How to Write a Persuasive Essay (This Convinced My Professor!)

How to Write a Persuasive Essay (This Convinced My Professor!)

Table of contents

what are the main components of a persuasive essay

Meredith Sell

You can make your essay more persuasive by getting straight to the point.

In fact, that's exactly what we did here, and that's just the first tip of this guide. Throughout this guide, we share the steps needed to prove an argument and create a persuasive essay.

This AI tool helps you improve your essay > This AI tool helps you improve your essay >

persuasive essay

Key takeaways: - Proven process to make any argument persuasive - 5-step process to structure arguments - How to use AI to formulate and optimize your essay

Why is being persuasive so difficult?

"Write an essay that persuades the reader of your opinion on a topic of your choice."

You might be staring at an assignment description just like this 👆from your professor. Your computer is open to a blank document, the cursor blinking impatiently. Do I even have opinions?

The persuasive essay can be one of the most intimidating academic papers to write: not only do you need to identify a narrow topic and research it, but you also have to come up with a position on that topic that you can back up with research while simultaneously addressing different viewpoints.

That’s a big ask. And let’s be real: most opinion pieces in major news publications don’t fulfill these requirements.

The upside? By researching and writing your own opinion, you can learn how to better formulate not only an argument but the actual positions you decide to hold. 

Here, we break down exactly how to write a persuasive essay. We’ll start by taking a step that’s key for every piece of writing—defining the terms.

What Is a Persuasive Essay?

A persuasive essay is exactly what it sounds like: an essay that persuades . Over the course of several paragraphs or pages, you’ll use researched facts and logic to convince the reader of your opinion on a particular topic and discredit opposing opinions.

While you’ll spend some time explaining the topic or issue in question, most of your essay will flesh out your viewpoint and the evidence that supports it.

The 5 Must-Have Steps of a Persuasive Essay

If you’re intimidated by the idea of writing an argument, use this list to break your process into manageable chunks. Tackle researching and writing one element at a time, and then revise your essay so that it flows smoothly and coherently with every component in the optimal place.

1. A topic or issue to argue

This is probably the hardest step. You need to identify a topic or issue that is narrow enough to cover in the length of your piece—and is also arguable from more than one position. Your topic must call for an opinion , and not be a simple fact .

It might be helpful to walk through this process:

  • Identify a random topic
  • Ask a question about the topic that involves a value claim or analysis to answer
  • Answer the question

That answer is your opinion.

Let’s consider some examples, from silly to serious:

Topic: Dolphins and mermaids

Question: In a mythical match, who would win: a dolphin or a mermaid?

Answer/Opinion: The mermaid would win in a match against a dolphin.

Topic: Autumn

Question: Which has a better fall: New England or Colorado?

Answer/Opinion: Fall is better in New England than Colorado.

Topic: Electric transportation options

Question: Would it be better for an urban dweller to buy an electric bike or an electric car?

Answer/Opinion: An electric bike is a better investment than an electric car.

Your turn: Walk through the three-step process described above to identify your topic and your tentative opinion. You may want to start by brainstorming a list of topics you find interesting and then going use the three-step process to find the opinion that would make the best essay topic.

2. An unequivocal thesis statement

If you walked through our three-step process above, you already have some semblance of a thesis—but don’t get attached too soon! 

A solid essay thesis is best developed through the research process. You shouldn’t land on an opinion before you know the facts. So press pause. Take a step back. And dive into your research.

You’ll want to learn:

  • The basic facts of your topic. How long does fall last in New England vs. Colorado? What trees do they have? What colors do those trees turn?
  • The facts specifically relevant to your question. Is there any science on how the varying colors of fall influence human brains and moods?
  • What experts or other noteworthy and valid sources say about the question you’re considering. Has a well-known arborist waxed eloquent on the beauty of New England falls?

As you learn the different viewpoints people have on your topic, pay attention to the strengths and weaknesses of existing arguments. Is anyone arguing the perspective you’re leaning toward? Do you find their arguments convincing? What do you find unsatisfying about the various arguments? 

Allow the research process to change your mind and/or refine your thinking on the topic. Your opinion may change entirely or become more specific based on what you learn.

Once you’ve done enough research to feel confident in your understanding of the topic and your opinion on it, craft your thesis. 

Your thesis statement should be clear and concise. It should directly state your viewpoint on the topic, as well as the basic case for your thesis.

Thesis 1: In a mythical match, the mermaid would overcome the dolphin due to one distinct advantage: her ability to breathe underwater.

Thesis 2: The full spectrum of color displayed on New England hillsides is just one reason why fall in the northeast is better than in Colorado.

Thesis 3: In addition to not adding to vehicle traffic, electric bikes are a better investment than electric cars because they’re cheaper and require less energy to accomplish the same function of getting the rider from point A to point B.

Your turn: Dive into the research process with a radar up for the arguments your sources are making about your topic. What are the most convincing cases? Should you stick with your initial opinion or change it up? Write your fleshed-out thesis statement.

3. Evidence to back up your thesis

This is a typical place for everyone from undergrads to politicians to get stuck, but the good news is, if you developed your thesis from research, you already have a good bit of evidence to make your case.

Go back through your research notes and compile a list of every …

… or other piece of information that supports your thesis. 

This info can come from research studies you found in scholarly journals, government publications, news sources, encyclopedias, or other credible sources (as long as they fit your professor’s standards).

As you put this list together, watch for any gaps or weak points. Are you missing information on how electric cars versus electric bicycles charge or how long their batteries last? Did you verify that dolphins are, in fact, mammals and can’t breathe underwater like totally-real-and-not-at-all-fake 😉mermaids can? Track down that information.

Next, organize your list. Group the entries so that similar or closely related information is together, and as you do that, start thinking through how to articulate the individual arguments to support your case. 

Depending on the length of your essay, each argument may get only a paragraph or two of space. As you think through those specific arguments, consider what order to put them in. You’ll probably want to start with the simplest argument and work up to more complicated ones so that the arguments can build on each other. 

Your turn: Organize your evidence and write a rough draft of your arguments. Play around with the order to find the most compelling way to argue your case.

4. Rebuttals to disprove opposing theses

You can’t just present the evidence to support your case and totally ignore other viewpoints. To persuade your readers, you’ll need to address any opposing ideas they may hold about your topic. 

You probably found some holes in the opposing views during your research process. Now’s your chance to expose those holes. 

Take some time (and space) to: describe the opposing views and show why those views don’t hold up. You can accomplish this using both logic and facts.

Is a perspective based on a faulty assumption or misconception of the truth? Shoot it down by providing the facts that disprove the opinion.

Is another opinion drawn from bad or unsound reasoning? Show how that argument falls apart.

Some cases may truly be only a matter of opinion, but you still need to articulate why you don’t find the opposing perspective convincing.

Yes, a dolphin might be stronger than a mermaid, but as a mammal, the dolphin must continually return to the surface for air. A mermaid can breathe both underwater and above water, which gives her a distinct advantage in this mythical battle.

While the Rocky Mountain views are stunning, their limited colors—yellow from aspen trees and green from various evergreens—leaves the autumn-lover less than thrilled. The rich reds and oranges and yellows of the New England fall are more satisfying and awe-inspiring.

But what about longer trips that go beyond the city center into the suburbs and beyond? An electric bike wouldn’t be great for those excursions. Wouldn’t an electric car be the better choice then? 

Certainly, an electric car would be better in these cases than a gas-powered car, but if most of a person’s trips are in their hyper-local area, the electric bicycle is a more environmentally friendly option for those day-to-day outings. That person could then participate in a carshare or use public transit, a ride-sharing app, or even a gas-powered car for longer trips—and still use less energy overall than if they drove an electric car for hyper-local and longer area trips.

Your turn: Organize your rebuttal research and write a draft of each one.

5. A convincing conclusion

You have your arguments and rebuttals. You’ve proven your thesis is rock-solid. Now all you have to do is sum up your overall case and give your final word on the subject. 

Don’t repeat everything you’ve already said. Instead, your conclusion should logically draw from the arguments you’ve made to show how they coherently prove your thesis. You’re pulling everything together and zooming back out with a better understanding of the what and why of your thesis. 

A dolphin may never encounter a mermaid in the wild, but if it were to happen, we know how we’d place our bets. Long hair and fish tail, for the win.

For those of us who relish 50-degree days, sharp air, and the vibrant colors of fall, New England offers a season that’s cozier, longer-lasting, and more aesthetically pleasing than “colorful” Colorado. A leaf-peeper’s paradise.

When most of your trips from day to day are within five miles, the more energy-efficient—and yes, cost-efficient—choice is undoubtedly the electric bike. So strap on your helmet, fire up your pedals, and two-wheel away to your next destination with full confidence that you made the right decision for your wallet and the environment.

3 Quick Tips for Writing a Strong Argument

Once you have a draft to work with, use these tips to refine your argument and make sure you’re not losing readers for avoidable reasons.

1. Choose your words thoughtfully.

If you want to win people over to your side, don’t write in a way that shuts your opponents down. Avoid making abrasive or offensive statements. Instead, use a measured, reasonable tone. Appeal to shared values, and let your facts and logic do the hard work of changing people’s minds.

Choose words with AI

what are the main components of a persuasive essay

You can use AI to turn your general point into a readable argument. Then, you can paraphrase each sentence and choose between competing arguments generated by the AI, until your argument is well-articulated and concise.

2. Prioritize accuracy (and avoid fallacies).

Make sure the facts you use are actually factual. You don’t want to build your argument on false or disproven information. Use the most recent, respected research. Make sure you don’t misconstrue study findings. And when you’re building your case, avoid logical fallacies that undercut your argument.

A few common fallacies to watch out for:

  • Strawman: Misrepresenting or oversimplifying an opposing argument to make it easier to refute.
  • Appeal to ignorance: Arguing that a certain claim must be true because it hasn’t been proven false.
  • Bandwagon: Assumes that if a group of people, experts, etc., agree with a claim, it must be true.
  • Hasty generalization: Using a few examples, rather than substantial evidence, to make a sweeping claim.
  • Appeal to authority: Overly relying on opinions of people who have authority of some kind.

The strongest arguments rely on trustworthy information and sound logic.

Research and add citations with AI

what are the main components of a persuasive essay

We recently wrote a three part piece on researching using AI, so be sure to check it out . Going through an organized process of researching and noting your sources correctly will make sure your written text is more accurate.

3. Persuasive essay structure

Persuasive essay structure

If you’re building a house, you start with the foundation and go from there. It’s the same with an argument. You want to build from the ground up: provide necessary background information, then your thesis. Then, start with the simplest part of your argument and build up in terms of complexity and the aspect of your thesis that the argument is tackling.

A consistent, internal logic will make it easier for the reader to follow your argument. Plus, you’ll avoid confusing your reader and you won’t be unnecessarily redundant.

The essay structure usually includes the following parts:

  • Intro - Hook, Background information, Thesis statement
  • Topic sentence #1 , with supporting facts or stats
  • Concluding sentence
  • Topic sentence #2 , with supporting facts or stats
  • Concluding sentence Topic sentence #3 , with supporting facts or stats
  • Conclusion - Thesis and main points restated, call to action, thought provoking ending

Are You Ready to Write?

Persuasive essays are a great way to hone your research, writing, and critical thinking skills. Approach this assignment well, and you’ll learn how to form opinions based on information (not just ideas) and make arguments that—if they don’t change minds—at least win readers’ respect. ‍

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Effective strategies for crafting a compelling persuasive essay.

Steps to write a persuasive essay

When it comes to making a compelling argument, a persuasive essay can be a powerful tool. Whether you’re trying to convince your audience of a certain viewpoint or persuade them to take a specific course of action, crafting a persuasive essay requires careful planning and execution.

From choosing a strong thesis statement to providing evidence to support your claims, every step in the process plays a crucial role in the overall effectiveness of your essay. In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the key components of crafting an impactful persuasive essay that will leave a lasting impression on your readers.

Defining the Purpose: What Makes an Effective Persuasive Essay

Before diving into crafting a persuasive essay, it is crucial to understand the purpose and goal of this type of writing. A persuasive essay aims to convince the reader of a particular viewpoint or argument by presenting logical and well-supported evidence. The key features of an effective persuasive essay include:

  • Clear Thesis Statement: The essay should start with a clear and concise thesis statement that presents the main argument or position.
  • Focused and Organized Structure: The essay should follow a logical structure with each paragraph focusing on a specific point and supporting evidence.
  • Evidence and Examples: Supporting the argument with credible evidence, facts, statistics, and real-life examples strengthens the persuasiveness of the essay.
  • Engaging Introduction: An engaging introduction that grabs the reader’s attention and provides background information on the topic is essential.
  • Counterarguments: Acknowledging and addressing counterarguments strengthens the overall credibility of the essay.
  • Call to Action: Ending the essay with a strong call to action or a compelling conclusion to leave a lasting impact on the reader.

By defining and understanding these key components, you can craft an effective persuasive essay that not only presents a compelling argument but also persuades the reader to take action or change their viewpoint.

