An opinion essay is one of the most common writing assignments students have to complete. It requires them to express their personal views on a particular topic backed by supporting evidence. It’s a great way to develop critical thinking skills and improve communication.
This ultimate writing guide will look closely at how to structure, outline, and write a great opinions essay.
What is an opinion essay?
An opinion essay is a type of assignment expressing the writer’s opinion or viewpoint on a particular topic or issue. In an opinion essay, the writer presents their argument or position on a particular subject and uses evidence and examples to support their viewpoint.
The essay typically begins with an introduction, which provides background information on the topic and a clear statement of the writer’s opinion or thesis statement. The essay’s body typically presents the writer’s argument in detail, with each paragraph supporting a specific point or piece of evidence. The essay then concludes with a summary of the writer’s main points and a restatement of their thesis.
Unlike other types of academic writing, opinion essays often encourage the use of first-person language and can be written in a more informal style.
What is a good opinion essay?
A good opinion essay presents a clear, well-supported argument on a particular topic. Here are some characteristics of a good opinion essay:
- Clear thesis statement: Good opinion essays start with a clear thesis statement that states the writer’s main argument or position on the topic
- Strong evidence: An excellent opinion essay provides strong evidence and examples to support the writer’s argument. This may include statistics, research studies, expert opinions, personal anecdotes, or other forms of evidence.
- Counterarguments: An effective opinion essay acknowledges and addresses counterarguments or opposing viewpoints. This shows that the writer has considered multiple perspectives on the topic and strengthens their argument.
- Logical structure: The best opinion essays have a logical structure, each paragraph focusing on a specific point or evidence. The essay flows smoothly from one point to the next, and the conclusion effectively summarizes the main argument.
- Clear writing style: A good opinion essay is written in a clear and concise style that is easy to follow. The essay uses proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling and avoids jargon or overly complex language.
Overall, a good opinion essay effectively communicates the writer’s perspective on a particular topic and provides strong evidence and reasoning to support that viewpoint.
Opinion essay structure
The structure of an opinion essay is similar to other types of academic writing. Still, it does have a specific format that should be followed to make a clear and compelling argument. Here is a basic outline of the structure for an opinion essay:
The introduction should provide an overview and background information on the issue. It should also include a clear and concise thesis statement that clearly states the writer’s opinion or viewpoint.
The essay’s body should provide specific evidence and examples to support the writer’s argument. Each paragraph should focus on a specific point or piece of evidence and should begin with a topic sentence that clearly relates to the thesis statement. Each paragraph should also include evidence or examples to support the argument and any necessary counterarguments.
Counterarguments should be addressed in the essay, as they provide an opportunity to show that the writer has considered all sides of the issue. In an opinion essay, counterarguments can be presented, refuted, or used to strengthen the writer’s argument.
The conclusion of an opinion essay should summarize the main points made in the essay and restate the thesis statement. It should also provide a final thought or call to action that encourages the reader to take action or further consider the issue at hand.
Overall, the structure of an opinion essay should be clear and logical, with each paragraph building upon the previous one to create a cohesive and persuasive argument.
Sample Opinion essay outline
- Background information on the topic
- Thesis statement
II. Body Paragraph 1
- First argument and supporting evidence
- Transitional phrase
III. Body Paragraph 2
- Second argument and supporting evidence
- Transitional phrase
- Address potential counterarguments
- Refute with evidence
- Restate the thesis and summarize the main arguments
- A final thought or call to action
What is a good college opinion essay topic?
Many different topics can be explored when writing a good college opinion essay. Here are a few ideas to consider:
- The value of a college education: Is college worth the investment? What are the benefits of obtaining a college degree?
- Gun control: Should stricter gun control laws exist in the United States? Should the Second Amendment be repealed?
- Climate change: Is climate change real? What can we do to mitigate its effects?
- Immigration: Should there be a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants? How should we balance the need for security with the desire to welcome immigrants to the United States?
- Social media: What impact does social media have on our lives? Is it a force for good or bad?
- Mental health: How can we better support those struggling with mental health issues? What can be done to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness?
- Political polarization: How can we bridge the divide between the left and the right in the United States? What can be done to reduce political polarization?
- Affirmative action: Should affirmative action policies be implemented to promote diversity in college admissions? What are the potential benefits and drawbacks of such policies?
- Healthcare: Should healthcare be a right or a privilege? How can we ensure that all Americans have access to quality healthcare?
- Technology: What are the benefits and drawbacks of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and virtual reality? What impact will they have on society?
Example opinion essay: The benefits of regular exercise for mental health
Exercise has long been known to have numerous physical health benefits, such as reducing the risk of chronic diseases and improving overall fitness levels. However, recent research has shown that regular exercise positively affects mental health. In this essay, I will argue that regular physical activity benefits mental health by reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, improving cognitive function, and enhancing overall well-being.
