How to Write a Good Argumentative Essay
Secondary school students may feel overwhelmed and confused about the many types of essays they need to know how to write. There are personal reflective essays, narrative essays, argumentative essays, discursive essays, expository essays, descriptive essays, and even hybrid essays! This article will focus on how to write a good argumentative essay.
In an argumentative essay, students must take a stand and formulate a thesis statement. Every argument (one paragraph should contain only one argument) should be bolstered with examples and evidence. An example of an argumentative essay question is: “Exams should be abolished. Do you agree?”
1: Directive Thesis Statement
The thesis statement sets the central argument of the essay. A good directive thesis statement will comprise: (1) one counter-argument, (2) your stand, and (3) two supporting arguments.
2: Supporting Argument 1
Each paragraph should explain and elaborate one key point which directly addresses the essay format. The PEEL format: point, elaboration, evidence, and link will be used here.
Students should (1) state their main point, (2) the elaboration, (3) the example or evidence, and (4) the link to the essay question or the next main point.
Every argument needs a counter-argument to follow. Although some students may think that counter-arguments weaken their essays, addressing a counter-argument pre-emptively will show the examiner that the student has considered nuances in the essay, and will score higher marks than an essay which only argues by building up your case instead of tearing the other side’s case down. Similarly, the student should follow the PEEL format in this paragraph, which is aimed at building up the counter-argument’s case so that it can be taken down in the rebuttal.
Now, the student should use the rebuttal paragraph to link to the counter-argument previously. Similarly, the PEEL format should be used. Make sure to highlight the why the counter-argument stated previously is weak. The strongest argument against the counter-argument should thus be used in this paragraph to advance your case.
5: Supporting Argument 2
In this paragraph, students need to build up their case further by including a second supporting argument. Students should (1) state their main point, (2) the elaboration, (3) the example or evidence, and (4) the link to the essay question or the next main point.
In the conclusion, the student should wrap up the entire essay and remind readers about the points which have been discussed in the essay. By reiterating the points which the student has made, the student can make sure that they have answered the essay question with relevant arguments. Furthermore, it can serve as a quick summary of the essay’s points in case the reader wants to look back at a summary of the arguments in future.
Students should take a look at the possible essay questions for argumentative essays and practice making a list of points to get better at thinking of arguments for and against a particular statement. After the student has completed the list of arguments and planned the essay according to the essay map above, they should practice writing the essay itself.
Watch out for rambling – make sure your arguments are tightly secured within the paragraph, following the main point, elaboration, example, and link to the essay question format above. Having too much irrelevant information will detract from your original point, making your argument seem far weaker than it actually is.
It also goes without saying that students should try to minimise grammatical, spelling, and syntax errors in their essays, as examiners will also want to see that the student has both a good command of the English language’s technicalities as well as good arguments.
At times, students may be tempted to open the dictionary, find a complicated synonym for a simple word they are using in their composition, and then replace the word with it. Although one must admire the student’s dedication and effort, it is important to remember that the use of certain words depends on the context – some words should only be used when appropriate.
For example, a student may write:
“I think my brother was being selfish when he refused to share his ice-cream with me.”
Let’s say this student goes to find synonyms for “selfish”, and he comes across the adjective “megalomaniac” on Google and wants to use it in his composition:
“I think my brother was being megalomaniac when he refused to share his ice-cream with me.”
However, the word “megalomaniac” refers to an obsessive desire for complete control and power, which is a bit of a stretch when used to refer to your brother who simply refused to share his ice-cream with you. It isn’t as though your brother is rampaging through cities as a Machiavellian dictator, aiming to gain total and complete control of Western Europe…
Although students may be tempted to sound “smart” when using fancy words with many syllables (incidentally, a word which can be used to describe words with many syllables is “hyperpolysyllabically”), students should bear in mind that context matters for certain words, and if students are just quoting words or phrases out of context, it could give a vastly different meaning than the student originally intended to, which may result in the opposite effect instead – examiners will know that you don’t know how to use that word.
At WR!TERS@WORK, we are committed to providing the smoothest learning experience for your primary or secondary school child sitting for their English exam. With our carefully curated methods of teaching your child how to write, your child will be able to craft well-written essays in any genre with good grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure.
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1. How Do You Write a Good Secondary School Essay?
Firstly, you need a strong introduction which engages the audience. Secondly, you need appropriate content which is balanced on both sides if you are making an argument for and against something. Lastly, your conclusion must be synthesised and weigh the benefits or disadvantages of the essay subject, or provide another viewpoint about the topic.
2. What is the Purpose of an English Tutor?
Firstly, you need a good hook as an introductory paragraph. Next, the body of content follows, which will answer the essay question provided. Lastly, a strong conclusion which “comes down on one side” is needed.
3. What is a Good Paragraph Starter?
It depends on the essay. For narrative writing, the student can start in media res. For argumentative essays or discursive essays, a thesis statement is needed which outlines the central tenet of your argument.
4. What Should You Not Do in an Essay?
You should not ramble with run-on sentences in an essay. Furthermore, students should always answer the essay question and not address points which are unrelated. Good grammar and vocabulary, along with robust sentence structure, is a must.
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