only one) outside source in your argument. The minimum length of your text is 1000 words
(around three full pages) with an upper maximum of five pages not counting the mandatory
Work Cited page. Format your paper using the provided MLA guidelines.
For this assignment, you need to choose a specific topic that interests you. A list of
approved topics follows. Once you decide on a topic (let’s say “health care”), you need to ask:
What issues or questions do people have regarding this topic? As a prewriting assignment, list
these issues. (You might start your list with 1. Health Insurance is expensive and complicated. 2.
Should doctors be able to assist in suicides?) Look over your list and pick one issue that you
find compelling. What is your current position on this issue? (For example: A truly ethical doctor
should not prolong the life of a terminally ill patient who is in extreme pain, even if that means
the patient will die.) This is the claim that you will support in the first essay. It is your thesis
An argumentative essay uses reasoning and evidence to take a definitive stand on a
controversial or debatable issue. It consists of two main components: a claim, and reasons for
that claim. Make sure you are using precise language. Then qualify and anticipate exceptions to
your bold thesis. Explain the main reasons you feel the way you do, and provide evidence that
supports your reasons. You will want to strengthen your argument by using analogies and
providing refutations (or counter arguments) to your claim.
Writers must take into account the social context in which their arguments occur. In other
words, be aware of the assumptions you are making about your audience. If key terms or
concepts come up in your argument, be sure to define them. As you begin drafting, write more
than you think you need. Peers will help you focus on the strongest parts of your argument.
They will help you choose which reasons and evidence to develop and expand.
You need to cite one outside source in your essay. No more and no fewer. Of course,
this will necessitate a Works Cited list. Internet-exclusive sources, like Wikipedia, are not good
not usually acceptable as college level references. They provide an overview or introduction to a
topic for complete beginners. These are meant to get you started on a subject; they are not
An effective argumentative essay will include a clear claim (a thesis statement), support
for the claim (reasons and evidence), counter-arguments (anticipated opposition that is refuted),
logical and effective language (informal vs. formal language), and a summative conclusion.
Remember, your conclusion should not simply be a copy of your introduction; one of the most
important functions of the conclusion is to bring in fresh insight.
1. Your essay must exceed 1000 words and cite exactly one credible source.
2. Every project must have a distinct topic. Work from a previous course is not permitted.
3. Your essay should have a clear, arguable thesis statement (one sentence).
4. Develop a strong introduction. Introduce the context of your paper. Why, for example,
should the reader pay attention to your experiences and positions?
5. Focus on organization. Why does one paragraph or idea follow another? Could your
paper be arranged differently to be more effective?
6. Academic writing has to be more explicit than regular speech. We cannot assume that
connections and references are implicitly understood. Spell it out.
7. First person voice IS acceptable for this assignment. There are moments in a paper
when it is not only appropriate, but it is actually effective and/or persuasive to use first
person. Sometimes, especially in an argumentative essay, it is necessary to state your
opinion on the topic. Readers want to know where you stand, and it is sometimes helpful
to assert yourself by putting your own opinions into the essay.
8. Please remember: the college insists on strict standards of academic honesty in all
courses. Your paper will be screened by an Internet-based plagiarism detection service.
Any level of plagiarism will not be tolerated and result in a failing grade.
9. Presentation is important. Follow the MLA guidelines provided to you.
10. Check spelling and grammar. Rewrite as necessary.
11. Make each sentence count. Adding extra sentences will not drive your point home. Keep
the essay clear and concise. Re-read your paper with a fresh mind. Revise if necessary