The Essential Guide To Persuasive Writing (with Prompts, Samples & Stimulus)

If you're requested to write an argumentative or persuasive writing piece for your exam—take care, this type of writing requires a certain style and structure. Get it wrong and you risk failing your scholarship, selective school or NAPLAN exam. Get it right, and you’re on track to getting that top score!


How To Craft An A+ Argumentative/Persuasive Essay With Ease: A Must-Know Formula

The 3-step formula below helps you tick off the major scoring criteria when writing an argumentative essay for competitive exams like ACER, Edutest, the Victoria selective school test or NAPLAN.

If you focus on getting these three steps right, you’ll earn more points and get an advantage over your competition.

  1. Structure & order – an excellent argumentative piece flows smoothly from beginning to end with a clear introduction, arguments and a conclusion. Fortunately, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. Argumentative essays follow a specific structure—all you have to do is remember it and put it into action in your writing practice tests. You can learn it step-by-step in our online course on persuasive & discussion writing.
  2. Clear & developed arguments – these reflect your higher-order skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving. The best way to improve your ability to build strong arguments is to read the news and imitate after good pieces. With Exam Success site membership, you can access our writing prompts & sample essay library to see real life student essays written to persuasive writing prompts similar to past scholarship and selective school exams (ACER, Edutest and Academic Assessment Services).
  3. Academic register – unlike narrative writing, argumentative essays require a certain degree of formality. Impersonal language and appropriate vocabulary will make you sound more objective, unbiased, and convincing.

3 Types Of Written Expression Topics In Persuasive/Argumentative Writing Test For Selective Schools, Scholarships and NAPLAN

The three types of writing prompts you may come across in written expression tests are:

1. Classic writing topics

These are general topics that touch upon evergreen issues such as junk food, smoking, voting, what subjects should be taught at school, etc. Many of these common written expression topics have been repeatedly used in exams in the past.

An example is:

Children who bully another child should not be allowed to go to school at all. Do you agree? Why/why not?

2. Specialised writing topics

Compared to the first type of argumentative writing topics, this one is narrow and more detailed. Specialised prompts touch upon niche subjects and uncommon issues such as cloning, whaling, privacy.

An example is:

Professional surfers have called for culling sharks to reduce the risk of attacks. People should not cull sharks and surfers should accept the risk of a shark attack when they enter the water. Do you agree or disagree? Argue your point.

3. Out-of-the-box writing topics

These are presented in the form of a proverb or philosophical statement. Out-of-the-box topics are most common in the written expression of the ACER scholarship test.

An example is:

"The pen is mightier than the sword." Do you agree or disagree with this sentiment? Argue your point.



3 Biggest Mistakes In Persuasive/Argumentative Writing & How To Avoid Them

We could give you thousands of tips on how to write for exam success. But… sometimes it’s more helpful to know how NOT to write.

Read on to learn 3 biggest mistakes that can cost you precious exam points and how to avoid them. Each mistake is illustrated by a sample essay written by a real student.

Mistake 1: Not Addressing The Question

No matter how well-written your piece is, it's doomed to lose points (or even be disqualified) if you haven't addressed the writing prompt. A common mistake we see students make is answering a similar question (but not the question asked). For example, students may say that ‘smoking is bad’ and argue based on this stance, but the question is not asking whether or not smoking is bad, but rather, it’s asking whether smoking should be banned (a different question altogether).

Take a look at the writing prompt below and decide whether the sample essay addresses the prompt. If your answer is ‘no’, think about what you’d change in the piece. When you've got the answer, see the video feedback from our writing expert below.

Writing prompt: "A friend in need is a friend indeed." Do you agree or disagree with this sentiment? Argue your point.

Source: Exam Success

Here's video feedback from our expert:



Mistake 2: Inappropriate Language & Tone

Another common mistake that can easily be avoided is the style of writing. Time and time again, we see students writing as though they were having a casual conversation or making demands as to how the reader should think. In general, persuasive writing should ‘feel’ formal.

