Argumentative essay topics are usually worded in one of the following ways

  • Are you for or against ... ?
  • What are the pros/advantages/merits and cons/disadvantages/drawbacks of ... ?
  • (To what extent) do you agree or disagrеe ... ? (this phrasing is preferred by the IELTS)
  • Should sth be done?
  • Should sth be compulsory?

Here is a list of some of the most common EFL/ESOL Exam topics:

  1. Are you for or against capital punishment/the death penalty?
  2. What are the pros and cons of having a car/travelling by car?
  3. What are the pros and cons of keeping a pet?
  4. Do you agree or disagrеe that travel broadens the mind?
  5. Do you agree or disagrеe that censorship is necessary?
  6. Are you pro-life or pro-choice?
  7. Are you for or against banning smoking in public places?
  8. What are the pros and cons of taking a gap year?
  9. Do you agree or disagrеe that addictions are illnesses OR addictions are curable?
  10. What are the pros and cons of TV?
  11. What are the pros and cons of living in the city/in the country?
  12. What are the pros and cons of mass tourism?
  13. What are the pros and cons of having only one international language?
  14. Do you agree or disagrеe that no one is ever free? (What's freedom?)
  15. What are the pros and cons of being de facto married/arranged marriages? (marriage)
  16. What are the pros and cons of working while studying? (combining work and studies)
  17. What are the pros and cons of being an only child/having many siblings?
  18. Do you agree or disagrеe that inoculations are necessary? (compulsory vaccinations/immunisation)
  19. What are the pros and cons of doing sport professionally?
  20. Do you agree or disagrеe that appearances are deceptive?
  21. Do you agree or disagrеe that it is necessary to keep traditions alive?
  22. Do you agree or disagrеe that as technology develops traditional cultures will be lost? (the pros and cons of technological advances)
  23. What are the merits and drawbacks of vegetarianism?
  24. Should schools have dress codes? (uniform)
  25. Should students be made to repeat a school year if they fail their exams?
  26. Do you agree that higher education should be fee-paying?
  27. What are the merits and demerits of compulsory military service?
  28. Do you agree that everyone should speak at least one foreign language fluently nowadays?
  29. What are the pros and cons of being famous/being a celebrity's child?
  30. Should euthanasia be legalized?

Another common subtype of argumentative writing is the Problem-Solution Essay. The topic is usually phrased as follows

  • What should be done to ...?
  • What are the most topical *** problems and what should be done to address them?

Various social, global & environmental problems, their causes, effects and possible solutions may have to be discussed.

E.g.

SOCIAL PROBLEMS: poverty, unemployment, homelessness, single-parent families, crime and violence

GLOBAL PROBLEMS: terrorism, ageing population, overpopulation, AIDS, ethnic strife

ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS: natural disasters, climate change, deforestaion, overfishing, traffic congestion, air pollution, water pollution, land contamination, rubbish disposal, hazardous waste

Finally, you may be required to produce a 3-Aspect Essay (or article, whatever). It might also be the topic of a mini-speech in a Business English Examination, such as BEC Higher.

  • What is important when ... ?
  • What are the factors (contributing to sth) ... ?
  • How to ensure (that sth works) ... ?

If it is a Business English Exam, the student is usually required to say what should be done to perform a certain duty well or how to achieve a certain goal or objective.


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Last modified: Wednesday, 24 September 2008, 12:33 PM