This is a sample outline for the GMAT’s Argument Essay. Here we are aiming for 5 paragraphs total. You may opt for a shorter 4 paragraph version if you have trouble finishing 3 body paragraphs, but try for 5 paragraphs. If you are an adept writer, you may wish to place your “How to Strengthen” paragraph on its own right before the Conclusion, and then have a separate shorter Conclusion. This template is only a suggestion, so feel free to adjust it slightly into a version that best works for you! Remember to practice writing at least 2-3 full essays with the time constraint before Test Day!
Paragraph 1 – Introduction (3-4 sentences)
Like a Critical Reasoning passage, before you begin writing you will need to understand the Conclusion, Evidence, and underlying Assumptions in the argument. Do not use self-reference, or the words “I agree” or “I disagree” anywhere in your essay. You will absolutely use phrases like “the argument” and “the author” but you want your statements to come across as accepted fact, not the small opinions of once person. Your main task in your introduction is to show you understand the premise. Restate it in your own words.
– Introduce the timeliness of the argument’s topic
– Describe the argument in your own words
– State emphatically that the argument is flawed.
For example, your introduction could take a form like this:
The issue of _______ is as timely as ever. Recently, _________. Regarding this issue, the author of the argument claims __________. He suggests that _________.Though the underlying issue certainly has merit, because of a lack of evidence, weak assumptions, and vague language the author’s argument is unsubstantiated and deeply flawed.
You do not have to list your three examples in your thesis, but it can be a nice way of clarifying for the reader what you will be discussing.
Paragraph 2 – “Lack of Evidence” (4-6 sentences)
Almost every Argument can be criticized for a lack of evidence. If evidence is provided, how can you explain that it is confusing, unrelated, or unsubstantiated?
Paragraph 3 – “Weak Assumption” (4-6 sentences)
What is the author assuming to be true? Show the reader you can see the gaps in logic between the weak evidence provided and the conclusion. Use very clear transition words between your body paragraphs.
Paragraph 4 – “Vague Language” (4-6 sentences)
Use a transition phrase again, then attack the specific terminology the author utilizes in the argument. How many is “many”? Who exactly does he mean by “most”? Here you will be using the author’s own rhetorical construction against him.
Paragraph 5 – How to Strengthen (2-4 sentences)
In your conclusion, introduce a few ways the author could improve his argument, other than the three flaws you have already discussed. Reinforce the idea that there is SOME merit in the issue underlying the author’s argument, but not nearly enough as it to be convincing. Here’s an outline:
Although as written the argument is categorically unconvincing, the author could strengthen his position were he to _________, and _________. If he _____________, then the argument’s reasoning would be significantly improved. However, without these changes, the argument is implausible and the reasoning faulty.