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Last updated July 10, 2007

Sample Outlines for the
Argumentative Essay

Ninth Grade English Sample Outline

I. Introduction;introduces topic and features thesis statement:
Grades, on the whole, are detrimental to a student's education.

II. Support: Topic Sentence: The grading system leads students who receive sub-A grades to see
themselves as failures.
1. Parents and students both see an A as the mark of success,and any grade lower
than this as an indication that praiseworthy work has not been accomplished.
2. Progress in a subject is thus often tracked as "whether or not a student has
improved to A-level," as opposed to being viewed on an individual basis; the
student who improves from a B- to a B+, for example, often still feels
disappointment for not having succeeded.
3. Students who receive A's are not always the students who have brought the most
enthusiasm or engagement to the subject matter; in many cases, a B or even
C student is more engaged and enthusiastic about the material.

III. Support: Topic Sentence: Grades on specific assignments are seen as a definitive statement about
a student's academic ability, leading students to negate the importance of the
accompanying teacher comments, which are in fact much more helpful to the
student's learning process.
1. Many students ignore the teacher's comments and focus solely on the grade they
2. In most cases, for students achieving at any level, the teacher's comments include
both praise and constructive criticism; by ignoring these comments, students
ignore the opportunities for growth reflected by the teacher's evaluation.
3. Students spend the most time with teacher comments when a grade has not yet
been assigned to their work; comments on work-in-progress are read
carefully, whereas comments on graded work most often skimmed.

IV. Concession paragraph

A. Topic sentence (concession): It is true that grades do serve as a powerful motivational
tool for students.
1. Students strive to get As, and the effort they exert in search of those grades
pushes them to work harder than they would do if there were no tangible
reward for their hard work.
B. Topic sentence (counter-argument): The positive effect of this motivation is
overpowered by the negative effect of competition between students.
1. A hierarchical grading system always winds up 'marking' some students above
others; students perceive that in order to succeed, they must score higher
than their peers.
2. Competition places the emphasis on individual achievement; while individual
achievements are important for personal development, the goal of education
is for students to learn together as a group. Competition often discourages
students from working -- and therefore from learning -- together, a skill
which will be crucial throughout their lives.

V. Concluding Paragraph:: Restate your thesis; summarize your main points, and then consider the broader
relevance of this topic (the concluding observation, or "so what?" which
ends your paper).


(Note that if you had more than one concession to make, you could make two or even three of your body paragraphs follow the same pattern as the concession paragraph in Roman numeral IV.)


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These materials were created by David Enelow, Anne Farnham and Andy Spear.