Persuasive Essay Structure

A persuasive essay is an argumentative piece of writing in which the writer supports or opposes an issue, and aims to convince the reader to take the same stance. The writer explores the issue from both sides, but takes one side and backs up this opinion up with facts, examples, statistics, and quotes.

In terms of structure, the majority of writers will aim to build up to a poignant and convincing conclusion by making supporting statements along the way, but some will begin their essay with a dramatic point or scene,  and work their way back to it. Saving the conclusion until the end usually works well, but depending on the topic, it can be powerful to begin with the final point, as well as you follow it up with powerful evidence. Either structure is fine, as long as you keep the reader engaged and compelled. These two structures are known as:

Discovery structure – The writer works towards their thesis and solution, moving from one argument to the next until the conclusion has been reached.

Support structure – The essay begins with an assertion, claim, thesis, or conclusion, which is then supported by the subsequent arguments.

Additionally, an exploratory structure, which considers pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses, advantages and disadvantages, and positive and negatives, can be used with either of these structures. This structure can provide an effective way of showing both sides of the issue, thoroughly considering both viewpoints before reaching a conclusion.

Generally speaking, regardless of the particular structure, the persuasive essay will consist of an introduction, body, and conclusion.

1. Introduction

In this part of your essay, your aim is to provide a “hook” that grab’s your reader’s interest. Opening with a strong statement, anecdote, question, or strange fact is an interesting idea to get their attention. The introduction should also state your thesis and your interest in the topic, along with a brief outline of the arguments to come.

2. Body

The body is where you set about proving your thesis, with each paragraph providing a solid point that contributes towards the conclusion. Counter-arguments and opposing viewpoints should also be mentioned. Don’t make statements that can’t be supported by real evidence; there’s a difference between fact and opinion. Incorporate studies, statistics, quotes, and examples.

3. Conclusion

Complete the essay by summarizing your primary argument and reminding the reader what position they should take. It’s also effective and powerful to end with a call to action, prediction, or question that makes your reader think beyond the scope of your essay.