persuasive essay about academic honesty

Writing a Persuasive Essay

Persuasive essays convince readers to accept a certain perspective. Writing a persuasive essay therefore entails making an argument that will appeal to readers, so they believe what you say has merit. This act of appealing to readers is the art of persuasion, also known as rhetoric. In classical rhetoric, persuasion involves appealing to readers using ethos, pathos, and logos.

In this tutorial, we refer to the sample persuasive draft and final paper written by fictional student Maggie Durham.


Ethos refers to establishing yourself as a credible source of information. To convince an audience of anything, they must first trust you are being earnest and ethical. One strategy to do this is to write a balanced discussion with relevant and reliable research that supports your claims. Reliable research would include quoting or paraphrasing experts, first-hand witnesses, or authorities. Properly citing your sources, so your readers can also retrieve them, is another factor in establishing a reliable ethos. When writing for academic purposes, expressing your argument using unbiased language and a neutral tone will also indicate you are arguing fairly and with consideration of others having differing views.

When you appeal to your readers’ emotions, you are using pathos. This appeal is common in advertising that convinces consumers they lack something and buying a certain product or service will fulfill that lack. Emotional appeals are subtler in academic writing; they serve to engage a reader in the argument and inspire a change of heart or motivate readers toward a course of action. The examples you use, how you define terms, any comparisons you draw, as well as the language choices you use can draw readers in and impact their willingness to go along with your ideas.

Consider that one purpose of persuasion is to appeal to those who do not already agree with you, so it will be important to show that you understand other points of view. You will also want to avoid derogatory or insulting descriptions or remarks about the opposition. You wouldn’t want to offend the very readers you want to persuade.

Establishing an appeal of logos is to write a sound argument, one that readers can follow and understand. To do this, the facts and evidence you use should be relevant, representative, and reliable, and the writing as a whole should be well organized, developed, and edited.


Step one: determine the topic.

The first step in writing a persuasive essay is to establish the topic. The best topic is one that interests you. You can generate ideas for a topic by prewriting, such as by brainstorming whatever comes to mind, recording in grocery-list fashion your thoughts, or freewriting in complete sentences what you know or think about topics of interest.

Whatever topic you choose, it needs to be:

  • Interesting : The topic should appeal both to you and to your intended readers.
  • Researchable : A body of knowledge should already exist on the topic.
  • Nonfiction : The information about the topic should be factual, not based on personal opinions or conspiracy theories.
  • Important : Your reader should think the topic is relevant to them or worthy of being explored and discussed.

Our sample student Maggie Durham has selected the topic of educational technology. We will use Maggie’s sample persuasive draft and final paper as we discuss the steps for writing a persuasive essay.

Step Two: Pose a Research Question

Once you have a topic, the next step is to develop a research question along with related questions that delve further into the first question. If you do not know what to ask, start with one of the question words: What? Who? Where? When? Why? and How? The research question helps you focus or narrow the scope of your topic by identifying a problem, controversy, or aspect of the topic that is worth exploration and discussion. Some general questions about a topic would be the following:

  • Who is affected by this problem and how?
  • Have previous efforts or polices been made to address this problem? – What are they?
  • Why hasn’t this problem been solved already?

For Maggie’s topic of educational technology, potential issues or controversies range from data privacy to digital literacy to the impact of technology on learning, which is what Maggie is interested in. Maggie’s local school district has low literacy rates, so Maggie wants to know the following:

  • Are there advantages and/or disadvantages of technology within primary and secondary education?
  • Which types of technology are considered the best in terms of quality and endurance?
  • What types of technology and/or programs do students like using and why?
  • Do teachers know how to use certain technologies with curriculum design, instruction, and/or assessment?

Step Three: Draft a Thesis

A thesis is a claim that asserts your main argument about the topic. As you conduct your research and draft your paper, you may discover information that changes your mind about your thesis, so at this point in writing, the thesis is tentative. Still, it is an important step in narrowing your focus for research and writing.

The thesis should

1. be a complete sentence,

2. identify the topic, and

3. make a specific claim about that topic.

In a persuasive paper, the thesis is a claim that someone should believe or do something. For example, a persuasive thesis might assert that something is effective or ineffective. It might state that a policy should be changed or a plan should be implemented. Or a persuasive thesis might be a plea for people to change their minds about a particular issue.

Once you have figured out your research question, your thesis is simply the answer. Maggie’s thesis is “Schools should supply technology aids to all students to increase student learning and literacy rates.” Her next step is to find evidence to support her claim.

Step Four: Research

Once you have a topic, research question, and thesis, you are ready to conduct research. To find sources that would be appropriate for an academic persuasive essay, begin your search in the library. The Purdue Global Library has a number of tutorials on conducting research, choosing search teams, types of sources, and how to evaluate information to determine its reliability and usefulness. Remember that the research you use will not only provide content to prove your claim and develop your essay, but it will also help to establish your credibility as a reliable source (ethos), create a logical framework for your argument (logos), and appeal to your readers emotionally (pathos).

Step Five: Plan Your Argument; Make an Outline

Once you have located quality source information—facts, examples, definitions, knowledge, and other information that answers your research question(s), you’ll want to create an outline to organize it. The example outline below illustrates a logical organizational plan for writing a persuasive essay. The example outline begins with an introduction that presents the topic, explains the issue, and asserts the position (the thesis). The body then provides the reasoning for the position and addresses the opposing viewpoints that some readers may hold. In your paper, you could modify this organization and address the opposing viewpoints first and then give the reasoning for your viewpoints, or you can alternate and give one opposing viewpoint then counter that with your viewpoint and then give another opposing viewpoint and counter that with your viewpoint.

The outline below also considers the alternatives to the position—certainly, there are other ways to think about or address the issue or situation. Considering the alternatives can be done in conjunction with looking at the opposing viewpoints. You do not always have to disagree with other opinions, either. You can acknowledge that another solution could work or another belief is valid. However, at the end of the body section, you will want to stand by your original position and prove that in light of all the opposing viewpoints and other perspectives, your position has the most merit.

Sample Outline of a Persuasive Argument

  • 1. Introduction: Tell them what you will tell them.
  • a. Present an interesting fact or description to make the topic clear and capture the reader’s attention.
  • b. Define and narrow the topic using facts or descriptions to illustrate what the situation or issue is (and that is it important).
  • c. Assert the claim (thesis) that something should be believed or done about the issue. (Some writers also briefly state the reasons behind this claim in the thesis as Maggie does in her paper when she claims that schools should supply tablets to students to increase learning , engagement, and literacy rates ).
  • 2. Body: Tell them.
  • a. Defend the claim with logical reasons and practical examples based on research.
  • b. Anticipate objections to the claim and refute or accommodate them with research.
  • c. Consider alternate positions or solutions using examples from research.
  • d. Present a final point based on research that supports your claim in light of the objections and alternatives considered.
  • 3. Conclusion: Tell them what you told them.
  • a. Recap the main points to reinforce the importance of the issue.
  • b. Restate the thesis in new wording to reinforce your position.
  • c. Make a final remark to leave a lasting impression, so the reader will want to continue this conversation and ideally adopt the belief or take the action you are advocating.

In Maggie’s draft, she introduced the topic with facts about school ratings in Texas and then narrowed the topic using the example of her local school district’s literacy rates. She then claimed the district should provide each student a tablet in order to increase learning (and thus, literacy rates).

Maggie defends her claim with a series of examples from research that proved how access to tablets, technology-integrated curriculums, and “flipped classrooms” have improved literacy rates in other districts. She anticipates objections to her proposal due to the high cost of technology and counter argues this with expert opinions and examples that show partnerships with businesses, personalized curriculums that technology makes possible, and teacher training can balance the costs. Maggie included an alternative solution of having students check out tablets from the library, but her research showed that this still left students needing Wi-Fi at home while her proposal would include a plan for students to access Wi-Fi.

Maggie concluded her argument by pointing out the cost of not helping the students in this way and restated her thesis reaffirming the benefits, and then left the reader with a memorable quote.

Click here to see Maggie’s draft with feedback from her instructor and a peer. Sample Persuasive Draft

Feedback, Revision, and Editing

After you write a draft of your persuasive essay, the next step is to have a peer, instructor, or tutor read it and provide feedback. Without reader feedback, you cannot fully know how your readers will react to your argument. Reader feedback is meant to be constructive. Use it to better understand your readers and craft your argument to more appropriately appeal to them.

Maggie received valuable feedback on her draft from her instructor and classmate. They pointed to where her thesis needed to be even more specific, to paragraphs where a different organization would make her argument more convincing, to parts of the paper that lacked examples, sentences that needed revision and editing for greater clarity, and APA formatting that needed to be edited.

Maggie also took a critical look at her paper and looked back at her writing process. One technique she found helpful was to read her paper aloud because it let her know where her wording and organization were not clear. She did this several times as she revised and again as she edited and refined her paper for sentence level clarity and concision.

In the end, Maggie produced a convincing persuasive essay and effective argument that would appeal to readers who are also interested in the way technology can impact and improve student learning, an important topic in 2014 when this paper was written and still relevant today.

Click here to see Maggie’s final draft after revising and editing. Sample Persuasive Revised

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65 Tips for Writing Academic Persuasive Essays

The previous chapters in this section offer an overview of what it means to formulate an argument in an academic situation. The purpose of this chapter is to offer more concrete, actionable tips for drafting an academic persuasive essay. Keep in mind that preparing to draft a persuasive essay relies on the strategies for any other thesis-driven essay, covered by the section in this textbook, The Writing Process. The following chapters can be read in concert with this one:

  • Critical Reading and other research strategies helps writers identify the exigence (issue) that demands a response, as well as what kinds of research to use.
  • Generate Ideas covers prewriting models (such as brainstorming techniques) that allow students to make interesting connections and develop comprehensive thesis statements. These connections and main points will allow a writer to outline their core argument.
  • Organizing is important for understanding why an argument essay needs a detailed plan, before the drafting stage. For an argument essay, start with a basic outline that identifies the claim, reasoning, and evidence, but be prepared to develop more detailed outlines that include counterarguments and rebuttals, warrants, additional backing, etc., as needed.
  • Drafting introduces students to basic compositional strategies that they must be familiar with before beginning an argument essay. This current chapter offers more details about what kinds of paragraphs to practice in an argument essay, but it assumes the writer is familiar with basic strategies such as coherence and cohesion.

Classical structure of an argument essay

Academic persuasive essays tend to follow what’s known as the “classical” structure, based on techniques that derive from ancient Roman and Medieval rhetoricians. John D. Ramage, et. al outline this structure in Writing Arguments :

This very detailed table can be simplified. Most academic persuasive essays include the following basic elements:

  • Introduction that explains why the situation is important and presents your argument (aka the claim or thesis).
  • Reasons the thesis is correct or at least reasonable.
  • Evidence that supports each reason, often occurring right after the reason the evidence supports.
  • Acknowledgement of objections.
  • Response to objections.

Keep in mind that the structure above is just a conventional starting point. The previous chapters of this section suggest how different kinds of arguments (Classical/Aristotelian, Toulmin, Rogerian) involve slightly different approaches, and your course, instructor, and specific assignment prompt may include its own specific instructions on how to complete the assignment. There are many different variations. At the same time, however, most academic argumentative/persuasive essays expect you to practice the techniques mentioned below. These tips overlap with the elements of argumentation, covered in that chapter, but they offer more explicit examples for how they might look in paragraph form, beginning with the introduction to your essay.

Persuasive introductions should move from context to thesis

Since one of the main goals of a persuasive essay introduction is to forecast the broader argument, it’s important to keep in mind that the legibility of the argument depends on the ability of the writer to provide sufficient information to the reader. If a basic high school essay moves from general topic to specific argument (the funnel technique), a more sophisticated academic persuasive essay is more likely to move from context  to thesis.

