How to Write an Argumentative Essay in AP English

INTRODUCTION: How to write an argumentative essay in AP English

Did you know that up to a third of AP English Lang Exam would require you to write an argumentative essay? Well, the good news about this task is that it allows you to use all the skills and tricks you have developed by reading other people’s work throughout your life. However, to excel in AP Lang exams, you must do extensive practice and expose yourself to different prompts because writers of these exams never repeat prompts. In other words, you can never be sure of the prompt you will meet when the exam comes.  Therefore, you need hints on how to write an argumentative essay in AP English to prepare holistically for this exam.

Notably, these guidelines should help you to unlock your potential in writing an excellent persuasive essay for your AP Lang exams. They are flexible and easy to apply. Do not read hastily; take time to digest every segment. Let us hit the road now…

The fundamentals of how to write an argumentative essay in AP English

If you are yet to sit for AP Lang exams, you will discover that it calls for more skills that usual rhetorical essay writing. Among other challenges, you will have to do the following:

  1. Support your argument – This forms the basis of your persuasive essay. You must provide credible evidence to support any claim you make. Any essay that does not have solid proof for an argument ceases to be a persuasive essay.
  2. Understand various prompts – A prompt is what the examiner wants you to do. Three common prompts, which you will encounter while doing this exam are.
  • Defending assertions – Here you agree with assertion.
  • Qualifying assertions – It is a tricky prompt. It allows you to respect other people’s opinions as you develop your credibility as a writer.
  • Refuting/challenging the assertions – You challenge the assertion by disagreeing or giving a counterargument to the claim.

These are action prompts, which determine the path of your persuasive essay. Avoid confusion and be clear in your thoughts so that the examiner knows what you are doing. Let us look at some examples of prompts from past years to help you master how to write an argumentative essay in AP English.

Examples of Argumentative Essay Prompts

2001 prompt: Read the following passage by Susan Sontag. Write an essay in which you support, challenge or qualify her claim the photography has the power to undermine people’s understanding of the world. Employ relevant evidence to develop your argument.

2003 Prompt. Using specific examples, write a thoughtful essay in which you defend, qualify or challenge, the argument that entertainment ruins the society.

These two examples give you a clue of what you should expect as you prepare for AP Lang English Exams. Get more prompts over the years here.

Strategies to help you develop a good argumentative essay in AP English

Most students who score high in persuasive writing when undertaking this exam present at least three pages of an argument. As you work on your essay, avoid the temptation of focusing on how the writer makes his or her argument. Instead, bring out what he or she is arguing about in the text.

It is always good to take a position on an issue in order to develop a strong argument using credible sources. Thus, in cases where the examiner allows you the freedom to choose an action prompt, avoid qualifying claims. Qualifying requires you to agree and disagree, which can be confusing especially for starters. Let us examine simple steps of how to write an argumentative essay in AP English.

Method 1: Prewriting an argumentative essay in AP English

Before you embark on writing your persuasive essay, you must prepare and be ready for the task ahead. Thorough preparation will give you an edge over other candidates as you respond to the prompt task and eventually guarantee you a higher score.

STEP 1: Understand your task. You cannot begin responding to a prompt when you do not know what the examiner is asking.  Read the prompt carefully and get the action you are supposed to perform. What is the prompt?

STEP 2: Create columns for defend and refute – note specific examples, which support the assertion. In a different section, also, put down evidence that counters the assertion. You can source this evidence through observation, personal experience, and reading what other authors say on the same issue.

Your essay evidence should be:

  1. Specific and accurate – The evidence you choose to use must be irrefutably true in all aspects. It should be named and factually correct to make your argument concrete.
  2. Use credible sources – Avoid informal evidence sources like movies. Such proofs weaken your argument.
  • Give mature reaction – Where you are giving a personal response, be thoughtful, reflect well and read widely to have a deeper mastery of issues.
  1. Be relevant – Use evidence that add value to your claim. Do not waste your time, intellectual energy and space giving facts that have no relationship with the prompt action of the text.
  2. Avoid obvious evidence – Do not rely on first thoughts. Go for in-depth thoughts on the issue, which are not easy to find. This will make you standout.

STEP 3: Choose a stance. As you think about how to write an argumentative essay in AP English, settle on a column that has strong examples and evidence. Pursuing such a position means, you have enough facts to back your claim from all angles.

Method 2: Developing your Argumentative essay like a genius

Once you have analyzed the prompt, evaluated the evidence available and taken a stance, you are ready to draft your persuasive essay without any hindrance.

STEP 1of 3: Introduction – Your introduction presents a lasting impression. The person marking your essay may tell your ability from your first paragraph. Do not make it boring.

Tricks to help you piece your introduction  

  • Use attention getter – Give the reader a reason to read on by piquing their interest with a hook. This could be in form of startling statistics, a brief anecdote, or a generalization that directly relates with the prompt. Make it brief and sweet. Avoid long and flowery introductions.
  • Restate the assertion – Put the claim in your own words. This is an important step. Do not miss out!
  • Acknowledge counterargument – Since you already have evidence for both sides of the issue, identity 1-3 points, which refute your claim. This proves that you understand both sides of the issue.
  • Remember your thesis – Put down your final statement of the introduction, capturing your main ideas in entirety. Make your thesis strong and go ahead to support it throughout your essay.

These introduction tips should help you work out how to write an argumentative essay in AP English even as you delve into the body paragraphs of your essay.

STEP 2 of 3: Working on body paragraphs 2nd-4th

The body paragraphs of your argumentative essay play a major role. They bear the flesh of your work and determine your writing prowess.

Develop paragraphs 2 to 3 by digging into the evidence you have to support your position. Go for specific examples and elements that solidify your argument. Here, you will have to use observations, reading and personal experience to argue your ideas.

Think big and critically to convince the reader. Conceive a bigger picture of the issue, including world events that support your topic. Do not do a summary of these events, instead, link them to your argument and synthesize the topic. No argument will exist without evidence.

Remember to respond to so what – Why does the issue matter? Why should the reader care about the issue? If you can craft good body paragraphs, then you are miles ahead in understanding how to write an argumentative essay in AP English.

Step 3 of 3: How to spice a Conclusion for your argumentative essay in AP English

Congratulations! You are at the last step of your essay. Here, signal the mood of closure, by revisiting your essay.

Restate your thesis – Without repeating word for word, revisit your main ideas to remind the reader what you discussed.

In case you have enough time, add statements that challenge the reader, or insights into the world, using your topic.

At this point, you have all the tools and skills on how to write an argumentative essay in AP English. Put these ideas into practice. Fare Thee Well.

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