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Writing Prompts For Essays

Essay Writing Prompts:  Zeroing In On Persuasive and Expository Skills



Persuasive Essay Writing Prompts

Prompt 1

Writing Situation

In many households where there are teenagers, there are often arguments over cell phones.

Directions for Writing

Think about the importance of having a cell phone. Now write to persuade your parents to buy you a cell phone or to allow you to keep the cell phone you already have.

Prompt 2

Writing Situation

Your favorite store at the mall is going to close down forever.

Directions for Writing

Before you begin writing, think about why it is your favorite store. Now write to persuade the store to stay in business.

Prompt 3

Writing Situation

In some schools students wear uniforms.

Directions for Writing

Before you begin writing, think about what is involved when students are required to wear uniforms to school. Now write to persuade your principal to agree with your view on whether school uniforms should be required.

Prompt 4

Writing Situation

Teen drivers have a lot more fun than most older drivers do. Teens also have a lot more accidents. Now, some states are limiting how and when teenagers can drive to help keep the roads safer.

Directions for Writing

Before you begin writing, think about teenagers behind the steering wheel. Now write to persuade your state's officials to agree with your view on teenage driving.

Prompt 5

Writing Situation

Many experts believe that fast-food restaurants are contributing to teen's obesity. They point to high-calorie meals that can be quickly ordered and consumed. They say that these restaurants deliberately target teens in their advertising. Many even offer prizes and toys.

Directions for Writing

Before you begin writing, think about fast-food restaurants and their impact on teens. Now write to persuade those experts to agree with your view on teenage obesity and fast food restaurants.

Expository Essay Writing Prompts

Prompt 1

Writing Situation

Everyone has a favorite holiday.

Directions for Writing

Before you begin writing, think about which is your favorite holiday and why. Now write to explain which holiday is your favorite.

Prompt 2

Writing Situation

Throughout history many important things have been made or invented.

Directions for Writing

Before you begin to write, think about an invention that has been important to people. Now, write an essay to explain why this one invention has been important.

Prompt 3

Writing Situation

Each year millions of tourists visit the state of Florida.

Directions for Writing

Before you begin writing, think about why Florida is a good place for vacations. Now write to explain the reasons Florida is a popular place for vacations.

Prompt 4

Writing Situation

Look at this quotation: "Good things are not cheap, and cheap things are not good."

Directions for Writing

Before you begin to write, think about the meaning of this quotation. Now write to explain how this quotation may apply to an experience of yours or the experience of someone you know.

Prompt 5

Writing Situation

A pet peeve is a particular source of annoyance or irritation. Every person seems to have one.

Directions for Writing

Think about a pet peeve you have. Now write to explain your pet peeve and why it is a source of annoyance or irritation.





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How Writing Prompts Build Writing Skills

Writing prompts or essay prompts are learning assignments that direct students to write about a particular topic in a particular way. As our educational understanding has developed, writing prompts came on the scene as a way to corral students’ natural curiosity for the world around them. They are designed to integrate a students imagination and creativity into guided writing practice. Using them regularly as part of a multi-faceted writing curriculum can boost the chances that students will not only improve as writers but feel connected to the writing process.

Analyzing the Writing Prompt
While writing well depends on many skills that take time to develop, one skill can be taught fairly quickly: how to understand a writing prompt. Do you think that making sense of them is simply a matter of reading comprehension?  Actually, all too often, good students receive a poor writing grade because they misunderstood the essay writing prompt. In order to successfully respond, students must learn to analyze the prompt before responding to it.

Questions to Ask
Just as they do in the prewriting phase of any writing task, students should ask questions about the assignment that help them narrow down their overall goal. When working with writing prompts, the following are helpful questions to pin down the answers to:

  • What form of writing does it require?
  • What is the purpose of the prompt?
  • What information do I need to complete the task?
  • What kind of details or arguments does it suggest and would these points make good paragraphs?
  • Who is the audience for the essay?
  • How does the audience’s expectations affect my writing style?

By asking and answering these questions, students can jump-start their essay outline and formulate their thesis. A good way to begin is to write a one-sentence response to each question. When students study the writing prompt closely and use it as the basis for prewriting, they’ll be on their way to writing an essay that fully addresses the goals prompt. This is wonderful practice for any type of long-form writing, as well.

The Importance of Writing Form

One of the key stumbling blocks of writing prompt interpretation is figuring out what form of writing is required. For example, is it an expository, narrative, or persuasive prompt? Sometimes prompts explicitly specify the form of writing to be used, or give strong hints with words like “persuade” for the persuasive writing form. Other times, the task of deciphering which form of writing to use is part of the challenge. The trick is to recognize the clues given in the prompt. Here are some key words to look for:

  • Expository Essay –how, what, explain, define, analyze, compare/contrast
  • Narrative Essay –tell, story, relate, imagine, describe
  • Persuasive Essay –convince, persuade, why, opinion, argue

Writing Prompts as Standardized Test Practice

Teachers also use prompts to help students prepare for standardized tests. They are found on all standardized tests, from state writing assessments to national tests like ACT and SAT. Age-appropriate writing prompts on standardized tests often focus on contemporary social issues. Keeping up with current events is good preparation, as is participating in discussion groups and reading both fiction and nonfiction books.

Time4Writing Builds Fundamental Skills 

At Time4Writing, we focus on teaching the fundamental skills required for good writing. Each student is paired with a certified teacher for one-on-one instruction. Our teachers draw from their classroom experience to help their students with all the nuts and bolts of building good essays, beginning with understanding the writing prompt. There is a free flow of conversation between students and the teacher, helping students thrive with individualized attention to their writing. Writing becomes something they enjoy, instead of a chore. Learn more about how Time4Writing’s certified teacher-led program works for homeschool, afterschool practice, or summer skill-building.

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