Essay Writing Assignment Ideas

Interesting Personal Essay Ideas

A personal essay gives the reader a glimpse of your personal life experience. A lot of times you may need to compose a personal essay. It could be for a simple class assignment, or the requirement for a college application. In order to gain ideas of writing a personal essay, you can get inspired by the listed topics below. Just think of each of the ideas as a prompt for writing, and imagine any special moment the prompt may bring to your mind.

  • How you and your best friend met
  • The bravest moment of your life
  • What makes your parents special
  • The experience of overcoming a fear
  • The moment your life changed forever
  • Why you can succeed in life
  • A difficult choice you have made
  • A place that is special to you
  • The experience of being let down by a friend
  • A failure you experienced
  • A disappointment you had
  • A surprising turn of events you experienced
  • Your favorite period of time
  • A place you always try to avoid
  • If you had power, what you would do with it
  • What super power you choose to have
  • If you could change someone’s life
  • How money matters for your life
  • Where would you go hide
  • The biggest loss you have experienced
  • If you could have a do-over
  • Words that stung
  • A book that has changed your life
  • When you have the desire of running away
  • When you have the urge of hiding in a hole
  • The proudest moment of your life
  • When you were taught a lesson by a child
  • Words that prompted hope
  • If your dog or cat could talk
  • Your favorite time with family
  • If you could invent something
  • If you could live in a different country
  • What the world would be like in 100 years
  • If you lived 100 years ago
  • The animal you would like to be
  • The greatest movie moment
  • One thing you would change about the world
  • If you could change one thing about yourself
  • The type of teacher you want to be
  • If you could live anywhere
  • A museum you’d like to visit
  • If you could become a building
  • Something a robot could never do
  • An animal that could be in charge of the world
  • The greatest discovery
  • Your most fortunate day
  • Your secret love
  • Your secret talent
  • The ugliest thing you have seen
  • The most beautiful thing you have seen
  • An accident which changed everything
  • Something you have witnessed
  • A right choice
  • A wrong choice
  • How you would spend a million dollars
  • The meaning of color
  • If you could start a charity
  • Your favorite gift
  • A close call
  • A secret place
  • A hard lesson
  • An unexplained event
  • Something you can’t resist
  • A visitor that you can’t forget
  • The longest moment you ever had
  • An awkward social moment
  • A near death experience
  • The hardest news you had to deliver
  • A special morning
  • A kiss that meant a lot
  • Why you will never tell a lie
  • When you needed a hug

Go beyond the ordinary. Using creativity in designing assignments demands creativity from your students. The following assignments were gleaned from a variety of books, handouts and web sites. (See: Sources)

