Essay Prompts: History

To practice writing essays, here are some prompts to give your students. This set is all about history.

You may need to review the essay format before giving them these prompts. The first paragraph should introduce the topic and maybe the writer’s position, the middle paragraphs form the argument and are collectively the ‘body’ of the essay, and the final paragraph is the conclusion or summary. In the body, one paragraph should be dedicated to each supporting point (typically three total), either reasons or examples.

You can assign particular prompts, or provide multiple ones as options and let student choose one to be the topic of their essay. Keep in mind that students shouldn’t simply answer the question directly, but also explain why they answered the way they did.

  • What time period in history would you visit if you could?

  • What is perhaps the most influential decade in your country’s history?

  • What is the single greatest invention?

  • What person from history had the greatest impact on the world?

  • Was the quality of life better or worse a century ago than it is now?

  • Choose a decade within the last 200 years. What are some ways in which that decade was better than our current one?

  • What do you think would be the most interesting way to travel before the 19th century?

  • What are some ways in which life was simpler (though not necessarily easier) 1,000 years ago?

  • What’s a mistake from history that you would like your people to learn from?

  • What are three ways that the Industrial Revolution changed jobs and/or the workforce?

Note that a lot of these questions are phrased as absolutes, but students can write about ‘one of’ instead of ‘the greatest’ or whatever.

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