Ideas for an Exploratory Essay


An exploratory essay addresses a topic but doesn't make a definitive argument. The writer researches the topic and explores the idea with the goal of learning more about a subject, rather than researching arguments to prove a specific point. Arguments and theories on all sides of a subject should be considered, not to be given equal weight necessarily, but to make sure that a wide view of the topic is taken.

Historical Impact Questions

  • Among the topics that invite exploration and often offer up compelling arguments and theories are those that ask about the impact of various events throughout history. For example, when asked to write about the impact of immigration in the U.S., you can explore the notable achievements of immigrants throughout history and how the culture of the U.S., such as music, sports, film, holidays and education have been influenced by traditions and experiences of people who arrived in the U.S. from other countries. Other such topics include how the suburbs that emerged after World War II influenced American culture or how the nation's experience with the Vietnam War shaped public sentiment toward subsequent military engagements.

Current Events Topics

  • Current events are ideal for exploratory essays, especially because you may be able to relate better to what's going on in the news rather than historical events. Topic ideas can include issues in current political campaigns, such as U.S. involvement in foreign conflicts, regulation of the financial industry or ways to address unemployment. Other topical issues could include the influence of advertising on consumer behavior, drug testing and the impact of money on college athletics.

Youth Topics

  • Whether you're in high school or college, exploratory essay topics that relate directly to you and your immediate concerns may be especially inspiring. Consider writing about the pressures of applying to college, teen pregnancy, underage drinking, effects of divorce on children, homework, the pros and cons of social media, technology in the classroom, dating trends and the effects of video games on attention spans and modern entertainment.

Personal Interests

  • If you have a strong interest in fashion, explore fashion trends or the economics of the fashion industry in an essay. The same is true if you love film or sports or popular music. When the subject is one that you already have knowledge of or a great interest in, you're more likely to write a solid essay. If you choose a topic close to your heart, be sure to make it clear that all aspects of the topic must be researched and included in the essay, even if the points disagree with how you feel personally.

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