Seven Tips to Help You Write an Argumentative Essay

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One portion of the GMAT - the AWA – requires a short written piece called an argumentative essay. With this assignment, you are asked to look at an argument, often a form of proposal, and evaluate it. The primary components of interest to the reader are 1) how well your ideas are organized; 2) how novel your ideas are; 3) the quality and relevance of any examples you provide; 4) how wisely your argumentative essay topics have been chosen and 4) how good your written English is. The GMAC regulations state that argument analysis tests the student’s ability to formulate an “appropriate and constructive critique of a specific conclusion based on a specific line of thinking.” Therefore, with this in mind, you should find the following tips quite helpful: 

  1. Do not fabricate information. Those grading your paper will not be impressed by any information or statistics you have made up. On the other hand, they will be impressed by good organization, relevant examples and arguments that are strong and logical. So, resist the temptation to make up information because you are not a subject matter expert. It makes no difference what the argument essay topics are. You can always be “right” when you find flaws in an argument. You should achieve a “six” if your work is based on sound logic.   
  2. You should aim to give weight to your argument. By presenting your argument in a forceful and clear way rather than dwelling on pettiness (e.g. fretting over your choice of words and how the essay is constructed), you will have a more successful paper. Avoid long, convoluted sentences that you think sound academic but do not actually lead anywhere. An essay of this type needs to be, above all, forceful and relatively formal. It is true to say that essays of this nature are quite boring so do not inflict any more suffering on your reader than is necessary.
  3. Before even beginning, you know already what your thesis is. Irrespective of the topic, the argument you are analyzing is always “flawed.” All that remains for you is to develop some sound reasoning and back this up with solid argumentative essay examples.
  4. Examine your diction. This is a good tip for finding flaws in an argument’s structure – pick its wording apart. What do you mean by “too little?” If you use the word “certainly,” what does it mean? In your critique, watch out for words and language that are vague and qualifying. 

Now, what about the pace? You will be allowed around half an hour to complete an argument essay, so managing your time and pacing yourself is critical. Allow five minutes to plan your essay, twenty minutes for the writing element, and five minutes for revision. The following are the requirements for each stage:

  1. Planning. This phase is all about developing your thesis statement, presenting three examples or flaws to support your assertions, setting out your key points and picking apart the argument you have written. This should provide you with a comprehensive road map, upon which students can write the final versions of their argumentative essays. 
  2. Writing. While twenty minutes of writing might not sound very long, it is amazing how rapidly your thoughts will flow out onto paper if you have prepared a sound plan for the structure. You can use these tips as a type of template. 
  3. Revising. You should always allow time at the end for proofreading. Here the writer will be correcting spelling and grammar and ensuring the words flows smoothly to match whatever argumentative essay topics they have chosen.

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