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
"Is after-class homework harmful or useful?" That is how a good argumentative paper topic may sound.
Argumentative essay is one more type of college paper. Students might be assigned it as part of their homework or even in-class activity. Argumentative papers exist to check student's English and ability to think critically. Another reason is to see how well students argue on different views and demonstrate knowledge of the studied subject.
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Have a look at this article to understand teacher's grading rubric better. Find a list of debatable essay topics divided into several different categories below.
Ways to Choose Argumentative Essay Topics
There are a lot of argumentative topics to come up with in the age of political debates, economical movements, and technological progress. Picking the subject is one of the most responsible stages (unless your teacher assigns his own subject to cover). Deciding on your topic is not that easy.
It is recommended to choose rather contradictive topics when writing a critical paper. The reader should be impressed by the way you defend your ideas. It is recommended to avoid argument essay topics on moral issues because they do not support logical discussion. Recent argumentative essay topics which are relevant to society will do.
A debatable paper must contain both analysis and fair criticism of various problems. Make sure each time you want to say something against one's claim, you need solid arguments. Otherwise, your paper won't persuade your teacher. The lack of good support sources will result in a lower grade.
Those who try to obtain their business administration degrees (BBA or MBA) must evaluate and analyze the efficiency of some marketing or HRM tools to discover the most effective approaches. Potential nurses and healthcare experts must check and discuss the efficiency of treatment.
The second thing you should take care of once you decide on the title is to keep in mind five types of argument claims.
Once you select the main subject, start working on the action plan known as academic paper outline. Keep an eye on academic paper formatting while writing.
Follow this link to find out 101 argumentative essay topics or just continue reading.
The Principles of Formatting Academic Papers
While working, mention all applied sources separately. Take notes each time you decide to add a new quote: later, this information will help to create Bibliography list much faster. Keep in mind that proper formatting is 1/3 of your grade! Thus, it is important to read corresponding formatting guide.
In contrast to middle and high school students, college students apply a greater variety of academic writings styles.
- MLA (Modern Language Association)
- APA (American Psychologic Association)
- IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)
- ACS (American Chemical Society)
APA is often applied to format the argumentative essay. It also depends on the particular college subject. APA is applied in Psychology, Philosophy, and Social Sciences while History students must be well-aware of Harvard format. Theology, Anthropology, and Religious Studies classes involve Turabian/Chicago style. Computer Science researchers apply IEEE referencing style while Chemistry students are into ACS. Teachers assign the necessary format, but keep in mind these tips if they don't.
Before writing your piece, conduct additional research on academic paper formatting. It is better to use templates as they include all necessary formatting elements. Control the margins, font, font's size, indents, and other features in your Word document. Each style is different in two ways. First, in-text citations may be either numerical or author-date style. Second, every style has a unique approach to referencing.
Young writers may try simple online citation generators which are usually free of charge. Add the details on your selected sources to get automatically generated references.
Good Argumentative Essay Topics & Ideas
Have a look at how to come up with an essay topic! It is important to focus only on one subject instead of involving several ideas and make readers confused. Read the advice from educational expert carefully.
"A clear, firm, and debatable thesis is the goal of an argumentative paper. It is impossible to cover several issues at a time as your audience may get lost and lose interest in reading. Besides, any academic paper is limited in length: the more issues your try to cover, the more extra information comes up. I would recommend avoiding argumentative essay topic ideas associated with national/global problems. They usually require more than a few pages. If you choose a broad issue, narrow it down by tossing away details such as descriptions and useless examples.
There are four main characteristics of good argumentative essay topics. They are always CDRM.
C - current
D - debatable
R - researchable
M - manageable
Finally, great argument essay topics are always passionate!"
Tara Christianson, Yale's Literature and Arts Professor
Get acquainted with the list of persuasive paper ideas! Take a look at the list of critical thinking essay topics for students from different areas of expertise. These are the most popular paper titles. Change them according to your requirements.
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Argumentative Essay Topics for College
- What should be changed about current taxation system?
- Shakespeare: Was he real?
- Are Project Managers and CEOs paid too much?
- Is college admission getting too sharp?
- Are test scores the most accurate indication of individual competency?
- Military service and the role of gender
- Why are left-handed guitar players more gifted?
- Do all religions have a right to exist?
- What are the causes of the increased number of teenage mothers?
- What happens once we die?
Easy Argumentative Essay Topics
- My favorite music
- Burton's "Ed Wood": Was Depp the best choice?
- Is particular fashion important today?
- Are girls too mean?
- Do human beings cause global climate change?
- Polygamy is natural, so it's not evil
- Can you succeed in life being a philosopher?
- Is art a profession?
- How long a modern film usually takes?
- What is the true meaning of "love"?
