A few words on argument…

As Toulmin says, arguments are composed of the claim (what you’re saying), the grounds (the most compelling evidence/reason to buy what you’re saying), and the warrant (the connection between grounds and claim). The rest is backing (less central, but still very important for persuasion).  Qualifiers are a different animal.  Qualifying (adding conditions which maintain validity– David Hume said “A wise [person]…proportions his beliefs to the evidence.”) is critical for insulating arguments against trivial or tangential objections (logically structuring an otherwise sound argument such that a single counter-example would sink your boat is a good way to be dismissed whole cloth). The rebuttal (concession leading to refutation or acknowledgment of counterargument(s)) is the salt that gives the bread its savor.

Use this responsibly in life, but brazenly pragmatically on the AP exam. In the synthesis (q1), argue effectively synthesizing the sources (use sources as grounds, warrant, backing, but be careful not to misrepresent, summarize or smuggle in a bare assertion as support for your own). In the rhetorical analysis (q2), argue effectively, unmasking the author’s strategies, using the conditions of the rhetorical situation to match the tactics to the effects. In the argument (q3), argue effectively: muster all of your persuasive forces after cogitating deeply to locate your central claim. Support your claim and minor assertions robustly (rule of 3) using illustrative examples from your reading and life experience.

Test yourself here by checking out this 3 minute read. See if you can identify the author deftly employing all of the above.


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