The great stylist of clear writing, Joseph W. Williams, suggests that one of the key rhetorical moves a writer can make in a persuasive introduction is to not only provide enough background information (the context), but to frame that information in terms of a problem or issue, what the section on Reading and Writing Rhetorically terms the exigence . The ability to present a clearly defined problem and then the thesis as a solution creates a motivating introduction. The reader is more likely to be gripped by it, because we naturally want to see problems solved.

Consider these two persuasive introductions, both of which end with an argumentative thesis statement:

Example B feels richer, more dramatic, and much more targeted not only because it’s longer, but because it’s structured in a “motivating” way. Here’s an outline of that structure:

  • Hook: It opens with a brief hook that illustrates an emerging issue. This concrete, personal anecdote grips the reader’s attention.
  • Problem: The anecdote is connected with the emerging issue, phrased as a problem that needs to be addressed.
  • Debate: The writer briefly alludes to a debate over how to respond to the problem.
  • Claim: The introduction ends by hinting at how the writer intends to address the problem, and it’s phrased conversationally, as part of an ongoing dialogue.

Not every persuasive introduction needs all of these elements. Not all introductions will have an obvious problem. Sometimes a “problem,” or the exigence, will be as subtle as an ambiguity in a text that needs to be cleared up (as in literary analysis essays). Other times it will indeed be an obvious problem, such as in a problem-solution argument essay.

In most cases, however, a clear introduction will proceed from context to thesis . The most attention-grabbing and motivating introductions will also include things like hooks and problem-oriented issues.

Here’s a very simple and streamlined template that can serve as rudimentary scaffolding for a persuasive introduction, inspired by the excellent book, They Say / I Say:  The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing :

Each aspect of the template will need to be developed, but it can serve as training wheels for how to craft a nicely structured context-to-thesis introduction, including things like an issue, debate, and claim. You can try filling in the blanks below, and then export your attempt as a document.

Define key terms, as needed

Much of an academic persuasive essay is dedicated to supporting the claim. A traditional thesis-driven essay has an introduction, body, and conclusion, and the support constitutes much of the body. In a persuasive essay, most of the support is dedicated to reasoning and evidence (more on that below). However, depending on what your claim does, a careful writer may dedicate the beginning (or other parts of the essay body) to defining key terms.

Suppose I wish to construct an argument that enters the debate over euthanasia. When researching the issue, I notice that much of the debate circles around the notion of rights, specifically what a “legal right” actually means. Clearly defining that term will help reduce some of the confusion and clarify my own argument. In Vancouver Island University’s resource “ Defining key terms ,” Ian Johnston  offers this example for how to define “legal right” for an academic reader:

Before discussing the notion of a right to die, we need to clarify precisely what the term legal right means. In common language, the term “right” tends often to mean something good, something people ought to have (e.g., a right to a good home, a right to a meaningful job, and so on). In law, however, the term has a much more specific meaning. It refers to something to which people are legally entitled. Thus, a “legal” right also confers a legal obligation on someone or some institution to make sure the right is conferred. For instance, in Canada, children of a certain age have a right to a free public education. This right confers on society the obligation to provide that education, and society cannot refuse without breaking the law. Hence, when we use the term right to die in a legal sense, we are describing something to which a citizen is legally entitled, and we are insisting that someone in society has an obligation to provide the services which will confer that right on anyone who wants it.

As the example above shows, academics often dedicate space to providing nuanced and technical definitions that correct common misconceptions. Johnston’s definition relies on research, but it’s not always necessary to use research to define your terms. Here are some tips for crafting definitions in persuasive essays, from “Defining key terms”:

  • Fit the descriptive detail in the definition to the knowledge of the intended audience. The definition of, say, AIDS for a general readership will be different from the definition for a group of doctors (the latter will be much more technical). It often helps to distinguish between common sense or popular definitions and more technical ones.
  • Make sure definitions are full and complete; do not rush them unduly. And do not assume that just because the term is quite common that everyone knows just what it means (e.g.,  alcoholism ). If you are using the term in a very specific sense, then let the reader know what that is. The amount of detail you include in a definition should cover what is essential for the reader to know, in order to follow the argument. By the same token, do not overload the definition, providing too much detail or using far too technical a language for those who will be reading the essay.
  • It’s unhelpful to simply quote the google or definition of a word. Dictionaries contain a few or several definitions for important terms, and the correct definition is informed by the context in which it’s being employed. It’s up to the writer to explain that context and how the word is usually understood within it.
  • You do not always need to research a definition. Depending on the writing situation and audience, you may be able to develop your own understanding of certain terms.

Use P-E-A-S or M-E-A-L to support your claim

The heart of a persuasive essay is a claim supported by reasoning and evidence. Thus, much of the essay body is often devoted to the supporting reasons, which in turn are proved by evidence. One of the formulas commonly taught in K-12 and even college writing programs is known as PEAS, which overlaps strongly with the MEAL formula introduced by the chapter, “ Basic Integration “:

Point : State the reasoning as a single point: “One reason why a soda tax would be effective is that…” or “One way an individual can control their happiness is by…”

Evidence : After stating the supporting reason, prove that reason with related evidence. There can be more than one piece of evidence. “According to …” or “In the article, ‘…,’ the author shows that …”

Analysis : There a different levels of analysis.  At the most basic level, a writer should clearly explain how the evidence proves the point, in their own words: “In other words…,” “What this data shows is that…” Sometimes the “A” part of PEAS becomes simple paraphrasing. Higher-level analysis will use more sophisticated techniques such as Toulmin’s warrants to explore deeper terrain. For more tips on how to discuss and analyze, refer to the previous chapter’s section, “ Analyze and discuss the evidence .”

Summary/So what? : Tie together all of the components (PEA) succinctly, before transitioning to the next idea. If necessary, remind the reader how the evidence and reasoning relates to the broader claim (the thesis argument).

PEAS and MEAL are very similar; in fact they are identical except for how they refer to the first and last part. In theory, it shouldn’t matter which acronym you choose. Both versions are effective because they translate the basic structure of a supporting reason (reasoning and evidence) into paragraph form.

Here’s an example of a PEAS paragraph in an academic persuasive essay that argues for a soda tax:

A soda tax would also provide more revenue for the federal government, thereby reducing its debt. point Despite Ernest Istook’s concerns about eroding American freedom, the United States has long supported the ability of government to leverage taxes in order to both curb unhealthy lifestyles and add revenue. According to Peter Ubel’s “Would the Founding Fathers Approve of a Sugar Tax?”, in 1791 the US government was heavily in debt and needed stable revenue. In response, the federal government taxed what most people viewed as a “sin” at that time: alcohol. This single tax increased government revenue by at least 20% on average, and in some years more than 40% . The effect was that only the people who really wanted alcohol purchased it, and those who could no longer afford it were getting rid of what they already viewed as a bad habit (Ubel). evidence Just as alcohol (and later, cigarettes) was viewed as a superfluous “sin” in the Early Republic, so today do many health experts and an increasing amount of Americans view sugar as extremely unhealthy, even addictive. If our society accepts taxes on other consumer sins as a way to improve government revenue, a tax on sugar is entirely consistent. analysis We could apply this to the soda tax and try to do something like this to help knock out two problems at once: help people lose their addiction towards soda and help reduce our government’s debt. summary/so what?

The paragraph above was written by a student who was taught the PEAS formula. However, we can see versions of this formula in professional writing. Here’s a more sophisticated example of PEAS, this time from a non-academic article. In Nicholas Carr’s extremely popular article, “ Is Google Making Us Stupid? “, he argues that Google is altering how we think. To prove that broader claim, Carr offers a variety of reasons and evidence. Here’s part of his reasoning:

Thanks to the ubiquity of text on the Internet, not to mention the popularity of text-messaging on cell phones, we may well be reading more today than we did in the 1970s or 1980s, when television was our medium of choice. But it’s a different kind of reading, and behind it lies a different kind of thinking—perhaps even a new sense of the self. point “We are not only  what  we read,” says Maryanne Wolf, a developmental psychologist at Tufts University and the author of  Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain . “We are  how we read.” Wolf worries that the style of reading promoted by the Net, a style that puts “efficiency” and “immediacy” above all else, may be weakening our capacity for the kind of deep reading that emerged when an earlier technology, the printing press, made long and complex works of prose commonplace. When we read online, she says, we tend to become “mere decoders of information.” evidence Our ability to interpret text, to make the rich mental connections that form when we read deeply and without distraction, remains largely disengaged. analysis

This excerpt only contains the first three elements, PEA, and the analysis part is very brief (it’s more like paraphrase), but it shows how professional writers often employ some version of the formula. It tends to appear in persuasive texts written by experienced writers because it reinforces writing techniques mentioned elsewhere in this textbook. A block of text structured according to PEA will practice coherence, because opening with a point (P) forecasts the main idea of that section. Embedding the evidence (E) within a topic sentence and follow-up commentary or analysis (A) is part of the “quote sandwich” strategy we cover in the section on “Writing With Sources.”

Use “they say / i say” strategies for Counterarguments and rebuttals

Another element that’s unique to persuasive essays is embedding a counterargument. Sometimes called naysayers or opposing positions, counterarguments are points of view that challenge our own.

Why embed a naysayer?

Recall above how a helpful strategy for beginning a persuasive essay (the introduction) is to briefly mention a debate—what some writing textbooks call “joining the conversation.” Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein’s They Say / I Say explains why engaging other points of view is so crucial:

Not long ago we attended a talk at an academic conference where the speaker’s central claim seemed to be that a certain sociologist—call him Dr. X—had done very good work in a number of areas of the discipline. The speaker proceeded to illustrate his thesis by referring extensively and in great detail to various books and articles by Dr. X and by quoting long pas-sages from them. The speaker was obviously both learned and impassioned, but as we listened to his talk we found ourselves somewhat puzzled: the argument—that Dr. X’s work was very important—was clear enough, but why did the speaker need to make it in the first place? Did anyone dispute it? Were there commentators in the field who had argued against X’s work or challenged its value? Was the speaker’s interpretation of what X had done somehow novel or revolutionary? Since the speaker gave no hint of an answer to any of these questions, we could only wonder why he was going on and on about X. It was only after the speaker finished and took questions from the audience that we got a clue: in response to one questioner, he referred to several critics who had vigorously questioned Dr. X’s ideas and convinced many sociologists that Dr. X’s work was unsound.

When writing for an academic audience, one of the most important moves a writer can make is to demonstrate how their ideas compare to others. It serves as part of the context. Your essay might be offering a highly original solution to a certain problem you’ve researched the entire semester, but the reader will only understand that if existing arguments are presented in your draft. Or, on the other hand, you might be synthesizing or connecting a variety of opinions in order to arrive at a more comprehensive solution. That’s also fine, but the creativity of your synthesis and its unique contribution to existing research will only be known if those other voices are included.

Aristotelian argumentation embeds counterarguments in order to refute them. Rogerian arguments present oppositional stances in order to synthesize and integrate them. No matter what your strategy is, the essay should be conversational.

Notice how Ana Mari Cauce opens her essay on free speech in higher education, “ Messy but Essential “:

Over the past year or two, issues surrounding the exercise of free speech and expression have come to the forefront at colleges around the country. The common narrative about free speech issues that we so often read goes something like this: today’s college students — overprotected and coddled by parents, poorly educated in high school and exposed to primarily left-leaning faculty — have become soft “snowflakes” who are easily offended by mere words and the slightest of insults, unable or unwilling to tolerate opinions that veer away from some politically correct orthodoxy and unable to engage in hard-hitting debate. counterargument

This is false in so many ways, and even insulting when you consider the reality of students’ experiences today. claim

The introduction to her article is essentially a counteragument (which serves as her introductory context) followed by a response. Embedding naysayers like this can appear anywhere in an essay, not just the introduction. Notice, furthermore, how Cauce’s naysayer isn’t gleaned from any research she did. It’s just a general, trendy naysayer, something one might hear nowadays, in the ether. It shows she’s attuned to an ongoing conversation, but it doesn’t require her to cite anything specific. As the previous chapter on using rhetorical appeals in arguments explained, this kind of attunement with an emerging problem (or exigence) is known as the appeal to kairos . A compelling, engaging introduction will demonstrate that the argument “kairotically” addresses a pressing concern.

