Argumentation within an essay can be very difficult for many students to fully understand, especially those who are new to the process. As a result, many students over describe in an essay or present information in a story like style. These students then receive a low grade of are forced to rewrite their essays, confused as to what they did wrong. The truth is, most of the time it is because students have not managed to turn their opinions in to an actual argument or were unable to structure their essay to effectively answer the question.

Arguments: Classification.

In this help sheet, a new model has been developed to simplify the essay argumentation process, clearly explain how arguments support each other, and how arguments should be organized to effectively answer an essay question or form an argument on a given topic. In this model there are 3 categories or argument:

ELA Essay Level Argument.

• A complete essay, designed to answer the essay question or clearly present the intended argument.

• Contents: Introduction (with thesis), 3 or more PLAs and conclusion.
PLA Paragraph Level Argument.

• A complete body paragraph, designed to support the essay thesis.
• Contents: Paragraph point (topic), additional information, 1 or more ILAs and a closing link to the thesis.

ILA Individual Level Argument.
• A mini-argument within a body paragraph, designed to support the reasoning or point of the paragraph.

• Contents: Evidence and analysis.

Arguments: Interaction.

These argument types are not distinctly separated, they have a strong connection to each other, meaning that you can not effectively create the larger arguments without first composing the smaller level arguments.

Individual level arguments form the foundation for the paragraph level. And equally an essay level argument can not be formed without effective paragraph level arguments, reinforcing the reasoning behind the given thesis.

Essay Level (ELA). Paragraph Level (PLA). Individual level (ILA).

Reason 1

Analysis. Evidence.


Reason 2 Reason 3

Analysis. Evidence. Analysis. Evidence.

In a simple analogy, all argument levels are delivery trucks, expected to deliver a specific package. If any truck shows up at its destination without the required contents inside, it is in fact a failed delivery (as it did not achieve its goal).

Truck (argument): ELA


Answer the question.

Present reasoning for the essay thesis.

Strengthen the paragraph idea.


Introduction, 3+PLAs, conclusion

Point, more information, 1+ILAs, link

Evidence and analysis



Arguments: Content and interaction example.

This example (with only one body paragraph) is in response to the following question:
“Is the world changing for the better?” (College Board, 2012; p823).

Thesis: At present the world is not changing for the better.

1.Evidence| 2.Analysis

1.Point| 2.More information| 3.ILA| 4.Link

3.ILA|Evidence and analysis

1.Point| Many sites of natural beauty have been destroyed. 2.More information| Although technological advancements allow us to achieve or create more things, at the same time irreplaceable things are being ignorantly destroyed.

1.Evidence| Over 60% of the forest that previous covered the earth has been cut down. 2.Analysis| Clearing space for development is one of the main causes for the destruction of forests. For a long time technology has been developed with very little regard for nature, resulting in many sites of natural beauty being destroyed entirely and lost to mankind forever.

1.Intro| 2.PLA-1| 3.PLA-2| 4.PLA-3| 5. Conc.

2.PLA-1|1st body paragraph. 3.PLA-2|2nd body paragraph. 4.PLA-3|3rd body paragraph.


Evidence: is only a description of “what” has happened in the world.

Analysis: Adds important information to the evidence and shows “how” changes in the world have caused it. Through the analysis, the evidence is connected to the point of the PLA.

Point: Must be 1 sentence only, which clearly shows the argument of the paragraph.

More Information: develops the point (paragraph argument) ready for the ILA, by adding more details to the point.

1.Introduction|Change is inevitable! It is true that the world must and will always change, but that does not mean that the change will always be good. At present the world is not changing for the better. Evidence from nature, social interaction and economy will be used to support this thesis.

5.Conclusion|In conclusion, it is clear that the world is not changing for the better. Evidence from nature, social interaction, and the economy clearly shows that the world is in fact getting worse. If the world continues to change in this way, there will be nothing left worth cherishing.

A PLA can contain more than 1 ILA, and an ELA can have more than 3 PLAs.

In fact, at university a PLA should have many more ILAs, and an ELA should have as many PLAs as needed to effectively answer the question.


College Board (2012). The official SAT study guide with DVD. New York: College Board.

4.Link| As the earth’s natural beauty is being destroyed and is unable to be restored, the world certainly is not changing for the better.