetorical context from Aims as well as Kate's handout on realm, a rhetorical analysis based on Bitzer's work.

Most of us ask our students to really get into audience analysis when it comes time to write that first essay whose purpose is to convince a particular audience about something. As you'll see, though, the example activities span the semester.

  • Purpose and audience in publications (Harper)
  • Doing a rhetorical analysis of a text (Kiefer)
  • Audience analysis for portfolio 3 (Kiefer)

Critical Thinking and Reading

Something to keep in mind while planning critical reading/thinking activities is that while we do need to talk about informal logic as it applies to critical reading and writing, this isn't a course in formal logic. Therefore, most of the work we do on fallacies emerges through the discussion of readings, and the handouts included here are meant to be supplementary to the students' investigations into the essays they read. Also, refer students to the writing guide on Toulmin analysis ; it's thorough, clear, and helpful.

S Taken together, critical thinking, reading, and writing are the tripartite soul of CO300. The materials in this section include

  • General strategies for critical reading
  • Take-home Toulmin worksheet
  • Dialogue with a text
  • Definitions and purposes for critical thinking (Harper)
  • Subjective and objective reasoning (Costello)
  • Fallacies in logic
  • Identifying logical fallacies (Becker)

Focusing and Narrowing Topics

All experienced writing teachers know that focusing and narrowing topics is typically the most difficult task for college writers. CO300 students aren't an exception. Especially because students will choose to argue about general issues unless we direct them otherwise, be prepared to work closely with students to narrow the scope of their arguments.

The first handout details the process of focusing for students. The other handouts are exercises to help students focus topics for papers.

  • Focusing your topic (Gogela)
  • Narrowing from topic to thesis
  • Developing a tentative thesis
  • Collecting ideas for the convincing essay draft (Kiefer)
  • Narrowing your pro/con topic to a thesis (McMahon)

Mid-Course, Group, and Supplemental Evaluations

We have found that "mid-course corrections" are helpful for comp courses, so we recommend a short evaluation be given about the middle of the semester (shortly after the first portfolio is collected). These can help you adjust to your students' needs while there is still a significant amount of time left to implement new strategies, if necessary. The sample includes prompts teachers have found useful.

Having students complete group and self assessments after a collaborative project builds in accountability. We'd be happy to include additional prompts you've found useful.

Finally, although you'll give the composition final evaluation form, supplemental questions can also give you more specific feedback about CO300.

  • Mid-course evaluation
  • CO300 collaborative group assessment
  • CO300 collaborative writing self assessment
  • Supplemental evaluation for CO300 - 1
  • Supplemental evaluation for CO300 - 2

More Detailed Explanation of Rogerian Argument and Toulmin Analysis

If you want to assign these kinds of writing tasks, you might consider handing out these explanations or ones that you create. Most of the material in the "notes on Toulmin" have been incorporated into the Writing Center module on Toulmin analysis.

  • What is Rogerian argument?
  • Writing guide on Toulmin analysis

Policy Statements and Syllabi

  • Policy Statement - Sample 1
  • Policy Statement - Sample 2
  • Policy Statement - Sample 3
  • Policy Statement - Sample 4
  • Course Overview
  • Student Syllabus - Sample 1
  • Student Syllabus - Sample 2

Portfolio Explanations, Checklists, and Postscripts

Instructors use portfolios very differently. This section includes rationales and notes for using portfolio grading from Anne Gogela, Marisa Harper, Christina Holtcamp, and Kate Kiefer. You might also see Randy Fetzer's discussion (in Steve Reid's office) of Laura Thomas' portfolio system as it was used in CO300 during the Spring, 1995 term. Kate also has an article on using portfolios to enhance revision as well as a variety of bibliographies on portfolio evaluation.

Also included are sample explanation sheets instructors give to their students. It is important to explain your portfolio system clearly and give your students something tangible to refer to. Most instructors put a brief description of the submission requirements in their policy statements. Nevertheless, come submission time, you will probably be barraged with questions about what the portfolio should include. Some instructors reduce the questioning by providing students with checklists that let them know exactly what the portfolio should contain and ask the students to submit the checklist (checked off) with their portfolio.

Postscripts can be especially fruitful when using portfolios. Students have usually had a large amount of time to draft, workshop, and revise each piece they submit and usually have a pretty good idea of what the pieces do well and what they still need. Consequently, you can ask your students to consider their writing process in some depth and can ask them to direct your reading and commenting toward specific strengths and weaknesses in the portfolio as a whole.

  • Traditional and/or portfolio grading? (Gogela)
  • Portfolios: promises, problems, practices (Kiefer)
  • Portfolio explanation (Harper)
  • Portfolio grading (Holtcamp)
  • Some helpful hints for drafting portfolio 2 (Kiefer)
  • Portfolio check-sheet (Gogela)
  • Sample postscript prompts - 1
  • Sample postscript prompts - 2
  • Sample postscript prompts - 3

Presenting Evidence and Organizing Arguments/Counter-arguments

Unfortunately, this section is mighty slim, partly because teachers often base their discussions and exercises of these concepts on copyrighted material that we cannot put on the Internet without official permission. (For instance, Kate has a great article that gives advice on questioning statistics and other kinds of evidence.) If you need to see examples of professional materials that lend themselves to discussion of these concepts, please refer to the CO300 paper manual. If you develop exercises or handouts on using evidence honorably and making it meaningful for the audience, please be sure to send a copy to Kate Kiefer for inclusion in these materials.

We include the pro/con activity because it gets students talking together so well and is especially effective in the computer classroom. Whether students work in small groups or as roving devil's advocates in the classroom, each writer can begin by generating as many pros and cons as he or she can think of, then moving to another person's paper or computer screen and adding to what they see there. Although we don't include an example, you might have a third column for rebuttals.

Be aware that, from our experience, CO300 students do not seem to be terribly much more sophisticated than first-year writing students in discussing the problems of "hard facts." Examples of the abuse of statistics and of statistics used correctly but without relation to an author's claim help evaluate the evidence they see in others' arguments and select better evidence for their own arguments.

We include some pieces here on the effect of inductive or deductive logic on one's audience. Inductive reasoning is the process of reasoning from specific examples to a general conclusion, and an essay can be organized this way--usually by leaving the main claim to the end of the paper. Deductive reasoning is the process of reasoning from general statements to a specific conclusion. An essay that puts its main claim in the beginning may be deductively organized as a whole. However, most longer essays include both inductive and deductive reasoning on the part of the writer and sub-sections of the paper that are likewise organized from specific to general or general to specific. We have included a short explanation of inductive and deductive organization and one exercise from recent instructors.

