How to plan, structure, and write Argumentative Essay Questions
This resource is a breakdown of AQA GCSE English Language Paper 1 Q4, it goes through everything you need to know for Paper 1 Section A Q4. It’s an argumentative essay question, so make sure you learn how to structure those properly! You also need to understand how to ‘analyse’ and ‘evaluate’. Below, I’ll go through an example question, how to find keywords and how to plan, structure and write this answer in order to aim for top marks.
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GCSE ENGLISH LANGUAGE AQA PAPER 1 QUESTION 4 EXAMPLE
Focus this part of your answer on the second part of the source, from line 21 to the end.
A reader said, ‘This part of the story, where Alice decides to continue digging for the object, is very mysterious, and suggests her discovery may be life-changing.’
To what extent do you agree? In your response, you could:
• Consider the reasons why Alice decides to continue digging
• Evaluate how the writer creates a sense of mystery
Support your response with references to the text. [20 marks]
HOW TO STRUCTURE AN ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY
- Underline Keywords in the Question
- Highlight relevant sections of the text (annotate)
- Write out the main points/ideas of your argument
- Structure the points into a plan
- Edit/Proofread/ Check over
Second part / line 21 – where to look in the extract (underline this on your page)
Very mysterious – First part of the argument
Suggests discovery is life-changing – Second part of the argument
To what extent – how far / sliding scale question (you can agree, partly agree, or disagree in your thesis)
Agree – shows that it is an argumentative essay
Reasons – find the suggested or implied meanings behind the action in the story
Evaluate – make sure you choose the most important pieces of evidence (quotes or references) that contribute to your argument. You can use evaluation words or phrases: notably/notable/it is important to note that / significant / significantly / especially / most / extremely
Writer – focus on the writer’s intentions — what specific and detailed effects are they trying to produce for readers?
Sense of mystery – reinforcing the keywords from the argument
References – quotes / references to the text — quotes are always best to use, keep them short and specific rather than longer, you can also group several points together to make the same point (this is called synthesis)
The purpose of an intro is to outlines your argument / introduce your ideas. I recommend three sentences for your intro to this question. An argumentative essay intro should be balanced between the ‘agree’ and ‘disagree’ positions, then present your thesis (your main argument) at the end. The middle paragraphs then need to keep going back to this argument.
Position 1: Agree (in what ways can the opinion in the question be true?)
Position 2: Disagree (in what ways might someone disagree with the opinion?)
Thesis: your one sentence, developed answer to the question that uses keywords and considers your own opinion and position in the argument.
Example Basic Thesis: “I fully agree with the statement.”
Example Developed Thesis: “I fully agree with the statement because this seems like a very dramatic moment for the protagonist, and the sense of drama is heightened by it being a life changing experience, and the mystery surrounding the experience”
For each middle paragraph (I recommend three, but you could do four), write using the following structure. For the first two paragraphs, you should closely follow a PEEDL paragraph structure, so make sure you know how to do that and what that means! See my basic essay writing course for more help on this.
Point, Evidence (Quote), Explanation (Analyse), Development (go deeper / explore alternatives /zoom in), Link (back to thesis)
P1 Point supporting your argument (your own idea / opinion)
e.g. How / why the writer creates mystery
P2 Point supporting your argument (your own idea / opinion)
e.g. How / why the writer makes it seem life changing
P3 Counter Argument (point against your argument, countered)
Some may argue that it’s not so mysterious because …. However, …
** The counter argument needs to explore an alternative side or angle, but then at the end dismiss this as not so strong as your original thesis — give reasons why it’s a weaker argument and by the end of the paragraph bring it back round to your original way of thinking.
The conclusion should only be around 2–3 sentences, if you’re pressed for time just write one sentence. In it you should:
Summarise your strongest points again
Restate your thesis — you can slightly alter or modify what your original thesis was according to what you’ve just discovered through exploring those middle paragraphs.
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