Argument Analysis

This section focuses on the ‘Analysing Argument’, and it is divided into sections below

What is the task?

Analysing argument requires you read a given article(s) and explore how the author attempts to persaude their audience. The crux of this task is to explore WHY the author says something, as opposed to offering your own perspective on the issue. 

This assessment can come two main forms:

1) Single argument analysis – this is where you only have one single article that you have to read 

2) Comparative argument analysis – this is where you have multiples articles or visuals that you have to analyse. 

Nonetheless, the following structure applies to both cases. 

The basic building block

The basic building block of argument analysis is the HOW-WHAT-WHY structure – this is what should take up most of your essay and it is the part that gets you those marks. 

Here’s what each part of this structure means:

HOW – how does the author present their argument (quotes? literary techniques? visuals?)  

WHAT  what are the arguments of the author (what is the author saying about the topic)

WHY – why does the author present their argument in this particular way (another way to view this is, how does the author’s argument make audiences think , feel and respond?

So, an example of a HOW-WHAT-WHY could include

Drawing heavily upon inclusive language, the author repeatedly asserts that “we have to act now in implementing this ban”. This is designed to instill a sense of panic within the audiences who are encouraged to place political pressure on government officials.

With the HOW-WHAT-WHY structure in mind, the overall structure of an argument analysis may look like (but is not limited to) this:

  1. Introduction (100-150 words)
  2. Paragraphs x 3 (250-300 each paragraph)
  3. Conclusion (50-75 words)

And then breaking down each paragraph, the structure may look like:

  1. Topic Sentence
  2. HOW-WHAT-WHY (x 3) 
  3. Linking Sentence

Now of course the structure shown here and the numbers are only a rough guide, but the main idea being conveyed here, is that the HOW-WHAT-WHY is what takes up most of your body paragraphs. Using this structure will help you avoid one of the most common mistakes which is summarising the article rather than analysing it. 

To see how this fits into the bigger picture,  feel free to check the below video guide:

Alright, let's see this in action with some high-scoring sample essays

Here is one sample essay that uses a similar structure, but also contains unique elements – so there is a lot of flexibility. It is always a good idea to pick which structure is most suitable for you (with reasonable limits of course 🙂

What can you do beforehand to prepare? (apart from MORE essays)

Preparing for argument analysis can be very challenging since every article is completely new.  Apart from simply writing more essays , are there any other ways to prepare for this task?

Well, yes. Even though writing full essays is great initially, it may become tiring or you may reach a plateau point. So, after a few essays it may be more beneficial to create a template.

This is because since the techniques, structures and features of each article can have some similarities, I found it helpful to come up with a template to help you ‘memorise’ parts  of an argument analysis essay.

If you want some background, I also covered how I ‘memorised’ parts of my other essays, and the video for that can be found here (however, you don’t have to watch that in order to understand this template).

Let’s see what I mean

Now later on you will come across argument analysis tasks that require you to analyse 2 or more articles. So here is a guide on how to approach this comparison