Persuasive writing is a very powerful academic tool, and the persuasive essay is arguably the most effective way to impress professors and get higher grades. However, much of the persuasive power comes from the way you structure your essay.

After you read this article, you'll know how to structure your essay for maximum effect.

A persuasive essay is normally made up of 3 parts:

1. The Introduction

2. The Body

3. The Conclusion

The introduction

Consider the introduction a "funnel paragraph" i.e. a paragraph that goes from the broad to the specific. Here you introduce the general topic and narrow it in with a specific thesis statement.

The thesis statement should clearly state your opinion and the argument that you're going to present in the persuasive essay. The thesis statement is usually made up of a single sentence towards the end of the introductory paragraph.

Some students have a tendency to confuse the topic and the thesis statement. Not having a clear distinction between topic and thesis guarantees a weak essay. Think of it like this: the topic is the subject you are going to write about and the thesis is what you are going to say on the topic.

The Body

The body of the persuasive essay is the part where you really get started. Here you gather and organize the evidence, arguments and examples that are going to persuade the addressee of your opinion.

Naturally you should present this evidence in the best way. You could present your weakest arguments first and finish off with your strongest ones. To your reader's, it will be as though your essay is becoming increasingly powerful as the arguments become stronger and stronger.

Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence. The topic sentence introduces the paragraph and lets the reader know what to expect from the ensuing paragraph. The paragraph then expands on the point made in the topic sentence and the two should be directly related to one another.

In order to establish a coherent flow throughout the body of your persuasive essay, make sure that every paragraph is super relevant to and related to the previous one. If the paragraphs aren't well organized, you'll likely end up with an essay that's confusing rather than persuasive – and that's not what you want!

The Conclusion

The conclusion is extremely important because it ties the entire persuasive essay together and represents the last chance to persuade your readers of your point of view.

You should summarize the main points of your discussion and write a conclusion, based on the arguments from your essay, answering the thesis statement and rounding off the persuasive essay.

Make sure the thesis statement and the conclusion make sense when read without the body paragraphs. That way you can make certain that there's a good flow between the thesis statement, the main arguments and the conclusions you draw.

4 tips for revision and editing

1. Don't turn in the first draft of your persuasive essay

2. Leave it for a couple of days – then you'll be able to go at it with relative objectivity and point out weaknesses and inconsistencies

3. Edit mercilessly. You don't want to bore your readers, go through the essay thoroughly and remove all "fluff" and irrelevant passages.

4. Let someone else read your persuasive essay – listen to their comments and reactions before you refine the final version.