Updated, March 2, 2017 | We published an updated version of this list, “401 Prompts for Argumentative Writing,” as well as a companion piece, “650 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing.” We also now have a PDF of these 200 prompts.
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What issues do you care most about? What topics do you find yourself discussing most passionately, whether online, at the dinner table, in the classroom or with your friends?
Our annual Student Editorial Contest invites you to write an evidence-based persuasive piece on an issue that matters to you. To help jump-start your brainstorming, we have gathered a list of 200 writing prompts from our daily Student Opinion feature that invite you to take a stand.
Though you won’t be limited to these topics for the contest, you’ll see that our list touches on every aspect of modern life, from politics to sports, culture, education and technology. We hope the range inspires you, and we hope the fact that each question links to at least one related Times article gives you a starting point for finding evidence.
So skim the list below to think about the topic you’d most like to take on.
For more information, here are links to our spring 2014 editorial-writing contest, a list of winners from that contest and a related lesson plan on argumentative writing.
- Is Cheating Getting Worse?
- Should Students Be Able to Grade Their Teachers?
- Does Your School Hand Out Too Many A’s?
- Should Middle School Students Be Drug Tested?
- Should Reading and Math Be Taught in Gym Class Too?
- How Seriously Should We Take Standardized Tests?
- How Well Do You Think Standardized Tests Measure Your Abilities?
- Do You Spend Too Much Time Preparing for Standardized Tests?
- Should Schools Offer Cash Bonuses for Good Test Scores?
- Should We Rethink How Long Students Spend in High School?
- Do Schools Provide Students With Enough Opportunities to Be Creative?
- What Are You Really Learning at School?
- How Important Is Arts Education?
- Does Gym Help Students Perform Better in All Their Classes?
- Who Should Be Able to See Students’ Records?
- Are Children of Illegal Immigrants Entitled to a Public Education?
- What Is the Right Amount of Group Work in School?
- Is Your School Day Too Short?
- Do You Think a Longer School Calendar Is a Good Idea?
- Should the Dropout Age Be Raised?
- Should Students Be Allowed to Skip Senior Year of High School?
- How Does Your School Deal With Students Who Misbehave?
- Should Schools Be Allowed to Use Corporal Punishment?
- How Big a Problem Is Bullying or Cyberbullying in Your School or Community?
- How Should Schools Address Bullying?
- Should Schools Put Tracking Devices in Students’ ID Cards?
- What Do You Think of Grouping Students by Ability in Schools?
- Do We Need a New Way to Teach Math?
- Does Class Size Matter?
- Should All Students Get Equal Space in a Yearbook?
- Is Prom Worth It?
- How Important Are Parent-Teacher Conferences?
- Should All Children Be Able to Go to Preschool?
- Should Colleges Use Admissions Criteria Other Than SAT Scores and Grades?
- What Criteria Should Be Used in Awarding Scholarships for College?
- Do You Support Affirmative Action?
- Do College Rankings Matter?
- How Necessary Is a College Education?
- Should Engineers Pay Less for College Than English Majors?
- Are the Web Filters at Your School Too Restrictive?
- Does Technology Make Us More Alone?
- Are You Distracted by Technology?
- Do Apps Help You or Just Waste Your Time?
- Do You Spend Too Much Time on Smart Phones Playing ‘Stupid Games’?
- Has Facebook Lost Its Edge?
- Does Facebook Ever Make You Feel Bad?
- Should What You Say on Facebook Be Grounds for Getting Fired?
- Should People Be Allowed to Obscure Their Identities Online?
- What Should the Punishment Be for Acts of Cyberbullying?
- Is Online Learning as Good as Face-to-Face Learning?
- Do Your Teachers Use Technology Well?
- Should Tablet Computers Become the Primary Way Students Learn in Class?
- Can Cellphones Be Educational Tools?
- Should Computer Games Be Used for Classroom Instruction?
- How Young Is Too Young for an iPhone?
- Should Companies Collect Information About You?
- Would You Trade Your Paper Books for Digital Versions?
