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

How To Write an Argumentative Essay
Santiago Mallea

Santiago Mallea

Content Writer At Gradehacker

Among the many types of essays that college classes ask from students, 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. You’ll have to choose a good essay topic, conduct in-depth research, and structure it all to make sense and add value to your original thesis statement.

In these words, it may seem easy, but the truth is that many students struggle when writing an academic essay like this. You know that too, and that’s why you are looking for the best tips on how to improve your argumentative writing skills.

Here at Gradehacker, we have helped many non-traditional college students since we are the number one most trusted resource. We know firsthand how complex and tedious papers can be, and we want you to improve your writing skills and succeed in your college journey. 

Therefore, we are sharing the best tips you need to know to write an outstanding argumentative essay.

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 choose a topic, develop a solid thesis statement, collect and cite evidence, and establish a firm position on the selected subject.

It’s an evidence-based assignment where you have to persuade the reader to care about your topic. You’ll always have to use extensive research to add peer-reviewed arguments that support your original argument.

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.

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 them.

How To Write an Argumentative Essay

Choosing an 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 and vague topics, as 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 strong thesis statement.

For instance, imagine your thesis statement: “The death penalty in the United States is unproportionate.”

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, covers a specific ground, and there is a lot of information, statistics, and academic papers you can use to support your argument.

Gradehacker's Pro Tip: Choose the topic with the most sources

As academic sources are what add value and credibility to your essay, make sure that the subject you chose has plenty of options to pick from. If you see that there is not enough information about it, try thinking of a new perspective or consider writing on another topic.

Creating 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 argumentative essay writing process.

Just make a simple outline with the basic information. Here’s an example you can use:

  1. Introduction: Thesis Statement

  2. First Paragraph: Argument 1

  3. Second Paragraph: Argument 2

  4. Third Paragraph: Opposite argument

  5. Fourth Paragraph: Counter-argument

  6. Conclusion: Restate thesis

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 by giving you a proper structure to follow from the start.

Gradehacker's Pro Tip: Add an approximation of how long each paragraph will be

While it depends on the length of your assignment, knowing before you start writing 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.

How To Write an Argumentative Essay

Introductory Paragraph

With sources selected and an outline 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.

Gradehacker's Pro Tip: Don't make the introduction too long or too short

Sometimes college students write short or long introductions and barely touch or over explain the thesis. We recommend writing between 100 and 150 words; this should be enough to contextualize and state your main argument.

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 academic source that counters your thesis, and refute it with more supporting sources. 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.

Gradehacker's Pro Tip: Use as many sources as you need!

As we mentioned above, sources play a key role in an essay. That's why the more, 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!


The final step of the process: concluding your paper.

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.

Gradehacker's Pro Tip: Don't add new information

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

How To Write an Argumentative Essay

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 fulfill each of the following steps by doing extensive research, finding a way to link all that information together so it flows cohesively, and coming up with a specific and interesting thesis statement that has material to work with and catches the eye of the reader.

It might seem like a lot, but your writing experience will be much easier by following these clear steps:

  1. Choose a good and specific topic

  2. Create an outline to structure your paper

  3. Start with the introduction and state your thesis

  4. Continue with the body and prove with evidence why your statement is valid

  5. End with a conclusion that mentions the most important topics of your paper

Now you are ready to start writing your next argumentative essay. Be specific, use all the sources you need, and show a strong opinion! And don’t forget to have in mind our pro tips! They will make your essay stand out and help you improve your writing skills!

But if you still feel like you need some help writing, you can count on Gradehacker having 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!

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