How to structure the GRE Argument Essays - JNetshopInfo Press "Enter" to skip to content

How to structure the GRE Argument Essays

UVM Writing Center

Writing in Your Major

Tips From Tutors

  • Home
  • Social Sciences
  • Political Science
  • Overview
  • Getting Started
  • Constructing an Argument
  • American Politics
  • Political Theory
  • International Relations
  • Comparative Politics

Constructing an Argument

When asked to give advice about writing political science papers, Professor Ellen Andersen explained that most papers written for political sciences classes are arguments. “However,” she said, “do not write a persuasive essay about your opinion on the subject. Instead, take evidence and use it to support an academic argument. Use this academic argument to show your learning. Do not decide on an argument you want to make and then make it, regardless of what the evidence says. Be sure to engage with the other side of the debate honestly. Rather than dismissing it, think about it. That is how real growth happens.” For most assignments, you can follow a very basic format for an academic argument . Begin the process by finding trustworthy information . Then explore your material and orgranize your thoughts in a manner that works best for you. You can then start to construct your thesis statement .

The basic format of a political science essay
  1. Introduction
    1. The Introduction should articulate a clear argument and outline the paper’s structure explicitly. It can be a couple of sentences or a couple of paragraphs, or even a couple of pages for a really long paper. Make sure that your thesis responds to all aspects of the assignment.
    2. To show how your argument builds on previous research on your topic, include a literature review. You can do this as part of your introduction, in a section immediately following your introduction, or within each of your body sections, whichever seems most appropriate for your paper.
  2. Body Sections
    1. You can have as many body sections as you need.
    2. Body sections just mean you’re making a point about one aspect of your topic. They can have just one paragraph or as many as you need to make your point. For example, if you’re talking about the process of a bill becoming a law, you’re going to have subtopics within those over-arching sections, like what happens in the House, what happens in the Senate, and then what happens when they both finally agree on a version of the bill-and that’s okay. Just be aware of staying on-topic and transitioning smoothly from one to the next.
    3. How to set up your body paragraphs
      1. Small thesis: what is this paragraph about? It should be your starter sentence, and also tie neatly into the last sentence (flow is important)!
      2. Evidence and analysis. The important thing to remember here is that you’re not going “Quote 1,” “Quote 2,” “Quote 3,” and then analysis of quote 2, analysis of quote 3. You should be giving your evidence and analyzing it as you go; tell us what it means that the House is mad about an amendment the Senate added to a bill before you assault us with a quote about how the President feels.
      3. Summarizing/transition sentence. Finish up what you’re saying, and then in the same sentence or another sentence, explain the train of thought that leads to your next point/paragraph.
  3. Conclusion
    1. Your conclusion should tie back to your thesis, but do not just restate your thesis.
      1. Before writing your conclusion, take this opportunity to review your essay. Does your essay follow your thesis statement? Have you created an argument and provided evidence that supports this thesis? If yes, then go on to write your conclusion. If no, consider changing your thesis (and revising as appropriate).
      2. Be careful that the restatement of the thesis doesn’t seem like you’re copying and pasting your thesis statement from the introduction. Your conclusion needs to be the summation of your entire essay; it’s your chance to state your point strongly and tie up any loose ends.
      3. Do not introduce new figures or statistics or evidence to prove your point. You should be done with introducing information. Now you’re telling us what it means, why it’s significant on a broader scale or in a bigger picture, and why we should care.

Top of Page

Outlining, Grouping, Mind mapping, Free writing… Organize your thoughts!

Conceptual and factual knowledge is essential in a political science paper–interesting metaphors, grand generalizations, and a lot of “BS” will not lead to a smart paper (and will be quickly recognized by your professor). The key is to develop a solid argument with supportive evidence. It is also essential that you understand your argument in order to convincingly and eloquently present it to the reader–if you’re not sure, the reader won’t be either!

There are many different ways to go about organizing a paper. To perfect that crucial organization element, consider using one of the four common approaches illustrated below. Each example is for an essay exploring connections between political power and power over the media.

  • Make an outline! Outlines can tell you how organized your paper is, where there are holes in your argument that require more research, or where information may need to be cut.
    See Detailed Outline .
  • If you don’t like the strict formatting of an outline, try organizing your thoughts through bulleted lists.
    See Bulleted List
  • If you like diagrams, consider drawing a mind map or web that shows the connections between your ideas.
    See Mind Map/Web
  • If you’re more of a puzzler, try writing your information on separate note cards and then rearranging them to physically build a picture of your argument. This can also be done electronically by typing up all of your information and then rearranging it on a computer.
    See Notecard Puzzle
  • If you don’t yet know what sections to break your paper into, try starting with a free write that focuses on the prompt. You can see what ideas you have and start to find some connections between them.

