Strengths and Weaknesses

´You will be given a source or extract that has been written by an author and you must determine how well he uses the evidence to argue his/her point.(Identify strengths and weaknesses)

To obtain a full mark in this question, you must need:

  • ´Clearly reasoned, credible and structured evaluation; three (or more) developed points with some undeveloped points clearly linked to the issue.
  • ´Evaluation is clearly focused on the evidence, looking at both strengths and weaknesses, and the way it is used to support the claim.
  • ´Material from the sources is used as evidence to support the evaluation via quotation or summary of ideas.

What to consider in strengths of an argument.


  • ´Use of publications like newspapers- Major publications are trusted and often give information that can be trusted.
  • ´Factual information- Compared to opinions, facts can be trusted and even proven to be true.
  • ´Use of different types of information- A combination of facts, anecdotes, opinions etc, they present credible knowledge claims.
  • ´Many examples given- they have the ability of increasing credibility.
  • ´Clear and well organized claims- They make the claims easy more reliable and easy to follow.
  • ´Passionate and reasonable tone- Such a tone does not coarse readers in an aggressive manner, it however presents ideas in a convincing manner.
  • ´Up to date- Information that is upto date is still reliable and credible. (in most cases, less than 5 years since publication often makes information still relevant- this is however different in topics like technology)
  • ´Use of experts- Experts are knowledgeable in their specific fields. They are therefore more reliable and their line of thought is easily trusted.
  • ´Use of counter arguments- Acknowledging opposing ideas and their merits before countering them, always makes a balanced argument that is free from biasness.
  • ´Logical.
  • ´Relevant to the argument.
  • ´Uses some evidence – statistical, un priorities and personal testimony

What to look for in the weaknesses of an argument.


  • ´Partial or no citing of evidence- authorship not clear
  • ´Level of expertise of the author not clear – Evidence not easy to verify
  • ´Little or no statistical evidence
  • ´Out of date evidence/ not dated- Evidence not easy to verify
  • ´Too much reliance on opinion and personal anecdote- no experts used
  • ´The given personal testimony/anecdote/values may not apply to other places/countries
  • ´Assertion (claim, declare).
  • ´Very few facts
  • ´Some appeal to emotion that is not balanced.
  • ´Little factual/statistical evidence.
  • ´Doesn’t acknowledges counter arguments.
  • ´Some exaggeration.
  • ´Vested interests
  • ´Biasness 
  • ´Just a small sample from non-expert.

The difference between Developed and Undeveloped points


´‘A weakness is that the writer uses some assertion.’

This statement does not explain why assertion may not be strong evidence.


A weakness is that the writer relies upon assertion. This type of evidence is not strong because it is not supported with evidence. Therefore, we do not know if the statement is true. It has weak validity.’

This is a developed point because it explains exactly what makes the point a weakness.

Another example.

Undeveloped point

-A weakness of the argument is the use of personal testimony from experience.

-A strength of the argument is that the writer uses an international organization.

Developed point

-A weakness of the argument is the use of personal testimony from experience. This experience may not apply to many other people and could be biased. It is not strong evidence.

-A strength of the argument is that the writer uses the UN as a source of evidence. The UN is an international organizational known for its reliability and unbiased information on the issue of climate change.