Researching Your Topic: Gathering Credible Information

Researching Your Topic: Gathering Credible Information

Effective persuasive essays are built on solid research. To craft a compelling argument, it’s crucial to gather credible information that supports your thesis. Here are some essential steps to research your topic effectively:

1. Define Your Topic: Start by clearly defining the specific topic or issue you want to address in your essay. This will help you narrow down your research and focus on relevant information.

2. Identify Reliable Sources: Look for reputable sources such as academic journals, books, government publications, and credible websites. Avoid relying on biased or unreliable sources that could weaken your argument.

3. Conduct Thorough Research: Dive deep into your topic by exploring a variety of sources. Take notes, highlight important facts, and analyze different perspectives to gain a comprehensive understanding of the subject.

4. Verify Information: Double-check the accuracy of the information you gather. Cross-reference data from multiple sources to ensure its credibility and reliability.

5. Organize Your Research: Keep track of your sources and organize your research materials systematically. Create an annotated bibliography or a research outline to help you structure your essay effectively.

6. Stay Objective: Approach your research with an open mind and evaluate information objectively. Consider counterarguments and opposing viewpoints to strengthen your argument and address potential objections.

By investing time and effort in thorough research, you can strengthen the credibility and persuasiveness of your essay. Remember, well-researched arguments are more compelling and convincing to your audience.

Structuring Your Argument: Organizing Your Ideas

When crafting a persuasive essay, it is crucial to have a well-structured argument that effectively conveys your point of view to the reader. Organizing your ideas in a logical and coherent manner can significantly enhance the persuasiveness of your essay. Here are some key strategies for structuring your argument:

1. Introduction: Start by introducing your topic and clearly stating your thesis. This sets the tone for the rest of your essay and gives readers a roadmap of what to expect.

2. Body Paragraphs: Develop your argument in a series of body paragraphs, each focusing on a different aspect of your topic. Make sure to provide evidence, examples, and reasoning to support your points.

3. Counterarguments: Acknowledge opposing viewpoints and address them in your essay. This shows that you have considered different perspectives and strengthens your argument.

4. Conclusion: Summarize your main points and reiterate your thesis in the conclusion. Leave readers with a strong takeaway that reinforces the importance of your argument.

By organizing your ideas in a structured and coherent manner, you can effectively convey your argument and persuade your audience to see things from your perspective.

Writing the Essay: Crafting a Compelling Narrative

When crafting a persuasive essay, it is essential to focus on creating a compelling narrative that resonates with your audience. A strong narrative can captivate readers and make your arguments more persuasive.

Start by outlining the main points you want to convey in your essay. Consider the structure of your narrative and how you will present your ideas in a logical and coherent manner. Use evidence and examples to support your arguments and make them more persuasive.

Remember to engage your audience emotionally by using storytelling techniques that evoke empathy and connect with their values and beliefs. This will help make your essay more persuasive and convincing.

As you write your persuasive essay, pay attention to the flow of your narrative and ensure that each paragraph transitions smoothly to the next. Use transitional words and phrases to guide your reader through your argument and reinforce your main points.

In conclusion, crafting a compelling narrative is essential to writing an effective persuasive essay. By engaging your audience emotionally and logically, you can create a persuasive argument that leaves a lasting impact on your readers.

Revising and Editing: Perfecting Your Persuasive Essay

After you have completed the initial draft of your persuasive essay, it is crucial to spend time revising and editing your work to ensure that it is polished and effective. The revision process allows you to refine your arguments, check for logical consistency, and strengthen your overall message.

Here are some key steps to help you perfect your persuasive essay:

  • Review your thesis statement: Ensure that your thesis statement clearly expresses your main argument and is supported by evidence throughout your essay. Make any necessary revisions to strengthen your central claim.
  • Check the organization: Review the structure of your essay to ensure that it flows logically from one point to the next. Make sure that each paragraph builds on the previous one and that your arguments are arranged in a coherent manner.
  • Examine your evidence: Verify that the evidence you have presented is accurate, relevant, and effectively supports your arguments. Make any necessary adjustments or additions to strengthen your case.
  • Evaluate your language and tone: Pay attention to the language you use in your essay and consider whether it is appropriate for your audience and purpose. Ensure that your tone is persuasive and respectful, avoiding any offensive or inflammatory language.
  • Proofread for errors: Carefully proofread your essay for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. Check for any typos or inconsistencies that could undermine the credibility of your argument.

By taking the time to revise and edit your persuasive essay, you can ensure that your arguments are clear, compelling, and well-supported. Remember, the quality of your writing can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of your persuasive essay, so it is important to invest the necessary time and effort into perfecting your work.

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How to Write a Persuasive Essay: Tips and Tricks

Allison Bressmer

Allison Bressmer

How to write a persuasive essay

Most composition classes you’ll take will teach the art of persuasive writing. That’s a good thing.

Knowing where you stand on issues and knowing how to argue for or against something is a skill that will serve you well both inside and outside of the classroom.

Persuasion is the art of using logic to prompt audiences to change their mind or take action , and is generally seen as accomplishing that goal by appealing to emotions and feelings.

A persuasive essay is one that attempts to get a reader to agree with your perspective.

What is a persuasive essay?

Ready for some tips on how to produce a well-written, well-rounded, well-structured persuasive essay? Just say yes. I don’t want to have to write another essay to convince you!

How Do I Write a Persuasive Essay?

What are some good topics for a persuasive essay, how do i identify an audience for my persuasive essay, how do you create an effective persuasive essay, how should i edit my persuasive essay.

Your persuasive essay needs to have the three components required of any essay: the introduction , body , and conclusion .

That is essay structure. However, there is flexibility in that structure.

There is no rule (unless the assignment has specific rules) for how many paragraphs any of those sections need.

Although the components should be proportional; the body paragraphs will comprise most of your persuasive essay.

What should every essay include?

How Do I Start a Persuasive Essay?

As with any essay introduction, this paragraph is where you grab your audience’s attention, provide context for the topic of discussion, and present your thesis statement.

TIP 1: Some writers find it easier to write their introductions last. As long as you have your working thesis, this is a perfectly acceptable approach. From that thesis, you can plan your body paragraphs and then go back and write your introduction.

TIP 2: Avoid “announcing” your thesis. Don’t include statements like this:

  • “In my essay I will show why extinct animals should (not) be regenerated.”
  • “The purpose of my essay is to argue that extinct animals should (not) be regenerated.”

Announcements take away from the originality, authority, and sophistication of your writing.

Instead, write a convincing thesis statement that answers the question "so what?" Why is the topic important, what do you think about it, and why do you think that? Be specific.

How Many Paragraphs Should a Persuasive Essay Have?

This body of your persuasive essay is the section in which you develop the arguments that support your thesis. Consider these questions as you plan this section of your essay:

  • What arguments support your thesis?
  • What is the best order for your arguments?
  • What evidence do you have?
  • Will you address the opposing argument to your own?
  • How can you conclude convincingly?

The body of a persuasive essay

TIP: Brainstorm and do your research before you decide which arguments you’ll focus on in your discussion. Make a list of possibilities and go with the ones that are strongest, that you can discuss with the most confidence, and that help you balance your rhetorical triangle .

What Should I Put in the Conclusion of a Persuasive Essay?

The conclusion is your “mic-drop” moment. Think about how you can leave your audience with a strong final comment.

And while a conclusion often re-emphasizes the main points of a discussion, it shouldn’t simply repeat them.

TIP 1: Be careful not to introduce a new argument in the conclusion—there’s no time to develop it now that you’ve reached the end of your discussion!

TIP 2 : As with your thesis, avoid announcing your conclusion. Don’t start your conclusion with “in conclusion” or “to conclude” or “to end my essay” type statements. Your audience should be able to see that you are bringing the discussion to a close without those overused, less sophisticated signals.

The conclusion of a persuasive essay

If your instructor has assigned you a topic, then you’ve already got your issue; you’ll just have to determine where you stand on the issue. Where you stand on your topic is your position on that topic.

Your position will ultimately become the thesis of your persuasive essay: the statement the rest of the essay argues for and supports, intending to convince your audience to consider your point of view.

If you have to choose your own topic, use these guidelines to help you make your selection:

  • Choose an issue you truly care about
  • Choose an issue that is actually debatable

Simple “tastes” (likes and dislikes) can’t really be argued. No matter how many ways someone tries to convince me that milk chocolate rules, I just won’t agree.

It’s dark chocolate or nothing as far as my tastes are concerned.

Similarly, you can’t convince a person to “like” one film more than another in an essay.

You could argue that one movie has superior qualities than another: cinematography, acting, directing, etc. but you can’t convince a person that the film really appeals to them.

Debatable and non-debatable concepts

Once you’ve selected your issue, determine your position just as you would for an assigned topic. That position will ultimately become your thesis.

Until you’ve finalized your work, consider your thesis a “working thesis.”

This means that your statement represents your position, but you might change its phrasing or structure for that final version.

When you’re writing an essay for a class, it can seem strange to identify an audience—isn’t the audience the instructor?

Your instructor will read and evaluate your essay, and may be part of your greater audience, but you shouldn’t just write for your teacher.

Think about who your intended audience is.

For an argument essay, think of your audience as the people who disagree with you—the people who need convincing.

That population could be quite broad, for example, if you’re arguing a political issue, or narrow, if you’re trying to convince your parents to extend your curfew.

Once you’ve got a sense of your audience, it’s time to consult with Aristotle. Aristotle’s teaching on persuasion has shaped communication since about 330 BC. Apparently, it works.

Ethos, pathos and logos

Aristotle taught that in order to convince an audience of something, the communicator needs to balance the three elements of the rhetorical triangle to achieve the best results.

Those three elements are ethos , logos , and pathos .

Ethos relates to credibility and trustworthiness. How can you, as the writer, demonstrate your credibility as a source of information to your audience?

How will you show them you are worthy of their trust?

How to make your essay credible

  • You show you’ve done your research: you understand the issue, both sides
  • You show respect for the opposing side: if you disrespect your audience, they won’t respect you or your ideas

Logos relates to logic. How will you convince your audience that your arguments and ideas are reasonable?

How to use logic in essays

You provide facts or other supporting evidence to support your claims.

That evidence may take the form of studies or expert input or reasonable examples or a combination of all of those things, depending on the specific requirements of your assignment.

Remember: if you use someone else’s ideas or words in your essay, you need to give them credit.

ProWritingAid's Plagiarism Checker checks your work against over a billion web-pages, published works, and academic papers so you can be sure of its originality.

Find out more about ProWritingAid’s Plagiarism checks.

Pathos relates to emotion. Audiences are people and people are emotional beings. We respond to emotional prompts. How will you engage your audience with your arguments on an emotional level?

How to use emotion in essays

  • You make strategic word choices : words have denotations (dictionary meanings) and also connotations, or emotional values. Use words whose connotations will help prompt the feelings you want your audience to experience.
  • You use emotionally engaging examples to support your claims or make a point, prompting your audience to be moved by your discussion.

Be mindful as you lean into elements of the triangle. Too much pathos and your audience might end up feeling manipulated, roll their eyes and move on.

An “all logos” approach will leave your essay dry and without a sense of voice; it will probably bore your audience rather than make them care.

Once you’ve got your essay planned, start writing! Don’t worry about perfection, just get your ideas out of your head and off your list and into a rough essay format.

After you’ve written your draft, evaluate your work. What works and what doesn’t? For help with evaluating and revising your work, check out this ProWritingAid post on manuscript revision .

After you’ve evaluated your draft, revise it. Repeat that process as many times as you need to make your work the best it can be.

When you’re satisfied with the content and structure of the essay, take it through the editing process .

Grammatical or sentence-level errors can distract your audience or even detract from the ethos—the authority—of your work.

You don’t have to edit alone! ProWritingAid’s Realtime Report will find errors and make suggestions for improvements.

You can even use it on emails to your professors:

ProWritingAid's Realtime Report

Try ProWritingAid with a free account.

How Can I Improve My Persuasion Skills?

You can develop your powers of persuasion every day just by observing what’s around you.

  • How is that advertisement working to convince you to buy a product?
  • How is a political candidate arguing for you to vote for them?
  • How do you “argue” with friends about what to do over the weekend, or convince your boss to give you a raise?
  • How are your parents working to convince you to follow a certain academic or career path?

As you observe these arguments in action, evaluate them. Why are they effective or why do they fail?

How could an argument be strengthened with more (or less) emphasis on ethos, logos, and pathos?

Every argument is an opportunity to learn! Observe them, evaluate them, and use them to perfect your own powers of persuasion.

what are the main components of a persuasive essay

Be confident about grammar

Check every email, essay, or story for grammar mistakes. Fix them before you press send.

Allison Bressmer is a professor of freshman composition and critical reading at a community college and a freelance writer. If she isn’t writing or teaching, you’ll likely find her reading a book or listening to a podcast while happily sipping a semi-sweet iced tea or happy-houring with friends. She lives in New York with her family. Connect at linkedin.com/in/allisonbressmer.

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what are the main components of a persuasive essay

A Comprehensive Guide on How to Write a Persuasive Essay

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A persuasive essay is a potent literary tool designed to sway the reader's opinion and evoke a response. Unlike other types of essays , the primary goal here is not merely to inform or entertain but to persuade. In this guide, we'll explore what exactly a persuasive essay is, delve into its main components, and provide practical tips on how to write a persuasive essay that leaves a lasting impression.