Top of Page

Write a Thesis Statement!
A thesis is…
  • …an arguable statement that will serve as a condensed version of the argument that you make in the paper.
  • not a factual statement about your topic.
  • …your opportunity to make an assertive claim that you will then back up using your collected evidence in your body paragraphs. In essence, it will provide a “roadmap” for the rest of the paper.
  • …not necessarily just one sentence.
How do I construct my thesis statement?
  1. After having organized all of the information that you consider pertinent to the prompt, you will have likely noticed some form of argument that all your information is building to. Investigate this further and determine if there is some sort of claim that your evidence naturally points to.
    1. If you did not see a natural argument emerging, dig further, rearrange your information to see if something else emerges, or consider doing more research that would provide you with more information on the topic.
  2. Pull out the key ideas from the argument that you begin to see forming and write down what you think you could argue. Remember that a thesis can be rewritten many, many times and what you write down first is in no way set in stone. In fact, you should spend some time rewriting and reevaluating your thesis in order to see if the claim you are making is really what you want to say.
    1. You may feel more comfortable writing out your claims and information first and then seeing where the essay takes you. In this case, it may work better for you to come up with a simple thesis first, without tinkering heavily with the meaning or the wording. However, it is important to return to your preliminary thesis after having written the entire paper in order to refine it and ensure its essence is still true to the paper.

Top of Page

Finding Trustworthy Information

Evidence and information combine to form the backbone of a Political Science essay, as these crucial pieces support your thesis and all of the claims you make therein. When your paper uses accurate and carefully selected facts, your argument becomes harder to debunk and proves to your professor that you understand the material as well as the research process. Sadly, certain people stand to gain from pushing false information on the generally uninformed and careless public. The following suggestions should help you find objective and truthful evidence in your research process.

  • Start looking for information early – when you have an idea of your topic
    • Looking for evidence at the last minute can lead to decreased standards and pulling questionable facts from untrustworthy sources
  • Use the library�s available resources – particularly the online databases – rather than Google
    • These databases contain vast amounts of published information, usually written by experts in the field
  • Be on the lookout for signs of deceit in a source, such as
    • Overgeneralizations
    • Making things sound scarier or worse than they actually are
    • Presenting ideas/data that seem too good to be true
    • Results that have not been replicated, or seem like standalone occurrences
    • The group that publishes/conducts a study benefiting greatly from the results (potential bias/impartiality)
      • For example, if the NRA funded a study showing how gun ownership is tied to economic prosperity, they would gain members and donations �
        thus, we should make sure they�re being impartial in their research methods
  • Analyze evidence skeptically, but not cynically
    • Look thoroughly at evidence from research sources and only use that piece of information if everything seems to check out and doesn�t leave you feeling unsure �- implement a healthy skepticism while looking at facts
    • Avoid becoming a cynic who rejects every piece of information without considering it
      • This makes you just as gullible as someone who accepts everything they read, as people can play upon your inclination to reject facts to spin your understanding of issues in their favor
    • The key distinction is that a skeptic will realize a piece of information is trustworthy, while a cynic will never believe anything, regardless of its veracity

Top of Page

Home Email Newsletter The Value of an Argument in Writing

The Value of an Argument in Writing

Email Newsletter
Online Learning
Scholar’s Desk


J. Mason

0

The Value of an Argument in Writing

0


 

0

more 


thesis-statement-argumentative-essay-tips

now viewing

The Value of an Argument in Writing


J. Mason

law students Barney

now playing

Experts Provide Law Students with Valuable Real-World Information about Legal Careers


J. Mason

OLT-Lead-101018

now playing

APUS Alumni Stories: Triumphing over Adverse Circumstances


J. Mason

dependency status federal aid Laspina

now playing

Determining Dependency Status when You Apply for Federal Student Aid


J. Mason

OLT-Lead-Item-100318

now playing

Establishing a Teaching Presence through Effective Questioning Techniques in Forums