- Are Digital Photographs Too Plentiful to Be Meaningful?
- Do You Worry We Are Filming Too Much?
- Would You Want a Pair of Google’s Computer Glasses?
- How Would You Feel About a Computer Grading Your Essays?
- What Role Will Robots Play in Our Future?
- How Many Text Messages Are Too Many?
- How Much Do You Trust Online Reviews?
- Why Do We Like to Watch Rich People on TV and in the Movies?
- Do TV Shows Like ‘16 and Pregnant’ Promote or Discourage Teenage Pregnancy?
- Does TV Capture the Diversity of America Yet?
- Is TV Too White?
- Is TV Stronger Than Ever, or Becoming Obsolete?
- Does Reality TV Promote Dangerous Stereotypes?
- What Current Musicians Do You Think Will Stand the Test of Time?
- What Artists or Bands of Today Are Destined for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
- What Musician, Actor or Author Should Be a Superstar, but Hasn’t Quite Made It Yet?
- Will Musical Training Make You More Successful?
- Should Video Games Be Considered a Sport?
- Should Stores Sell Violent Video Games to Minors?
- Can a Video Game Be a Work of Art?
- Do Violent Video Games Make People More Violent in Real Life?
- When Should You Feel Guilty for Killing Zombies?
- What Game Would You Like to Redesign?
- What Were the Best Movies You Saw in the Past Year?
- To What Writer Would You Award a Prize?
- Do You Prefer Your Children’s Book Characters Obedient or Contrary?
- Where Is the Line Between Truth and Fiction?
- Can Graffiti Ever Be Considered Art?
- Do We Need Art in Our Lives?
- What Makes a Good Commercial?
- Why Did a Cheerios Ad Attract So Many Angry Comments Online?
- Does Pop Culture Deserve Serious Study?
- Do Parents Have Different Hopes and Standards for Their Sons Than for Their Daughters?
- Is School Designed More for Girls Than Boys?
- Is There Too Much Pressure on Girls to Have ‘Perfect’ Bodies?
- How Much Pressure Do Boys Face to Have the Perfect Body?
- Do Photoshopped Images Make You Feel Bad About Your Own Looks?
- Is It O.K. for Men and Boys to Comment on Women and Girls on the Street?
- What Should We Do to Fight Sexual Violence Against Young Women?
- How Do You Feel About Rihanna and Chris Brown Getting Back Together?
- Do Fraternities Promote Misogyny?
- Why Aren’t There More Girls in Leadership Roles?
- Why Aren’t More Girls Choosing to Pursue Careers in Math and Science?
- Should Women Be Allowed to Fight on the Front Lines Alongside Men?
- Do You Believe in Equal Rights for Women and Men?
- Are Women Better at Compromising and Collaborating?
- Do Boys Have Less Intense Friendships Than Girls?
- If Football Is So Dangerous to Players, Should We Be Watching It?
- Should Parents Let Their Children Play Football?
- Should College Football Players Get Paid?
- When Do Pranks Cross the Line to Become Bullying?
- Has Baseball Lost Its Cool?
- Are Some Youth Sports Too Intense?
- Is It Offensive for Sports Teams to Use Native American Names and Mascots?
- Where Should Colleges and Sports Teams Draw the Line in Selling Naming Rights?
- Should Colleges Fund Wellness Programs Instead of Sports?
- Is Cheerleading a Sport?
- How Big a Deal Is It That an N.B.A. Player Came Out as Gay?
- Should There Be Stricter Rules About How Coaches Treat Their Players?
- Should Athletes Who Dope Have to Forfeit Their Titles and Medals?
- Should Sports Betting Be Legal Everywhere?
- Should Home-Schoolers Be Allowed to Play Public School Sports?
- Would You Want a Bike Share Program for Your Community?
- What Local Problems Do You Think Your Mayor Should Try to Solve?
- If You Were Governor of Your State, How Would You Spend a Budget Surplus?
- When Is the Use of Military Force Justified?
- What Is More Important: Our Privacy or National Security?
