Are your essays letting you down? Are you unsure of how to write persuasive essays? Don’t worry! This article will show you everything you need to know to write persuasive essays that will help you ace Year 9.
Download your free step-by-step planner, now!
Learn to write detailed and insightful paragraphs and score better marks!
A persuasive essay is a piece of non-fiction writing that convince readers about a specific argument
It presents a logical and cohesive thesis and uses relevant and strong examples to further support the argument it makes.
How does a persuasive response differ to an imaginative one?
Just from above, we can already see distinct differences between a persuasive essay and an imaginative response.
Persuasive essays are non-fiction. This means that they are based on facts, statistics and reality. In comparison, imaginative responses are fictional, so it is “made-up”.
Persuasive essays should convince the audience of something by employing logic, reasoning, facts and rhetorical techniques. Imaginative responses don’t seek to persuade, they seek to enthral.
The structure of a persuasive essay is:
In contrast, the structure of an imaginative response is usually: orientation, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution.
It is important that you know the distinct features of each text type to help you formulate your responses.
Why write persuasive essays?
Overall, the goal of persuasive essays is to convince the audience to agree with your argument. This can range from large matters like climate change to smaller issues like why red is a better colour than purple.
However, this is not the only reason why we write persuasive essays. There are so many skills that you can gain and improve when you write persuasive essays.
When you write persuasive essays, you need to be able to find reliable, relevant and accurate sources to support your arguments.
This means that you need to find a variety of facts, evidence, examples and statistics from a wide variety of sources like websites, magazines, journals, articles etc.
Then, you need to check your evidence to see if it is updated, from a reliable source, and double check if it is consistent with other reliable sources. Developing your research skills will help you present strong arguments in your persuasive essay.
Critical thinking skills:
When you have a wide selection of evidence and sources to choose from, it might be hard to know which one to use. This is where your critical thinking skills come in.
You need to know which evidence is most convincing for your argument and use it. This means that your evidence has to be relevant to your argument and comes from a reliable source.
You also need to make sure that there aren’t any major holes in your arguments.
To write good persuasive essays, you need to use persuasive rhetoric like logos or techniques like high modality words and repetition to make your essays sound more convincing.
Being able to utilise persuasive rhetoric effectively is important because you are able to express your ideas in a convincing way.
The key to getting good marks is knowing what markers are looking for and incorporating it into your persuasive essays.
Don’t write for yourself, write for your audience.
You want to do the work for your audience by providing a clear, concise, and well-structured response so they can be wowed by ideas and not struggle through your sentences or muddled paragraphs.
Why care what markers think?
You can produce an amazing piece of writing, but if you don’t properly answer the question and forget to address a dot point in your marking criteria… you won’t achieve that high mark you want.
This is why it is important that we care about what the markers think.
To get the best possible marks, we need to satisfy all the requirements that are set out for us.
How do we know what they want?
So, where exactly do you need to look to find the requirements?
Don’t worry! This isn’t discussed at some kind of secret meeting or tucked away from student’s prying eyes in a file marked: TOP SECRET. It’s already provided to you!
Look at your syllabus, notification, marking criteria and your QUESTION!
Everything you need for understanding what markers want is right here!
Syllabus: Your syllabus is basically an outline of the skills and knowledge you will be taught. Teachers cannot assess you on anything that isn’t in the syllabus! So, take a good read of this, know it well and be prepared to learn.
Notification: A notification is the instructions to do your assessment! It tells you how you will be assessed, the due date, the outcomes that you will be assessed on and it also includes the marking criteria.
Marking criteria: The marking criteria is a list of “things” that markers award marks for. It is very important that you examine this carefully to know exactly what to focus on and do in your assessment to achieve the best possible marks. We will further explain this in the NEXT SECTION.
Question: This is the question you have to answer! Too often, students end up writing a persuasive essay to the question they wished they had, instead of the question they were given. This is a grave mistake, because markers want to see how well you can apply your knowledge to the question, not how well you can write about an irrelevant issue.
