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Learn the best strategies and tips on how to write an effective and persuasive debate essay for your academic success.

How to write a debate essay

When it comes to expressing opinions, engaging in a debate can be an effective way to communicate and support your stance on a particular issue. A debate essay, or argumentative essay, allows you to showcase your critical thinking skills and present a well-reasoned argument. This type of essay requires careful planning and organization to effectively persuade your audience. By following a step-by-step approach, you can develop a strong debate essay that presents your point of view clearly and convincingly.

Before diving into the writing process, it’s essential to understand the purpose of a debate essay. The goal is not only to express your own opinion but also to address counterarguments and anticipate potential objections. Your aim is to convince your audience to understand and accept your perspective by presenting strong evidence and logical reasoning. To achieve this, you need to research and gather relevant information on the topic, evaluate different viewpoints, and outline a clear structure for your essay.

One of the key components of a successful debate essay is a strong thesis statement. This statement presents the main argument or claim that you will be defending throughout your essay. It should be clear, concise, and impactful. Your thesis statement should express your position on the topic and provide a preview of the main points you will be discussing. A well-crafted thesis statement sets the tone for your essay and helps guide your writing process, ensuring that every point you make supports and strengthens your overall argument.

Understand the topic and choose a side

Before diving into the debate essay writing process, it is crucial to thoroughly understand the topic at hand and carefully consider which side you will argue for. This step is essential as it sets the foundation for a well-reasoned and persuasive argument.

Take the time to read and research extensively on the topic to gain a comprehensive understanding of its different aspects and perspectives. Look for reliable sources such as books, scholarly articles, and reputable websites to gather information and insights. By doing so, you will be able to familiarize yourself with various arguments, counterarguments, and evidence presented by experts in the field.

Once you have gained a deep understanding of the topic, it is time to choose a side. Consider the different arguments presented by both sides and evaluate which one aligns with your own beliefs, values, and knowledge. Think about the strengths and weaknesses of each argument, as well as the evidence supporting them. Reflect on your own experiences and personal views to help you make an informed decision.

Choosing a side does not necessarily mean that you have to agree with it wholeheartedly. It simply means that you will be presenting and defending that particular perspective in your debate essay. Keep in mind that choosing a side does not imply being closed-minded or dismissive of the opposing viewpoint. A well-rounded debate essay will acknowledge and address counterarguments, showing a balanced and thoughtful approach to the topic.

Once you understand the topic and have chosen a side, you can move on to the next step of the debate essay writing process: gathering evidence and constructing a persuasive argument.

Research and gather supporting evidence

In order to write a strong and convincing debate essay, it is essential to conduct thorough research and gather relevant supporting evidence. Research serves as the foundation for an effective argument, providing credible information that strengthens your position and persuades your audience.

When conducting research, it is important to explore multiple sources to ensure a well-rounded understanding of the topic. This can include peer-reviewed articles, academic journals, books, and reputable websites. By utilizing a variety of sources, you can gain different perspectives and enhance the credibility of your argument.

During the research process, it is crucial to critically analyze the information you gather. This involves evaluating the credibility and reliability of your sources. Look for evidence that is backed by reputable experts, institutions, or organizations. Additionally, consider the timeliness of the information to ensure that you are presenting the most current and relevant data.

As you gather evidence, it is also important to keep track of your sources. This will allow you to properly cite and reference your information in your debate essay. Utilize a citation style guide, such as APA or MLA, to ensure consistency and accuracy in your citations.

When selecting evidence to support your argument, consider the strengths and weaknesses of each piece of information. Choose evidence that is logical, well-reasoned, and directly relevant to your argument. Avoid using biased or unreliable sources that may weaken your position.

In conclusion, research and gathering supporting evidence is a critical step in writing a debate essay. Thorough research and careful evaluation of sources will strengthen your argument and enhance your credibility. By selecting well-reasoned and relevant evidence, you can effectively persuade your audience and present a compelling debate essay.

Organize your arguments

Organize your arguments

When writing a debate essay, it is crucial to organize your arguments in a clear and logical manner. By doing so, you will be able to effectively present your ideas and support your stance on the given topic. Organizing your arguments not only helps you convey your message more effectively, but it also makes it easier for your readers to comprehend and follow your line of thinking.

