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How to Choose an Essay Topic

Make it Personal with a "Most List"

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You’ve just received an essay assignment, and you’re staring at a blank sheet of paper.

The choices are endless, and your mind is blank. Where do you start?

As with any project idea, you should choose a topic that you care about. You’ll do a much better job working with a topic that is meaningful to you.

The “most list” brainstorming method will help you find a topic that you relate to. First, jot down a list of these moments or memories. Make a list of:

3 most scary moments
3 most happy moments
3 most embarrassing moments
3 most rewarding moments
3 favorite memories
3 favorite places

Once you’ve completed this list, you’ll probably have several ideas in mind for your topic. One of those moments has probably prompted the urge to write about it. If you listed an automobile accident for a scary moment, for instance, you might want to use that experience to write a persuasive essay that addresses the dangers of driving under certain circumstances.

One danger of using this method is the possibility of making the essay too personal.

To avoid this, try writing the essay without using your own experience in your first draft. Then work it into the introduction of your essay (or perhaps one of the body paragraphs) as you write a second draft. The essay will be most effective with a variety of points—so be sure to use a variety of sources and views in addition to your own.

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