You must read each of these documents carefully. Break each section down. And, make sure you fulfil the requirements!
Understanding the marking criteria
As we’ve discussed, the marking criteria are a list of the things you need to do to get marks.
They usually look this:
As you can see, there are two-three dot points in each row.
If you read all of them, you can see that the first dot point of each row is basically asking for the same thing: explore how the ‘personal discovery involves facing the unknown and considering what is known’ is represented in the prescribed text and a related text.
Make sure that you address this point in your persuasive essays.
However, notice how each row determines the student’s level of satisfying the requirements:
“demonstrates a LIMITED understanding“…
It is important that we recognise the differences between an A (Band 6 on the image above) or a B (Band 5), so we know what we need to do to achieve a higher mark. To help with this, highlight or circle the different words.
This way, you can consciously aim higher.
It is important that you always write in a clear manner! This will make it easier for the markers to read and award you marks.
Here are some tips to improve clarity in your writing:
Signpost the question: Signposting is when you use the keywords of the question throughout your response to explicitly show the markers that you are answering the question. Sometimes, your writing might stray from the question or you’re just beating around the bush… So, to ensure that you clearly answer the question, always use the keywords from the question itself!
Write concisely and clearly: Long and sophisticated sentences make persuasive essays harder to read and more confusing. Make sure you deliberately choose your words and pay attention to your sentence lengths. If you need to take a breath when you are reading your sentence out loud… it is too long! Cut it down.
Don’t substitute clarity for ‘fancy’ words. It is better if you use simple words and convey complex ideas, rather than using sophisticated words in the wrong way.
Don’t include irrelevant information: It might be tempting to write everything you know about your topic. However, this is not a good idea! You should only include information that answers your question and fits YOUR thesis. This includes examples, ideas, knowledge, and even arguments.
How to write persuasive essays – planning responses
Students usually skip this step because they think that it is a “waste of time”. However, it actually saves you more time when you are writing your persuasive essays.
Planning means you don’t waste time with false starts and rambling arguments!
Planning is an integral part of any writing process. Let’s see why it is important that you always plan:
You’ll figure out your strongest arguments: When you plan, you have time to flesh out your different arguments and ideas. Take this time to figure out which arguments you should use and how you can strengthen it. This will help you produce a more convincing persuasive essay.
Forces you to find the most effective evidence: If you don’t plan your persuasive essays, you will end up using the first set of evidence you find, even if they are unreliable, inaccurate or doesn’t fully support your ideas. Planning gives you an opportunity to research deeply and find effective evidence and examples to strengthen your argument.
You won’t waffle and beat around the bush: Sometimes, you might find yourself waffling and beating around the bush because you are unsure of exactly what you’re trying to say. Planning will prevent you from doing this because you will have a clear outline of what you want to write.
Ultimately saves time: You don’t have to stop writing every 10 minutes because you need to find sources or figure out what you want to say. You have all the information you need in your plan. All you need to do now is to put all of it into words.
Remember, sometimes you might stray from your original plan… but that shouldn’t discourage you! Having a plan just means that you don’t have to trial and error when you write.
Planning techniques and approaches
Now that you know the benefits of planning… it’s time to see how to plan a persuasive essay.
Remember, there are various ways to plan a persuasive essay. You can use:
Mindmaps: Good for visual learners. Easy to see connections between ideas.
Bullet points: Simple and easy to do. Also, easy to categorise information.
Tables: Clear and categorised information. Also, good for comparisons.
Flowchart: Good to see the flow of arguments.
And lots more!
Each one has its own benefits. You need to decide what is suitable for you and your studies!
The Matrix Method
Matrix students are taught to write essays using these simple steps to produce excellent results:
Steps 1 – 3: Is all about developing a strong understanding of the text/topic. This is an important step that you must do to ensure that your persuasive essays are well written and strong.
As you can see from the image above, Steps 4 – 7 involves the writing process. Let’s look at that in detail:
Now, let’s take a look at what you need to do to plan a persuasive essay.