One way to organize your arguments is to group them based on similarities or themes. This can be done by identifying common elements or ideas among your arguments and grouping them together. For example, if you are arguing in favor of stricter gun control laws, you might have separate arguments related to reducing gun violence, preventing accidental shootings, and deterring criminals. By grouping these arguments together, you can present a more cohesive and convincing case.

Another way to organize your arguments is by presenting them in a logical order. This can be done by arranging your arguments from the strongest to the weakest or from the most general to the most specific. By structuring your arguments in this way, you can build a strong foundation and gradually persuade your readers as they progress through your essay. Additionally, presenting your arguments in a logical order makes it easier for your readers to follow your reasoning and understand the progression of your ideas.

Furthermore, it is important to provide evidence and examples to support your arguments. This can be done by incorporating research findings, statistics, expert opinions, and real-life examples into your essay. By including evidence, you not only strengthen your arguments but also make them more persuasive and credible. However, it is crucial to ensure that the evidence you present is reliable and relevant to your topic. Additionally, you should clearly explain how the evidence supports your arguments so that your readers can understand the connection.

In conclusion, organizing your arguments is a crucial step in writing a debate essay. By grouping your arguments based on similarities or themes, presenting them in a logical order, and providing evidence to support them, you can effectively convey your ideas and persuade your readers. Remember to stay focused on your main point and to present your arguments in a clear and concise manner. With proper organization, your debate essay will be more impactful and convincing.

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How to Write a Good Debate Essay

When the word “debate” occurs in an essay title, you are being asked to examine a subject in which there are opposing views. The aim is that your essay will lead to support for one side, based on clear argument, effective judgement and justification for the decisions presented and arguments presented. The foundation of a good debate essay is effectively completing research combined with being able to refer to facts and credible information. The biggest challenge is to remain unemotional, whilst still persuading your audience of the validity of the arguments you are making in support of your chosen side.

Writing your debate essay


Your introduction should ensure that your reader understands what topic is being debated and encourage them to read more. One effective way to start is with a question, which sets the stage for you to state your position on the subject (your thesis statement). For example, “Does online learning creates laziness in students?”.

The aim is that your readers will have an immediate answer to the question, and this then drives the arguments you are presenting. An alternative approach is to refute a statement, framing the subject negatively, for example, “There are studies which suggest online learning creates laziness, however, studies have shown that online learning actually increases motivation”. In this case you are encouraging the reader to support your argument. In both cases, you have set a foundation with your introduction which needs to be built on by effective arguments and evidence.

The body text of your debate essay should be separated into paragraphs, each one of which will cover a different reason / rationale for the viewpoint you set out in your introduction. For each point you should provide back-up information from credible sources, which demonstrates that you have evaluated evidence before drawing a conclusion and opinion. Each paragraph should introduce your argument for or against, depending on your perspective, and include where appropriate, statistical evidence, illustrative data and clearly referenced sources. A good tip with a debate essay is to also present the counterargument for your point and refute it with viable sources to demonstrate why it is incorrect, demonstrating your understanding of the subject. The structure of the body text should be logical, moving from one argument to another with effective connections such as “Furthermore”, “Notwithstanding”, “Moreover” or similar to ensure coherence of argument.

The conclusion to your debate essay should be a summing up of all the positive points you have made, reaffirming your stance on the issue and should refer back to your thesis statement or original question. This enables you to demonstrate that you have effectively provided a strong justification for your point of view and in so doing, persuaded the reader of the accuracy of your perspective and opinion.

Key Words for a Debate Essay

  • In the same way
  • On the other hand
  • Nevertheless
  • On the contrary
  • Subsequently
  • Specifically
  • Furthermore
  • In consequence

Tips For Writing A Debate Essay

An argumentative paper depends on various aspects that can either build the conversation or break it. Here is how to write a debate essay step by step and get your point through in a convincing manner:

