Essay Writing Key Benefits, Instructions, and 23 Writing Prompt Ideas for High School Aged Students— When it comes to high school writing assignments, few forms pack as much punch as the persuasive essay!
This essay writing style has a number of key benefits:
- Students will become more adept at presenting logical, coherent arguments to support their beliefs.
- Students will have the opportunity to reflect deeply on important topical issues of the day.
- Students will improve their writing and communication skills as they prepare and execute their essays.
- Finally, students will learn to parse out effective arguments from irrelevant facts and logical fallacies. This equips them to become more critical consumers of other media.
Whether your students are still in the early high school years or preparing to head off to college, now is a great time to engage them in this beneficial activity. Share these five steps with your class to teach them how to write this style of essay—and then use the prompts below to help them get started!
Five Steps to Writing a Great Persuasive Essay
1. Choose a Clear Position
Before you begin writing and researching, choose the position you want to take. This may seem obvious initially, but it’s actually very important to clearly consider what you’re arguing for upfront.
The key to choosing a good position for a persuasive essay is to select one that you can present effectively. You don’t even necessarily have to agree with the position—as long as you can argue logically in its favor!
Think carefully about some of the evidence you might use in your essay, as well as any nuances of the position that might be important to include. Then, write your argument down clearly in the form of a thesis statement.
2. Know Whom You’re Trying to Persuade
Next, you need to figure out whom you’re trying to persuade. Is the reader a neutral, unbiased audience—or is it someone who might lean more toward one side or the other?
If the reader is biased toward your side, you might want to choose more emotional arguments to engage their feelings. However, if the audience tends to disagree with you, you’ll probably need to rely more heavily on facts and statistics to try to present your case.
Once you have a good idea of where your audience lies, you’ll be prepared to choose the best arguments to make your point in your essay.
3. Research Your Position Thoroughly
Now that you’re ready to begin forming the argument of your essay, it’s time to start researching! Persuasive essays rely very heavily on facts, evidence, and statistics, so it’s essential to invest time into this step and to find information from as many sources as possible.
Get creative with your research and try not to rely solely on the Internet. See if there are experts in the topic that you might be able to speak with or if any scientific studies on the topic validate your argument.
When you write your essay, be sure to include evidence from multiple sources in your final draft—and don’t forget to cite where your research came from!
4. Use the Most Convincing Evidence to Make Your Point
Before you begin writing, create an outline for your essay that includes the main points you want to make as well as the evidence you have to support each claim. If you’ve done enough research, you should ideally have multiple justifications for each point.
Choose the evidence you use carefully and be sure to cite only the most compelling sources. In general, factually-based evidence like scientific studies, government data, and statistics will be more convincing than things like opinions from public figures.
Of course, you should also be cognizant of where your data comes from. Spend a bit of time reviewing the sources of any studies or figures you find to see who is behind them. For example, a study proving that one vitamin is more effective than another may sound conclusive at first glance—but if the study was funded by the company that makes the vitamins, there may be some hidden biases at work.
To determine whether or not you can trust a piece of evidence, you have to know where it originated.
5. Present Your Case Clearly and Logically
When you begin writing your persuasive essay, you should also focus on presenting your argument in a clear, logical fashion. Use a strong thesis statement to define the basis of your paper and try to start out with an attention-grabbing introduction that will immediately capture the reader’s interest.
In the body of the paper, give each supporting point its own paragraph (or paragraphs) and include the evidence to back up each one. Be sure to use examples to illustrate your claims.
Finally, make sure to end the paper with a strong summary of your argument and the key points of evidence that support your claim. Your final sentence should be strong and thought-provoking—consider tactics like a call-to-action, a plea for concern, or posing a reflective question.
23 Persuasive Essay Prompts for High School Students
- Choose a position and write a persuasive essay on the current greatest environmental threat facing our world today.
- Write an essay arguing for a skill that everyone should have. Explain why it is so important for people to know that particular thing.
- Write an essay that argues for your position on immigration reform.
- What is the best show on television today? Write an essay arguing your point.
- Do you believe there should be a substantially increased minimum wage? Write an essay for or against this topic.
- Explains why your favorite food is superior to all others.
- Is it okay for people to buy pets from breeders? Or should people only adopt pets from shelters? Write and defend your position.
- Write an essay that argues for your position and thoughts on gun control laws.
- Do you believe our government should invest in space exploration? Why or why not? Write an essay arguing your point.
- Choose a position and write a persuasive essay for or against school uniforms.
- What should the minimum drinking age be? Write an essay defending your position.
- Should college athletes be paid or allowed to receive sponsorships? Write an essay for or against this topic.
- Does the world still need feminism? Choose a position and write an essay arguing your point.
- Should the death penalty be legal? Choose a position and write an essay on this topic.
- Write an essay that explains why animal testing should or should not be legal.
- What type of sex education should be taught in schools? Choose a position and write an essay on this topic.
- Do violent video games increase the likelihood that people will be violent in real life? Write an essay defending your position.
- Choose a position and write an essay explaining why marijuana should or should not be legalized across the country.
- Should religion ever have a place in politics? Write an essay arguing your point.
- What is the media’s responsibility to the public? Choose a position and write an essay on this topic.
- Write an essay about the impact of the body positivity movement.
- Should students be expected to take courses in all subjects? Write an essay defending your position.
- What is the greatest problem facing our world today? Choose a position and write an essay arguing your point.
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