Below is a brief overview of what counterarguments are and how you might respond to them in your arguments. This section was developed by Robin Jeffrey, in “ Counterargument and Response “:

Common Types of counterarguments

  • Could someone disagree with your claim?  If so, why? Explain this opposing perspective in your own argument, and then respond to it.
  • Could someone draw a different conclusion from any of the facts or examples you present?  If so, what is that different conclusion? Explain this different conclusion and then respond to it.
  • Could a reader question any of your assumptions or claims?  If so, which ones would they question? Explain and then respond.
  • Could a reader offer a different explanation of an issue?  If so, what might their explanation be? Describe this different explanation, and then respond to it.
  • Is there any evidence out there that could weaken your position?  If so, what is it? Cite and discuss this evidence and then respond to it.

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, that does not necessarily mean that you have a weak argument. It means, ideally and as long as your argument is logical and valid, that you have a counterargument. Good arguments can and do have counterarguments; it is important to discuss them. But you must also discuss and then respond to those counterarguments.

Responding to counterarguments

You do not need to attempt to do all of these things as a way to respond; instead, choose the response strategy that makes the most sense to you, for the counterargument that you have.

  • If you agree with some of the counterargument perspectives, you can concede some of their points. (“I do agree that ….”, “Some of the points made by ____ are valid…..”) You could then challenge the importance/usefulness of those points. “However, this information does not apply to our topic because…”
  • If the counterargument perspective is one that contains different evidence than you have in your own argument, you can explain why a reader should not accept the evidence that the counterarguer presents.
  • If the counterargument perspective is one that contains a different  interpretation of evidence than you have in your own argument, you can explain why a reader should not accept the interpretation of the evidence that that your opponent (counterarguer) presents.
  • If the counterargument is an acknowledgement of evidence that threatens to weaken your argument, you must explain why and how that evidence does not, in fact invalidate your claim.

It is important to use  transitional phrases  in your paper to alert readers when you’re about to present an counterargument. It’s usually best to put this phrase at the beginning of a paragraph such as:

  • Researchers have challenged these claims with…
  • Critics argue that this view…
  • Some readers may point to…
  • A perspective that challenges the idea that . . .

Transitional phrases will again be useful to highlight your shift from counterargument to response:

  • Indeed, some of those points are valid. However, . . .
  • While I agree that . . . , it is more important to consider . . .
  • These are all compelling points. Still, other information suggests that . .
  • While I understand  . . . , I cannot accept the evidence because . . .

Further reading

To read more about the importance of counterarguments in academic writing, read Steven D. Krause’s “ On the Other Hand: The Role of Antithetical Writing in First Year Composition Courses .”

When concluding, address the “so what?” challenge

As Joseph W. Williams mentions in his chapter on concluding persuasive essays in Style ,

a good introduction motivates your readers to keep reading, introduces your key themes, and states your main point … [but] a good conclusion serves a different end: as the last thing your reader reads, it should bring together your point, its significance, and its implications for thinking further about the ideas your explored.

At the very least, a good persuasive conclusion will

  • Summarize the main points
  • Address the So what? or Now what? challenge.

When summarizing the main points of longer essays, Williams suggests it’s fine to use “metadiscourse,” such as, “I have argued that.” If the essay is short enough, however, such metadiscourses may not be necessary, since the reader will already have those ideas fresh in their mind.

After summarizing your essay’s main points, imagine a friendly reader thinking,

“OK, I’m persuaded and entertained by everything you’ve laid out in your essay. But remind me what’s so important about these ideas? What are the implications? What kind of impact do you expect your ideas to have? Do you expect something to change?”

It’s sometimes appropriate to offer brief action points, based on the implications of your essay. When addressing the “So what?” challenge, however, it’s important to first consider whether your essay is primarily targeted towards changing the way people  think  or  act . Do you expect the audience to do something, based on what you’ve argued in your essay? Or, do you expect the audience to think differently? Traditional academic essays tend to propose changes in how the reader thinks more than acts, but your essay may do both.

Finally, Williams suggests that it’s sometimes appropriate to end a persuasive essay with an anecdote, illustrative fact, or key quote that emphasizes the significance of the argument. We can see a good example of this in Carr’s article, “ Is Google Making Us Stupid? ” Here are the introduction and conclusion, side-by-side:

[Introduction]  “Dave, stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Dave. Will you stop, Dave?” So the supercomputer HAL pleads with the implacable astronaut Dave Bowman in a famous and weirdly poignant scene toward the end of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey . Bowman, having nearly been sent to a deep-space death by the malfunctioning machine, is calmly, coldly disconnecting the memory circuits that control its artificial “ brain. “Dave, my mind is going,” HAL says, forlornly. “I can feel it. I can feel it.”

I can feel it, too. Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. …

[Conclusion] I’m haunted by that scene in 2001 . What makes it so poignant, and so weird, is the computer’s emotional response to the disassembly of its mind: its despair as one circuit after another goes dark, its childlike pleading with the astronaut—“I can feel it. I can feel it. I’m afraid”—and its final reversion to what can only be called a state of innocence. HAL’s outpouring of feeling contrasts with the emotionlessness that characterizes the human figures in the film, who go about their business with an almost robotic efficiency. Their thoughts and actions feel scripted, as if they’re following the steps of an algorithm. In the world of 2001 , people have become so machinelike that the most human character turns out to be a machine. That’s the essence of Kubrick’s dark prophecy: as we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence.

Instead of merely rehashing all of the article’s main points, Carr returns to the same movie scene from 2001  that he opened with. The final lines interpret the scene according to the argument he just dedicated the entire essay to presenting.

The entire essay should use rhetorical appeals strategically

The chapter “ Persuasive Appeals ” introduces students to logos, pathos, ethos, and kairos. Becoming familiar with each of those persuasive appeals can add much to an essay. It also reinforces the idea that writing argumentative essays is not a straightforward process of jotting down proofs. It’s not a computer algorithm.

  • Logos (appeals to evidence and reasoning) is the foundational appeal of an argument essay. Clearly identifying the claim, then supporting that claim with reasoning and evidence will appeal to the reader’s logos demands. As the previous chapter on argumentation mentions, however, what constitutes solid evidence will vary depending on the audience. Make sure your evidence is indeed convincing to your intended reader.
  • Pathos (appeals to emotion) are a crucial component and should permeate should every section of the essay. Personal anecdotes are an effective way to illustrate important ideas, and they connect with the reader at an emotional level. Personal examples also cultivate  voice .
  • Ethos (appeals to character, image, and values) is essential to gaining the reader’s trust and assent. The tone of your essay (snarky, sincere, ironic, sarcastic, empathetic) is immensely important for its overall effect, and it helps build the reader’s image of you. A careful attention to high-quality research reinforces a sincere and empathetic tone. When supporting certain claims and sub-claims, it’s also important to identify implied beliefs (warrants) that your reader is most likely to agree with, and to undermine beliefs that might seem repugnant.
  • Kairos (appeals to timeliness) impresses the reader with your attunement to the situation. This should be practiced especially in the introduction, but it can appear throughout the essay as you engage with research and other voices that have recently weighed in on the topic.

All of these appeals are already happening, whether or not they’re recognized. If they are missed, the audience will often use them against you, judging your essay as not being personable enough (pathos), or not in touch with commonly accepted values (ethos), or out of touch with what’s going on (kairos). These non-logical appeals aren’t irrational. They are crucial components to writing that matters.

Argument Outline Exercise

To get started on your argument essay, practice adopting from of the outlines from this Persuasive Essay Outline worksheet .

Write What Matters Copyright © 2020 by Joel Gladd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Persuasive Essays – Tips & Examples of How to Write Them

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A persuasive essay, which is a significant aspect of the academic essay , is a concise piece of writing, typically ranging from 500 to 2000 words, that advocates for a particular viewpoint. Rather than deconstructing, attacking, or refuting another argument, persuasive essays passionately argue to inform and convince readers that their expressed opinion is the most valid. Within the realm of academic writing , persuasive essays serve as a powerful tool to influence and shape the opinions of the readers.


  • 1 Persuasive Essays – In a Nutshell
  • 2 Definition: Persuasive essays
  • 3 Persuasive essays: The introduction
  • 4 Persuasive Essays: The body
  • 5 Persuasive essays: The conclusion
  • 6 The three elements of persuasive essays
  • 7 Writing persuasive essays: Step-by-step guide

Persuasive Essays – In a Nutshell

The following article on persuasive essays covers:

  • What persuasive essays are
  • What makes a persuasive essay great
  • How persuasive essays are structured
  • Persuasive essay examples
  • The three Aristotelian themes of persuasive essays
  • How to write a persuasive essay step by step

Definition: Persuasive essays

  • Persuasive essays always cover subjective themes . With any topic under intense debate, an effective persuasive essay can succinctly argue a particular viewpoint by presenting the facts (as the author sees them).
  • Decent persuasive essays are more than just a bland ledger of factual statements. A great persuasive essay relies on three core rhetorical tools – Ethos (authoritarian appeal), pathos (emotional appeal), and logos (logical appeal). These themed elements flow together in prose to appeal to all biases.
  • The open-ended applications of persuasive essays are immense. A quality persuasive essay can argue the merits of brand-new, fresh perspectives just as easily as defending a centuries-old status quo. It’s your choice.
  • Nevertheless, persuasive essays aren’t always the best way to frame written debates. More in-depth topical explorations and scientific (objective) studies might benefit more from segmented projects or long-form articles.


Persuasive essays: The introduction

A good introduction establishes your controversy, the broad limits of said debate, and which side of the divide you (personally) fall on. It should also briefly explain why your chosen material is relevant (today) and use “hooks” to convince your reader to care.

You can structure your introduction with these rhetorical questions :

Here’s a short (fictional) example for reference.

Cosmic Voyage: The Second One (1987-2002) is often considered the best weekly sci-fi show ever made for American television. The Byronic Captain Jimmy Blorbo charmed viewers with his debonaire yet diplomatic engagement style, bare-knuckle astronaut action, and trademark love of teatime.

Jimmy’s classically-trained actor, Sir Charles Casserole, is now (somehow) in the running to be the next secretary general of the UN. His nomination has been publically controversial, derided as “unserious” by world leaders. Can actors really embody the traits of those they pretend to be?

I think so. Heroic actors have exemplary people skills and commanding charisma – vital strengths for a public speaker. And playing a great leader on screen can easily translate into real-life political success. Here’s why.

Persuasive Essays: The body

The body of your persuasive essay is where you make your main argument in themed paragraphs. It’s the core of your persuasive essay.

The body consists of a series of points that provide evidence for your central assertion (e.g. heroic actors make excellent politicians). When used skillfully, the body can also house themed threads and subtle appeals to positive emotions (e.g. nostalgia, enthusiasm, happiness).

You can use the simple TEEL method to structure each paragraph in your persuasive essays:

  • Topic – A single sentence summarizing a good supporting point.
  • Explanation – Elaborate on why it’s a good point.
  • Evidence – Provide solid proof as to why the point’s true.
  • Link – Reference your core argument or the next paragraph (or both).

