How to analyze an argument Best guide

Analyzing an argument involves evaluating a person’s argument. The writing you will need to evaluate in a passage is the author presenting a claim and supporting it.

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You will also need to critically examine the claim presented and assess the author’s logic. Your instructor will give you a coursework task to analyze an argumentative essay in order to test your skills.

This will help to test your ability in evaluating, understanding, and analyzing someone else’s writing. Specific instructions will be provided for you to follow and report a written evaluation.

What are the Five Steps to Analyzing an Argument?

Arguments are part of everyday life. Friends can try to convince you about something, or a salesperson can try to convince you to buy a product.

In school, you read books that try to prove something to you. It is important to listen, learn, and to know how to analyze arguments. Here are five steps that can help you in your analysis process

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  1. Read the author’s arguments more than once and understand the instructions
  2. Identify and evaluate the claims, underlying assumptions, and conclusions
  3. Think about many counter-arguments and alternative explanations
  4. Think of more evidence that might make a claim weak or support the claim
  5. Ask what changes would make reasoning more meaningful.

5 Elements of an Argument

It is important to identify the elements of an argument before you start analyzing an essay. This way, you can organize your work and know what you are analyzing. Here are the elements of an argument

1.     Claim

A claim is a statement that is made about a specific issue or subject. A claim should be relevant to the current requirements. Your claim should also be important additional knowledge to the subject.

2.     Reasons

Reasons are provided as a justification of the author’s claim. It also informs the readers why a claim should be accepted and bridges the evidence and claim.

3.     Evidence

This is the proof that the author provides to show that the reasons are valid. The author can use facts, valid testimonies, and statistics as evidence from outside and credible sources.

4.     Assumptions

Assumptions are stated beliefs or unstated beliefs that an arguer holds and expects readers to hold as well. The beliefs are what readers need, to accept an author’s claim.

5.     Qualifications

These are the requirements that qualify an argument. They are used to set a limit on what you can claim.

Types of Arguments

What is an argument? An argument is when you reason and demonstrate how true or false something is by using a set of claims and evidence. In college, there are three types of arguments that you are likely to come across. They include:

1.      Classical Essay

This type of essay is common and works well for argumentative topics. It has the following components


An introduction in a custom classical essay usually introduces the topic, which is the central message. It also has a hook that keeps the readers interested in the text. 

Background Information

The background information of the subject being discussed helps to put the topic in context. It gives more information about the introduction.

Main Arguments

An author provides the main points of an argument and argues his position. The point stated is supported by credible evidence and relevant examples.


Counter-arguments are presented in this section. An author will introduce the opposing side of the argument and uses evidence to refute it as being invalid.


Presents a summary of the arguments and provides solutions. It can also provide future studies that need to be conducted.

2.      Rogerian Essay

The Rogerian approach is mostly used for an argument that is a potential seed like global warming or philosophical problems. The information you provide in this section should be sympathetic to all sides of the argument.

You can also concede that the opposing argument may be valid. The Rogerian essay does not have a specific structure.

3.      Toulmin Argument

This is another type of argument that finds common ground in an argument. It also eliminates arguments that are unnecessary.

Analyzing an argument: Types of an Argument in Critical Thinking

Critical thinmking is when an author thinks in an organized way that is rational and can connect ideas and facts. This type of thinking has two types of arguments, which are deductive or inductive (non-deductive).

These two types of arguments are not necessarily on the words an author uses but on the intentions. Deductive and inductive (non-deductive) arguments are formed from the relationship between a claim and a conclusion.

1.       Deductive Argument

An argument is deductive if the author believes the claim establishes the conclusion to be true. When analyzing the quality of an argument, you need to check for deductive arguments.

2.      Inductive / Non-deductive Arguments

An argument is inductive or non-deductive if an author believes the claim only gives readers a good reason to believe the conclusion is true. When analyzing arguments, check for a non-deductive approach in the arguments.

How to Analyze an Argument

Analyzing an argument requires you to examine the author’s arguments as used. You will need to discuss the logic the author has used. Also, read the arguments provided and the instructions.

Read the arguments one more time and note the points that you would like to analyze. Pay attention to the following areas

  • The evidence that the author has used
  • The claim and conclusion the author has stated
  • What the author has assumed without justification

Another area to evaluate is the reasoning an author has used as well as the structure of the argument. Pay attention to the transition words in the argument, the phrases, and check the author’s logical connection. Look for leaps that the author has made as well as the logical flow and identify errors.

What you Should Not Address

When analyzing an argument, it is important to know what you are supposed to address. Likewise, it is important to know what you are not asked to do. Here are points on what you should not do

  • Do not discuss if a statement is true or false
  • You should not agree or disagree with the author’s position
  • You should not express your personal opinion in the argument

Key Concepts of an Argument

When analyzing an argument, you need to be familiar with some key concepts

1.     Argument

A claim that has reasons and evidence that you offer to support your line of reasoning. The purpose of the reasoning is to demonstrate how true or false a subject is, and provide an effective argument.

2.     Assumptions

The beliefs that someone needs to have to hold a particular position concerning a matter. These beliefs are often not stated or examined.

3.     Alternative Explanation

This is a competing version of what has caused an event and qualifies as an original explanation. The alternative explanation can also account for observed facts.

4.     Counterexample

This is an example that can be real or hypothetical and refutes a statement. Refutation is part of an argumentative essay, and you should expect to find some examples in this area.

5.     Analysis

An analysis is when you break down something, for example, an argument into components part. You will then look into each part to understand how they work together to make a whole.

6.     Evaluation

This is where you assess the quality of evidence and reasons used in an argument and the merit of that argument. Evaluation is an important part of analyzing an argument.

7.     Conclusion

This is the endpoint of a line of reasoning. The conclusion is valid if your reasoning is sound.


Key Takeaway

When analyzing an argument, your instructor will assess your ability to evaluate someone else’s arguments. Your ability to think critically and analyze information is tested as well. It is important to know what you are expected to analyze, and how to analyze and report it.

Read the Article and Still Have Questions?

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