- Should the U.S. Be Spying on Its Friends?
- Do You Trust Your Government?
- What Do You Think of the Police Tactic of Stop-and-Frisk?
- Do Rich People Get Off Easier When They Break the Law?
- Should Rich People Have to Pay More Taxes?
- Do Laws That Ban Offensive Words Make the World a Better Place?
- Is It Principled, or Irresponsible, for Politicians to Threaten a Shutdown?
- Do Leaders Have Moral Obligations?
- Do Great Leaders Have to Be Outgoing?
- How Should We Prevent Future Mass Shootings?
- Should Guns Be Permitted on College Campuses?
- Would You Feel Safer With Armed Guards Patrolling Your School?
- What Is Your Relationship With Guns?
- Do You Support or Oppose the Death Penalty?
- When Should Juvenile Offenders Receive Life Sentences?
- Do We Give Children Too Many Trophies?
- When Do You Become an Adult?
- When Should You Be Able to Buy Cigarettes, Drink Alcohol, Vote, Drive and Fight in Wars?
- Should the Morning-After Pill Be Sold Over the Counter to People Under 17?
- Should Birth Control Pills Be Available to Teenage Girls Without a Prescription?
- Is Modern Culture Ruining Childhood?
- Are Adults Hurting Young Children by Pushing Them to Achieve?
- How, and by Whom, Should Children Be Taught Appropriate Behavior?
- What Can Older People Learn From Your Generation?
- Do ‘Shame and Blame’ Work to Change Teenage Behavior?
- How Should Children Be Taught About Puberty and Sex?
- Is Dating a Thing of the Past?
- How Should Parents Handle a Bad Report Card?
- Should Children Be Allowed to Wear Whatever They Want?
- How Should Educators and Legislators Deal With Minors Who ‘Sext’?
- Do You Think Child Stars Have It Rough?
- Is Smoking Still a Problem Among Teenagers?
- Are Antismoking Ads Effective?
- Is Drinking and Driving Still a Problem for Teenagers?
- Do You Think a Healthier School Lunch Program Is a Lost Cause?
- How Concerned Are You About Where Your Food Comes From?
- Is It Ethical to Eat Meat?
- Do You Prefer Your Tacos ‘Authentic’ or ‘Appropriated’?
- Should the Government Limit the Size of Sugary Drinks?
- Should Marijuana Be Legal?
- Should Students Be Required to Take Drug Tests?
- Do Bystanders Have a Responsibility to Intervene When There is Trouble?
- Should You Care About the Health and Safety of Those Making Your Clothing?
- Can Money Buy You Happiness?
- Does Buying and Accumulating More and More Stuff Make Us Happier?
- Are We Losing the Art of Listening?
- Do People Complain Too Much?
- Can Kindness Become Cool?
- Which Is More Important: Talent or Hard Work?
- How Important Is Keeping Your Cool?
- When Should You Compromise?
- Is Your Generation More Self-Centered Than Earlier Generations?
- Can You Be Good Without God?
- Have Curse Words Become So Common They Have Lost Their Shock Value?
- What Words or Phrases Should Be Retired in 2014?
- What Words or Phrases Do You Think Are Overused?
- Should Couples Live Together Before Marriage?
- How Important Do You Think It Is to Marry Someone With the Same Religion?
- How Long Is It O.K. to Linger in a Cafe or Restaurant?
- Does Keeping a Messy Desk Make People More Creative?
- How Important Is Keeping a Clean House?
- Should Scientists Try to Help People Beat Old Age So We Can Live Longer Lives?
- Given Unlimited Resources, What Scientific or Medical Problem Would You Investigate?
- When Is It O.K. to Replace Human Limbs With Technology?
- Do You Think Life Exists — or Has Ever Existed — Somewhere Besides Earth?
- Should Fertilized Eggs Be Given Legal ‘Personhood’?
- How Concerned Are You About Climate Change?
- Is It Wrong for a Newspaper to Publish a Front-Page Photo of a Man About to Die?
