Writing essays is never easy. Even if your tutor provides you will all the instructions you need, you will still need to spend time on choosing a topic, picking sources, analyzing the gathered data, and then composing an essay.
And this task gets even more difficult if you don’t get any specific instructions. If this is the case, then you will most likely find our tips on writing persuasive essays very useful.
What is a persuasive essay?
In a persuasive essay, you are required to convince the reader that your point of view is the most legitimate out there. In such an essay, you are required to demonstrate your skill of persuasion and reasoning. And since convincing people isn’t easy, writing a persuasive essay is one of the most challenging assignments a student may ever receive.
To help you understand the essence of a persuasive essay better, let’s compare it with an argumentative essay. Many people confuse one type of essay with the other, so our comparison will be helpful for them as well. That’s because their structure is very similar. However, their goals are completely different.
An argumentative essay is more objective and logic-based. Your task is not persuading the reader that your opinion is right. Rather, you present the topic from the point of view of both its supporters and opponents. Presenting multiple sides, you compare them and establish your own position. In the end, your goal in an argumentative essay is presenting a valid argument on the issue that is based on logic and evidence. Tutors also often require that your argumentative essay topic causes debate among your listeners.
A persuasive essay is much more subjective. It is more based on personal opinion rather than on strict facts, albeit you will still need to back up your claims with evidence. However, your purpose is not to present a valid argument but to convince the reader that your argument is more legitimate than the others.
Persuasive essays ignore counterclaims and instead focus only on arguments that help the writer establish their position. However, you still need to anticipate objections to make your position sound more reasonable.
Writing a persuasive essay, you may use not only logic and argument but also emotion. In fact, the art of persuasion is based on emotion as much as on logic, and you need to incorporate the elements of both in your paper. And to be able to use emotion effectively, you need to know your audience.
To sum it all up and make it clearer, think of the difference between a scientist presenting the evidence they have gathered (argumentative essay) and a politician trying to convince people to vote for him (persuasive essay).
Now that we’ve explained the difference between argumentative and persuasive essays, let’s take a look at how to structure a persuasive essay.
How to structure a persuasive essay
Writing a persuasive essay may seem like a complex task at the beginning. However, you could make it look easier by outlining it and breaking it down into subsections.
The following persuasive essay structure is used most commonly:
- Development of your argument (body).
Unless your assignment states otherwise, this is the structure you should incorporate in your essay.
Now, let’s break down each of these sections so you get an idea of what you should be writing in them.
The introduction of your persuasive essay provides the reader with a background on your topic. Besides, it prepares the ground for the support of your argument.
The introduction usually consists of 1-2 paragraphs which shouldn’t be too long. At this state, your task is to present the issue to your audience. The introduction includes a hook, background information, and your thesis statement.
A hook is an interesting first sentence that is aimed at catching the reader’s attention. Anything could be a hook, e.g. a quote, interesting statistics, a joke, a personal story, or an outrageous statement. Whatever your hook is, it obviously needs to make sense with your persuasive essay topic.
Here, you need to provide your reader with context to your argument and familiarize them with the subject. You may also include definitions of terms that the reader might be unfamiliar with.
The thesis statement is a clear statement of your main argument. It is the idea you will be arguing and supporting with evidence. Your thesis statement will also serve as a roadmap for the rest of your paper, giving the reader an idea of how your argument will flow.
Development of your argument (body)
In the body of your persuasive essay, you present evidence, facts, statistics, etc. to support your thesis statement. This section usually consists of 3 paragraphs, one paragraph per each point.
Each paragraph consists of your claim/topic sentence and evidence.
The claim is aimed at supporting your thesis statement and represents the idea of the current paragraph.
Evidence is information from a reliable source like a science magazine, newspaper, book, documentary, etc. that backs up your claim. Your own opinion won’t be regarded as evidence and will have no cost without strict supporting facts. And besides, you will be able to avoid issues connected with plagiarism.
At the end of each paragraph, demonstrate how the evidence supports your argument.
You should also anticipate objections to your argument and come up with facts that will refute them and demonstrate that your point of view is more appropriate. You may show that you agree with the general idea of the objections so your work looks more reasonable. At the same time, pinpoint details that make the objections less legitimate than your argument.
If you don’t consider opposing arguments, then your own argument will look weak and one-sided. By presenting counterarguments to objections, you will demonstrate that you have viewed the issue from multiple points of view, which will make your argument stronger and your essay more persuasive.
When writing the body section, you should follow the requirements of your assignment, if there are any. Namely, include as many supporting points as necessary. If there aren’t any specific requirements, present as many points as you deem necessary to build a strong base for your argument.
When using evidence, it is generally accepted to use sources that are no older than 5 years. You should use as fresh sources as possible.
In the conclusion, you need to briefly sum up your point and establish the significance of your argument.
First of all, you restate your argument and remind the reader how you supported it in the body of your persuasive essay. You overview your paper and connect all the threads of the essay’s argument.
The next thing that you need to do in your conclusion is write the so-called “so what” paragraph. In it, you try to connect your argument with the real world and demonstrate its importance.
Here are some points to consider when writing the “so what” section:
- How can your argument be applied in the real world?
- Why is the issue in question important?
- What are the consequences if your argument isn’t/is implemented?
- What are the questions the argument brings forth?
To put it simply, you tie your argument with more global topics so the reader cares about it.
A thing that you should do in your conclusion as well is adding emotion. You could do this in any other section of your persuasive essay, but the conclusion is the best place to do so.
