Choosing an essay topic can be the hardest part of the entire essay-writing process.
With so many different topics to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start.
Use these 10 tips to find an essay topic that’s interesting, well-suited to your skills, and unique enough to set you apart from the crowd.
10 Tips to Pick an Essay Topic
Know the assignment
Clearly, the first step is to read through your assignment carefully and know exactly what the professor expects from you in order for your paper to be successful.
Remember that there are always requirements, such as length or number of sources used.
Once you understand the expectations, use these guidelines to determine what type of essay will work best for your situation.
For example, if the length requirement states 4-5 pages long, this would not work well with a comparison/contrast paper which requires multiple sources and takes up more space on average than other types of essays.
The topic also needs to fit within the allotted time frame.
If you have only two hours to write a five-page paper, then you don’t want to choose a topic that’s extremely broad and requires extensive research.
Determine the grade level
Make sure that the topic is appropriate for your grade level.
Younger students might find it easier to pick topics related to childhood while college students might prefer something slightly more mature.
Also, don’t choose something that will be too difficult for you.
For example, if you’re a freshman in high school and are writing a paper about cell division, you would want to pick a more basic approach such as comparing/contrasting cell division in human cells vs. animal cells vs. plant cells instead of focusing on each process individually.
Remember that it’s better to succeed with a simpler topic than fail with something overly complex.
A good essay topic should allow for creativity but still, keep things grounded in reality.
Think about who you are and what interests you when picking a topic.
One way to do this is by looking over some personal reflections from the past few weeks. What was interesting? What did I learn? Did I encounter any challenges? Did I feel inspired by someone or something? Was there anything frustrating? What motivates me?
These questions will help narrow down the possible topics for your essay so that it matches your interests, abilities, and educational level.
Choose an essay topic you’re interested in
This might seem obvious, but it’s easy to get too caught up in what others think you should do.
Instead of following someone else’s idea of success, determine what success means for you.
Think about what you’re passionate about and make that your essay topic. Is there a certain time period or person that interests you? Do you want to try your hand at writing poetry? If your passion is baseball, perhaps write a short story based on one of your favourite games.
A good essay topic should also be unique. Unless you are required to write a specific essay, it’s better to follow your own path rather than someone else’s.
Take time to explore all the possibilities and you’ll eventually find the right topic for you.
Sometimes, it’s a matter of trial and error.
As you try different essay topics, you’ll begin to see what type of paper you enjoy writing the most. It’s important to take your time and select a topic that speaks to you.
Determine how complex your essay topic will be
This is where you’ll decide what type of essay is most appropriate for your situation.
For example, if your topic requires in-depth research and analysis, then a 5-paragraph essay would not work well because it usually only includes one body paragraph.
If, on the other hand, you’re writing about why eating healthy food is important or some other general statement, then a 5-paragraph essay could be ideal.
Complex essay topics typically require a lot of research. While these essays have fewer paragraphs, they often include more evidence and can range anywhere from 1, 500-2,000 words.
Consider which essay format is best for you
There are many different types of essays. Here are a few popular ones to consider: Cause and effect essay, narrative (telling a story), persuasive (arguing a point), argumentative essay, analytical (examining arguments and opinions), and reflective essay (looking back on life experiences).
The list goes on, but the main point here is to understand what type of essay you need to write.
Once you know this, choosing an appropriate topic becomes much easier.
Find a topic that has the necessary qualities for your type of essay.
For example, a narrative essay might be about your first kiss, while an analytical essay might be about the pros and cons of bilingualism.
The variety of topics is endless, but the key is to find something that you’re comfortable with.
Read examples of strong essays
Strong essays are built on solid evidence and contain a thesis that drives the paper forward.
Learning how to craft successful papers by reading samples will help you develop your skills as a writer.
Topic selection isn’t always straightforward.
You may even go through multiple samples before finding a topic you like.
Just keep looking until you find a subject that interests you.
You’ll feel more motivated to put forth your best effort when you’re excited about your essay.
Most sample essays are available on the Internet.
Go to your school’s library, search for sample essays on Google, or visit the website of a professional essay service.
Reading a couple of sample essays will give you an idea of what you’re working towards and you’ll be able to tell whether or not you’re capable of meeting those standards.
The topic you pick should not be copied directly from any of the samples to avoid plagiarism. You should use them for inspiration, not as a resource.
Research tentative essay topics
Even though you’re writing about a specific topic, there’s still room for creativity.
You’ll want to do enough research so that you’re familiar with your topic, but don’t overwhelm yourself with so much information that you get lost in the details.
Researching your topic also helps you make sure you’re picking a topic that is interesting to you.
It doesn’t matter how good of a writer you are, it’s hard to stay engaged with a topic if you aren’t interested in the material.
Before beginning your research, think about your strengths and weaknesses. What do you already know? What would you like to learn? How much time do you have? These questions will help guide your decision-making process.
For example, you may be a great writer but not the best at math.
This means that you’ll probably want to choose a topic that’s less focused on numbers and graphs.
The same principle applies to your research abilities.
You’ll want to choose a topic that doesn’t rely heavily on outside sources for its argument.
Consult your teacher
When you’ve narrowed down your topic, consult your teacher to see if they approve.
If they say no, move on to the next one. Your professor is the one who assigned the essay, and they’re the one who knows what your assignment is asking for.
They’ll be able to provide valuable feedback on potential topics and answer any lingering questions you may have.
Be sure to be respectful of their opinion, and take their feedback into consideration when deciding on a topic.
After consultation with your teacher, you may have narrowed your topic to one that’s a perfect fit. If not, try again.
