The Argumentative Essay: Everything You Need to Know

There have been exactly 18,312 words written here at the Kibin blog on the subject of the argumentative essay. Think I made that number up? Well, prove it.

We’ve written so many blog posts on the subject because it’s by far the most common essay assignment that students face. About the only way to avoid argumentative essays is to not go to school at all.

They are kind of like uncomfortable conversations with your grandma about your future. You can avoid them by just never visiting your grandma, but you should really visit your grandma. Seriously, go visit your grandma.

the argumentative essay

And since argumentative essays are so ubiquitous, it’s important to me that you can easily access all of the necessary information on how to write them.

So when you’re done counting those 18,312 words (seriously! …maybe), come on back and read the rest of this post containing everything you need to know about the argumentative essay.

The Argumentative Essay: What Is It?

First and foremost, you’ll need to have an understanding of what an argumentative essay is. The last thing you want is to get halfway through your essay only to realize that you’re doing it wrong. It happens.

It’s kind of like a vegetarian getting halfway through dinner and then realizing it’s meatloaf. Honestly, that sounds just as bad for a non-vegetarian. Meatloaf is gross.

the argumentative essay
“Lilian and David’s Meatloaf” by Alpha, Flickr.com (CC BY-SA 2.0)/Text added

So remember: An argumentative essay requires you to pick a debatable topic, do extensive research on it, choose a side in the debate, and then argue for that side by citing the evidence you have gathered.

  • This post does a great job of breaking down how to frame your argument.
  • If you’re a visual learner, check out this infographic that illustrates the most important elements of your essay.
  • Check out this post for a detailed analysis of what makes a strong argument.

Prewriting Strategies

After you get some experience as a writer, you start to develop certain strategies that help you tackle an essay in a more efficient way.

The same goes for writing the argumentative essay. You’ll write this type of essay so many times during your college career that you’ll begin to develop a process. However, if this is your first time writing one, you haven’t yet discovered what works best for you.

You could jump from the plane and hope for the best, but perhaps you should learn how to pull the ripcord first.

the argumentative essay

So it’s important that you read up on the best prewriting strategies before jumping into writing your essay.

  • Here’s a post that explains various prewriting strategies that you can easily apply to the argumentative essay.
  • Check out this great post on how to outline your argument in a clear and logical fashion.
  • It’s important to understand what a finished argumentative essay will look like before you tackle your own, so check out our database full of examples and a post we did analyzing and annotating two examples.

Choosing the Right Topic

The single most important decision you’ll make in this process will be choosing your topic.

You will not like working on an essay for several weeks related to a subject that is of no interest to you. So choose wisely, my friend.

Your face will not melt if you choose poorly (Indiana Jones reference), but you won’t feel good about it.

  • Check out this post that includes dozens of amazing argumentative essay topic ideas…or this post with dozens more…or this post with—okay, I jest, but there are at least 80 topics between the two posts for you to dive into!

Finding the Right Resources

The foundation of a strong argumentative essay lies in the research you do.

The entire premise is to argue for one side of a debatable topic. The only way to do that convincingly is to have research to back up your claims.

However, not all sources of information are created equal. The quality of your research can mean the difference between your essay being praised or panned.

So make sure you evaluate your sources to ensure they are reputable and pass the CRAAP test. You must avoid unreliable sources of information! That includes Wikipedia, Facebook posts from Aunt Susan, and state-run Russian blogs.

the argumentative essay

Nailing the Introduction and Ever-Important Thesis

The introduction, which includes the thesis statement, is one of the most important parts of any essay. The argumentative essay is no different.

You want to use the introduction to frame the topic in an interesting way. You can achieve this by starting with a hook sentence that gets your reader interested in your topic.

After your hook, provide any necessary background information that the reader will need before considering your argument.

Then, wrap up your introduction with the backbone of your essay: the thesis. This one sentence should contain the multiple facets of your argument that you plan on tackling in each body paragraph.

  • Need help writing your argumentative thesis? Check out our thesis builder.
  • We’ve also written two posts full of thesis examples for argumentative essays. Check them out here and here.

Writing the Body Paragraphs

Now that you have your thesis, you can write the body of your argumentative essay.

Each argument or facet of your bigger argument that is contained in your thesis will be explained and proven within one section of the body.

These sections may be one paragraph each (in the case of a five-paragraph structure) or multiple paragraphs each (in the case of a lengthier research paper).

Moreover, the body of your essay should be used to refute any counterarguments that might prevent you from convincing your reader.

Remember the outline you (hopefully) did during the prewriting stage of the essay process?

the argumentative essay

Make sure you refer back to that outline so that you don’t forget anything.

  • Here is a post we did on how to craft the perfect paragraph.
  • And of course, no paragraph can be perfect without a stellar topic sentence.

In Conclusion

As you conclude your argumentative essay, and we near the end of this blog post, it’s important to review a bit and tie up any loose ends.

In an argumentative essay, you want to repeat and reinforce your argument in your final paragraph.

Then, in a sort of inverse hook, you should release your reader with an intriguing scenario to consider. What would happen if your argument was implemented? Or conversely, what would happen if it wasn’t?

If done correctly, this can cement your argument in the reader’s mind.

If you need some help getting started, I suggest you read some of the argumentative essay examples in our database.

Then, once you have a draft, send it over to the skilled editors at Kibin. They will comb through it for any potentially damaging holes in your argument.

As always, thanks for reading, and good luck!

Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.