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14 Forms of Writing for the Older Student: Persuasive Essay

14 Forms of Writing for the Older Student: Persuasive Essay

What is a Persuasive Essay?

Just as it sounds, a persuasive essay seeks to change opinions on a topic. It reflects the opinion of the writer. It is similar to a news story in that the strongest most important information comes first; the remainder of the supportive points follow in order of strongest to weakest. It is similar to a descriptive essay in that the writer has a point to make.

What Are the Elements of a Persuasive Essay?

A good persuasive essay typically includes the following elements:

  • Reflects an opinion.
  • Provides arguments supporting the opinion.
  • Typically presents a solution to a problem.
  • Seeks to change minds.
  • Typically ends with a call to action.
  • The topic is typically a timely one.
  • Professional in tone.
  • Typically appeals to the reader’s emotions as well as intellect.

Let’s look at an example:

School Choice — An Educational Custom Fit

Using the bulleted points in the list above, determine how each point applies to the essay.

How Do I Write a Persuasive Essay?

First decide what you feel strongly enough about to write an essay that encourages change in others. Then consider:

  • What point would you like to make?
  • Who is your audience?
  • What argument is most likely to move your audience?

After you have the topic in hand, make a list of your supporting arguments. For each argument include facts, statistics, quotes from an authority on the topic, or observations from real life to back up your opinion.

Write a strong opening statement — don’t equivocate or couch terms. Keep your first paragraph brief with a tight focus on the issue. How will your opening statement provide an emotional and/or intellectual appeal to your reader?

Clearly state your first and strongest argument. Develop the argument by stating facts, statistics, observations, authoritative quotations, or other supporting information.

Then continue with your next strongest argument, and so forth, until you have several paragraphs.

Develop a strong conclusion by restating your opinion and requesting action on the part of your reader.


You’ll find helpful resources below.

  • Find other examples of persuasive essays. Op-eds in the newspaper are one good source.
  • If you are new to the process, you may appreciate the five-paragraph template to get you started.
  • Be sure to choose a topic that is timely and that you feel strongly about. What makes you a particularly good candidate for writing about this topic? What special connection to the topic do you have?
  • If you are still searching for a topic, check the current news stories for ideas.
  • Work hard on that first sentence. You want to capture your reader’s attention! If the reader likes your first line, he will continue reading.
  • Use clear and precise language.
  • Use the active voice. For example:
    • We must consider how our children will be taught to ensure they receive a quality education. (passive)
    • We must consider how to provide our children with a quality education. (active)
  • Don’t forget to tell a story. Throwing data at a reader alone does not typically convince. You want to emotionally touch your readers, not pound them over the head with facts.
  • Related to the above point, use humor where it will be effective.
  • One of my favorite business writing teachers always indicated that you did not need to say “I think.” You are writing the essay. We know it is you who think it. So simply state your opinion without the wordy introduction.
  • You may find it helpful to state the opposing opinion. If you do so, state it fairly. Then provide your solution to the opposition opinion.
  • Persuasive writing is typically short. A simple, concise, and brief essay will provide more punch than a long, rambling oratory.
Additional Resources

Persuasive Essay Outline
Extensive example of the five-paragraph essay.

How to Write A Persuasive Essay
Simple help at

60 Persuasive Essay and Speech Topics
Help from if you are stuck for ideas!

Opinion Writing Basic Outline
Graphic at Scholastic.

Persuasive Argument Writing Graphic Organizer
Free download (with free membership) at

A Student’s Guide: Learning About the Series of Supported Opinion Paragraphs
Cute guidelines for those wanting a bit of hand-holding through the process.

Enjoy the complete series:


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