Argumentative Essay- Guide #3


As always, all paragraphs, be it those supporting your stance or that of your dissidents should follow a PEEL format. As in Guide #1,  the basic structure of each body paragraph should include:

  • Topic Sentence/ Point (P): What is one point or argument you can tell your readers that will help them better understand your claim/paper topic?
  • Evidence (E): Statistics? A particular news/event? Quote by a reputable individual? I usually recommend my students to go for citing news/events. Firstly, it’s easier to remember than statistics. Secondly, it is more impactful than quotes in making your point. One paragraph should have 1-2 good examples.
  • Explain Evidence (E): How should we read or interpret the evidence you are providing us? How does this evidence prove the point you are trying to make in this paragraph? Here is your best chance to explain your cited evidence to convince readers to adopt your stand. Yet, don’t be too draggy.
  • Link (L): End your paragraph with a concluding sentence that reasserts how the topic sentence of this paragraph helps up better understand and/or prove your paper’s overall claim. I also recommend that your link should draw back to the essay question.

How exactly to go about doing this?

Assume this essay question:
Compared to generations in the past, the young today are labeled as the “Strawberry Generation”. Are the young in Singapore today weaker and less capable?

A basic and sufficiently sensible PEEL paragraph:

It is imperative to note that times have changed. Problems of today are not comparable to events of the past. Hence, it is unfair to compare whether or not young Singaporeans today are weaker or less capable than those in the past. {P} For example, the advancements of technology  today, as seen in platforms like Google and  Microsoft Office, has allowed young Singaporeans today to become data-savvy and be eloquent in streamlining processes. However, the young in the past were not blessed with the same technology. Thus, it is unfair to compare these two groups on grounds of IT-capability. {E&E1} Additionally, measurements of success have changed. In the past, young people who are able to accomplish menial tasks in the fields are considered capable. Today, the barometer of successes measured in terms of jobs, salaries, and type of housings.{E&E2} Hence, it is unfair to compare capabilities across time in a naive manner. Ergo, one cannot confidently claim that the young in Singapore today weaker and less capable.{L}

As you can see, in my P, I provide a reason for my stand, and state clearly what stand I’m adopting(underlined)– in this case, my stand is that I completely disagree with the statement because there is no point of comparison in the first place. You don’t have to “lift” the essay question like I did here in your P; feel free to paraphrase the question if you are confident in your language skills.

{E&E1}: I cite a few evidences like Google and Microsoft Office, and explained how because of these platforms today, and lack thereof in the past, it is difficult to compare  young Singaporeans across time. Google, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel etc are all well-known platforms, so they are considered capital-letter examples. Other examples of capital-letter or big examples are like the 911 terrorist attacks (Terrorism), the Maria Hertogh Riots (Discrimination), or Singapore government’s removal of Primary 4 streaming exams (Education).

{E&E2}: Notice, when I speak of measurements of success, I did not cite any capital-letter examples, but I explained exactly my intentions by drawing on facts of life. Now, it is always good if you have big, capital-letters examples to show off. However, once in a while, you might encounter essay questions you are rather unfamiliar with. In such cases, draw on facts in life or observations in society to help you in your explanation.

In my link, I clearly re-instate my simple explanation, and link back the ultimate question that is the essay question (underlined). Again, you don’t have to “lift” the essay question like I did.

Here is another example of a good PEEL paragraph written by one of my students for the essay question “People in the lime-light have a responsibility to be good role models. Is this a fair comment?“:

Try to dicpher where are the P-E-E-Ls!

Dissidents argue that people in the lime-light do have a certain responsibility to be good role models as their fans might attempt to mimic their behavior. Thus, it is important that these individuals with their followings are portrayed as exemplary figures. When Kylie Jenner got lip injections to plump up her lips, her fans wanted emulate her new sexy image, which inspired the Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge. Teenage girls started sucking on shot glasses to blow up their lips and some of them were injured as a result. Finally, even when the reality startlet confessed that she had surgical work done on her lips, that did not stopped the young girls from emulating the look. In fact, it sparked a trend of teenage girls in the US have their lips surgically plumped. This episode proves that people will blindly follow what their idols are doing, even if what they are doing cause harm to themselves. Thus, it is understandable that some claim that it is important for celebrities to be good role models for their audience.

Do note that this paragraph is written to dish out the opponent’s potential views, not that of the writer (I have italicized the keywords.), which brings me to a very important skill..


Remember, in Guide #1 I pointed out when turning the tables, you need to compare oranges with oranges. Following her paragraph on dissident’s views, this is what my student wrote:

However, it is imperative to note that people in the lime-light are not obliged to be good role models for others, as they have their own private lives and they have the right to their personal space. Also, for most of them, their job is simply to entertain or provide public goods, and it is not in their job description to be role models for the public. For example, Mr David Ong was stripped of his title of member of parliament just because of his affair with a Bukit Batok grassroots leader. However, does him having an affair affect his work quality in the parliament? Will a hairdresser or a run-of-mill engineer lose their jobs for the same mistake? Why impose a different condition on people who are in the limelight as compared to those who are not, when we are all simply humans with our own need of personal space? Thus, I believe that people in the limelight should not have an extra responsibility to be role models for the public eye.

Here, she does not re-quote her Kylie Jenner example to make her argument. She could, and it would be better, but she didn’t, and it is fine. What is important to note is that she took the argument from the previous paragraph put forth by her opponents and argue against it. That’s comparing oranges with oranges. Remember— your dissidents’ paragraph and your turning the tables paragraph must always be in reaction to each other.

Her PEEL is also clear in this paragraph, except she uses a slightly different method in her explanation–she poses rhetorical questions to challenge her opponents and readers alike.

So, that’s it! As you can see, writing a good PEEL paragraph and trying to turn the tables is not that difficult. Of course, practise makes perfect!


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