If we applied TEEL to the argument above, parts of a paragraph might look like this:

  • Topic Sentance – Despite his seemingly frivolous background, Casserole commands a positive online fandom who draw on his life lessons and nuanced geopolitical opinions.
  • Explanation – Charles has become a committed advocate for global peace, justice, and fairness. Followers consistently praise his well-measured yet empathetic responses to traumatic current events.
  • Evidence – One recent solidarity post he made contained only his characters’ iconic catchphrase, “Injustice: No Thanks!”. It broke all records for social media with over twenty million “likes”.
  • Link – Charles clearly has a deep well of public respect, recognition, and acclaim for his informal, populist, and often unconventional diplomacy.

The body can also refute counterarguments. However, try to keep your defensive writing brief. Solid persuasive essays avoid spending too much time anticipating criticism or better ideas – you’re making a positive, firm statement about your opinion.

Don’t deviate much, either. You don’t need to state the context of every point you mention. Stick to the present tense wherever you can.

Persuasive essays: The conclusion

Your conclusion briefly restates your core themes, context, and the most relevant points before summarizing why the argument you’ve just made is correct.

It should contain a recap threading all your evidence together and a final statement as to why the reader should adopt your opinion. It’s also an excellent place to make your “golden” point. Finish on a positive note by promoting the very best piece of evidence for your views.

Your final lines should be climatic, strong, simple, clear, and decisive. No one enjoys reading a passionate argument that finishes by hedging or “fence-sitting”.

Here’s another (fictional) example:

Casserole has leveraged decades of well-deserved fame, taking lessons from his most famous role to promote a stuffed, informed platform for ethical, positive change. As a result? Charles already boasts an extraordinary +60 worldwide approval rating (RESGOV, Dec. 2022).

With an appreciative audience of billions, an uncanny knack for predicting the “right side of history”, and a lot of ready-made, crowd-pleasing press, the idealistic Voyage ethos he still embodies is more than ready to go global. Justice? Yes, please.

The three elements of persuasive essays

The Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle identified three rhetorical elements at the heart of every great persuasive argument. The ability to appeal well to people’s sense of authority (ethos), emotions (pathos), and reality (logos) can make or break a persuasive essay.

Ethos is general proof that you know your topic. Your life experience, reading, qualifications, sheer interest, essays, work, and reputation count – when cited appropriately and effectively.

Beware! An authoritative ethos alone isn’t enough to fully justify your opinion. Excellent credentials count for nothing if your fundamental topical understanding is poor or based on fiction.

Pathos is an appeal to the readers’ sense of empathy and emotion. It’s central to making an ethical case as to why it’s good that readers should do, say, or believe in something.

Pathos can also invoke positive connections as a form of persuasion. Readers value evidence that what you’re advocating is linked to emotional memories they like and value.

Logos covers the practical, logical, and objective evidence that backs up your argument. Reasoned theories, factual proof, measured data, and anecdotal evidence fall into this category.

Without provable, coherent logos? Your persuasive essays will collapse under close academic scrutiny. Facts put validity and strength behind your words.

Writing persuasive essays: Step-by-step guide

  • Identify your audience – Who is your work to convince?
  • Research your subject – Examine arguments and pick a side.
  • Draft your points – Select the best available evidence.
  • Build your case – Link useful facts, data, and anecdotes.
  • Anticipate counterarguments – Are there any objections?
  • Write and refine – Fine-tune your finished argument.
  • Call to action – Tell your reader what they should do.

What are persuasive essays?

Persuasive Essays are short-form written pieces that make a positive, evidenced case for one side of a particular argument. A persuasive essay can also introduce brand-new perspectives.

Why are persuasive essays written?

Convincing others to think like you is the foundation of all power. Well-written persuasive essays can sell controversial products, public figures, policies, and projects.

Are persuasive essays always accurate?

No – watch out! A talented author can fake logos by using circular reasoning, “common sense”, emotional blackmail, and repeating the opinions of others.

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How to Write a Persuasive Essay

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A persuasive essay is a type of academic writing where the author presents an argument and tries to convince the reader to adopt their point of view or take a specific action. The goal of a persuasive essay is to persuade or sway the reader's opinion through logical reasoning, evidence, and compelling arguments.

The question of how to write a persuasive essay is often asked by high school or college students. But it is not a secret that the skill of creating a solid persuasive argument is vital not only for students. The ability to form your strong opinion is a very useful instrument to have in life. A person who masters the art of persuading people will be able to build a successful career in any field and build effective relationships. Our academic experts decided to assist you in understanding the importance of this type of academic writing by sharing effective tips on writing an effective persuasive essay, providing examples, general structure, and more. So keep reading and find out everything you should know about persuasive paper.

What Is a Persuasive Essay: Definition

"I think the power of persuasion will be the greatest superpower of all time.” Jenny Mollen  

It does not matter whether you know who Jenny Mollen is or not – she was right when saying it. It is time to provide a clear definition of what is a persuasive essay. It is an academic type of paper, which contains an explanation of a specific topic and tries to convince readers of an author’s truth presenting it as the most biased and competitive point of view. It contains a logical & valid perspective on the problem. Professional Tip:

“People often confuse persuasive writing with argumentative one. The main difference is that an author of an argumentative paper should take a certain position regarding chosen topic while an author of another type of paper should also persuade the target audience, his argument is the dogma. In both cases, authors should respect opposing views. No matter what selected topic/research problem is, a student should conduct extensive research outside of class to succeed.” Prof. Jeremy Walsh, college teacher of Religious Studies & online writer at StudyCrumb

Unlike a position paper , the primary purpose of a persuasive essay is to make people take the same point of view regarding a specific topic. Without credible, relevant evidence, author’s points will not sound strong enough to ensure an audience. Keep on reading to understand structure and explore exciting persuasive essay college examples!

Elements of a Persuasive Essay

Before we get to guidelines and structure of an essay , it is important to mention what are the three main elements of a persuasive essay. First of all, these are foundation of every effective argument, invented by philosopher Aristotle. The goal of these traditional modes of persuasion is building logical arguments and making your audience more likely to trust them. Let’s look at them in more detail.

  • Ethos It is an element that will help you “sell” your point of view. Through this element, a speaker or writer appeals to ethics. They use words and knowledge for building trustworthiness. They persuade their audience of their credibility, character or intelligence. In this way, the public is more likely to believe arguments made.
  • Pathos This element helps you evoke feelings of your readers. Through this element, a speaker or writer appeals to emotions. To make your argument more convincing, you should trigger compassion, joy, sadness, anger, or any other kind of emotion.
  • Logos Through this element, a speaker or writer appeals to logic. Logos will help your readers focus on rational and reasonable validity of your argument.

Persuasive Essay Structure

Do you want to understand how to structure a persuasive essay in detail? Then you should read the next information carefully. A successful writing of a persuasive essay requires a thorough understanding of the fundamentals of this type of paper. You should not only understand your topic and provide good arguments but also know how to structure your thoughts properly. We will help you with that. This guide will explain the fundamentals and major elements of this type of work. So follow the approach we presented below and your persuasive text will stand out from the crowd.

Persuasive Essay Structure

If it get's too challenging, submit your persuasive essay details and pay for professional essay writing at StudyCrumb. Our academic gurus will compose a wonderful essay based on your needs while you are spending time on more important things. 

How to Write a Persuasive Essay Introduction Paragraph

Persuasive Essay Introduction Paragraph

Wonder how to start a persuasive essay ? It is an example of an excellent introduction. An answer to question of how to be persuasive in writing starts with a good persuasive intro. An introduction to this type of academic writing has 2 primary purposes:

  • Attract reader’s attention from opening lines.
  • Present your topic and reveal goals of writing.

Stay subtle if you want to succeed in your persuasive writing. Identify the topic, purposes, main messages, sources, and target audience before developing an outline and start working on the introduction.

Writing a Persuasive Essay Thesis

Conclude an introduction paragraph with the powerful thesis for persuasive essay. It is a sentence or two that stresses the main idea of your whole paper, which is author’s primary argument to persuade the audience. Let’s look at the example:

“Darth Vader from famous George Lucas “Star Wars” was not a real antagonist as he had to survive death of close people, betrayal, and hard political times in his galaxy.”

With a good thesis statement your persuasive essay writing is more likely to impress your audience.

How to Create a Persuasive Essay Body Paragraph

Once you have stated your thesis, the final sentence of your introduction paragraph, do everything possible to defend your idea. Develop 3 strong persuasive arguments that will support your opinion. Every new body paragraph starts with primary idea. It is followed by in-text citations and evidence gathered from primary sources. Before writing each persuasive body paragraph, conduct in-depth research and select the most up-to-date, accurate, and credible facts from sources like books, magazines, newspapers, websites, documentaries, etc. Do not use Wikipedia or similar sources. Teachers do not grade them as anyone can edit those websites. Any website where answers provided to necessary questions are shared by some typical Internet users who are not field experts does not count. In general, structure of body paragraphs looks this way:  

  • Main claim/argument.
  • In-text citations & other evidence.
  • Transition to the following paragraph.

How to Write Persuasive Essay Conclusion Paragraph

Many students underestimate the power of conclusion. An introduction should grab reader’s attention, but a conclusion should leave a positive impression on your reader and make your writing successful. Here we will explain persuasive conclusion paragraph structure. We also advise our users to look at different  essay conclusion examples . Begin with the short overview of the arguments and corresponding evidence. Reword the thesis statement, which closes the opening paragraph to stress the importance of everything written in your persuasive paper. Do not make a conclusion of more than 5 sentences. Avoid inserting new arguments or evidence in the last paragraph. The only new thing the author can add is his forecast for the future/the way the researched problem may be implemented in the real world. To persuade the reader or encourage him in ongoing research, call him sign a petition/join a support group if you write a debatable speech on politics, for example. Quote all the cited sources properly after the conclusion. The list is called Bibliography or References/Works Cited.  

How to Write a Persuasive Essay: 8 Simple Steps

Step 1:  Choose one of the persuasive essay topics that interests you the most. If you have a strong opinion about something, feel free to talk about it in your persuasive essay. This will not only be interesting to you but also make your readers believe in what you say. Browse our topics for a position paper , they can help you with some fresh ideas. Step 2: Research the question from both sides. Obviously, you should know everything about the issue you are for, but not less important to know the side you are against. To make the reader believe you and take your side you should know the arguments you're trying to convince them against. Step 3: Look for some credible sources. Then read the information carefully and make notes in order to use them later in your paper. Step 4: After you have analyzed all sources, create an outline for your essay. A persuasive essay outline will help you put your thoughts in order and organize your arguments. Create logical connections between your evidence and arguments to make the writing process easier. Step 5: Create the attention-grabbing hook for your persuasive essay to intrigue the reader. Include your hook to your strong introduction paragraph. Capture your audience's attention by including the essential background information in your introduction. Step 6: Write your body paragraphs. Try to keep a logical sequence of your arguments by presenting your evidence consecutively, from the weakest reason to the strongest. Step 7: Write a conclusion. Summarize all the main points you talked about in your essay and restate your thesis. Include a call to action. Step 8: Proofread and edit your text. Read it out loud and correct all the grammar mistakes and typos. You can also give your essay to your friend, they can see it from a different angle. Check if the sentence structure is correct. Delete unnecessary words and parts of sentences. Here’s how a template of a persuasive essay on gun control will look. Take a glimpse to get a better idea or simply use StudyCrumb's college essay writing service at once.  

Template of a persuasive essay on gun control

>> Learn more: How to Write a Good Essay

Persuasive Essay Examples: Free Sample to Help on Your Way

To make you understand the topic even better, we have prepared one of the great persuasive essay examples that will give you an overall idea. Feel free to download the available materials or use a sample attached below as a source for inspiration. We hope that this reference will help you organize your thoughts and create an outstanding essay!