Plan and scaffold:
Read the question.
Write everything you know about the topic: Don’t research yet! Just write down any ideas, arguments, facts and personal opinions about the topic. This step is to get you to identify what you know and don’t know about the topic and get you thinking about possible arguments.
Research about the topic: In this step, you should find more information and expand your knowledge about the topic. Also, see if you can support your previous knowledge with solid evidence. Remember, you should always be taking notes of the evidence you find and where you found it.
Take a stance: Now that you have a solid understanding of the topic, you have to decide whether you agree or disagree with the topic.
Write a thesis: Your thesis is the brief answer to the question! It shows which stance you have taken, and why.
Figure out your arguments: Now that you have your thesis, you need to decide on arguments which support your thesis. If you are struggling, take a look at what you researched. Write them down.
Find evidence to support your arguments: You should have already collated some evidence in your research. Go through them and see which ones support your argument.
Plan out the structure: Structure you arguments in order of strength. The strongest argument should appear first and the weakest last. Also, plot down the evidence you want to use under each argument.
How to write persuasive essays
Planning a persuasive essay is the first step. Now, let’s see how we can start writing great persuasive essays.
Different approaches to persuasive writing
In Year 9 English, you might come across a variety of persuasive essays.
Sometimes, you may be asked to write a persuasive essay in response to moral or political question. For example, “Should same-sex marriage be allowed?” or “Should primary school students wear a uniform?”
When you approach these types of questions, you need to research facts, statistics and opinions and statements from authorities or experts.
Other times you might be asked to write a persuasive essay based on your prescribed text. For example, “How effectively does Golding explore themes of savagery in his novel, Lord of the Flies.”
The way you approach these types of questions is very similar to moral or political questions.
The only difference is that you need to look for techniques and evidence in the text, as opposed to research. Also, instead of just explaining the evidence, you have to analyse it as well.
There is one common structure for persuasive essays.
Introduction: State the thesis (a statement that answers the question, and subsequently, links all the arguments together). Briefly introduce the text (if relevant) and the arguments that will be explored.
Argument one: Introduce the first key idea that supports your thesis. Use examples and evidence to strengthen it. Link to your thesis.
Argument two: Introduce the second key idea that supports your thesis. Use examples and evidence to strengthen it. Link to your thesis.
Argument three: Introduce the third key idea that supports your thesis. Use examples and evidence to strengthen it. Link to your thesis.
Conclusion: Restate the thesis. Summarise the arguments.
Now, let’s take a deeper look at how you can write a paragraph. At Matrix, students are taught to write paragraphs using the T.E.E.L Structure.
T.E.E.L stands for:
Topic sentence: This introduces the key idea/argument for the paragraph.
Example/evidence: These examples or evidence support and strengthen your claim in the topic sentence.
Effect: Your explanation of the evidence. Take this opportunity to explain everything in depth.
Linking sentence: This ties your argument back to the thesis.
Remember, you should include multiple examples or evidence in a paragraph. So, in reality, your paragraph will look similar to this:
Writing a sustained argument
Most students find it difficult to write a sustained argument.
What happens is that they forget about their thesis or question when they’re writing their body paragraphs… And suddenly, they remember about it again and briefly insert it into the topic and linking sentences.
But it’s too late at this point. This is not a sustained argument.
A sustained argument is a unifying your whole essay with one main idea (your thesis), not just mentioning it in your introduction, topic sentences and linking sentences.
So how do we make sure that we don’t make that mistake? Well, here are a few tips that will help you write a sustained argument:
Make sure that you are answering the question: If you are properly answering the question and not writing an essay based on what you prepared, then sustaining an argument will be a lot easier. Even when you forget about to address your thesis or question, your content will still be relevant.
Signposting: As mentioned before, this is when you directly use keywords from the question throughout your persuasive essay. This will show markers that your thesis (which should answer the question) is woven throughout your whole essay.