How to Narrow Down Composition Essay Topics

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One of the most common problems encountered by kids when they write essays and other types of academic papers is the choice of a topic. Even if you are given a set of topics to select from, it is always difficult to choose something good, something that will be easy and interesting to write about. Things get even worse when you have complete freedom of choice – for many, it is a truly paralyzing experience. They can spend hours just staring at a blank page and trying without any effect to think of something to write about in their essay.

However, there is a trick to it you may find useful. When you have at least a vague idea of what you are going to (or have to) write about, you can narrow it down to a more specific topic. How exactly can you do it? Let’s take a closer look at the best ways to do it.

1. Pay Attention to the Type of Writing You Are Dealing With

The choice of composition essay topics heavily depends on the kind of essay you write. It should be noted that a “composition” is a very broad term – it includes analytical, argumentative, descriptive, and even narrative genres. Your options and possibilities concerning the choice of topic depend on what you write. You can be fairly imaginative when you write a narrative English composition, but in the case of descriptive essays and suchlike, you may have to stick to more conventional topics.

2. Narrow the Topic Down to One of Its Specific Aspects

Remember how you discussed the topic in class and ask yourself if it is possible to use this factual information to narrow down the topic to something more manageable. For example, the teacher could have mentioned some particular issues related to the subject matter. Can you write your composition essay about them? Can you single out another issue using the same general principle? Perhaps, somebody mentioned examples of how the topic applies to the real world – you can use it in your essay as well.

3. Narrow the Topic Down Geographically

Another simple way to make an overly broad topic more manageable and specific is to see how it applies to a particular geographical area. For example, if you have to write about the certificates of education in different countries, it can be an insurmountable task. However, if you narrow it down to ICSE and try to evaluate its efficiency and usefulness, you can achieve much better results.

4. Narrow the Topic Down Temporally

Another common way of narrowing down topics as limiting the subject matter you cover to a certain period. For example, if you write about primary education, you can make the task more doable by limiting your scope to the latter half of the 20th century (preferably, in a particular country). Applying this type of narrowing down, you should always keep in mind that the amount of information related to different historical periods is going to vary dramatically, and choosing more obscure and distant periods can leave you with little to no evidence to work with.

5. Narrow the Topic Down to a Particular Event

Consider how your general subject matter was reflected in a particular event. It is an excellent way to narrow down the topic and brings it in conjunction with another relevant area of knowledge that may not be immediately obvious at a glance. As an added bonus, this approach can often offer you an original new topic to cover even if you did not intend it this way from the beginning. For example, you have to write about the history of higher education in the United States. Ask yourself, what major events may have affected it enough to warrant individual research. One such event would be the Second World War and the introduction of the G.I. Bill – so you can take it from there.

6. Narrow the Topic Down by Breaking It into Smaller Components

If you have narrowed the topic down, but it is still not narrow enough, you can always try singling out smaller components to pay attention to. For example, if you have decided to write about tobacco use among teenagers, it may still be too monumental a task to tackle. Consider further segmenting it: e.g., by focusing on the use of chewing tobacco rather than smoking or on the use by male teenagers, or teenagers from a specific social group. Once you are satisfied with how narrow your topic is, you can start looking for additional information on it.

As you can see, there is a lot more to narrowing down a composition topic than just vaguely trying to make it more suitable for the essay of the size and type you have to write. Apply these methods, and you will easily bring your topic to manageable proportions.


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