Persuasive Essay Format

Another thing you should keep in mind is persuasive paper format. It is important to check formatting once you are done. It includes both in-text citations (direct/indirect) & references. A student must check the way each type of source is cited and references before inserting a new entry in Bibliography . The format for persuasive essay will depend on teacher's guidelines. Review your assignment thoroughly. Pay attention to specifics like a word count, spacing, font and alignment. Anyway, if you don’t know proper formatting, here we provided the general guidelines for essay format:  

Word count:  around 500 words. Fonts: Times New Roman, 12-point. A 16-point font is suitable for the title for your essay, unless you specify otherwise. Arial as well as Georgia fonts are also appropriate in essay writing, too. Spacing: Double-spaced. 1.5 works as well. Alignment: justified.  

Persuasive Writing Tips: Main Points

The points listed below stress an important role of a proper persuasive essay writing.

  • Begin with a clear thesis/controlling point. Establish the focus of writing (place it in the last sentence of an introduction).
  • Introduce thesis after brief introduction with hook sentence coming first. Make sure you know how to write a hook in an essay .
  • Develop body paragraphs based on in-depth research. Provide either narrative/descriptive or argumentative points.
  • Do not forget to add persuasive transition words & phrases. Relate points and make the entire flow of your text smooth.
  • Insert counterarguments and present and reject opposing opinions.
  • A conclusion should enhance central idea. Do not make it repetitive!

Writing a Persuasive Essay: Bottom Line

We've created our concise guide that will help you with your persuasive essay writing. Hope with our tips, examples and a general structure you will know how to write a compelling persuasive essay and improve your skills of convincing your audience in written form. Buy a persuasive essay if you just need the result without any hassle. 


Hire proficient academic writers with the degrees from the top universities in the US and have your perrsuasive paper completed by an expert!  

How to Write a Persuasive Essay: Frequently Asked Questions

1. how long should a persuasive essay be.

Persuasive essays have no paragraph limits. However, a general word count will depend on whether you are middle school, high school or college student. Anyway, try not to exceed 500 word limit. Keep it shorter but emphasize your most relevant information.

2. How are a persuasive essay and an expository essay different?

The difference between persuasive and expository essays is in their purpose. Goal of expository writing is informing your reader or explaining something. It should shed light on some topic so readers understand what it is about. On the other hand, persuasive writing aims to persuade and convince others.

3. Which three strategies are elements of a persuasive essay?

A formal persuasive essay includes three strategies: issue, side, and argument.

  • Issue is what your essay is about. Include an issue in your title.
  • Side (Thesis) means which side of an issue (“for” or “against”) you believe in your essay.
  • Argument is where you are proving your side and convince readers using your arguments and evidence.


Daniel Howard is an Essay Writing guru. He helps students create essays that will strike a chord with the readers.


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Choose a topic that you feel passionate about. If your instructor requires you to write about a specific topic, approach the subject from an angle that interests you. Begin your essay with an engaging introduction. Your thesis should typically appear near the end of your introduction.

Make your appeals in support of your thesis by using sound, credible evidence. Use a balance of facts and opinions from a wide range of sources, such as scientific studies, expert testimony, statistics, and personal anecdotes. Each piece of evidence should be fully explained and clearly stated.

Acknowledge and explain points of view that may conflict with your own to build credibility and trust with your audience. Also state the limits of your argument. This, too, helps you sound more reasonable and honest to those who may naturally be inclined to disagree with your view. By respectfully acknowledging opposing arguments and conceding limitations to your own view, you set a measured and responsible tone for the essay.

Make sure that your style and tone are appropriate for your subject and audience. Tailor your language and word choice to these two factors, while still being true to your own voice.

Finally, write a conclusion that effectively summarizes the main argument and reinforces your thesis.

key takeaways

  • The purpose of persuasion in writing is to convince or move readers toward a certain point of view, or opinion.
  • An argument is a reasoned opinion supported and explained by evidence. To argue, in writing, is to advance knowledge and ideas in a positive way.
  • A thesis that expresses the opinion of the writer in more specific terms is better than one that is vague.
  • It is essential that you not only address counterarguments but also do so respectfully.
  • It is also helpful to establish the limits of your argument and what you are trying to accomplish through a concession statement.
  • To persuade a skeptical audience, you will need to use a wide range of evidence from credible sources. Scientific studies, opinions from experts, historical precedent, statistics, personal anecdotes, and current events are all types of evidence that you might use in explaining your point.
  • Make sure that your word choice and writing style is appropriate for both your subject and your audience.
  • You should let your reader know your bias, but do not let that bias blind you to the primary components of good argumentation: sound, thoughtful evidence and respectfully and reasonably addressing opposing ideas.
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persuasive essay about academic honesty

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Sample Essay- "The Real Meaning of Honesty"


(Sample Definition Essay)

I think it was my mother who taught me the meaning of honesty. Not because she actually was honest, but because she lied all the time. She felt that the easiest way out of any given situation was generally the best way out. And, for her, that generally meant telling a “little white lie.” As a young child I thought it was kind of cool. And, naturally, when I would come to her with a concern or question wondering what I should do, she generally advised me to lie.

“Mom, I told Theresa that I would go over to her house, but now I would rather go to Sue’s house to play.”

“Tell Theresa you’re sick,” she would advise. And generally I did. But I didn’t seem blessed with her lack of conscience. On many painful occasions Theresa would find out that I really went to Sue’s house without her. These occasions taught me that it is more painful to be caught in a lie than it is to tell the truth in the first place. I wondered how it was possible that my mother had never learned that lesson.

I started thinking of all the lies that I’d heard her tell. I remembered the time she told someone that her favorite restaurant had closed, because she didn’t want to see them there anymore. Or the time she told Dad that she loved the lawn-mower he gave her for her birthday. Or when she claimed that our phone lines had been down when she was trying to explain why she hadn’t been in touch with a friend of hers for weeks. And what bothered me even more were all the times she had incorporated me into her lies. Like the time she told my guidance counselor that I had to miss school for exploratory surgery, when she really needed me to babysit. And it even started to bother me when someone would call for her and she would ask me to tell them that she wasn’t there.

So, I started my own personal fight against her dishonesty. When I answered the phone and it was someone my mother didn’t want to talk to, I said, “Louise, mom is here, but she doesn’t want to talk to you.” The first time I did it, I think she grounded me, but I refused to apologize. I told her that I had decided that it was wrong to lie. And the next time it happened I did the same thing. Finally, she approached me and said, “I agree that lying is not the best thing to do, but we need to find a way to be honest without being rude.” She admitted that her methods weren’t right, and I admitted that mine were a bit too extreme.

Over the past few years, the two of us have worked together to be honest- and yet kind. Honesty should mean more than not lying. It should mean speaking the truth in kindness. Though I started by trying to teach my mom the importance of honesty, I ended up gaining a deeper understanding of the meaning of the term.

  • What is the term that the speaker is trying to define?
  • Did someone teach her the meaning of the term, or did she really learn from her own experience?
  • Is the term defined here presented with more complex reasoning than a dictionary definition

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Using Sources, Avoiding Plagiarism, and Academic Honesty

A key expectation of academic work is that what you submit is your own, and that you appropriately source words and ideas that are not your own. Since academic writing involves building on the ideas of others, knowing how to integrate that material with your own thinking is a fundamental skill for success. Writers who simply haven’t practiced that skill may find themselves submitting papers with unintentional plagiarism (which is by far the most common). The resources below explain what plagiarism is, and how to avoid it through careful use of source material, rhetoric, and citations. Please feel free to email us with any thoughts or suggestions!

What is Plagiarism?

Put simply, plagiarism is when you claim the words or ideas of others as your own. Since all work you submit during an academic program is presumed to be yours, even leaving out a citation can lead to unintentional plagiarism. Avoiding plagiarism means knowing how to integrate sources correctly into your writing, understanding the rules of the style guide you’re using, and having a big-picture understanding of academic honesty: the “why” behind all those seemingly arbitrary rules.

  • Antioch University Plagiarism Policy

Integrating Sources

Any time you use someone else’s words or ideas (which you do in most academic papers), you need to be careful to track them through your research and drafting phases, attribute them in your writing phases, and ensure they are correctly cited during your final polishing phases. Integrating sources well starts with research–taking good notes, actively synthesizing as you read, and making sure you put other people’s words in quotes in your notes are all ways to avoid accidental plagiarism down the line. As you start to write, you’ll want to use quotations, paraphrases, and syntheses to describe other people’s ideas. Each integrates sources in a different way, and academic writers need to know how to do all three, and when each is appropriate. As you finish your paper, you need to able to include citations in a consistent and appropriate format so that readers of your work can locate the source you used for a given idea. In academic writing, it is expected that your work fits into an ongoing conversation; citing your sources helps your readers know who contributed before you, and how you used their ideas. Reading and Doing Research

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Style and Citations

Regardless of your field and specialty, you can rest assured that you will need to cite your sources and abide by the rules of a style guide. These resources focus on helping you manage those expectations, especially around the particulars of things like APA style.

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Other Resources:

  • Visit the American Psychological Association website for updated information regarding APA style and formatting guidelines for writing in the psychology and social sciences.
  • Visit the Modern Language Association website for updated information regarding MLA style and formatting guidelines for writing in the humanities.

  Academic Honesty

Part of academic writing is also managing your time and working sufficiently in advance to do your work well. If you are working at the last minute or find yourself committed, you may find yourself tempted to leave out a citation, to appropriate a quote, or even to copy and paste text from a source without attribution. While everyone understands the desperation that can lead to academic dishonesty, the choice to engage in intentional plagiarism is a serious breach of conduct with serious consequences. In an academic program, it can lead to your being put on academic probation or kicked out of the University. Beyond student writing, plagiarism can cause you to lose all credibility in your field and destroy your academic or professional career.

Healthy Approaches to Plagiarism: A Collaborative Response

Dorothy Capers,  AUS PsyD Student & Anne Maxham, Ph.D., Director of Writing Support   Plagiarism today goes beyond the flagrant taking of another’s piece of writing and turning it as your own. With the internet, facile copying and pasting of others’ words can wreak havoc on your academic integrity.

Caveat Scriptor!

(Writer Beware!)

Overview: Plagiarism is fundamentally the act of taking others’ words and using them as your own. The range of what identifies as plagiarism is complex: it may be intentional or unintentional; it may be in the form of paraphrases without citing the source, or word for word (seven or more words in sequence from the original source); or padding your writing with longer passages without citations. Being charged with “academic dishonesty” or “plagiarism” is a gut-wrenching experience that no student wants to risk. The impact of being questioned about your authenticity can result in losing confidence as a writer and even have you doubt your purpose in studying at the university. Beyond the emotional effects, other consequences can be dire, and sometimes result in failing the class, being put on academic probation, and worst of all expulsion from the university. All writers need to take precautions and make efforts to ensure that your writing is “all yours” and that you properly cite others’ words and ideas. One scenario of why it can happen to anyone: Many of us now compose directly on the computer and frequently have multiple documents opened at any given time. We “read” to find information to use in our writing. Frequently, we jump from online articles to our own document, copying and pasting material. At times, we’re writing papers with quick deadlines, and we might rush through this all-important step of first understanding the article content. Rather than fully “digesting texts,” we read for important information and key points to include in the paper. Our notes become lifted passages from texts rather than summarizing in our own words. We research and read for “context” rather than the “content”; that is, we read to finish our writing rather than fully understanding the topic or content. What you can do: To avoid unintentional plagiarism, stop long enough in your reading to think about what the author is saying. Put it in your own words. There’s an inherent danger in copying text and pasting into your own notes. And in doing so, writers can naively create a “fertile environment” for plagiarism to occur.  And it happens not just in academia. Take a look at what happened to well-known authors, and the consequences can ruin a career. Or musicians and the long lawsuits that follow. Remember, James Frey and the scandal after Oprah had selected his Million Little Pieces as one of her “reads”? Oprah felt betrayed and used. Her anger was palpable when she publicly lambasted him in her program: And recently, Neil Gorsuch was accused of plagiarizing parts of his book: So, we’ve developed this resource to help students take proactive measures to be academically honest. Before we move into the nitty gritty, we have some fundamentals:

  • First, create a “working bibliography” of your resources. Put a number or a letter next to each and use that notation next to your quotes & paraphrases. That way, the sources for all quotes/paraphrases are identified.
  • Cite all direct quotes, paraphrases, statistics, and unique ideas. Take the extra time to put quotation marks around words that are not yours. And don’t forget to post the page number of all direct quotes.
  • direct quotes = citation
  • paraphrases = citation
  • statistics = citation
  • unique concepts = citation
  • when in doubt = citation
  • If you’re not sure, you should seek writing support with your writing center or the VWC.