- What Causes Should Philanthropic Groups Finance?
- Should Charities Focus More on America?
- Should the Private Lives of Famous People Be Off Limits?
- Did a Newspaper Act Irresponsibly by Publishing the Addresses of Gun Owners?
- Would You Rather Work From Home or in an Office?
- What Time Should Black Friday Sales Start?
- Do You Shop at Locally Owned Businesses?
- How Much Does Your Neighborhood Define Who You Are?
Technology and Social Media
Arts and Media: TV, Music, Video Games and Literature
Sports and Athletics
Politics and the Legal System
Parenting and Childhood
Health and Nutrition
Personal Character and Morality Questions
Have to write an argumentative essay? Are you nervous about it? If your answer to both questions is “YES”, then you came to the right place. Sure, writing an essay is always a source of concern for many students, but it doesn’t have to be like that. With a practical guide, you can master the art of writing an argumentative essay before you know it. Here’s how.
The main idea behind argumentative essay is to defend a debatable position on a specific issue with the goal to persuade readers to accept your argument. As a writer, your goal is to choose a side and declare whether you agree or disagree with something. The argument has to be supported by valid and reliable evidence.
The point of this paper is to demonstrate knowledge of the subject and the ability to start, develop, and finalize an argument without losing reader’s attention. The argumentative essay provides a deeper insight into a certain topic, scratches below the surface to highlight some important ideas.
Benefits of writing an argumentative essay
No, your professor doesn’t assign argumentative essay just because he (or she) feels like it. Once you graduate you will realize that every single assignment in school and college had its own purpose. The idea is to help students develop certain skills through work on the task at hand. Skills that you develop with argumentative essays include:
- Anticipating objections – this paper isn’t just about proving you’re right, it also requires addressing opposing views (see below). The writing process entails outlining alternative perspectives and answering questions that reader may have. This allows you to master the art of anticipating objections to understand both sides of the issue. You’ll rely on this skill in your personal and professional life
- Critical thinking – as you analyze the evidence, arguments, and claims you gradually develop and strengthen critical thinking skills. These skills allow you to understand potential weaknesses in your own arguments and assess any subject or idea in an unbiased manner
- Writing skills – it’s simple; practice makes perfection. The more you write, the better your essay writing skills will be. This is one of the most important reasons why professors assign essays
- Logic and rhetoric – argumentative essay helps you master the basic rules of logic such as learning to avoid emotional appeals, writing clear statements rather than generalizations. You’ll also enhance rhetoric skills by emphasizing the importance of the subject and potential outcomes
- Research skills – the secret behind high-quality essays is in thorough research. You’ll need great research skills throughout your academic life, even when you get a job later on
Areas of interest
The beauty of the argumentative essay is that you can write about anything you want including:
- Law and other legal topics
- Advertising and media
Argumentative essay outline
The process of writing an argumentative essay can be very simple when you follow a well-structured outline. Below, you can see how your paper should look like:
- Introduction – first contact between a reader and your essay. This is your chance to make a great first impression, keep reader eager to see how you developed the argument. An introductory paragraph consists of:
- Hook – first sentence or two; catches reader’s attention. It can be a quote, question, anecdote, statistics, etc.
