How to Analyze an Argumentative Essay

As difficult a task as writing an argumentative essay can be, analyzing one can be even more of a challenge. An argumentative essay establishes a position on a topic and argues it by presenting research and evidence that supports the author's conclusions. A solid analysis of an argumentative essay should evaluate and examine each step of the essay's technique, considering not only if its thesis is correct but how effectively it argues it.

Analyze how well the essay's evidence supports its thesis. See if appropriate conclusions are drawn from the evidence the essay offers, or if it draws dubious conclusions from scanty evidence. Check if there are solid counterarguments or opposing evidence that the essay skips over. Evaluate the quality of research the argument relies on to make sure it comes from credible sources.

Analyze the essay's logical flow of ideas. Consider how well the essay presents its arguments and if they come in an appropriate order. Always check for the "straw man" argument, where an essay sets up a simplified version of an opposing viewpoint to knock it down easily. Find logical assumptions that the essay makes to support its argument.

Analyze the rhetoric that the essay uses to convince the reader of its argument. Look for figures of speech such as metaphor and simile that draw on a reader's emotions or that exaggerate a claim. Look for rhetorical devices, such as the repetition of a work to begin successive sentences, the repetition of sounds in a sentence or direct appeals to the reader. Analyze how these devices and others work to support an argument in place of evidence.

About the Author

David Coodin began working as a writer in 2005, and has been published in "The Walrus." He contributes to various websites, writing primarily in the areas of education and art. Coodin holds a Ph.D. in English literature from York University in Toronto.