  • Pro/con exercise
  • Distinguishing fact, opinion, belief, and prejudice
  • Inductive and Deductive Assignment (McMahon)
  • Exercise on appeals

Don't forget the revision checklists in Aims . We include here only more general prompts for revising. Other revision activities are included in the Workshop Sheets sub-section.

  • Questions to ask yourself as you revise your essay
  • Revising the title, lead-in, and thesis (Gogela)
  • Considering introductions (Becker)

Writing Assignment Sheets

Included here are the assignment sheets for most of the major writing tasks assigned by instructors in recent semesters. We include multiple samples for each essay so you can choose from a variety of prompts.

  • Under "Assignments for portfolio 1," you'll find samples for summary, Toulmin analysis, response, summary/response, synthesis/response, and the inquiry/exploratory essay.
  • Under "Assignments for portfolio 2," you'll find annotated bibliography, convincing, and persuading.
  • Under "Assignments for portfolio 3," you'll find mediating/negotiating and analysis assignments.

Several instructors did not assign specific essays during the second half of the term. Rather, they introduced general rhetorical strategies in a series of short activities and then had their students define their own assignments by identifying the rhetorical context within which they wished to write and choosing the most appropriate argumentative strategy for that context.

Just a note of comfort: having taught synthesis/response and the problem-solving essay before, you are already well acquainted with the problems most of your students will face in the CO300 essays. On the other hand, we would like to push the students beyond 100-level writing. In the exploratory essay (the CO300 version of synthesis/response) this might mean, as Laura Thomas put it, "getting students to make the individual texts to disappear." That is, rather than asking students to represent discrete arguments in oppositional relation to each other, instead asking students to represent the complexity of the relations among different perspectives. One possible means of achieving this complexity is to ask students to consider the rhetorical context of the essays they are synthesizing and to explain how the apparent differences in perspectives might be related to the different purposes and audiences each author had in mind.

And a self-indulgent note about the persuasive essay, should you choose to assign it. As Aims defines this essay, students are asked to appeal not only to reason (a typical expectation in the academic community) but also to character, style, and emotion (rather atypical in our world). Because all appeals can be so effective in motivating people to action--toward both worthy and unworthy ends--I suggest that the weeks leading up to the persuasion essay offer a likely spot in the syllabus to talk about the ethics of argumentation, should this topic interest you. During the spring 1995 term, for example, I spent one well-received class period on the ethical nature of persuasion. Having read about audience appeals in Aims, the students and I watched a series of video clips from Branagh's Henry V , Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, Eleanor Roosevelt's appeal to the United Nations, and one of Hitler's many vacuous presentations. After each clip, the students considered the appeals the speaker used, why those appeals were effective for his or her audience, and what end the speaker wished to achieve through his or her persuasion. Thus, without positioning myself as a morality cop, the students started thinking about how their own essays fit into larger ethical systems.

Assignments for Portfolio 1

  • Getting Started on Summary (Kiefer)
  • The summary (Becker) ( Download Word File )
  • Criteria for summaries for portfolio 1 (Kiefer) ( Download Word File )
  • Criteria for Toulmin analysis for portfolio 1 (Kiefer) ( Download Word File )
  • Response (Harper) ( Download Word File )
  • Criteria for summary/response essay for portfolio 1 (Kiefer) ( Download Word File )
  • Synthesis/response essay (Harper) ( Download Word File )
  • The inquiry essay ( Download Word File )
  • Exploratory paper assignment ( Download Word File )
  • Exploratory essay ( Download Word File )
  • The exploratory essay (Becker) ( Download Word File )

Assignments for Portfolio 2

  • Preparing an annotated bibliography
  • Introducing ..... convincing!
  • The convincing essay (Becker)
  • Convincing essay assignment
  • Persuading essay
  • The persuading essay (Gogela)

Assignments for Portfolio 3

  • Negotiating/mediating collaborative project
  • Mediating conflict (Becker)
  • Negotiating (Bruce)
  • Assignment for the mediating/negotiating essay (Gogela)
  • The mediating/negotiating essay for portfolio 3 (Kiefer)
  • Analysis essay for portfolio 3 (Kiefer)

The materials under Workshopping Generally help students see why they need to take peer-review sessions seriously. McMahon's handout also notes some points of etiquette for peer review. We also include multiple workshop sheet samples for each essay we typically assign so you can choose from a variety of revision prompts. Under portfolio 1, you'll find samples for Toulmin analysis, summary, summary/response, synthesis/response, and the exploratory essay. Under portfolio 2, you'll find annotated bibliography, convincing, persuading, and pro/con assignments. Under portfolio 3, you'll find mediating/ negotiating and analysis assignments. The general sheets can be adapted for various assignments at different points in the term. As always, tailor your workshop sheets to emphasize the criteria you've presented as most important for the papers you assign. Be aware that some of the workshop sheets are designed for early drafts and some are for final drafts.

On workshopping generally

  • General criteria for workshop and evaluation (Becker)
  • Some words on workshopping (McMahon)
  • DAILY prompt to set up peer-review workshops

Workshop Sheets for Portfolio 1

  • Workshop sheet: Toulmin analysis
  • Workshop Sheet: brief workshop on summary
  • Workshop sheet: summary (McMahon)
  • Workshop sheet: summary
  • Workshop sheet: summary/response essay for portfolio 1
  • Workshop sheet: synthesis/response (McMahon)
  • Workshop sheet: synthesis/response
  • Workshop sheet: Exploratory essay (Thomas)

Workshop Sheets for Portfolio 2

  • Points to consider when commenting on annotated bibliography drafts
  • Workshop for the annotated bibliography - 1
  • Workshop for the annotated bibliography - 2
  • Convincing essay worksheet
  • Convincing workshop II
  • Argument workshop #1 (Harper)
  • Peer-review checklist for draft of argument essay
  • Worksheet for portfolio 2
  • Persuading essay worksheet
  • Peer review I for the persuasive essay
  • Peer review II for the persuasive essay
  • Style review of drafts for portfolio 2
  • Pro/con workshop sheet
  • Workshop sheet: pro/con essay (McMahon)

Workshop Sheets for Portfolio 3

  • Workshop I for mediating/negotiating essay
  • Final workshop for the mediating/negotiating essay
  • Mediating/negotiating essay checklist
  • Analysis essay worksheet

Workshop Sheets for General Purposes

  • Argument drafting #1 (Harper)
  • Intervention draft workshop (Harper)
  • Final workshop for portfolio 2
  • Portfolio #2 -- final workshop (Harper)
  • Final revision workshop
  • Revision workshop (Gogela)

Bronwyn Becker, Mark Bruce, Kerri Conrad, Molly Costello, Anne Gogela, Marisa Harper, Christina Holtcamp, Kate Kiefer, Donna LeCourt, Seanne McMahon, Dan Melzer, Lauren Myracle, Laura Thomas, & Bob White. (2018). Teaching Intermediate Composition: Writing Arguments. The WAC Clearinghouse. Retrieved from https://wac.colostate.edu/repository/teaching/guides/composition-argument/. Originally developed for Writing@CSU (https://writing.colostate.edu). [Authorship is alphabetical.]

argumentative essay assignment sheet

Introduction

Background on the Course

CO300 as a University Core Course

Short Description of the Course

Course Objectives

General Overview

Alternative Approaches and Assignments

(Possible) Differences between COCC150 and CO300

What CO300 Students Are Like

And You Thought...