  • Choose the topic wisely. Make sure it is a controversial topic that can have a debate both ways. You can pick any topic from child education to medicinal marijuana. The topic itself needs to have a compelling pull to keep the audience involved.
  • Once the topic is decided, figure out which side you are on. For topics like domestic violence, most people will be against it, but you can still create an argument around it confidently.
  • Make sure you have done your research to articulate the facts and stats which go both in favour and against the topic. Your opponents may have a different perspective than you, but if you have solid grounds that can prove your stance, you can make them agree with you.
  • Know your audience. The readers of your essay will be very crucial to you building your argument. If you are writing a term paper, you may focus more on sentence building, structuring, and formatting. But if you are drafting for a competition, you need solid supporting research which can be cited and argued.
  • Have your facts ready. Without figures and numbers, a paper loses credibility. It becomes more of an opinion-piece than a debate essay grounded in facts.
  • The last, the most important factor. Select an issue you are most passionate about. If you feel strongly about it, you will be able to express your thoughts and also be able to research it with dedication.

Consider these tips combined when you think about how to make a debate essay convincing and interesting. Don’t forget, your opponent may not agree at all with your verdict, but at least you would present your vision with strong arguments and leave a good impression on the readers.

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Have you ever found yourself at a loss for words when it comes to articulating your thoughts in a debate?

The inability to formulate your thoughts in a debate can be a significant obstacle, hindering your ability to express yourself effectively. But don’t worry!

If you’re someone who’s wandering around trying to find the secrets to craft an outstanding debate speech, we’ve got your back.

In this blog, we’ll introduce you to debate writing, types, format, some tips, and debate examples, so you can understand how to pen down the perfect debate.

Let’s get going!

Arrow Down

  • 1. What is Debate Writing?
  • 2. Types of Debate
  • 3. Debate Writing Format
  • 4. How to Write a Debate?
  • 5. How to End the Debate?
  • 6. Debate Writing Tips and Tricks
  • 7. Advanced Techniques for Debate Writing 
  • 8. Debate Writing Examples
  • 9. Debate Writing Topics for Students 

What is Debate Writing?

A debate is a formal contest of argumentation where two opposing teams defend and attack a given resolution. Similarly, it is also a persuasive manner of speaking to convert one’s opinion into your viewpoint.

Here, the speaker either speaks for or against a particular topic being discussed. Moreover, it is the process of preparing and writing the debate before its formal presentation.

Features of Debate Writing

The following are the main features of debate writing.

  • Informative -  A good debate must provide complete information and facts. It is supposed to inform and educate people with the help of logical reasoning.
  • Well-reasoned - The arguments discussed in a debate must be logical, relevant, competent, and well-explained.
  • Persuasive -  A debate must emphasize strong arguments to convince the people.
  • Orderly -  A debate must present the facts in a structured and organized form. It should also follow a specific format.
  • Dynamic -  In a debate, two teams present opposing arguments. Similarly, all the important points must be questioned and answered by each team member.

Types of Debate

The following is a detailed description of common debating types that are practiced on various occasions. 

  • Team Policy Debate -  It consists of two teams, each with two debaters. The main aim is to present a huge amount of data coherently.
  • Cross-examination Debate -  It is considered a period between speeches. Here, the opponents ask each other to clarify and understand the points based on evidence.
  • Lincoln-Douglas Debate - It is a one-on-one and an open-style debate. Here, the debaters focus on arguing for or against a topic persuasively and logically.
  • Spontaneous Argumentation - Includes two teams that argue on a specific idea, but it does not require much research work. Similarly, this debate focuses more on presentation than content.
  • Public Forum Debate -  It includes arguments on controversial topics. Moreover, these are used to test the argumentation, cross-examination, and refutation skills of the debaters.
  • Parliamentary Debate - It consists of two teams, one called the government and the other called the opposition team. The Government team proposes a motion, and the Opposition team argues against it.

If you want to learn more about the different debating types, head to over comprehensive blog on types of debates.

Debate Writing Format

The debate writing for middle or high school follows the same format structure. Here, we have mentioned a detailed format for you to get an idea of the parts of a debate.

Check out the given debate writing template to get help with structuring your debate.

Debate Writing Template

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How to Start a Debate?

When starting the debate writing process, the question “ How to write a debate introduction?… ” could come off as a daunting one, but don’t worry.

Here are some easy steps for you to write a compelling debate introduction.

speech examples

1. Impressive greeting and strong opening sentence:

Greet your audience with enthusiasm, capturing their attention with a compelling opening statement that sets the tone for your debate.