What is a Persuasive Essay?

At its core, a persuasive essay aims to convince the reader to adopt a particular viewpoint or take a specific action. It's an artful blend of logical reasoning and emotional appeal, carefully crafted to sway opinions and inspire action. Whether addressing a controversial social issue, advocating for a change in policy, or expressing an individual opinion, the persuasive essay is a vehicle for influencing minds.

How to Write a Persuasive Essay: The Main Components

1. Introduction: Capturing Attention and Stating the Thesis The introduction serves as the gateway to your persuasive essay. Begin by grabbing the reader's attention with a compelling hook—an anecdote, a surprising fact, or a thought-provoking question. After capturing their interest, clearly state your thesis, which should encapsulate the main argument you'll be advocating throughout the essay. Make sure it's concise, focused, and sets the stage for what follows.

2. Body Paragraphs: Building the Argument The body of your persuasive essay is where you present your case in detail. Each paragraph should focus on a single point that supports your thesis. Begin with a topic sentence that introduces the main idea of the paragraph, followed by supporting evidence, examples, and logical reasoning. Be sure to anticipate counterarguments and address them in a respectful manner. This not only strengthens your position but also demonstrates a thorough understanding of the topic.

3. Ethos, Pathos, and Logos: The Triad of Persuasion A persuasive essay is most effective when it appeals to the audience's emotions, ethics, and logic. Ethos involves establishing credibility and showcasing your expertise or authority on the subject. Pathos appeals to the reader's emotions, invoking empathy or stirring passions. Logos relies on logical reasoning, presenting evidence and sound arguments to support your claims. Striking a balance between these three elements ensures a well-rounded and convincing essay.

4. Counterarguments and Rebuttal: Strengthening Your Position Acknowledge opposing viewpoints to demonstrate fairness and open-mindedness. Addressing counterarguments head-on not only strengthens your position but also shows that you've thoroughly considered different perspectives. Craft a persuasive rebuttal by presenting additional evidence or showcasing flaws in the opposing argument. This not only reinforces your stance but also reinforces your credibility as a thoughtful and informed writer.

5. Conclusion: Leaving a Lasting Impression End your essay with a powerful conclusion that backs your thesis and leaves a lasting impression. Summarise the key points from the body paragraphs and restate your thesis in a compelling way. Avoid introducing new information in the conclusion; instead, focus on leaving the reader with a clear understanding of your perspective and a sense of urgency or importance regarding your argument.

Writing a Persuasive Essay: Practical Tips

Know Your Audience: Tailor Your Approach Understanding your audience is crucial when crafting a persuasive essay. Consider their values, beliefs, and potential biases. Tailor your language and arguments to resonate with your target audience, making your persuasive efforts more effective.

Thorough Research: The Foundation of Persuasion Before diving into writing, conduct thorough research on your chosen topic. Familiarise yourself with relevant facts, statistics, and expert opinions. A well-researched essay not only strengthens your argument but also enhances your credibility as a writer.

Craft a Strong Thesis Statement: The Heart of Your Essay Your thesis statement is the focal point of your persuasive essay. Ensure it is clear, concise, and debatable. A strong thesis sets the tone for the entire essay and provides a roadmap for both the writer and the reader.

Use Persuasive Language: Engage and Convince Choose your words carefully to create a persuasive impact. Employ strong, vivid language that evokes emotion and captivates the reader. Be mindful of your tone, striking a balance between confidence and humility.

Revise and Edit: Polish Your Persuasive Gem The final step in crafting a persuasive essay is thorough revision and editing. Review your essay for clarity, coherence, and consistency. Check for grammatical errors, ensure a smooth flow of ideas, and confirm that your arguments are well-supported by evidence.

The refinement of your work is just as crucial as its creation. Let our team of skilled editors meticulously edit and proofread your essay , providing valuable insights to elevate your writing to its highest potential.

Writing a Persuasive Essay: A Skill That Goes Beyond Academia

Mastering the art of persuasion through essay writing is a valuable skill that extends beyond academia. Whether advocating for social change or expressing a personal viewpoint, a persuasive essay equips you to articulate your ideas effectively and influence others. By understanding the main components and following practical tips, you can confidently navigate the terrain of persuasive writing, leaving a lasting impact on your readers.

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Persuasive Essay Writing

Cathy A.

How to Write a Persuasive Essay: A Step-by-Step Guide

13 min read

Published on: Jan 3, 2023

Last updated on: Jan 29, 2024

persuasive essay

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It's the night before the essay is due, and you haven't even started. Your mind is blank, and you have no idea what words will persuade your teacher. 

The good news is that some tips and tricks can make the process of writing a persuasive essay much easier.

In this blog, we'll break down the components of a persuasive essay and provide helpful tips and examples along the way. By the end, you should have all the guidelines to create a winning essay that will persuade your readers to see things your way.

Let's take a closer look at all these steps.

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What is a Persuasive Essay?

A persuasive essay presents logical arguments with emotional appeal.

Typically, persuasive essays begin with a question that the writer spends the essay arguing in favor of or opposition to. 

For example: should kids be allowed to play video games on weekdays? 

The writer would then spend the rest of the essay backing up their claim with reasons and evidence. 

Persuasive essays often include counterarguments. These arguments oppose the writer's position. 

By including counterarguments, persuasive essays become more interesting. They also force the writer to think critically about their position.

For example, an opponent of the previous argument might say that playing video games leads to poor grades. 

The original writer could deny this claim by pointing to studies that show no correlation between bad grades and playing video games.

The best persuasive essays are well-researched and use data to support their claims. 

However, persuasive essays are not just about logic. They also need to include emotional appeal. 

After all, people are more likely to be persuaded by an argument that speaks to their feelings. 

Elements of a Persuasive Essay 

When a persuasive essay is a task, you must keep these three greek terms in mind. They are:

  • Ethos (appeal to ethics) 
  • Pathos (appeal to emotion)
  • Logos (appeal to logic)

A good essay will use all of these elements to convince the reader that the argument presented is valid. 

Let's take a closer look at each one.

Ethos - the Credibility Element 

The persuasive power of ethos lies in the character or credibility of the person making the argument. 

For an argument to be persuasive, the person presenting it must be someone that the audience trusts. 

This could be because they are an expert on the subject or because they have first-hand experience with it. Either way, ethos establishes the speaker's credibility and makes the audience more likely to trust what they have to say.

Pathos -the Emotional Element 

While ethos deals with the character of the person making the argument, pathos has to do with the audience's emotions. A persuasive argument will tap into the audience's emotions and use them to sway their opinion.

This could be done through stories or anecdotes that evoke an emotional response or by using language that stirs certain feelings.

Logos - the Logical Element 

The final element of persuasion is logos, which appeals to logic. A persuasive argument will use sound reasoning and evidence to convince the audience that it is valid. This could be done through data or using persuasive techniques like cause and effect.

Using all these elements of a persuasive essay can make your argument much more effective. 

How To Write a Persuasive Essay

Writing persuasive essays can be challenging, but they don't have to be.

With the following simple steps, you can quickly turn an ordinary essay into one that will make a lasting impression. 

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How To Start a Persuasive Essay 

Here is a complete guide on how to start a persuasive essay. Follow them to compose a perfect essay every time. 

Brainstorm All Possible Angles 

The first step in writing a persuasive essay is brainstorming. You need to develop an angle for your essay that will make it unique and interesting. 

For example, let's say you're writing about the death penalty. A lot has been said on this topic, so it might be hard to find an angle that hasn't been covered already. 

But if you think about it, there are many different ways to approach the issue. 

Maybe you could write about the personal experiences of someone affected by the death penalty. Or maybe you could write about the economic costs of the death penalty. 

There are many possibilities here - it's all about thinking creatively.

Select Your Topic

Once you've brainstormed a few ideas, it's time to choose your topic. Pick the angle you think will most effectively persuade your reader. 

Once you've chosen your topic, it's time to research. Use statistics, expert opinions, and real-life examples to support your position. 

Choose Your Side

Now that you've researched, it's time to take a side in the debate. Remember, you must take a strong stance on one side of the issue. 

After deciding your stance, research and support it with evidence.

Appeal to Human Emotions 

One of the most effective ways to persuade someone is by appealing to their emotions. 

After all, we're not robots - we're human beings and always make decisions based on our feelings. 

Make your reader feel something, whether it's anger, sadness, empathy, or even amusement. You'll be well on convincing them of your point of view. 

Anticipate Possible Objections.

Of course, not everyone will agree, and that's okay! 

The important thing is that you anticipate some of those objections and address them head-on in your essay. 

This shows that you take your reader's objections seriously and are confident in your position. 

Organize Your Evidence 

Once you have all of your evidence collected, it's time to start organizing it into an outline for your essay.  

Organizing your essay is a key step in the writing process. It helps you keep track of all the evidence you've gathered and structure your argument in an organized way.

What Are The Steps To Write Your Persuasive Essay?

Now that you have your topic essay outline, it's time to move on to the actual writing.

Here are the steps you need to take:

Step 1: Create a Compelling Introduction

You want to hook your readers with a great opening for your persuasive essay, so they'll want to keep reading.

Here are 3 tips for writing an attention-grabbing introduction for your next essay.

  • Use a strong hook statement

Your hook statement should immediately draw the reader in and make them want to learn more. 

A good hook statement will vary depending on whether you're writing for an academic or more casual audience. 

Still, some good options include a quote, an interesting statistic, or a rhetorical question.

  • Make sure your thesis statement is clear and concise

Your thesis statement is the main argument of your essay, so it needs to be stated clearly and concisely in your introduction.

 A good thesis statement will be specific and limit the scope of your argument so that it can be fully addressed in the body of your paper.

  • Use a transition

Transitions are important in writing for academic and non-academic audiences because they help guide the reader through your argument. 

A good transition will introduce the main point of your next paragraph while still maintaining the connection to the previous one.

Step 2: Write The Body Paragraphs

Here is a formula for structuring your body paragraphs in a persuasive essay. 

This formula will ensure that each body paragraph is packed with evidence and examples while still being concise and easy to read.

  • The Topic Sentence

Every body paragraph should start with a topic sentence. A topic sentence is a key sentence that sums up the paragraph's main point. 

It should be clear, concise, and direct. 

For example, if you were writing a paragraph about the importance of exercise, your topic sentence might be this:

"Regular exercise is essential for good physical and mental health."

See how that sentence gives a clear overview of what the rest of the paragraph will be about.

  • Relevant Supporting Sentences

Once your topic sentence is down, it's time to fill the rest of the paragraph with relevant supporting sentences. 

These sentences should provide evidence to support the claims made in the topic sentence. 

For the exercise example, we might use sentences like this:

"Exercise has been shown to improve heart health, reduce stress levels, and boost brain power."

"A sedentary lifestyle has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, and type II diabetes."

See how each sentence ties back to the paragraph's main point. That's what you want your supporting sentences to do.

  • Closing Sentence

Last but not least, every body paragraph should end with a closing (or transition) sentence. This sentence should briefly summarize the main points of the paragraph and introduce the next point that will be discussed in the following paragraph. 

For the exercise example, the closing sentence might look like this:

"So, as you can see, there are many compelling reasons to make exercise a regular part of your routine."

How to End a Persuasive Essay

The end of your essay is just as important as the introduction. You must leave your readers with a lasting impression and ensure your argument convinces them. 

To do this, you'll want to craft a persuasive conclusion that ties together all the points you have made in the essay.

Here is a video explaining the body paragraphs in a persuasive essay. Check it out for more information. 

Step 1: Write a Persuasive Conclusion

Here are a few tips to help make sure your persuasive essay conclusion is as effective and persuasive as possible. 

  • Restate Your Thesis

Begin your essay conclusion by restating the thesis statement you began within your introduction. Doing so will remind readers of what you set out to prove and provide a sense of closure.

  • Summarize Your Arguments

 You can also use your conclusion to summarize the main points of your argument. This will help readers recall the evidence you presented and reinforce why it supports your thesis. 

  • Offer a Call to Action

Lastly, don't forget to include a call to action in your essay conclusion. This can be anything from a persuasive plea to a persuasive suggestion. 

Step 2:  Polish Up Your Essay

After you’re done with the essay, take a few minutes to read through it. Ensure that your persuasive points and evidence are clear, concise, and persuasive. 

Also, double-check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. Ensure that all of your persuasive points are properly explained and make sense to the reader. 

If you’re not confident in your persuasive writing skills, you can enlist a friend or family member to read through it and provide feedback.

You can follow a proofreading checklist after completing your essay to ensure you are on track.

By following these steps, you’ll end up with a persuasive essay that will impress anyone who reads it!

Format Of A Persuasive Essay 

Once you have your persuasive essay topic, it's time to craft an essay structure. Crafting the perfect persuasive essay format is essential for ensuring your paper has maximum persuasive power.

Here are some tips for formatting an effective persuasive essay.

  • Increase the Readability of Your Text 

Ensure that you have adhered to all the paragraphing requirements of your instructor. 

Double-check that your margins are set properly. A margin of 1 inch (2.5 cm) on all sides is the standard for most written documents.

