Basic Essay Writing Steps

Also See:

Composition Writing Steps

Writing an Argument Essay

An argument essay takes a position on a debatable subject and argues for or against it.

Suppose that for an essay, you will take a side on the issue of grading. After reading several essays arguing for and against keeping failing and D grades, you decide what you think should be done about letter grades, and WHY. For example: should the D be eradicated? Should we eradicate all grades? Or, should we keep the D? Is there a positive to the F grade? You will decide what to argue, but your argument must be on the topic of letter grading, and whether we should keep letter grades, all the letter grades, or none of them.

Follow these steps to create an excellent, thoughtful essay:

Read through the prompt. If you have questions, clarify them before you begin. Ask "what is being asked of me?" Ask "what do I know that could help me form a topic?" Think it over. (Percolate!)

Once you have your topic, brainstorm at least two pages (preference is to simply write out your ideas in complete sentences.) Find out how you feel about an issue and identify any assumptions you're making about your topic.

Form a thesis. The thesis should argue for something and must include a "should" statement. An example of a thesis might be: The F grade should continue to be used in academics because students can learn from their failures, because repeating a class can be a worthy exercise, and because overinflating grades has been shown to negatively effect student learning.

Find sources you can refer to in your writing; at least two or three.

Create an outline for your argument. See Sample Essay Outline

I. Introduction ending in a thesis statement (your thesis is the last sentence of this paragraph)

II-IV Main body paragraphs, aka your reasons. (Your because statements in your thesis should develop and expand into topic sentences that will begin each main body paragraph. Make sure that you expand and explain your topic sentences, that you fully introduce your citations (author's full name, title, and source), and that you explain the quotes or other citations or analogies that you provide as evidence in your main body paragraphs.)

VI Counter argument and rebuttal (This paragraph addresses possible concerns of the opposition. You should begin with something like "those in opposition would believe that you should not..." and follow with at least one valid reason that the opposition might disagree with you. You should give "them" their space on the page in order to convey to readers that you are aware of the opposition's arguments and are taking them into account.)

VII Rebuttal. (This paragraph should counter your counter argument. It's fine to begin with the word "But..." Here you return to your original argument. You have an opportunity to bring out yet another reason why your argument is valid. Avoid repeating an argument you've made previously in your paper. Instead, bring out a "trump card" argument here and support it with excellent evidence to drive your argument home.

VIII Conclusion (This paragraph should give the reader a more global perspective. It can answer the question: why is this argument relevant to the reader's life? It can give a dire-warning-type suggestion of what might happen if we ignore the essay's argument. You can also end with a call-to-action.)

Draft your paper. Make sure to check that your paragraphs are well developed, and your quotes are aligned with your thesis.

Bring your paper to peer editing. Bring your paper in completion and have proofread it for basic errors. Be open to questions and insight from other students. Ask yourself, your peer editor, and your teacher questions that come up for you. Be a conscientious reader and listener during peer editing.

Proofread your paper carefully before turning it in. Read your paper aloud to listen for any confusing sentences or grammatical mistakes. See Proofreading Tips.

Look at the Grading Rubric. Make sure to look over the grading rubric before turning in your paper. Ask yourself if you have an idea of where you might fall ion each of the different categories. If your ideas and mine are different, it's important that we discuss what each category of the rubric means and how to put that information into practice.

An A essay has... a clear a developed thesis, paragraphs with arguable topic sentences, logical thinking, appropriate evidence, and a strong opening and conclusion and uses proper MLA format.

Good luck!

GrammarBank Video Exercises
GrammarBank YouTube Channel