Persuasive Essay Format

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As you will learn below, there is more to a persuasive essay than just laying out a few arguments. You are trying to get your readers to think the same way you do. Follow this simple essay format in order to get a better grade from your teacher/professor. The person marking your work has a marking guide, which means that creative, obtuse or original formatting will not play as well. The marker may be inclined towards a lower grade for fear of having to justify your grade if your essay is picked at random by an administrator. This article shows you the easiest format to getting a better grade with your persuasive essay.

Introduction

The reader should be grabbed by what you are writing. You are not selling an F1 car, but a dry or formulaic opening may not be the best option. Give some background information that you may expand upon later. This is just so that people get a general idea of what your essay is all about. You should then enter your thesis statement, hypothesis or focus statement.

First argument and/or opening paragraphs

You can give a little more background information here if it is needed. You may need to explain why people should care about what you are trying to persuade them of. You may then give your first argument, and it is a good idea to start with your most powerful argument. Give your topic statement and back it up with evidence, emotion, logic and any other persuasion tools you feel are needed. Elaborate on your point to make sure it is fully understood by the reader, and try to end on a strong note.

You now have a choice

There are a few ways you may write your persuasive essay, but the two most common methods go a little like this:

  • Introduction
  • Thesis
  • Background
  • Argument
  • Counter argument
  • Counter-counter argument
  • Argument
  • Counter argument
  • Counter-counter argument
  • Conclusion

Alternatively, you may lay out your persuasive essay in this fashion:

  • Introduction
  • Thesis
  • Background
  • Argument
  • Argument
  • Counter argument
  • Counter argument
  • Counter-counter arguments
  • Conclusion

The way you lay out your essay

Think about it as a two-person debate. One person speaks and then the other replies, or one person says his or her bit, and then the other person says his or her bit. Choose the structure based on what you have to say. If you have lots of small details and evidence, then it may be better to get it all out in one go. If you have just a few big arguments, then it may be better to examine them one at a time, counter them, and then reaffirm them with counter-counter arguments.

Conclusion

With a persuasive essay there are very few occasions where you should not call back to your thesis statement directly. You can even copy and paste it into the conclusion if you wish. You should also summarize your main points. You should not need to show your counter arguments unless they are pivotal in your case, as the readers should already be aware of the counter arguments and the things you wrote to quash them. You can summarize before you call back to your thesis statement, or you can restate your thesis statement and then start summarizing. Your conclusion should point to your arguments as the reasons why your thesis is correct.

How to conclude with a “don’t know” and still get a good grade

There are some issue that are simply too difficult to conclude for or against. For example, you may write a persuasive argument proving that time is “not” circular, but may not be able to conclude definitively that it is non-circular. You can show a lot of good evidence that time is not circular, but you may still have to conclude with an “I don’t know” conclusion.

Students have gotten very good grades from creating persuasive essays that have focused on a topic they did not pick a side with. A simple example would be a persuasive essay that asks if there is a god but concludes in an agnostic manner. Knowing this is possible is going to help you get a better grade.

There are students that get terrible grades because they come up with very weak arguments to support or counter a topic issue, when in fact they could have concluded with a “don’t know” or “can’t decide” or basically sat on the fence (as the old saying goes). You will get a worse grade for presenting weak arguments than if you insert good arguments and then conclude on the fence.

The key to understanding why these students still attained a good grade is through understanding what a persuasive essay does. The key is not to address an issue and then decide upon it within the conclusion, it is not even to start with a standpoint and then prove it in your essay. The point of a persuasive essay is to get people thinking the same way you do. Your goal is to change peoples’ minds, and you do that within your persuasive essay.

To put it another way, if from the previous example you were unsure if god existed, your aim is to convince believers and non-believers to think your way. If you are sat on the fence about an issue, then you may sit on the fence when you conclude your essay. Just be sure that you show people why you are sat on the fence. Show valid arguments for and valid arguments against, and show that you cannot make a decision based on the evidence you showed within your essay.

If you want to play it safe, then your thesis statement can state you do not know the answer. You can start with something such as “I cannot be sure the universe is saddle shaped, and here is why.” You then give evidence to support a saddle shaped universe (hyperbolic universe mathematical theory), and evidence to oppose a saddle shaped universe and conclude that you are sat on the fence.

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