What is an Argumentative Essay?

Argumentative essays are some of the common assignments for college students.

Although they range in disciplines, genres, and length, short argumentative essays are usually in the form of 500 words essays.

Despite being common, sometimes students fail to clearly identify the specific steps that make writing an argumentative essay quite distinctive.

Note that writing such an essay requires you go beyond the ordinary steps to writing an essay.

You therefore need a clear picture of what is an argumentative essay.

Accordingly, one of the most important steps for writing an argumentative essay involves understanding what is expected of you.

The entailed expectations revolved around the purpose of the essay, which is clearly articulated in its definition.

Per se, an argumentative essay can be defined as:


“A form of writing that focuses on investigating a topic, gathering, creating, and examining evidence with the intention if concisely coming up with a position on a particular topic.”


The above definition is key in demarcating the purpose and direction of the argumentative essay.

It makes it possible to distinguish the argumentative essay from other essays, particularly the expository essay that it is often confused with.

As derived from the definition and different from an expository, it should be observed that argumentative essays are quite in-depth, where they usually involve detailed research.

They rely largely on previously done wide research in developing a study on the issue under investigation.

This research encompasses a literature review that is essential in collecting important data to be used in the fact finding mission.

Argumentative essays may include such academic works as dissertations with data collection strategies entailing surveys, experiments, interviews, or observations.



Features of a Good Argumentative Essay

Before you start navigating through the particular steps for writing an argumentative essay, you should comprehend the different features that define a good argumentative essay.

These features are critical in differentiating the argumentative essay from other types of essays.

Such features include:


a)  A clear and succinct thesis statement

A good argumentative essay must have a clear and terse thesis statement.

As student, this requires you to exhibit good skills on how to write an argumentative essay thesis statement.

Note that thesis statement in argumentative essays should serve as a guide on the direction and scope the essay is expected to assume.

Developing ta good thesis statement is therefore one of the major steps for writing an argumentative essay.

For that reason, you must learn how to write an argumentative essay thesis statement that is clear and concise.

Usually, the thesis statement appears in the first paragraph of the sentence and the rest of the essay builds around the thesis statement.


b) Should be founded on factual evidence

Argumentative essays rely on evidence in advancing their respective arguments.

Whether logical, statistical, factual, or anecdotal, evidence must be effectively presented in the essay.

As such, generating information that is well-researched, current, detailed, and accurate is one of the most important steps for writing an argumentative essay.

The argument should follow in a logical and sequential manner to ensure that the essay is coherent.

All evidence utilized must be scientific which implies that it should not contradict known facts.


c) Data/information collected be reconciled with the thesis statement

In the conclusion of the argumentative essay, data collected must end up confirming the research thesis.

In a nutshell, the thesis must be reconciled with the facts provided in the essay.

Besides expertise on how to write an argumentative essay thesis, you must be able to readdress it within the context of the evidence provided.

This demands effective reconciliation, which is normally done in the conclusion section, and is critical in creating the last impression on the reader.

Although it is among the very last steps for writing an argumentative essay, it is considered very crucial since it what the reader remembers last.

Accordingly, you should synthesize information in essay’s body, review the thesis, examine the main points, and the restate reasons why the topic is imperative.


d) Should be founded on logical transitions

The essay should progress logically by effectively utilizing transitions. Transitions are considered the glue that holds the essay’s foundation together.

Proper use of transitions is critical in making the essay’s arguments attain a structure that ensures that it remains coherent.

Since transitions define the structure of an argumentative essay, all arguments must be integrated in such a manner that they successfully drive a specific view point on an issue.

All this makes knowledge on argumentative essay format equally important.



Approaches on how to Write an Argumentative Essay

There are different approaches or methods of argumentation you could adopt in your argumentative essay.

These approaches determine the argumentative essay format you embrace. As such, selecting an appropriate approach is one of the critical steps for writing an argumentative essay.

You therefore need to be careful when choosing an approach.

That said, common approaches include:


Classical Argument

The classical model is considered the most basic approaches to argumentation.

Also referred to as Aristotelian argument, it seeks to convince or persuade the reader about something.

Using the argument will require you to advocate for a specific side of an issue.

The model employs key strategies such as:

1. Ethos

2. Pathos

3. Logos


Further, the model follows a certain argumentative essay format as illustrated below:


1. Introduce the issue

2. Present the case

3. Address the counterarguments

4. Provide your evidence

5. Write a conclusion


The model is most appropriate when you need to present arguments in simple forms particularly for audience with little information or less strong opinion about the topic under study.


Rogerian Argument

The Rogerian model is a very interesting approach.

It seeks to find a middle ground between the writer and the audience.

Such a middle ground is deemed essential in incidences where the audience do not fully agree with the writer’s view about the issues being deliberated upon.

The approach is interesting when effectively utilized as it helps writers appreciate their own biases.

It is also fulfilling since it presents a win-win scenario for both the writer and the audience.

The argumentative essay format derived from this model is as illustrated below.


