How to Write an Argumentative Essay: A Step-by-Step Guide

May 31, 2023

how to write an argumentative essay

This is the complete guide on how to write an argumentative essay, step-by-step.

It doesn’t matter if you understand the basics of essay writing or you have never written anything like this before in your academic life.

This post will take you from a blank page to developing a solid essay that demonstrates solid arguments that win your audience, defend your stance, and ultimately score an A grade for the assignment.

Let’s get started. 

Key Takeaways

  • An argumentative essay is a written work intended to convince an audience that your claim in an argument is true.
  • The essay requires you to provide evidence to support your position on an issue.
  • Argumentative essays are debatable in nature. Therefore, you must look at both sides of an issue to demonstrate that you clearly understand what the assignment requires.
  • To write the essay, you must choose a topic, conduct research, develop an outline, write the essay, proofread your work, and deliver it on time.

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How to Write an Argumentative Essay Step-by-Step

The purpose of an argument is to explore an issue extensively and holistically.

You must conduct extensive research on all the aspects of a topic, gather information that presents different point of views, follow an academically approved structure for the assignment.

Then you have to write the essay in a way that demonstrates your interest in the topic.

Argumentative essays are debatable in nature regardless of the issue under investigation.

That means you must not only express your views but also look at counterarguments, which are responses to the claims you would make in a live debate.

write argument essay step by step

With that out of the way, here’s how you should write an argumentative essay:

1. Choose a Topic

The very first step in this process is to choose the best argumentative essay topic. However, you can skip this step if your teacher has already given you a topic to focus on.

You cannot pick a topic at random. Ensure the topic you choose for the essay meets the following criteria:

  • Pick a topic that allows for an argument, because you have to make it possible to find contradicting opinions.
  • Choose a topic you find interesting to explore. It’s easier to write about something you understand, or have always wanted to explore, than something boring and overly dull.
  • Determine whether the topic is suitable for an essay or otherwise. Find a classmate who has a differing view and discuss their arguments.

If a topic doesn’t meet these three requirements, scrape it from your list and repeat the brainstorming process until you find something that does.

2. Conduct In-depth Research

research argument topic

You’ll do most of your research online, but your school library also makes a good port of call when it comes to conducting in-depth research.

But what should the research materials look like in the first place?

Generally, you should:

  • Find sources that cover all sides of an issue. Remember, an argumentative essay must give an all-around view of the different facets of the topic you selected.
  • Collect evidence that supports your position on the topic and addresses the opposing points of view.
  • Use old sources because they provide the solid foundation for the topic. Also, consider new sources because they offer insights into the current trends on the issue.

You can incorporate quotes from scholarly sources to increase the credibility of your work. Just make sure you cite the work properly so that your work doesn’t come across as plagiarized.

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3. Write Your Argumentative Essay

Now that you’ve selected your topic and done your research, it’s time to turn your findings into a comprehensive argumentative essay.

Here’s what you do:

Write a Great Title

The title is the first thing that readers look at before reading any publication, and it’s not an exception when it comes to an argumentative essay. 

You should title your argument in a way that draws in attention, so your target can develop a strong urge to know what you have in store for them.

The title should be descriptive. By reading it, a reader should have a clue on what the essay is likely to be about even before they get to the first paragraph.

Start the Essay with a Hook

Writing a good title isn’t enough. You have to keep the reader engaged to your work, which means you must give your argument a solid start.

We’ve mentioned repeatedly that the human attention span is short, with new data showing that you have as few as 4.5 seconds to get the attention of a reader or lose them completely altogether.

So, start the first paragraph with a sentence that will grab their attention and make them want to stick through to the end.

Check out our guide to writing a hook for argumentative essays to learn more about the tips and tricks to write strong introductions.

Write Your Thesis Statement

A thesis for an argumentative essay is a concise idea that summarizes your viewpoint on the topic you selected.

Usually one or two sentences long, the thesis appears at the end of the introduction paragraph – not anywhere else.

The idea here is to give readers a snapshot that will guide them throughout the rest of the essay.

The thesis statement must be clear and concise, and it should contain a claim of one kind or another, which can be of definition, of policy solutions, or of value.

Complete the Body Paragraphs

We have put together a detailed guide argumentative essay body paragraphs. We strongly recommend that you read it to learn more about:

  • Writing the perfect topic sentence for every paragraph of your arguments
  • Using arguments, evidence, stats, and reason to defend your position on the topic you’ve selected.
  • Conclude your argument and transition the reader to the next consecutive paragraph.

After reading that guide, you should also be able to incorporate counterclaim in your work, which is a good way to demonstrate that you took time to look at other points of view to balance your arguments.

Write a Strong Conclusion

You also need to learn how to conclude an argument so that you can tie everything back together in a nice way.

4. Polish Your Work

Now is time to polish your first draft. Here's how do do that: 

Take a Break

The process of writing an essay can be engrossing. This might cause you to make clear mistakes and errors.

The best thing is to take some days off from writing to clear your head. This will give you an opportunity to look at your work with fresh eyes, something that’s important in spotting the errors that you may have overlooked.

Also, it will help you to see what you actually said instead of what you intended to say, and therefore give you a clear perspective that you can use to revise your argumentative essay.

Check for Grammar Issues

After putting in the hard work, you can easily undo your efforts and even make it look unprofessional by not fixing grammar issues.

Some of the most obvious grammar mistakes that students make include the following:

  1. 1
    Subject-verb agreement: this type of error occurs when you use an incorrect form of the verb with a subject. For example, ‘it appear’ instead of it appears.
  2. 2
    Sentence fragments: Fragments refer to incomplete phrases that can’t stand alone on their own because they are missing something.
  3. 3
    Parallelism: Parallelism errors tend to occur when groups of words don’t appear in the same structure or format within a sentence.

You should also look for quote formatting problems or incorporation.

When you format your quotes correctly, you make it easy for the reader to locate the info you are referencing. Also, it makes you more credible as an author.


The ability to structure and write an excellent argumentative essay is an important skill that students need to master.

A strong argumentative essay supports and argues against a topic, not to mention it convinces the reader about your stance or point of view.

Also, it gives the audience a thorough understanding of the topic, and usually covers all aspects of a topic.

However, it tries to sway the reader to agree with your point of view.

Spend some time in choosing an interesting topic and a great title that hooks the reader. Write a great introduction and make sure you cite your sources correctly.

After you finish writing, take some time off. And then revise your work to make it flawless. 

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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