Sample Expository Essays For High School Students

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When I started my first job as a professional newspaper reporter (This job also served as an internship during my junior year in college — I just didn’t leave for about 6 years.), I quickly realized that all my experience, and all my years of journalism education had not been enough to help me write stories about drug busts, fatal car accidents and tornadoes. All the theoretical work I’d done, and all of the nifty little scholastic and collegiate stories I had done, did not prepare me for real world writing.

At that point, I had to find a solution quickly. After all, I had a deadline to meet, and it was only a few hours away.

One of my colleagues, who also served as a mentor, had the solution. She introduced me to the newspaper’s “morgue.” This was a room filled with filing cabinets in which we kept old — dead — stories arranged by reporter. Whenever I wasn’t’ sure how to write a story, all I had to do was check the morgue for similar stories. If I needed to write a story about a local drug bust, for example, I’d find another story on a similar incident, study its structure, and mentally create a formula in which to plugin the information I’d gathered.

Once I’d gained more experience, and had internalized the formula for that particular type of story, I felt free to branch out as the situation — and my training — warranted.

I do the same thing when I want to write a type of letter, brochure, or report that I’ve never written before.

This is what writing looks like in the real world.

Research by “Write Like This” author Kelly Gallagher indicates that if we want students to grow as writers, we need to provide them with good writing to read, study, and emulate. My personal experience backs this up, as does the old adage “all writing is rewriting,” oft quoted by everyone from LA screenwriters to New York Times bestselling authors.

Of course, if you’re a new teacher like me, there is one problem with providing mentor texts to my students: I have a dearth of middle school level writing sitting around in my file cabinets.

Fortunately, the Internet is full of sources, so I scoured the bowels of Google to find examples. I know how busy you are, so I’m sharing.

Expository writing examples for middle school

Below are several sources of expository writing samples for middle school students.

Finally, here is an article in the New York Times that will help you teach your students real-world expository writing skills.

Descriptive writing examples for middle school

Narrative writing examples for middle school

Argumentative/persuasive writing examples for middle school

Reflective writing examples for middle school

If you know of any other online writing example sources, please feel free to share them in the comments below.


I am a secondary English Language Arts teacher, a University of Oklahoma graduate student, and a NBPTS candidate. I am constantly seeking ways to amplify my students’ voices and choices.

Filed Under: PedagogyTagged With: writing examples, writing samples

List Of Fifteen Expository Essay Topic Ideas For High School Students

The expository style of writing or explanatory style is used to teach students how to explain or inform the reader about their topic of interest. This writing piece should not be opinionated but instead should present factual evidence about the topic at hand and allow the reader to develop an understanding of the topic based on what is being written.

Here is a list of fifteen potential topic ideas that will provide material for this assignment for any high school student project.

  1. Choose any person in the world whom you admire and describe why you admire them

  2. Pick an animal that you would like to become for just one day and describe why you chose that particular animal and what you want to experience

  3. Pick a day in the past or the future that you would like to travel to if it were possible to travel through time

  4. Describe the best book you have ever read and tell why it was your favorite

  5. Tell how your favorite teacher has influenced your time in school and what characteristics make them important to you

  6. Talk about your favorite place to go shopping and what makes that store the best

  7. Tell who your favorite musical artist or composer is and why you enjoy their work

  8. Compare the different styles of music and tell which one you feel is the most enjoyable to listen to

  9. Describe a day you spent with your family and tell why this day was memorable

  10. Talk about your best friend and why your relationship with them is important

  11. Describe your pet and why that pet is an important part of your family and life

  12. Talk about your favorite hobby and why you enjoy this activity

  13. Describe your parents and how they have influenced your life and the way you do things each day

  14. Describe your favorite subject in school and why you enjoy that particular course

  15. Describe your favorite automobile and why you like that particular style of transportation

The most important part of this style of writing and what the instructors will be looking for in the final composition is how you develop the reason for your choices. Each of these topics will allow you to present an argument for your choice and provide great topics for an expository essay.


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