Virginia has been a university English instructor for over 20 years. She specializes in helping people write essays faster and easier.
This Article Includes
Agree or Disagree Ideas
Convincing an Audience Topics
Questions to Answer
Basic Essay Outline
Tips for Thesis and Starting to Write
Agree or Disagree
An easy way to pick a topic for an argument essay is to take a strong statement and argue for or against it. Here are some sample statements from college students that you can argue for or against:
- Divorce destroys family life.
- There shouldn't be a minimum age to drive a car.
- God is undoubtedly real.
- A college education is worth the cost.
- Students don't understand how important it is to have privacy on social media.
- You aren't defined by your past.
- Helping others should be an important life principle.
- College students should be grateful to their families for the opportunity to go to college.
- Social pressures are greater on students today than in the past.
- Faith is an essential part of life.
- You should marry a person with the same educational level as you.
- Friends are more important than family.
- Sports should not be the center of family holidays.
- Gun registration is a good idea.
- Universities should set an example by recycling as much as possible.
- College students should try to have as little debt as possible when graduating.
- Working while in college is something everyone ought to do.
- Everyone should be trained in emergency medical care, like CPR.
- We should be careful about judging people based on appearance.
- Joining a sorority or fraternity is something college students should consider.
- Communism is still something we need to worry about.
- Penalties for drunk driving need to be increased.
- Schools are giving students too many standardized tests.
- Universities should require every student to take a foreign language.
- Fine Arts education in music, art, and theater should be expanded.
- Divorce is not always the result of failed love.
- Internet use by children should be censored.
- People have a right to not have to breathe second-hand smoke.
- Boxing is a dehumanizing sport.
- The penalty for drunk driving should be jail time.
- Standardized tests are poor reflections of students' abilities.
- Celebrities should be allowed to live private lives.
- Athletes get paid too much for what they do.
- Private schools are better than public schools.
- Homeschooling does not prepare students for college.
- Student-athletes should not get special treatment in college classes.
- Husbands should make more money than wives.
- Pornography should be banned.
- America is overly sensitive about racial issues.
- Grades do not measure how smart you are.
- Schools should move toward all electronic textbooks.
- In 50 years, there will be no more use for paper books.
- China will soon overtake the U.S. as a world power.
- Being a stay-at-home dad is demeaning for men.
- Caffeine is bad for you.
- Child support should include paying for college.
- Binge-watching a T.V. series is better than watching episodes over time.
- People should read more books.
- Skateboards (or hoverboards or bikes) should be banned at my school.
- Online education is as good as a standard college education.
- Giving Tuesday is something more people should support.
- Voting is important.
- News media is biased.
- Ballots with no paper trail should be banned.
- The representation of women in video games needs to change.
Pick an Audience to Convince
Arguments generally take place in context, in a particular historical moment with specific people you are trying to convince. It can be easier to think of reasons for your argument if you imagine a situation when you would argue that position. Here are some argument topics that give you a situation or audience to help you to organize your essay.
- Your audience is people who do or don't believe in getting the COVID vaccine. Write an article to post online expressing your own opinion and urging your audience to take your position.
- Your audience is other students in your college. Write a letter to the school newspaper: Is conversation becoming non-existent in this age of technology? Is technology negatively affecting our ability to form deep connections with other people?
- You are talking to parents of students in elementary through high school: How important are sports in a student's life? Argue for or against why parents should spend the time, energy, and money to get their children involved in sports.
- Address an audience of incoming high school freshmen: What sort of sport is best for students at your school?
- Talk to incoming college freshmen: How important is it for college students to keep in contact with their parents? How should they contact their parents and how often? What sort of information do they need to share with their parents? Are there some things parents don't need to know?
- Address the faculty at your college: Should college classes that are taken by large numbers of students have a standardized curriculum with the same books, tests, and assignments? Or should each professor teach the class in their own way?
- You are a newspaper reporter writing an editorial for a major paper: Why don't women make the same amount as men for the same work? Argue for or against the idea that women should make equal money for equal work.
- Write an article addressed to parents in a magazine that focuses on parenting and family life: How important is family life for children? Do parents have an obligation to give their children a certain kind of family life? If so, what kind? How can we help children get the type of family life they deserve?
- Feminists often argue that girls and boys should be raised exactly the same. What do you think? Argue whether or not you would raise your children with exactly the same sorts of toys, discipline, and activity choices. Should boys and girls be raised exactly the same? If so, why? If not, what sorts of differences do they need?
- Imagine that some people in your hometown are proposing to change to same-sex schooling. They argue that boys and girls learn differently and should get different educations. Write an editorial for or against the idea of instituting same-sex schooling. What are the benefits? Are there better alternative methods?
- Imagine you are soon to become a parent. Write a letter about your own philosophy of parenting. How important is it to raise children with strict guidelines? Argue for or against strict parenting. If you are against it, explain how you would discipline children.