This makes it easier for readers to focus and extract important information quickly.

  • Use Easy-to-Read Font

Choose a font that is easy to read and professional. Stay away from script fonts or anything too fancy or difficult to read. Stick with basic fonts like Times New Roman, Arial, and Calibri.

  • Keep a Defined Alignment

Align your persuasive essay to the left margin. This makes it easier for readers to follow along with your argument without having to do too much extra scrolling. 

By following these simple tips, you'll be able to craft the perfect persuasive essay format.

Persuasive Essay Examples

Here are some examples of persuasive essays that can help you get the gist of essay writing.

Persuasive essay on the preservation of nature

Persuasive essay examples pdf

Example of a persuasive essay about covid-19

Check out some more  persuasive essay examples  here for more inspiration.

Good Persuasive Essay Topics

The right persuasive essay topics can make or break your essay. Here are a few examples of persuasive essay topics that can help you. 

  • Should the government increase taxes on sugary foods to reduce obesity? 
  • Do standardized tests accurately measure student intelligence and aptitude? 
  • Should studying a foreign language be mandatory in schools? 
  • Should all high school students complete community service hours before graduating? 
  • Are video games affecting the concentration and cognitive development of children? 
  • Should genetically modified foods be labeled as such in stores? 
  • Are the current copyright laws protecting artists and content creators enough? 
  • Should college tuition be reduced for all students? 
  • Is the use of animals in medical research ethical? 
  • Should the use of drones be regulated by the government? 
  • Should college athletes receive payment for their performance? 
  • Should students be allowed to have cell phones in school? 
  • Is drug testing in schools an effective way to prevent substance abuse? 
  • Does social media promote a healthy lifestyle or contribute to cyber bullying? 
  • Should the voting age be lowered to 16? 

If you’re stuck with choosing topics, these are great  persuasive essay topics  to get you started! 

Pick one of these and craft an essay that will leave your readers thinking. 

Tips to Write a Compelling Persuasive Essay

Here are a few tips and tricks to help you make a lasting impression on your reader:

Pick A Topic You're Passionate About

First, you need to choose a topic you're passionate about. It will be easier to write about the topic if you care about the essay. 

This will make it easier to develop persuasive arguments, and you'll be more motivated to do research.

Research Your Topic Thoroughly

After picking a persuasive essay topic, you need thorough research. This will help you gain a better understanding of the issue, which in turn will make your essay stronger. This will also ensure that you fully grasp all counterarguments on your topic.

Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience before writing is important. Are you writing to your classmates? Your teacher? The general public? Once you know your audience, you can tailor your argument to them. 

Knowing your audience will help determine the tone and approach of your essay.

Hook The Reader's Attention

The first few sentences of your essay are crucial - they must grab the reader's attention and make them want to keep reading. 

One way to do this is by starting with a shocking statistic or an interesting story. The reader will be instantly hooked and will be enticed to read more.

Research Both Sides 

A good persuasive essay will consider both sides of an issue and present a well-rounded view. This means researching both sides of the argument before taking a stance. 

Make sure to consider all the evidence before making up your mind - otherwise, your argument won't be as strong as it could be.

Ask Rhetorical Questions

Rhetorical questions are not meant to be answered but rather to make the reader think about the issue. 

For example, "How can we expect our children to succeed in school if they don't have enough resources?" 

Questions like this can help engage readers and get them thinking about solutions rather than just complaining about problems.

Emphasize Your Point

It's important to reiterate your main points throughout the essay so that readers don't forget what they are supposed to argue for or against by the time they reach the end of the paper.

Persuasive essays can be difficult to write, but following simple tips can help make the process easier. 

In this blog, we've outlined the components of a persuasive essay and provided some tips on how to write one. We also shared examples of persuasive essays that scored high marks on standardized tests. 

If you are looking for an essay writing service , look no further than CollegeEssay.org! Our experienced essay writer can provide the assistance you need to produce an essay that meets the highest standards.

Let our persuasive essay writer handle the hard work and get you started on your path to success.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Persuasive Essays

How long should a persuasive essay be.

Generally speaking, persuasive essays should be between 500-750 words. However, the length of your essay will depend on the instructions given by your teacher or professor.

What Techniques Are Used In Persuasive Essays?

Persuasive techniques include facts and statistics, emotion and logic, personal stories, analogies and metaphors, pathos, ethos, and logos.

How Do I Make My Persuasive Essay More Convincing?

To make your essay more convincing, cite reliable sources, use persuasive language, and provide strong evidence and arguments.

How Is Persuasive Writing Different From Argumentative Writing?

The main difference between persuasive and argumentative writing is that persuasive writing seeks to convince or persuade the reader. On the other hand, argumentative writing seeks to debate an issue.

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what are the main components of a persuasive essay

what are the main components of a persuasive essay

Writing a Persuasive Essay

Persuasive essays convince readers to accept a certain perspective. Writing a persuasive essay therefore entails making an argument that will appeal to readers, so they believe what you say has merit. This act of appealing to readers is the art of persuasion, also known as rhetoric. In classical rhetoric, persuasion involves appealing to readers using ethos, pathos, and logos.

In this tutorial, we refer to the sample persuasive draft and final paper written by fictional student Maggie Durham.

THE ART OF PERSUASION

Ethos refers to establishing yourself as a credible source of information. To convince an audience of anything, they must first trust you are being earnest and ethical. One strategy to do this is to write a balanced discussion with relevant and reliable research that supports your claims. Reliable research would include quoting or paraphrasing experts, first-hand witnesses, or authorities. Properly citing your sources, so your readers can also retrieve them, is another factor in establishing a reliable ethos. When writing for academic purposes, expressing your argument using unbiased language and a neutral tone will also indicate you are arguing fairly and with consideration of others having differing views.

When you appeal to your readers’ emotions, you are using pathos. This appeal is common in advertising that convinces consumers they lack something and buying a certain product or service will fulfill that lack. Emotional appeals are subtler in academic writing; they serve to engage a reader in the argument and inspire a change of heart or motivate readers toward a course of action. The examples you use, how you define terms, any comparisons you draw, as well as the language choices you use can draw readers in and impact their willingness to go along with your ideas.

Consider that one purpose of persuasion is to appeal to those who do not already agree with you, so it will be important to show that you understand other points of view. You will also want to avoid derogatory or insulting descriptions or remarks about the opposition. You wouldn’t want to offend the very readers you want to persuade.

Establishing an appeal of logos is to write a sound argument, one that readers can follow and understand. To do this, the facts and evidence you use should be relevant, representative, and reliable, and the writing as a whole should be well organized, developed, and edited.

STEPS FOR WRITING PERSUASIVELY

Step one: determine the topic.

The first step in writing a persuasive essay is to establish the topic. The best topic is one that interests you. You can generate ideas for a topic by prewriting, such as by brainstorming whatever comes to mind, recording in grocery-list fashion your thoughts, or freewriting in complete sentences what you know or think about topics of interest.

Whatever topic you choose, it needs to be:

  • Interesting : The topic should appeal both to you and to your intended readers.
  • Researchable : A body of knowledge should already exist on the topic.
  • Nonfiction : The information about the topic should be factual, not based on personal opinions or conspiracy theories.
  • Important : Your reader should think the topic is relevant to them or worthy of being explored and discussed.

Our sample student Maggie Durham has selected the topic of educational technology. We will use Maggie’s sample persuasive draft and final paper as we discuss the steps for writing a persuasive essay.

Step Two: Pose a Research Question

Once you have a topic, the next step is to develop a research question along with related questions that delve further into the first question. If you do not know what to ask, start with one of the question words: What? Who? Where? When? Why? and How? The research question helps you focus or narrow the scope of your topic by identifying a problem, controversy, or aspect of the topic that is worth exploration and discussion. Some general questions about a topic would be the following:

  • Who is affected by this problem and how?
  • Have previous efforts or polices been made to address this problem? – What are they?
  • Why hasn’t this problem been solved already?

For Maggie’s topic of educational technology, potential issues or controversies range from data privacy to digital literacy to the impact of technology on learning, which is what Maggie is interested in. Maggie’s local school district has low literacy rates, so Maggie wants to know the following:

  • Are there advantages and/or disadvantages of technology within primary and secondary education?
  • Which types of technology are considered the best in terms of quality and endurance?
  • What types of technology and/or programs do students like using and why?
  • Do teachers know how to use certain technologies with curriculum design, instruction, and/or assessment?

Step Three: Draft a Thesis

A thesis is a claim that asserts your main argument about the topic. As you conduct your research and draft your paper, you may discover information that changes your mind about your thesis, so at this point in writing, the thesis is tentative. Still, it is an important step in narrowing your focus for research and writing.

The thesis should

1. be a complete sentence,

2. identify the topic, and

3. make a specific claim about that topic.

In a persuasive paper, the thesis is a claim that someone should believe or do something. For example, a persuasive thesis might assert that something is effective or ineffective. It might state that a policy should be changed or a plan should be implemented. Or a persuasive thesis might be a plea for people to change their minds about a particular issue.

Once you have figured out your research question, your thesis is simply the answer. Maggie’s thesis is “Schools should supply technology aids to all students to increase student learning and literacy rates.” Her next step is to find evidence to support her claim.

Step Four: Research

Once you have a topic, research question, and thesis, you are ready to conduct research. To find sources that would be appropriate for an academic persuasive essay, begin your search in the library. The Purdue Global Library has a number of tutorials on conducting research, choosing search teams, types of sources, and how to evaluate information to determine its reliability and usefulness. Remember that the research you use will not only provide content to prove your claim and develop your essay, but it will also help to establish your credibility as a reliable source (ethos), create a logical framework for your argument (logos), and appeal to your readers emotionally (pathos).

Step Five: Plan Your Argument; Make an Outline

Once you have located quality source information—facts, examples, definitions, knowledge, and other information that answers your research question(s), you’ll want to create an outline to organize it. The example outline below illustrates a logical organizational plan for writing a persuasive essay. The example outline begins with an introduction that presents the topic, explains the issue, and asserts the position (the thesis). The body then provides the reasoning for the position and addresses the opposing viewpoints that some readers may hold. In your paper, you could modify this organization and address the opposing viewpoints first and then give the reasoning for your viewpoints, or you can alternate and give one opposing viewpoint then counter that with your viewpoint and then give another opposing viewpoint and counter that with your viewpoint.

The outline below also considers the alternatives to the position—certainly, there are other ways to think about or address the issue or situation. Considering the alternatives can be done in conjunction with looking at the opposing viewpoints. You do not always have to disagree with other opinions, either. You can acknowledge that another solution could work or another belief is valid. However, at the end of the body section, you will want to stand by your original position and prove that in light of all the opposing viewpoints and other perspectives, your position has the most merit.

Sample Outline of a Persuasive Argument

  • 1. Introduction: Tell them what you will tell them.
  • a. Present an interesting fact or description to make the topic clear and capture the reader’s attention.
  • b. Define and narrow the topic using facts or descriptions to illustrate what the situation or issue is (and that is it important).
  • c. Assert the claim (thesis) that something should be believed or done about the issue. (Some writers also briefly state the reasons behind this claim in the thesis as Maggie does in her paper when she claims that schools should supply tablets to students to increase learning , engagement, and literacy rates ).
  • 2. Body: Tell them.
  • a. Defend the claim with logical reasons and practical examples based on research.
  • b. Anticipate objections to the claim and refute or accommodate them with research.
  • c. Consider alternate positions or solutions using examples from research.
  • d. Present a final point based on research that supports your claim in light of the objections and alternatives considered.
  • 3. Conclusion: Tell them what you told them.
  • a. Recap the main points to reinforce the importance of the issue.
  • b. Restate the thesis in new wording to reinforce your position.
  • c. Make a final remark to leave a lasting impression, so the reader will want to continue this conversation and ideally adopt the belief or take the action you are advocating.

In Maggie’s draft, she introduced the topic with facts about school ratings in Texas and then narrowed the topic using the example of her local school district’s literacy rates. She then claimed the district should provide each student a tablet in order to increase learning (and thus, literacy rates).

Maggie defends her claim with a series of examples from research that proved how access to tablets, technology-integrated curriculums, and “flipped classrooms” have improved literacy rates in other districts. She anticipates objections to her proposal due to the high cost of technology and counter argues this with expert opinions and examples that show partnerships with businesses, personalized curriculums that technology makes possible, and teacher training can balance the costs. Maggie included an alternative solution of having students check out tablets from the library, but her research showed that this still left students needing Wi-Fi at home while her proposal would include a plan for students to access Wi-Fi.

Maggie concluded her argument by pointing out the cost of not helping the students in this way and restated her thesis reaffirming the benefits, and then left the reader with a memorable quote.

Click here to see Maggie’s draft with feedback from her instructor and a peer. Sample Persuasive Draft

Feedback, Revision, and Editing

After you write a draft of your persuasive essay, the next step is to have a peer, instructor, or tutor read it and provide feedback. Without reader feedback, you cannot fully know how your readers will react to your argument. Reader feedback is meant to be constructive. Use it to better understand your readers and craft your argument to more appropriately appeal to them.

