Inver Hills Community College


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Click on any  part or section below:

Part I. Basics/Process

  A. Chapters 1-6: Start

  B. Ch. 7-13: Organize

  C. Ch. 14-20: Revise/Edit

Part II. College Writing

   D. Ch. 21-23: What Is It?

   E. Ch. 24-30: Write on Rdgs.

   F. Ch.31-35: Arguments

  G. Ch. 36-42: Research

  H. Ch. 43-48: Literature

   I.  Ch. 49-58: Majors & Work

Part III. Grammar

 Study Questions



Chapter 35: Essay Tests & Other Argument Papers

What are some other types of argument papers?



Argument is one of the most important thinking skills you can develop in college, both for college courses and for your future profession.  The "Dialogic/Dialectic" and "Thesis Paper" chapters given previously are important beginning ways of learning to write arguments in college.  The additional types of argument papers mentioned in this one-page chapter are used in a wide variety of college courses and/or professional situations.  The chapter has three main parts.  Click on the part you want or scroll down:

A. ESSAY-ANSWER TESTS: a typical method for taking essay tests requiring an argumentative essay answer




Essay-Answer Tests             

One specialized form of a thesis essay is the written essay-answer test in which you must argue one or more points.  Here is a method you can develop for taking an approximate one-hour written essay test in response to one question.  You also can adapt this method to taking essay tests that have several questions per hour to answer.  Here are five steps and a sample test.

Five Steps to Taking an Essay Test

  1. DON'T START WRITING! Set up a time schedule first:
    1/5 - 1/10 (10-20%) of your allowed time for brainstorming,
    1/5 - 1/10 (10-20%) of your allowed time for revising/editing, and the remainder of your time for writing just one draft!

  2. BRAINSTORM FIRST: Write down ideas all over the paper or list things or outline. Then group them into a few groups by lines, circles, or numbers.

  3. WRITE: Write neatly and carefully--you only have time for one draft. Start with your body (1-4 sections of 1 paragraph each or more, depending on your time). Then do a strong conclusion with a summary sentence. Do the introduction with a summary sentence last, unless you know exactly what you intend to say when you start writing.

  4. GIVE LOTS OF DETAILS: As you write, cover as many items as you can. In addition, don't worry too much about depth on any one item. Go for quantity more than quality, breadth (width) of knowledge more than depth or totality of any one thing.

  5. REVISE. Allow time for dotting your i's, crossing your t's, adding in "not's" you may have left out, and adding a few more detail examples between the lines.

Here is a practice essay-answer final test for this course. This is a realistic practice test. While answering the questions in this test, be sure to do the following:

  1. Use the information above about taking written finals.  USE THE TIME SCHEDULE!

  2. This test is open book.  You may gather and use any notes and essays you’ve written for this course.

  3. Use a thesis-essay format for answering the question below: develop a central argument, three supporting reasons why it is true, and supporting details to prove each reason. 

  4. As in many first-draft forms of writing, you may want to leave half a page of blank space at the beginning and write your introduction last so that you know more exactly what to say in it.  

  5. The test is immediately below:

Example of a Test Question for You to Take Now

Here is the question:

Consider the requirements for this course and the work--both in quality and quantity--you did for the course.  Then write a response to this question: "What grade do you deserve for the part of this course that has to do with improvement, rewriting quantity and quality, and participation?"

Be sure to use the time schedule discussed above. Assume that the total time you have is sixty minutes, and allow plenty of time for planning at the beginning and some time for editing at the end.  Work for the entire time you have--it looks bad to instructors to leave a written final early. Be sure to use a thesis structure and lots of detailed examples, stories, quotes (as well as you can remember them), numbers, names, etc.


A Real Test Essay Question and Answer

Here is a real test-essay question and essay answer.  The answer is provided here with permission from the author.  The essay is somewhat disturbing, but the dynamics--and the problem--are very real to the author, so her argument is particularly interesting..

