Essay Writing: Basics of Building an Argument

Argumentation within an essay can be very difficult for many students to fully understand, especially those who are new to the process. As a result, many students over describe in an essay or present information in a story like style.

These students then receive a low grade of are forced to rewrite their essays, confused as to what they did wrong. The truth is, most of the time it is because students have not managed to turn their opinions in to an actual argument or were unable to structure their essay to effectively answer the question.

Arguments: Classification.
In this help sheet, a new model has been developed to simplify the essay argumentation process, clearly explain how arguments support each other, and how arguments should be organized to effectively answer an essay question or form an argument on a given topic.

In this model there are 3 categories or argument:

ELA Essay Level Argument.
• A complete essay, designed to answer the essay question or clearly present the intended argument.
• Contents: Introduction (with thesis), 3 or more PLAs and conclusion.

PLA Paragraph Level Argument.
• A complete body paragraph, designed to support the essay thesis.
• Contents: Paragraph point (topic), additional information, 1 or more ILAs and a closing link to the thesis.

ILA Individual Level Argument.
• A mini-argument within a body paragraph, designed to support the reasoning or point of the paragraph.
• Contents: Evidence and analysis.

Arguments: Interaction.
These argument types are not distinctly separated, they have a strong connection to each other, meaning that you can not effectively create the larger arguments without first composing the smaller level arguments.

Individual level arguments form the foundation for the paragraph level. And equally an essay level argument can not be formed without effective paragraph level arguments, reinforcing the reasoning behind the given thesis.

In a simple analogy, all argument levels are delivery trucks, expected to deliver a specific package. If any truck shows up at its destination without the required contents inside, it is in fact a failed delivery (as it did not achieve its goal).

Truck (argument):   Goal:                                                                Contents:
ELA                                   Answer the question.                                        Introduction, conclusion

PLA                                   Present reasoning for the essay thesis.         Point, more information, link

ILA                                    Strengthen the paragraph idea.                      Evidence and analysis