- Background – useful background information about the subject
- Thesis statement – announces the argument you’re going to make or side of the issue that you’ll defend
- Developing the argument – are you pro or against some idea, event, policy etc? Explain why you’re right, create an engaging argument that stirs debate in a reader’s mind too. The number of paragraphs isn’t specified, it depends on claims you make:
- Claim 1 – evidence – each paragraph should start with a claim that contributes to your argument and evidence to support it
- Claim 2 – evidence
- Claim 3 – evidence
- Debunking opposing views – you want a reader to know you’re right and the best way to do so is to debunk some opposing claims in the process. After developing your argument, dedicate a body paragraph or two to opponents’ viewpoints:
- Opposing view 1– refutation – mentions common claims that contradict yours and provides evidence to show why they’re wrong
- Opposing view 2 – refutation
- Conclusion – restates the main premise or argument and summarizes key claims. Describes what could happen if your premise isn’t followed and proposes potential solutions for a certain problem (if applicable)
Now that you know more about the outline to follow when writing the argumentative essay, it’s necessary to learn more about different tips and tricks that make the process easier. Follow these useful strategies while working on your paper:
- Research the subject – this is a must; even if you think you already know everything about the subject, still do a thorough research to get more information and take notes
- Choose claims wisely – the number of claims about your argument isn’t as important as their quality. If you can’t find evidence to support some claim, then don’t include it. Remember, your goal is to convince reader your opinion is the right one and you need evidence-backed claims to do that
- Quality of evidence matters too – Wikipedia, blogs, unreliable websites aren’t really helpful. Argumentative essay is an academic paper that requires the use of reputable sources, journals, publications, books
- Write everything that comes to your mind – take a blank piece of paper (or open MS Word) and write everything that comes to your mind regarding the topic. Don’t think about typos, grammar, claims and such. When you’re done, read everything from top to bottom, eliminate things you can’t use. Then, use the rest to construct your essay
- Give credit where credit is due – to support the claims you need evidence, but don’t forget to include references. When using someone else’s thoughts or ideas to complement your own, you should always give credit where credit is due
- Be concise – don’t use random words and expressions just to reach word count limit. Always be concise and make sure that every word contributes to the meaning of sentence, paragraph, and thereby the entire essay
- Think outside the box – essays should spark a debate and they are often controversial. Feel free to explore your creativity, think outside the box, and approach the subject in a nonconventional manner
Argumentative Essay Topics
In most cases, professor or teacher is the one who assigns a specific topic that students have to discuss. That said, students get to choose their own topics from time to time.
Good Argumentative Essay Topics
Here are some topics suggestions you should consider:
- Should teenagers be required to obtain parents’ permission to use contraceptives?
- Are athletes overpaid?
- Is the use of animals for research purposes justified?
- Scientists cloned monkeys; are humans next? Is human cloning ethical?
- Should social media platforms regulate comments more thoroughly?
- Is gun control an effective method of reducing crime rates?
- Homeschooling prevents children to adopt various social skills
- Violence in the media makes children violent
- Does existence of Electoral College undermine freedom of American people to choose the leader they want?
- Are beauty pageants exploitive?
- Should prisoners be allowed to vote?
- Should college tuitions be more affordable?
- Should surgeries and medications for all diseases be free for everyone?
- Are schools and teachers responsible for low test scores and bad grades?
Legal argumentative essay topics
- At what age should girls have access to birth control without the consent of their parents?
- Do the benefits of medical marijuana justify its legality?
- Does outlawing controlled substances only create a larger black market?
- Does the US law system offer enough protection for victims of domestic abuse?
- Does Trump’s refusal to take refugees deny basic human rights to people in need?
- In what situations, if any, does a woman have a right to an abortion?
- Is the drinking age appropriate (should it be lower, higher, or stay the same)?
- Is the process of electoral vote fair?
- Online abuse – should court treat it as any other kind of abuse?
- Should cigarettes and other tobacco products be outlawed?
- Should corporations be granted personhood?
- Should the death penalty be abolished?
- Should nuclear weapons be outlawed worldwide?
- Should prostitution be legal?
- Should the United States put more restrictions on gun ownership and use?
Ethical argumentative essay topics
Here are some topic ideas:
- Are atheists less moral than theists?
- Are members of oppressed minority groups kept back by policies which encourage them to see cultures foreign to themselves as innately superior?
- Are nude photographs appropriate in museums that are open to the public?
- Are parents overexposing their children online?
- Do patients have a right to die via physician-assisted suicide?
- Do pre-employment drug tests infringe on personal privacy rights?
- Does freedom of speech give people the right to use hate speech?
- Is animal testing necessary?
- Is death penalty right or wrong?
- Is human reproductive cloning morally acceptable?
- Should children’s beauty pageants be banned?
- Should consumers buy items from countries that endorse child labor?