Question: How many children should there be in a household?  Form a specific argument.  Next, plan how to argue your point of view using a thesis structure and personal-experience details that help prove your points.  Then write your essay.  Plan your time, as well: you will have two hours to plan, write, and edit your argument.


“My Other Half”
by Val Boden, Basic English, Inver Hills College


I am a twin.  Some people say to me, “Tell me, don’t you just absolutely love having a twin brother?”  Others ask, “Are you two identical?”  Some even say, “Do you think alike?”  All of these would all be wonderful questions if it were not for the fact that I have been hearing them for the last twenty-two years, and the answer to all three is "no."  Having a twin brother has definitely had its good times and bad.  However, the strongest memories are those that actually left scars.  The conflict, favoritism, and disgusting living habits I encountered were enough to make even Marsha Brady on The Brady Bunch run away from home.  In the mind of this young person, it is better for parents not to have more than one child in a household. 


            First, it is better not to have a brother or sister because something always seems to turn up missing.  I often wonder if my brother thinks that because my possessions are located in my parent’s house, they belong to him.  Most people would not expect their very own brother to have “sticky fingers,” not to mention the nerve to lie when being caught. For example, there was one time when we were no more than 15 years old.  I myself had been working part-time, while he was unemployed.  My hard earned $50.00 magically disappeared from a small closet in my bedroom.

            Was it a ghost?  Most certainly not: it was my trustworthy twin.  By the time I confronted him, I was so full of hatred and rage, I could barely talk.  When I asked about my money, he responded sarcastically, “ Duh, the same place you left it, idiot.”  My only option to this was to yell, “Mom and Dad, help! Dave stole my money!”  Of course, arguing between Dave and me was so common, it took at least five minutes before our parents finally came to see what all the commotion was, and by this time Dave and I were already thrashing each other.  Our parents temporarily resolved our issues once again, this time by paying me back on behalf of Dave, and allowing him three whole months to pay them back. I think they are still waiting for their money.

Not Fair

Second, it is better not to have a brother or sister because for some reason the person never seems to know how to share.  Sharing has always been something the majority of us are taught at a young age. Perhaps my brother missed that lesson, too. 

For example, we were barely seven years old when our parents purchased a television set for us to share.  At the time, my brother and I already had to share a bedroom.  He cried until he was able to watch what he wanted, when he wanted.  The first time I tried to take a stand, I politely asked, “Can we please watch something else today?” I am sick of you always choosing.”

Dave’s response was, “No way, GI Joe and Transformers are about to begin; go downstairs and play with mom or something.” 

I asked a second time, saying, “Please Dave stop being such a jerk.”

He said, “Screw you,” then threw a pillow at my innocent face.  At this point, I was in tears and yelled, “I just want to watch Little Ponies!”

No one responded to my cries or complaints, only to Dave’s.  When the time came for us to have our own bedrooms, he demanded to take the television set with him.  Our parents were so sick of the fighting, they caved in to his demands. I once again sacrificed my happiness and avoided being beaten up by allowing my brother to get his way.

Disgusting in Cleanliness

Third, it is better not to have a sister or brother because the person just increases your chances of being blamed for something you did not even do. Responsibility and cleanliness are normally traits people develop at an acceptable age, but unfortunately, my brother lacked these qualities.  For example, last year our parents went to Las Vegas for a week, leaving my brother and me behind in a large house full of pets and problems. 

After working my ten-hour workday, I returned home to a dark, cold, and messy house.  My brother failed to let the dog outside to go to the bathroom, dishes were piled up in the dirty sink, and beer bottles covered the counters.  I demanded to know what happened. He simply replied, “Why worry?” We still have six more days until it needs to be clean.”  I packed my bags, took one last look around the disaster site I once called home, and exited shouting, “Farewell, piglet!”