2. Tell a personal story:

Connect emotionally by sharing a relevant personal anecdote that humanizes the topic, making it relatable and engaging.

3. State an amazing Fact:

Introduce a surprising or impressive fact related to your debate topic to pique interest and establish credibility.

4. Use a powerful quotation:

Incorporate a thought-provoking quote that aligns with your argument, adding depth and authority to your speech.

5. Ask a rhetorical question:

Pose a rhetorical question to stimulate critical thinking among your audience, encouraging them to ponder the issue at hand.

6. State a problem:

Clearly articulate the problem or challenge associated with your debate topic, highlighting its significance and relevance.

7. Share your opinion about the topic:

Express your stance on the matter, providing a concise preview of your argument and setting the stage for the forthcoming points in your debate speech.

How to Write a Debate?

Following are the steps you can stick to for writing a debate speech that lets you stand out from the competition:  

1. Understand the Debate

The first of many steps in debate writing is understanding its nature. Here, both teams will be given a topic, and they will choose an affirmative or negative stance.

2. Research the Topic Thoroughly

Brainstorm and research the topic thoroughly to understand all the aspects of the debate. Make a list of critical points and use credible sources to cover them in your key arguments.

3. Develop a Debate Outline

Develop a basic debate speech outline that consists of three main sections. It includes an introduction, body, and conclusion that are discussed below in detail.

It is the first section of the outline that includes an attention grabber. Introduce your topic and present the context with the help of a  thesis statement . Also, provide a brief overview of the students’ arguments to understand the direction of the debate.

It is the main section of the debate that discusses the key arguments in detail. Moreover, it further includes logical reasoning and evidence to support the thesis.

The conclusion is the last chance to demonstrate significant ideas. It summarizes the main body by adding emotion and drama to the words and includes a strong closing sentence.

4. Writing the Debate

Start writing the final draft of your debate. Mention the crucial elements of persuasion, which are ethos, pathos, and logos. These are used to explain the effects of the resolution in the real world.

Also, use transition words to maintain a logical flow between paragraphs. Lastly, edit and proofread your work to avoid plagiarism, grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.

Here is a great example of a well-written debate introduction:

If you’re thinking, “ How to write a debate greeting? ”, take a thorough look at the detailed steps below: 

If you have the question, “ How to write a debate against the motion? ” in mind, look at this step-by-step procedure below:

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How to End the Debate?

End the debate by making sure that you have included the following elements. It will help you assess the credibility of your debate.

  • Does your debate start with an interesting greeting?
  • Does it provide original content, personal experience, and a call to action?
  • Does the debate follow a proper format structure?
  • Does it include the correct sentence structure?
  • Does it maintain logical transitions to flow ideas from one paragraph to another?
  • Have you proofread or revised it for common mistakes such as spelling, grammar, and punctuation?
  • Does the debate mention your opinion about the given topic?
  • Does the debate end with a powerful conclusion sentence to leave a lasting impact on the audience?

Debate Writing Tips and Tricks

Here are some amazing debate tips and tricks for you to write a perfect debate:

  • It is better to know and prepare for a debate before starting it
  • Conduct thorough research work to collect relevant data and draft creative arguments about the topic
  • A writer should think relatively to identify the validity of significant claims
  • Try to understand the formal debate through a variety of personal experiences
  • Support the arguments with examples and evidence to make them more credible and authentic
  • Also, consider the perspective of the judges and audience while making a critical argument
  • Always structure your speech while keeping the time limits in mind
  • Do not always disagree with the opponent’s arguments. Instead, you should take notes and think logically
  • Build your case by keeping in mind all the possible objections that others can raise
  • Never make the mistake of introducing new arguments in your closing section

Advanced Techniques for Debate Writing 

Below are some easy  debating techniques  to write a primary and high school debate.

  • Introduce the topic at the beginning of the debate and form an opinion about it.
  • Know your audience to adjust your argument according to them.
  • Assign the two sides as affirmatives and negatives.
  • Take enough time to research the case and the vocabulary used for it.
  • Organize your opinion and present supporting facts to persuade the audience.
  • Follow a basic debate structure that includes the following period.
  • Get an idea about the opponent’s arguments and advance your research by weakening them.
  • Make a judgment based on the audience’s votes and your opinion about the arguments.
  • Connect to the audience emotionally by presenting examples, evidence, and personal experiences.
  • Incorporate simple, well-timed humor to engage and emphasize your argument effectively

Debate Writing Examples

Check out the following examples of debate writing to get a better idea of the concept.

