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The definition of an argumentative essay is an essay designed to persuade a reader to side with the point of view of the author. The first step in writing this type of essay is selecting a topic. It need not be a controversial topic, but it should be an issue that has clearly delineated opposing ideas. Try to avoid writing about topics such as abortion, the death penalty, freedom of speech or the right to bear arms. Although these topics are interesting and there is an abundance of research on them, they have become stale and boring due to overuse. Also, most people already hold a strong opinion on these topics, and it will be difficult if not impossible to change their minds through a simple college essay. Rather, think of a fresh topic - something that most people haven't thought about much. You will have a much better chance of persuading them then.
Once you've selected a topic, you need to decide exactly what you will be arguing. Do you want to write what you believe in, or will you decide to play devil's advocate and bat for the other side? For example, if you are a die-hard animal lover writing about PETA, you will probably want to write about all the good that PETA is doing. On the other hand, if you want to exercise your writing and debating skills, you may want to write about why some people strongly dislike PETA.
Once you've done your research and selected a topic, it's time for you to create an outline. Many students do not think they need outlines and neglect this step, but it is actually an incredibly important part of your essay. Outlines help provide structure, coherency and a way for students to organize their thoughts and strengthen their arguments. If you have a well thought out outline, writing your essay will become much easier. For example, a student who has no outline will have to think on their feet, so to speak. They have to develop the structure of their essay while writing and rewriting, erasing and moving around various pieces in order to make them work. Once finished, they may even have to go back and completely rewrite the essay in order for it to make sense because at some point it drifted off onto an entirely irrelevant point. However, if you have an outline, your ideas will be in the correct order and you will be able to stick to the argument and not get lost on related tangents.
Now it's time to begin writing. There are several types of structure you may use in writing your essay, but the most common and highly recommended way is the five paragraph essay. This type of essay is composed of an introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs and a concluding paragraph. Each paragraph is structured similarly with an introductory sentence, body of information and concluding sentence. The most important sentence in your entire essay is the thesis statement. The thesis statement is a sentence in your first paragraph that sums up the entire argument of the essay. A thesis statement is important as it informs the reader what to expect in the essay. It also functions as a sort of outline, as the essay should elaborate only upon the ideas mentioned in the thesis. If your thesis states that you support school uniforms because they are neat and cost-effective, then you cannot write about how they promote school spirit as well unless you modify the thesis to include the new concept.
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