Have you ever been face-to-face with an argumentative essay but had no idea where to begin? So many of us, when faced with writer’s block, tend to feel the writing process become an impassable mountain. Thankfully, though, there are so many ways to overcome this and feel confident in the essay you’re going to submit! Whether you’re facing writer’s block or just need some extra guidance choosing an argumentative essay topic, we at Empowerly are here to help! Read on to learn more about what an argumentative essay is, how you can effectively brainstorm to make the most out of your writing sessions, and topics to help guide your thinking.
Well, what is an argumentative essay?
If you’re like most, navigating the world of essays in high school can be quite daunting. With numerous different essay forms you’ve been taught to write, it can be hard to make a distinction between each to avoid writing the wrong type of essay altogether. Even more, argumentative essays are quite a tricky essay type if you’re not familiar with them. Luckily, there is hope. We want to define what an argumentative essay is and how it differs from other essay types, like persuasive or expository essays, in hopes of providing more clarity and direction as you proceed.
Argumentative essays are essays that require a student to
- investigate a topic,
- collect, generate, and evaluate evidence,
- and establish a concise, fact-based position on the topic.
While persuasive and expository essays are similar in nature, don’t let this fool you.
As you can see from the three factors above, argumentative essays are heavily research-based, meaning you’ll be required to include and support your argument(s) with published sources and empirical research, like talking to students, conducting research and experiments, and so on.
Persuasive essays, on the other hand, focus more on emotion and “persuading” someone to understand and believe in your thesis or topic. While you can (and will likely use) some supporting evidence when working to persuade your audience, your main focus is on trying to get the reader to agree with your personal perspective rather than understand your perspective as hard truth as with argumentative essays.
You’ll likely find yourself writing argumentative essays A LOT in college, so be sure to familiarize yourself with what goes into them and how to write a good argumentative essay early on!
When it comes to the structure of an argumentative essay, much of it follows the same format as other essays you’ve written in the past.
First and foremost, argumentative essays begin with an introductory paragraph that lays out the topic you’re discussing, some background information, and a clear outline of the evidence you will be walking through throughout the essay. Arguably the most important piece of this essay is the thesis statement or the one-sentence summary of the main point you will argue in your piece.
Following this, you’ll explain your stance and provide sufficient evidence in the body of the essay supporting your thesis statement. Each paragraph highlights a different perspective to support your thesis and uses different sources to do so. It’s recommended that you address potential opposing points of view and disprove/explain why you disagree with them in your paragraphs – this will only help to strengthen your essay further!
Finally, end with your conclusion in which you recount (in a summary) your thesis and the arguments you provided throughout your essay. With this, you can end with a personal note showing your reader why you care about this piece to support your overall argument further! It is important to note that while you can share your opinion in your essay’s conclusion, your tone should remain reasonable and fair without adding too much obvious emotion. Keep this in mind as you begin to brainstorm your essay and try to explore both sides of the argument in your research before you begin writing to help keep your essay to the point and as evidence-based as possible.
How to brainstorm effectively
Now that you know exactly what an argumentative essay is, we can explore ways to brainstorm effectively and formulate and write a powerful argumentative piece. When beginning argumentative essays, it is very easy to hit writer’s block (something we all experience at one time or another). That’s where the powerful tool of brainstorming comes in; brainstorming allows you to work through your confusion and get all of your ideas down, even if they are disorganized, as you piece together your thoughts like a puzzle. There are many different ways to brainstorm and many different stages of the brainstorming process, but being able to do so effectively will allow you to develop strong argumentative essay topics and gather all of your information in an efficient manner that will help your writing process go more smoothly.
First and foremost, it’s important to break down exactly what goes into an argumentative essay and use this to create a guide to navigate through your essay. When it comes to the purpose of argumentative essays, it’s important to remember that they require you to get a reader to accept your perspective as truth.
To do so, you need a topic to write your essay on that you can research and support with concrete evidence. Likely your teacher or professor will have provided you with at least a generalized overarching prompt which can be a starting point for brainstorming. If not, though, don’t worry – this is the perfect opportunity to discuss something you feel passionate about that can be supported by concrete research or evidence (likely, you’ll find yourself in this situation for a senior project or capstone project). With this in mind, we’ll take two approaches to the brainstorming process to provide you with the most helpful way to develop and navigate the jungle of argumentative essays.
If you’ve been given a topic or overarching theme to work with, then you’ve climbed half of the first hill (unfortunately of many) that lies ahead. Now is the time to narrow this overarching theme down – here are a few things to think about when doing so that should help you on the path to solidifying your argumentative essay topic:
- Is there something about this topic that interests you?
- Do you have a strong opinion on this topic that you can back up with empirical evidence?
- Is there a lot of research available on this topic?
- Is this topic too broad? If so, is there some way you can narrow this down further?
If you haven’t been given a prompt or overarching theme, ask yourself these questions:
- What am I passionate about?
- What can I debate with facts?
- Do I have enough evidence to back up my topic?
- Is there anything that sparks my interest that’s debatable?
Being able to write about something that truly piques your interest will make the brainstorming, writing, and reviewing of your essay that much more intriguing for you (and will likely speed up the process as well!).
Additionally (this goes for both prompt and no-prompt groups), make sure you have multiple topics to choose from! This will go a long way during the brainstorming and writing process – sometimes, it’s easy to start writing, thinking you’ll have a lot to write about but face a block along the way without having another topic to fall back on. Keeping more than one topic at hand, with a basic outline of what you could discuss, will help ensure you’ll move forward quickly and not get burnt out during the process as quickly!
Writing topics to guide your thinking
When it comes to thinking of argumentative essay topics, there are so many different ones available at your disposal! Given the nature of argumentative writing, there is bound to be a topic that feels right for you and addresses your overarching theme and beliefs. With so many pressing issues we face within our society, including health, environment, and technology, stumbling upon the right topic for you is a lot easier than you think. To help push you in the right direction, though, here are a few topics that may help inspire your brainstorming and get you on your way to writing a wonderful essay!
- Health-focused topics
- Is healthcare a fundamental right for everyone?
- Should BMI be removed as a required measure of health?
- Should mass vaccination be required?
- Should DNA be kept by companies who perform genealogical research?
- Should AI be allowed to be a part of healthcare?
- Technological-focused topics
- Should self-driving cars be fully implemented in our society?
- Is social media bad for us?
- Should computers be allowed in classrooms?
- Is technology impacting our intelligence?
- Should we allow VR to replace the classroom, workplace, etc.?
- Environmental-focused topics
- Are farms hurting the environment?
- Should someone found littering be implicated by the law?
- Is global warming real?
- Are electric cars better for the environment?
- Is technology damaging to the environment?
- Societal/Cultural-focused topics
- Is there a difference in pay for men and women?
- Should workplaces and schools monitor employee/student social media accounts?
- Should books be allowed to be banned from schools?
- Should schools enforce the pledge of allegiance?
- Educational-focused topics
- Should schools require students to follow a dress code?
- Is online learning effective?
- Should students learn a foreign language?
- Should the school day be required to start after 9 AM?
- Is gym class helpful for students?
- Are field trips effective for student learning?
Essay intimidation is a real thing, but there are ways to overcome it! Being able to write a strong argumentative essay confidently will take you a long way once you reach college and beyond, so remember to take it step-by-step and find a topic you’re passionate about. If you find yourself stuck, Empowerly’s Essay Editing team is here to help you through your writer’s block and get you well on your way to writing an argumentative essay you’re proud of. Writing doesn’t have to be hard; if it is, we have your back.