- You are the head coach at a high school and you have heard that budget cuts may cause a decrease in funding for athletics. Argue for the importance of athletics to students in high school.
- You are an elementary school teacher and you have been informed that all your students will get an iPad next year. Argue for or against whether this technology will be helpful in your classroom.
- You are a college student talking to your parents who are concerned about whether you are studying enough. Argue for a balance between social life and school.
- How important is it for children to have two parents? Address a couple that is about to divorce and explain how their relationship decisions will affect their children.
- Addressing the people in charge of food at your college, argue what can be done to make the food choices healthier. What can be done to help students avoid the "Freshman 15?"
- Can people overcome their pasts? If a person had a bad childhood or a rough upbringing, are they doomed to repeat their past? If not, why not? Argue how an individual can overcome their past, and how other people or institutions can help them.
- Americans today are less healthy than they were in the past. Not only is there an obesity epidemic, but Americans are less fit. A recent study says that school-age children are 90 seconds slower in running a mile than their parents were at that age. How can a college help its graduates to be fit for life? Argue for three things your college needs to do in order to help students to be healthy now and to make healthy lifestyle choices in the future.
- Your audience is parents of college students or your parents. Argue for the value of social life and being involved in school activities. What is the benefit of taking time out of studying to do extracurricular activities? How can a student find a balance between school and social life?
- Address students who are interested in becoming a doctor. Explain why some of them should choose a different career. What are the qualities a person needs to be a doctor? What should their motivation be? Why should someone not become a physician?
- Address freshmen that are considering rushing for a sorority or fraternity. Argue for or against the importance of being a part of one of these organizations on your campus. What are the benefits? What are the disadvantages?
- As a college student, address students at your former high school. Argue for the value of a college education. Why should students work hard in high school? What are the benefits you've already received from college? What benefits do college graduates receive compared to people who don't go to college?
- You are addressing someone who likes a different sport than you do. Argue why your favorite sport is the best. Is it both the best one to play and to watch? Why is it a superior activity? (Example: Explain why football is better than basketball, why baseball is better than football, or why American football is superior to soccer.)
- Address teachers at your high school or college. Argue for the best way to teach a class. Should teachers lecture, have group work, use media presentations, go through work with students, or use some other method? What makes a great class and what makes a superior teacher? If you want, you can focus on one particular subject.
- Is stopping cheating important? Address students and faculty at your college. Argue whether or not policies against cheating work. Is there something else that should be done to prevent cheating? Should students be on the honor system?
- Address college men. Argue for or against the idea that men should be prepared to be stay-at-home-dads if their wives make more money or if their wives want to work after having children. What are the benefits of men staying at home? What are the negative consequences?
- You are a doctor writing a letter to your congressperson. Argue for or against Obamacare. How will the Affordable Care Act help or hurt your ability to care for the health of your patients?
- You are a person running for office. Your audience is the voters. Argue for or against gun control laws.
- You are a minority student. Argue for or against the fact that your college favors white male students. Is there something that your college administration needs to do to make the college experience more favorable to other students? Are there some things that other students can do?
- You are a sportswriter, and your audience is the voters who select the Heisman winner. Argue for who should win the Heisman this year.
- You are an NFL player. Your audience is the sports media and the situation is the bullying controversy in the NFL. Argue for what needs to be done about this situation. Should hazing be allowed to continue? What is the value of rituals like hazing?
- You are the college president. Argue for or against the policy of having finals at the end of the semester. What is the best way for faculty to judge how well students have learned the material?
- You are running for office and speaking to voters in your district. Argue whether or not voters should have to show an ID when they vote. Are there any changes to the current voting laws in your state that need to be made?
Use Questions and Answers
A final way to pick an easy essay topic is to use a question/answer format for your thesis. The question can be used for your title. Then, in your paper, you can put the answer to the question as your thesis. Using the question and answer format helps you to clearly organize your essay. The body of your paper will be the reasons for your answer.
- What does it mean for a person to be a feminist? Are you a feminist? Are there good (or bad) ways of being a feminist?
- What causes some young people to have a negative self-image? Are parents to blame? Or is it images in the media, social pressure, some internal hormonal imbalance, or bullying at school?
- Do special education students get enough challenging work? Is it a good idea to put special education students into a regular classroom? What is the best way to meet the needs of special education students?
- Is breaking stereotypes an essential value in our society? How can we break stereotypes of race, culture, and gender?
- Statistics show that for the past fifty years, African-American men and women have had twice the unemployment rate of white men and women, whether the economy was good or bad. Argue for why this is true. What can we do about it?
- What is the best reason for choosing a college? Argue for why your college is the best choice. What sort of student would do especially well at your college?
