Writing essays is a big part of high school education, and for good reason. Learning to write clearly, concisely, and persuasively provides big benefits throughout your life. Sometimes, though, the hardest part is just deciding what to write about. If you’re looking for ideas, check out this huge round-up of essay topics for high school. There’s something here for every type of essay, so choose one and start writing!
- Argumentative Essay Topics
- Cause-Effect Essay Topics
- Compare-Contrast Essay Topics
- Descriptive Essay Topics
- Expository Essay Topics
- Humorous Essay Topics
- Narrative Essay Topics
- Persuasive Essay Topics
Argumentative Essay Topics for High School
When writing an argumentative essay, remember to do the research and lay out the facts clearly. Your goal is not necessarily to persuade someone to agree with you, but to encourage your reader to accept your point of view as valid. Here are some possible argumentative topics to try.
- The most important challenge our country is currently facing is … (e.g., immigration, gun control, economy)
- Should physical education be part of the standard high school curriculum?
- Schools should require recommended vaccines for all students, with very limited exceptions.
- Is it acceptable to use animals for experiments and research?
- Does social media do more harm than good?
- Capital punishment does/does not deter crime.
- The government should provide free internet access for every citizen.
- All drugs should be legalized, regulated, and taxed.
- Vaping is less harmful than smoking tobacco.
- The best country in the world is …
- Parents should be punished for their minor children’s crimes.
- Should all students have the ability to attend college for free?
- What one class should all high schools students be required to take and pass in order to graduate?
- Do we really learn anything from history, or does it just repeat itself over and over?
- Are men and women treated equally?
Cause-Effect Essay Topics for High School
A cause-and-effect essay is a type of argumentative essay. Your goal is to show how one specific thing directly influences another specific thing. You’ll likely need to do some research to make your point. Here are some ideas for cause-and-effect essays.
- Humans are causing accelerated climate change.
- Fast-food restaurants have made human health worse over the decades.
- Being an only/oldest/youngest/middle child makes you …
- What effect does violence in movies or video games have on kids?
- Traveling to new places opens people’s minds to new ideas.
- What caused World War II? (Choose any conflict for this one.)
- Describe the effects social media has on young adults.
- How does playing sports affect people?
- What are the effects of loving to read?
- Racism is caused by …
Compare-Contrast Essay Topics for High School
As the name indicates, in compare-and-contrast essays, writers show the similarities and differences between two things. They combine descriptive writing with analysis, making connections and showing dissimilarities. The following ideas work well for compare-contrast essays.
- Two political candidates in a current race
- Going to college vs. starting work full time
- Working your way through college as you go or taking out students loans
- iPhone or Android
- Instagram vs. Twitter (or choose any other two social media platforms)
- Public and private schools
- Capitalism vs. communism
- Monarchy or democracy
- Dogs vs. cats as pets
- Paper books or e-books
Descriptive Essay Topics for High School
Bring on the adjectives! Descriptive writing is all about creating a rich picture for the reader. Take readers on a journey to far-off places, help them understand an experience, or introduce them to a new person. Remember: Show, don’t tell. These topics make excellent descriptive essays.
- Who is the funniest person you know?
- What is your happiest memory?
- Tell about the most inspirational person in your life.
- Write about your favorite place.
- When you were little, what was your favorite thing to do?
- Choose a piece of art or music and explain how it makes you feel.
- What is your earliest memory?
- What’s the best/worst vacation you’ve ever taken?
- Describe your favorite pet.
- What is the most important item in the world to you?
- Give a tour of your bedroom (or another favorite room in your home).
- Describe yourself to someone who has never met you.
- Lay out your perfect day from start to finish.
- Explain what it’s like to move to a new town or start a new school.
- Tell what it would be like to live on the moon.
Expository Essay Topics for High School
Expository essays set out clear explanations of a particular topic. You might be defining a word or phrase or explaining how something works. Expository essays are based on facts, and while you might explore different points of view, you won’t necessarily say which one is “better” or “right.” Remember: Expository essays educate the reader. Here are some expository essay topics to explore.
- What makes a good leader?
- Explain why a given school subject (math, history, science, etc.) is important for students to learn.
- What is the “glass ceiling” and how does it affect society?
- Describe a healthy lifestyle for a teenager.
- Choose an American president and explain how their time in office affected the country.
- What does “financial responsibility” mean?
- Describe how the internet changed the world.
- What does it mean to be a good teacher?
- Explain how we could colonize the moon or another planet.
- Discuss why mental health is just as important as physical health.
Humorous Essay Topics for High School
Humorous essays can take on any form, like narrative, persuasive, or expository. You might employ sarcasm or satire, or simply tell a story about a funny person or event. Even though these essay topics are lighthearted, they still take some skill to tackle well. Give these ideas a try.
- What would happen if cats (or any other animal) ruled the world?
- What do newborn babies wish their parents knew?
- Explain the best ways to be annoying on social media.
- Choose a fictional character and explain why they should be the next president.
- Describe a day when kids are in charge of everything, at school and at home.
- Invent a wacky new sport, explain the rules, and describe a game or match.
- Explain why it’s important to eat dessert first.
- Imagine a discussion between two historic figures from very different times, like Cleopatra and Queen Elizabeth I.
- Retell a familiar story in tweets or other social media posts.
- Describe present-day Earth from an alien’s point of view.
Narrative Essay Topics for High School
Think of a narrative essay like telling a story. Use some of the same techniques that you would for a descriptive essay, but be sure you have a beginning, middle, and end. Remember that you don’t necessarily need to write narrative essays from your own point of view. Take inspiration from these narrative topics.
- Describe a performance or sporting event you took part in.
- Explain the process of cooking and eating your favorite meal.
- Write about meeting your best friend for the first time and how your relationship developed.
- Tell about learning to ride a bike or drive a car.
- Describe a time in your life when you’ve been scared.
- Write about a time when you or someone you know displayed courage.
- Share the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you.
- Tell about a time when you overcame a big challenge.
- Tell the story of how you learned an important life lesson.
- Describe a time when you or someone you know experienced prejudice or oppression.
- Explain a family tradition, how it developed, and its importance today.
- What is your favorite holiday? How does your family celebrate it?
- Retell a familiar story from the point of view of a different character.
- Describe a time when you had to make a difficult decision.
- Tell about your proudest moment.
Persuasive Essay Topics for High School
Persuasive essays are similar to argumentative, but they rely less on facts and more on emotion to sway the reader. It’s important to know your audience, so you can anticipate any counterarguments they might make and try to overcome them. Try these topics to persuade someone to come around to your point of view.
- Do you think homework should be required, optional, or not given at all?
- Students should/should not be able to use their phones during the school day.
- Should schools have dress codes?
- If I could change one school rule, it would be …
- Is year-round school a good idea?
- Everyone should be vegetarian or vegan.
- What animal makes the best pet?
- Visit an animal shelter, choose an animal that needs a home, and write an essay persuading someone to adopt that animal.
- Who is the world’s best athlete, present or past?
- Should little kids be allowed to play competitive sports?
- Are professional athletes/musicians/actors overpaid?
- The best music genre is …
- What is one book that everyone should be required to read?
- Is democracy the best form of government?
- Is capitalism the best form of economy?
What are some of your favorite essay topics for high school? Come share your prompts on the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.
Plus, check out the Ultimate Guide to Student Writing Contests!