13 Writing a Persuasive Essay

Writing a Persuasive Essay

Alys Avalos-Rivera

Now that you are familiar with some of the most important aspects of the persuasive essay, it is time for you to begin planning your own paper. The topic of your piece will very likely depend on the guidelines provided by your instructor. Regardless of the topic, the following material will certainly be useful to help you plan, draft, and revise your work.

Researching and Planning

The topic of a persuasive essay should be a controversial one. This means that there should be at least two opposite points of view and that you take a stand in the controversy. Therefore, once you have decided on the controversy and your stance, you need to do some research to identify the different arguments that both sides use to defend their positions. To help you organizing this information you can used the following chart. An example has been made for you:

Controversy: Do standardized tests contribute to students learning?
Side 1

The use of standardized tests fosters learning

Side 2

The use of standardized tests is against true learning.

Arguments Arguments
  • Standardized tests are objective because they do not rely on teachers’ personal appraisal of students’ responses.
  • Standardize tests require the use of personal criteria to decide which contents are included and which are discarded.
  • Standardized tests promote fairness since they require all students prove that they have reached the same learning objectives.
  • The format and language used in standardized tests is familiar to students who have been raised in white middle and upper class families, but not to students of minority groups.
  • Standardized tests are useful to ensure that teachers and schools remain accountable to those who pay taxes to support public education.
  • An excessive emphasis on test results make teachers focus on a teach-to-test approach instead of keeping their efforts centered on students’ learning needs.

 

You can use the following chart to list the arguments you found in your search:

Controversy

 

Side 1

 

Side 2

 

 

Arguments Arguments
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you have a list of the arguments involved in the controversy you need to find the following:

  1. What evidence is there to support each one of the listed arguments? You will need to do some secondary research in the library databases to make sure you use reliable information.
  2. Which is the strongest argument of your opponents?
  3. Are there any weak points in this strong argument that you can use to refute your opponents’ view?

Make a list of the facts and examples you can use in your argumentation and keep a careful record of the sources you will use to back up your claims.

Outlining

Once you identify your arguments and sources, it is time for you to plan the organization of your essay. There are writers who only think about the organization of a paper and begin to write following a mental plan. Others, however, prefer more structure. If you are among those in the second group, you may need to outline your essay.

In order to write an outline for a persuasive essay, you should remember there are at least three different templates to use. You will also need to figure out the information you will use in your introduction and how you will relate your points to broader issues in the conclusion. You can use the outline structures provided on the following pages depending on the template of your choice.

 

Template 1 (Counterarguments in the 1st body paragraph)

Introduction
  • Broad statements
  • Thesis statement
Paragraph 1
  • Opponents’ Argument
  • Counterargument
  • Examples/Evidence
  • Sources
Paragraph 2
  • Argument 2
  • Examples/Evidence
  • Sources
Paragraph 3
  • Argument 3
  • Examples/Evidence
  • Sources
Conclusion
  • Thesis restatement
  • Implications
  • Take-away message

 

Template 2 (Counterarguments in the 3rd body paragraph)

Introduction
  • Broad statements
  • Thesis statement
Paragraph 1
  • Argument 1
  • Examples/Evidence
  • Sources
Paragraph 2
  • Argument 2
  • Examples/Evidence
  • Sources
Paragraph 3
 
  • Opponents’ Argument
  • Counterargument
  • Examples/Evidence
  • Sources
Conclusion
  • Thesis restatement
  • Implications
  • Take-away message

Template 3 (Counterarguments in each body paragraph)

Introduction
  • Broad statements
  • Thesis statement
Paragraph 1
  • Opponents’ Argument 1
  • Counterargument
  • Examples/Evidence
  • Sources
Paragraph 2
 
  • Opponents’ Argument 2
  • Counterargument
  • Examples/Evidence
  • Sources
Paragraph 3
 
  • Opponents’ Argument 3
  • Counterargument
  • Examples/Evidence
  • Sources
Conclusion
  • Thesis restatement
  • Implications
  • Take-away message

License

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Writing a Persuasive Essay by Alys Avalos-Rivera is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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