How to Write an Argumentative Essay

One of the hardest papers you’ll ever write is an argumentative essay. Most people misunderstand the purpose of an argumentative essay – it is neither to pick a point of view which contradicts popular opinion, nor one that incites anger or displeasure in the reader. Instead, it is one in which you pick a position on a topic and support it with the evidence.

Three Examples of Argumentative Essay Theses

  1. The death penalty is not an effective deterrent, as there are still murders committed on a daily basis.
  2. Torture is unacceptable, except for in instances where national security is at risk.
  3. Curfews do not keep teenagers out of trouble, but actually increase the chances that they’ll end up at odds with the law.

You’ll notice two components to each thesis:

  1. A statement of the common perception of the topic at hand
  2. A counter point to that belief

Performing Research when Writing an Argumentative Essay

Whatever topic you choose to cover, you’re sure to find plenty of resources covering it. What you want to look for, specifically, is evidence that supports your position. You’ll reference it throughout the paper as a means of validating your argument.

How you present these sources is of critical importance, as your ultimate goal is convincing the reader to also support your opinion. Be sure to reference your sources and citations as true expert opinions whenever possible. Finally, studying multiple studies on the same topic can lead to the discovery of previously uncorrelated information that can further your argument.

Follow the Basic Structure of a Good Argumentative Essay

Your paper needs to contain several components to work as a cohesive piece:

  1. Introduction
  2. Thesis (the last sentence of the introductory paragraph)
  3. Supporting paragraphs
  4. Conclusion

The introduction should clearly state the popular belief or opinion on the topic at hand. The thesis statement should claim, as in the examples above, that the popular opinion is largely inaccurate. Your supporting paragraphs must show evidence pulled from your sources and citations. Finally, the conclusion should summarize the evidence presented and restate your thesis.

What If You Prove Your Own Thesis to be Incorrect?

This is a common problem for students writing argumentative essays. Instead of scrapping the work and starting over, simply go back and change your introductory paragraph and thesis statement. This will allow you to benefit from all of the hard work you’ve done, while still providing a great argumentative essay.