In the introduction, you don’t have much room for maneuvers. And the body is more about strict facts and evidence, so emotion may be inappropriate there. The conclusion is the climax of your essay which can make your point much, much stronger and convincing to the reader, so it is the right place for some subjectivity.
You should also realize that the conclusion is no less important than your body. What you write in it may be even more influential than the evidence you presented to support your point. Thereby, you should approach the conclusion of your persuasive essay with all seriousness. Don’t just copy your introduction and add a couple of sentences to it: your essay will just look weak and not well-developed.
How to find a good persuasive essay topic
When it comes to persuasive essay topics, they share some of their features with argumentative essay topics. You could freely write both a persuasive and argumentative essay on a single topic, while obviously keeping in mind that their tasks are different.
If your tutor assigns a particular essay topic, then the only thing you will need to do is conduct research and compose your paper. Otherwise, you will need to pick a topic before actually writing your persuasive essay.
And this can be no easier challenge than writing an essay!
What makes a good persuasive essay topic?
Now, let’s determine the attributes of a good persuasive essay topic. Those are:
- Your topic shouldn’t be obvious, and your audience shouldn’t agree with you easily. In case of an argumentative essay, this attribute is necessary because one of the goals of the essay is a discussion. Things are a little different with persuasive essays though.
If you choose a topic that people are going to agree with easily, you most likely won’t receive a high mark. On the other hand, if you choose a difficult topic and manage to persuade your audience that your point of view is right, then your mark will be much higher. And you’ll also know that you have great persuasive abilities.
- The topic needs to lead to global issues. Your argument may seem very local and insignificant at first, but if you connect it with more global questions, it will gain much more weight in the eyes of the reader.
- The topic should cover issues of contemporary life. It needs to be down-to-earth so that your audience can relate to it and care about it. Not caring about a topic that is too disconnected from them and not having too much knowledge about it, they are more likely to agree with your argument. They just won’t have grounds to disagree with it. In the end, this may lower your mark.
At the same time, you should probably avoid topics concerning sensitive matters like race, religion, gender, unless you know that your audience won’t mind them.
- You need to be passionate and interested in your topic. Remember that the art of persuasion is heavily based on emotion. If you complement evidence with emotion, you are much more likely to convince your audience that your argument is more legitimate than the others. If you don’t care about your topic, you will probably add little to no emotion to it, in the end missing out on the powerful tool of persuasion that is emotion.
Examples and ideas of persuasive essay topics
Now that you have an understanding of what makes a good persuasive essay topic, we’ll present you with several examples and ideas for reference. You may use any of them as your topic. Maybe, you even get inspired and come up with an entirely new topic for your persuasive essay!
Sports and health persuasive essay topics
- Should restrictions be placed on supplements and vitamins?
- Should the United States switch to universal health care?
- Is chess really a sport?
- The risks of bodybuilding for women.
- Female athletes have a lower probability of getting injured than male athletes.
- Dangers of consuming energy drinks.
- If you are a successful athlete, does it mean that you will also be a successful coach?
- Should school athletes pass drug tests?
- What is the role of sports in social institutions?
- Is physical education underestimated in the US?
Education persuasive essay topics
- Just like students pass exams, teachers should pass professional tests.
- The duration of college lectures should be shortened.
- Students need to be assigned less homework.
- Homeschooling vs traditional schooling.
- Pros & cons of e-learning.
- Schools should teach abstinence-only education.
- Do students need to go to college?
- Do you need to learn a foreign language?
- Should higher education be free?
- Teachers/professors need to be unbiased in the classroom.
Legal persuasive essay topics
- Should same-sex marriage be legalized?
- Should citizens younger than 18 have the right to vote?
- Should “fake news” be punished by law?
- Will a huge wall on the US border with Mexico solve America’s immigration problem?
- Should firearm laws become more restrictive?
- Should criminals be rehabilitated after serving their sentence?
- Autonomous vehicles are expected to become increasingly used on public roads. If an autonomous vehicle causes an accident, who should be held responsible?
- The minimum wage must be increased each time inflation occurs.
- Should working hours be made more flexible?
- Keeping dangerous animals as pets needs to be forbidden.
Science persuasive essay topics
- Mobile phones are not 100% safe.
- What are the primary reasons of global warming?
- Do vaccines lead to autism?
- Alternative energy will replace fossil fuels.
- The role of technology in human lives nowadays.
- What’s the impact of genetically modified food on the health?
- Can marijuana be used for curing mental disorders?
- DNA profiling in criminal investigations must be allowed for law enforcement.
- Social networks are a danger to our privacy.
- If you like a person, it is much easier for them to persuade you.
You could easily modify these topics for a little more variety. For example, you could negate the topics – you could turn “Should same-sex marriage be legalized?” into “Should same-sex marriage be banned?”
Just make sure to pick a topic that you are interested in and that you will manage to write a good persuasive essay on. Keep in mind that some topics will be much more difficult than the others. Which ones will be difficult or easy for you will depend on your skills and knowledge.
Write the best persuasive essay you can
A persuasive essay can be not only your greatest challenge but also your best achievement at school.
Just like in an argumentative essay, you will need to possess analytical and data collection skills to write a persuasive essay. But aside from simply analyzing the data, you will also need to present it in the most convincing way possible.
The art of persuasion is very difficult to master, and if you manage to get a high mark, then you can be sure that you are capable of convincing people in your ideas. In addition, your high-graded persuasive essay may come in handy for your job application. So not only write a great persuasive essay, but also make sure to preserve it for the future.
Don’t also forget about the specific requirements of the task assigned by your professor. You should follow the tips of others only if your tutor didn’t provide you with any instructions. Otherwise, you will have to follow their requirements to get a good mark.