Timesaver: Repository of Writing Prompts for Every Essay Type

Although I have been doing this job for a long time, it still surprises me to realize how terribly inefficient I can be at times. I think this must be one of the reasons why I started this blog.

It’s hard to understand, even for me and about myself, why I do not have a repository of writing topics to give my students. Is it the same for you?

How many times, for God’s sake, have I given my students the task of writing an opinion essay or a cover letter? Hundreds. Well, believe it or not, every single time I spend precious time looking for an adequate topic or a suitable advertisement. After 3o years doing the same, one would think I should have a dozen to choose from.

Nothing like that, believe me; that’s why this post is so necessary. What you will find below are links to websites with lots of possibilities to choose from. In some cases, they are not only inspiration for writing but also for speaking activities/assignments. Lets’ jump right in!

A bit of everything

501  Writing Prompts ( persuasive, expository, narrative and literary) targets students,  encouraging autonomous learning by including model essays for a certain number of prompts so that students can compare and contrast their writing. It also includes a  scoring guide. Students are encouraged to use this guide to get an idea of how their essay may be graded.

Essay questions divided by topic

From IELTS LIZ, we get 100 essay questions organized alphabetically by topic: from Art to Work and much more.

Narrative and Personal Writing

From The NewYork Times, we get 550 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing.

Lots of writing prompts touching from family life to pop culture, gender roles, video games, social media, travel and more.

Creative Writing Prompts

  • Creative writing Prompts is a site that I use for 15-minute writing practice in class.Some suggestions to use this website:
    • A quick writing activity in class. Students decide on a number and write for about 15 minutes. You can do this activity often as it only takes 15 minutes and gives them a lot of practice if done regularly. They also get direct help from the teacher as it’s a class activity.
    • You can also divide the class into pairs or groups of three, depending on how large your class is and ask each group to assign a writing task to another group in the class by choosing a random prompt. Students write their stories. Set a time limit of 30 or 35 minutes. Put their stories up on the walls of the class for all the students to read.
    • Brainstorm vocabulary recently studied. Make sure there is a variety of nouns, adjectives, phrasal verbs, idioms…etc to choose from. Write them on the board. Ask students to choose two numbers and write the two prompts on the board too. Students choose one of these options and write their story including some of the target vocabulary.
  • 100 Creative Writing Prompts for Middle School includes a selection of story starters, research prompts and expository prompts among others
Argumentative, Persuasive, Opinion Essay Prompts


Formal and Informal Emails/letters

If you know of any other great sites, please leave a comment with writing prompts, leave a comment.

15 thoughts on “Timesaver: Repository of Writing Prompts for Every Essay Type

  1. Another thumbs up to what you share with us on your website,I really admire your dedication ,one happy lady from Tenerife.

  2. You are my inspiration! I teach in higher ed and at least once a day think “My god, there has got to be a better way.” Each year I vow to buld a repository of assignments and associated grading feedback tailored to them that will allow me to refocus on actively teaching and reduce red pen hours. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Yes, thank you. I know it and use it very often. In fact, a post on random choice of story beginners is on the shelf waiting to be published. I just don’t know when. 🙂 The curriculum is killing me!

  4. Hi Cristina
    On the Self Access Group Blog, we shared a post with essay questions grouped by topic.
    We also prepared some tables for students writing an essay in the EBAU exam to be able to answer each question type appropriately.
    e.g. http://selfaccessgroup.blogspot.com/2016/04/discussing-theme_27.html
    You’re welcome to use these posts and ideas – and share them on your blog if you like them! That’s why they were written!

  5. Thanks, Caroline! The activities I publish have already been tested with my students and they most certainly work. 🙂 You are very kind!!


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