Debate Example for Ks2

Debate Writing Class 6

Debate Writing Class 7

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Debate Writing Class 9

Debate Writing Class 11 PDF

Debate Writing Class 12

Debate Writing Example on Online Classes

If you want inspiration from more examples on various debate topics, visit our comprehensive debate examples blog!

Debate Writing Topics for Students 

The following are some impressive debate writing prompts for students to get started.

  • All schools should conduct compulsory drug testing on their students
  • Middle and high schools must ban sex education
  • Is it ethical to move in before getting married?
  • Academic institutes should ban smoking on college premises
  • Peer pressure is harmful to students
  • High schools should provide daycare services to students who have children
  • The government should develop nuclear energy for commercial use
  • Celebrities can get away with crime more easily than non-celebrities
  • Cell phones should not be used in classrooms
  • Money motivates people more than any other factor in the workplace

Head over to our list of debate topics to choose from a wide range of unique debate writing ideas.

To sum it up,  This comprehensive guide to debate writing will help you write a perfect one for your high school or college. We’ve covered all the essential details one would need to craft a winning debate.

However, if you think that you could use a helping hand to perfect your debate writing game, we’ve got you covered. 

You can get help from our speech writing service to solve your debate writing worries. Our writing experts will deliver you comprehensive and well-composed debates at rates that won’t break the bank. 

Simply place your " write my essay for me " request and we’ll take care of all your writing-related problems. 

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Cathy A.

Cathy has been been working as an author on our platform for over five years now. She has a Masters degree in mass communication and is well-versed in the art of writing. Cathy is a professional who takes her work seriously and is widely appreciated by clients for her excellent writing skills.

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  • 9 Ways to Construct a Compelling Argument

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But especially in the circumstances that we’re deeply convinced of the rightness of our points, putting them across in a compelling way that will change other people’s mind is a challenge. If you feel that your opinion is obviously right, it’s hard work even to understand why other people might disagree. Some people reach this point and don’t bother to try, instead concluding that those who disagree with them must be stupid, misled or just plain immoral. And it’s almost impossible to construct an argument that will persuade someone if you’re starting from the perspective that they’re either dim or evil. In the opposite set of circumstances – when you only weakly believe your perspective to be right – it can also be tricky to construct a good argument. In the absence of conviction, arguments tend to lack coherence or force. In this article, we take a look at how you can put together an argument, whether for an essay, debate speech or social media post, that is forceful, cogent and – if you’re lucky – might just change someone’s mind.

1. Keep it simple

essay or debate

Almost all good essays focus on a single powerful idea, drawing in every point made back to that same idea so that even someone skim-reading will soon pick up the author’s thesis. But when you care passionately about something, it’s easy to let this go. If you can see twenty different reasons why you’re right, it’s tempting to put all of them into your argument, because it feels as if the sheer weight of twenty reasons will be much more persuasive than just focusing on one or two; after all, someone may be able rebut a couple of reasons, but can they rebut all twenty? Yet from the outside, an argument with endless different reasons is much less persuasive than one with focus and precision on a small number of reasons. The debate in the UK about whether or not to stay in the EU was a great example of this. The Remain campaign had dozens of different reasons. Car manufacturing! Overfishing! Cleaner beaches! Key workers for the NHS! Medical research links! Economic opportunities! The difficulty of overcoming trade barriers! The Northern Irish border! Meanwhile, the Leave campaign boiled their argument down to just one: membership of the EU means relinquishing control. Leaving it means taking back control. And despite most expectations and the advice of most experts, the simple, straightforward message won. Voters struggled to remember the many different messages put out by the Remain campaign, as compelling as each of those reasons might have been; but they remembered the message about taking back control.