J. Mason

active minds symposium Hoffman

now playing

APUS Active Minds to Host Suicide Prevention Symposium


J. Mason

mentoring Sapp

now playing

Student Mentoring Frequently Goes Beyond the Classroom


J. Mason

OLT-Lead-092618a

now playing

Choosing a Major Requires Self-Examination and Research


J. Mason

OLT-Lead-092618

now playing

Overcoming Academic Challenges When Youre an Online Student


J. Mason

identity theft Laspina

now playing

Protecting Your Identity Saves Your Money and Your Sanity


J. Mason

OLT-Lead-091918

now playing

Reducing the Cost of Higher Education through Affordable Textbooks


J. Mason

thesis-statement-argumentative-essay-tips Dr. Stacey Little
Program Director, Transportation and Logistics Management at American Public University

After being assigned several argumentative essays, you may have determined that this type of writing is a skill that’s hard to acquire. According to the Roane State Community College online writing lab , most people forget that the goal of the argumentative essay is to “win” the argument. With that thought in mind, it is suggested to avoid writing about issues that you won’t win, regardless of how strongly the writers view is of this topic. An argumentative paper has value to the learning process. It allows the student to learn, grow, and think critically about a subject. Let’s examine the parts of an argumentative paper.

Master the Thesis Statement

The thesis is a statement of the writer’s position on the topic. Since this statement introduces the topic it should appear in the first paragraph. Narrowing down the thesis is paramount to the persuasion processes. If the topic is too broad, it will be difficult to research and therefore nearly impossible for the writer to actually present and win the argument. Each paragraph following the introductory paragraph should have some connection to the thesis. The paragraphs should be connected by transitions so that the content flows in natural support of the thesis.

Back Up Your Argument

The argument, in support of the thesis, has to be backed up with data. This requires a complete investigation of the issue or problem. It will be difficult to win an argument without sufficient and trustworthy data. The reader must be convinced that the information is valid to move them to another point of view. It is important to use non-biased support such as articles and statistical numbers; your opinion is not enough. A warrant is the evidence that you will explain in support of your thesis or claim ( Purdue Online Writing Lab, 2015 ). Points of view that are not in support of the thesis should also be included in the report.

Find Your Conflict

At least one paragraph of the report should include a counterclaim or conflicting view of the thesis. With this, the writer can discuss how this position is not well informed to discount its merit with the reader. It is helpful to consider this just like a debate. It is obvious in a debate that a counterclaim will be brought forth. With argumentative writing, it is a good practice to foresee the counterclaim and address it. Anticipating possible counterclaims is an essential part of the process. Presenting one side is not enough to allow people to apply their judgment.

Follow-up with Your Evidence

The final or conclusion paragraph does more than restate the thesis (claim). Its purpose is to wrap-up the evidence in support of the thesis. It should leave the reader thinking and considering other points of view. The final paragraph should resonate the accuracy of the thesis statement.

Remember the purpose of the argument is to change the position of the reader. You may ask yourself why must I write an argumentative essay. Remember an argument is necessary to the formation of opinions, views, and beliefs. It is valuable to the learning process. Presenting data in itself is not sufficient. We all need the skill of argument to grow and think. I hope you can see the value in the argument.

About the Author

Dr. Little has more than 13 years of experience in teaching in business and logistics in both the online and traditional format. She has a professional designation in Logistics and Supply Chain Management and a certification in Transportation and Logistics from the American Society of Transportation and Logistics. Her research interests are in the area of cultural influences on supply-chain relationships.

Comments

comments

Sign up now to receive the OnlineLearningTips eNewsletter .

tags:
APU argumentative writing business business and logistics defending your argumentative essay finding your thesis statement writing writing in college


 

0

previous
How to Personalize Your Online Learning Time

next
Suggestions for Success: What to Know Before You Begin Your Program

Related Posts

law students Barney

Experts Provide Law Students with Valuable Real-World Information about Legal Careers


James J. Barney

0

OLT-Lead-101018

APUS Alumni Stories: Triumphing over Adverse Circumstances


Melanie Conner

0

active minds symposium Hoffman

APUS Active Minds to Host Suicide Prevention Symposium


Susan Hoffman

0

OnlineLearningTips Video Series

Popular Posts

law students Barney

Experts Provide Law Students with Valuable Real-World Information about Legal Careers

OLT-Lead-101018

APUS Alumni Stories: Triumphing over Adverse Circumstances

dependency status federal aid Laspina

Determining Dependency Status when You Apply for Federal Student Aid

OLT-Lead-Item-100318

Establishing a Teaching Presence through Effective Questioning Techniques in Forums

active minds symposium Hoffman

APUS Active Minds to Host Suicide Prevention Symposium

Close

Categories:University academic accounting application article assignment chemistry college compare content contrast course courses descriptive dissertation english essay essays essaywriters help history homework maker mba paers paper papers phd questi questions report research school statement term text topics worksheet write writer writing