Argumentative Essays – Tips & Tricks
- Read the topic carefully. Underline the main point of the topic (such as Politics).
- Decide ‘for’ or ‘against’ (i.e. are you in favour or against?).
- Jot down all the RELEVANT & LOGICAL points related to your opinion. Spend 5-10 minutes doing this in the form of notes. No emotional reasons should be included. As we say in Urdu, don’t be “jazbaati“.
- Starting – No quotes are needed; some books/resources will tell you to state your opinion at the start or by the end. In the paper, state it at the BEGINNING of your essay, most preferably in the opening paragraph.
- Manners in which you can start the essay:
- Ease into the topic then generally give your opinion. For example: “The trend of social media has greatly increased over the last four years. Nowadays, it has become a necessity for teenagers. I personally believe ……..”
- Start directly by exclaiming a valid point and giving your opinion. “Social Media, recently, has had a great negative/positive impact on teenagers. My personal opinion is that ……..”
- Remember this 3-point structure for the MAIN BODY of your essay:
- General “For” Argument – Include all valid points that are logical and EMPHASIZE on them – All points must be in favour of your opinion and they should be your STRONGEST points.
- Counter Argument – Pick out you’re strongest counter arguments and state them. Be completely logical and honest when pointing the counter arguments. The reason for this is that if you’re writing in favour, someone else will write against. You have to give both sides of the argument and prove yourself right.
- Disputing Counter Arguments – After writing the counter arguments, you must dispute them and prove them to be either wrong or not STRONG enough to win the argument. Here’s an example:
A counter argument could be “Social media is required for teenagers, it forms a platform for conversations, discussions and sharing valued information“.
Disputing this counter argument “Although it does provide a medium for communication, teenagers waste most of their precious time in procrastinating since they needlessly read comics/have useless discussions. Social media is one of main reasons why teenagers procrastinate.“
You can also add the fact that other mediums of communication such as e-mail, messaging are also available.
- Ending your essay, now, you don’t simply conclude an argument because it is a waste of words and time since you’re only repeating what you’ve said. Two ways to end an Argumentative Essay are:
- Conclude your essay by restating your opinion in a different perspective, i.e. you could say, “Other resources of communication should be adopted such as messaging and teenagers should be encouraged to have outdoor activities rather than sit home and stick their heads to the computers.”
- After disputing you’re counter arguments – finish on a high by adding a strong ending sentence to conclude your essay. For example “Hence all these points show that Social media is indeed an unnecessary part of life which has been forcibly indulged into the life of teenagers.”
- Things to remember:
- You’re not listing points or stating your opinion. You’re trying to CONVINCE the examiner that you’re opinion is correct using LOGICAL points.
- Don’t get emotional and carried away over the course of your writing. Don’t be prejudiced.
- DO NOT EMPHASIZE TOO MUCH ON VOCABULARY. Sentence structures, punctuation, tenses are all equally as important as vocabulary. Don’t forcibly use strong words if you don’t know their correct usage.
- You’re not making a list of your points. Don’t use “firstly, secondly, thirdly and finally”. Remember, you’re language is being tested. Use good expressions and connectives such as “Furthermore, In addition to this”.
Here is a great website concerning words and expressions. Do read it.
Difference b/w Discursive and Argumentative Essays:
In Discursive essays, you present a balanced argument that contains ‘for’ and ‘against’ points. You do not state your opinion.
In Argumentative, you give your opinion and convince the reader on your point of view.
Example Argumentative Essay:
Some people say that the Internet does more harm than good. What is your view?
To majority of teenagers and working adults, the Internet has been regarded as one the most innovative achievements of humankind. Since the invention of the internet, its pervasive and life-altering influences can be felt in many aspects of people’s daily lives. While mostly beneficial in areas such as communication, trade and research, the internet has also caused a proliferation of vices such as pornography and hacking. Despite the negativity associated with the internet, I strongly believe that Internet does more good than harm.
