The persuasive essay

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In persuasive writing, we try to convince others to agree with our facts, share our opinions, accept our arguments and conclusions, and adopt our way of thinking. In explaining your position on the given topic, you will provide reasons that elaborate your ideas and support your position convincingly.
Your essay should:

(1) Give concrete details (CD) that support your position.

Notice the difference in the following:

Homework is boring and we shouldn't have it.


Many students are involved in activities after school that are as educational as subjects taught in the classroom. (CD) Family time is also very important in building strong relationships. (CD) Therefore, homework should be kept to a minimum in order to allow time for these other vital things.
(2) Elaborate on your details.

(EXAMPLE) Many students are involved in activities after school that are equally as educational as subjects taught in the classroom. (CD) For example, participation in athletics encourages the development of cooperation and teamwork as well as self-discipline and the importance of keeping in good physical shape. In addition, working a part time job not only supplies extra income, but teaches responsibility, organization, and work skills needed later in life. A balance of many different types of activities is necessary to succeed in the classroom and in real life.(PC)

(3) Acknowledge and address opposing arguments.

What are the opposing side's views? State them, then knock them down.

Use Concrete Details and your own Personal Commentary.
(EXAMPLE) Some people feel that school is the most important job in a teenager's life and, while this is true to an extent, it is also a fact that there are many other things that are also great learning experiences. If students are overwhelmed with homework, they may miss out on other activities that have lasting educational value. (CD) For example...(PC)
(5) Be organized into paragraphs, including transitions, an introduction and a conclusion
(6) Use correct spelling, punctuation and grammar

The following is a FORMAT that you can use, but don't be afraid to add your own personal touches.
Introduction-- Make a statement that clearly states your position for or against. Use words like "should/shouldn't", "must/mustn't", etc. Capture your audience's attention! (See section on Introductory Paragraphs)
Body paragraph one--Details (2 or 3) and commentary that support your position.

(You may wish to make this into more than one paragraph)

Body paragraph two--State and refute opposing arguments.
Body paragraph three--What will happen if your views are not adopted.
Conclusion-- Refer to the opening paragraph and the main points to restate main ideas. Summarize and conclude your argument. A "call to action".
Introductory paragraphs should get the reader's attention!

Just stating straight out what your topic is, is fine but can get boring.

Try one of these:

Historical review: brief review of the history of the topic, something in the news related to the topic (a recent news story on the overscheduling of kids' lives)

Anecdotal: a little story that leads into your topic; short but potent (remembering a time when you missed a family function due to homework; recalling an important lesson you learned through extracurricular activities)

Surprising Statement: attention-getting; shocking ("Have a minute? Good. Because that may be all it takes to give a kid the education he deserves.")

Famous Person: What do celebrities/experts say?

Never suggest that you don't know what you're talking about or that you're not enough of an expert in this subject that your opinion would matter. Avoid phrases like, "In my humble opinion....I'm not sure, but....." Make a BOLD statement and proceed with confidence!


Do not announce what you are about to do in the essay. "In this paper, I will..........The purpose of this essay is to......." JUST DO IT!

Do not say, "I believe students need less homework....I think there are other important things". State your opinions as FACTS. "Students need less homework because......"


Your parent is considering a job in Seattle, Washington. This would mean that your family would relocate during Spring Break if your parent takes this job. A new town, a new school, new friends. Your parent has asked for your help in making this decision. Write a persuasive essay to either support moving or support staying where you are.
Sycamore High School is considering adding study hall to the school schedule. While this would give you extra time to study and give you additional credits, it would take away time for other classes that could be more important or more interesting. Write a letter to the school board persuading them to add study hall or keep the schedule the way it is.
Many schools in Kentucky have changed their school calendar so that they are now year-round schools. Schools typically are in session for 9 weeks then off for 3. They still have time off in the summer, but they don't have the traditional 3-month break. Some Tennessee schools are considering following in Kentucky's footsteps and making the switch to year-round. Write a persuasive essay either in support of the year-round school calendar or in support of continuing the traditional school calendar.
Many states are imposing a law that requires potential drivers to be 18 years old before they are eligible for a driver's license. This new legislation evolved after intensive studies were conducted on the driving habits of sixteen and seventeen year olds. This research indicated that most young people are too irresponsible to drive a car. Write a letter to your congressman defending your position.
When a guy and a girl go out on a date, should the guy always pay? Write a letter to your girlfriend/boyfriend explaining your position. Write a letter to your best friend explaining your position.
Researchers have found that teens need at least nine hours of sleep at night--more sleep than younger children need. They also found that puberty changes a teenager's internal clock to a stay-up-late, get-up-late rhythm. Because of this, some people feel that schools should start later in the day (9 am at the earliest) to accomodate the needs of the students. However, others say that school must start early to accomodate parents' work schedules and to avoid interfering with after-school activities. What is your position?

Should high school students have to learn a foreign language?

Are small high schools better than large high schools?

Should teachers give you a free day once a month?

Should high school classes be limited to 15 students?

Persuade your parents that you deserve an increase in your allowance.

Should people be required to wear seatbelts in the car?

Should our school require a uniform?

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