Maggie received valuable feedback on her draft from her instructor and classmate. They pointed to where her thesis needed to be even more specific, to paragraphs where a different organization would make her argument more convincing, to parts of the paper that lacked examples, sentences that needed revision and editing for greater clarity, and APA formatting that needed to be edited.

Maggie also took a critical look at her paper and looked back at her writing process. One technique she found helpful was to read her paper aloud because it let her know where her wording and organization were not clear. She did this several times as she revised and again as she edited and refined her paper for sentence level clarity and concision.

In the end, Maggie produced a convincing persuasive essay and effective argument that would appeal to readers who are also interested in the way technology can impact and improve student learning, an important topic in 2014 when this paper was written and still relevant today.

Click here to see Maggie’s final draft after revising and editing. Sample Persuasive Revised

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Writing a Persuasive Essay

View in pdf format, the introduction.

Simply enough, the introductory paragraph introduces the argument of your paper. A well-constructed introductory paragraph immediately captures a reader’s interest and gives appropriate background information about the paper’s topic. Such a paragraph might include a brief summary of the ideas to be discussed in body of the paper as well as other information relevant to your paper’s argument. The most important function of the introductory paragraph, however, is to present a clear statement of the paper’s argument. This sentence is your paper’s thesis. Without a thesis, it is impossible for you to present an effective argument. The thesis sentence should reflect both the position that you will argue and the organizational pattern with which you will present and support your argument. A useful way to think about the construction of a thesis sentence is to view it in terms of stating both the “what” and the “how” of the paper’s argument. The “what” is simply the basic argument in your paper: what exactly are you arguing? The “how” is the strategy you will use to present this argument. The following are helpful questions for you to consider when formulating a thesis sentence:

  • What is the argument that I am trying to convince the reader to accept?
  • How exactly do I expect to convince the reader that this argument is sound?

Once you have answered these questions, the next step is to synthesize these answers into a single thesis sentence, or, if necessary, two thesis sentences.

For example: You want to convince your reader that the forces of industry did not shape American foreign policy from the late 19th century through 1914, and you plan to do this by showing that there were other factors which were much more influential in shaping American foreign policy. Both of these elements can be synthesized into a thesis sentence:

Fear of foreign influence in the Western hemisphere, national pride, and contemporary popular ideas concerning both expansion and foreign peoples had significantly more influence on American foreign policy than did the voices of industrialists.

This sentence shows the position you will argue and also sets up the organizational pattern of your paper's body.

The body of your paper contains the actual development of your paper’s argument. Each body paragraph presents a single idea or set of related ideas that provides support for your paper’s argument. Each body paragraph addresses one key aspect of your paper’s thesis and brings the reader closer to accepting the validity of your paper’s argument. Because each body paragraph should be a step in your argument, you should be mindful of the overall organization of your body paragraphs. The first step in writing an effective body paragraph is the construction of the first sentence of this paragraph, the topic sentence. Just as the thesis sentence holds together your essay, the topic sentence is the glue binding each individual body paragraph. A body paragraph’s topic sentence serves two main purposes: introducing the content of the paragraph and introducing the next step of your argument. It is important to keep in mind that the goal of the topic sentence is to advance your paper's argument, not just to describe the content of the paragraph. For example: The first part in your thesis on page two states that fear of foreign influence in the Western Hemisphere had more influence on American foreign policy than did industry. Thus, you need to elaborate on this point in your body paragraphs. An effective topic sentence for one of these paragraphs could be:

American fear of foreign influence was a key factor in the United States’ actions in the Spanish-American War. Subsequent body paragraphs might offer further evidence for the idea presented in this body paragraph.

A good way to test the strength of both your topic sentences and your argument as a whole is to construct an outline of your paper using only your paper's thesis statement and topic sentences. This outline should be a logical overview of your paper's argument; all of your paper’s topic sentences should work together to support your thesis statement.

The Conclusion

A basic purpose of your paper’s concluding paragraph is both to restate the paper’s argument and to restate how you have supported this argument in the body of the paper. However, your conclusion should not simply be a copy of your introduction. The conclusion draws together the threads of the paper’s argument and shows where the argument of your paper has gone. An effective conclusion gives the reader reasons for bothering to read your paper. One of the most important functions of this paragraph is to bring in fresh insight. Some possible questions to consider when writing your conclusion are:

  • What are some real world applications of this paper’s argument?
  • Why is what I am writing about important?
  • What are some of the questions that this paper’s argument raises?
  • What are the implications of this paper’s argument?

While the organization and structure described in this handout are necessary components of an effective persuasive essay, keep in mind that writing itself is a fluid process. There are no steadfast rules that you need to adhere to as you write. Simply because the introduction is the first paragraph in your essay does not mean that you must write this paragraph before any other. Think of the act of writing as an exploration of ideas, and let this sense of exploration guide you as you write your essay.

by Adam Polak ’98 and Jen Collins ’96

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10.9 Persuasion

Learning objectives.

  • Determine the purpose and structure of persuasion in writing.
  • Identify bias in writing.
  • Assess various rhetorical devices.
  • Distinguish between fact and opinion.
  • Understand the importance of visuals to strengthen arguments.
  • Write a persuasive essay.

The Purpose of Persuasive Writing

The purpose of persuasion in writing is to convince, motivate, or move readers toward a certain point of view, or opinion. The act of trying to persuade automatically implies more than one opinion on the subject can be argued.

The idea of an argument often conjures up images of two people yelling and screaming in anger. In writing, however, an argument is very different. An argument is a reasoned opinion supported and explained by evidence. To argue in writing is to advance knowledge and ideas in a positive way. Written arguments often fail when they employ ranting rather than reasoning.

Most of us feel inclined to try to win the arguments we engage in. On some level, we all want to be right, and we want others to see the error of their ways. More times than not, however, arguments in which both sides try to win end up producing losers all around. The more productive approach is to persuade your audience to consider your opinion as a valid one, not simply the right one.

The Structure of a Persuasive Essay

The following five features make up the structure of a persuasive essay:

  • Introduction and thesis
  • Opposing and qualifying ideas
  • Strong evidence in support of claim
  • Style and tone of language
  • A compelling conclusion

Creating an Introduction and Thesis

The persuasive essay begins with an engaging introduction that presents the general topic. The thesis typically appears somewhere in the introduction and states the writer’s point of view.

Avoid forming a thesis based on a negative claim. For example, “The hourly minimum wage is not high enough for the average worker to live on.” This is probably a true statement, but persuasive arguments should make a positive case. That is, the thesis statement should focus on how the hourly minimum wage is low or insufficient.

Acknowledging Opposing Ideas and Limits to Your Argument

Because an argument implies differing points of view on the subject, you must be sure to acknowledge those opposing ideas. Avoiding ideas that conflict with your own gives the reader the impression that you may be uncertain, fearful, or unaware of opposing ideas. Thus it is essential that you not only address counterarguments but also do so respectfully.

Try to address opposing arguments earlier rather than later in your essay. Rhetorically speaking, ordering your positive arguments last allows you to better address ideas that conflict with your own, so you can spend the rest of the essay countering those arguments. This way, you leave your reader thinking about your argument rather than someone else’s. You have the last word.

Acknowledging points of view different from your own also has the effect of fostering more credibility between you and the audience. They know from the outset that you are aware of opposing ideas and that you are not afraid to give them space.

It is also helpful to establish the limits of your argument and what you are trying to accomplish. In effect, you are conceding early on that your argument is not the ultimate authority on a given topic. Such humility can go a long way toward earning credibility and trust with an audience. Audience members will know from the beginning that you are a reasonable writer, and audience members will trust your argument as a result. For example, in the following concessionary statement, the writer advocates for stricter gun control laws, but she admits it will not solve all of our problems with crime:

Although tougher gun control laws are a powerful first step in decreasing violence in our streets, such legislation alone cannot end these problems since guns are not the only problem we face.

Such a concession will be welcome by those who might disagree with this writer’s argument in the first place. To effectively persuade their readers, writers need to be modest in their goals and humble in their approach to get readers to listen to the ideas. See Table 10.5 “Phrases of Concession” for some useful phrases of concession.

Table 10.5 Phrases of Concession

although granted that
of course still
though yet

Try to form a thesis for each of the following topics. Remember the more specific your thesis, the better.

  • Foreign policy
  • Television and advertising
  • Stereotypes and prejudice
  • Gender roles and the workplace
  • Driving and cell phones

Collaboration

Please share with a classmate and compare your answers. Choose the thesis statement that most interests you and discuss why.

Bias in Writing

Everyone has various biases on any number of topics. For example, you might have a bias toward wearing black instead of brightly colored clothes or wearing jeans rather than formal wear. You might have a bias toward working at night rather than in the morning, or working by deadlines rather than getting tasks done in advance. These examples identify minor biases, of course, but they still indicate preferences and opinions.

Handling bias in writing and in daily life can be a useful skill. It will allow you to articulate your own points of view while also defending yourself against unreasonable points of view. The ideal in persuasive writing is to let your reader know your bias, but do not let that bias blind you to the primary components of good argumentation: sound, thoughtful evidence and a respectful and reasonable address of opposing sides.

The strength of a personal bias is that it can motivate you to construct a strong argument. If you are invested in the topic, you are more likely to care about the piece of writing. Similarly, the more you care, the more time and effort you are apt to put forth and the better the final product will be.

The weakness of bias is when the bias begins to take over the essay—when, for example, you neglect opposing ideas, exaggerate your points, or repeatedly insert yourself ahead of the subject by using I too often. Being aware of all three of these pitfalls will help you avoid them.

The Use of I in Writing

The use of I in writing is often a topic of debate, and the acceptance of its usage varies from instructor to instructor. It is difficult to predict the preferences for all your present and future instructors, but consider the effects it can potentially have on your writing.

Be mindful of the use of I in your writing because it can make your argument sound overly biased. There are two primary reasons:

  • Excessive repetition of any word will eventually catch the reader’s attention—and usually not in a good way. The use of I is no different.
  • The insertion of I into a sentence alters not only the way a sentence might sound but also the composition of the sentence itself. I is often the subject of a sentence. If the subject of the essay is supposed to be, say, smoking, then by inserting yourself into the sentence, you are effectively displacing the subject of the essay into a secondary position. In the following example, the subject of the sentence is underlined:

Smoking is bad.

I think smoking is bad.

In the first sentence, the rightful subject, smoking , is in the subject position in the sentence. In the second sentence, the insertion of I and think replaces smoking as the subject, which draws attention to I and away from the topic that is supposed to be discussed. Remember to keep the message (the subject) and the messenger (the writer) separate.

Developing Sound Arguments

Does my essay contain the following elements?

  • An engaging introduction
  • A reasonable, specific thesis that is able to be supported by evidence
  • A varied range of evidence from credible sources
  • Respectful acknowledgement and explanation of opposing ideas
  • A style and tone of language that is appropriate for the subject and audience
  • Acknowledgement of the argument’s limits
  • A conclusion that will adequately summarize the essay and reinforce the thesis

Fact and Opinion

Facts are statements that can be definitely proven using objective data. The statement that is a fact is absolutely valid. In other words, the statement can be pronounced as true or false. For example, 2 + 2 = 4. This expression identifies a true statement, or a fact, because it can be proved with objective data.

Opinions are personal views, or judgments. An opinion is what an individual believes about a particular subject. However, an opinion in argumentation must have legitimate backing; adequate evidence and credibility should support the opinion. Consider the credibility of expert opinions. Experts in a given field have the knowledge and credentials to make their opinion meaningful to a larger audience.

For example, you seek the opinion of your dentist when it comes to the health of your gums, and you seek the opinion of your mechanic when it comes to the maintenance of your car. Both have knowledge and credentials in those respective fields, which is why their opinions matter to you. But the authority of your dentist may be greatly diminished should he or she offer an opinion about your car, and vice versa.

In writing, you want to strike a balance between credible facts and authoritative opinions. Relying on one or the other will likely lose more of your audience than it gains.

The word prove is frequently used in the discussion of persuasive writing. Writers may claim that one piece of evidence or another proves the argument, but proving an argument is often not possible. No evidence proves a debatable topic one way or the other; that is why the topic is debatable. Facts can be proved, but opinions can only be supported, explained, and persuaded.

On a separate sheet of paper, take three of the theses you formed in Note 10.94 “Exercise 1” , and list the types of evidence you might use in support of that thesis.

Using the evidence you provided in support of the three theses in Note 10.100 “Exercise 2” , come up with at least one counterargument to each. Then write a concession statement, expressing the limits to each of your three arguments.

Using Visual Elements to Strengthen Arguments

Adding visual elements to a persuasive argument can often strengthen its persuasive effect. There are two main types of visual elements: quantitative visuals and qualitative visuals.

Quantitative visuals present data graphically. They allow the audience to see statistics spatially. The purpose of using quantitative visuals is to make logical appeals to the audience. For example, sometimes it is easier to understand the disparity in certain statistics if you can see how the disparity looks graphically. Bar graphs, pie charts, Venn diagrams, histograms, and line graphs are all ways of presenting quantitative data in spatial dimensions.

Qualitative visuals present images that appeal to the audience’s emotions. Photographs and pictorial images are examples of qualitative visuals. Such images often try to convey a story, and seeing an actual example can carry more power than hearing or reading about the example. For example, one image of a child suffering from malnutrition will likely have more of an emotional impact than pages dedicated to describing that same condition in writing.