One way exercise benefits mental health is by reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Exercise has been shown to increase the release of endorphins, neurotransmitters that help reduce feelings of pain and stress. According to a study by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), just five minutes of exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects. Even a short walk or jog can have immediate benefits for mental health (ADAA). Additionally, regular exercise can help to reduce the overall prevalence of depression and anxiety symptoms. A study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that individuals who engaged in regular physical activity had a lower risk of developing depression or anxiety disorders than those who did not exercise regularly (Mammen & Faulkner, 2013).
In addition to reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, regular exercise has also been shown to improve cognitive function. A study by the University of British Columbia found that aerobic exercise can increase the size of the hippocampus, which is part of the brain that controls memory and learning (Erickson et al., 2011). This means regular exercise can help improve memory, attention, and overall cognitive function. In addition, exercise has been shown to improve executive functioning, which is the ability to plan, prioritize, and adapt to changing situations. A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that regular exercise was associated with improved executive functioning in children and adults (Ludyga et al., 2020).
Body Paragraph 3: Regular exercise can also enhance well-being by reducing stress and improving self-esteem. A study published in the Journal of Health Psychology found that individuals who engaged in the regular exercise had lower levels of perceived stress than those who did not exercise regularly (Hamer et al., 2009). Additionally, exercise has been shown to improve body image and self-esteem. A study by the University of Florida found that women who participated in a 12-week exercise program reported higher levels of body satisfaction and self-esteem than those who did not exercise (Sikorski et al., 2003).
Some may argue that exercising can be time-consuming and difficult to fit into a busy schedule. However, as mentioned in the first body paragraph, even small amounts of exercise can positively affect mental health. Additionally, there are numerous ways to incorporate physical activity into a busy lifestyle, such as taking a brisk walk during lunch breaks or doing a quick yoga session before work. Moreover, exercise can be a cost-effective alternative to other forms of mental health treatment, such as medication or therapy.
Overall, regular physical activity has numerous benefits for mental health. By reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, improving cognitive function, and enhancing overall well-being, exercise can be a powerful tool for maintaining and improving mental health. I encourage everyone to find ways to incorporate physical activity into their daily routines, even if it’s just a few minutes a day. Exercise is not only good for our physical health but also for our mental health, and it should be a priority for everyone.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (n.d.). Exercise for stress and anxiety. https://adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety
Erickson, K. I., Voss, M. W., Prakash, R. S., Basak, C., Szabo, A., Chaddock, L., Kim, J. S., Heo, S., Alves, H., White, S. M., Wojcicki, T. R., Mailey, E., Vieira, V. J., Martin, S. A., Pence, B. D., Woods, J. A., McAuley, E., & Kramer, A. F. (2011). Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(7), 3017–3022. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1015950108
Hamer, M., Taylor, A., & Steptoe, A. (2009). The effect of acute aerobic exercise on stress-related blood pressure responses: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Biological Psychology, 82(3), 342–348. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2009.09.004
Ludyga, S., Gerber, M., Kamijo, K., Brand, S., & Pühse, U. (2020). The effects of a single bout of aerobic exercise on executive function in children and adolescents with ADHD. Journal of Sport and Health Science, 9(5), 477–484. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jshs.2019.11.003
Mammen, G., & Faulkner, G. (2013). Physical activity and the prevention of depression: a systematic review of prospective studies. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 45(5), 649–657. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2013.08.001
Sikorski, C., Luppa, M., Glaesmer, H., Schomerus, G., König, H.-H., Riedel-Heller, S. G., & König, H. (2013). Does social support moderate the association between physical activity and mental health in the general population? A nationwide study in Germany. The International Journal of Mental Health Promotion, 15(1), 19–27. https://doi.org/10.1080/14623730.2012.741091
Additional tips for writing opinions essays
Here are some more tips for writing an opinion essay:
- Choose a concise thesis statement expressing your opinion on the topic.
- Use evidence and reasoning to support your opinion, citing credible sources to support your arguments.
- Address opposing viewpoints and counterarguments, but make sure to refute them effectively.
- Organize your essay into clear paragraphs, each with a specific topic sentence that supports your thesis statement.
- Use clear and concise language, avoiding overly complex vocabulary and sentence structures.
- Edit and proofread your essay carefully to ensure it is well-written and error-free.
- Use appropriate tone and language for the audience and purpose of the essay while keeping in mind that it is an opinion essay not a report or a research paper.
- Remember to write persuasively and with conviction while acknowledging and addressing potential counterarguments to your point of view.
- Begin your essay with an attention-grabbing introduction that provides some background on the topic, establishes your position, and makes your readers want to keep reading.
- Use concrete examples and anecdotes to illustrate your points and make your essay more engaging and relatable.
- Conclude your essay by restating your thesis and summarizing your main points, leaving the reader with something to think about or a call to action.
- Use transitional words and phrases to make your writing flow smoothly and to connect your ideas and arguments.
- Avoid using emotional language and stick to the facts while making your essay interesting and persuasive.