- What makes an activity a sport? Are cheerleading and horseback riding sports? Pick an activity that some people don't consider a sport and argue for or against it.
- Why do some people allow themselves to become morbidly obese? Argue for what can be done to help the obese improve their health and live happier lives.
- Why do some people pass the buck rather than take responsibility for their actions, decisions, and problems? Argue for why accepting responsibility is important. What do you think people need to take responsibility for?
- Is there a way to solve the illegal immigration situation in the United States? How can it best be solved? What should be the goals of immigration legislation?
- Which is the most powerful argument strategy: pathos (emotion), logos (logic), or ethos (authority and ethics)? Pick a forum such as politics, news, or advertisement, and argue which of these strategies operates most effectively in that venue.
- How much pressure should parents put on their children to get good grades? How much responsibility should be placed on the student? What sorts of punishments or restrictions should be given by parents? How can parents best help their children do well in school?
- How important is it for schools to work to keep high school students in school? Is it important that all students graduate from high school? Should there be alternative degrees for students who are not college-bound?
- Are standardized tests helping or harming the bottom 25% of students? Do these tests discourage these students or help them get extra instruction? Do they make students feel like failures and cause them to drop out of school early?
- Why do people not do things they know they should do to be healthy? Why don't they eat right, exercise, or get enough sleep?
- When should you step in to prevent someone you know from doing something harmful to themselves? Should you step in when your friend is missing class or not studying? Should you prevent a friend from drinking too much? Should you intervene when someone is in an abusive relationship?
- Can we eliminate stereotypes? What can we do to prevent ourselves from looking at and judging others based on appearances?
- Does giving back to the community make your life better? Do givers get more than they receive?
- Should cell phone use while driving be restricted nationwide? What should the laws be concerning cell phone use?
- Is technology making us dumber? Are young adults less able to write and speak in standard English? Is it important that they learn to communicate effectively in formal ways?
- Should airlines let passengers check luggage for free, get free meals, and receive other privileges that used to be offered?
- Is leaving home an important part of the college experience? What do young adults learn from being on their own away from their parents?
- Is it important to have close friends who have different beliefs from yours? What do we learn from people who think differently? Is diversity helpful or harmful in forming your belief system?
- Do video games contribute to violence in society? Should there be restrictions on who can play certain games? Should realistic violence in games be banned? How are these games related to real-life shootings?
- Is organic food really better for you? Is it worth the higher cost?
Writing Your Essay
Got your topic? You can follow the full instructions in my article, "How to Write an Argument Paper." Here is an easy outline:
Introduction: Tell a story or paint a vivid description of the subject. Make sure you explain what the argument is about. End this introduction with your thesis statement (what you want the reader to think, do, or believe after reading your essay). You might want to frame this as a question and answer.
Body: The body should be three or more paragraphs. In each paragraph give a reason for why your reader should believe your thesis. Write these reasons as a single sentence first, then expand on them by adding examples, logical explanations, and facts.
Conclusion: Be direct and tell the reader what you want them to take away. To make your paper really firm, give a final example or story that backs up your thesis. You might also want to tell the reader what you've personally decided.
Sample Essay Outline: Should Student Athletes Be Treated Differently?
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Tell a personal story about being a student-athlete and the difficulties of balancing training with school, friends, and family commitments.
Thesis question: Should student-athletes be treated differently by professors?
Thesis answer: Student-athletes need assistance in balancing their many commitments and extra time to complete assignments when they are away from school for athletic events, but professors should not lower standards for the athletes, and athletes should remember that their college degree is more important for their long-term life goals than their sport.
Body Topic Sentences
1. College scholarships in sports are valuable only if the athlete makes the most out of their college education.
2. School is more important than sports for most athletes since few of them will be able to be professionals in their sport.
3. Lower standards from professors will mean that the athletes don't learn what they need to know to get a good job in their future profession.
Finish by describing the personal qualities that college athletes will develop through having to balance their sport with classes and tell how this will be worth it in the long run.
Sample Essay Outline: Why Social Life Is Important in College
Introduction: Tell a story about a student who graduates and but is unable to get a job because he/she did nothing in college but focus on studying. Because of this he/she did not develop a social network or social skills.
Thesis question: Is getting involved in social life good or bad for college students?
Thesis answer: Not only are sororities, fraternities, and other social organizations at college good for students, they actually play an important part in teaching students how to be ready for life after college. Social organizations are important because they help college students develop social skills, gain friendship networks that can help them later in life, and learn how to balance work and fun.
Body Topic sentences:
- Social organizations are not just for fun because developing social skills in college is an important part of becoming successful in gaining and keeping a job.
- Success after college happens not just because people study hard, but also because they develop a network of contacts that can help them find jobs and learn about new opportunities.
- Being a part of a college social club helps prepare students for a lifetime of balancing their needs. They will learn how to work hard on their jobs, while also finding time for family, friends, and hobbies.