            How can any person, especially someone related to me, live like this and think nothing is a little odd or even wrong with it?  Why should I have to suffer because my parents hit the jackpot and ended up with twins?  My life had been severely affected and disturbed in countless negative ways due to my sibling.  I would never replace my twin brother or the unique bond we have.  I would, however, advise against anyone having more than one child per household.


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Dialogic Writing and Analysis

Dialogic writing is very similar to another type of writing assignment popular in college: analysis.  However, the two also have important differences.

The word analysis means many things, depending on who uses it.  At its simplest, the word analyze means "to take apart" or "to show the parts of."  Thus, for example, a literary analysis simply shows the parts of a literary work by taking it apart using the literary elements: characters, setting, background, plot, symbols, etc.  A psychological analysis of a person, reading, or event simply shows the parts of the subject according to a psychological system.  And a business analysis shows the parts of a business or a business transaction according to one or another theory of business practice or economics.

However, in some assignments and some disciplines, you are expected to analyze from several points of view, and these points of view may be argumentative.  For example, in a sociology course, you might be asked to analyze a culture or a group of people using two or more sociological theories; in economics, you might be asked to analyze our current economic situation using two or three economic theories; and in philosophy, you might be asked to analyze an idea using two or three philosophers' beliefs.  In situations like this--especially when they are placed beside each other--theories function as arguments.  While showing their similarities, you also should be sure to highlight the differences between the theories as you use each one to examine or analyze something.  There may not be two completely opposing theories, nor, necessarily, a compromise or higher resolution.  However, this type of analysis paper is very similar to a dialogic paper because in each, you must use three differing arguments.  

The primary difference is that in a dialogic paper, you are trying to prove the truth of--give the reasons and supporting details for--each of your arguments, whereas in an analysis, you simply are applying each theory in turn to the assigned subject.  For this reason, it is wise to keep the two separate in your mind, however much they may be alike: a dialogic paper tries to prove all three arguments; analysis using different theories applies those theories to particular situations.

For more information on analysis papers, go to the chapter called "Writing an Analysis." 


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Dialogic Writing in a Professional Recommendation Report

            In business and professional writing, a paper similar to a dialogic argument is a recommendation report.  A recommendation report is a sophisticated form of a business proposal.  On the one hand, a simple business proposal argues for just one solution to a problem or need.  However, a recommendation report offers several possible solutions to the problem, and then recommends one of them (or a combination of them).  Thus at some point in a recommendation report, the author must present several different and even sometimes opposing solutions, arguing for each one fairly, logically, and succinctly.  Furthermore, the author must then choose one and argue why it is the best, or fashion a compromise among two or more of the solutions and argue for that compromise.  Because of this dialogical process, one can call recommendation reports the dialogic arguments of the professional world.  

            For more information on recommendation reports, go the chapter called "Writing a Recommendation Report."


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Case Study

A case study is a type of analytical argument used in psychology and the social sciences.  It has a point to make--an opinion to verify--and it proves its point by showing that a particular client or patient's case was successful or unsuccessful.  In this way, a case study resembles a scientific report (see "IMRaD" below) in identifying a problem or need, testing it factually, examining the results, and then coming to an argumentative conclusion.  By the end, if the case study (or IMRaD science report) is done very well, then the final argumentative conclusion is no longer an argument (as it was when the research was started), but instead a new established fact.

The parts--the topic or body sections--of a case study are as follows:

Parts of a Case Study

Introduction--a discussion of the basic problem, need, or situation and how it will be examined in this study

Client/Patient--the subject of the study: the client(s) or patient(s)

Problem(s)/Symptoms and Diagnosis--what the client or patient presents by way of symptoms, behavior, etc., and what the textbook or other diagnosis is

Plan--the details of the study or action(s) taken, often described in three sub-sections as "Components," "Treatment," and "Results/Prognosis")

Conclusion--the overall conclusions, findings, and implications

For more on this type of paper, see the chapter called "Case Study."