Beginning with Critical Reading

Opportunities for Innovation

Portfolio Grading as an Option

Teaching in the computer classroom

Finally. . .

Classroom materials

Audience awareness and rhetorical contexts

Critical thinking and reading

Focusing and narrowing topics

Mid-course, group, and supplemental evaluations

More detailed explanation of Rogerian argument and Toulmin analysis

Policy statements and syllabi

Portfolio explanations, checklists, and postscripts

Presenting evidence and organizing arguments/counter-arguments

Research and documentation

Writing assignment sheets

Assignments for portfolio 1

Assignments for portfolio 2

Assignments for portfolio 3

Workshopping and workshop sheets

On workshopping generally

Workshop sheets for portfolio 1

Workshop sheets for portfolio 2

Workshop sheets for portfolio 3

Workshop sheets for general purposes

Sample materials grouped by instructor

Writing Assignment Sheets

Included here are the assignment sheets for most of the major writing tasks assigned by instructors in recent semesters. We include multiple samples for each essay so you can choose from a variety of prompts.

  • Under "Assignments for portfolio 3," you'll find mediating/negotiating and analysis assignments.

Several instructors did not assign specific essays during the second half of the term. Rather, they introduced general rhetorical strategies in a series of short activities and then had their students define their own assignments by identifying the rhetorical context within which they wished to write and choosing the most appropriate argumentative strategy for that context.

Just a note of comfort: having taught synthesis/response and the problem-solving essay before, you are already well acquainted with the problems most of your students will face in the COCC300 essays. On the other hand, we would like to push the students beyond 100-level writing. In the exploratory essay (the COCC300 version of synthesis/response) this might mean, as Laura Thomas put it, "getting students to make the individual texts to disappear." That is, rather than asking students to represent discrete arguments in oppositional relation to each other, instead asking students to represent the complexity of the relations among different perspectives. One possible means of achieving this complexity is to ask students to consider the rhetorical context of the essays they are synthesizing and to explain how the apparent differences in perspectives might be related to the different purposes and audiences each author had in mind.

And a self-indulgent note about the persuasive essay, should you choose to assign it. As Aims defines this essay, students are asked to appeal not only to reason (a typical expectation in the academic community) but also to character, style, and emotion (rather atypical in our world). Because all appeals can be so effective in motivating people to action--toward both worthy and unworthy ends--I suggest that the weeks leading up to the persuasion essay offer a likely spot in the syllabus to talk about the ethics of argumentation, should this topic interest you. During the spring 1995 term, for example, I spent one well-received class period on the ethical nature of persuasion. Having read about audience appeals in Aims, the students and I watched a series of video clips from Branagh's Henry V , Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, Eleanor Roosevelt's appeal to the United Nations, and one of Hitler's many vacuous presentations. After each clip, the students considered the appeals the speaker used, why those appeals were effective for his or her audience, and what end the speaker wished to achieve through his or her persuasion. Thus, without positioning myself as a morality cop, the students started thinking about how their own essays fit into larger ethical systems.

Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Argumentative Essays

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The Modes of Discourse—Exposition, Description, Narration, Argumentation (EDNA)—are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the wide spread use of these approaches and students’ need to understand and produce them.

What is an argumentative essay?

The argumentative essay is a genre of writing that requires the student to investigate a topic; collect, generate, and evaluate evidence; and establish a position on the topic in a concise manner.

Please note : Some confusion may occur between the argumentative essay and the expository essay. These two genres are similar, but the argumentative essay differs from the expository essay in the amount of pre-writing (invention) and research involved. The argumentative essay is commonly assigned as a capstone or final project in first year writing or advanced composition courses and involves lengthy, detailed research. Expository essays involve less research and are shorter in length. Expository essays are often used for in-class writing exercises or tests, such as the GED or GRE.

Argumentative essay assignments generally call for extensive research of literature or previously published material. Argumentative assignments may also require empirical research where the student collects data through interviews, surveys, observations, or experiments. Detailed research allows the student to learn about the topic and to understand different points of view regarding the topic so that she/he may choose a position and support it with the evidence collected during research. Regardless of the amount or type of research involved, argumentative essays must establish a clear thesis and follow sound reasoning.

The structure of the argumentative essay is held together by the following.

  • A clear, concise, and defined thesis statement that occurs in the first paragraph of the essay.

In the first paragraph of an argument essay, students should set the context by reviewing the topic in a general way. Next the author should explain why the topic is important ( exigence ) or why readers should care about the issue. Lastly, students should present the thesis statement. It is essential that this thesis statement be appropriately narrowed to follow the guidelines set forth in the assignment. If the student does not master this portion of the essay, it will be quite difficult to compose an effective or persuasive essay.

  • Clear and logical transitions between the introduction, body, and conclusion.

Transitions are the mortar that holds the foundation of the essay together. Without logical progression of thought, the reader is unable to follow the essay’s argument, and the structure will collapse. Transitions should wrap up the idea from the previous section and introduce the idea that is to follow in the next section.

  • Body paragraphs that include evidential support.

Each paragraph should be limited to the discussion of one general idea. This will allow for clarity and direction throughout the essay. In addition, such conciseness creates an ease of readability for one’s audience. It is important to note that each paragraph in the body of the essay must have some logical connection to the thesis statement in the opening paragraph. Some paragraphs will directly support the thesis statement with evidence collected during research. It is also important to explain how and why the evidence supports the thesis ( warrant ).

However, argumentative essays should also consider and explain differing points of view regarding the topic. Depending on the length of the assignment, students should dedicate one or two paragraphs of an argumentative essay to discussing conflicting opinions on the topic. Rather than explaining how these differing opinions are wrong outright, students should note how opinions that do not align with their thesis might not be well informed or how they might be out of date.

  • Evidential support (whether factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal).

