An argumentative essay is a succinct piece of writing in which the student is required to collect details, investigate the authenticity of the subject, analyze all the information, examine the evidence and link the topic to the information gathered or to facts already known.
Note: Many students confuse expository essays with argumentative essays. Both have several things in common, but there are certain requirements in the research methodology and analysis of the subject in an argumentative essay that differentiate them. Not least is the fact that an argumentative essay involves thorough research on the part of the writer because these types of essay are submitted as the final project or as a crowning achievement on advanced first year composition or writing courses. Moreover, expository essays are generally shorter. Tests or exercises such as GRE often include expository essays.
In order to formulate an argumentative essay you will need the assistance of a variety of reading materials and resources which will usually include the published literature, journals, articles, reports or papers. Very often, a student will be required to gather information using an empirical approach, i.e. collecting facts and figures as well as conducting experiments, surveys, interviews or observations. If the research is thorough, many aspects of a topic, which appeared irrelevant to the student when he or she stumbled upon them in the earlier stages, will often begin to make sense later as further evidence and proof emerges. It is essential that sound reasoning be incorporated in any argumentative essay.
The following is a comprehensive guide to structuring an argumentative essay.
The first paragraph must contain a clear, concise statement defining the thesis:
It is very important that the first paragraph of an argumentative essay should contain a brief overview of the entire piece. The writer should also explain the significance of the topic to the reader – readers should be made aware that they will benefit from reading the essay. The writer must then present a statement of the thesis. For an essay to be persuasive the writer must have the ability to summarize the topic concisely and effectively. The essay must remain focused and never stray from the point.
Logical transitions between the introduction, main body and conclusion:
Giving a unity to the entire essay and maintaining lucid transitions between sections is extremely important. The reader’s mind is likely to wander if the essay lacks a logical, cohesive structure. Initial points and arguments must lead smoothly into those that follow, thus linking the whole piece, with former and latter ideas backing each other up and adding weight to the writer’s argument.
Evidence and proof must validate the topic:
It is advisable to limit each paragraph to explaining just one idea. This will give a good overall impression and enable the reader to understand the argument step by step. Bear in mind that connections are as important as logical transitions. If a student begins an essay with a particular approach it should be maintained throughout the text. A good writer will notice how the different paragraphs can greatly accentuate the idea of the topic. All the evidence and facts collected during the research stage should be put to use in the writing.
Nevertheless, take care to avoid repetition. An argumentative essay should always include a range of evidence, explanations and ideas. Conflicting opinions or shifts in paradigm should be restricted to discussion in separate paragraphs, in accordance with the number of words allowed. Not every opposing opinion has to be put up against the topic of an argumentative essay.
However, omitting all opinions that obviously contradict the topic under discussion can leave the reader with a poor impression. The writer will appear more professional by dealing with a diversity of ideas while remaining focused and precise. All information must be up-to-date; however, if necessary, old facts may be used to prove certain points.
Evidence, proof, facts and figures must be provided:
While keeping opposing opinions under discussion, the writer must ensure that all the information he or she is presenting is authentic and accurate. Theses should be supported by solid evidence. By including multiple points of views on a single idea an argumentative essay can be extremely versatile. If there are any conflicting opinions, they too should be included, but the student should use them wisely to support the subject. A direct declaration that an opinion is right or wrong is out of place in an argumentative essay, rather the writer’s skill lies in logically leading the reader to the desired conclusion.
The conclusion must briefly describe the entire essay in the light of the foregoing arguments and evidence:
Remember, the conclusion of an essay is the part that will leave the deepest impression on the reader’s mind – being tactful can be difficult, which is why so many students have trouble with this part. Logic and clear thinking are the two things that must be kept in mind when structuring an essay. Never introduce anything new in the conclusion. A brief review emphasizing the significance of the topic must be given in this section. A short discussion may also be included to round the essay off.
The argument of the essay must be complete:
It is always wise to discuss your topic with your class fellows. For example, if the topic for my argumentative essay were World War II, I would try to gather information about the topic and formulate it with a proper introduction, middle and end. Never leave any questions in the middle section unanswered. Keep your argumentative essay extremely concise but do not forget to make sure it is also clear and complete.
An essay with five paragraphs:
A five-paragraph essay, correctly planned, will put your argument across convincingly. An argumentative essay becomes most compelling when all the information is presented in five paragraphs. The first introduces the subject, the following three make up the main body of your argument and the last is devoted to the conclusion.
Lengthy argumentative essays:
If the subject of your essay is complex, you may increase the length of the essay according to the demands of the topic. As a general rule, it is the amount of information or evidence that decides the length of the final essay; however, do try not to increase the length unnecessarily.