1. Provide an introduction

2. Acknowledge the counterargument

3. Provide an argument

4. Provide a middle argument

5. Propose a middle ground

6. Conclude the discussion


The model is very effective when navigating through polarizing topics. This is because it can help acknowledge both sides of an issue while presenting a middle ground.


Toulmin Argument

The Toulmin model is arguably the most complex among the three approaches.

It is more appropriate in incidences where there are no clear or absolute solutions to presenting issues and problems.

The model considers the complexity of different situations.

It produces the argumentative essay format shown below.


1. Claim

2. Grounds

3. Warrant

4. Backing

5. Qualifier

6. Rebuttal


The model is also suitable for polarizing issues or topics. When dealing with such topics, it presents only one side of issue and uses facts to advance the claim in a way that is difficult to refute.



Example of an Argumentative Essay Outline

As observed above, an argumentative essay can assume different formats depending on the model it adopts.

Therefore, an example of an argumentative essay outline should be in line with a particular model.

Outlines for classical, Rogerian, and Toulmin approaches are as such expected to slightly vary from each other.

That noted, below is an example of an argumentative essay outline following the classical model.


I. Introductory Paragraph

1. This paragraph should provide the context for the position you intend to advance.

2. It should end with a thesis statement laying down your claim and the reasons for taking your position on the issue being explored.

a. Thesis

1. State your position

2. Should appear at the end of the introduction

3. Should be clear and use emphatic language (ought, should, must)

b. Sample thesis

Manufacturing, sale, and acquisition of assault weapons for civilians should be prohibited in the US.


II. Body of the Argument

a. Background

1. In this section, you should provide the basic information necessary for understanding your position on the issue.

2. It could be as an independent section or part of the introduction.

b. Evidence supporting the claim

1. This should contain all the evidence essential in supporting your position.

2. It is the meat of the essay.

3. It should start with a general statement that is then supported with details and examples.

4. It should contain several paragraphs with each of them focusing on a specific reason/ piece of evidence.


Types of evidence may include:

1. Examples and experiential knowledge

2. Expert opinions


a. Claim: Lack of civilian access to assault weapons could reduce the increasing public shootings incidences.


March 2021 Boulder Colorado shootings

August 2019 Dayton Ohio shootings

May 2018 Santa Fe Texas college shootings

Explore how the perpetrators accessed the weapons.


b. Claim: The ban on assault weapons is supported by law enforcement, key organizations, and public opinion.


IACP opinions

Organizational campaigns

56% supports banning-Monmouth University Poll


c. Claim: The human and monetary costs from assault weapons crimes are too high.


6,368 murders by handguns in 2019

35,635 non-fatal gun injuries in 2017


III. Addressing Opposite Side

1. The argumentative essay should effectively predict and counter positions opposing the one being advanced.

2. Addressing this positions illustrates your critical thought.

3. It should be brief, about a paragraph and could appear after introduction or before conclusion.


a. Opposing view #1: Prohibitive gun laws won’t lower violent crimes rates (gun violence touches more on the psychological state than ownership)

1. Refutation: Low gun violence rates in Europe-countries like UK, Germany, etc.


b. Opposing view #2: Gun control will make citizens unsecure

1. Refutation: Guns have not been used for self-defense.


IV. Conclusion

1. Explain the relevance of the issue discussed within a larger context.

2. Restate the reason why the topic warrants attention.

3. You could suggest future solutions.

4. Highlight the implications of your argument not being supported.


Steps on how to Write an Argumentative Essay  

The steps on how to write an argumentative essay are quite straightforward.

Now that from the example of an argumentative essay outline above you know what content to include in each of the respective areas, it is easy to navigate through the writing steps.

The steps for writing an argumentative essay are as follows:


1. Reviewing Relevant Reading Materials

Reviewing materials entails going through all notes, highlights, and readings on the subject to be argued in favor of.

Such a review is necessary in acquiring relevant arguments and their supporting evidence.


2. Generating Key Points

You are required to come up with points that support your intended argument as well as those that oppose it.

These points should be clearly outlined to ensure that the essay supports its argument and addresses potential opposition.


3. Writing the Thesis Statement

Writing the thesis statement requires you to clearly identify the issue to be explored and your position on it.


4. Generating Supporting Evidence

You should then go ahead and outline the support for each of your main points.

Include evidence, explanations, examples, testimonies, cause and effect etc.

Accompany the support with relevant reference material.


5. Writing the Draft

Writing the draft entails assembling the materials and evidence gathered to form and support your points.

You should use both topic sentences and transitions appropriately.


6. Writing the Introduction

As illustrated in the argumentative essay introduction in the above outline, you should provide a background and your position in the introduction of an argumentative essay.

Also, introduce the main points you intend to dispute.

You can as well give a brief essay map on the main points you seek to advance.


7. Writing the Conclusion

In the conclusion, you should end the essay by restating the main argument and briefly summarizing your points.


8. Proofreading the Essay

Lastly, you check grammar and coherency.

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