The argumentative essay requires well-researched, accurate, detailed, and current information to support the thesis statement and consider other points of view. Some factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal evidence should support the thesis. However, students must consider multiple points of view when collecting evidence. As noted in the paragraph above, a successful and well-rounded argumentative essay will also discuss opinions not aligning with the thesis. It is unethical to exclude evidence that may not support the thesis. It is not the student’s job to point out how other positions are wrong outright, but rather to explain how other positions may not be well informed or up to date on the topic.

  • A conclusion that does not simply restate the thesis, but readdresses it in light of the evidence provided.

It is at this point of the essay that students may begin to struggle. This is the portion of the essay that will leave the most immediate impression on the mind of the reader. Therefore, it must be effective and logical. Do not introduce any new information into the conclusion; rather, synthesize the information presented in the body of the essay. Restate why the topic is important, review the main points, and review your thesis. You may also want to include a short discussion of more research that should be completed in light of your work.

A complete argument

Perhaps it is helpful to think of an essay in terms of a conversation or debate with a classmate. If I were to discuss the cause of World War II and its current effect on those who lived through the tumultuous time, there would be a beginning, middle, and end to the conversation. In fact, if I were to end the argument in the middle of my second point, questions would arise concerning the current effects on those who lived through the conflict. Therefore, the argumentative essay must be complete, and logically so, leaving no doubt as to its intent or argument.

The five-paragraph essay

A common method for writing an argumentative essay is the five-paragraph approach. This is, however, by no means the only formula for writing such essays. If it sounds straightforward, that is because it is; in fact, the method consists of (a) an introductory paragraph (b) three evidentiary body paragraphs that may include discussion of opposing views and (c) a conclusion.

Longer argumentative essays

Complex issues and detailed research call for complex and detailed essays. Argumentative essays discussing a number of research sources or empirical research will most certainly be longer than five paragraphs. Authors may have to discuss the context surrounding the topic, sources of information and their credibility, as well as a number of different opinions on the issue before concluding the essay. Many of these factors will be determined by the assignment.

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20 Argument Essay

When we talk about arguments, we need to move beyond the idea that an argument is a fight or disagreement. Instead, think of argumentation as a process of taking a stand, presenting reasons and evidence, and using logic to convince an audience.

“Don’t Raise Your Voice, Improve Your Argument.”

– desmond tutu.

We don’t always argue to win. Yes, you read that correctly. Argumentation isn’t always about being “right.” We argue to express opinions and explore new ideas. When writing an argument, your goal is to convince an audience that your opinions and ideas are worth consideration and discussion.

What is an Academic Argument?

Billboards, television advertisements, documentaries, political campaign messages, and even bumper stickers are often arguments – these are messages trying to convince an audience to do something. But an academic argument is different. An academic argument requires a clear structure and use of outside evidence.

Key features of an academic argument:

  • Clear Structure: Includes a claim, reasons/evidence, counterargument, and conclusion.
  • Claim: Your arguable point (most often presented as your thesis statement).
  • Reasons & Evidence: Strong reasons and materials that support your claim.
  • Consideration of other Positions: Acknowledge and refute possible counterarguments.
  • Persuasive Appeals: Use of appeals to emotion, character, and logic.

Organizing an Argument

If you are asked to write an argument in college, there is a basic argument structure, much like the essay structure covered in the Essay chapter. Use this outline to help create an organized argument:

  • Thesis Statement: What’s your claim?
  • Brief background on issue (optional).
  • First reason for your position (with supporting evidence)
  • Second reason for your position (with supporting evidence)
  • Additional reasons (optional)
  • Counterargument: What’s the other side of the issue? Explain why your view is better than others.
  • Conclusion: Summarize the argument. Make clear what you want the audience to think or do.

How to Be Persuasive?

Building an argument isn’t easy, and building a convincing argument is even more difficult. You may have a clear claim, solid reasons and evidence, and even refute the main counterargument, but your audience may not be convinced. Maybe they don’t care about the topic. Maybe they don’t find you credible. Or, maybe they find your evidence weak.

What can you do to convince them? How can you persuade your audience?

Greek philosopher Aristotle (Remember him from the Rhetorical Situation chapter?) asked similar questions and he concluded that arguments needed to be persuasive. In The Art of Rhetoric, he identified three means of persuasion:

  • Logos: Use of evidence and reason to support the claim.
  • Pathos: Appeals to the audience’s emotions and values.
  • Ethos: An author leverages trustworthiness and character.

To build a convincing and perhaps influential argument, you need to not only have a structurally sound argument (claim, reasons, evidence, counterargument, conclusion), but you also need to leverage appeals to persuade your audience.

argumentative essay assignment sheet

Arguments are complex and difficult to master. But understanding how to build and critically read arguments is essential in understanding and shaping our lives.

Strengthening Your Argument

It is important to clearly state and support your position. However, it is just as important to present all of the information that you’ve gathered in an objective manner. Using language that is demeaning or non-objective will undermine the strength of your argument. This destroys your credibility and will reduce your audience on the spot. For example, a student writing an argument about why a particular football team has a good chance of “going all the way” is making a strategic error by stating that “anyone who doesn’t think that the Minnesota Vikings deserve to win the Super Bowl is a total idiot.” Not only has the writer risked alienating any number of her readers, she has also made her argument seem shallow and poorly researched. In addition, she has committed a third mistake: making a sweeping generalization that cannot be supported.

Objective Language

You should avoid using “I” and “My” (subjective) statements in your argument. You should only use “I” or “My” if you are an expert in your field (on a given topic). Instead choose more objective language to get your point across.

Consider the following:

Now let’s look at this sentence again, but without the “I” at the beginning. Does the same sentence become a strong statement of fact without your “I” tacked to the front?

“Wow,” your reader thinks, “that really sounds like a problem.”

A small change like the removal of your “I”s and “my”s can make all the difference in how a reader perceives your argument – as such, it’s always good to proofread your rough draft and look for places where you could use objective rather than subjective language.

A Note About Audience

Many topics that are written about in college are very controversial. When approaching a topic it is critical that you think about all of the implications that your argument makes. If, for example, you are writing a paper on abortion, you need to think about your audience. There will certainly be people in each of your classes that have some sort of relationship to this topic that may be different than yours. While you shouldn’t let others’ feelings sway your argument, you should approach each topic with a neutral mind and stay away from personal attacks. Keep your mind open to the implications of the opposition and formulate a logical stance considering the binaries equally. People may be offended by something you say, but if you have taken the time to think about the ideas that go into your paper, you should have no problem defending it.

Questions to Consider

  • How would your relatives react to the argument? Would they understand the terminology you are using? Does that matter?
  • How would your friends react to the argument? Would they understand the terminology you are using? Does that matter?
  • How would you explain your argument or research to a teenager vs someone who is in their 70s? Is there a difference?
  • If you are aware that your classmates are more liberal or more conservative in their political standing, does that determine how you will argue your topic? Or does that even matter?
  • If you are aware that your instructor is more liberal or conservative than you are, does that determine how you will argue your topic? Or does that even matter?
  • If you were to people-watch at a mall or other space where many people gather, who in the crowd would be your ideal audience and why? Who is not your ideal audience member? Why?