Nobel Peace PrizeStudents nominate someone or a group for the Nobel Peace prize. Learn about person, prize, jury.Research, writing
Research an eventStudents attend an event (game, concert), write a citation for it and find an article, a book and a web site about the composer, the sport, etc.Research, writing
Topic on WebStudents choose topic and find all websites which discuss it. Include annotated bibliographyResearch, history, writing
Information searchWrite short paper about research process with bibliography of web sites.— state info need, research, evaluate.Research, writing
Historical figureStudents are a historical figure for a day. Research person, time period, costume, culture. Be prepared to talk about it.Research, history, writing
Discussion between historical figuresStudents take persona of historical figure and interact with other figures keeping in character. Research history etc.Research, history, writing
Adopt personaStudents write letters or diary as real person or fictional character about historical event, everyday lifeResearch, analysis, history, creativity, writing
Newspaper storyStudents write newspaper story describing event (social, political, cultural)Research, analysis, history, creativity, writing
Write editorial or column of opinionStudents write editorial or opinion piece. Could be in historical contextResearch, analysis, history, creativity, writing
Create entire newspaperInclude 'reports' of actual events, editorials, letters to editor. Eg. Abolitionist newspaperResearch, analysis, history, creativity, writing
News conferencesSimulate interviews with real people of period. Questions contemporaries would have asked & questions with hindsightResearch, analysis, history, creativity, writing
Create anthologyStudents compile anthology of articles and/or books plus introduction to show understanding of subjectResearch, analysis, history, creativity, writing
Build book collectionStudents build book collection for fictional library. Provide annotated bibliography with justification, availability, costResearch, analysis, writing
Compare articlesCompare journal articles with conservative vs liberal tendenciesResearch, analysis, writing
Review a performanceWrite a review of a musical or dramatic performance. Reference reviews of debut, history, chronologyResearch, analysis, writing
Compose an examCompose an exam on a topic. Include annotated bibliography of sources and rationaleResearch, analysis, writing
Plan off-campus studyStudents provide itinerary for an off-campus study trip — rationale, sites, annotated reading list for participantsResearch, analysis, writing
Create an action planStudents create an action plan for organizing around an area of interest. Investigate agenciesResearch, analysis, writing
Job interview preparationAssemble background information on a company or organization in preparation for a hypothetical interview.Research, analysis, writing
Write a grant proposalWrite a grant proposal addressed to a specific funding agency, with literature review, budget.Research, analysis, writing
Class peer reviewHave class members peer review any written assignmentAnalysis, writing
Research topicResearch topic in literature from '60s and '70s and then in '80s and '90s. Compare literature in bibliographic essayResearch, analysis, writing
Evaluate psychological testDetermine adequacy of psychological test based on literature. Then develop a test battery designed for clinical situation.Research, analysis, writing, psychology
Criticism of literaturePrepare written criticism of literature on a topic with book reviews, citation indexes and biographical sources.Research, analysis, writing
Primary sourcesUsing bibliographies, guides to the literature and Internet, students find primary sources on an issue or eventResearch, analysis, writing
Responsible patientAs patients, students research a disease and diagnosis. 2 pages describes condition, symptoms, comparison of treatmentsResearch, analysis, writing, biology
Legislation trailFollow piece of legistation through Parliament; understand issue and different political viewsResearch, analysis, writing, political science
Foreign policyFollow particular foreign policy situation as it develops. Organizations involved, history, ideological conflictsResearch, analysis, writing, political science
Research major person in disciplineThrough periodical literature, follow major person in a discipline; CV, bibliography, citationsResearch, analysis, writing
Research a careerDescribe and research an aspired career. Leading companies; outlook for occupation, expected starting salaryResearch, writing
Research a companyChoose a company and find out employment policies, net worth, patentsResearch, writing
BiographyWrite a biographical sketch of famous person including time periodResearch, writing
Research portfolio or journalHave students maintain paper trail — document sources consulted, first draft, working bibliography, reflect on processResearch, writing
In-class writingAssign topic for students to research and bring note cards to class then write the paper in classResearch, writing
Debate in classAssign controversial topic & have students research and bring note cards to class then debate the topic on one side of the issueResearch, writing
Literature ReviewChoose topic applicable to women and examine the literature from the '50s & '60s to see how the topic was being treated thenResearch, analysis, writing
Update literature reviewChoose number of specific psychological phenomena treated in review articles several years ago; student must update the reviewResearch, writing, psychology
Primary sourcesStudents examine primary materials on slave life or abolition and compare them to textbook treatment of subjectResearch, analysis, writing, history
Analysis of journals of opinionExamine body of journals available across political spectrum; select three representing different views; examine editorial opinionResearch, analysis, writing, political science
Analyse differing articlesFind several articles on same topic but with different positions; analyse two differing articles relating to your own ethical theoryResearch, analysis, writing, philosophy
Iconography of work of artWrite paper on iconography of one of eight works of art based on students' own observation, library sources, time period, etcResearch, analysis, writing, fine arts
Dramatize historical eventsGroup of students choose a topic and develop an effective method to present topic to class (trial, debate); background researchResearch, analysis, history, creativity, writing
Compare definitionsStudents write their own definition of Afro-American music and then compile definitions from other sources; then compare; evaluateResearch, analysis, writing, music
Create a portrait of an author and his literary lifeChoose author and reconstruct their life, their times and assess their work; can be highly personal judgementResearch, analysis, history, creativity, writing
Reaction to fictionStudents write a short response to reading a novel giving their honest reactionCreativity, writing
Explore a clicheSelect a cliche and translate into psychological terms; research related issues and state whether you think cliche is trueResearch, writing, creativity, Psychology
Interview family memberInterview older family member about their earlier life; research that time period and weave personal material with backgroundResearch, writing, creativity, History
Early music in its settingSelect piece of music and research setting for an early performance; write fictionalized account of you at performance (letter, diary)Research, analysis, writing, music
Prepare for interview of famous personAs journalist, extensively research an individual, compose intro to interview, draft 10 questions to askResearch, analysis, writing
Personal journalsMath students keep a journal about their thought processesWriting
Letter to a sick friendMath students write to a sick friend explaining what they missed in classWriting, comprehension, math
Letter to a history majorMath students write to a friend who is a history major explaining what Calculus is all about and why they should take itWriting, comprehension, Math
Tracing a chain of eventsChoose an past event and trace how it was covered in the various types of media (news, newspapers, magazines, journals, etcResearch, analysis, writing
Primary sourcesChoose a decade of history and ask students to find primary sources and put together a montage of information and imagesResearch, writing, creativity, history
Primary sourcesHave students read secondary source and determine which primary sources were used. Discuss how they would locateResearch, writing
Primary sourcesGive students a primary source from the time period or topic under discussion; brainstorm on questions it raises and how to researchResearch, writing, creativity


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