Gearing up to teach argumentative writing? This list of 100 argumentative essay prompts for secondary students is the perfect place to start.
What secondary student doesn’t like to argue? (I’ll wait.)
From research papers to persuasive speeches, the secondary ELA classroom is buzzing with opportunities to teach argumentative writing. As they research and craft their arguments, students will learn the importance of evaluating sources and finding strong evidence to clearly define and support their position, as well as present the opposing sides. Therefore, it serves as a reminder that a good argumentative essay is based on research rather than solely rooted in their thoughts and emotions.
In other words, it’s a perfect time to hone in on research, analysis, and critical thinking skills imperative to the 21st century.
100 Argumentative Essay Prompts For Your Secondary Students.
Whether students are excited about or dreading their writing assignment, topic selection can be an overwhelming task. However, providing students with some choices over their essay prompts allows them to take an active role in their learning. In most cases, students will be more engaged in the writing process if they’re working on a prompt they’re passionate about.
Therefore, I’ve compiled a list of 100 argumentative essay prompts to help your students get started.
Argumentative Essay Prompts: Hot Topics To Get Students Engaged.
While some of the following topics may be labeled with a red “C” (for controversy), that might be just the reason why students will eat them up! However, it’s also a great opportunity to teach students how to effectively and appropriately navigate arguing such emotionally charged topics.
- Do social media sites have the right to regulate and censor user posts?
- Do violent video games lead to more violence in society?
- Is the election process in the U.S. fair?
- Should marijuana be legalized in all states?
- Does the government have the right to control what we do to our bodies? (Given the recent pandemic and abortion laws, this topic is more relevant now than ever before.)
- Should the minimum wage in your state be raised? (Encourage students to begin by researching the state’s current minimum wage, average income, and cost of living.)
- Is online learning an effective substitute for in-person education? Alternatively, should all schools offer online learning alternatives?
- Should companies/websites be allowed to collect data from customers/users? What about selling and sharing that information?
- Is healthcare a fundamental human right? If so, should there be universal healthcare?
- Would stricter gun control laws be better for society? (Given the rise in mass-shootings over the past decade, this topic remains “hot” and highly debated.)
- Should single-use plastic be banned for the benefit of the environment?
- Should vaping be illegal?
- Is “cancel culture” an effective approach to social change?
- Is racism still an issue in modern society?
- Is the MLM (multi-level-marketing) business model ethical? (I’m looking at you, Lularoe.)
Argumentative Essay Prompts About Science and Technology.
There’s no denying that science and technology are improving at record rates. But is that always a good thing? Let’s see what your students think…
- Should social media have stricter age requirements?
- Is social media helping or harming the mental health crisis? It can bring people together, yet make us feel so alone…
- Should social media companies take responsibility for the negative impact it has on users?
- Should it be allowed for companies to consider candidate social media profiles in the hiring process?
- Should there be more regulations around social media influencers?
- Should photoshop be banned?
- Is modern technology making us more dependent or independent? (I love learning from YouTube, but I can’t get anywhere without my GPS…)
- Does technology promote or impede modern-day communication?
- Is technology helping or harming the development of communication and/or social skills?
- Should the government be investing more in space exploration or focusing on issues here on Earth?
- Is it ethical to replace human workers with automation and AI?
- Is it ethical for technology companies to use designed obsolescence?
- Designer babies– should parents be able to “modify” their unborn child?
- Do we have control over technology or is it controlling us?
Argumentative Essay Prompts About School and Education
I mean, come on. How much more relevant can a topic get for your students? And who knows? You might be surprised by what your students have to say about the following topics.
- Should more secondary students have access to school vouchers?
- Should standardized testing be used as a measure of student success?
- Should community service be a graduation requirement?
- Should schools emphasize STEM education over Liberal Arts and Humanities?
- Should financial literacy be a high school graduation requirement?
- Should school grading be based on traditional or competency-based methods?
- Should community service be a graduation requirement?
- Does traditional education meet the needs of modern society?
- Should public schools be funded by local taxes? (Most are, but many believe this creates gaps in educational resources and opportunity.)
- Are the stigmas around community college fair?
- Should college education be free for everyone?
- Should an online degree have any less value than a degree earned at a traditional university?
- Should companies be allowed to require degree minimums for entry-level jobs?
- Should teachers get paid more? (I’d love to read these ones. Scratch that– can I just write my own?)
Argumentative Essay Prompts About Animals and the Environment
Thanks to the surge in young activists (I’m looking at you Greta Thunberg), young people are more involved in and enthusiastic about conversations regarding the natural world.
- Do businesses have an ethical responsibility to protect the environment?
- Can alternative energy sources be effective substitutes for fossil fuels?
- Should fracking be illegal?
- Should factory farming be banned?
- Should recreational hunting and fishing be banned?