Counterargument

Speaking of the audience, there are three main strategies for addressing counterargument:

  • Acknowledgment: This acknowledges the importance of a particular alternative perspective but argues that it is irrelevant to the writer’s thesis/topic. When using this strategy, the writer agrees that the alternative perspective is important, but shows how it is outside of their focus.
  • Accommodation: This acknowledges the validity of a potential objection to the writer’s thesis and how on the surface the objection and thesis might seem contradictory. When using this strategy, the writer goes on to argue that, however, the ideal expressed in the objection is actually consistent with the writer’s own goals if one digs deeper into the issue.
  • Refutation: This acknowledges that a contrary perspective is reasonable and

understandable. It does not attack differing points of view. When using this strategy, the writer responds with strong, research-based evidence showing how that other perspective is incorrect or unfounded.

Let’s see how these three strategies could work in practice by considering the thesis statement “Utah public schools need to invest more money in arts education.”

  • Acknowledgment: One possible objection to the thesis could be: “Athletics is also an important part of students’ educational experience.” The writer could acknowledge that athletics are indeed important, but no more important than the arts. A responsible school budget should be able to include both.
  • Accommodation: Another possible objection to this thesis could be: “Students need a strong foundation in STEM subjects in order to get into college and get a good career.” The writer could acknowledge that STEM education is indeed crucial to students’ education. They could go on to argue, however, that arts education helps students be stronger in STEM classes through teaching creative problem-solving. So, if someone values STEM education, they need to value the arts as well.
  • Refutation: The most common objection to education budget proposals is that there is simply not enough money. Given limited resources, schools have to prioritize where the money is spent. In terms of research required, refutation takes the most work of these three methods. To argue that schools do have enough resources to support arts education, the writer would need to look at the current budget allocations. They could Google “Salt Lake City school district budget” to find a current budget report. In this report, they would find that the total budget for administrative roles in the 2014–15 school year totaled $10,443,596 (Roberts and Kearsley). Then they could argue that through administrative reforms, a small portion of this money could be freed up to make a big difference in funding arts education.

COUNTERING OPPOSING ARGUMENTS

Almost anything you can argue or claim in a paper can be refuted. Opposing points of view and arguments exist in every debate, and it’s important to anticipate possible objections to your arguments. In order to do that, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Could someone draw a different conclusion from the facts or examples you present?
  • Could a reader question any of your assumptions or claims?
  • Could a reader offer a different explanation of an issue?
  • Is there any evidence out there that could weaken your position?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, the next set of questions can help you respond to these potential objections:

  • Is it possible to concede the point of the opposition, but then challenge that point’s importance/usefulness?
  • Can you offer an explanation of why a reader should question a piece of evidence or consider a different point of view?
  • Can you explain how your position responds to any contradicting evidence?
  • Can you put forward a different interpretation of the evidence?

You can use signal phrases in your paper to alert readers that you’re about to present an objection. It’s usually best to put this phrase at the beginning of a paragraph such as:

  • Researchers have challenged these claims with…
  • Critics argue that this view…
  • Some readers may point to…

Student Example: Mini-Argument

Mini Example

Sally Student

Mrs. Christine Jones

29 September 2019

Can Graffiti Ever Be Considered Art?

Graffiti is not simply acts of vandalism, but a true artistic form because of personal expression, aesthetic qualities, and movements of style.

Graffiti, like traditional artistic forms such as sculpture, is art because it allows artists to express ideas through an outside medium.

Graffiti must be considered an art form based on judgement of aesthetic qualities. Art professor George C. Stowers argues that “larger pieces require planning and imagination and contain artistic elements like color and composition” (“Graffiti”).

Like all artistic forms, Graffiti has evolved, experiencing significant movements or periods.

Often, graffiti is seen as only criminal vandalism, but this is not always the case.

The artistic merits of graffiti–expression, aesthetics, and movements–cannot be denied; Graffiti is art.

Works Cited

“Graffiti: Art through Vandalism.” Graffiti: Art through Vandalism. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2015.

Time to Write

Purpose:  This assignment will demonstrate the understanding of how to write an argument

Task: This assignment establishes a position on a significant problem (or issue) and directs the argument to a specific audience.

Compose a position argument on a significant problem (or issue) and direct your argument to a specific audience. Whether you are taking a stand on a personal experience, a newsworthy situation, or a lifestyle, educational, or religious belief, provide a vivid description of the issue so that your audience can appreciate the significance of the problem and understand your position (or claim). Your description should reveal the importance of the issue to you as well as its effect on your audience. Your clear position on the issue should appear in your thesis statement. Support your thesis with reasons that are themselves supported by specific details, examples, and anecdotes. As you draft your position argument, be sure to acknowledge and address any concerns or beliefs that oppose your own.

A position argument is not just your opinion. It is a carefully constructed point of view based on reasons and evidence. Bring your supporting reasons to life with research through detailed, credible evidence and examples, whether personal anecdotes, statistics, or other details.

Because you want your audience to consider seriously your position, conduct research to see what evidence your opposition uses. Acknowledging the values and beliefs of your audience helps you establish common ground. In doing so, you make clear that you respect and understand your audience—and hope they will try to understand you as you work to persuade them to change their attitudes or actions.

You will utilize elements of logos and ethos. As you are considering the elements of your rhetorical situation, you will also want to consider whether your audience is supportive, wavering, or hostile. For this essay, we will be pre-writing, identifying a thesis, using library databases to find evidence, outlining, writing a rough draft, peer-reviewing, and completing a final draft of 750-1000 words in length.

Key Features of an argument:

  • Clearly describe the problem or issue
  • Target the audience
  • Include background on why the issue matters
  • Acknowledge counterarguments
  • Illustrate the ability to use a third-person point of view effectively in an argument.
  • Present a thesis statement at the end of the introductory paragraph.
  • Support the thesis using RESEARCH MATERIAL and specific details.
  • Illustrate the ability to argue a position or a solution argument.
  • Support the thesis using research material and specific details.
  • Plus MLA formatted Works Cited page
  • Must utilize 3-4 sources
  • Must include in-text citations that identify the source for the evidence
  • In-text citations must match the references in the works cited page

Key Grading Considerations

  • Restates thesis
  • Summarizes main ideas
  • Transitions
  • Thesis Statement
  • Topic Sentences
  • Clear introduction, argument, counterargument, and conclusion
  • An appropriate sequence of paragraphs
  • Relevant, current sources
  • Parenthetical (in-text) citations
  • Clear use of author, purpose, audience, tone, voice, ethos
  • No logical fallacies
  • Correct, appropriate, and varied integration of textual examples, including in-text citations
  • Limited errors in spelling, grammar, word order, word usage, sentence structure, and punctuation
  • Good use of academic English
  • Demonstrates cohesion and flow
  • Uses the rules of dialogue
  • Date format
  • Five (5) sources or more
  • alphabetical order
  • hanging indent

Attributions

  • Writing Unleashed by Sybil Priebe, Ronda Marman, and Dana Anderson is licensed under a   Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
  • About Writing: A Guide  by Robin Jeffrey is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
  • Time to Write by Christine Jones is licensed under the Creative Commons Public Domain License.

