By Seyi K., MPP Tutor

Persuasive essays are an essential literacy skill that can be the difference between success and failure in a wide variety of fields.  When I was in high school, my mind was overly familiar with the most basic essay structure around: an introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs and one conclusion paragraph.  It didn’t take long for me to become resentful of the structure.

With help from my AP Literature teacher, I began to develop and practice new ways to keep my writing analytical and interesting.  There was more to essay writing than simply following a blueprint.  I started to look at writing as less of a homework or school activity and more as a medium of creativity.  There is a power and freedom in writing. The methods of approach are abundant and can open new avenues for growth and academic prosperity.

The Orange County-based tutoring company, My Private Professor, understands the importance of writing skills and provides a plethora of resources that fester improvement, including accomplished tutors that excel in subjects such as English, Literature, College Essay Writing, SAT Essay writing and much more.   In this piece, I will describe and explore the essential steps to focus on in the development of a strong persuasive essay.

Outlining Your Main Idea

You will need to spend plenty of time analyzing your sources and understanding exactly what your essay’s topic is pertaining to.  It is extremely crucial that any persuasive essay writer has a thorough interpretation of the topic they need to discuss.  Early on, through readings and critical analysis, you will likely begin to develop some preliminary thoughts and opinions. Jot those ideas down and begin to develop them into possible concepts of discussion.  Move away from what your sources suggest and begin to develop your own take on what you could argue for.  Ideally, a good outline for a main idea will have the initial beginnings of a possible thesis and main argument.  It is good to expressly detail a potential argument for the persuasive essay in 1-2 sentences.

The main advantage gained in developing a structure prior to beginning your essay presents a more consistent and logical form to the ideas represented.  Ideally, you will have a good idea as to what claims you will aim to bring to your persuasive essay, as well as a rough idea as to where you will place them and how you will connect them together.  In order to keep your audience completely engaged, you will have to present your thoughts systematically.

Development of Background and Evidence

The most important aspect of any strong persuasive essay is its usage of strong, relevant evidence and supporting background information.  In order to convince an audience of some claim, there must be a powerful line of reasoning behind it.  The reasoning you will provide will be largely supported by your assorted evidence.  Spend a considerable amount of time building your arsenal of evidence and linking them directly to the central claims in your argument.  Keeping these together will ensure there are no baseless statements made in your essay and provide a rock-solid backbone to further persuade the audience.

There is always going to be an opposing stance to any persuasive essay.  Ensuring a strong and relevant selection of supporting evidence to your own stance will be vital in solidifying it.  Look for sources that are directly connected to your idea. But don’t stop there, look for sources that may provide a different perspective on your concepts.  Identify how those perspectives may further strengthen your argument.

Consider Potential Counter Arguments

A persuasive essay is essentially one side of an argument, but that does not mean both should not be considered.  It is imperative that persuasive writers are aware of what potential counterarguments there may be against theirs.  It is a good idea to directly reference what the opposing side may suggest against you and if possible, provide a specific response to their claim.  This is the way to truly cement your argument by showing an adversity to bias and an ability to defend yourself despite possible drawbacks.

A strong persuasive essay will aim to expressly state and support its central claims with accurate reasoning and also acknowledge any possible flaws.  There are always mutual pros and cons between both sides in every argument; for it to be a logical argument at all, there should be elements of truth emanating from both sides.  If your persuasive essay is looking to pursue a stance that is opposed by something credible, referencing that something will be of great value to your piece.

Know your Audience

Lastly, it is vital that any persuasive essay writer is on board with their audience.  There is a specific group (or population) that your argument may be tailored towards and it is key that the argument considers how the audience thinks, reacts and what their status is in relation to the topics that are being discussed. You should strive to develop a connection and understanding of your audience in order to create a positive lasting effect.

Persuasive writing is perfected when it evokes a strong emotional response in its readers.  A strong persuasive essay will push the opposing side to reconsider their vision and encourage neutrals to move firmly towards your side.   Being aware of who you are speaking to, in a widespread context, and what they may already think will allow you to be more concise in your essay.

Essay writing is a creative journey that is driven by the authors involved.  Not everyone will enjoy the art of writing right away, or maybe even ever, but it is definitely one of the most valuable tools any one person may equip themselves with.  Persuasive writing is an extremely difficult but rewarding brand of writing that can improve people’s cognition, communication and general ability to analyze and understand.


Seyi Kaja-Gbadegesin is a tutor at My Private Professor, which provides individualized online & in-person tutoring to students in all subjects, including K-12 math, science, language arts, history, foreign language, AP exams, test prep, essays, & college counseling, by top tutors from top universities.