Welcome to persuade-argue-advise

+ This is a space where you can revise these skills for your exam.

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writing to argue .

• Argue a point or a particular point of view.
• Can use emotive points to get your point across.
• Use evidence.
• Have an appropiate tone for audience.
• You are offering ideas to other people.
• Have to present both sides of the argument.
• Good and bad aspects.
• Use connectives.
• Authentic and authoritive.

Planning will always produce a higher grade. The examiner looks out for signs of planning in your written answer.

• Start a plan by brainstorming for lots of ideas or points. Write them down and pick out the strongest few.
• Put strongest points into the most effective order. Think of each point as a ‘signpost’ that will help reader follow your ideas.
• Stop and think! Are the points strong enough? Are some really the same thing?
• For a moment, forget the exam room. Think about this argument in the real world and try to “shape” it in your mind.

Now ask yourself three questions:

• “Is this a really strongest way I can argue for this matter?”

• “Would my reader trust my point of view?”

• “Will it make my reader feel good or… feel a fool for holding a different view?”

PERSUASION AND ARGUMENT - what's the difference?
When you are asked to write to either persuade or argue, you'll be creating two very similar styles of writing. These are both kinds of writing that seek to influence. There are small but important differences and knowing about these will help push up your marks and help you towards what you want - a higher grade!

When you set out to persuade someone, you want them to accept your opinion on an issue: you want to change that person's mind to your way of thinking. To do this, you will - just as with 'writing to argue' - be presenting a written argument; but when you are trying to persuade, your argument will need to be more one-sided than the balanced presentation of views typically required in a "Writing to Argue" essay question. This is because persuasion is based on a personal conviction that your way of thinking is the right way.

This does not mean you should ignore your opponent's views - far from it. That's a sure fire way to 'put their back up' if ever there was one! And that will lead to failure and low marks. You're looking only for success and high marks. Are you persuaded yet? Read on…

When writing to argue, you're expected to take account of opposing views and find ways to counter and overcome these, mostly through the use of well-reasoned points. This is because when you are asked to argue, you need to show you have recognises that other equally valid views exist on the subject.

This difference means that when you write to persuade, you can afford to be:

more one-sided and personal
more passionate and emotional.
more reliant on rhetorical language and devices.

A powerful persuasive device - and one that examiner's love - is the emotional anecdote. An anecdote is a brief and fascinating tale, often a story taken from personal experience. Its purpose is to create a powerful and emotional illustration of why your view is the right view to hold.

Although anecdotes are based on real events, for your coursework and exam, you can make up the story, so long as it is realistic and reasonable. Click here for more on this.

A second powerful technique to help win a person round to your way of thinking is to forge common ground between both of you: a goal that both you and your opponent share. This reduces the differences between the two of you to something much more manageable and achievable: a common goal. More on this later!

ARGUMENT OR PERSUASION - what is the difference?
'Writing to argue' and 'writing to persuade' both occur on school courses. They are both very similar in as much as they share the same purpose, that of seeking to influence. There are differences that will affect the style of your writing if you are to gain the highest marks.

An argument concerns an issue about which people, quite reasonably, hold different views. This suggests that other views are not necessarily wrong - just different. During the process of presenting your argument, therefore, it is reasonable that you should show that you recognise that opposing views exist, not only to hint at what a fair-minded person you are, but to give you the opportunity to counter these views tactfully in order to show why you feel that your own view is the more worthy one to hold.

Persuasion has a more single-minded goal. It is based on a personal conviction that a particular way of thinking is the only sensible way to think.


Consider this typical scene in a teenager's life…

The party is on Friday… and, naturally, you really want to go but your parents have other ideas. They're planning a visit to Great Aunt Bertha and know how much she'd love to see how you've grown since your last visit. Persuading your mum to say yes to the party is your determined goal - because Friday is the deadline and you need an answer now.

How to go about it? First, a little calm reasoning ('Everyone from school will be there, mum. It's a social occasion and it'll help me make more friends…' ), next a little reasoned anger ('When you were young I bet you went to parties…!') and finally, a passionate plea ('Oh, do please try to see it from my position, mum. I can't turn up on Monday the only kid in the class who didn't go…!').

Now if instead of the above, you had been asked to write an article in the school magazine to present a case for a return of end-of-year school disco… well, you don't need that immediate answer, so a well-reasoned argument composed of a series of well thought out and well-supported points is likely to win the day. The pressure is on in the first case, but not in the second.

writing to advise

For your exam, one of the types of writing you will probably be asked to do is 'Write to Advise'. This is very similar to Writing to Explain and Writing to Inform (which are covered on other parts of this web site - see the links above).

This kind of writing used to be called expository writing.

For your course, you will be asked to write about a real-world task such as, 'Write an article for your school magazine in which you advise its readers how they could… welcome newcomers/lead healthier lives/lead greener lives', etc.

When you are asked to write to advise, your purpose is:

to provide interesting and informative guidance on a topic specified in the exam question.

to do so in a way that is suited to a specified type of audience.

to show you know the conventions of the form required, e.g. a letter or an article.

When deciding on what mark or grade to give, an examiner will be looking for specific aspects within your writing:

Is it catchy and interesting?

Any heading you choose will be very important here.

The opening sentence is also crucial to achieving this. Dare to be different and… be original!

Is its style and tone appropriate for its audience and purpose?

You'll need to write in a way that sounds 'inviting' and 'friendly'.

Take care, though. It's best to avoid using a style that is overly informal. Stick mainly to formal standard English but use some informal expressions of the kind that will appeal to your audience.

Is the tone authoritative?

When giving advice in an article, your audience will absolutely expect you to sound as if you know what you are talking about. Work hard at achieving this.

Has it supplied what its audience needs to know regarding the key 'advice questions', i.e. who, what, why, where, when and how?

These are the questions a journalist answers in a newspaper article but they apply equally to writing to advise.

Is the help and advice given sufficient and appropriate?

No one wants to be bored by excessive advice. Take care that what you write is sufficient and necessary.

Is it clear, i.e. can its audience follow and understand it easily?

This is very important for your marks. Your choices of vocabulary, of sentence style and length as well as the way you paragraph and set out the advice are all important. Ask yourself some questions as you think about what to write. Would subheadings be useful? Perhaps a bulleted list or a diagram?

Is its content balanced and fair?

This will depend on the topic you have been asked to write about but people like to feel advice is not too one sided so make sure you cover different points of view.

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