English 101: Journey Into Open Copyright © 2021 by Christine Jones is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Research-Based Argument Assignment

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Overview:   The research-based argument (RBA) assignment asks students to produce a well-supported, focused argument drawing on library and web-based research.  The completed essay should demonstrate a clear understanding of the problem it addresses; engage successfully with realistically portrayed disparate views or multiple perspectives; incorporate appropriate material from well-chosen sources purposefully, gracefully, and ethically; and, exhibit reasonable and appropriate rhetorical choices based on the writer’s purpose.

In addition to a mandatory drafting and revision stage, the RBA assignment may include some of the following components: a research proposal, annotated bibliography, peer review, outline, reflective memo, brief non-graded oral presentation (substantial work on oral/multimedia presentations is reserved for PWR 2).

Length:  3600-4500 words; 12-15 pages. 

Sources:  A minimum of 10 sources should substantively inform the essay, recognizing that a rigorous research-based argument may engage with many more sources in the research process but should actively draw on at least 10 in constructing its argument.

Student Learning Objectives :

  • Students will develop strategies for arriving at a productive research topic/question, narrowing it to an appropriate scope, and using research to arrive at an understanding about that topic/question
  • Students will practice strategies for finding and engaging with sources that represent the best quality of information available to them on their topic
  • Students will demonstrate an ability to construct a well-reasoned argument, informed by the scholarly conversation and research on a topic, and supported by evidence
  • Students will practice ethical use of source material through decisions about how and when to integrate source material (summarize, paraphrase, quote) and consistent use of citation practices
  • Students will explore pre-writing, drafting, rethinking based on feedback, and revising as part of the writing process

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Which link?

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 3 strong argumentative essay examples, analyzed.

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Need to defend your opinion on an issue? Argumentative essays are one of the most popular types of essays you’ll write in school. They combine persuasive arguments with fact-based research, and, when done well, can be powerful tools for making someone agree with your point of view. If you’re struggling to write an argumentative essay or just want to learn more about them, seeing examples can be a big help.

After giving an overview of this type of essay, we provide three argumentative essay examples. After each essay, we explain in-depth how the essay was structured, what worked, and where the essay could be improved. We end with tips for making your own argumentative essay as strong as possible.

What Is an Argumentative Essay?

An argumentative essay is an essay that uses evidence and facts to support the claim it’s making. Its purpose is to persuade the reader to agree with the argument being made.

A good argumentative essay will use facts and evidence to support the argument, rather than just the author’s thoughts and opinions. For example, say you wanted to write an argumentative essay stating that Charleston, SC is a great destination for families. You couldn’t just say that it’s a great place because you took your family there and enjoyed it. For it to be an argumentative essay, you need to have facts and data to support your argument, such as the number of child-friendly attractions in Charleston, special deals you can get with kids, and surveys of people who visited Charleston as a family and enjoyed it. The first argument is based entirely on feelings, whereas the second is based on evidence that can be proven.

The standard five paragraph format is common, but not required, for argumentative essays. These essays typically follow one of two formats: the Toulmin model or the Rogerian model.

  • The Toulmin model is the most common. It begins with an introduction, follows with a thesis/claim, and gives data and evidence to support that claim. This style of essay also includes rebuttals of counterarguments.
  • The Rogerian model analyzes two sides of an argument and reaches a conclusion after weighing the strengths and weaknesses of each.

3 Good Argumentative Essay Examples + Analysis

Below are three examples of argumentative essays, written by yours truly in my school days, as well as analysis of what each did well and where it could be improved.

Argumentative Essay Example 1

Proponents of this idea state that it will save local cities and towns money because libraries are expensive to maintain. They also believe it will encourage more people to read because they won’t have to travel to a library to get a book; they can simply click on what they want to read and read it from wherever they are. They could also access more materials because libraries won’t have to buy physical copies of books; they can simply rent out as many digital copies as they need.

However, it would be a serious mistake to replace libraries with tablets. First, digital books and resources are associated with less learning and more problems than print resources. A study done on tablet vs book reading found that people read 20-30% slower on tablets, retain 20% less information, and understand 10% less of what they read compared to people who read the same information in print. Additionally, staring too long at a screen has been shown to cause numerous health problems, including blurred vision, dizziness, dry eyes, headaches, and eye strain, at much higher instances than reading print does. People who use tablets and mobile devices excessively also have a higher incidence of more serious health issues such as fibromyalgia, shoulder and back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and muscle strain. I know that whenever I read from my e-reader for too long, my eyes begin to feel tired and my neck hurts. We should not add to these problems by giving people, especially young people, more reasons to look at screens.

Second, it is incredibly narrow-minded to assume that the only service libraries offer is book lending. Libraries have a multitude of benefits, and many are only available if the library has a physical location. Some of these benefits include acting as a quiet study space, giving people a way to converse with their neighbors, holding classes on a variety of topics, providing jobs, answering patron questions, and keeping the community connected. One neighborhood found that, after a local library instituted community events such as play times for toddlers and parents, job fairs for teenagers, and meeting spaces for senior citizens, over a third of residents reported feeling more connected to their community. Similarly, a Pew survey conducted in 2015 found that nearly two-thirds of American adults feel that closing their local library would have a major impact on their community. People see libraries as a way to connect with others and get their questions answered, benefits tablets can’t offer nearly as well or as easily.

While replacing libraries with tablets may seem like a simple solution, it would encourage people to spend even more time looking at digital screens, despite the myriad issues surrounding them. It would also end access to many of the benefits of libraries that people have come to rely on. In many areas, libraries are such an important part of the community network that they could never be replaced by a simple object.

The author begins by giving an overview of the counter-argument, then the thesis appears as the first sentence in the third paragraph. The essay then spends the rest of the paper dismantling the counter argument and showing why readers should believe the other side.

