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
Humans tend to question everything. Some debate on absurdities with friends while others discuss laws and ethical issues. Argumentative essays are a means of proving an argument valid, hence turning theory into fact.
It is often visible if the writer has spent time developing their argument. Experienced writers develop their own set of principles to maximize clear delivery. The validity of any argument relies on its source material. Simple issues may need a simpler approach. Yet when you're tackling controversial matters, it's best to use plenty sources for backup.
How to Pick Out the Good Argumentative Essay Topics
Finding good topics for an argumentative essay isn’t finding a needle in a haystack - as long as you take care to follow a few core principles.
Many controversial argumentative essay topics are prone to prejudice. They often have an unconscious aim to prove already assumed facts. When writing an essay, it is always crucial to understand both sides. Try picking a neutral topic to which you are mostly indifferent.
Giving your teacher the treacherous ‘something they will like’ undermines the point of this exercise. The aim is to learn how to convince. Thus it is not significant to choose a topic that fascinates you or even one you'd find pleasure in exploring.
Easy Argumentative Essay Topics
There are the topics that are discussed and debated on a daily basis. It is not uncommon that most of them are banned from classrooms, being too cliche. They are popular picks because source material is in abundance and usually easy to find. If you believe you have some fresh insights on the matter, try convince your teacher into letting you do it. Just try to not put the classroom to sleep.
- Should Guns Be Legal?
- Should Marijuana Be Legal?
- Should Abortion Be Legal?
- Should Gay Marriage Be Legal?
- Should 'They' Lower The Drinking Age?
Middle school is a point of transition. Teachers engage middle-schoolers in debate to give them an insight into high-school level writing. These assignments often discuss the fairness of school rules and alternative curriculums. There are plenty interesting argumentative essay topics to bring up over a cup of tea with Dad.
- Should Schools Have Dress Codes?
- Should Teachers Assign Less Homework?
- Is Music Class Necessary?
- Real school vs. homeschool.
- Should There Be a Cooking Class?
Of the countless essays students write in high school, argumentative essays are most rewarding. They are a lesson in seeing all sides of the spectrum, and, being able to deduce biases and assumptions, understanding how to find who to trust. Unless you’re detailing the process of extracting salt from water, you’re most likely to be taking a side. Here are some common argumentative essay topics for high school.
- Should Sex Ed Appear In School Curriculums?
- Banning Classical Literature Containing Offensive Language in School.
- What Is The Greatest Invention of All Time?
- Should Clothes Define Who You Are?
- What Is Courage?
Argumentative Essay Topics For College
Did you know that Barack Obama only finished paying his student loans on the second year of his presidency? The value of college degrees is being questioned now more than ever. Educational environments have always served as a basis for students to challenge various issues of contemporary life.
College life means knowing the rules and doing as you please - in this order. College is where knowledge gives birth to new ideas and supports their development. Argumentative essay topics for college require attention to details of contemporary life.
- When Do Halloween Costumes Become Over-The-Top?
- Should Companies Collect Personal Data of Users?
- When Does Comedy Become Over-The-Top or Offensive?
- Are Models Too Skinny?
- How Close Are We To Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’?
- For or Against Allowing Students to Carry Guns to College.
- Are Schools Doing a Good Job at Addressing Cyberbullying?
- Should School Newspapers Get Reviewed Before Publishing?
- Do Schools Help Students Explore Their Creativity?
- Is Taking Adderall To Study Unfair?
- Has the Internet Made College Education Unnecessary?
- Is It Fair to Judge a Students’ Potential By Their SAT Score?
- Are Certain Colleges Overrated Because of Their Historical Significance?
- Should the Cost of College Depend on the Degree?
- Should Admissions Officers Read College Applicants’ Social Media Pages?
Argumentative Essay Topics By Category
We have listed some topics from popular fields of study. Feel free to tackle any subject on the list - or even better - use this list as inspiration and find your topic of interest. If you need more guidance, we have hundreds of essay writers online and ready to help you out.
While some may find social media a necessary component of daily life, others struggle with procrastination as a direct result. Social media has changed public opinions, and brought people together. It has arguably influenced critical political decisions. All of this and more has made social media a significant and relevant field of study.
- Do Smartphones Make People More Narcissistic?
- Should We Be Dependent On Social Media?
- Must Social Media Play a Role in Education?
- Online Friends vs. Real Friends
- How Should Social Media Networks Tackle Online Bullying?
- Is Anonymous Social Media Dangerous?
- Is Proper Punctuation Important on Social Media?
- Should Social Media Pay Users in Exchange for Their Privacy?
- Should Companies Fire Clients Over Inappropriate Social Media Behavior?
