Persuasive Essay Topics

Persuasive Essay Topics

What is a persuasive essay?

Beginning a persuasive essay can seem daunting at first. Unlike conventional informative essays, a persuasive essay has to express a particular point-of-view.  The critical element of a persuasive essay is that it contains an arguable thesis, preferably stated in one sentence at the end of the first paragraph. All of us use persuasion informally in our everyday lives and have done so since we were young. When you were younger, didn’t you try to persuade your mother to allow you to have dessert without eating your vegetables or to stay up late past your bedtime?  Haven’t you tried to persuade a friend to see a particular movie or to help you with your homework?

            But a persuasive essay is a little bit different than how you use persuasion in daily life because you are trying to persuade someone to change his or her mind using a formal argumentative structure.  There should be two sides to the issue you are discussing and you should use logical as well as emotional reasoning to convey your thought process.

How to start a persuasive essay

            Students often throw up their hands in despair when asked to create a persuasive thesis. “I don’t have any strong opinions on anything,” they often say.  The first step of writing a persuasive essay is to brainstorm ideas.  As yourself what do I believe?  What issue am I passionate about?

            It cannot be stressed enough that it is extremely important that there are two sides to the issue you are arguing.  For a good essay, the two different sides should be compelling. For example, many students want to use the topic “you should stop smoking” for their persuasive essays.  But there are no really good arguments in favor of people choosing to smoke.  Yes, it is true that people still do smoke despite the overwhelming evidence that smoking is bad for their heath.  But there are no logical reasons to embrace this bad health habit. A persuasive claim must have a reasonable counter-argument using logos, ethos, and pathos (logic, ethics, and emotion).   Ask yourself: if you had to debate the opposite side of the issue you are arguing, could you do it? If not, you do not have a good topic for a persuasive essay.

            Once you have selected your topic, it is time to do some more research. After learning more about the different sides of the issue, you can refine your thesis or perhaps even change it.  Have a good sense of your audience when reframing your claim. If your intended audience is extremely familiar with the topic, you will not need to give a great deal of background information. On the other hand, if you know your professor knows very little about the issue (for example, if your persuasive speech is about online bullying and you know that your teacher is not active on social media) you may need to provide a more extensive setup.  Even if you give information to your reader about the topic, however, don’t lose sight of the fact that you are not writing a purely informative essay.

Persuasive essay topics on current topics in the news

  • Being a vegetarian is healthier than being a meat-eater.
  • The U.S. should switch to a single-payer healthcare system.
  • The U.S. should legalize same-sex marriage in every state.
  • Members of Congress should be subject to term limits.
  • The SAT should not be a significant factor in college admissions.
  • NCAA athletes should receive a salary.
  • The school year should be longer.
  • Schools should have dress codes.
  • Carriage horses should be banned in New York City.
  • Marijuana should be legal in the U.S. for medicinal purposes.
  • Religious institutions should be able to be taxed in the United States.
  • GMOs should not be allowed in the food supply.
  • The U.S. should not have invaded Iraq.
  • All businesses should be required to cover employees’ contraception through their health plans.
  • The benefits of a college education outweigh the costs.
  • You should adopt your next pet from a shelter.
  • School lunches should have higher nutritional standards.
  • Schools should have a zero-tolerance policy regarding bullying.

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