Communication all over the world has been considerably improved thanks to the Internet. With the widespread availability of messengers and social networks like Yahoo and Facebook, people can easily communicate irrespective of their geographic locations. Gone are the days when international communication meant a delay of several days to months. Today, interaction through the Internet is not only much cheaper and more convenient than traditional modes of communication, it also has options to allow face to face interaction such as through the use of Skype. Now, family members and businesses can not only have instantaneous communication, they can also have the added personal touch even if they are in different continents or in any remote part of the world.
The Internet is one of the key contributors to the global free trade. When the transnational corporations want to open business in the other countries, they first have to contact partners in those countries before officially making a deal. In such case, the Internet certainly does a great job. Furthermore, the internet is instrumental in reducing operation costs for businesses where employees can be easily hired from developing countries and work remotely from their native land. For example, many transnational companies set up call centres in countries like Philippines or India where workers are cheaper to employ. The same benefits are applied to people’s daily lives. With the omnipresence of online shops, many people are able to save their precious time shopping. Instead, they have more time to do other important things such as helping their children do homework or having a short visit to their parents’ house.
On the other hand, objectors of the Internet argue that it spoils the young generation by spreading pornography and violence, which is considered rampant nowadays. There is no doubt that pornographic websites and violence videos are ubiquitous online, but whether the young is spoilt by it depends on the young themselves. Owing to the continual warning of using the Internet on many cyber education programs, the youths are supposed to know about all the boon and bane effect of surfing webs. Thus, once they have heightened awareness, there is likelihood that they will not be attacked by cyber hackers. Moreover there is a variety of information for their researches on line. Instead of spending hours of flipping over hundreds of books in the libraries, one may easily obtain necessary documentation within a second of mouse click.
Similar to any other technological inventions, the Internet has both pros and cons; nonetheless, its benefits far outweigh its harms. With recent upgrading Internet security software and substantial improvements on its use, I am firmly convinced the Internet is more a blessing than a curse.
Here are some pointers from the IGCSE Examiner Tips:
- Be clear about the difference between an argumentative and a discursive essay. When asked directly to give your own opinion you should commit yourself to a line of argument. When asked to give a range of possible views then you are being discursive and may or may not choose to say what you personally believe.
- Mention counter arguments – and dispute them. A strong argument includes refutation of the other point of view. This way you can show that you are not being purely ignorant or prejudiced in your response. It is important to show balance in presenting the argument.
- If you are having difficulty finding enough points to support your stance you should consider arguing the opposite view – it might be easier!
- Aim for an effective introduction which captures attention and makes the topic and context clear
- You should end on the side you are arguing for structure your essay so that you deal with the other side first and end strongly to clinch your argument with a final convincing point . Do not repeat yourself – ‘To sum up’ and ‘In conclusion’ are not strong endings as you won’t be saying anything new to convince your reader.
- It is generally advisable to argue your own personal viewpoint as it is likely to sound more convincing. It is however, possible, to argue effectively for or against an argument which you have never considered before, provided that you can marshal some evidence from the media, facts, statistics and experience. These are the areas from which you draw your supporting detail and illustration.
- Do not get too passionate about the topic as this will make your essay sound too emotional and subjective, and therefore less persuasive.
- Sometimes there is a single word in the question which alters the emphasis of the argument, for instance the word ‘compulsory’. Make sure you pay attention to the key words in questions when you are planning and answering – it is worth underlining key words to remind you.
- Try using personal pronouns – ‘I’, ‘you’ and ‘we’ can make your argument seem more authentic and inclusive.
- Do not start each paragraph with a numbered point- firstly, secondly, thirdly and so on- as this can get tedious for the reader and sound quite artificial if the ideas are not in fact sequential. Use other paragraph linking words, the ones which show whether your argument is continuing in the same direction (e.g. ‘furthermore’, ‘in addition’) or changing direction (e.g. ‘nevertheless’, ‘on the other hand’). The key is to make sure that your argument is “building” as you go. Use your connectives to help you take your reader with you so that they can follow your train of thought all the way through.
- Three-point structures (sometimes called tricolons) can sound authoritative, e.g. ‘involving the learners, the teachers and the parent’. More than three of anything becomes a list; fewer lacks persuasive impact and overuse of tricolons is rarely effective.