A good argument is a simple numbers game with a clear winner. A five-paragraph or a five-part argumentative essay teaches students how to present their claims clearly and confidently, while backing their views with solid evidence from literary texts and credible research materials. The five parts include a strong introductory paragraph with a clear thesis, three body paragraphs substantiated with detailed evidence, and a compelling conclusion. Students should also use transitional words and phrases to guide readers through their arguments.
A Well-Structured Thesis
Write an introductory paragraph that introduces your argument and explains why readers should be interested in your topic. A five-part argumentative essay is relatively short, so you must get to the point quickly and gain your readers' interest right from the start. Include a concise, well-constructed thesis statement in your introductory paragraph that explains what you'll be arguing. A thesis statement is often the last sentence in an introduction. If you're arguing about a literary work, include the title and author in your introduction. When arguing a theory or an issue, incorporate background information and explain its relevance.
Supporting Body Paragraphs
Develop three distinct, yet unified, body paragraphs to support the claims in your thesis. For example, if you're arguing that standardized tests don't accurately represent a student's academic strengths or problem-solving capabilities, one body paragraph might discuss the shortcomings of ACT and SAT tests, another might explain why some academic skills and abilities aren't represented by standardized tests and a third why some students struggle to perform well on timed tests, despite their knowledge and understanding of the material. Create a topic sentence that clearly explains the objective for each body paragraph. Use specific examples from reliable resources, such as academic journals, peer reviews and professional commentaries, to back your views. Address counterarguments in the body of your essay -- always treating opposing viewpoints with courtesy and respect -- and explain how those arguments don't hold up.
Your Persuasive Conclusion
Create a compelling conclusion that brings your argument to a close. Don't introduce new information in your conclusion. Explain how your evidence clearly supports your arguments and why your thesis is well-founded, logical and credible. The conclusion will leave readers with a lasting impression of your essay. Challenge readers to consider your viewpoints, using passionate, persuasive language to make your closing remarks.
Incorporate transitional words and phrases throughout your paper to unify your five paragraphs. Otherwise, your paper will seem short, abrupt and choppy. Opt for transitional words and phrases, such as similarly, on the same note, in agreement with, contrarily, in support of, to back the argument, equally important, nevertheless, with this in mind, provided that, for example, all things considered and given these points to add continuity, flow and readability to your argumentative essay.
- Purdue University Online Writing Lab: Argumentative Essays
- University of Washington: Argumentative Paper Format
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill -- The Writing Center: Argument
- DePaul University: Type of Writing -- Writing an Argumentative Essay
- Roane State Community College: Types of Papers -- Argument / Argumentative
As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.