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How to get started with argumentative writing in college

What is an argumentative essay

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An argumentative essay is a type of paper where you try to prove a point. It's like a debate. In the essay, you explain why someone should agree with your side of the argument.

Why should I care?

Argumentative essays will help you:

  • Improve your reading and listening skills
  • Practice researching topics improve your thinking skills
  • Learn to clearly explain your points

See what that looks like in practice!

Roadmap to an argumentative essay

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  1. Find a debatable topic. This means that someone could argue against you.
  2. Research your topic. Come up with an argument that is supported by your research. This is your claim.
  3. Jot down several good reasons why you support your claim. Use your research to back up those reasons.
  4. Look at the reasons you gave and try to argue with yourself. Ask: Why would someone disagree with your reasons? What would they say?
  5. Choose one of these reasons and disprove it with your research. This is your counterclaim.
  6. Carefully organize your paper so that it moves smoothly from defending your own points to sections where you argue against the opposition.

Essay template and examples

Introduction

  • Start with an opening statement that gets the reader's attention.
  • Include background information on your claim.
  • Introduce and state your claim.

Example: Many important questions face our generation, but one rises above the rest: cake or pie? Both desserts can be delicious, but pie has several clear advantages over cake. Due to its healthiness, pie is superior to cake.

Body paragraphs

  • Make points that support your claim.
  • Use facts and details to make these points - these are your evidence.
  • Connect these facts and details to your claim.

Example: Pie is often healthier than cake because it is more likely to contain fiber. Both sweet and savory pies are likely to have fiber. Fiber can help control blood sugar, especially for those with diabetes. Thus, pie’s fiber content can make it a healthier dessert option for everyone.

Counter-argument

  • Show a point people may make to challenge your argument.
  • Disprove that point.

Example: Some people may say pie is more difficult to put candles in than a cake. However, silken pies like key lime pie can be used to hold candles.

Conclusion

  • Restate your argument and supporting evidence.
  • Tell your reader why your argument matters.

Example: Food choices have a direct impact on personal health. Healthy eating does not mean food has to be bland. People can enjoy delicious food and live a healthier lifestyle by eating pie instead of cake.

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