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Constructing an Argument

Constructing an argument is the key to writing an excellent essay. You will already know the importance of planning - knowing what your argument is and how it will progress is the first step in planning.

Try this quiz to see how much you know about this vital skill, but take a moment first to ask yourself if you know what 'argument' means...

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  1. 'How does J.B. Priestley present the relationship of power and powerlessness through the character of Mr. Birling?' - Which key words should be included in an argument written in response to this question?
    The most straightforward way to come up with your thesis statement is to rephrase the question: 'J.B. Priestley presents the relationship of power and powerlessness through the character of Mr. Birling by....' After rephrasing, you might wish to find a more elegant way of making the same statement
  2. Sometimes it can seem as if an essay's points are hardly related. In order to ensure your argument flows and is logical, each paragraph should include...
    Paragraphs must be linked together by transitional phrases (usually connectives) so that your reader can easily follow your argument
  3. In an essay, a statement of your point of view is called your...
    An introductory paragraph includes your thesis, which is simply your argument presented in a single statement
  4. Some essay questions are given in the form of statements. Which of the following questions has the same meaning as this statement: 'Discuss Steinbeck's presentation of loneliness in Of Mice and Men.'
  5. You have been given an essay topic on the theme of fate in Macbeth. In this context, what is meant by 'argument'?
    In this type of essay, a persuasive case for a point of view (the argument) does not include presenting an opposing viewpoint
  6. What does it mean to 'develop' your argument?
  7. Which of the following is an effective way to structure an essay written to argue the case for or against an issue?
    Both of these structures work equally well - people often show a strong preference for one or the other of these methods
  8. When structuring your argument, how should you NOT order your paragraphs?
    It can be difficult to decide in which order to write your paragraphs. Thinking about how your points are logically connected will certainly help. Chronological order suits some essays (i.e. development of a theme throughout a text) and order of importance suits other essays (especially writing to argue)
  9. Some essays ask you to compare two texts, such as two poems. How should you organise your points in such an essay?
    Both of these structures can work for a compare and contrast essay - practise each form and decide which works best for you
  10. You have been asked to present a case for or against an issue. In this context, what is meant by 'argument'?

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