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Disagreement with a Reading

Some instructors and even some professional coordinators may ask you to write a formal response to a reading.  The wisest way to do this is to first show clearly that you understand the main argument and its primary supporting details in the reading itself, and then to explain your disagreements and your own supporting points. 

One way to use this overall pattern is to present the main argument and supports of the reading, itself, in an initial summary section, and then make your own points.  Another--and more thorough, more complex, and sometimes more rewarding way if you also present very clear writing to your readers--is to choose two to four main points with which you disagree (and perhaps even a point or two with which you agree), explain why you disagree (or agree) with each, and provide your own supporting details.  Then, in the conclusion, you can describe how your own point of view is slightly--or dramatically--different from the reading's author because of the points you have explained and detailed. 

For more on this kind of writing, go to the chapter called "Disagreement."


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Editorial for a Newspaper or Online News/Blog Column

Newspaper editorials are another form of thesis writing.  The structure often is much the same, though an editorial often is shorter than a thesis paper.  On the other hand, the style, tone, and voice of an editorial are different from that of a college thesis paper.  This difference can be slight, as in a New York Times editorial that may sound somewhat academic, to the highly personal and even storytelling forms used for making a point in an informal online news column or blog.

In style, an editorial avoids being "academic," which means a reading level of tenth to twelfth grade or higher with words more difficult and sentences longer; instead, the style is journalistic, which means a reading level of about sixth to eighth grade with shorter words and sentences (see "Writing a News Article").  The tone of an editorial tends to be a bit stronger--never bombastic or harsh, but usually with a little bit more emotion, often one that shows strength, kindness, criticism of the opposing side, urgency, or concern.  Such tones, though slightly more emotional, still should be handled delicately with a light touch.  In voice, whereas thesis papers usually use the formal "he/she/it/they" pronouns and a voice of educated confidence, editorials, on the other hand, may use "he/she/it/they," the "you" voice, or even the "I" voice, depending on how personalized the writer wants to make the editorial feel.

Many if not most editorials do not simply argue for something: they also, or additionally, argue against something.  In this regard, they are disagreements (see "Advanced Methods" in the chapter called "Disagreeing with a Reading").


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IMRaD Science/Research Report

A requirement of most science, social science, and psychology students is that they learn the "IMRaD" method of arguing or proving that a hypothesis is true or false.  In this kind of scientific argument, ideally the researcher has no bias before the research takes place about whether the hypothesis will be proven true or false.  Nevertheless, the final paper is an argument showing precisely what fact has been established from the initial hypothesis, which in itself is a proposed argument.  This kind of paper is, in a way, a pure form of arguing by starting with an opinion and reaching a factual conclusion. 

"IMRaD" stands for the following, which are the major topic or body sections of an IMRaD paper:

Introduction--the hypothesis, the research activity proposed for discovering the truth or falsity of the hypothesis, and the background details for the research activity or need for the research activity (which may sometimes include extensive summaries of written research)

Methods--the methodology, materials, means, and/or modes used to test or search for answers to the hypothesis

Results--a description of the research and its results


Discussion--a thorough discussion of what the results mean, do not mean, and why, along with possible effects for future hypotheses

For more on this kind of paper, see the chapter called "IMRaD."


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Magazine/Newsletter Article

A magazine article or newsletter article often is some kind of thesis or an analysis of several arguments.  However, in order to define this type of magazine/newsletter article, it is necessary to briefly describe the difference between three main types of news articles: the factual article, the analytical article, and the argument. 

Factual article: If you intend to write an article that is entirely factual, you may follow one of three factual formats.  (a) The first is the traditional news report pattern: the 5 W's of journalism (who, what, where, when, why/how) and the inverted-pyramid of journalism (i.e., most important info first, second most important second, etc.).  (b) The second factual format is the more modern newpaper reporting style: instead of gathering information using the 5 W's, it gathers information into a series a main subjects, anywhere from several (for a short article) to perhaps one or two dozen for a long article; this format also uses the inverted pyramid of journalism to arrange the most important group of facts first, the second most important second, etc.  If you are interested in using either of these patterns, then see the chapter in this book called "News Article."  (c) The third factual format for typical magazine/newsletter articles is the professional report, a very simple pattern in which you collect your facts into three or four main body sections and then report them using a traditional college and professional report pattern of intro, body sections, and conclusion.  For this report pattern, see the chapter in this book called "Professional Report."