The Academic Conversation For those who want to write original work, learning how to enter the academic conversation is fundamental. While the academy is a place for active debate, most of us read materials given to us as passive “voyeurs” of a text. Of course, this is saying something about the implicit/explicit power dynamic between the faculty member and the student. Do we read to highlight what we think the faculty member wants us to read? Or do we read to wrestle with ideas? Frankly, given the reality that most of us read multiple texts each week, we’re lucky if we “digest” even one text.  The fact that most of us read – or submit a text— seldom questioning its content, style, or the intent of the author shows that we may be disempowered in the academic enterprise. Many students don’t realize that writing forces a reader to “digest” the material and to summarize as well as validate assertions by referring to the experts. So, active reading is essential in bringing the reader into the discourse. Since there are deep and multiple connections between reading and writing, we all need to learn and use strategies of active, critical reading (See the VWC Resources: “ Active Reading Strategies” and “ Critical Reading Exercises” )

If we think about academic reading and writing as a conversation, students have to carry the researchers forward in the conversation, even those with opposing views. Writing a paper is entering the conversation in an attempt to inform the reader of your unique learning through summarizing, paraphrasing, and citing other researchers. Ways to ensure Academic Authenticity: Validating that your writing is authentically yours and accurately reflecting your understanding of the topic begins early in your writing process.  Before writing, verify that you understand the assignment. Ask questions and request examples from the faculty member. Remember, what your instructors wants in an assignment is most important for your success. If you don’t understand, ask classmates and go to the writing center for additional support. Taking Notes: Take “real notes”: Don’t just lift full lines or passages from your reading. Be sure to write all notes in your own words, or put quotes around texts. If you’ve paraphrased, you still need to cite. So, put ( ) and the author, date, pg number. Defining the goals of your literature review will guide both your reading and your note-taking.   Peg Single Boyle, author of Demystifying Dissertation Writing (2009), offers a clear approach to “Citable Notetaking”:

  • Pre-read your articles before taking notes
  • Keep track of what’s summarized, paraphrased, or quoted.
  • Choose  consistent formats for your notes. For example: If more than one article set up a spreadsheet to identify authors, article theme and quotes and paraphrases. This will help with putting your outline together when you start to write  (p 55-78).

The Virtual Writing Center has other resources available at the top of this page to help guide you to academic success. Tutorials: Want to see how much you know or don’t know about plagiarism? Spend a productive hour watching the tutorials and then take the “Certification Test” at the Indiana University resource: Tutorial: Test: Finally: As a member of a discipline, you’re responsible to learn the style sheet of your field of practice (APA, Chicago, MLA, etc.).  Use online resources and manuals relevant to your field. If you’re unclear, seek help and work one-one with Mentor/VWC.  If you want professional help, go to the AU Writers’ Exchange (  Also review this handy checklist for APA Style that was designed for writers to refer to prior to submitting their papers. Writing support is designed to help students. With friendly student peer consultants, you may talk about your writing and get the support you need. You’re not alone.    References Boyle, P.S. (2009).  Demystifying dissertation writing. Stylus Pub: New York.

Resources for Faculty

  • Responding to Plagiarism
  • Plagiarism Checklist for Faculty

Academic Resources: Bronwyn T. Williams (2008). Trust, betrayal, and authorship: Plagiarism and how we perceive students.   Journal of Adolescent and and Adult Literacy 51 :4, 350 – 354. Abstract: Emotional responses to plagiarism are rarely addressed in professional literature that focuses on ethics and good teaching practices. Yet, the emotions that are unleashed by cases of plagiarism, or suspicions of plagiarism, influence how we perceive our students and how we approach teaching them. Such responses have been complicated by online plagiarism-detection services that emphasize surveillance and detection. My opposition to such plagiarism software services grows from the conviction that if we use them we are not only poisoning classroom relationships, but also we are missing important opportunities for teaching.

Howard, R., & Robillard, A. (2008). Pluralizing plagiarism : Identities, contexts, pedagogies . Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook. Pluralizing Plagiarism offers multiple answers to this question — answers that insist on taking into account the rhetorical situations in which plagiarism occurs. While most scholarly publications on plagiarism mirror mass media’s attempts to reduce the issue to simple black-and-white statements, the contributors to Pluralizing Plagiarism recognize that it takes place not in universalized realms of good and bad, but in specific contexts in which students’ cultural backgrounds often play a role. Teachers concerned about plagiarism can best address the issue in the classroom — especially the first-year composition classroom — as part of writing pedagogy and not just as a matter for punishment and prohibition. . . “–Back cover.

Price, M. (2002). Beyond “Gotcha!”: Situating plagiarism in policy and pedagogy. College Composition and Communication, 54 (1), 88-115 Abstract:Plagiarism is difficult, if not impossible, to define. In this paper, I argue for a context-sensitive understanding of plagiarism by analyzing a set of written institutional policies and suggesting ways that they might be revised. In closing, I offer examples of classroom practices to help teach a concept of plagiarism as situated in context.

persuasive essay about academic honesty

  • Arts & Humanities

What Is Academic Honesty?

29 Oct 2022

  • Arts & Humanities

Format: APA

Academic level: College

Paper type: Essay (Any Type)

Downloads: 0

Academic honesty refers to upholding as well as showing the highest degree of reliability together with integrity in every academic task that any individual undertakes. Academic honesty means not cheating or presenting another individual's scholarly work, but doing your job (Stepchyshyn, 2007) . The following are the most common practices that most learning institutions consider to be academic dishonesty; deception, cheating, plagiarism, and fabrication. Plagiarism is the production and the adoption of the original intellectual work like ideas, expressions, concepts, methods or any other piece of work without any acknowledgment. 

Academic honesty is an essential goal because apart from the severe consequences associated with it, academic honesty means that other people can trust you. The individuals you interact with can know they can depend on you to act in an honest manner (Stepchyshyn, 2007) . When individuals can believe that the person will do the right thing, they will learn to trust you. Academic honesty also improves the personal integrity of the person by offering value to his or her literary work. It also provides peace of mind to an individual knowing that they are doing the proper thing. According to Whitley(2010), some of the factors that result in plagiarism include; performance anxiety, excuse making, peer pressure, lack of a proper understanding of the consequences and absence of the ability to manage the instructions of academic work. 

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Plagiarism whether intentional or unintentional it is considered academic dishonesty and the consequences are the same. According to (Bailey, 2017) , a reporter called Nic Cavell was fired by WIRED over alleged plagiarism; this was brought to light after freelance reporter Christina Larson from China asked Adam Rodgers of WIRED compensation for what she considered her work. The company opened an investigation into the allegations, and the findings were clear that the reporter had plagiarized the work of another reporter; this led to the termination of his contract by a WIRED media company. 


Bailey, J. (2016, February 24). Top Ten Plagiarism Caes of the year 2016. The Washington Post . 

Stepchyshyn, V. (2008). Library Policies on plagiarism. Association of College and Research , Pp. 66. 

Whitley, K.-S. (2010). Contributing factors for academic dishonesty. Journal on Academic Integrity , 11-19. 

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Home — Essay Samples — Sociology — Society — Honesty: A Virtue of Integrity and Moral Courage


Honesty: a Virtue of Integrity and Moral Courage

  • Categories: Ethics Society

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Published: Mar 16, 2024

Words: 682 | Page: 1 | 4 min read

Table of contents

Defining honesty, the significance of honesty, challenges and benefits of practicing honesty.

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persuasive essay about academic honesty

Academic Honesty: Definition and Importance

Importance of academic honesty, viewpoints of students and faculty, causes of academic dishonesty, strategies to ensure academic honesty.


Educational institutions are the places where students are taught to build their values, moral integrity, and strength of character. As such it is very important that academic honesty is inculcated in them through rules, regulations, and guidelines. Academic honesty has become the focus of discussion among educators in recent times due to increased possibilities of cheating, making use of new technology such as the Internet and wireless.

Academic honesty is ensuring a moral code of behavior in the educational context. Academic dishonesty is a widely prevalent problem. According to a study by McCabe and Trevino (1993), based on 6,096 undergraduate students from 31 colleges in the United States, almost 75% of the students admitted to engaging in some form of academically dishonest activity during their college days; about 50% confessed to cheating in examinations or indulging in plagiarism, and slightly more than 50% admitted to cheating on homework assignments. Such prevalence of dishonesty within the academic circle can only be seen as a sign of declining ethical standards or a sign of a faulty educational system.

Thesis: Academic dishonesty is widely prevalent today and it can be tackled only through integrated efforts of students, faculty, the administrative board, and the society at large.

Pavela’s (1978) definition of academic dishonesty has been widely accepted. According to Pavela, academic dishonesty consists of cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, and facilitating academic dishonesty. Cheating refers to the acts of using crib notes, copying during the test, and indulging in unauthorized collaboration on homework assignments. Fabrications refer to inventing false information such as making up sources for the bibliography or reporting fictitious results for a lab experiment.

Plagiarism refers to using paper written by another student and passing it off as one’s own, buying a paper from some source, or using the work of other people within one’s paper without properly referencing it. Facilitating academic dishonesty involves knowingly helping a fellow student through some form of academic dishonesty. More activities might be added to the list proposed by Pavela (Whitley Jr. and Spiegel, 2002). Academic dishonesty can include misrepresentation by telling lies to an instructor, failure to contribute to a group project, and hindering others from completing their work.

It is important to have an academically honest environment because all students who come to college or school deserve to have an unpolluted learning environment where they will be independently judged on their performance. Educational institutions have the obligation to model and uphold integrity for future generations. Good scholarship and learning can happen only when they are based on a clear sense of academic honesty and responsibility.

When high standards of honesty are not maintained within the campus, faculty members are defrauded, students are subjected to unfair treatment, and society becomes deprived of its moral strength. Babson College brochure says that “academic dishonesty violates the most fundamental values of an intellectual community and depreciates the achievements of the entire college community”. Rutgers University points out the importance of academic honesty by saying that “Academic freedom is a fundamental right in any institution of higher learning. Honesty and integrity are necessary preconditions of this freedom”.

Students are often unaware of what constitutes academic honesty. They generally believe that it is acceptable to use: old test papers as long as they are not stolen, shortcuts such as reading an abbreviated version of the assigned work, and help from others. They also believe that some minor forms of plagiarism and conning teachers are acceptable. It is a significant finding that many students believe that facilitating academic dishonesty is justified when the intent is to help a friend.

McCabe (1992) found that 26% percent of the students, who confessed to helping a friend cheat, had never cheated themselves. Faculty members sometimes excuse some seemingly dishonest activities if they are done accidentally, or due to ignorance of proper behavior or uncertainty over what is allowed or when it approximates proper behavior (Whitley Jr. and Spiegel, 2002).

Students thus tend to take a more tolerant view of academic dishonesty than faculty members. However, both the students and the faculty feel that intentional dishonesty is a more severe ethical violation than opportunistic dishonesty (Whitley Jr. and Spiegel, 2002). Intentional dishonesty is when a student conspires with another student to copy during a test. Opportunistic dishonesty is when the chance to copy comes up when a student leaves his paper or notebook exposed (Whitley Jr. and Spiegel, 2002). However, there are always differences in the way people perceive what is cheating and what is not.