Controversial Argumentative Essay Topics
- Is US election process fair?
- Should animals be used in experiments/testing?
- Is the death penalty effective?
- Do religious movements cause war?
- The politics of British government
- Celebrities tend to fail their political careers
- The system is too much corrupted today
- Politics is everywhere and always a "dirty" game
- Clinton could be a better US President
- Positive and negative outcomes of feminism
Social Media Argumentative Essay Topics
- Critical factors of quickly modifying consumer behavior
- Can girls ask boys out first?
- Should cigarettes be sold?
- Is our society a throw-away?
- Should nation market to children?
- What is the best alternative to Twitter?
- Do people really find a job through effective LinkedIn Profile?
- Does government have a right to view private profiles?
- Are popular online activists too shy in real life?
- Is it possible earn good money on YouTube?
Argumentative Essay Topics Technology Students May Choose
- Are cell phones too harmful?
- Are spy applications for mobile phones an invasion of privacy?
- Are modern young people too dependent on computers?
- Is any online lottery fair?
- Is TypeScript a future of front-end development?
- Are modern teens too much reliant on Information Technologies?
- Do we still need cell phones?
- How do people survive in the age of technological explosion?
- Can corporations create chips to control their employees' minds?
- What will our world look like in technological sense in the next century?
Argumentative Essay Topics about Sports
- Are violent video games that dangerous?
- Does participation in sports keep teens out of trouble?
- Is competition the best way to prove your competence?
- Are children changing positively when doing sports?
- Is cheating in sports games out of control?
- What is the most dangerous type of sports?
- Is swimming the only activity which trains every group of muscles?
- Are there any legal alternatives to steroids?
- Does cheerleading fit in games?
- Which type of sports is meant only for the wealthiest?
Argumentative Essay Topics for Middle School
- Should metal music be banned due to the violent lyrics?
- How can children be effectively punished?
- What age is appropriate to start dating?
- Can students evaluate and critique their teachers?
- Should public schools add creationism to their programs?
- Which genre of music may help to study?
- Females prefer romantic movies.
- Is it possible to trace someone online?
- Is it possible to make friends virtually?
- The role of school uniform.
Argumentative Essay Topics for High School
- The educational system in China
- Is homeschooling effective?
- Is the cost of university too high?
- Should the government have a say in our nutrition?
- What are the advantages of attending a single-sex school?
- Can graffiti be viewed as art?
- What type of social activity should be legally punished?
- Is the United States too lenient on Israel?
- Is India a genuine superpower?
- Pros and cons of globalization.
Health Related Argumentative Essay Topics
- Should alcohol usage be restricted legally?
- Government has to provide premium health care?
- Do curfews really keep adolescents out of trouble?
- Supplements used to cure cancer
- Are gay couples under the threat of HIV more than straight pairs?
- Can technological devices cause cancer?
- How much water should we drink per day?
- How do vegetarians survive?
- The risks coming from fast food.
- Going to the hospital versus self-treatment.
Social Argumentative Essay Topics
- Is torture or rape ever acceptable?
- Should sexual maniacs be sentenced to death?
- Can male employees get paternity leave from work?
- Does age matter in relationships?
- Do low prices on condoms prevent teen pregnancy?
- Ways to handle naughty teens
- What is the right punishment for the failed parenting?
- What are the causes of Down's syndrome?
- Is black PR acceptable?
- Can we treat abortion as a crime?
Are you ready to discover one more extra topic? Let it be something universal like "What are the best methods to control modern generation?"
Tips on Writing Powerful Argumentative Essay
Make a candy out of your paper by following expert recommendations!
- Write about different aspects of contemporary life. Do not cover fantastic issues in an argumentative essay as you must sound realistic by providing real-life examples. That's why choosing social media, sports, politics, gender issues, and school/college themes would work.
- Start with a great hook to capture attention. It can be a rhetorical question, literary quote, or else, but it is important not to use more than one hook in your paper. Mind this professional advice when choosing the best hooking sentence.
- There is no need to include a first-person ("I," "we") unless required by instructions. Still, students are encouraged to share their own opinions.
- It is important to read all relevant literature to add ideas that oppose personal opinion. To debate fairly, the evidence must be taken from the credible sources only! Exclude topics that do not have opposing opinions.
- Feel free to create an original topic, but you may also use numerous lists of prepared themes.
- Try to sound unbiased when protecting your point of view. The following elements will support your research:
- clear criteria
- expert feedback
- supportive arguments
- End up your text with a strong call-to-action (CTA). Unlike in marketing, your goal is to sell your article. In other words, make the reader want to discuss the problem even once he's done with reading. Motivate your audience to continue the research.
- Don't forget to refer to this article to recall the best argumentative essay ideas chosen by many successful students throughout the world!
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