Tell a personal story about what you have learned by being part of a social organization in college. Tell the audience of parents to understand that their adult children need to be a part of a social group in college and advise them to encourage their son or daughter to develop relationships as well as academic knowledge.
Questions & Answers
Question: What do you think of the topic, "Should boys help in the kitchen?" for an argumentative essay?
Answer: Your question would be better if the context is a bit clearer. Here are some ideas:
1. How important is it to teach young boys how to cook?
2. Is teaching boys to cook something parents should do?
3. What sorts of chores should young men be expected to perform at home?
Question: How about "volunteerism in the community" as an arguable thesis statement?
Answer: To make an arguable thesis, you need to have something that can be answered in more than one way. Here are some possiblities:
1. Should students be required to volunteer in the community?
2. How important is volunteerism in a community?
3. Does being a volunteer cause people to have happier lives?
Question: What do you think of the topic, "When you become marriageable, would you like your parents to choose a partner for you? Give your reasons why or why not." for an argumentative essay?
Answer: Some countries practice "arranged marriages," and I've known some friends who have had very satisfactory marriages that were started in this way. Since college is a time when many students start thinking about marriage, this is a topic I've often discussed in my classes, and I think it would make a good paper topic. Here are some other ideas:
1. Does the family support of an arranged marriage make it more likely the couple will stay together?
2. Is having your family help you choose a marriage partner a good idea?
3. Does "love" make the most lasting marriage, or do other considerations make a difference?
Question: How about "Should men and women be treated equally?" as an argumentative essay topic?
Answer: Since this is a "yes" or "no" question, it is not the strongest way to word this topic idea. I think that what you want to talk about is whether men and women should be treated exactly the same, or whether there are some areas which should have differences. Here are some other ways to word the question:
1. Should men and women always be treated exactly the same?
2. Should men or women be given special consideration because of their gender? If so, what kind of special consideration is appropriate?
3. How can we ensure that men and women are treated equally and fairly in the workplace?
4. Should men and women have equal pay for equal jobs?
Question: Do you have any suggestions for "Why is it important for graduates to have cultural competence as one of their soft skills entering a workforce?" as an argumentative essay topic?
Answer: You have a good topic but you will want to be sure that you explain cultural competence clearly. Here are some other topic ideas:
1. What causes people to develop cultural competence?
2. What is "cultural competence" and why is it important in the workplace?
3. What prevents graduates from developing "cultural competence" and what can we do about it?
4. How can you best develop the "cultural competence" you will need as a soft skill when entering the workforce?
5. How does having "cultural competence" make you a better employee?
6. What do employees with "cultural competence" do better?
Question: I like the topics "you aren't defined by your past," and "friends are more important than family." I have to write an argumentative paper for class, and I am really at a loss on how to get started with either of these topics. Any suggestions?
Answer: Generally, the best way to start an essay is to use a story that leads up to the question you are going to ask. The story can be true, or it can be made up. You can use scenes from movies, books or even the news. For your first topic, you can choose a person from history who overcame a hard past and became something different. You can start the paper by describing a situation in the difficult time of their life without giving their name. Then, end the first paragraph with the question, "does your past determine your future?" Afterward, you can share who this is and what they accomplished in spite of their past. Your thesis sentence would be something like, "No one has to be defined by their past if they don't want to be because..." You would then give three reasons why your past doesn't define you. Those three ideas would make the topic sentences of the body of your paper. End the essay with a final example, and tell your reader how they can get away from things they don't want to define them, or you can end it with another story.
Question: What do you think of the topic, "Is a village school better than a school in the city?" for an argumentative essay?
Answer: Here are some other topics on this same idea:
1. Is sending your child to a school in the city worth the cost?
2. How can village schools be improved?
3. What advantages do children have who attend a village school?
Question: What do you think of, "Do parents have different hopes and standards for their daughters than their sons?" as an argumentative essay topic?
Answer: 1. Should parents have different hopes and standards for daughters than sons?
2. Should parents who are paying for a college education have some say in what majors and careers their children choose?
Question: What do you think of, "What do young adults learn from being on their own away from their parents?" for an argumentative essay?
Answer: You can also do:
1. What do college students need to know before they leave home?
2. Can staying at home during college be a good idea?
Banjamin on September 25, 2018:
Yvonne on March 25, 2017:
This are really good essay topics and they challenges the most experience writer.
ologsinquito from USA on March 25, 2014:
This is very useful information. Voted up and shared.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on December 09, 2013:
What a variety of topics. The Argumentative Essay Topics contain some great Hub topics too. Thank you.
torrilynn on December 03, 2013:
I love the different range of topics you discuss here. Great. Voted up.
Dianna Mendez on November 29, 2013:
These topics are certainly ones that will challenge the most experienced writer. Students will love the fresh ideas.