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Persuasive essay (choosing your topic)

Watch this to unpack how to choose the right topic for your Persuasive Essay for Higher English (and why Goldilocks had it right all along)

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In a well-known fairytale, a young girl, Goldilocks, breaks into the home of three bears. She sees three bowls of porridge on the table. When she tries them, the first is too hot, the second is too cold, but the third? The third is just right.

After eating, she looks for somewhere to sit. She tries out three chairs. The first is too big for her, as is the second, but the third? Well, once again, the third is just right.

She goes upstairs and finds three beds. The first is too hard for her, the second is too soft for her. But the third? The third is just right.

Although a children’s story, the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears is used in education, economics, science and psychology as experts try to strike the balance between too much and too little.

So, let’s explore what it takes for you to get your persuasive writing topic just right.

This is Think Four.

Choosing the right topic for your persuasive essay is the first step towards success. Spending a little time thinking this through will make your writing process a lot easier.

The acronym BED can help you to ensure that your persuasive topic is a suitable and interesting choice for your essay. BED stands for:


Firstly, for a topic to be suitable for a persuasive essay, it must be broad. If a topic is too narrow, or specific, this limits the number of arguments that you can make and will also make research difficult.

On the other hand, you must be careful that your topic isn’t too broad as you may not have enough words to fully explore it

The key is to strike that balance and find an area that has plenty of material for you to dive into but not so much that you become overwhelmed.

Secondly, your topic must be engaging, both to you and your reader. One of the most common mistakes that pupils can make is searching up “What is a good persuasive essay topic?”. This will only provide overdone topics that the marker will have read hundreds of times and are unlikely to interest you.

It is far better to choose a personal topic. If you enjoy science, why not look at the many debates around biological or chemical advancements? If you love modern studies, what about political or social issues? But it doesn’t have to be purely based on academic interests. You can argue passionately and engagingly on music, sports, and media. The key point is it has to be something that you care about because then it is far easier to make the reader care about it too.

Thirdly, and finally, your topic must be debated. There is absolutely no point arguing something that is already accepted by everyone.

Instead, your persuasive essay should be part of a wider discourse and disagreement. This shows a level of sophistication, as it forces you to set up your tent on a particular side of the divide and invite the reader to come and join you.

However, approach this with caution. If you go too far towards unpopular or controversial arguments, you risk fielding points that are flimsy or potentially alienate the reader.

The fact is your persuasive essay is too important to jeopardise with a poorly considered topic.

Like Goldilocks, you might have to experiment a little before you make the perfect choice.

If you choose your focus for your persuasive essay well, your arguments and structure will fall nicely into place. So, as you prepare to write your essay, remember Goldilocks and always make sure that your BED is just right.

This was thinkfour, thanks for watching.