When thinking about your essay for a class or an exam, the first thing you want to do is answer the question. When you answer in your mind or in your outline, make sure you are taking a firm position. This position will appear in the first paragraph of your essay as one sentence known as the argument, or the thesis.
Be sure to argue one side only. If you’re argument is “yes, but no in certain cases” you are not taking a position and your essay will be weak and ambivalent. Take a side, make a decision and commit to it throughout the essay.
How do you choose which side to be on? First, what do you think about the topic? If you feel strongly one way, use your personal beliefs to dictate your argument. Should it be legal for 18 year olds to drink alcohol? What is your answer: Yes or no? From there, construct your argument. For example: The legal drinking age should not be changed. On the contrary: The legal drinking age should be lowered from 21 years of age to 18 years of age. Either of this sentences gives the reader a clear idea of what the essay will be about and shows that the writer is both answering the question and writing a relevant essay.
The legal drinking age could be lowered, but it could also stay the same. An argument that validates both sides will set up an essay without a position which does not answer the question and is a waste of time for the reader. You must have a clear argument that you can argue.You must have a clear argument that you can argue Click To Tweet
What can you do if you don’t have a position?
What if you really don’t care about the topic and just want to get through the essay to pass the exam or get a good grade? Choose an argument you can back up. Writing an essay is showing your ability to take a position and provide evidence to support that position.
Which argument is easier to prove? Which argument do you have more evidence to support? For essays about specific texts, go over your textual quotes. Which position has more quotes you can use as evidence? Now you have your argument for the essay.
Very rarely will someone ask you if you really believe what you wrote in the essay. You will only be graded on what you’ve written. This means answering the essay question with a strong, clear position that is proven throughout the paragraphs of the essay.
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