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ENC 0017C - Prof. Solley

Argumentative essay


For this essay, you will choose a controversial current events topic (click here for a list of great topics) and write an essay that argues your POSITION on that topic. For example, maybe you argue for eating a strictly vegetarian diet because of the various health benefits. Your purpose in this essay is to convince your audience (individuals who may not agree with you) why it is in their best interest to consider your point of view. You do this by not just stating your opinion, but by constructing a well-thought-out, logical argument that is supported by outside sources. These sources need to be "reliable" so I suggest using sources from the BC Online Library. Wikipedia is not considered a reliable source! You must integrate at least 2 outside sources to support your argument. 

Your Essay must be: 

- 900-1000 words

-Include proper MLA formatting and citations

-Include a Works Cited page (last page)

A minimum of 6 paragraphs with a separate paragraph that discusses the "counterargument" and presented your rebuttal.

What Is An Argumentative Essay?

An argumentative essay is one that focuses on supporting one side of an argument. When a writer decides to write an argumentative essay, it is advisable that they weigh both sides' arguments carefully before picking a side to support. Being able to understand and support one side makes it easier to write an argumentative essay. A well structured essay will clearly bring out the arguments needed to convince a reader. It is these arguments and stands that make argumentative essays the most interesting to read.

Instructions (7 steps)

1. Pick Your Topic

Select the topic on which you want to base your essay and evaluate each side before settling on one. Make sure the topic is one that is arguable, meaning it should have two opposing sides to it. Evaluating both sides of the fight is important as it creates a sense of conviction on what is correct and will go a long way in making your argument easier to make. You also need to come up with your thesis statement. This will give a clear indication as to what the essay is going to cover.

Try to stick to contemporary topics that resonate with people today. This will make your essay more relevant and stir more interest from readers. If you are being given freedom to pick your own topics, it might be easier to choose a topic already close to your heart. This will make it easier for you to formulate your case and you will already be familiar with the opposing sides' views and how to handle them.

2. Focus the Topic

Many controversial topics that people have long taken opposing views on tend to be very broad and would require thousands of pages of analysis to fully explore, such as, abortion. It is easier to focus on a specific aspect of the topic in order to make coherent arguments, such as should minors have a say when it comes to having an abortion.

3. Know Your Audience

When it comes to the actual style of writing to be used, it is helpful to know who will be the primary reader. If the essay is part of an academic assignment then the teacher or professor will be the audience. In such an event, they would expect to see a professionally written essay with lots of evidence to back up your thesis statement. If the essay is to go up on a public forum read by mainly young people then a more relaxed approach can be used and colloquial language used to some measure.

4. Conduct Research

Be sure to study and collect as much information as you can to make your case. Ina an argumentative essay, the writer should present at least three solid arguments in his favour and two from the opponent's side. He or she should however still be able to refute the opponent's arguments. In getting the right information to present in the essay, try to source information from books, magazines, journals, newspapers, reports and online resources. Be careful in the choice of websites you rely on for information as there are many wildly inaccurate articles.

5. Make your case

In arguing your case, ensure you have lots of solid evidence to lean on and that you have interpreted and applied it correctly to clearly show that your side has the upper hand. Ensure your line of reasoning is sound and that the steps you have taken to reach your conclusion are clear and understandable. A teacher will be more impressed by how you make your case than the choice of topic or sides.

6. Draft Your Essay

Essay Format      

Paragraph 1: Introduction

Introduce your reader to the topic you intend to pursue. Give a brief background on the controversies involved and how opposing sides view the issue.  Indicate your thesis statement here. Your thesis statement asserts your POSITION on the topic and is NEVER a fact that in not debatable. See this for help writing your thesis statement:,an%20assertion%20about%20your%20issue.

Paragraph 2-5 (or more): Body Paragraphs

This section will normally be made up of about three-five paragraphs. The first three paragraphs should expound on why you believe your side is the right one. Each paragraph should have its own reason and should be backed up with evidence. Cite at least 2 outside sources to support your ideas. This can be done by including quotesAccording to (insert author's last name ".........."


by paraphrasing -According to (Insert author's last name here) ____________(paraphrase)

The remaining paragraph is to be used to give the opposing side a hearing. The writer should take at least one main argument from the opponents' side and provide a rebuttal that nullifies their argument. In essence, this part is about using the opponent's arguments against themselves.

Paragraph 5 (or 6): Conclusion

The conclusion should cover all the earlier points made briefly and reiterate the writers' position as indicated in the introduction. All the sections of the essay should support the thesis statement meaning you do not have to expound much in the conclusion.

7. Proofread and Revise Once you have completed your essay, take the time to go through the entire document, and ensure you have all your grammar and spelling in check. Also, ensure that the way you have structured and put down the essay is convincing and fluent. If you have the chance to do so, give the essay to a friend to read through and offer you a critique of your work. Give yourself at least a day before reviewing the work again and revise any areas you feel are in need of reworking.


1. Arrangement

When arranging your points in the main body, always arrange them in the order of weakest to strongest. This usually produces the biggest impact on the reader.

1. Outline

Use an outline to chart the direction of your essay. This is especially important when doing research. You can fill in the key points and data gained from the research and use it later when you finally sit down to write your first draft of the essay.

2. Resources

As you take down arguments and evidence, use your resources carefully. Do not copy and paste entire sections or you may wind up accused of plagiarism. Draw the relevant information from your resources and write them in your own words in the essay.

3. Do not use

Do not choose weak arguments from the opponent's side to win your case. This weakens the body of your essay. Choose from their main arguments and come up with strong rebuttals that convincingly counter their premise or at the very least offer a workable solution.

4. Weak Arguments

If you risk using a weak argument from your opponent, be prepared to have your entire essay challenged as by a classmate or even the teacher as he or she marks your paper.

5. Cite your Sources

Be sure to always cite your sources. When doing your research ensure you take down bibliographies and internet addresses accordingly. It is always important to acknowledge the source of your information and data. Use MLA style formatting and citations in this essay.

6. Facts No matter how passionate you may be about the topic under discussion, please try to keep your arguments impartial and based in facts.

Argumentative Essay Planning Sheet –Print this out and use to plan your essay.

Print this out or copy/paste into a word document to show to your instructor after completing it.

Paragraph one: Introduction

Attention getter: _______________________________________________________________


Explain the topic/background knowledge: __________________________________________________________________


State your claim/thesis statement:



Paragraph Two: Body 1

Topic Sentence: reason 1 __________________________________________________________________


Supporting detail:_____________________________________________________________

Supporting detail:_____________________________________________________________

Supporting detail: __________________________________________________________________

Concluding sentence: __________________________________________________________________
Choose one or two details and elaborate or tell more.


Paragraph Three: Body 2

Topic sentence/ reason 2_______________________________________________________________


Supporting detail: __________________________________________________________________

Supporting detail:______________________________________________________________

Supporting detail: __________________________________________________________________

Concluding sentence:____________________________________________________________
Choose one or two details and elaborate or tell more.


Paragraph Four: Body 3

Topic sentence/ reason 3_______________________________________________________________


Supporting detail: _________________________________________________________________

Supporting detail:______________________________________________________________

Supporting detail: _____________________________________________________________

Concluding sentence:____________________________________________________________
Choose one or two details and elaborate or tell more.

Paragraph Five Counter Argument: Body 3
Counter argument: __________________________________________________________________
Rebuttal (Why are they wrong?): __________________________________________________________________


Paragraph 6: Conclusion

Restate thesis: ________________________________________________________________

Summarize reasons:

Powerful ending: _______________________________________________________________