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The Trouble with Argumentative Essays

An argumentative essay might seem very easy to write at first. You have a point and a counterpoint then you argue your position. However, you have to provide solid facts and evidence for BOTH points and then come to your own conclusions in the argumentative essay. It’s not enough to present two sides of an issue and then pick the one you like best.

Steps to Successful Argumentative Essay Writing

  • Find a Good Topic
  • To write an effective argumentative essay, you must first find a topic that you are interested in. But it can’t be just any topic. It has to be one where there is no absolute answer but only two sides of an issue. For example, you couldn’t make an argumentative essay about how 2+2=4.

    You need to pick a topic with two conceivable sides that you can find substantial evidence for. Another important aspect in topic picking is that it must be one that is narrow in focus. For example, you can’t write an argumentative essay about World War II. It’s just too big. You would need to narrow it down to a topic without clear answers. For example: Was the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki necessary?

    A List of Good Argumentative Essay Topics

    • Literature: (Character) has a conscience. (Author’s) portrayal of (women, men, children, society) was unfair. (Book) is an exemplary model of this genre.
    • History: (Country x) (person) was correct in (diplomatic relations, declaring x war, etc.) Ivan the Terrible wasn’t really terrible.
    • Social: Euthanasia is immoral. Hate groups should be protected by free speech. The war on drugs should be ended.
    • Health: Second-hand smoking does not cause lung cancer. Listening to classical music increases a baby’s intelligence. Women should have children at a younger age. 

  • Look at Both Sides of an Issue and Take a Position

  • After you have found your topic, you need to look at both sides of an issue and make bullet points for both. Begin with the side that you will eventually argue against. This will normally help you to think of more strong points to support your argument.

    For Example: Driver’s ed. should be mandatory

    Against:
    • It’s usually early on Saturday mornings
    • Some students have other activities at that time, like sports
    • It should only be on an elective basis.
    For:
    • If people are required to take driver’s ed., they will get more practice with a qualified instructor before they get a driver’s license.
    • They will have over two months of instruction in a classroom about safe driving.
    • Students who take driver’s ed. have on average fewer accidents.

  • Get Evidence for Both Sides

  • Once you have picked an appropriate argumentative essay topic, you need to gather proper evidence. This means not just doing a Google or Wikipedia search. While these are great tools to use in the preliminary stage, you need more reputable sources to write a convincing argumentative essay. Look up scholarly essays and books on your topic and use them in your essay.

  • Begin Writing

  • Once you’ve gathered all your evidence, you are ready to begin writing. After you’re done writing the body, wrap up both arguments while clearly favoring one over the other.

    Argumentative Essay Outline
    • The opening paragraph should give background information on the topic. Then give your thesis statement about what you are going to argue for in this essay.
    • Body of the argumentative essay begins by providing all of the counterpoint’s valid points, arguments, and evidence. After this, reveal your point of view and support it with evidence.
    • Closing of the argumentative essay should wrap up the argument. It should also convince the reader that the chosen point is the correct one over the counterpoint based on your previously-mentioned evidence.

Argumentative Essay Examples


Many evangelical Christians believe that the earth is only 5,000 years old and the research of naturalist Charles Darwin is false. They support their beliefs based on biblical evidence. As a result, public schools in many US regions are adding a warning note that evolution is only a theory and can’t be proved. However, an astounding amount of evidence from genetics, biology, and most other branches of science has overwhelming concurred with Darwin’s findings.

A growing number of sociologists and psychologists are investigating the phenomenon of latch-key children. What this means is that children return home from school and there is no parent there to monitor their behavior or school work. Some are even arguing that this phenomenon is responsible for greater drug use, crime, lower grades, and gang activity among children. However, such behavior among children has always existed in one form or another, regardless of parental presence at home after school. Juvenile delinquency is created more from authoritarian parenting and homes with drug abuse, alcoholism, and violence than from parents working in the afternoons.

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