Essay Writing Prompts for College and University Students

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Essay Writing Prompts: The Purpose and The Main Types

The first thought that comes to a student’s mind upon hearing the words ‘essay writing prompt’ is – ‘Man, it’s boring writing work, I hate writing essays!’ This is both an impulsive reaction and an unfair attitude, as in reality essay prompts are meant to help students get started, and ultimately, to succeed in essay writing.

We get a list of prompts with each new essay assignment. Such prompts assist us with generating ideas and guide our planning and thinking processes. Without prompts, we would be left on our own, struggling with original ideas for topics and hesitating to choose the right one.

There exist various levels of prompts: essay writing prompts for middle school, essay writing prompts for high school, as well as college essay writing prompts. All of them can be quite similar in terms of subject or composition, however, the key difference is in the complexity level: a college essay prompt would require deeper research and a more thorough argumentation than, for example, a high school essay prompt.

Also, essay prompts can differ by the type of essay, to which they pertain. Let’s explore this topic a bit further.

Persuasive essay writing prompts

A persuasive essay has a unique character that sets it apart from all other essay types. Its main task is to persuade the reader to agree with an assertion of the author or to take a specific action. A typical persuasive essay begins with a straightforward thesis statement, which further down the text gets supported with convincing arguments and persuasive techniques to make the reader accept the author’s point of view.

Persuasive essay prompts are often presented in the form of a question, and usually address a burning topic or a hot public debate. For example:

  • Should the government increase the tax burden on the wealthiest people?
  • The importance of a free higher education – pros and cons
  • Why smoking should be prohibited in all public places
  • On the dangers of artificial intelligence for humanity in the next 20 years
  • Should we let self-driving cars replace conventional taxi services in the cities?

Narrative essay writing prompts

The goal of a typical narrative essay is to amuse and motivate the reader. It is written in a relatively free format and stipulates the author using various storytelling techniques to amuse the reader.

Usually, students are given greater freedom when choosing a topic for a narrative essay, however, some struggle with finding a worthy one. That’s why we give a few interesting examples below to kick-start your writing:

  • My experience moving to a new town – why I hate changes in life
  • The best episode from my early childhood that still keeps me smiling
  • Ask me for advice the next time you need to buy a new bed
  • An encounter with something or someone extraordinary and the impact it made on your life
  • Everything you know about sparrows is wrong, and here is why!

Creative writing essay prompts

In elementary, middle, and high school, all writing tasks can be characterized as rather creative, as students are encouraged to write on various open topics. Such essays are usually highly descriptive and short.

Nevertheless, coming up with a topic for such an essay can be just as hard as any other type. As usual, a few personal essay writing prompts on creative topics wouldn’t harm:

  • Come up with a new holiday and describe how would you go about celebrating it
  • Picture a world where there is no direct sunlight – how would people survive?
  • Imagine that humanity discovers an inhabited planet out there – what’s next?
  • Imagine a life where everyone’s thoughts are heard by other people – is it good or bad?

Informative essay writing prompts

Composing an informative essay is somewhat similar to composing a creative or descriptive one, though with a few differences. In an informative essay, you would be asked to report on an event or tell a story without unnecessary lyrics and emotions. To get the maximum grade for this assignment, your paper has to be argumentative and directly address the chosen topic or a prompt. Consider the following prompts for your inspiration:

  • The latest family day in our school
  • The key takeaways from my recent project for biology class
  • The report on the final football match for the school’s cup
  • The top science news from around the globe in 2022