Writing at Work

When making a business presentation, you typically have limited time to get across your idea. Providing visual elements for your audience can be an effective timesaving tool. Quantitative visuals in business presentations serve the same purpose as they do in persuasive writing. They should make logical appeals by showing numerical data in a spatial design. Quantitative visuals should be pictures that might appeal to your audience’s emotions. You will find that many of the rhetorical devices used in writing are the same ones used in the workplace. For more information about visuals in presentations, see Chapter 14 “Creating Presentations: Sharing Your Ideas” .

Writing a Persuasive Essay

Choose a topic that you feel passionate about. If your instructor requires you to write about a specific topic, approach the subject from an angle that interests you. Begin your essay with an engaging introduction. Your thesis should typically appear somewhere in your introduction.

Start by acknowledging and explaining points of view that may conflict with your own to build credibility and trust with your audience. Also state the limits of your argument. This too helps you sound more reasonable and honest to those who may naturally be inclined to disagree with your view. By respectfully acknowledging opposing arguments and conceding limitations to your own view, you set a measured and responsible tone for the essay.

Make your appeals in support of your thesis by using sound, credible evidence. Use a balance of facts and opinions from a wide range of sources, such as scientific studies, expert testimony, statistics, and personal anecdotes. Each piece of evidence should be fully explained and clearly stated.

Make sure that your style and tone are appropriate for your subject and audience. Tailor your language and word choice to these two factors, while still being true to your own voice.

Finally, write a conclusion that effectively summarizes the main argument and reinforces your thesis. See Chapter 15 “Readings: Examples of Essays” to read a sample persuasive essay.

Choose one of the topics you have been working on throughout this section. Use the thesis, evidence, opposing argument, and concessionary statement as the basis for writing a full persuasive essay. Be sure to include an engaging introduction, clear explanations of all the evidence you present, and a strong conclusion.

Key Takeaways

  • The purpose of persuasion in writing is to convince or move readers toward a certain point of view, or opinion.
  • An argument is a reasoned opinion supported and explained by evidence. To argue, in writing, is to advance knowledge and ideas in a positive way.
  • A thesis that expresses the opinion of the writer in more specific terms is better than one that is vague.
  • It is essential that you not only address counterarguments but also do so respectfully.
  • It is also helpful to establish the limits of your argument and what you are trying to accomplish through a concession statement.
  • To persuade a skeptical audience, you will need to use a wide range of evidence. Scientific studies, opinions from experts, historical precedent, statistics, personal anecdotes, and current events are all types of evidence that you might use in explaining your point.
  • Make sure that your word choice and writing style is appropriate for both your subject and your audience.
  • You should let your reader know your bias, but do not let that bias blind you to the primary components of good argumentation: sound, thoughtful evidence and respectfully and reasonably addressing opposing ideas.
  • You should be mindful of the use of I in your writing because it can make your argument sound more biased than it needs to.
  • Facts are statements that can be proven using objective data.
  • Opinions are personal views, or judgments, that cannot be proven.
  • In writing, you want to strike a balance between credible facts and authoritative opinions.
  • Quantitative visuals present data graphically. The purpose of using quantitative visuals is to make logical appeals to the audience.
  • Qualitative visuals present images that appeal to the audience’s emotions.

Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

Persuasive Essay

Definition of persuasive essay, why persuasion, difference between a persuasive essay and an argumentative essay, examples of persuasive essay in literature, example #1: our unhealthy obsession and sickness (by frank furedi).

“Governments today do two things that I object to in particular. First they encourage introspection, telling us that unless men examine their testicles, unless we keep a check on our cholesterol level, then we are not being responsible citizens. You are letting down yourself, your wife, your kids, everybody. We are encouraged continually to worry about our health. As a consequence, public health initiatives have become, as far as I can tell, a threat to public health. Secondly, governments promote the value of health seeking. We are meant always to be seeking health for this or that condition. The primary effect of this, I believe, is to make us all feel more ill.”

Example #2: We Are Training Our Kids to Kill (by Dave Grossman)

“Our society needs to be informed about these crimes, but when the images of the young killers are broadcast on television, they become role models. The average preschooler in America watches 27 hours of television a week. The average child gets more one-on-one communication from TV than from all her parents and teachers combined. The ultimate achievement for our children is to get their picture on TV. The solution is simple, and it comes straight out of the sociology literature: The media have every right and responsibility to tell the story , but they must be persuaded not to glorify the killers by presenting their images on TV.”

Example #3: The Real Skinny (by Belinda Luscombe)

“And what do we the people say? Do we rise up and say, ‘I categorically refuse to buy any article of clothing unless the person promoting it weighs more than she did when she wore knee socks?’ Or at least, ‘Where do I send the check for the chicken nuggets?’ Actually, not so much. Mostly, our responses range from ‘I wonder if that would look good on me?’ to ‘I don’t know who that skinny-ass cow is, but I hate her already.’

Function of a Persuasive Essay

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Home > Blog > Different Types Of Persuasive Writing

Different Types Of Persuasive Writing

Different Types Of Persuasive Writing

  • Smodin Editorial Team
  • Updated: July 16, 2024
  • General Guide About Content and Writing

Have you ever found yourself needing to write an essay where you convince the reader of your point of view? Then, persuasive writing is what you need!

A persuasive essay or text aims to convince the person reading your words that a particular point is correct. It’s one of the oldest forms of writing and has been used in politics, business, and religion over the years.

Despite there being different types of persuasive writing, they all have one thing in common: allowing the reader to understand (and believe) the writer’s position on any given matter.

But, there is a time and a place for each type, and you need to know when to choose which one to achieve your goals.

Read on to learn more about the three main techniques used for persuasive writing and how to hone your writing skills to have people believe your point of view.

What Is Persuasive Writing?

Persuasive writing is any text that convinces the reader of the writer’s opinion.

There are different techniques and types, which will be discussed later, but each is intended for a specific context and purpose.

For example, if you are trying to get an extension on your essay deadline, you will write an email with a formal tone of voice to your professor. If you’re convincing your roommate to go grab a drink, your text will be far more informal.

You may not even notice it, but persuasive writing is all around us – in the media, in advertisements, in the news, and on social media.

No matter your purpose or context, all persuasive writing has the following in common:

  • Evidence to back your claims
  • Appealing to the reader’s emotion
  • Logical arguments

Why Is Persuasive Writing Important?

Whether you’re a high school student or new to the working world, persuasive writing is an invaluable skill to have in your toolkit.

You may have to write convincing and/or persuasive essays for school to score top marks, or you have to write a convincing cover letter to go with your resume to get the job of your dreams.

But it’s more than that. Knowing how to write in a way to convince others of your personal opinion is a good way to sharpen your writing and negotiation skills. It teaches you how to research, fact-check, and construct concise and clear arguments – tools you can use your entire life.

If you end up in marketing or content writing one day, it is a good tool to have in your writing arsenal. But even if you turn towards charity work, you can use your persuasive writing skills to get donations and rally people to your cause.

3 Types Of Persuasive Writing Techniques

There are three main types of persuasive writing techniques, dating back to ancient Greece. These are:

The Greek philosopher Aristotle coined these terms back in the day, but they are still very applicable today when it comes to argumentative essays or any kind of text that needs to convince the reader.

Most persuasive writing examples use a variety of these techniques, as the combination of them strengthens your arguments.

“Ethos” is the Greek word for “character.” This technique uses writing that appeals to the reader’s character and virtues. For that reason, this style of writing is also called “ personal appeal. ”

This kind of writing plays on the reader’s sense of right and wrong. The writer establishes themselves as a trustworthy and knowledgeable character, and because of that, the readers will agree with what they have to say.

Some examples of ethos writing include:

  • “My family has been farming in Texas for four generations, and I’ve been working in food production for 25 years. So, trust me when I say that we need to avoid genetically modified produce.”
  • “I spent my entire childhood and most of my teenage years in Eureka Springs. I know most of you from school. Please, listen to me when I say: we need to put money towards restoring the Winona Springs Church – you all know it’s the right thing to do.”

Pathos means either “suffering” or “experience” in Greek. This type of writing targets the emotions of the reader, which is why it’s also called “ emotional appeal. ”

The goal of this type of writing is to trigger an emotional response in the reader, which causes them to trust what you have to say.

You can influence readers by eliciting a variety of emotions, including:

Here are some examples of how you can use the pathos technique in persuasive essays:

  • “Are you really willing to stand by and watch as millions of unwanted dogs in the Humane Society shelters are euthanized each year?”
  • “Business owners say Gen Z is scared to work, but the real reason is that they’re not paying their staff fair wages.”

“Logos” is the origin of the word “logic”. This technique is also called “ logical appeal. “It is mainly focused on logical arguments, presenting facts to convince the reader that you are speaking the undeniable truth.

Each statement that is written is backed up by facts, enhancing the writer’s credibility.

It’s possible that a writer may twist facts to fit in with their narrative, but many readers can spot this manipulative style of writing.

Some examples of the logos technique are:

  • “If you know nicotine is bad for your health, why are you still grabbing your vape as soon as you wake up?”
  • “Passenger cars emitted 374.2 million metric tons of CO2 in 2021. If we truly want to slow down climate change, we need to skip the short car trips to the store and walk instead.”

Bonus technique: Kairos

So, this technique wasn’t grouped by Aristotle with the three discussed above. However, he did believe that this was a fourth way to persuade readers to see your point of view.

Kairos means “the opportune moment.” To use this technique, the writer or speaker must create (or take advantage of) the perfect moment to deliver their message.

As an example: after a major storm in the U.S. Virgin Islands, human rights charities in the area may have more success in raising funds for their causes as they can appeal to people’s emotions.

As you can see, this example combines kairos and pathos.

Persuasive Writing Examples

As is evident from the above, persuasive writing can take many forms. Although the main goal is always to influence readers, the applications of persuasive texts are vast.

Below are just some examples of where you might use persuasive writing:

1. Persuasive essays

In persuasive essays – also called argumentative essays – the writer makes a specific claim about a topic and then uses facts and evidential data to drive the point home.

A persuasive essay aims to convince the reader that the writer is correct and that the evidence can’t be disputed in any way.

This type of persuasive writing requires a lot of research and fact-checking from the writer – it’s about more than just their opinion.

Examples of an argumentative essay include:

  • School essay
  • Thesis statement

2. Opinion pieces

An opinion piece is just the thing you need if you have strong feelings about a certain topic and want to express your views with the hope of convincing others. These are less focused on facts and instead play on the reader’s emotions.

Examples of opinion pieces include:

3. Cover letters

The job market is tough. Hundreds of applicants are vying for the same position. A convincing cover letter and job application can really make you stand out from the crowd. Using persuasive writing in cover letters can help you sell yourself to the recruiter, convincing them that you’re the only one for the job.

Reviews are typically opinion-based, but they can still make use of ethos, pathos, and logos to convince the reader of your opinion.

Say, for example, you are writing a book review on The Hobbit for school. Here are some ways in which you can adopt the three main techniques mentioned above:

  • Ethos: “I’ve devoured dozens of fantasy novels, and I believe that J.R.R. Tolkien’s world-building in The Hobbit is the best. He is able to create detailed imaginary worlds like no other writer.”
  • Pathos: “The journey of Bilbo Baggins filled me with a sense of wonder and excitement, reminding me of the magic of friendship and having a keen sense of adventure.”
  • Logos: “Tolkein’s use of detailed maps and a sensible timeline makes the story of Bilbo Baggins much more believable, as it lends a sense of logic to a fantasy realm.”

How To Excel At Persuasive Writing

Do you want to become a pro at persuasive writing? Learn by doing!

Here are some tips on how to develop your persuasive writing skills. Follow these pointers, and you’ll hone your skills enough to convince a night owl to become an early bird (with enough practice).

1. Conduct thorough research

Humans are emotional beings, but appealing to emotions alone just isn’t enough at times.

If your readers are analytical, they might not respond to emotional writing. That’s why you need to back up your persuasive writing with cold, hard facts.

Plus, having indisputable proof to substantiate your claims makes you seem a lot more trustworthy. By providing stats, facts, case studies, and references, readers will believe your words to be true.

Of course, you need to write your facts and evidence in your own words to avoid plagiarism. Smodin’s AI Paraphrasing Tool can help you write evidence-based text in your own writing style.

2. Be empathetic

Sometimes, all anyone wants is to feel heard and understood. You can provide your readers with this understanding by addressing, and relating to, their pain points. If you can offer them a solution to their problems, that’s even better!

Showing empathy allows you to identify with your readers. They need to know that you understand them. Only then will they realize that what you say truly matters.

If you show you can relate, and that you can help your audience, they’ll be more inclined to trust your solutions.

3. Use tools to help you write

Sitting down and writing an argumentative or persuasive essay or speech from scratch can be very daunting. Writer’s block is real, and sometimes you may have strong opinions but struggle to formulate your words.

There are plenty of tools on the market, but none are as effective in helping you write persuasive essays as Smodin’s AI Writer and Advanced AI Essay Writer.