- Should hunting with the sole purpose to entertain be banned?
- Should schools and businesses give more incentives for people to do volunteer work?
Social argumentative essay topics
Social topics can refer to just about anything, here are some examples:
- Are tattoos acceptable at the workplace?
- At what age should citizens be allowed to vote in the United States?
- Can heterosexual men and women truly be friends with no hopes or expectations of anything more?
- Can online dating replace meeting a person in real life?
- Do prisoners deserve the right to vote?
- Excessive alcohol consumption in minors – does it stem from too much freedom and lack of parental control?
- In what case(s) could it be considered fair for a company to not hire a candidate who smokes cigarettes?
- Is education in the US failing teenagers across the nation? Too much pressure, expensive college enrollment, bullying – what can be done?
- Is there too much pressure on teenagers to go to college?
- Most prisoners released on parole return to prison within 12 months – is it the system’s failure?
- Should more rights be given to immigrants?
- Should the United States make English the official national language?
- Should there be a legal curfew for minors?
- Should women wear less revealing clothing in order to curb men’s catcalling?
- Why online dating websites should be responsible for rapes and murders committed by members who are registered sex offenders
Advertising and media argumentative essay topics
Advertising and media evolved dramatically during last few decades thus posing as an endless source of essay topics. Below, you can see some title ideas:
- Are public service announcements effective?
- Do journalists have a duty to eliminate as much bias as possible?
- Do teenagers drink and smoke because advertisements make them think it is “cool” to do so?
- Do TV shows and movies have the responsibility of being more diverse?
- How “fake news” trend changes a political and social life?
- How do reality shows impact society?
- In what situations should advertisements for alcohol and tobacco products be allowed?
- Is it acceptable for companies to advertise in schools?
- Is print advertising obsolete?
- Sex and violence on TV – how do they change us?
- Should news shows talk about celebrities?
- Should sex be allowed to be portrayed on prime-time television?
- Should warnings and side effects be made more clear in advertisements?
- Spikes in violence on TV co-occur with violence on the streets – what can be done?
- Where should networks draw the line for violence on television?
Family argumentative essay topics
Here are some ideas:
- At what age should parents talk to their children about sex?
- Do children deserve/need an allowance?
- Is a child’s room really theirs, or is it their parents’?
- Is it acceptable for women to breastfeed in public?
- Is it okay for parents to monitor teens’ internet use?
- Should all people who want to have kids undergo a psychological evaluation prior conceiving?
- Should parenting classes be compulsory?
- Should parents be able to spank their children?
- Should parents buy presents for kids to motivate them to study and do their homework?
- Should parents pay children for good grades?
- Should parents push their children to do things they don’t want?
- Should parents push their kids into extracurricular activities such as music or sports?
- Should single people be able to adopt children as easily as couples?
- Staying married for the sake of children only harms them, why?
- Why helicopter parenting never works?
- Why should all kids have certain chores on a daily basis?
Don’t have enough time to write an essay on your own? Or maybe you need help with a certain aspect of argumentative essay writing? We’ve got you covered. Here are different ways you can get help with this assignment.
Essay topic generator
There is no need to waste hours trying to come up with an interesting topic when you can use Edusson Magic Help to find a perfect title. All you have to do is to enter a keyword and press enter. Plus, you can click on the category of your interest or search by alphabet. It’s that easy!
In order to assess your strengths and weaknesses adequately, it’s always practical to read someone else’s paper. Why? As you read and observe how a writer developed the argument, you recognize both good and bad sides of their essay. Later, you transmit this knowledge to your own writing process. Edusson’s Magic Help has a number of essay examples that you can use to get motivated, learn, and practice.
Finished writing your essay? If you are the DIY type of person, then you probably want to evaluate the paper and correct mistakes on your own. RobotDon can help you with that. The cute, hard-working robot runs a detailed analysis of the paper and displays plagiarism score, sentence structure, readability, word use, and other factors that play a role in the quality of your essay.
Essay writing service
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Essay editing service
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