What this essay does well:

  • Although it’s a bit unusual to have the thesis appear fairly far into the essay, it works because, once the thesis is stated, the rest of the essay focuses on supporting it since the counter-argument has already been discussed earlier in the paper.
  • This essay includes numerous facts and cites studies to support its case. By having specific data to rely on, the author’s argument is stronger and readers will be more inclined to agree with it.
  • For every argument the other side makes, the author makes sure to refute it and follow up with why her opinion is the stronger one. In order to make a strong argument, it’s important to dismantle the other side, which this essay does this by making the author's view appear stronger.
  • This is a shorter paper, and if it needed to be expanded to meet length requirements, it could include more examples and go more into depth with them, such as by explaining specific cases where people benefited from local libraries.
  • Additionally, while the paper uses lots of data, the author also mentions their own experience with using tablets. This should be removed since argumentative essays focus on facts and data to support an argument, not the author’s own opinion or experiences. Replacing that with more data on health issues associated with screen time would strengthen the essay.
  • Some of the points made aren't completely accurate , particularly the one about digital books being cheaper. It actually often costs a library more money to rent out numerous digital copies of a book compared to buying a single physical copy. Make sure in your own essay you thoroughly research each of the points and rebuttals you make, otherwise you'll look like you don't know the issue that well.

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Argumentative Essay Example 2

There are multiple drugs available to treat malaria, and many of them work well and save lives, but malaria eradication programs that focus too much on them and not enough on prevention haven’t seen long-term success in Sub-Saharan Africa. A major program to combat malaria was WHO’s Global Malaria Eradication Programme. Started in 1955, it had a goal of eliminating malaria in Africa within the next ten years. Based upon previously successful programs in Brazil and the United States, the program focused mainly on vector control. This included widely distributing chloroquine and spraying large amounts of DDT. More than one billion dollars was spent trying to abolish malaria. However, the program suffered from many problems and in 1969, WHO was forced to admit that the program had not succeeded in eradicating malaria. The number of people in Sub-Saharan Africa who contracted malaria as well as the number of malaria deaths had actually increased over 10% during the time the program was active.

One of the major reasons for the failure of the project was that it set uniform strategies and policies. By failing to consider variations between governments, geography, and infrastructure, the program was not nearly as successful as it could have been. Sub-Saharan Africa has neither the money nor the infrastructure to support such an elaborate program, and it couldn’t be run the way it was meant to. Most African countries don't have the resources to send all their people to doctors and get shots, nor can they afford to clear wetlands or other malaria prone areas. The continent’s spending per person for eradicating malaria was just a quarter of what Brazil spent. Sub-Saharan Africa simply can’t rely on a plan that requires more money, infrastructure, and expertise than they have to spare.

Additionally, the widespread use of chloroquine has created drug resistant parasites which are now plaguing Sub-Saharan Africa. Because chloroquine was used widely but inconsistently, mosquitoes developed resistance, and chloroquine is now nearly completely ineffective in Sub-Saharan Africa, with over 95% of mosquitoes resistant to it. As a result, newer, more expensive drugs need to be used to prevent and treat malaria, which further drives up the cost of malaria treatment for a region that can ill afford it.

Instead of developing plans to treat malaria after the infection has incurred, programs should focus on preventing infection from occurring in the first place. Not only is this plan cheaper and more effective, reducing the number of people who contract malaria also reduces loss of work/school days which can further bring down the productivity of the region.

One of the cheapest and most effective ways of preventing malaria is to implement insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs).  These nets provide a protective barrier around the person or people using them. While untreated bed nets are still helpful, those treated with insecticides are much more useful because they stop mosquitoes from biting people through the nets, and they help reduce mosquito populations in a community, thus helping people who don’t even own bed nets.  Bed nets are also very effective because most mosquito bites occur while the person is sleeping, so bed nets would be able to drastically reduce the number of transmissions during the night. In fact, transmission of malaria can be reduced by as much as 90% in areas where the use of ITNs is widespread. Because money is so scarce in Sub-Saharan Africa, the low cost is a great benefit and a major reason why the program is so successful. Bed nets cost roughly 2 USD to make, last several years, and can protect two adults. Studies have shown that, for every 100-1000 more nets are being used, one less child dies of malaria. With an estimated 300 million people in Africa not being protected by mosquito nets, there’s the potential to save three million lives by spending just a few dollars per person.

Reducing the number of people who contract malaria would also reduce poverty levels in Africa significantly, thus improving other aspects of society like education levels and the economy. Vector control is more effective than treatment strategies because it means fewer people are getting sick. When fewer people get sick, the working population is stronger as a whole because people are not put out of work from malaria, nor are they caring for sick relatives. Malaria-afflicted families can typically only harvest 40% of the crops that healthy families can harvest. Additionally, a family with members who have malaria spends roughly a quarter of its income treatment, not including the loss of work they also must deal with due to the illness. It’s estimated that malaria costs Africa 12 billion USD in lost income every year. A strong working population creates a stronger economy, which Sub-Saharan Africa is in desperate need of.  

This essay begins with an introduction, which ends with the thesis (that malaria eradication plans in Sub-Saharan Africa should focus on prevention rather than treatment). The first part of the essay lays out why the counter argument (treatment rather than prevention) is not as effective, and the second part of the essay focuses on why prevention of malaria is the better path to take.

  • The thesis appears early, is stated clearly, and is supported throughout the rest of the essay. This makes the argument clear for readers to understand and follow throughout the essay.
  • There’s lots of solid research in this essay, including specific programs that were conducted and how successful they were, as well as specific data mentioned throughout. This evidence helps strengthen the author’s argument.
  • The author makes a case for using expanding bed net use over waiting until malaria occurs and beginning treatment, but not much of a plan is given for how the bed nets would be distributed or how to ensure they’re being used properly. By going more into detail of what she believes should be done, the author would be making a stronger argument.
  • The introduction of the essay does a good job of laying out the seriousness of the problem, but the conclusion is short and abrupt. Expanding it into its own paragraph would give the author a final way to convince readers of her side of the argument.

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Argumentative Essay Example 3

There are many ways payments could work. They could be in the form of a free-market approach, where athletes are able to earn whatever the market is willing to pay them, it could be a set amount of money per athlete, or student athletes could earn income from endorsements, autographs, and control of their likeness, similar to the way top Olympians earn money.

Proponents of the idea believe that, because college athletes are the ones who are training, participating in games, and bringing in audiences, they should receive some sort of compensation for their work. If there were no college athletes, the NCAA wouldn’t exist, college coaches wouldn’t receive there (sometimes very high) salaries, and brands like Nike couldn’t profit from college sports. In fact, the NCAA brings in roughly $1 billion in revenue a year, but college athletes don’t receive any of that money in the form of a paycheck. Additionally, people who believe college athletes should be paid state that paying college athletes will actually encourage them to remain in college longer and not turn pro as quickly, either by giving them a way to begin earning money in college or requiring them to sign a contract stating they’ll stay at the university for a certain number of years while making an agreed-upon salary.  

