1. The Immigration Crisis in the United States of America
2. The Therapeutic Value of Art
3. Racial Profiling in America
4. The Question of Prayer in Schools
5. The Importance of Preserving Historical Sites
6. The Mixed Blessings of EITHER Autism in Children OR Downs Syndrome
7. The Dangers of Injuries in Sports (Choose ONE sport)
8. The Joys of Hunting and Fishing
9. Agriculture and Farming as a Career
10. Music as a Reflection of Social Culture
11. Freedom of Religion
12. The Effect of Divorce on Young Children
13. What Will Be the Disadvantages of the Self-Driving Car?
14. The Nesting Habits of Birds
15. Why Arts and Crafts are Good for the Brain
16. Are Performing Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) Still a Problem in Professional Sports?
17. Diets and Nutrition as a Cancer Preventative
18. The Contrasting Culture of the USA with Asian Countries
19. Preventatives and Treatments for Drug Addiction
1. Emily Dickinson’s Contrasting Poetic View of Death
2. The Death of a Beautiful Woman in the Poetry and Prose of Edgar Allen Poe
3. The Confessional Writings of Sylvia Plath
4. Symbolism in Sandra Cisneros’ “Barbie Q” and The House on Mango Street
5. Southern Themes in William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”
6. The Subject of Secret Sin in a Nathaniel Hawthorne Short Story
7. Religious Symbolism in Flannery O’Conner’s “Good Country People”
8. Feminist Themes in Toni Morrison’s Sula
9. Local Color in Selected Works of Jamaica Kinkaid
10. Historical Significance of the Oratory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
11. Discovery of the New World in the Letters of Christopher Columbus
12. Patriotic Themes OR Symbolism in the Poetry of Pablo Neruda
13. Themes of Poets at American Presidential Inaugurations
14. Reflections on Daily Living in the Diary of EITHER Samuel Pepys OR William Byrd
There are, broadly speaking, three different types of essay that instructors try to elicit from their students: the narrative, or descriptive, essay; the analytical, or interpretive, essay; and the discussion essay. Let us look briefly at each in turn.
The narrative essay, or descriptive essay, is the simplest type. If the verb in the essay question is relate, outline, summarize, describe, give an account of, or the like, then the instructor expects this first type of essay. If you are asked to outline the events leading up to the American Revolution, your task is to organize the historical facts you have collected, usually in chronological order, so that they tell the story of how the colonists became discontented with British rule and decided to declare their independence. This type of essay is primarily a test of your factual knowledge and secondarily a test of your ability to organize and present material; it offers little scope for you to show insight or put forward your opinion.
An analytical essay, or interpretive essay, is usually called for when the question prompts you to analyze, investigate, examine, assess, evaluate, explain, give the meaning of, compare and contrast, or something else along those lines. If you are asked to analyze the causes of the American Revolution, your task is not simply to list the factors and events that led the colonists to revolt; you have to show sufficient knowledge to be able to probe them a little—for example, were the reasons the colonists themselves gave for their actions the real reasons?—and to assess their relative importance—for example, Was American discontent or British obstinacy the primary cause? This type of essay is primarily a test of your ability to think. It requires factual knowledge and usually a more in-depth knowledge of the subject than is needed for a narrative essay, but instead of simply presenting the knowledge you have, you must also be able to break it down, weigh it, and relate the separate pieces to one another.
A discussion essay typically requires you to take a stand on a debatable or controversial issue: " 'The Americans did not win the Revolutionary War, the British lost it.' Please discuss." It is usually a test of your ability, first, to apply the knowledge you have of a subject to construct a defensible point of view; second, to select and marshal evidence in order to support that point of view; third, to write persuasively on behalf of your chosen side of the argument; and, fourth, to consider and deal with the arguments for the opposing side—that is, assuming that you either agree or disagree with the proposition. You could take a neutral stance, in which you would need to balance opposing arguments rather than pitting them against each other. Besides giving you a choice of point of view, the discussion essay also allows you a presentational or stylistic choice. You may discuss the question relatively dispassionately, weighing the pros and cons and eventually coming down on one side or the other as a jury member might after hearing a trial. Alternatively, you may embrace one side of the argument enthusiastically and try to refute the other. In either case, you will need to know the arguments for both sides. It is not a proper discussion if you give no space to arguments for the opposing point of view, even if you do so only to expose their weakness.
The categories are, of course, not absolute, and you will frequently find yourself, for instance, mixing explanation with discussion. But they should provide you with basic guidelines so that you can identify the kind of response the instructor is expecting.