College students cite several reasons as to why they indulge in academic dishonesty. Cochran, Wood, Sellers, Wilkerson, and Chamlin (1998) have found that low self-control is one of the major causes of academic dishonesty, based on a study at the University of Oklahoma. Students have also confessed that alienation is another triggering factor. Due to alienation, college students often appeal to higher loyalties to groups such as campus secret cults, fraternities, etc. (Lambert et al, 2003). Sometimes students cheat for the simple reason to get good grades (Coston and Jenks, 1998). It has been the reason cited by students most frequently (Kibler et al, 1988).

Studies show that factors that cause students to engage in academic dishonesty are of three groups: personal traits of the students who cheat, the situation and the reasons students give for cheating (Kibler, 1993). Specifically, among several reasons which students give for academic dishonesty, concern about grades has been mentioned most frequently (Aluede et al, 2006). That is, pressure to get good grades makes most students engage in acts of academic dishonesty

Researchers have found that the following factors encourage academic dishonesty: competition, pressure to get good grades, excessively demanding environment, inefficient faculty, the leniency of the faculty, peer pressure, and a diminishing sense of morality and values among students (Aluede et al, 2006).

To protect the students from indulging in dishonest activities, colleges should enforce changes at the institutional level. They must provide environments that nurture the moral development of the students. Whenever students do indulge in such behavior, they must be forced to face the moral implications of their behavior and made to understand that “effective learning depends largely on honesty, respect, rigor and fairness” (Kibler, 1994).

Colleges generally communicate about academic dishonesty through student handbooks, brochures, or orientation exercises. It would be more effective if higher education managers undertake an ethos of promoting academic integrity and thereby create a campus environment that promotes academic honesty (Kibler, 1994). Erica B. Stern and Larry Havlicek (1986:140) have suggested that smaller classes and closer monitoring of students discourage students from indulging in acts of academic dishonesty. However, neither students nor faculty involved in their study believed that an honor code or trust system would reduce cheating on examinations.

Pino and Smith (2003) suggest that one way of rebuilding academic integrity and reducing the incidences of academic dishonesty is to foster the development of an academic ethic among college students. The academic ethic refers to “learned behavior” that involves giving studies the highest priority over leisure activities, studying regularly and in an intense fashion (Rau and Durand 2000:23). Pino and Smith (2003) hold that procrastination from watching too much television can increase the likelihood of academic dishonesty in order to make up for a lost time. However, those with an academic ethic are much less likely to procrastinate and would therefore be less vulnerable to the temptation of engaging in academic dishonesty.

Academic honesty is the sum value of individual and collective honesty within the educational institution and has to be taught, role-modeled, and rewarded. Students generally desire to be honest. By creating an environment that does not facilitate cheating it is possible to ensure academic honesty at all levels. Students, administrators, and parents must be supportive of efforts to eliminate, discover, and sanction academic dishonesty. Ultimately, only by creating an academic ethic, academic dishonesty may be prevented.

Aluede, Oyaziwo; Omoregie, O. Eunice and Osa-Edoh, I. Gloria (2006). Academic Dishonesty as a Contemporary Problem in Higher Education: How Academic Advisers Can Help. Reading Improvement. Volume: 43. Issue: 2.

Cochran, J. K., Chamlin, M.B., Wood, P.B., & Sellers, C.S. (1999). Shame, embarrassment and formal sanction threats: Extending the deterrence/rational choice model to academic dishonesty. Sociological Inquiry. Volume 69. 91-105.

Coston, C. T. M., & Jenks, D. A. (1998). Exploring Academic Dishonesty among Undergraduate Criminal Justice Majors: A Research Note. American Journal of Criminal Justice. Volume 22. 235-248.

Kibler, W.C. (1993). Academic dishonesty: A student developmental dilemma. NAPSA Journal. Volume 30. 252-267.

Kibler, W.C. (1994). Addressing academic dishonesty: What are institutions of higher education doing and not doing? NAPSA Journal. Volume 31. 92-101.

Kibler, W.C., Nuss, E.M., Paterson, B.G., & Pavela, G. (1988). Academic integrity and student development: Legal issues, policy perspectives. College Administrators Publications. Asheville, NC.

Lambert, E.G., Hogan, N.C., & Barton, S.M. (2003). Collegiate academic dishonesty revisited: What have they done, how often have they done it, who does it, and why did they do it. Electronic Journal of Sociology.

McCabe, D. L., & Trevino, L. K. (1997). Individual and Contextual Influences on Academic Dishonesty: A Multicampus Investigation. Research in Higher Education. Volume 38. 379-396.

McCabe, D.L. & Pavela, G. (1997). The principal pursuit of academic integrity. AAHE Bulletin. Volume 50. Issue 4. 11-12.

McCabe, D.L. (1992). The influence of situational ethics on cheating among college students. Sociological Inquiry. Volume 62. Issue 3. 356-374.

Pavela, G. (1978). Judicial review of academic decision- making after Horowitz. School Law Journal. Volume 55. Issue 8. 55-75.

Pino, W. Nathan and Smith, L. William (2003). College Students and Academic Dishonesty. College Student Journal. Volume: 37. Issue: 4. 490+.

Rau, W., & Durand, A. (2000). The Academic Ethic and College Grades: Does Hard Work Help Students to “Make the Grade”? Sociology of Education. Volume 73. 19-38.

Stern, E. B., & Havlicek, L. (1986). Academic Misconduct: Results of Faculty and Undergraduate Student Surveys. Journal of Allied Health. Volume 15. 129-142.

Whitley Jr., E. Bernard and Spiegel, K. Patricia (2002). Academic Dishonesty: An Educator’s Guide. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Mahwah, NJ.

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 113 perfect persuasive essay topics for any assignment.

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General Education


Do you need to write a persuasive essay but aren’t sure what topic to focus on? Were you thrilled when your teacher said you could write about whatever you wanted but are now overwhelmed by the possibilities? We’re here to help!

Read on for a list of 113 top-notch persuasive essay topics, organized into ten categories. To help get you started, we also discuss what a persuasive essay is, how to choose a great topic, and what tips to keep in mind as you write your persuasive essay.

What Is a Persuasive Essay?

In a persuasive essay, you attempt to convince readers to agree with your point of view on an argument. For example, an essay analyzing changes in Italian art during the Renaissance wouldn’t be a persuasive essay, because there’s no argument, but an essay where you argue that Italian art reached its peak during the Renaissance would be a persuasive essay because you’re trying to get your audience to agree with your viewpoint.

Persuasive and argumentative essays both try to convince readers to agree with the author, but the two essay types have key differences. Argumentative essays show a more balanced view of the issue and discuss both sides. Persuasive essays focus more heavily on the side the author agrees with. They also often include more of the author’s opinion than argumentative essays, which tend to use only facts and data to support their argument.

All persuasive essays have the following:

  • Introduction: Introduces the topic, explains why it’s important, and ends with the thesis.
  • Thesis: A sentence that sums up what the essay be discussing and what your stance on the issue is.
  • Reasons you believe your side of the argument: Why do you support the side you do? Typically each main point will have its own body paragraph.
  • Evidence supporting your argument: Facts or examples to back up your main points. Even though your opinion is allowed in persuasive essays more than most other essays, having concrete examples will make a stronger argument than relying on your opinion alone.
  • Conclusion: Restatement of thesis, summary of main points, and a recap of why the issue is important.

What Makes a Good Persuasive Essay Topic?

Theoretically, you could write a persuasive essay about any subject under the sun, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Certain topics are easier to write a strong persuasive essay on, and below are tips to follow when deciding what you should write about.

It’s a Topic You Care About

Obviously, it’s possible to write an essay about a topic you find completely boring. You’ve probably done it! However, if possible, it’s always better to choose a topic that you care about and are interested in. When this is the case, you’ll find doing the research more enjoyable, writing the essay easier, and your writing will likely be better because you’ll be more passionate about and informed on the topic.

You Have Enough Evidence to Support Your Argument

Just being passionate about a subject isn’t enough to make it a good persuasive essay topic, though. You need to make sure your argument is complex enough to have at least two potential sides to root for, and you need to be able to back up your side with evidence and examples. Even though persuasive essays allow your opinion to feature more than many other essays, you still need concrete evidence to back up your claims, or you’ll end up with a weak essay.

For example, you may passionately believe that mint chocolate chip ice cream is the best ice cream flavor (I agree!), but could you really write an entire essay on this? What would be your reasons for believing mint chocolate chip is the best (besides the fact that it’s delicious)? How would you support your belief? Have enough studies been done on preferred ice cream flavors to support an entire essay? When choosing a persuasive essay idea, you want to find the right balance between something you care about (so you can write well on it) and something the rest of the world cares about (so you can reference evidence to strengthen your position).

It’s a Manageable Topic

Bigger isn’t always better, especially with essay topics. While it may seem like a great idea to choose a huge, complex topic to write about, you’ll likely struggle to sift through all the information and different sides of the issue and winnow them down to one streamlined essay. For example, choosing to write an essay about how WWII impacted American life more than WWI wouldn’t be a great idea because you’d need to analyze all the impacts of both the wars in numerous areas of American life. It’d be a huge undertaking. A better idea would be to choose one impact on American life the wars had (such as changes in female employment) and focus on that. Doing so will make researching and writing your persuasive essay much more feasible.


List of 113 Good Persuasive Essay Topics

Below are over 100 persuasive essay ideas, organized into ten categories. When you find an idea that piques your interest, you’ll choose one side of it to argue for in your essay. For example, if you choose the topic, “should fracking be legal?” you’d decide whether you believe fracking should be legal or illegal, then you’d write an essay arguing all the reasons why your audience should agree with you.


  • Should students be required to learn an instrument in school?
  • Did the end of Game of Thrones fit with the rest of the series?
  • Can music be an effective way to treat mental illness?
  • With e-readers so popular, have libraries become obsolete?
  • Are the Harry Potter books more popular than they deserve to be?
  • Should music with offensive language come with a warning label?
  • What’s the best way for museums to get more people to visit?
  • Should students be able to substitute an art or music class for a PE class in school?
  • Are the Kardashians good or bad role models for young people?
  • Should people in higher income brackets pay more taxes?
  • Should all high school students be required to take a class on financial literacy?
  • Is it possible to achieve the American dream, or is it only a myth?
  • Is it better to spend a summer as an unpaid intern at a prestigious company or as a paid worker at a local store/restaurant?
  • Should the United States impose more or fewer tariffs?
  • Should college graduates have their student loans forgiven?
  • Should restaurants eliminate tipping and raise staff wages instead?
  • Should students learn cursive writing in school?
  • Which is more important: PE class or music class?
  • Is it better to have year-round school with shorter breaks throughout the year?
  • Should class rank be abolished in schools?
  • Should students be taught sex education in school?
  • Should students be able to attend public universities for free?
  • What’s the most effective way to change the behavior of school bullies?
  • Are the SAT and ACT accurate ways to measure intelligence?
  • Should students be able to learn sign language instead of a foreign language?
  • Do the benefits of Greek life at colleges outweigh the negatives?
  • Does doing homework actually help students learn more?
  • Why do students in many other countries score higher than American students on math exams?
  • Should parents/teachers be able to ban certain books from schools?
  • What’s the best way to reduce cheating in school?
  • Should colleges take a student’s race into account when making admissions decisions?
  • Should there be limits to free speech?
  • Should students be required to perform community service to graduate high school?
  • Should convicted felons who have completed their sentence be allowed to vote?
  • Should gun ownership be more tightly regulated?
  • Should recycling be made mandatory?
  • Should employers be required to offer paid leave to new parents?
  • Are there any circumstances where torture should be allowed?
  • Should children under the age of 18 be able to get plastic surgery for cosmetic reasons?
  • Should white supremacy groups be allowed to hold rallies in public places?
  • Does making abortion illegal make women more or less safe?
  • Does foreign aid actually help developing countries?
  • Are there times a person’s freedom of speech should be curtailed?
  • Should people over a certain age not be allowed to adopt children?