Supporters of this idea point to Zion Williamson, the Duke basketball superstar, who, during his freshman year, sustained a serious knee injury. Many argued that, even if he enjoyed playing for Duke, it wasn’t worth risking another injury and ending his professional career before it even began for a program that wasn’t paying him. Williamson seems to have agreed with them and declared his eligibility for the NCAA draft later that year. If he was being paid, he may have stayed at Duke longer. In fact, roughly a third of student athletes surveyed stated that receiving a salary while in college would make them “strongly consider” remaining collegiate athletes longer before turning pro.

Paying athletes could also stop the recruitment scandals that have plagued the NCAA. In 2018, the NCAA stripped the University of Louisville's men's basketball team of its 2013 national championship title because it was discovered coaches were using sex workers to entice recruits to join the team. There have been dozens of other recruitment scandals where college athletes and recruits have been bribed with anything from having their grades changed, to getting free cars, to being straight out bribed. By paying college athletes and putting their salaries out in the open, the NCAA could end the illegal and underhanded ways some schools and coaches try to entice athletes to join.

People who argue against the idea of paying college athletes believe the practice could be disastrous for college sports. By paying athletes, they argue, they’d turn college sports into a bidding war, where only the richest schools could afford top athletes, and the majority of schools would be shut out from developing a talented team (though some argue this already happens because the best players often go to the most established college sports programs, who typically pay their coaches millions of dollars per year). It could also ruin the tight camaraderie of many college teams if players become jealous that certain teammates are making more money than they are.

They also argue that paying college athletes actually means only a small fraction would make significant money. Out of the 350 Division I athletic departments, fewer than a dozen earn any money. Nearly all the money the NCAA makes comes from men’s football and basketball, so paying college athletes would make a small group of men--who likely will be signed to pro teams and begin making millions immediately out of college--rich at the expense of other players.

Those against paying college athletes also believe that the athletes are receiving enough benefits already. The top athletes already receive scholarships that are worth tens of thousands per year, they receive free food/housing/textbooks, have access to top medical care if they are injured, receive top coaching, get travel perks and free gear, and can use their time in college as a way to capture the attention of professional recruiters. No other college students receive anywhere near as much from their schools.

People on this side also point out that, while the NCAA brings in a massive amount of money each year, it is still a non-profit organization. How? Because over 95% of those profits are redistributed to its members’ institutions in the form of scholarships, grants, conferences, support for Division II and Division III teams, and educational programs. Taking away a significant part of that revenue would hurt smaller programs that rely on that money to keep running.

While both sides have good points, it’s clear that the negatives of paying college athletes far outweigh the positives. College athletes spend a significant amount of time and energy playing for their school, but they are compensated for it by the scholarships and perks they receive. Adding a salary to that would result in a college athletic system where only a small handful of athletes (those likely to become millionaires in the professional leagues) are paid by a handful of schools who enter bidding wars to recruit them, while the majority of student athletics and college athletic programs suffer or even shut down for lack of money. Continuing to offer the current level of benefits to student athletes makes it possible for as many people to benefit from and enjoy college sports as possible.

This argumentative essay follows the Rogerian model. It discusses each side, first laying out multiple reasons people believe student athletes should be paid, then discussing reasons why the athletes shouldn’t be paid. It ends by stating that college athletes shouldn’t be paid by arguing that paying them would destroy college athletics programs and cause them to have many of the issues professional sports leagues have.

  • Both sides of the argument are well developed, with multiple reasons why people agree with each side. It allows readers to get a full view of the argument and its nuances.
  • Certain statements on both sides are directly rebuffed in order to show where the strengths and weaknesses of each side lie and give a more complete and sophisticated look at the argument.
  • Using the Rogerian model can be tricky because oftentimes you don’t explicitly state your argument until the end of the paper. Here, the thesis doesn’t appear until the first sentence of the final paragraph. That doesn’t give readers a lot of time to be convinced that your argument is the right one, compared to a paper where the thesis is stated in the beginning and then supported throughout the paper. This paper could be strengthened if the final paragraph was expanded to more fully explain why the author supports the view, or if the paper had made it clearer that paying athletes was the weaker argument throughout.

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3 Tips for Writing a Good Argumentative Essay

Now that you’ve seen examples of what good argumentative essay samples look like, follow these three tips when crafting your own essay.

#1: Make Your Thesis Crystal Clear

The thesis is the key to your argumentative essay; if it isn’t clear or readers can’t find it easily, your entire essay will be weak as a result. Always make sure that your thesis statement is easy to find. The typical spot for it is the final sentence of the introduction paragraph, but if it doesn’t fit in that spot for your essay, try to at least put it as the first or last sentence of a different paragraph so it stands out more.

Also make sure that your thesis makes clear what side of the argument you’re on. After you’ve written it, it’s a great idea to show your thesis to a couple different people--classmates are great for this. Just by reading your thesis they should be able to understand what point you’ll be trying to make with the rest of your essay.

#2: Show Why the Other Side Is Weak

When writing your essay, you may be tempted to ignore the other side of the argument and just focus on your side, but don’t do this. The best argumentative essays really tear apart the other side to show why readers shouldn’t believe it. Before you begin writing your essay, research what the other side believes, and what their strongest points are. Then, in your essay, be sure to mention each of these and use evidence to explain why they’re incorrect/weak arguments. That’ll make your essay much more effective than if you only focused on your side of the argument.

#3: Use Evidence to Support Your Side

Remember, an essay can’t be an argumentative essay if it doesn’t support its argument with evidence. For every point you make, make sure you have facts to back it up. Some examples are previous studies done on the topic, surveys of large groups of people, data points, etc. There should be lots of numbers in your argumentative essay that support your side of the argument. This will make your essay much stronger compared to only relying on your own opinions to support your argument.

Summary: Argumentative Essay Sample

Argumentative essays are persuasive essays that use facts and evidence to support their side of the argument. Most argumentative essays follow either the Toulmin model or the Rogerian model. By reading good argumentative essay examples, you can learn how to develop your essay and provide enough support to make readers agree with your opinion. When writing your essay, remember to always make your thesis clear, show where the other side is weak, and back up your opinion with data and evidence.

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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

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    You have to (1) state your opinion, (2) give reasons to support your opinion, and (3) argue against the opposite opinion. Overall, you must convince the audience that your side of the argument is correct. To convince the audience, your essay must be balanced—it must include your viewpoint and the opposing viewpoint, or counterargument.

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