Here are some general tips on how to sound more formal:

  • Replace “I” statements with impersonal sentences, e.g. I think smoking is bad –> Smoking is bad.
  • Avoid personal pronouns, e.g. you, your, her, we, etc.
  • Substitute slang, colloquial expressions with formal ones, e.g. fork out –> pay
  • Skip rhetorical questions, e.g. Do you really want this to happen to you?
  • Avoid excess punctuation (such as !!!), inappropriate emphasis (Do you REALLY want this?), and exaggerated claims.

Now, take a look at the sample essay below. What phrases would you delete or replace? When you've got the answer, see the video feedback from our writing expert below.

Source: Exam Success

Here's video feedback from our expert:



Mistake 3: Weak Or Repetitive Arguments

Selective school and scholarship test assessors are looking for sharp thinkers. Your choice of arguments should reflect that standard.

Good arguments should be clear, logical, and specific. When put together, they will present a good reason why you've adopted your particular stance.

To write strong arguments (and avoid weak or repetitive arguments):

  • Read the news – written expression topics for persuasive essays often touch upon current issues. Reading newspapers every day will help you familiarize with various topics and opinions on these topics that can be potentially transformed into arguments in your upcoming test.
  • Link the question to your experience – think carefully about how the issue at hand affects you or your community on the level of society, economy, and health. Suppose you're arguing for the right to wear make-up to school. Your potential arguments could be: that it encourages self-expression, increases personal mental-wellbeing and promotes a more inclusive society.

Take a look at the writing prompt and a sample essay below. Can you identify the problem with the arguments? What is it? After you’ve answered the question, check out the video feedback from our expert.

Writing prompt: Borrowing is an exchange where one person lends something to another and that person returns it at a later date. Sometimes, the borrowed item is never returned or is returned in a damaged condition. People should not be able to lend money to one another. Do you agree or disagree?


Source: Exam Success

Here's video feedback from our expert:



Want to learn how to craft a persuasive essay that examiners will love to read?

With Exam Success online persuasive and discussion writing course and writing clubs, you'll see your writing dramatically improve!

You'll learn what matters when examiners score writing pieces: what they’re looking for and what would likely score the highest marks. And you'll also learn how to do what’s expected step-by-step – no matter what topic you get on the test day.

Created by best-in-class experts, Exam Success learning resources will provide you with practical, no-nonsense guidance to writing a winning persuasive essay from the very beginning to the end.


See what's available to help you ACE your persuasive writing test...

Persuasive Writing & Discussion Written Expression Test Preparation

You can be a grammar whiz and an A+ student. But without good written expression, you're unlikely to succeed in NAPLAN and entrance exams for selective schools and scholarships. This persuasive & discussion writing online course everything you need to refine your argument skills and become a more confident writer.

Throughout the course, we'll focus on a variety of topics such as generating ideas, essay structure and argument development. We'll look at real-life examples and sample essays to discover powerful persuasive techniques that will take your piece from good to great and improve your grade.

Finally, you'll practice with a variety of test-like prompts to build a rock-solid writing routine and conquer your exam.

This course also includes complimentary expert scoring (using our unique 52-point scoring system) & expert video feedback on 1 of your essays - you can see an example of scoring and expert video feedback on a real essay here.

Great for:

  • NSW HSPT
  • Academic Assessment Services scholarship and selective school exams
  • ACER scholarships and selective schools exams like Perth Modern, WA GATE and Brisbane State High School.
  • Edutest scholarships and selective school tests like Victorian Selective Schools (MacRob, Melb High, Suzanne Cory and Nossal) and Queensland Academies Selective entry (Year 7).

After purchase, you gain immediate access to your course for 6 months to get a head start on your test prep.

$AU175.99
The price above is inclusive of 10% GST. If you are purchasing for use outside of Australia, at checkout, you'll be charged the amount without GST


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