  • Should the minimum voting age be raised/lowered/kept the same?
  • Should Puerto Rico be granted statehood?
  • Should the United States build a border wall with Mexico?
  • Who should be the next person printed on American banknotes?
  • Should the United States’ military budget be reduced?
  • Did China’s one child policy have overall positive or negative impacts on the country?
  • Should DREAMers be granted US citizenship?
  • Is national security more important than individual privacy?
  • What responsibility does the government have to help homeless people?
  • Should the electoral college be abolished?
  • Should the US increase or decrease the number of refugees it allows in each year?
  • Should privately-run prisons be abolished?
  • Who was the most/least effective US president?
  • Will Brexit end up helping or harming the UK?


  • What’s the best way to reduce the spread of Ebola?
  • Is the Keto diet a safe and effective way to lose weight?
  • Should the FDA regulate vitamins and supplements more strictly?
  • Should public schools require all students who attend to be vaccinated?
  • Is eating genetically modified food safe?
  • What’s the best way to make health insurance more affordable?
  • What’s the best way to lower the teen pregnancy rate?
  • Should recreational marijuana be legalized nationwide?
  • Should birth control pills be available without a prescription?
  • Should pregnant women be forbidden from buying cigarettes and alcohol?
  • Why has anxiety increased in adolescents?
  • Are low-carb or low-fat diets more effective for weight loss?
  • What caused the destruction of the USS Maine?
  • Was King Arthur a mythical legend or actual Dark Ages king?
  • Was the US justified in dropping atomic bombs during WWII?
  • What was the primary cause of the Rwandan genocide?
  • What happened to the settlers of the Roanoke colony?
  • Was disagreement over slavery the primary cause of the US Civil War?
  • What has caused the numerous disappearances in the Bermuda triangle?
  • Should nuclear power be banned?
  • Is scientific testing on animals necessary?
  • Do zoos help or harm animals?
  • Should scientists be allowed to clone humans?
  • Should animals in circuses be banned?
  • Should fracking be legal?
  • Should people be allowed to keep exotic animals as pets?
  • What’s the best way to reduce illegal poaching in Africa?
  • What is the best way to reduce the impact of global warming?
  • Should euthanasia be legalized?
  • Is there legitimate evidence of extraterrestrial life?
  • Should people be banned from owning aggressive dog breeds?
  • Should the United States devote more money towards space exploration?
  • Should the government subsidize renewable forms of energy?
  • Is solar energy worth the cost?
  • Should stem cells be used in medicine?
  • Is it right for the US to leave the Paris Climate Agreement?
  • Should athletes who fail a drug test receive a lifetime ban from the sport?
  • Should college athletes receive a salary?
  • Should the NFL do more to prevent concussions in players?
  • Do PE classes help students stay in shape?
  • Should horse racing be banned?
  • Should cheerleading be considered a sport?
  • Should children younger than 18 be allowed to play tackle football?
  • Are the costs of hosting an Olympic Games worth it?
  • Can online schools be as effective as traditional schools?
  • Do violent video games encourage players to be violent in real life?
  • Should facial recognition technology be banned?
  • Does excessive social media use lead to depression/anxiety?
  • Has the rise of translation technology made knowing multiple languages obsolete?
  • Was Steve Jobs a visionary or just a great marketer?
  • Should social media be banned for children younger than a certain age?
  • Which 21st-century invention has had the largest impact on society?
  • Are ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft good or bad for society?
  • Should Facebook have done more to protect the privacy of its users?
  • Will technology end up increasing or decreasing inequality worldwide?


Tips for Writing a Strong Persuasive Essay

After you’ve chosen the perfect topic for your persuasive essay, your work isn’t over. Follow the three tips below to create a top-notch essay.

Do Your Research

Your argument will fall apart if you don’t fully understand the issue you’re discussing or you overlook an important piece of it. Readers won’t be convinced by someone who doesn’t know the subject, and you likely won’t persuade any of them to begin supporting your viewpoint. Before you begin writing a single word of your essay, research your topic thoroughly. Study different sources, learn about the different sides of the argument, ask anyone who’s an expert on the topic what their opinion is, etc. You might be tempted to start writing right away, but by doing your research, you’ll make the writing process much easier when the time comes.

Make Your Thesis Perfect

Your thesis is the most important sentence in your persuasive essay. Just by reading that single sentence, your audience should know exactly what topic you’ll be discussing and where you stand on the issue. You want your thesis to be crystal clear and to accurately set up the rest of your essay. Asking classmates or your teacher to look it over before you begin writing the rest of your essay can be a big help if you’re not entirely confident in your thesis.

Consider the Other Side

You’ll spend most of your essay focusing on your side of the argument since that’s what you want readers to come away believing. However, don’t think that means you can ignore other sides of the issue. In your essay, be sure to discuss the other side’s argument, as well as why you believe this view is weak or untrue. Researching all the different viewpoints and including them in your essay will increase the quality of your writing by making your essay more complete and nuanced.

Summary: Persuasive Essay Ideas

Good persuasive essay topics can be difficult to come up with, but in this guide we’ve created a list of 113 excellent essay topics for you to browse. The best persuasive essay ideas will be those that you are interested in, have enough evidence to support your argument, and aren’t too complicated to be summarized in an essay.

After you’ve chosen your essay topic, keep these three tips in mind when you begin writing:

  • Do your research
  • Make your thesis perfect
  • Consider the other side

What's Next?

Need ideas for a research paper topic as well? Our guide to research paper topics has over 100 topics in ten categories so you can be sure to find the perfect topic for you.

Thinking about taking an AP English class? Read our guide on AP English classes to learn whether you should take AP English Language or AP English Literature (or both!)

Deciding between the SAT or ACT? Find out for sure which you will do the best on . Also read a detailed comparison between the two tests .

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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

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Are you looking to improve your persuasive writing skills?

One of the best ways to do that is by reading persuasive essay examples. These examples can show you how to structure your arguments effectively.

But finding good examples can be a challenge. Don't worry, though – we've gathered some helpful persuasive essays for you right here!

So, if you're in search of persuasive essay examples to help you write your own, you're in the right place. 

Keep reading this blog to explore various examples

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  • 1. Persuasive Essay Examples For Students
  • 2. Persuasive Essay Examples for Different Formats
  • 3. Persuasive Essay Outline Examples
  • 4. Persuasive Essay Format Example
  • 5. How to Write A Persuasive Essay With Examples
  • 6. How to End a Persuasive Essay Examples
  • 7. Catchy Persuasive Essay Topics

Persuasive Essay Examples For Students

A persuasive essay aims to convince the reader of the author’s point of view. 

To find the right path for your essay, it's helpful to go through some examples. Similarly, good essay examples also help to avoid any potential pitfalls and offer clear information to the readers to adopt. 

Here are some persuasive essay examples pdf:

3rd-grade Persuasive Essay Example

4th-grade Persuasive Essay Example

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Persuasive Essay Examples for 6th Grade pdf

7th-grade Persuasive Essay Example

8th-grade Persuasive Essay Example

Persuasive Essay Examples Grade 10

11th-grade Persuasive Essay Example

Persuasive Writing Example For Kids

Persuasive Essay Examples High School

The following are good persuasive essay examples for high school. Having a look at them will help you understand better.

High-school Persuasive Essay Example

Examples of Persuasive Essay in Everyday Life

Persuasive Essay Examples for Middle School

Check out these persuasive essay examples for middle school to get a comprehensive idea of the format structure. 

Persuasive Essay Examples Middle School

Short Persuasive Essay Example

Persuasive Essay Examples for College Students

Essay writing at the college level becomes more difficult and complicated. We have provided you with top-notch college persuasive and argumentative essay examples here.

Read them to understand the essay writing process easily. 

Persuasive Essay Examples College

Higher English Persuasive Essay Example

Persuasive Essay About Smoking

Argumentative and Persuasive Examples

Persuasive Essay Examples For University

It becomes even more challenging to draft a perfect essay at the university level. Have a look at the below examples of a persuasive essay to get an idea of writing one.

University Persuasive Essay Example

5 Paragraph Persuasive Essay Example

Persuasive Essay Examples for Different Formats

A persuasive essay can be written in several formats. For instance, you can write the usual 5-paragraph essay, or even something longer or shorter.

Below are a few sample essays in various common formats.

Persuasive Essay Examples 5 Paragraph

Persuasive Essay Examples 3 Paragraph

Short Persuasive Essay Examples

These examples tell you how to remain convincing and persuasive regardless of the essay format you use.

Persuasive Essay Outline Examples

Creating an impressive outline is the most important step for writing a persuasive essay. It helps to organize thoughts and make the writing process easier.

 A standard outline consists of the following sections.

  • Introduction
  • Body Paragraphs

Have a look at the following persuasive essay outline template examples.

Persuasive Essay Outline

Persuasive Essay Template

Persuasive Essay Format Example

A persuasive essay outline is bound to follow a specific format and structure. The main elements of a persuasive essay format are as follows.

  • Font: Times New Roman, Georgia, or Arial
  • Font Size: 16pt for the headlines and 12pt for the rest of the text
  • Alignment: Justified
  • Spacing: Double spacing
  • Word Count: It usually contains 500 to 2000 words

How to Write A Persuasive Essay With Examples

Planning an essay before starting writing is essential to produce an organized and structured writing piece. So, it is better to understand the concept beforehand to impress your instructor.  

The below example will show a good starting to an essay.

A Good Start for a Persuasive Essay - Short Example

How to Start a Persuasive Essay Examples

The introduction is the first part of an essay and your first chance to grab the reader's attention. It should clearly state the essay's purpose and give the reader a clear idea of what to expect.

A compelling persuasive essay introduction must have the following elements.

  • Hook statement + topic
  • A strong thesis statement
  • Your arguments

Here are some examples of persuasive essay introductions to help you make a compelling start:

Introduction Persuasive Essay Example

Persuasive Essay Thesis Statement Examples

Persuasive Essay Hook Examples

How to End a Persuasive Essay Examples

Just like the introduction, the conclusion of the persuasive essay is equally important. It is considered as the last impression of your writing piece to the audience.

A good conclusion paragraph must include the following aspects.

  • Restate the thesis statement or hypothesis
  • Summarize the key arguments
  • Avoid being obvious
  • Include a call to action

Have a look at the document to explore the sample conclusions of a persuasive essay.

Conclusion Persuasive Essay Examples

Catchy Persuasive Essay Topics

Now that you have read some good examples, it's time to write your own persuasive essay.

But what should you write about? You can write persuasive essays about any topic, from business and online education to controversial topics like abortion , gun control , and more.

Here is a list of ten persuasive essay topics that you can use to grab your reader's attention and make them think:

  • Should the government increase taxes to fund public health initiatives?
  • Is the current education system effective in preparing students for college and the workplace?
  • Should there be tighter gun control laws?
  • Should schools have uniforms or a dress code?
  • Are standardized tests an accurate measure of student performance?
  • Should students be required to take physical education courses?
  • Is undocumented immigration a legitimate cause for concern in the United States?
  • Is affirmative action still necessary in today’s society?
  • How much, if any, regulation should there be on technology companies?
  • Is the death penalty an appropriate form of punishment for serious crimes?

Check out two examples on similar topics:

Political Persuasive Essay Examples

Persuasive Essay Examples About Life

Need more topic ideas? Check out our extensive list of unique persuasive essay topics and get started!

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