October 25, 2020

How to Write a High-Quality Argumentative Essay

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Let me show you how to compose a really high-grade argumentative essay.

Any essay whose main aim is to convince the writer’s audience to accept or at least appreciate her line of thinking on a particular issue must be written just for that purpose.

Whether you’re a student preparing to write a test involving argumentative essay writing or you’re a blogger or other online writer searching for ways to communicate more effectively with your audience, I strongly believe that the ideas I’ve assembled here would make your task a lot easier.

Guidelines for effective argumentative essay writing

Some common expressions directing an examination candidate to write to argue and convince her audience are:

a.       … expressing your views on ……..

b.      Write your speech for or against the motion ……….

c.       Write your contribution on the topic …………

d.      Write a letter telling him why ……. and convincing him ………..

e.       Write your contribution for or against ……….

f.        … giving reasons why …….. and suggesting ways ……………

g.       …. suggesting the project and stating the benefits ………..

h.       Write your entry on the topic …………..

Key Requirements for a Good Argumentative Essay

1. Your Language

  • The need to write in clear, simple and straightforward language is of utmost importance in argumentative essay writing. To achieve this, use familiar easy-to-understand words. State your ideas in complete, meaningful sentences. Avoid using lengthy sentences.
  • Use rhetorical questions occasionally to add poignancy or sharpness to your points. You will then be able to sustain your audience’s interest in your line of argument.

The rhetorical question as a persuasive writing tool is very useful, especially in a debate speech.

You may want to know what a rhetorical question is: It is an open question which hardly expects a verbal response from the audience.

Use rhetorical questions in the argumentative essay to stimulate and influence the audience’s way of thinking. This is an effective method to make them appreciate your point of view.

You can sometimes go on to provide convincing answers to the rhetorical question you pose. The answers may also be short phrases.

A rhetorical question can be expressed in a long sentence such as:

 How on earth then can childhood be a happy time in these circumstances?

Or a short one:

Is that freedom?

A rhetorical question in an argumentative essay could also come in the form of a statement followed by a question tag as in:

 Surely nobody would call that beneficial, would they?

As stated earlier, short, crisp structures like phrases, simple sentences, clauses and even single words are very effective in argumentative writing when they are used at the right places and stages of the composition.

  • The language may sound more formal than informal or vice – versa depending on your audience.
  • In addition, try to use as many expressions of contrast as possible in your argumentative essay. These are words or expressions which suggest a rejection of an opposing view. Contrast expressions are best used when you want to refute a point.

Here are some examples

  • Contrary to what my co-debater would want you to believe …
  • On the contrary, …
  • Unlike …
  • This cannot be correct, it is rather …
  • The reverse is indeed the case …


  • Quotes which can provide a firm grounding for your argument can be used occasionally.

Parallel structures

  • Parallelism and tripling are equally an asset here.


Here are two examples for you:

1. Not only is the mobile phone a helpful communication gadget. It is also a means for entertainment, a platform for internet research and a facilitator of business transactions.

2. Visit our markets, interview many young street hawkers, let them tell their stories and you will discover that most of them are school dropouts.

2. Which tense is most appropriate for argumentative essay writing?

The tense of the argumentative essay is predominantly the present tense. The future tense comes in often when you begin to write about certain possible outcomes or consequences of certain choices and actions.

Conditional sentences or clauses can be used to great advantage in your argumentative essay.

However, you can use the past tense sparingly. Use the past tense to support a point with a direct reference to an event from the past. Note the various situations in which these tenses may be used.

And please, endeavour to use the appropriate tense always.

3. What should be your material for content?

This is best decided by the specific demands of the topic or issue under consideration. At any rate, your composition should contain clearly stated viewpoints.

Further, you need to add detailed and convincing arguments defending, explaining and supporting your points. You must also include viewpoints that reject and refute those of your opponent, particularly in a debate situation.

To get points, details and examples for your argumentative essay, you need to be creative.

You may use some real facts that are appropriate to your purpose. Where you cannot get or remember any of these, do not throw up your arms in despair. Create details and examples for yourself. Let them sound factual by making them realistic. Exaggeration will not help you.

Where you have to write according to a specific number of points, make sure to keep within the limit. Otherwise, do not overburden yourself with a large number of points.

Quite often, a candidate or writer is armed with many more points than necessary. She then thinks the more points she is able to raise, regardless of how shabbily they are discussed, the  higher the mark her composition would attract. This is a wrong assumption.

So, what should I do?

For many high school, post-secondary or undergraduate level tests, between four and five points is the standard norm (unless it is otherwise stated).

So dear candidate, four or five points well explained, discussed and illustrated would benefit you more than twenty skeleton-points.

You may also like:

4. Properly introduce and arrange points, ideas and paragraphs.

  • The arrangement of your points and explanations should follow a logical order. The next thing you say should be derived from what you have just finished saying. This will make your line of argument proceed coherently, consistently and smoothly.
  • The introduction and conclusion of an argumentative essay

In fact, for argumentative writing in any form – be it a debate speech, a letter or an article, there are basically two ways of introducing and proceeding with your points.

1.      The Deductive Pattern: The writer begins with an array of evidence and reserves her opinion or standpoint to be declared at the end of the essay.

2.      The Inductive Pattern: The writer makes her stance clearly known right at the beginning and uses subsequent paragraphs to adduce reasons and evidence to buttress the position taken.

My recommendation

I recommend the second pattern for candidates at the secondary and early tertiary levels. This approach keeps you focused and, to my mind, reduces the risk of getting trapped in the pitfalls of deviation. This is particularly so under examination conditions where time to think clearly is always a scarce, precious commodity.

So, take a stance and stick to it in the introduction. Then go ahead and say how you propose to support the position you have taken by laying out your points in a thesis statement.

The conclusion of an argumentative essay should include a restatement of your standpoint and a summary of the reasons for that position.

Thank you.

Ralph Nyadzi

Ralph has a passion for the teaching and learning of Language and Literature mainly because these two help him to understand and appreciate why people act the way they do. Over the past two decades, he has coached over 5000 students and adult learners to achieve their educational goals. Ralph is the founder and CEO of Cegast Academy.

View all posts by Ralph Nyadzi →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sign up to have personalized learning/teaching tips, tools & tricks delivered into your inbox.