Analytical article: If you want to write your magazine/newsletter article as an analysis, there are two primary ways.  One is to simply write it as a traditional college-style analysis.  If you want to do this, then see the chapter in this textbook called "Analysis."  Another is to write it as an analysis of one or more arguments.  If this is what you want to do, then see "Dialogic Writing and Analysis" on this page, above.

Argumentative article: Perhaps the most common type of article in most popular or general magazines and newsletters is the argumentative article.  It may work like a dialectic/dialogic article, and then choose one of the two or three dialogic positions in the end, or go back and forth between two competing viewpoints, explaining at each step why one is better than the other.  Or it may use a straight thesis format, with a thesis statement in the introduction, then several body sections proving the main reasons why the thesis statement is true, and a final conclusion.  To write in either of these ways--dialogic or thesis--see the "" or "" chapter in this section. 

For the specific thesis-style method of writing a magazine article, this book has a an entire chapter.  That chapter also explains how magazine and newsletter writing are different in style, tone, and voice than college writing.  To see this chapter, go to  "Magazine/Newsletter Article." 


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Proposal for Business, Technical, or Research Needs

Proposal writing is the business and professional equivalent in many ways of writing a thesis paper.  A good proposal describes a basic problem or need, offers a solution for solving it, gives the details of how to carry out the solution, and then describes what will happen once the solution has been enacted.  In other words, a proposal uses plenty of detail to prove that something should be done.  To see more about such writing, go to the chapter called "Writing a Proposal."


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Senior Thesis, Master's Thesis, or Doctoral Dissertation

If you someday write a senior thesis, a master's thesis, or a dissertation for a doctoral degree, the paper likely will be a lengthy argument--a long version of a thesis paper.  The specific form may vary according to your discipline, but the important task you are completing is that you are expected to make new knowledge. 

This means that you are supposed to contribute something unique in an important way, whether a small but significant bit of new knowledge or a larger truth.  In fact, often in academic writing, it is the smaller bits that are most important, as they can be more easily checked, examined, and verified.  In addition, rarely is scholarly progress made by writing a prescription for the entire world; rather, most scholars take on what would seem to anyone outside of their discipline as a small corner of knowledge, perhaps even a corner incomprehensible to the great majority of people, to build a new facet of the truth. 

If you are planning on writing a thesis or dissertation, assume you will be arguing something.  Talk at length with your thesis or dissertation advisor about both the content and the form of your paper before proceeding.



There are other types of arguments and methods of arguing, as well.  If you are in doubt about what pattern, style, or tone to use, ask your instructor or professional coordinator for examples of the type of good writing he or she wants.


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 31. What Is an "Argument"?

 32. Dialogic/Dialectic

 33. Thesis Worksheet

 34. Thesis Paper

 35. Tests & Other Args.




Related Chapters:


Disagreement w/Reading 

Literary Thesis

Professional Proposal

Recommendation Report

Magazine/Nwsltr. Article

IMRaD/Science Report

Case Study

 Related Links in

12. Types of Papers

14. Online Readings

16. Research Writing

20. Major/Work Writing




Updated 1 Aug. 2013

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Previous editions: Writing for School & Work, 1984-1998;, 1998-2012
6th Edition: 8-1-12, rev. 8-1-13.  Text, design, and photos copyright 2002-12 by R. Jewell or as noted
Permission is hereby granted for nonprofit educational copying and use without a written request.
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Click here to contact the author: Richard Jewell.  Questions and suggestions are welcome.