CoverObjectivesThe Writing ProcessAddressing the PromptPrewritingWritingRevisingOriginalityEssay Shape and OrganizationIntroduction ParagraphsBody ParagraphsConclusion ParagraphsA Shifting StructureExample EssayUsing SourcesFinding SourcesCitationsQuotingSummarizingParaphrasingReference PagePersonal StatementsExample Personal StatementTypes of Personal StatementsOrganization for Comprehensive Personal StatementOrganization for Personal Statement with PromptRevisionExample Personal StatementCause-Effect EssaysExample Cause-Effect EssayPrewritingWritingRevisingRevise a Cause-Effect EssayArgumentative EssaysExample Argumentative EssayPrewritingWritingRevisingOther Genres of WritingTimed WritingTOEFL Independent WritingTOEFL Integrated WritingStudent Choice (Pick Two)Creative WritingFormal EmailsReflectionsReviewsRefining WritingDevelopmentUnityCohesion


Understand the assignment

In your essay, you will defend an opinion about an academic topic.


Remember that after you do enough preliminary research to brainstorm and choose your focus, you should do more detailed research about your topic so that you can make your outline.

When you research for an argumentative essay, look for the opinions of the supporters, but also look for the opinions of the opponents. A strong argument often acknowledges the opposite point of view.


You can use a mind map, a free write, general internet search, or a discussion group if you are having a difficult time thinking of things to write about.

Example topics could include the following:

  • Should the government censor what people do online?
  • Should nurses be allowed to work longer than eight hour shifts?
  • Should teachers' salaries be based on student performance?
  • Should certain animals be protected?

Choose your focus

Make sure the topic isn't too broad to cover in your essay.


Also begin an outline for your essay. As you research about your topic, start organizing your findings. Some people begin an outline by listing topics and quotes. Others write topic sentences and supporting sentences. An argumentative essay follows typical essay organization.


Your introduction should start by describing any background that will be important for the reader to know.

Here are some questions that can help you think about background information that the reader needs to be able to understand the problem:

At the end of your introduction paragraph, you should give your thesis. The thesis should clearly state the opinion that you will defend in your essay.

Example: Everyone should begin taking small steps today to begin reducing the negative effects of air pollution on our environment, our health, and the global climate.

1 Exercise: Revise thesis statements

Revise the thesis statements to be more effective for a problem/solution essay.

  1. Legalizing marijuana can affect all of the population.
  2. The primary argument in favor of banning animal testing is not a good argument.
  3. Animal testing is not necessary.
  4. Globalization has promoted free commerce and low prices for many products around the world in our actual society.


Your body paragraphs should give reasons that support your thesis. You may want to dedicate a body paragraph to making a counterargument. If you choose to acknowledge the other side of the issue, make sure you keep a respectful tone in your writing.

You may structure a counterargument paragraph like this:


Your conclusion paragraph should start by restating your thesis. Then you should discuss your topic more generally and apply your opinion to the general context you established in your introduction. You can end with a closing statement that is a suggestion, prediction, or opinion. The end of an argumentative essay may be a call to action, asking your readers to join you in your cause.