Student Edition: How to Write a Persuasive Essay

Help! I have to write an essay!

If you are a student between third and twelfth grade you will probably write several persuasive papers during your school journey. You might be thinking: What the heck am I persuading? or, What’s an argument? Isn’t it a fight? Or maybe you are a parent trying to help your child with a paper due tomorrow. Either way, we can help! Read on for tips and a persuasive paper outline.

A persuasive essay is also known as an “argument” or “argumentative” essay. When it comes to writing an ‘argument’ does not mean a fight; it refers to giving reasons to persuade others that an idea is right or the best. For example, I may argue that cheese pizza is the best type of pizza. You probably won’t believe me unless I provide evidence or claims. Evidence includes facts or strong examples that back up my claim. So when I say “Cheese pizza is the best kind of pizza!” I would then back it up with evidence such as: “Cheese pizza is the classic Italian style, which means it is the most authentic,” and “Cheese pizza will most likely please the greatest number of people.” The stronger your evidence, the more likely you are to convince your audience to believe your argument.

Depending on your paper’s requirements, you will probably need 2-4 claims or pieces of evidence to back up your argument. This is where research comes in! Search for credible sources on the internet from sites with an author, a date, that back up their sources, and do not try and sell you anything.

The strongest persuasive/argumentative essays will address the opposition or counterclaims, which often comes after your claims and before the conclusion. Addressing the opposition means acknowledging opinions or arguments different than your own. Expand on the counterclaims for 1-2 paragraphs, depending on the length of your paper, but do not dwell too long.

Ok, ready to write? Let’s get started!

Argument/Persuasive Essay Outline

Introduction

In the introduction you should introduce your topic with enough information to make sure your reader is on the same page. If I’m going to talk about pizza I might give a brief (2-3 sentences) history and make it clear that I am talking about standard pizza with dough crust, sauce, and cheese. Next, and most importantly, I will end my introduction with my thesis. A thesis is usually 1-2 sentences that clearly states your argument and the evidence to back it up. Consider the thesis your paper’s road map. Be brief; you don’t have to give us all of the information at this point. My thesis may read as follows: “Cheese pizza is the best type of pizza because it is the most authentic, is most likely to please the greatest number of people, and allows the classic flavors to come through the strongest.” Notice I did not say “I think,” or “In my opinion.” An argument is a clear statement made with authority. Be confident!

When you are finished writing your paper, and have the nuts and bolts organized, then come back and write a hook for your introduction. A hook “hooks” the reader into your paper, which makes them want to keep reading. It’s like an exciting first line of a book, or an opening scene to a movie. Examples of good hooks are questions for the reader that get them thinking; interesting statistics or facts about your topic; a relevant (short) story. But really, don’t worry about this until your paper is almost finished.

Evidence (Point) 1

This paragraph (or multiple paragraphs) will go into detail on your first claim, or the first evidence you mentioned in your thesis. First, write a clear topic sentence that explains what this paragraph is going to be about. For example, I might write: “Cheese pizza is the best type of pizza because it is the most authentic to its Italian roots.” After that I will use evidence I have found while researching to back up my claim. Whenever in doubt, imagine your reader going “Prove it!” Ask yourself: did I prove this point enough to convince even the most doubtful person?

Evidence (Point) 2

Now go into your second point. Make sure you have a strong topic sentence. For example: “The second reason why cheese pizza is the best type of pizza is because it will most likely please the greatest number of people.” Then back up your point with evidence and, if necessary, examples.

Evidence (Point) 3

Now write your third point with a strong topic sentence. I would finish with: “Finally, the last reason why cheese pizza is the best kind of pizza is because the flavors of the dough, sauce, and cheese are strongest without added toppings.” Back everything up!

(Repeat with point 4 if you have it)

Counterclaim

Now you will take a break from your argument to address an argument, or more than one argument, that is the opposite of your own. For example, I would need to address the fact that many people love pizza with toppings. Try really hard to see the world from their point of view and ask: Why do they believe this? So I might say: “Some people believe pizza with toppings is better than cheese because of ____, ____, and ____.” Spend a little time addressing these counterclaims, but not too much. The important part is to be able to show that your argument is stronger. After showing my reader that I have considered other perspectives, I might finish with: “But, despite the arguments for toppings, anyone can see that cheese pizza is still the best.”

Conclusion

In your conclusion you should restate your thesis and convince us why your argument is the best. You may also get creative by using a story example, or asking the reader a question (“Can you remember a delicious cheese pizza you have eaten?”) Whatever you choose, make sure your reader is left thinking: Wow! I think their argument is strong. I now agree with them.

Good luck with your paper! Following the Storysquares outline, and giving yourself enough time to brainstorm and revise, will lead to a great paper. While we believe in our tips and suggestions, please note that Storysquares is not responsible for the success or failure of any paper written using our methods. Please reach out to us anytime! We love hearing from our users and fellow writers. Have questions? Want to share a success? Email us at storysquaresapp@gmail.com. Happy writing!

How to Write a Stellar College Application Essay

How do I write an application essay that gets me into college?

Congratulations! If you are thinking about applying to college then you are already halfway there. Advanced education, whether it is a four-year degree, a technical college, a certificate, or any specialty class or course, will prepare you for so much in life. The first step is to apply, which often includes an essay (or multiple essays) and/or a cover letter.

