5 Tips how to perfect your argumentative assignments

Jun 20, 2020

Argumentative essays are the type of paper that scares undergraduate students the most. In Secondary School, we are not always taught how to develop an argument and, even if we are, we are not usually required to delve as deep into the subject as it is expected in university.

One of the reasons we often find argumentative essays so hard to prepare, then, is because we do not really know how to organise and structure them. Once you understand how to do it, though, you will even enjoy it.

An argumentative essay is a piece of writing where an argument is developed, that is,where the writer analyses a specific subject or topic (usually suggested in the essay title), supporting a specific view through the development of an argument to sustainit. To do it, you have to explain what your point is (presenting your thesis), discuss potential opposition to it (presenting its antithesis) and then debunk the antithesis through analysis and a clever use of sources. This specific way to approach an argumentative essay is called classical.

There are other ways to create an interesting argumentative essay, though: for instance, you could use a Rogerian approach, that is, you may think two opposing views on a topic both have good points, but still favour one of the two. You could also try to find common ground within an argument, thus concluding all elements and theories have relevant points: this is called a Toulmin approach.

To prepare an excellent argumentative essay, you should always:

  1. Carry out appropriate research on the topic: this means to select academic and reputable sources, which are focused on the subject you need to discuss. While researching and selecting material, be analytical and choose only what is relevant.
  2. Once you feel you have enough material and your ideas on the subject are clearer, it is time to write an outline of the essay. An outline helps you clarify your thesis and the points you want to make; it can be as simple or as complex as you wish and it is an extremely useful instrument to make your job easier. Good outlines are your best friends!
  3. Give a good structure to the work, but do not be too “mechanic” about it: of course you have to have an argument and a counter-argument, but you do not necessarily need to signal it with a section or to state it blatantly: write elegantly, show you are smart by letting argument and counter-argument emerge through your words!
  4. Always have an introduction and a conclusion: an introduction needs to frame the topic and to sketch what you want to demonstrate and how. A conclusion sums up your main points.
  5. Use your sources intelligently: sources need to support your thesis, not make it. To succeed in top notch universities, you need to develop analytical skills and independent thought, but also be able to give it strength through the use of relevant literature. Think of sources as the cement that keeps together your wall, but not as the wall itself

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