How to Write an Argumentative Essay: What You Need to Know

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Santiago Mallea

Chief of Content At Gradehacker

Updated August 2023

Learn how to write an argumentative essay with our video:

Among the many types of essays that students find in their college classes, argumentative essays are one of the most common. Whether you are studying nursing, business, or economics, you will eventually have to write an argumentative paper for one of your courses.

But if academic writing is not one of your best skills, creating an argumentative essay won’t be an easy task.

Luckily, there are many things you can learn to improve your results, and here at Gradehacker, we are about to show you all of them!

After many years of helping students with their essays as the non-traditional student #1 resource, here is a step-by-step guide on how to write an argumentative essay.

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But first, let’s start from the basics.

What is an Argumentative Essay?

An argumentative paper is a type of essay that requires the writer to:

It’s fact-based evidence work where school students persuade the reader to care about your topic.

You’ll always have to use extensive research, peer-reviewed arguments, and a strong piece of evidence that supports your original argument.

You can always share any personal opinions, but it needs to be sustained with key arguments.

Still, it’s also necessary to include a point of view that opposes your perspective. By addressing and refuting it with reliable academic sources, you give more credibility to your thesis to persuade any target audience!

Undoubtedly, one of the most common assignments that college students have to face. But because it’s common doesn’t have to mean that it’s easy.

Now that we understand the purpose of an argumentative essay let’s move on to tips on how to write it.

How To Write an Argumentative Essay

1. Choose a Strong Argumentative Essay Topic

Before you write your paper, you need to choose a suitable subject with plenty of academic sources that will let you develop a strong thesis statement.

Avoid simple, vague, or chliché debatable topics since they are too general and uninteresting. Choosing a broad subject will take you more time to research and most likely won’t give you the grade you desire.

Instead, think of a research subject you like and go for a more specific topic that will lead you to build a high-quality persuasive essay.

For instance, imagine your statement being:

“The death penalty in the United States is disproportionate.”

Rather than going with this vague argument, you might want to go for something like:

“The death penalty in the United States has been historically racially uneven since killers of white people were more likely than the killers of Black people to face the death penalty.”

See the difference? The second thesis statement is strong, interesting, and covers a specific ground, and there is a lot of information, statistics, and academic papers you can use to support your argument.

Pro Tip: Choose the topic with the most sources

Academic sources are what add value and credibility to your essay.

So, you need to ensure that the topic you choose has plenty of options. If you see that there isn’t enough information about it, try thinking of a new perspective or consider writing about a different subject.

How to Write an Argumentative Essay- student reading- red hat and laptop

2. Create an Outline

Once you have your thesis developed and sources selected, you’ll need to structure all that information in a simple outline.

While some courses will ask you to include an outline with your paper, the truth is that you should always make one, at least for you.

This way, you can organize all the topics you have to cover in one place, which will work as your roadmap while you are in the middle of the writing process.

To achieve a simple argumentative essay outline, here are some examples you can use:

You can take a further step and add a concise summary of what each paragraph will touch on and which source you’ll use.

This personal roadmap might take you more time, but believe us, it will rearrange all of the ideas altogether, and you can go back to it while you are writing in case you lose the flow.

Again, some courses don’t require you to create either of these outlines, but incorporating this practice as part of your writing process will significantly improve your experience throughout the entire essay by giving you a proper structure to follow from the start.

Pro Tip: Have an approximation of how long each paragraph will be

While it depends on the length of your assignment, knowing before you start how many words you should dedicate to each paragraph will give you a better idea of your current status.

You don’t necessarily have to stick to it as if it was mandatory but have these approximate numbers in mind to track your progress.

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3. Introductory Paragraph

With sources selected and an outline is done, you can finally start writing your paper.

The introductory paragraph has two main goals:

You need to hook the reader into your subject by making them understand why you are writing about that specific topic and why they should care about your statement.

You can achieve this by talking about a current problem or using a strong statistic that catches the eye of the reader.

Don’t quote any sources or refute opposite arguments yet. Just focus on making the reader interested in your topic by giving them context and stating your main argument, which will set up the rest of the essay.

Pro Tip: Don’t make the introduction too long or too short

Sometimes, college students write short or long introductions and barely touch or explain the thesis.

We recommend writing between 100 and 150 words. This should be enough to contextualize and state your main argument.

4. Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs are the part where you get to develop your thesis by providing solid arguments supported by qualified sources.

This part is all about explaining why your argument is valid to the reader who was hooked by your thesis statement. Don’t be afraid of showing a solid position on the subject. Without using the first person, the reader should clearly understand your opinion.

After all, you are trying to convince them to care about your topic!

How to do it? Start by addressing the first issues within your topic and showing clear evidence supporting your point.

Once you have touched on all the main statements that prove your thesis right, you’ll have to include a perspective that states the contrary to your opinion. Find an accessible information source that counters your thesis, and refute it with more supporting ones.

Doing this will strengthen your main point and persuade the reader even more right before they finish reading your paper.

Still, whether it’s supporting or contradicting your statement, you should limit one idea per paragraph. If you develop each topic thoroughly in a separate paragraph, you’ll be able to build a naturally flowing structure where all arguments are related.

How can you keep the paragraphs linked? With connectors:

However; Furthermore; Moreover; Nevertheless; In addition to this; Even though; Nonetheless; On the contrary, and more! 

Connectors are your best friends when writing any type of essay, and you should always have them in mind when writing.

Pro Tip: Use as many sources as you need

The more academic sources you use, the better!

Even if you only need to use one sentence or a small statistic, as long as it adds value to your statement, it’s worth using it!

How to Write an Argumentative Essay- happy-student-writing-essay

5. Conclusion

You should think of your conclusion as what you want the reader to remember from your essay. 

Start by recognizing the main issue with your subject. Then, you’ll have to revisit the main points of your paper and restate your thesis one last time.

Don’t just repeat the same words you have been using throughout your essay. Think about the most important statements you have made and expose them all together in the conclusion so the reader leaves with all these critical topics in mind.

Pro Tip: Don’t add new information

One common mistake some students make is adding new ideas to the conclusion.

Maybe you add a point you didn’t get to include, but if it wasn’t explained before, don’t bring it up! You can either find a way to include it in another part of the text or simply leave that information out.

Now that you know how to write an argumentative essay from scratch, you are ready to take the extra step and use Chat GPT to help you. Here is how you can do it!

Write The Best Argumentative Essay You Can

Writing an argumentative essay can be a challenging task.

If you want to write an outstanding paper, you’ll need to do extensive research, find a way to link all that information together, and come up with a specific and interesting thesis statement that has material to work with and catches the eye of the reader.

But if you still feel like you need some help writing, you can count on Gradehacker to have your back. We are experts in writing all types of essays and have helped many college students with their exams and classes. We’ll be happy to help you too!