TASC Argumentative Essay Guide

The TASC Argumentative Essay requires you to compose a short essay in response to a specific prompt in 45 minutes. You will be scored based on the clarity of your writing, your organization, the development of the ideas you present, and your overall sentence structure and grammar.

For the TASC Argumentative Essay, you must produce a thesis (a position on the topic discussed in the prompt), and then support the thesis statement with more than one clearly-explained example. Time management on this section is extremely important since you will need to read two essays that relate to the prompt BEFORE you can begin writing your essay. To use your time effectively, you should break down the 45-minutes in the following way:

  • 2 Minutes — Read Question Prompt
  • 4 Minutes — Read Passage 1
  • 4 Minutes — Read Passage 2
  • 5 Minutes — Outline your Essay
  • 25 Minutes — Write your Essay
  • 5 Minutes — Read and Edit your Essay

If you spend a full 15 minutes analyzing the prompt and planning your essay, then it will be easy to write 5 paragraphs in 25 minutes. To best prepare, you will need to familiarize yourself with both the informational and argumentative essay prompts and practice writing at least one of each type in order to gain the experience you need to succeed on Test Day.

Argumentative Essay vs. Informational Essay

Your approach to the TASC Argumentative Essay will be exactly the same as your approach to the Informational Essay with two major exceptions:

  1. For the Argumentative Essay, your thesis will be about whose opinion you agree with. For the Informational Essay, your thesis will synthesize the information from the prompts into a recommendation.
  2. Because the goal is to provide information with your Informational Essay, you will want to include more details from the two passages.
For the TASC Argumentative Essay, your thesis takes the form:

A is the correct position, because of B, C, and D.


For the TASC Informational Essay, your thesis takes the form:

The best plan of action is A, because of B, C, and D.


TASC Argumentative Essay: Strategies & Template

To ensure you complete your essay, it’s important that you allocate enough time to fully plan out what you will write about before you start writing. The grader will be looking for “clear and strategic organization,” so the time you spend planning will pay off in the end. The organization of our TASC Argumentative Essay will (ideally) have five paragraphs and follow this format:

  • Paragraph 1 — Introduction
  • Paragraph 2 — 1st Example
  • Paragraph 3 — 2nd Example
  • Paragraph 4 — 3rd Example
  • Paragraph 5 — Conclusion

As you outline your response, remember that you must:

  • place your thesis sentence in the introductory paragraph
  • use topic sentences with transition words and phrases to begin each new paragraph
  • end your essay with a succinct conclusion that summarizes your main points, restates your thesis, and if possible, connects your argument to a larger issue.

Paragraph 1 — Introduction

Here is a sample version of an introduction to the Argumentative essay:

________ is an important concern to society today. One side believes ________. They say, “___________.”  The other side believes ___________, and has stated, “__________.” However, despite the controversy surrounding this issue, there is only one correct position. People should _____________, because of ___________, ___________, and _________.

In this Introduction template, we accomplish three goals:

  • Introduce the topic
  • Describe the opinions presented in the two passages
  • Provide a thesis and list three supporting ideas

Remember to restate the opinions of the two sides in your own words and include brief quotes from each passage in your introduction. This proves to the reader that you are on-topic and that you have appropriately analyzed the essay prompt. Show your understanding of the prompt BEFORE revealing your argument.

It is also beneficial to list your supporting ideas as an extension to your thesis. This clarifies to the reader what you will discuss in the ensuing paragraphs. If you are struggling to write 5 paragraphs in the time provided, practice writing only 4 paragraphs with 2 examples, and then work your way up to 3 examples.

Paragraphs 2, 3, 4 — Supporting Examples

Paragraphs 2, 3, and 4 explain how each supporting idea proves the thesis statement. You do not need more than 5 paragraphs in total, so aim for 3 supporting ideas. You can use the following as a general template from which to build your supporting paragraphs:

One/Another reason why the position that ____________ is correct is because ___________. This is supported by the passage that states, “______________.” That means __________________. This is also supported by additional evidence from the passage, such as the sentence, “___________________.” That evidence shows the position of ____________is correct, because ________________.

Paragraph 5 — Conclusion

Finally, you will conclude your argument. Here is a template from which to develop your conclusion:

The opposing side is well-intentioned, believing _______________. They are concerned that ____________. Though this concern has merit, it is ultimately incorrect. Based on the facts of _________, _________, and ________, Americans should _______________.  In conclusion, _______________.

With this Conclusion paragraph template, we accomplish three goals:

  • Introduce the opposing side and give it proper credit (briefly)
  • Emphasize that the opposing side is wrong
  • Re-state your thesis and three supporting ideas

TASC Essay Practice

Now you’re ready to write a practice essay. Try our TASC Practice Essay 1.