The AI Writer can help you write shorter texts and sprinkle some persuasive writing into your work, for example. The smart AI technology can even cite your references to add to your credibility.

The Advanced AI Essay Writer is specifically for helping you craft persuasive essays from scratch. It’s so simple, all you have to do is give the tool five words and it will begin to write a powerful, structured essay.

But of course, writing a persuasive essay with AI is not always ideal, especially if your institution uses AI detection tools. The good news is that Smodin has a solution for you: the Smodin AI Detection Remover .

4. Make use of rhetorical questions

One surefire way to grab your reader’s attention is to use rhetorical questions. These questions don’t require answers, but they are thought-provoking. They’re used to make a point (either negative or positive) and will keep your audience hooked.

Here are some examples:

  • “How can we expect to progress as a society if we can’t take care of our homeless?”
  • “What’s the point of technological advancement if we lose touch with our cultural heritage?”
  • “How can we expect positive changes if we’re not willing to stand up for what we believe in?”

5. Repeat yourself

Repetition is a great tool in persuasive writing. By using this technique strategically, you can emphasize your key points while adding value to your argumentative essay.

You can tell stories, paraphrase what someone else said, or use metaphors to bring your point across.

In other words, you’re repeating the same opinion, without becoming redundant.

6. Choose your words carefully

No matter the kind of persuasive content you’re producing, you need to understand your audience.

There’s no point in writing in Elvish if your audience has never read Lord of the Rings!

It depends on the context, but usually, colloquial language is best for persuasive writing. It allows your audience to relate to you (and not make them feel like you’re better than them).

You’ll also want to avoid jargon or technical terms that not everyone will understand. Rather write inclusively, keeping your target audience in mind.

7. Adapt your tone of voice

A persuasive essay for college will have a different tone of voice than political speeches delivered by world leaders.

There isn’t one tone that works for all persuasive texts. Instead, it depends on the context and the readers. The tone you use goes hand in hand with your vocabulary, and can be:

  • Professional
  • Authoritative
  • Encouraging

Can I use persuasive writing in everyday life?

Absolutely! It’s not just about school essays and oral presentations. Persuasive writing and speaking can be used in discussions, cover letters, and texts to your friends… even if you just want to convince them to watch a movie with you.

How can I balance pathos and logos in persuasive writing?

Finding the balance between an emotional and logical appeal is key to your success. First, you need to understand your audience. This will allow you to appeal to their emotions. Then, you can reinforce your emotional triggers with well-researched facts and sound logic.

Wrapping Up

It is clear that persuasive writing is a very powerful skill to have. It can be used in various contexts, helping you to convince the reader about certain issues. Whether you simply want to bring your point across or motivate readers to take action, persuasive writing can help you achieve these goals.

The key to persuasive writing is understanding who your audience is. You need to tailor your words to relate to them.

Fortunately, Smodin offers a whole suite of tools to facilitate your writing process. Smodin can save you a lot of time, stress, and pre-essay tears as it assists you in writing compelling, hassle-free persuasive content.

Have a language expert improve your writing

Run a free plagiarism check in 10 minutes, generate accurate citations for free.

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  • How to write an argumentative essay | Examples & tips

How to Write an Argumentative Essay | Examples & Tips

Published on July 24, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

An argumentative essay expresses an extended argument for a particular thesis statement . The author takes a clearly defined stance on their subject and builds up an evidence-based case for it.

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Table of contents

When do you write an argumentative essay, approaches to argumentative essays, introducing your argument, the body: developing your argument, concluding your argument, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about argumentative essays.

You might be assigned an argumentative essay as a writing exercise in high school or in a composition class. The prompt will often ask you to argue for one of two positions, and may include terms like “argue” or “argument.” It will frequently take the form of a question.

The prompt may also be more open-ended in terms of the possible arguments you could make.

Argumentative writing at college level

At university, the vast majority of essays or papers you write will involve some form of argumentation. For example, both rhetorical analysis and literary analysis essays involve making arguments about texts.

In this context, you won’t necessarily be told to write an argumentative essay—but making an evidence-based argument is an essential goal of most academic writing, and this should be your default approach unless you’re told otherwise.

Examples of argumentative essay prompts

At a university level, all the prompts below imply an argumentative essay as the appropriate response.

Your research should lead you to develop a specific position on the topic. The essay then argues for that position and aims to convince the reader by presenting your evidence, evaluation and analysis.

  • Don’t just list all the effects you can think of.
  • Do develop a focused argument about the overall effect and why it matters, backed up by evidence from sources.
  • Don’t just provide a selection of data on the measures’ effectiveness.
  • Do build up your own argument about which kinds of measures have been most or least effective, and why.
  • Don’t just analyze a random selection of doppelgänger characters.
  • Do form an argument about specific texts, comparing and contrasting how they express their thematic concerns through doppelgänger characters.

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An argumentative essay should be objective in its approach; your arguments should rely on logic and evidence, not on exaggeration or appeals to emotion.

There are many possible approaches to argumentative essays, but there are two common models that can help you start outlining your arguments: The Toulmin model and the Rogerian model.

Toulmin arguments

The Toulmin model consists of four steps, which may be repeated as many times as necessary for the argument:

  • Make a claim
  • Provide the grounds (evidence) for the claim
  • Explain the warrant (how the grounds support the claim)
  • Discuss possible rebuttals to the claim, identifying the limits of the argument and showing that you have considered alternative perspectives

The Toulmin model is a common approach in academic essays. You don’t have to use these specific terms (grounds, warrants, rebuttals), but establishing a clear connection between your claims and the evidence supporting them is crucial in an argumentative essay.

Say you’re making an argument about the effectiveness of workplace anti-discrimination measures. You might:

  • Claim that unconscious bias training does not have the desired results, and resources would be better spent on other approaches
  • Cite data to support your claim
  • Explain how the data indicates that the method is ineffective
  • Anticipate objections to your claim based on other data, indicating whether these objections are valid, and if not, why not.

Rogerian arguments

The Rogerian model also consists of four steps you might repeat throughout your essay:

  • Discuss what the opposing position gets right and why people might hold this position
  • Highlight the problems with this position
  • Present your own position , showing how it addresses these problems
  • Suggest a possible compromise —what elements of your position would proponents of the opposing position benefit from adopting?

This model builds up a clear picture of both sides of an argument and seeks a compromise. It is particularly useful when people tend to disagree strongly on the issue discussed, allowing you to approach opposing arguments in good faith.

Say you want to argue that the internet has had a positive impact on education. You might:

  • Acknowledge that students rely too much on websites like Wikipedia
  • Argue that teachers view Wikipedia as more unreliable than it really is
  • Suggest that Wikipedia’s system of citations can actually teach students about referencing
  • Suggest critical engagement with Wikipedia as a possible assignment for teachers who are skeptical of its usefulness.

You don’t necessarily have to pick one of these models—you may even use elements of both in different parts of your essay—but it’s worth considering them if you struggle to structure your arguments.

Regardless of which approach you take, your essay should always be structured using an introduction , a body , and a conclusion .

Like other academic essays, an argumentative essay begins with an introduction . The introduction serves to capture the reader’s interest, provide background information, present your thesis statement , and (in longer essays) to summarize the structure of the body.

Hover over different parts of the example below to see how a typical introduction works.

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts is on the rise, and its role in learning is hotly debated. For many teachers who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its critical benefits for students and educators—as a uniquely comprehensive and accessible information source; a means of exposure to and engagement with different perspectives; and a highly flexible learning environment.

The body of an argumentative essay is where you develop your arguments in detail. Here you’ll present evidence, analysis, and reasoning to convince the reader that your thesis statement is true.

In the standard five-paragraph format for short essays, the body takes up three of your five paragraphs. In longer essays, it will be more paragraphs, and might be divided into sections with headings.

Each paragraph covers its own topic, introduced with a topic sentence . Each of these topics must contribute to your overall argument; don’t include irrelevant information.

This example paragraph takes a Rogerian approach: It first acknowledges the merits of the opposing position and then highlights problems with that position.

Hover over different parts of the example to see how a body paragraph is constructed.

A common frustration for teachers is students’ use of Wikipedia as a source in their writing. Its prevalence among students is not exaggerated; a survey found that the vast majority of the students surveyed used Wikipedia (Head & Eisenberg, 2010). An article in The Guardian stresses a common objection to its use: “a reliance on Wikipedia can discourage students from engaging with genuine academic writing” (Coomer, 2013). Teachers are clearly not mistaken in viewing Wikipedia usage as ubiquitous among their students; but the claim that it discourages engagement with academic sources requires further investigation. This point is treated as self-evident by many teachers, but Wikipedia itself explicitly encourages students to look into other sources. Its articles often provide references to academic publications and include warning notes where citations are missing; the site’s own guidelines for research make clear that it should be used as a starting point, emphasizing that users should always “read the references and check whether they really do support what the article says” (“Wikipedia:Researching with Wikipedia,” 2020). Indeed, for many students, Wikipedia is their first encounter with the concepts of citation and referencing. The use of Wikipedia therefore has a positive side that merits deeper consideration than it often receives.

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An argumentative essay ends with a conclusion that summarizes and reflects on the arguments made in the body.

No new arguments or evidence appear here, but in longer essays you may discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your argument and suggest topics for future research. In all conclusions, you should stress the relevance and importance of your argument.

Hover over the following example to see the typical elements of a conclusion.

The internet has had a major positive impact on the world of education; occasional pitfalls aside, its value is evident in numerous applications. The future of teaching lies in the possibilities the internet opens up for communication, research, and interactivity. As the popularity of distance learning shows, students value the flexibility and accessibility offered by digital education, and educators should fully embrace these advantages. The internet’s dangers, real and imaginary, have been documented exhaustively by skeptics, but the internet is here to stay; it is time to focus seriously on its potential for good.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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An argumentative essay tends to be a longer essay involving independent research, and aims to make an original argument about a topic. Its thesis statement makes a contentious claim that must be supported in an objective, evidence-based way.

An expository essay also aims to be objective, but it doesn’t have to make an original argument. Rather, it aims to explain something (e.g., a process or idea) in a clear, concise way. Expository essays are often shorter assignments and rely less on research.

At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).

Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

The majority of the essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Unless otherwise specified, you can assume that the goal of any essay you’re asked to write is argumentative: To convince the reader of your position using evidence and reasoning.

In composition classes you might be given assignments that specifically test your ability to write an argumentative essay. Look out for prompts including instructions like “argue,” “assess,” or “discuss” to see if this is the goal.

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How to Write the AP Lang Synthesis Essay with Example

How to Write the AP Lang Synthesis Essay with Example

Are you a high school student preparing for the AP Language and Composition exam? Or perhaps you are a teacher looking to help your students with the skills to ace the synthesis essay? Either way, you’ve landed in the right place. This blog will serve as your comprehensive guide to mastering this challenging yet rewarding component of the AP Language exam.

We’ll dig into what a synthesis essay entails and its structure, and we’ll furnish you with actionable strategies to approach the task with confidence. We’ll also provide insights into selecting and integrating sources effectively, constructing a compelling argument, and polishing your writing to perfection.

Table of Contents

Overview of AP Language and Composition

AP English Language and Composition , widely known as AP Lang, is a popular and engaging Advanced Placement course taken by over half a million high school students each year. The course is designed to hone essential skills such as analyzing written works, synthesizing information, constructing rhetorical essays, and writing compelling arguments. While the course presents a rigorous challenge, with just over 60% of students achieving a passing score of three or higher on the AP exam, the rewards of mastering these skills are significant.

The AP Lang exam is a comprehensive assessment consisting of two distinct sections. The first section, a one-hour multiple-choice segment, assesses your ability to analyze written passages and answer questions based solely on the provided text. This section comprises approximately 45% of the total exam score. The second section is a two-hour and fifteen-minute free-response segment. It evaluates your writing skills through three distinct essays. This section accounts for the remaining 55% of the exam score.

The three essays within the free-response section target specific writing skills. The synthesis essay challenges you to develop an argument by incorporating information from multiple provided sources. The rhetorical analysis essay requires you to dissect how an author uses language to convey meaning and achieve specific effects. Finally, the argumentative essay prompts you to take a stance on a debatable issue and construct a persuasive argument based on evidence.

What is the AP Lang Synthesis Essay?

The AP Language and Composition exam’s first free-response task is the synthesis essay. It is a one-hour exercise during which you read six to seven sources on a specific topic and compose a well-developed essay. These sources include a mix of print texts, approximately 500 words each, and visual elements like graphs or charts. You are advised to allocate 15 minutes to reading and analyzing these sources, followed by 40 minutes for writing and 5 minutes for review, but the time distribution can be adjusted as needed.

The synthesis essay prompt comprises three paragraphs: a brief introduction to the topic, a claim about the topic, and instructions for the essay. The claim is often broad and open to interpretation, requiring you to take a stance—either agreeing or disagreeing—and support your position by synthesizing information from at least three of the provided sources.

According to the College Board, a successful synthesis essay should “ combine different perspectives from sources to form a support of a coherent position. ” This means you must clearly state your claim, establish connections between sources to reinforce your argument, and provide specific evidence to validate your points.

