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Teacher Tips and Answers

Revising Persuasive Essays

Once you finish a first draft of your persuasive essay, set it aside for awhile. When you return to it, you can see it anew. That's what revising means—seeing your work with new eyes. When you revise, you look at your essay from your reader's perspective to make sure your writing includes compelling details and flows smoothly. These activities will help you revise.

Revising for Order for Importance

What is the best way to organize the supporting reasons in a persuasive essay? In most cases, you should lead up to your best reason. This leaves readers with your strongest point clearly in mind. The writer of the "Lost in a Crowd" essay organizes his thoughts so that the most important reason comes last.

Opinion

Overcrowded hallways, cafeterias, and classrooms make it very hard to teach and to learn.

Supporting Reasons

  • Overcrowded halls set students up for trouble.

  • The school cafeteria can be just as distracting.

  • Students suffer the most in overcrowded classrooms.

Note: Transition words and phrases can help you signal order of importance. As you revise, look for opportunities to add transitions to show the relationship between your ideas.

the main reason

most importantly

the biggest reason

in addition

furthermore

another

Organize your reasons.

Study the following opinions and supporting reasons. Number the reasons in the best order, 1 being the least convincing and 3 the most convincing. The first one has been done for you. (There may be more than one way to arrange the reasons, depending on your own experience and understanding of each topic.) Make a copy of this Google doc or download a Word template.

  1. Opinion:
    Our school needs vending machines that offer juice and power drinks.

    Supporting Reasons:

    • The addition of vending machines would greatly improve student morale.
      2
    • Vending machines would cut down on tardiness because students wouldn’t have to stop at the store.
      1
    • Students who can’t drink milk would have an alternative.
      3
  2. Opinion:
    Students shouldn’t use cell phones in school.

    Supporting Reasons:

    • Calls may disrupt classes.

      3

    • They may lead to vandalism.

      1

    • Distractions like text messages, apps, and games keep the user from learning.

      2

  3. Opinion:
    Physical education classes should focus on physical fitness and conditioning.

    Supporting Reasons:

    • Students need to practice healthful living and fitness.

      3

    • P.E. classes have little meaning right now.

      2

    • Not all students like playing team sports.

      1

  4. Opinion:
    We need bike paths throughout the city.

    Supporting Reasons:

    • The city streets are already busy with car traffic.

      1

    • Bike paths make it safer to use bikes.

      3

    • Bike paths may increase bike use, which is good for the environment.

      2

  5. Opinion:
    Community service promotes good citizenship.

    Supporting Reasons:

    • Community service shows students how their city works.

      2

    • It introduces them to all sorts of people, places, and problems.

      1

    • It prepares them for the real world.

      3

  6. Opinion:
    Every school day should start with 20 minutes of silent reading.

    Supporting Reasons:

    • With daily reading, students begin to enjoy books more.

      2

    • Daily reading helps improve the students’ reading skills.

      3

    • It gets students ready to learn for the day.

      1

Revising to Consider Objections

When you answer an objection in your persuasive essay, you should do so in a fair, logical, and polite manner. The fifth paragraph in “Lost in the Crowd” fairly concedes that fixing overcrowded schools may cost money. But the writer also says the initial cost will benefit the local economy in the future. 

Evaluate objections.

Review these paragraphs. Mark each as fair or unfair, deciding if the writer uses fair and respectful language when discussing opposing ideas. If the paragraph is unfair, rewrite it to make it fair and respectful. Make a copy of this Google doc or download a Word template.

It's true that adding a bike lane to all major roads in our city would be a significant expense, but we could take measures to lessen the burden on taxpayers. For example, we could apply for federal grants or ask for funds from private donors. Overall, adding bike lanes is worth the expense, for it will protect cyclists, lessen car traffic, and improve the quality of life.

Fair

Some people say bicyclists break too many rules of the road, and adding more cyclists to the road will just cause more problems. That's an absurd argument. By that logic, no one should be able to use roads. After all, some car drivers break the rules, too. Should we ban cars from the road, too?

Unfair

A common argument against bike lanes is that they are bad for businesses with storefronts on city streets, but studies actually show that streets that prioritize walking and biking have proven to boost local retail sales by 10-25 percent in cities around the world. So our local businesses may in fact receive an economic boost with the addition of bike lanes.

Fair

Check your essay for objections.

Check your essay to make sure you answer objections. If you do, evaluate your responses for fairness. If you don't mention any objections, introduce one or two somewhere in your essay. Then refute, address, or concede each one.

Revising with a Peer Response

Share your writing.

Have a partner read your essay and then respond to it by completing this form. A responder should try to list at least one strong point for each part and, if at all possible, one thing to improve. Make a copy of this Google doc or download a Word template.

Peer Response Sheet

Revising in Action

When you revise, you add, take out, rewrite, and rearrange your writing to make it clearer. Here are revisions to one student’s essay.

  • Paragraph Before Revising

    Editing
  • A response to an objection is revised for fairness and a transition is added.

    Editing
  • Paragraph After Revising

    Editing

Revise with a checklist.

Read each line in the checklist. When you can answer each question with a yes, check it off. Make a copy of this Google doc or download a Word template.

Ideas

  • Does my essay deal with a relevant and debatable topic?
  • Is my opinion clearly developed with strong reasons?
  • Do details (facts, examples, explanations, . . .) explain the reasons?

Organization

  • Will my beginning paragraph get readers interested?
  • Does the beginning paragraph state my opinion clearly?
  • Do the middle paragraphs follow order of importance?

Voice

  • Do I sound sincere and interested in the topic?
  • Do I answer objections in a fair and polite manner?

Word Choice

  • Have I used specific nouns and active verbs?

Sentence Fluency

  • Do my sentences flow smoothly from one to another?
  • Do I use transitions to connect ideas?

This lesson is a part of the Writing Persuasive Essays unit.

Click the title to view more information about this unit and a full list of lessons that are included.

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