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The Argumentative Essay

The argumentative essay is one of the most common in university education (particulary the arts). It involves considering more than one side of an argument.

To write an argumentative essay one needs to write not only one view, but consider the other views that go against it.

Some argumentative essays can be very short (such as the 5-paragraph essay). Others can be very long.

The important part of these essays to is try to think about all ideas, and address them. In a long essay, all sides should be thought about. In a short essay, only the major points are discussed.

In it easiest form, an argumentative essay is ‘positive versus negative’.

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argument 1counter argument 1
argument 2counter argument 2
argument 3counter argument 3

However, many arguments must consider middle arguments, and these essays are often longer.

Personal, or an objective overview?

It is important in an argumentative essay to decide whether it is about a personal opinion, or a general view.

Personal essays do not always have to use ‘I’. Straight objective data can actually be more persuasive.

Making a Good Plan

Before beginning to write an argumentative essay, think carefully about the argument.

– Consider whether you want to promote one side of the argument (say one side is better than the other). Some essays should promote an argument for one idea; other essays are more general.

– Note the positives and negatives in the argument. Also, try to predict which ideas people may disagree with, and how to address these problems.

– Think about what evidence or argument can be used to support ideas. If you can promote ‘hard evidence’, it will make the argument more convincing.

– Also, if the essay has a word limit, think about how much space you have to write your argument: in many university essays students are only given a few thousand words to make an argument, so in these cases think about the key arguments (there may not be enough space to argue every idea).

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argument 1
+ evidence
counter argument 1
+ evidence
argument 2
+ evidence
counter argument 2
+ evidence
argument 3
+ evidence
counter argument 3
+ evidence
*2000 words
*conclusion: positive

In short, a lot of important work for an argumentative essay is done before beginning to write the essay itself.

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