The synthesis essay contributes six points to the overall AP Lang exam score. A holistic rubric evaluates the essay based on the thesis statement (0–1 point), evidence and commentary (0–4 points), and sophistication of thought and complexity of understanding (0–1 point).

Here’s an example prompt and essay provided by the College Board :


Urban rewilding is an effort to restore natural ecological processes and habitats in city environments. Many cities around the world have embraced rewilding as part of larger movements to promote ecological conservation and environmentally friendly design. Now, a movement to promote urban rewilding is beginning to take shape in the United States as well.



Refer to the sources as Source A, Source B, etc.; titles are included for your convenience.
Source A (infographic from Fastnacht)
Source B (Jepson and Schepers policy brief)
Source C (NRPA article)
Source D (Garland article)
Source E (graph from McDonald et al.)
Source F (Chatterton book excerpt)

In your response, you should do the following:
1. Respond to the prompt with a thesis that presents a defensible position.
2. Select and use evidence from at least three of the provided sources to support your line of reasoning.
3. Indicate clearly the sources used through direct quotation, paraphrase, or summary. Sources may be cited as Source A, Source B, etc., or by using the description in parentheses.
4. Explain how the evidence supports your line of reasoning.
5. Use appropriate grammar and punctuation when communicating your argument.

Rewilding is a term that not many people have heard of or even pay attention to. That doesn’t mean it’s not important, either. Rewilding is a good thing for the planet; it’s good for plants and the environment. The world needs to start caring, and children, especially, are the future.

Rewilding is good for our environment and for the future of preserving our world. In source C, “If people don’t spend any time outside, why are they going to care about their local places, let alone the national parks in the distance?” Going outside isn’t just good for the planet; it is also good for yourself. Nature isn’t really welcome in big cities, but reintroducing new plants can make it feel like it is welcome. Kids need to start caring about nature and not just about phones and video games. It gives you a different way to see our planet and care about what happens to it.

In addition, rewilding is valuable for our society to learn as a whole. In source B, “Rewilding is exciting, engaging, and challenging; it is promoting debate and deliberation on what is natural and the natures we collectively wish to conserve and shape.” It’s important for kids to understand, and a challenge can be what a lot of children need. Also in source A, “More than 70% of projected extinctions of plants and animals would be counteracted by restoring only 30% of priority areas.” That can be such a good thing, and that’s why rewilding, especially for our country, is important. If we don’t, we could lose 70% of plants and animals, which would send the ecosystem into whack.

Overall, rewilding should be focused on more; we have a lot to lose. Putting in the time and effort in our cities and urban settings is what we need to do. If you don’t care now, start caring. Kids especially need to focus.

Read also: Write an ap lang argument essay

How to Write a Synthesis Essay for the AP Language Exam

Step 1: analyze the prompt.

Begin by carefully reading and analyzing the prompt. Underline or highlight key terms to identify the central question and your task. Remember that you don’t need to decide your stance immediately; understanding the prompt is the priority here.

Step 2: Read and annotate the sources

Although you’ll only use three sources in your essay, read them all. This provides a broader understanding of the topic and helps you choose the most relevant evidence. As you read, actively annotate by highlighting key points, noting connections, and jotting down potential arguments.

After each source, briefly assess whether it supports, opposes, or nuances your emerging thesis. If you finish reading early, use the remaining time to start outlining your essay.

Step 3: Write a strong thesis statement

Your thesis statement should clearly state your position on the prompt’s claim. You can choose to defend the claim (argue it’s correct), challenge it (argue it’s incorrect), or qualify it (agree with some aspects and disagree with others). A strong thesis avoids summarizing the issue or restating the prompt; it establishes a clear line of reasoning.

Step 4: Outline your essay

Though it may seem counter intuitive when time is limited, outlining is essential. Your outline should include your thesis statement, three main points (one for each body paragraph), and the supporting evidence you’ll use from the sources. Briefly note how this evidence connects back to your thesis.

Step 5: Write your essay

With your annotated sources and outline in hand, writing your essay should be smoother. Begin with a focus on providing insightful commentary that explains how your evidence supports or refutes the prompt’s claim.

When referencing sources, use simple in-text citations like “Source 1,” “Source 2,” etc. Be sure to double-check your citations for accuracy. Before moving on, quickly proofread your essay for any errors.

Read also: How Long Should Your College Essay Be?

AP Lang Synthesis Essay Score Evaluation

The AP Language Synthesis Essay accounts for six points of the total exam score. Your essay will be evaluated on several key components. Primarily, a clear and defensible thesis statement that directly responds to the exam prompt can earn you up to one point. The majority of your score (up to four points) depends on how well you incorporate evidence from at least three sources and explain how that evidence supports your reasoning. Each piece of evidence should be explicitly linked to your argument, demonstrating a clear and consistent line of thought.

To earn the final point, your essay must show sophistication of thought. This can be achieved by writing a nuanced argument that acknowledges the complexities and tensions within the sources, situating your argument within a broader context to reveal its implications, or explaining the limitations of your or others’ arguments. Additionally, employing effective rhetorical devices and maintaining a vivid and persuasive writing style can further strengthen your essay.

Read also: Personal Statement Essay Examples

5 Tips to Ace the Synthesis Essay for the AP Language Exam

1. understand the prompt.

Begin by meticulously analyzing the prompt. Identify the central issue being discussed and the specific task you’re asked to perform (argue, evaluate, analyze, etc.). Underline key terms and phrases to ensure you fully grasp the expectations.

2. Engage actively with the sources

Don’t just skim through the sources; actively read and annotate the provided sources. Identify the main idea and supporting evidence in each. Note the source’s perspective and any potential biases. Highlight quotes or data you might use in your essay. Aim to understand how the sources relate to each other and the prompt.

3. Write a nuanced thesis

Your thesis should be a clear, concise statement of your position on the issue presented in the prompt. It should be specific and incorporate the nuances you’ve gleaned from the sources. Avoid merely restating the prompt; instead, offer an insightful perspective that you’ll support with evidence throughout your essay.

4. Construct a cohesive argument

Your essay should be a well-structured argument, not a mere summary of the sources. Each body paragraph should focus on a single point that supports your thesis. Use evidence from the sources to back up your claims, and provide your analysis and interpretation of that evidence. Connect your paragraphs with clear transitions to create a logical flow.

5. Leave time for revision

After writing your essay, take a few minutes to review it carefully. Check for grammatical errors, awkward phrasing, and clarity issues. Ensure that your argument is well-developed and your evidence is effectively integrated. A polished essay shows your command of language and strengthens your overall argument.

what are the main components of a persuasive essay

From the Desk of Yocket

Writing a good AP Language synthesis essay requires a balanced approach of critical thinking, careful analysis, and persuasive writing. You should begin by thoroughly understanding the prompt and identifying the central issue and the required task. Then, dig into the provided sources, extracting key points, perspectives, and evidence that relate to your developing stance.

A strong thesis is the backbone of your essay. It should clearly state your position on the issue and provide a roadmap for the reader, outlining the key points you’ll explore. As you bring together evidence from multiple sources, remember to provide insightful commentary, explaining how each piece of evidence bolsters your argument. Try to avoid simply dropping quotes or paraphrasing; instead, analyze the significance of each piece, showing a nuanced understanding of the issue and the sources.

You should conclude your essay by revisiting your thesis and summarizing your key arguments. You can also offer a thoughtful extension, such as suggesting implications for your argument, addressing potential counterarguments, or proposing future directions for research. Throughout your essay, prioritize clarity, coherence, and sophistication in your language and structure. This will show your ability to analyze complex texts and synthesize information into a compelling argument. Remember to maintain a strong connection with your audience, ensuring your writing on Yocket remains engaging and relevant.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a synthesis essay on the ap language exam.

A synthesis essay requires you to develop a position on a given topic by incorporating and citing evidence from multiple sources. You’ll need to evaluate, select, and synthesize information from these sources to create a cohesive argument.

How many sources are typically provided for the synthesis essay?

The AP Language exam usually provides 6–7 sources for the synthesis essay, including texts and visual elements like graphs or charts.

What is the time allotted for writing the synthesis essay?

The entire free-response section of the AP Language exam, which includes the synthesis essay, rhetorical analysis, and argumentative essay, is 2 hours and 15 minutes. You may budget roughly 40 minutes to read the sources and plan your essay, leaving 40 minutes to write.

How is the synthesis essay scored?

The synthesis essay is scored on a 0–9 scale, with 9 being the highest. Points are awarded for a clear thesis, effective use of evidence and commentary, sophisticated analysis, and overall coherence.

Do I have to agree with the sources to use in my synthesis essay?

No, you can use sources to support a counterargument or provide alternative perspectives. The key is to engage with the sources critically and use them to build your argument.

How should I cite sources in my synthesis essay?

You can use parenthetical citations (author’s last name or source letter) to indicate where you’ve used information from the sources. It’s essential to avoid plagiarism by accurately attributing all borrowed ideas and language.

What are some common mistakes to avoid in the synthesis essay?

Try to avoid merely summarizing the sources without adding your analysis. Ensure your thesis clearly states your position and is supported by evidence throughout the essay. You should refrain from relying too heavily on one source and aim for a balanced incorporation of multiple perspectives.

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    Writing a Persuasive Essay. Choose a topic that you feel passionate about. If your instructor requires you to write about a specific topic, approach the subject from an angle that interests you. Begin your essay with an engaging introduction. Your thesis should typically appear somewhere in your introduction.

  11. Writing a Persuasive Essay

    The thesis should. 1. be a complete sentence, 2. identify the topic, and. 3. make a specific claim about that topic. In a persuasive paper, the thesis is a claim that someone should believe or do something. For example, a persuasive thesis might assert that something is effective or ineffective.

  12. Writing Resources

    The first step in writing an effective body paragraph is the construction of the first sentence of this paragraph, the topic sentence. Just as the thesis sentence holds together your essay, the topic sentence is the glue binding each individual body paragraph. A body paragraph's topic sentence serves two main purposes: introducing the content ...

  13. Components of Writing a Persuasive Essay

    A persuasive essay is a writing piece focused on persuading the readers to believe that the author's argument is correct. Learn more about the persuasive essay, its goals, components, ways to put ...

  14. 13.2: The Structure of a Persuasive Essay

    Avoid forming a thesis based on a negative claim. For example, "The hourly minimum wage is not high enough for the average worker to live on.". This is probably a true statement, but persuasive arguments should make a positive case. That is, the thesis statement should focus on how the hourly minimum wage is low or insufficient.

  15. How to Write a Persuasive Essay

    Every essay you write will have 3 parts: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Think of the organization of an essay like this: Intro - Tell your reader what you're going to write about. Body - Write about it. Conclusion - Tell them what you wrote about. Let's go through each of those parts for a persuasive essay.

  16. 10.9 Persuasion

    The Purpose of Persuasive Writing. The purpose of persuasion in writing is to convince, motivate, or move readers toward a certain point of view, or opinion. The act of trying to persuade automatically implies more than one opinion on the subject can be argued. The idea of an argument often conjures up images of two people yelling and screaming ...

  17. Persuasive Essay

    The term "persuasive" is an adjective derived from verb "persuade," which means "to convince somebody.". A persuasive essay is full of all the convincing techniques a writer can employ. It presents a situation, and takes a stand - either in its favor, or against it - to prove to readers whether it is beneficial or harmful for them.

  18. Different Types Of Persuasive Writing

    1. Persuasive essays. In persuasive essays - also called argumentative essays - the writer makes a specific claim about a topic and then uses facts and evidential data to drive the point home. A persuasive essay aims to convince the reader that the writer is correct and that the evidence can't be disputed in any way.

  19. The Four Main Types of Essay

    In a textual analysis essay, you don't just present information on a topic, but closely analyze a text to explain how it achieves certain effects. Rhetorical analysis. A rhetorical analysis looks at a persuasive text (e.g. a speech, an essay, a political cartoon) in terms of the rhetorical devices it uses, and evaluates their effectiveness.

  20. 13.7: Writing a Persuasive Essay

    The purpose of persuasion in writing is to convince or move readers toward a certain point of view, or opinion. An argument is a reasoned opinion supported and explained by evidence. To argue, in writing, is to advance knowledge and ideas in a positive way. A thesis that expresses the opinion of the writer in more specific terms is better than ...

  21. PDF Characteristics of a Persuasive Essay

    you to reiterate and summarize the main points of the essay. The following components comprise a conclusion: Relevance: Repeat the importance of your topic. Review: Reiterate the points you discussed. Summary: Summarize your conclusions. Relevance: Today's college students engage in campus binge drinking in unprecedented numbers.

  22. How to Write an Argumentative Essay

    Make a claim. Provide the grounds (evidence) for the claim. Explain the warrant (how the grounds support the claim) Discuss possible rebuttals to the claim, identifying the limits of the argument and showing that you have considered alternative perspectives. The Toulmin model is a common approach in academic essays.

  23. How to Write the AP Lang Synthesis Essay with Example

    Step 4: Outline your essay. Though it may seem counter intuitive when time is limited, outlining is essential. Your outline should include your thesis statement, three main points (one for each body paragraph), and the supporting evidence you'll use from the sources. Briefly note how this evidence connects back to your thesis. Step 5: Write ...