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Argument Essay
It is your job to convince some group of people that something they disagree with is true.

Your essay is an argument, not just in that it takes a side on a controversial issue, but in that every part of it is designed to convince those who disagree with you to agree. The essay will be at least 1000 words.


  1. a) be based around a thesis which contains a value statement:value statements contain

    words and statements such as “should, must, would benefit from, is preferable to.”

  2. b) have an extremely specific focus:the thesis should be limited to a precise statement that

    such a short essay can reasonably defend.

  3. c) have an incredibly clear audience:you must a select a specific group of people as the

    audience of the paper. That group must be made up of people who disagree with your

thesis. This should be a real group of people, like the National Rifle Association, liberals, conservatives, Mothers against Drunk Driving, or any coalition with a well known ideology. Imagine your essay is directed toward that group of people.Write the name of this group of people in parenthesis after your title.

  1. d) use appropriate languageto convince that group of people that your thesis is true.

  2. e) draw on appeals to pathos, ethos, and/or logosas is appropriate to convince that group

    of people.

  3. f) not commit any of the logical fallacies discussed inThe Prose Reader:

hasty generalization either/or fallacy false authority begging the question

non sequitur
false cause and effect

(Each is explained on 461-462 ofProse Reader)

Dyer 1

Argument Essay Grading Rubric

(Use these criteria as a checklist)

Dyer 2


In parenthesis following the title of the essay, list a real group of people who disagrees with your thesis. This group is the audience of your paper.


A riveting introduction which succeeds in getting the reader’s attention and leading the reader willingly into your paper

10 to -40

Very specific strategically placed thesis


Paper is aimed at specific audience who disagrees with author. You appeal to the values of your opposition and/or show them that your thesis and plan will better serve their needs than rejecting your thesis or plan.


Language is appropriate to convince designated audience.


Appeals to pathos, ethos, or logos as appropriate. Do not abuse pathos by making too many emotional appeals.

-10 per

All logical fallacies are avoided


Specific details and specific examples to prove thesis.


Essay should be organized for optimum impact on reader. Paragraphs should be organized around one idea.


Paper is thoroughly convincing to designated audience.


A conclusion which drives your point home, makes the reader feel something, or invites the reader to think about the topic of your paper more or in greater depth. The conclusion cannot be a simply restatement your thesis and main points. That is boring, and you are a better writer than that.

0 to -10

The story and the paper as a whole must be focused. Stay on track. If there are extraneous elements of the paper which do not work to promote your thesis or persuade the reader (however subtly), revise/remove them.

0 to -30

4-7double spaced pages in MLA format (1000 to 1750 words)

0 to -25

Correct grammar. Check for spelling, apostrophe usage, capitalization of proper nouns, subject verb agreement, verb tense, correct prepositions, fragments, comma splices, commas before coordinating conjunctions, commas in lists, commas with interrupting phrases, correctly used colons and semicolons (if used at all), correctly placed modifiers, and pronoun agreement.

0 to -15

No outside sources necessary. If you do use one or more outside sources, be sure to cite them in MLA format and include a works cited page.

0 to -5

Style. Avoid faulty parallelism. As a general rule, avoid passive voice unless you feel it is absolutely necessary. If even one sentence is slightly confusing to the reader or to you, it is probably too long, awkward, or convoluted. Aim for a lean, athletic style that takes no prisoners.

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