Claim, Reasoning, Evidence, Justification

Claim- an assertion being made by a writer; a statement that is contestable and supportable with evidence. Claims are not facts.

  • Thesis statements are claims
  • Each body paragraph topic sentence is also a claim that connects to the thesis.

Example of Claim:   The Winter Olympics should be held every two years.

             Counterclaim- (Beginning sophomore year)- a claim that disagrees with the writer’s claim.

  • The writer needs to acknowledge the other side of the argument to show that he understands both sides.  He then needs to refute that counterclaim, to show that while he understands the other side, his side is the stronger one.

Reasoning- statements that explain why the writer thinks his claim is correct. How the writer plans to convince the reader.

Example of Reasoning:   It would allow aging athletes more chances to compete.

Evidence- specific relevant details from the unit that prove the claim.

Example of Evidence:   A study conducted in 1999 by the Organization of Olympic Athletes (OOA) shows that many athletes peak during non-Olympic years and, as a result of aging, can no longer compete when the games re-open.

Justification- interprets the evidence and shows how it supports your claim.  It explains why the evidence proves the claim.

  •  A good justification answers the question so what?

Example of Justification: Since the purpose of the Olympics is to highlight the skills of athletes in their prime, and waiting four years eliminates many athletes opportunity, the games should be held more often.

Source:  STATION ONE - Sites at Penn State


Today, we are too self-centered. Most families no longer sit down to eat together, preferring instead to eat on the go while rushing to the next appointment (Gleick 148). Everything is about what we want. [This is a weak example because the evidence is not clearly related to the claim. What does the claim about self-centeredness have to do with families eating together? The writer doesn't explain the connection.]


Today, Americans are too self-centered. Even our families do not matter as much anymore as they once did. Other people and activities take precedence. In fact, the evidence shows that most American families no longer eat together, preferring instead to eat on the go while rushing to the next appointment (Gleick 148). Sit-down meals are a time to share and connect with others; however, that connection has become less valued, as families begin to prize individual activities over shared time, promoting self-centeredness over group identity.  


Progression of Ideas- ideas are organized in a logical pattern and essay is broken into appropriate paragraphs.

Transitions- ideas are coherently connected through use of words, phrases or sentences.

Sentence Structure- has complete sentences (subject and predicate) that vary in style.

Word Choice- has precise, grade-level appropriate vocabulary.

Academic Tone- has concise formal, content-specific language.

Grammar & Mechanics- has proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization.

Students commonly make mistakes with:

  •    Subject/Verb Agreement
  •    Fragments/Run-ons
  •    Personal Pronouns
  •    Contractions
  •    Figurative Expressions/Slang
  •    Semicolons and Commas
  •    Paragraph Indentation