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

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