This video outlines how to write a five-paragraph argumentative essay, emphasizing the importance of planning. It guides on analyzing the essay question, forming an opinion, and organizing thoughts using a spider diagram. The structure includes an introduction, three body paragraphs (two supporting the writer’s stance and one opposing), and a conclusion. Key tips include focusing on strong ideas for body paragraphs, crafting clear topic sentences, and carefully reading and responding to the essay question. 

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This article is a summary of a YouTube video “How to Write an Argumentative Essay – Planning” by britishcouncilsg

Key insights

  • Adopt a Five-Paragraph Structure: Structure your essay with an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion, following the effective “hamburger essay” format for clear organization.
  • Prioritize Planning and Organization: Before you begin writing, thoroughly plan your essay. This preparation is crucial for maintaining good organization and ensuring your arguments progress logically and coherently.
  • Carefully Analyze the Essay Question: Spend time understanding your essay question. Look for key clues within it to guide your response, ensuring it’s both relevant and impactful.
  • Develop a Clear Opinion and Supporting Arguments: Formulate a clear stance on your essay topic. Build two solid arguments that support your view and prepare one well-considered counter-argument to provide a balanced perspective.
  • Utilize Effective Planning Tools: Use tools like spider diagrams for brainstorming and organizing your ideas. This can greatly aid in structuring your essay and aligning your thoughts.
  • Craft Concise and Clear Topic Sentences: Each paragraph should begin with a clear topic sentence. This sentence should succinctly summarize the main point of the paragraph, keeping your writing focused and on track.
  • Maintain a Balance in Arguments: Ensure to present a balanced view by discussing both sides of the argument. This demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of the topic and enhances the credibility of your essay.
  • Focus on Relevance and Clarity: Be vigilant in ensuring that all your points and arguments are directly related to the essay question and reflect your opinion. Clarity and relevance are key to a compelling argumentative essay.

Timestamped Summary

  • 0:04: Introduction to the process of writing an argumentative essay using a five-paragraph structure. This structure is also referred to as a “hamburger essay.”
  • 0:26: Description of the five-paragraph format: an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
  • 0:43: Emphasis on the importance of planning the essay for clear argument progression and organizational structure. The necessity of analyzing the essay question for effective response.
  • 1:02: Instructions on identifying key elements in the essay question and understanding the task requirements. Guidance on forming the essay’s structure with two paragraphs supporting the writer’s view and one opposing argument.
  • 2:08: Details on planning the essay with a focus on a five-paragraph structure and considering different methods like spider diagrams for planning.
  • 2:50: Process of brainstorming ideas, forming an opinion on the essay topic, and deciding on the main points to be argued in the essay.
  • 4:00: Advice on writing topic sentences for each paragraph to summarize the main points and maintain relevance to the essay question.
  • 4:34: Suggestion to consider counterpoints for the opposing argument paragraph.
  • 4:52: Final advice on keeping the essay simple, sticking to the five-paragraph format, and the importance of planning and structuring. Introduction to the next video in the series on writing thesis statements and paragraphs.


The recommended structure is a five-paragraph format, known as a “hamburger essay,” comprising an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Why is it important to plan an essay before writing?

Planning is crucial for organizing thoughts, ensuring a clear progression of arguments, and effectively communicating the writer’s point of view.

How should one analyze the essay question?

Analyzing the essay question involves looking for clues within it to understand the requirements and forming a response that is directly relevant and effective.

What is the role of topic sentences in the essay?

Topic sentences summarize the main point of each paragraph, providing focus and clarity, and ensuring that each paragraph aligns with the essay’s overall argument.

How many paragraphs in the essay should present the writer’s opinion, and what about the opposing view?

Two body paragraphs should support the writer’s opinion, and one paragraph should present a counter-argument, offering a balanced perspective.


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