- Should There Be a ‘Dislike’ Button on Facebook?
TV, Movies, Video Games
Hollywood produces heaps of content on a daily basis. It is no surprise that lots of it doesn’t undergo heavy evaluation before release. This results in students questioning the industry’s promotion of harmful stereotypes. Here you can find plenty unique essay topics to choose from.
- Are Most Modern Hollywood Blockbusters That Bad?
- Does American TV Capture the Country's Diversity?
- Should Cybersports Be Considered Sports?
- Does Violence in Video Games Cause Kids To Be Violent?
- Is the Gaming World Sexist?
- Films & Shows Based on Comic Books - How Loyal Should They Be to Fans?
- What Makes a Good Children’s Cartoon?
- Do Hollywood FIlms Promote a Certain Set of Values?
- Can Good Commercials Be Considered Works of Art?
- Should One Feel Guilty While Killing Zombies?
Music, Literature, Art
Like forgettable weekend blockbusters, there is plenty of recycled music on the radio. Does this mean that digitization has degraded music into a mere form of entertainment? Has it always been that way? Music argumentative essay topics have plenty of room for discussion. They touch on issues of authenticity which can also be relevant in the fields of literature and art.
- Modern Pop Music is Recyclable - Does That Make It Good or Bad?
- In Music - When Does ‘Borrowing’ Become ‘Stealing’?
- Should Explicit Language in Classic Literature be Filtered Like Explicit Language in Pop Song Lyrics?
- Is Reading Books on Tablets the Same as Reading a Physical Book?
- Are Libraries Still Necessary?
- Is Vandalistic Graffiti An Art?
- Is It Right to Display Art in Public Places?
- Should Society Support Aspiring Artists?
- Is Modern Art Timeless?
- Are Mark Rothko Paintings Worth Their Cost?
Abstaining from eating sugar or drinking alcohol can feel like a big accomplishment. Some people find great pride in living a healthy lifestyle. Online health blogs and web stores take advantage of this trend. Many compete in selling health-related products, which often puts their quality under question. Office jobs offer gym subscriptions for employees to stay in top shape even. But does it compensate spending the day in front of a computer screen?
- Are Anti-Smoking Ads Effective or Too Disturbing?
- Should Universities Penalize Students For Drinking?
- Is 21 a Fair Drinking Age?
- Are Models Abnormally Skinny?
- Should Government Regulate Sugar In Sugary Products?
Science and Technology
Space exploration has historically led to significant developments in technology. Did you know that velcro and microwaves were invented during the Moon Landing programs? Here are some science and technology argumentative essay topics relevant to daily life.
- Is Human Chipping an Absurd Concept?
- How Concerned Should We Be About Climate Change?
- Should the Development of Nuclear Weapons Be Outlawed Internationally?
- Is It Ethical To Slow Aging With Science?
- Manipulating the Human Body With Technology - When Is It Okay?
Animal testing has led to many developments in fields such as medicine and cosmetics. However, this method is often questioned from a moral standpoint. It is true that animals didn’t build our cities or create democracy. Does it mean we must take their existence for granted and treat them like test subjects? Argumentative essays about animals and their rights touch on various ethical issues.
- Ethical Questions Concerning Genetically Engineered Animals.
- Should Animal Rights Issues Apply to Insects?
- Should Animal Zoos Be Upgraded or Outlawed?
- Argue For or Against Banning Animals In Circuses.
- Ethical Questions Concerning Altering Animals or Bugs With Technology.
Argumentative writing and speech are crucial skills to develop if you’re determined to keep the balance in this tumultuous world. Issues of poverty, democracy, infrastructure, foreign policy are among the most discussed in the field. In our times, it would be especially relevant to delve into argumentative essay topics on immigration.
- What Do Countries Owe Their Veterans?
- What Are the Moral Obligations of Political Leaders?
- Does the American Voting System Need to Be Altered?
- Should Rich People To Pay More Taxes?
- What Are the Responsibilities of Global Leaders When It Comes To the Refugee Crisis?
Funny Argumentative Essay Topics
The point of the exercise is to practice persuasive writing - therefore it is not necessary to write about something fun. However, let’s face it - some of these topics can be pretty dull to research. A solution would be picking a borderline humorous topic to light up the mood of your readers or audience. Here are some funny argumentative essay topics that will get your audience hooked merely out of curiosity.
- How The Simpsons Illustrate a Typical American Family.
- Should Parents Isolate Kids From Internet Pornography?
- Does the World Need Superheroes?
- Should Prostitution Be Legal?
- Who Would Win In a Fight - Batman or Iron Man?
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