How to Write a Good Argumentative Essay: Introduction

in this tutorial series we’re going to be looking at the process of organizing and writing a good argumentative essay an argumentative essay is sometimes called a persuasive essay it’s an essay that tries to persuade the reader to accept some thesis or conclusion it does this by providing the reader reasons to accept the thesis so an argumentative essay is really just an argument now in other tutorial courses I’ve talked a great deal about recognizing and evaluating arguments but I’ve never talked about essays or essay writing so in this tutorial course we’re going to focus on how to write arguments in essay format in this introduction I want to say a few words about what makes an argumentative essay an essay rather than just an argument that’s point number one but what I really want to talk about is why it’s important that you know how to write one that’s point number two and finally I’ll say a bit about how we’re going to proceed in the tutorials that follow okay let’s start with what makes an argumentative essay an essay what makes it an essay is that it has a certain conventional structure we’re all familiar with the basic elements of this structure an essay will have minimally an introductory section a main body and a concluding section there’s a lot more to it than this but these are the main elements that everyone will recognize the structure is just a convention it’s not the only way you can present an argument but it’s an established convention why because it is proven to be an effective and efficient means of communicating complex ideas and arguments to readers who may not know much about the issue to begin with and may not even know whether they’re interested in the issue we’re going to talk a lot more about the functions of the various parts of an essay in later tutorials so I won’t say more about this here now why is it important to learn how to write in this style well for starters many classes in high school college and university require you to write argumentative essays if you happen to be bad at this then you’re going to be penalized for it over and over second and this is a frustrating point for many students in most classes you’re expected to know how to write in proper essay format before you come to class unless you’re taking a composition class where essay writing is the subject of study your teachers aren’t going to spend much time lecturing on essay writing technique so you end up learning if you ever do by trial and error and the error usually comes at the price of a grade that is lower than it has to be and third once you’ve internalized the logic of the argumentative essay style once you’ve understood the rationale for the conventions then you can transfer that same logic to any situation that requires presenting an argument to an audience situations like presenting a sales pitch to a client or writing a memo to your boss requesting a raise or delivering a closing argument in a court case so the point here is that understanding the logic of the traditional essay format can help you to construct more persuasive arguments in any form in any situation it’ll be more obvious how this works once we’ve looked more closely at the logic of the essay format okay this is how we’re going to proceed in this tutorial series first we’ll review the basic elements of the traditional argumentative essay style and the focus here will be on understanding the logic the rationale for why the conventions are what they are will answer your questions like why do introductions have the structure they do why does the main body have to have this structure why should conclusions be constructed like this and so on along the way we’ll look at some good and bad examples of these elements to illustrate the main ideas and finally I’m going to present a short example of a bad student essay I remember we should just call it an essay that needs some work the topic is should teachers be allowed to ban laptops in the classroom will analyze the logical structure of the essay discuss recommendations for improving it and then I’ll present revise an improved version of the essay based on those recommendations after all this you should have a pretty good idea of what a good argumentative essay is how they’re organized and how to go about writing one final note in this tutorial series the focus is on the logic of the basic argumentative essay format there’s a lot that I won’t be covering I’m not going to be focusing on things like for example citation styles and footnotes and bibliographies or how to use research tools or avoid plagiarism and so on these are all important topics but they aren’t the focus of this course

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