Asking for feedback is important because it will help you improve your understanding of the topic and ensure that you’re on the right track.
Remember that teachers are educators, not just people grading assignments.
They’re here to help you grow as a student and writer. You can ask them anything!
Brainstorm essay topic ideas
There are plenty of ways to brainstorm for essay topics.
The most obvious way to brainstorm is to start with a topic that you’re passionate about.
Personal experience is a common theme amng high schoolers, so you might start your brainstorming by thinking of something that has impacted your life.
This could be anything, such as a significant event, or an individual who has had a positive influence on you.
Another option would be to write about something that you disagree with or that makes you angry.
This approach gives you a chance to explore different sides of an issue without necessarily agreeing with one side or another.
Keep in mind that this type of topic should come from an honest place rather than simply being fueled by anger.
You may find inspiration for your essay by reading things that are related to your desired topic, whether it’s books, magazines, newspapers, blogs or social media posts. This allows you to sponge up content before creating your own work.
A third option is to examine the top ten Google search results for your desired topic. This will give you an idea of what other people are searching for, which may offer some helpful suggestions.
Finally, choosing a broad essay topic like the effects of global warming and narrowing it down after doing some research can save time instead of trying to figure out exactly what to write about at first glance.
Create a working title and a thesis statement
Now that you have an idea of what you want to write about, it’s time to create a working title and thesis statement.
You’ll want to spend some time on these so that they’re clear and concise.
Your working title is the name of your essay.
This will help you stay organized, especially if you plan on writing multiple essays in one sitting.
For example, if you were writing three essays, each with its own working title and thesis statement, all three titles could be listed under My Writing Projects in a separate document. You can also use the same document to make notes on ideas for future essays.
Your thesis statement is a sentence (or two) describing what your argument is going to be about.
It will serve as the central point of your essay and needs to make sense in context with everything else you write afterwards.
Your thesis and the topic must be relevant to the prompt.
In order to do that, you need to know what the prompt is asking for. You can find the prompt on your assignment sheet, and you should always read through it with a critical eye.
Make sure that your topic answers the question posed in the prompt and doesn’t wander off topic too much.
Essay Topic Examples
Working with example essay topics is the best way to get started and find the perfect one for you.
Here is a list of examples of essay topics for you to choose from:
- How fear shapes our lives
- What is the impact of climate change on local populations
- Discuss globalization’s impact on society.
- Discuss the pros and cons of globalization.
- Discuss the importance of public transportation in a community.
- Discuss how humans interact with their environment.
- Talk about beauty standards today, both how we feel pressure to meet them, and how we cope when we don’t.
- Talk about personal responsibility. How does having personal responsibility affect someone’s relationships?
- How does AI change the workplace and what will be the long-term effect on jobs.
- What is the connection between diversity and innovation in a company?
- What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of a green economy.
- Is there a correlation between racism and income 12) Can Facebook provide happiness?
- Should the government take more steps to control mass shootings or let citizens protect themselves?
- Does feminism have a place in modern society or has it outlived its usefulness.
- How would life change if people no longer had social media accounts?
- Would eliminating plastic waste significantly reduce the size of landfills?
- Does technology really improve people’s quality of life or just distract us from important things? 18) Do millennials have unrealistic expectations about employment.
- Are technological advancements making the world better or worse.
- Do smartphones make people smarter or dumber?
- Why is voting so important.
- If the United States were to adopt a universal basic income, would this solve any problems in America or actually cause new ones?
- How does poverty affect someone’s mental health
- Could you date your ex again?
- What are the consequences of replacing people with robots in the workforce?
- Could you live without social media?
- What does marriage mean in the twenty-first century?
- Do people really have free will
- Should we replace college with apprenticeships?
- Have violent video games become a national crisis.
- What is the purpose of education in the modern age?
- What are some of the benefits and risks of automation?
- How is nationalism impacting global relations and what is being done to try to counteract it?
- What is masculinity’s role in society and how has it changed over time?
- What are the implications of not believing in God.
- Explain the meaning of double consciousness and how it can manifest itself today.
- Has the internet destroyed or strengthened democracy.
- Can America ever truly be great again?
- Does time heal all wounds?
- How do feelings shape human behaviour.
- What is moral relativism and why should I care about it?
- What is the value of nature and how does it change over time?
- What are the possible effects of artificial intelligence on society?
- How are norms changing in today’s society?
- What is patriarchy and how does it affect people’s day-to-day lives.
- How does war change a person?
- Is loneliness ruining my life?
- What are some ways to deal with loneliness?
- What is friendship and why is it important for today’s society?
- What are the qualities of a good friend
- What is monogamy and what are some reasons people choose to be in it.
- Is infidelity always wrong
- How do breakups affect people differently depending on the type of relationship they were in?
- Does thinking about the future always lead to anxiety?
- How is introversion different from shyness?
- What are some of the warning signs that someone might be suicidal?
- What are some of the physical symptoms of a panic attack?
- How does someone know they’re experiencing depression?
- How do people with anxiety differ from those with depression?
- What are some natural remedies for depression and anxiety?
Essay Topic Selection Final Remarks
Picking the right topic for your essay is a lot like picking the right clothes for a job interview.
You want to look professional and appropriately dress for the occasion.
However, you also want to convey who you are and what you stand for. The tips above will hopefully make it easier for you to choose a topic that is a good fit for your project.
Remember to always think about what the prompt is asking for and be honest with yourself about what you want to write about.
If you can’t find a topic that interests you, talk to your professor!
Sometimes, just talking it out can be enough to spark some inspiration.