50 Argumentative Essay Prompts for Secondary ELA


When it comes to teaching argument essays in the high school English classroom, I prefer to provide the students with some choice for their essay topics. By including students in the essay topic selection process, they feel more included in the process, but they will also be more engaged because they will feel like they have a say in their assignment.

When assigning a hot topic or controversial issue argumentative essay, I always let students select a topic in which they are passionate. However, I also make it clear that their topic cannot be discriminatory or hateful in any way and that they must fund valid and credible evidence to back up their claims. When I do this in the classroom, I also like to make sure that only one student per class has the same topic.

I unusually have essay topic sign-ups in two different ways, and both are first come first serve. One way that works is that I usually open up topic selection either before or after school. The students know about the day in advance, and they come into the classroom to sign up for it. FOr the students who cannot make it to the classroom before or after school, I have them email me their topics. The other way that I have students sign up for topics is through a Google Form. In the Google Form, I have them select their top choice and a backup. Usually, every student gets either their first or second-choice topic.

Furthermore, I also make sure that students understand the status quo about their topic before selecting it. I cannot even tell you how many years it took me to realize this and how many “medical marijuana should be legal” essays I read before coming to this conclusion. Since I teach in a state where it is (and was at the time) legal, I would explain to the student that they needed to add in some detail to their argument so that they weren’t arguing the status quo.

If you are planning an argument or controversial issue essay assignment, here is a list of potential topics you can include in your classroom. If you need teaching materials, this argument writing teaching unit will help you walk your students through the process.

Argument Essay Topics about Technology

  1. Is social media harmful?
  2. Is technology making people more dependent?
  3. Should the Internet be a public utility?
  4. Is technology more harmful or beneficial?
  5. Should students be allowed to use phones in class?
  6. Should schools provide students with laptops?
  7. Should there be a legal age limit for social media?
  8. Should the US invest more money in the space program?
  9. Are teens too reliant on technology?
  10. Are emojis beneficial or destructive to communication?

Argument Essay Topics about School

  1. Should the dress code be abolished?
  2. Is the school dress code sexist?
  3. Should students be required to wear school uniforms?
  4. Should school start later?
  5. Should the school year be year-round?
  6. Is homework necessary?
  7. Should students participate in standardized tests?
  8. Should there be a school voucher system?
  9. Should schools require physical education?
  10. Should teachers accept late work?

Argument Essay Topics about the Environment

  1. Should fracking be banned?
  2. Should single-use plastic be eliminated?
  3. Are humans responsible for global climate change?
  4. Are electric cars as environmentally friendly as they claim to be?
  5. Is vegetarian food good or bad for the environment?
  6. Who or what is responsible for deforestation?
  7. What is the biggest environmental threat?
  8. Should the US do more to prevent global climate change?
  9. Can nuclear waste be stored safely?
  10. Is the US doing enough to reduce CO2 emissions?

Argument Essay Topics about Animals

  1. Should factory farming be banned?
  2. Should recreational hunting and fishing be banned?
  3. Should wild animals be kept in captivity?
  4. Is animal testing for pharmaceuticals necessary?
  5. Is animal testing for beauty and skin products necessary?
  6. Should certain dog breeds be considered illegal?
  7. How should endangered animals be protected?
  8. Should people keep exotic animals as pets?
  9. Who or what is responsible for animal extinction?
  10. Should farm animals be treated with antibiotics?

Argument Essay Topics about Social and Political Issues

  1. What should the US do about the refugee crisis?
  2. Should the death penalty be banned?
  3. Should the US prison system include for-profit prisons?
  4. Should Confederate statues and memorials come down?
  5. Should the US switch to a single-payer health system?
  6. Should community college be free?
  7. Should the minimum wage remain the same?
  8. Should the government regulate big tech companies?
  9. Should the US participate in reparations?
  10. Should vaccines be mandatory?
50 Argument Essay Writing Prompts


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