Using Reverse Examples & Evidence

One of the most common complaints I hear from students is that they can’t come up with good examples quickly enough for their essays.

But what I want you to know is…

  • You don’t have to use examples that support your point directly
  • You can also use reverse examples to support your point indirectly

Let’s say you want to argue that teens need make their own decisions and face the consequences to become more mature.

Examples don’t have to support your point directly. If you can provide an example that addresses the flip side, that’s just as good.

To directly support your argument that teens need to make their own choices in order to mature, your example might be about a time when your parents allowed you to decide: attend an overnight camping trip with your friends or study for your Chem final. You decided to go camping, which resulted in a C on your final because you didn’t study enough. The next year right before your Bio final, you were again faced with a similar decision: go out with friends or stay home and study. This time, you stayed home to study and earned an A, clearly growing from your past experiences.

But I could support the same argument with what I call a reverse example. Rather than supporting your thesis directly, you’d be doing so indirectly. I might use an example where my parents DIDN’T let me make my own decision about camping or studying. As long as the outcome of your (reverse) example supports your thesis, you’re good.

My parents made the choice for me and forced me to study. The next year, my parents believed I had learned how to balance work and play, so they let me make my own decision. Yet because I never had the chance to make my own decisions before or to learn from my own mistakes, I decided to go out partying with friends. Consequently, I earned a C. This shows what happens when adults DON’T let teens make their own decisions. This shows that teens will NOT grow to become mature adults. Basically, you’re just addressing the reverse side to argue the same point.

Try it out. Leave a comment below with your own reverse example for this prompt: is creativity needed more than ever today?

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