You might be thinking: how do I write a college application essay?? Don’t worry, we can help. While there are a million ways to write an essay for a college application, and a million ways to show you are unique and qualified, there are a couple of common outlines, which you can find below.

Before we jump into the college application essay outlines, let’s go over a few important details:

  • Always customize your college application essay for each specific school you are applying to. Admissions officers can tell when you have submitted the same essay to every school (seriously.) Ask yourself: why do I want to go to this school? What do I think I want to study? Are there any classes or professors that interest me? How will this particular school help me achieve my goals?

  • College is a time to grow, mature, and learn, so many schools will want to see that you have the capability to do those things. Make sure to write about stories or situations that influenced you as a person and taught you something about yourself and the world around you.

  • This is also a time to start focusing on your future. Even though you may not know exactly what you want to major in, or what you want to be when you grow up, you can still identify clear goals. Do you have a certain field you want to work in? (i.e. computer science, dance, agriculture, art, etc.) Do you want to do something creative, inventive, managerial, etc? If you identify clear, specific goals then admissions offers will see an applicant who is organized and driven.

  • Some colleges will ask you specific questions, in which case these outlines may not fit. These suggestions may work if a college asks for a “personal statement” or another general essay.

  • Finally, getting into college isn’t always easy. Storysquares is not responsible for any success or failure with your school journey. We are only offering our opinion and suggestions.

College Application Essay Outline #1 - “A Life Changing Event”

This outline is based on a common movie plot known as “The Hero’s Journey.” In this case, YOU are the hero. We want to see you face a challenge (or more than one) and overcome them in some way. For this outline make sure to be humble when talking about the struggle. Let us relate to you so we can cheer you on. Then, outline your strengths that helped you overcome this challenge, but don’t come off as too arrogant. It’s a balance between humility and confidence. Finally, revise, revise, revise. Have people you trust read your essay and give you feedback.

Introduce the “setting”

Introduce yourself (YOU are the main character) and the world within which you live (your “setting”.) How would you describe your upbringing, family, culture, community, etc.? What makes you unique? In the first paragraph you will also name the school you are applying to, and the department/major if you know it. Finally, transition the reader into the story you are about to tell. How does this specific story fit with your application to this specific school?

*Tip: If you feel comfortable, start your essay at your story’s exciting incident. This pulls the reader in. Then, introduce the “setting.” Make sure your transitions are smooth, though, so the reader does not get confused.*

Life changing event part 1

Did you have something happen in your life that changed your life forever? Such as: your family moved, a death, health or financial issues, cultural or religious event, etc.

Life changing event part 2

After your life changing event, what happened that shook your world even more. Think of this as your “and, then!” moment. This makes your reader wonder how you will ever overcome these obstacles.

Climax

Moment of truth: what did YOU say or do to overcome these obstacles? This shows the reader that you took hold of your life and made positive change. A college admissions reader will want to see perseverance, strength, determination, resiliency, compassion, etc.

Resolution

What happened after the moment of truth? YOU (the main character) should have changed in some way. Did you learn something new? Did you change your behavior or beliefs? Did you gain any new talents or skills?

College Application Essay Outline #2 - “Focusing on a Theme”

This essay focuses more on a theme, emotion, or topic that has been influential in your life. If you don’t feel like you have had a ‘significant’ life change, then this might be a great outline for you. Every single person can identify a theme that has impacted their life, such as hard work, family, perseverance, etc. Those are pretty generic examples, though, so be as specific as you possibly can. See examples below.

Introduction

Introduce a theme, emotion, or topic that has been significant in your life and that you can back up with specific examples or an anecdote. For example, maybe your single mother taught you about hard work; maybe a high school teacher taught you about the importance of learning from failure; or maybe your time in the military prepared you for unknown situations. Whatever you choose, make sure it is relevant to college: i.e. hard work, perseverance, determination, learning, etc. Also, be as specific as possible and try and tie it to a person, place, or thing. When an admissions officer can picture something in their mind, you become much more memorable.

Example 1

The body of your essay will consist of examples or very short anecdotes that illustrate how this theme impacted your life. You may choose to list these chronologically, by impact, or another way, but make sure it is organized in a way that makes sense. *Tip: The more specific and sensory you can be, the better. Think of all five senses and really paint a picture for the reader.*

Example 2

Another example/anecdote how this theme impacted your life, as well as how it connects to the college experience.

Example 3

Another example/anecdote how this theme impacted your life, as well as how it connects to the college experience.

Conclusion

In your final paragraph (if you are allowed a longer essay this may be several paragraphs) you should tie your main theme back into who you used to be and who you have become. This tells the admissions reader that you have grown, matured, and learned lessons in life, making you a better person. The most important part, though: make sure to explain how attending this specific college, along with your theme, will shape who you are moving forward.

Now get writing!

You can do this! Writing is a process, just like practicing a musical instrument, or running drills in basketball. It is hard, so go easy on yourself. If you put work into your writing and revising, and you are honest, detailed, and goal-oriented, then your essay will stand out. If you have any questions reach out to the Storysquares team anytime. And of course let us know if these outlines helped you get into college! We’d love to spotlight your success on our website. Good luck! Reach out: storysquaresapp@gmail.com.