How to Choose a Persuasive Essay Topic

If you need to write a persuasive essay (sometimes called “argumentative papers”), you must follow one very important rule above all others: choose something you are passionate about!

The point of a persuasive essay assignment is to demonstrate your ability to think critically and show your ability to engage difficult issues with clear reasoning. At the heart of your essay, you should have a very clear thesis statement that any reader could identify with ease. The argument behind your essay should be clearly stated in the thesis statement and then well supported throughout your essay for proper development.

So what should you write about? Well, if you’re following along, the answer should be clear to you by now – you should write about anything for which you can create a clear, well-reasoned argument. This is an important distinction. You do NOT want to choose a topic that you don’t understand, don’t appreciate, and/or don’t feel comfortable writing about.

I know this is a major obstacle for most students because many insist that there’s nothing they understand, appreciate, or know about well enough to develop a strong argumentative essay around.

Here’s a quick exercise to help you around this stumbling block:

  1. Make a list of 10 issues that you find even remotely interesting (e.g. abortion, gun control, etc.)
  2. Narrow the list to 5 issues that you find most interesting of the 10.
  3. Choose your top 3 from that list of 5.
  4. Spend 5 minutes freewriting about each of the three.
  5. Use the topic you find most compelling in your freewriting.

Yes, this is going to take some time, but it is a worthwhile investment. What are you doing right now that’s more important anyway?