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The Persuasive Essay

What is a Persuasive essay?

  • A convincing case in favor of, or in opposition to, an argument
  • Difference from an expository essay
    • Bias
    • Taking a side
    • Carefully argued perspective

Persuasive Essay

  • Requires the student to…
    • Appeal to the reader’s sense of logic
      • Present specific and relevant evidence
      • Well-organized structure
    • Use evidence to support your viewpoint
      • Statistics
      • Facts
      • Quotations from experts
      • Examples
  • Consider opposing views
    • Anticipate concerns and questions
    • Respond to these points
    • Explain why your viewpoint is best
  • Present a strong conclusion
    • Evidence and explanations should build to a strong ending
    • Summarize your view in a clear and memorable way
    • May include a call to action
  • Do use a pleasant and reasonable tone
    • Logic and fairness will keep it strong
  • Don’t use sarcasm or name-calling
    • Weakens an argument

Choose a topic

  • The first step is choosing a topic
    • Brainstorm ideas
      • Needs to have depth and support
    • Pick a topic in which you strongly believe
      • Easier to defend your ideas
      • Makes your paper more convincing
  • Consider the opposing viewpoints

More about the topic

  • You must take a stand
    • No room for wishy-washy declarations
  • Write about something with which you are familiar
    • You will know something about it and be willing to research to learn more
  • The topic should be something upon which there is a reasonable difference of opinion
  • The topic must be very specific


  • Do your research
    • Use at least three sources
      • Never use just one source
    • Will strengthen your argument
    • Will help you understand the counter-arguments
    • Will help persuade reader by showing verifiable facts


  • Use an active voice
    • Avoid passive language
  • Use third person point of view
    • You need lots of research to back up your position
    • First person weakens your research
      • Sounds like just an opinion
  • Be clear
    • Use concise, clear language
    • Unnecessary wordiness will detract from the clarity


  • Arrange the essay
    • Introduction with strong thesis statement
    • Body paragraphs
      • Each one will take one reason from the thesis statement and offer proof that the reason is valid
      • Each one will include three smaller points defending the reason from the thesis statement
        • Add citations to help drive home the message that these are facts rather than just opinions
      • Each one will end with a transitional sentence to the next paragraph
        • Keeps the reading smooth
  • Dissect the counter-arguments
  • Can be separate paragraph
    • Mention the counter argument to each reason
    • Should be shot down with persuasive, rational arguments
      • Emotions have no place in this type of essay
      • Spell out why the counter-argument is wrong
      • Use facts to dissuade the readers from the counter-argument
  • Build a solid conclusion
    • Tie together the entire essay
    • Drive home the main argument once more
    • Remind the reader of your strongest sources
    • Reader should be convinced that your position is valid and supported by facts


  • Introduction
    • Hook (attention-grabbing opening sentence)
    • Background information
      • Three sentences leading up to your main idea or perspective on the topic
    • Thesis statement
      • Subject + argument about the subject + three reasons for your argument or viewpoint
  • Body paragraphs
    • Each paragraph should focus on one reason listed in the thesis statement (topic sentence)
    • Each paragraph should include three details, in the way of evidence or examples (support/detail sentences)
    • Each paragraph should end with a transition to the next reason or paragraph (closing sentence)
    • One paragraph can be included to accurately explain and then refute the most significant opposing view
  • Conclusion
    • Creatively rephrase your thesis statement
    • Summarize the main supporting points
    • Leave the reader with a sense of closure

Time4Writing provides practice in this area. Sign up for our High School Essay Writing course or browse other related courses below to find a course that’s right for you.

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