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Important Elements in Writing Argument Essays

by Nadia Archuleta

Many academic points of view are debatable, or at least have gone through a period of debate, according to the University of North Carolina. Therefore writing an effective argument essay is integral to academic success. The aim of academic writing is often to propose and support an argument. In order to write an effective argument essay, a writer should focus on the important elements: a strong thesis statement, evidence supporting the claim, a counterargument and appropriate writing style.

Thesis Statement

A strong thesis statement serves as the center of an argument essay. According to the Purdue Online Writing Lab, a strong thesis statement is debatable and narrow enough to prove within the constraints of the essay. There are three main types of claims that can be made within the thesis statement. A claim of definition is made when the writer challenges the accepted truth of a certain fact. A cause and effect type of claim proposes that one action or event caused another. Finally, a writer may make a claim proposing a solution to a problem.

Evidence and Rhetoric

In order to make an argument, evidence is needed in order to support the thesis statement. To collect evidence, writers should research using reliable academic and scholarly sources, and evidence may be anecdotal, statistical or factual. In addition writers should use rhetoric to support their thesis statements. This rhetoric usually centers on logical claims, but a student may choose to use emotional or ethical appeals, depending on the subject area. The University of North Carolina Writing Center recommends using a professor's preferred mode of rhetoric as a model.

Counterargument

Regardless of the chosen style of rhetoric, an essay should not focus only on the thesis statement's argument. On the contrary, addressing a counterargument conveys a deeper understanding of the issue. By acknowledging an opposing viewpoint, the writer may prove more credible. Opposing points of view also provide a chance to refute the counterargument, or at least to suggest that such evidence might not be up to date or fully informed. The writer may choose to place the counterargument in one paragraph or refer to it throughout the essay.

Writing Style

An important element in an argument essay is the writing style. While eloquence is the goal, a student may write an effective argument essay simply by using good structure. Transitions create flow between sentences and paragraphs; they also allow the reader to follow the writer's train of thought. Each paragraph should focus on only one aspect of the argument, clearly stated in a first sentence and proven in the sentences that follow. Finally, a writer must explain the relevance of any statistic or quote. Never leave the reader trying to figure out the point.

About the Author

Nadia Archuleta has a B.A. in English writing. She spent five years working abroad and has traveled extensively. She has worked as an English as a Foreign/Second Language teacher for 12 years.

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