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Writing Your Argument Essay

Now that you are familiar with techniques for analyzing an argument, it is time to discuss techniques that will help you write an effective critique. Again, you will have 30 minutes to complete this portion of the test and, luckily, there are only 5 steps you need to take. We will create some formulas to simplify the task. Plugging information into these formulas will help you organize your ideas and prepare you for your critique.

Step 1 - Understanding the Argument

Remember that your goal in the Argument section is to analyze the given argument. You cannot effectively analyze the argument until you completely understand it. To understand the argument, first read it and then answer the following questions. Keep in mind that you have a short amount of time, so spend more time mulling over the questions than jotting down notes. If you do write notes, make sure they are just short words and phrases that will help you formulate a plan, not long notations that will take time to write and then review.
  • Identify the conclusion.
  • What premises does the author offer to support the conclusion?
  • What fallacies or flaws do you recognize in the argument?
  • What assumptions are made in the argument?
  • What does the argument fail to address?
  • What necessary evidence is omitted from the argument?

Step 2 - Developing Your Thesis

Your thesis statement will set up your entire essay by letting the reader know what direction your critique will take. It will also provide you with a blueprint by which you can organize your essay.
Analysis of an Argument Thesis (formula 1):
The argument that ____________________________________ creates several problems because
1) it assumes that ____________________________________, 2) it fails to address
____________________________________, 3) it omits the following important evidence:

Step 3 - Organizing Your Thoughts

Once you have formulated a thesis, it is time to organize the information that you will present in your essay. This is now a simple task since you have already developed a thesis. You only need to plug in the correct information in the formula below.
(Note that the following formula requires you to plug in the three numbered items from your thesis in succession. Although it is not necessary to discuss them in this order, we will label it that way for simplicity.)
In addition, there are spaces in the formula for you to insert 1 or 2 pieces of supporting evidence.

Analysis of an Argument Essay Formula (formula 2):
  1. Introduction
    1. Restate topic
    2. Thesis (formula 1)
  2. The argument assumes that … (thesis point #1)
    1. Support
    2. Support
  3. The argument never addresses … (thesis point #2)
    1. Support
    2. Support
  4. The argument omits important evidence … (thesis point #3)
    1. Support
    2. Support
  5. Conclusion
    1. Restate thesis
    2. Offer solution to strengthen argument

Step 4 - Writing Your Essay

Writing your essay should not be difficult now that you have organized your points and the support for each point. Paying close attention to the general tips you learned earlier and the more specific techniques in this section, start writing. Following your essay formula, make sure you include transitional words and phrases, which will enhance the flow of your critique. You should spend about 20 minutes writing, reserving about 5 minutes at the end for proofreading and revising.

Step 5 - Revising Your Essay

You should spend about 5 minutes proofreading and revising your essay. Look for misspellings and grammatical errors while keeping in mind the following questions:
  • Is my introduction captivating?
  • Does my thesis clearly tell the reader what my essay will be about?
  • Have I thoroughly, yet concisely, proven my points?
  • Do my body paragraphs support my thesis?
  • Have I used logical transitions that help the text flow smoothly between sentences and between paragraphs?
  • Have I maintained a formal tone and diction throughout my essay?
  • Have I maintained consistent use of person (i.e., first, second, third)?
  • Is there a word, or are there words, which I have used too often in the essay?
  • Do my sentences vary in length and structure?
If time is still remaining after you have made any necessary changes, go back and revise your essay again. You may catch more errors the second time around.

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