How to Write a Rebuttal for a Debate

Debate provides an excellent opportunity for students to analyze various viewpoints and encounter course material collaboratively. Although students often come across formal debate as its own activity, instructors can integrate debate into classwork to give students a chance to discuss issues in a structured, equitable setting. Each side of the debate gets a chance to offer a rebuttal to the arguments presented by the other side. Writing a convincing rebuttal is a crucial part of formal debate.

Step 1

Listen carefully to the other side’s opening arguments. Take notes in a clear and concise manner. Make bullet points of the key arguments and evidence presented. Write down the specific vocabulary that the speaker uses for key terms.

Step 2

Examine whether the speaker’s arguments and evidence support his or her position. Consider whether the arguments are logical or the evidence is factual. Look for any unsupported claims in the speaker’s thesis.

Step 3

Write bullet points for your rebuttal according to the notes you took. Bring up each argument the speaker presented. Provide details for the audience of why that argument either is not credible or does not relate to the thesis. Counter any factually incorrect evidence that the speaker provided. Use your assessment of each argument to support your own points.

Step 4

Conclude your rebuttal by breaking apart how the speaker’s arguments and evidence fail to support the thesis. Point out claims in the thesis that your opponent failed entirely to support, if possible. Restate your thesis as the alternative to the speaker’s unsupported thesis.

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