- Should there be stricter regulation around pesticide use?
- Animal testing in the beauty industry– should it be illegal?
- Is pedigree breeding an ethical practice?
Argumentative Essay Prompts About Government and Policy
Given the highly politicized and polarized society we live in today, students are sure to find a topic they are eager to argue. You just might want to remind them to do some respectfully, as political topics are typically highly controversial and emotionally charged.
- Which branch of government is the most important?
- Is the four-year presidential term sufficient? Or should it be extended?
- Should there be limitations regarding Freedom of Speech?
- Should the government be allowed to invade personal privacy for the sake of national security?
- Should the US prison system include for-profit prisons?
- Should the U.S. abolish the death penalty?
- Should Confederate statues and memorials come down?
- Should Governments impose higher taxes on junk food?
- Should there be more regulation around fast-food?
- Should people who make more money pay taxes on a higher percentage of their income?
- Are gender-specific toys harming childhood development?
- Do corporations have social responsibilities to their customers?
- What is the most important trait of an effective leader?
Argumentative Essay Prompts About Health.
As students prepare to become active citizens in modern society, this is a great opportunity to dive into relevant topics in the health industry.
- Should there be more regulations regarding the pharmaceutical industry’s pricing?
- Should healthcare professionals be allowed to promote specific medications?
- Should healthcare workers be held responsible for over-prescribing addictive medications?
- Are antibiotics helping or harming our immune system?
- Are we an overmedicated society?
- Should health insurance cover alternative medicine?
- Should euthenasia be legal?
- Should life support continue for a patient who has been declared brain dead?
- Should medical professionals be allowed to take organs from a deceased person for the purposes of donation or scientific research without consent?
- Are GMOs doing more harm than good? Or vice versa?
- Should adoption fees be more affordable, making adoptions more widely accessible?
Argumentative Essay Prompts About Sports and Recreation.
- Should school sports count as physical education credit?
- Given what we know about the dangers of the sport, should football be banned from high school? (Invite students to substitute football with another sport of their choosing!)
- Should athletes be allowed to sign professional contracts out of high school?
- Should college athletes be paid? Alternatively, should they have the right to earn money through endorsements?
- Should the “one and done” rule be allowed for basketball? If so, should the same be applied to all sports?
- Is there an issue of equal access to facilities and equipment for male and female athletes?
- Should professional coaches be paid the same as professional athletes?
- Should there be more equal pay across athletes playing on the same professional team and/or sport?
- Should salary caps be incorporated in the MLB?
- All professional athletes should be paid a livable wage– agree or disagree? (Including players on minor league and farm teams.)
- Should steroid users be allowed to be (or remain) in the Hall of Fame?
Argumentative Essay Prompts for Beginners.
These 14 “Beginner” prompts are a great way for younger audiences or struggling writers to dip their toes into this style of writing. Many of these prompts are tried and true or have plenty of resources students can dive into as they clarify their stance.
- Should all schools have school uniforms?
- Should school lunches be free for all students?
- Is technology more of a benefit or a distraction in the classroom?
- Should students have more freedom in what classes they take in school?
- Is homework an effective component of education? Or should it be abolished?
- Is a year-long school approach better for student learning?
- Should school start at a later time?
- Do video games help build beneficial skills or are they a waste of time?
- Should parents give their children allowances for completing chores?
- Should junk food packaging come with health warnings?
- Does social media have a more positive or negative impact on society? (Many students will say both. Encourage them to consider which outweighs the other.)
- Is technology making us more efficient or lazy? Even if the answer is “both,” encourage students to consider which of the two has a greater impact.
- Students who fail a test or assignment should be given the chance to do it again– agree or disagree?
- Internet access should be free to all.
Teacher Tip: Choosing the Right Argumentative Essay Topic
As you walk your students through choosing their argumentative essay topic, consider guiding them through a few essential elements of finding the right topic for them. Because not all topics they could argue make for a good argumentative topic.
Students often need to be reminded that a strong argumentative essay topic should be debatable, with at least two points of views. With that said, they also need to be willing to research and consider the other side of the coin– errr topic. After all, the strongest arguments are the ones that do justice to the alternative perspective(s) while still coming out on top. And hey, perhaps this is a great time to remind students that not everyone shares the same thoughts and perspectives– and that’s okay.
Finally, if you’re giving students any level of choice in their argumentative essay topic, have them begin with a brainstorm. They can create a list of their top three or five topics. Then, encourage them to do some preliminary research before finalizing their topic selection. This prep work can help prevent the dreaded “I couldn’t find any research” in the days leading up to the assignment’s due date. (Insert eye-roll here.)
With so many topic choices out there, even the most independent students can easily become overwhelmed. Hopefully, this list can serve as a place for inspiration for teachers and students alike.