2. Be fair on your opponent

essay or debate

One of the most commonly used rhetorical fallacies is the Strawman Fallacy. This involves constructing a version of your opponent’s argument that is much weaker than the arguments they might use themselves, in order than you can defeat it more easily. For instance, in the area of crime and punishment, you might be arguing in favour of harsher prison sentences, while your opponent argues in favour of early release where possible. A Strawman would be to say that your opponent is weak on crime, wanting violent criminals to be let out on to the streets without adequate punishment or deterrence, to commit the same crimes again. In reality, your opponent’s idea might exclude violent criminals, and focus on community-based restorative justice that could lead to lower rates of recidivism. To anyone who knows the topic well, if your argument includes a Strawman, then you will immediately have lost credibility by demonstrating that either you don’t really understand the opposing point of view, or that you simply don’t care about rebutting it properly. Neither is persuasive. Instead, you should be fair to your opponent and represent their argument honestly, and your readers will take you seriously as a result

3. Avoid other common fallacies

essay or debate

It’s worth taking the time to read about logical fallacies and making sure that you’re not making them, as argument that rest of fallacious foundations can be more easily demolished. (This may not apply on social media, but it does in formal debating and in writing essays). Some fallacies are straightforward to understand, such as the appeal to popularity (roughly “everyone agrees with me, so I must be right!”), but others are a little trickier. Take “begging the question”, which is often misunderstood. It gets used to mean “raises the question” (e.g. “this politician has defended terrorists, which raises the question – can we trust her?”), but the fallacy it refers to is a bit more complicated. It’s when an argument rests on the assumption that its conclusions are true. For example, someone might argue that fizzy drinks shouldn’t be banned in schools, on the grounds that they’re not bad for students’ health. How can we know that they’re not bad for students’ health? Why, if they were, they would be banned in schools! When put in a condensed form like this example, the flaw in this approach is obvious, but you can imagine how you might fall for it over the course of a whole essay – for instance, paragraphs arguing that teachers would have objected to hyperactive students, parents would have complained, and we can see that none of this has happened because they haven’t yet been banned. With more verbosity, a bad argument can be hidden, so check that you’re not falling prey to it in your own writing.

4. Make your assumptions clear

essay or debate

Every argument rests on assumptions. Some of these assumptions are so obvious that you’re not going to be aware that you’re making them – for instance, you might make an argument about different economic systems that rests on the assumption that reducing global poverty is a good thing. While very few people would disagree with you on that, in general, if your assumption can be proven false, then the entire basis of your argument is undermined. A more controversial example might be an argument that rests on the assumption that everyone can trust the police force – for instance, if you’re arguing for tougher enforcement of minor offences in order to prevent them from mounting into major ones. But in countries where the police are frequently bribed, or where policing has obvious biases, such enforcement could be counterproductive. If you’re aware of such assumptions underpinning your argument, tackle them head on by making them clear and explaining why they are valid; so you could argue that your law enforcement proposal is valid in the particular circumstances that you’re suggesting because the police force there can be relied on, even if it wouldn’t work everywhere.

5. Rest your argument on solid foundations

essay or debate

If you think that you’re right in your argument, you should also be able to assemble a good amount of evidence that you’re right. That means putting the effort in and finding something that genuinely backs up what you’re saying; don’t fall back on dubious statistics or fake news . Doing the research to ensure that your evidence is solid can be time-consuming, but it’s worthwhile, as then you’ve removed another basis on which your argument could be challenged. What happens if you can’t find any evidence for your argument? The first thing to consider is whether you might be wrong! If you find lots of evidence against your position, and minimal evidence for it, it would be logical to change your mind. But if you’re struggling to find evidence either way, it may simply be that the area is under-researched. Prove what you can, including your assumptions, and work from there.

6. Use evidence your readers will believe

essay or debate

So far we’ve focused on how to construct an argument that is solid and hard to challenge; from this point onward, we focus on what it takes to make an argument persuasive. One thing you can do is to choose your evidence with your audience in mind. For instance, if you’re writing about current affairs, a left-wing audience will find an article from the Guardian to be more persuasive (as they’re more likely to trust its reporting), while a right-wing audience might be more swayed by the Telegraph. This principle doesn’t just hold in terms of politics. It can also be useful in terms of sides in an academic debate, for instance. You can similarly bear in mind the demographics of your likely audience – it may be that an older audience is more skeptical of footnotes that consist solely of web addresses. And it isn’t just about statistics and references. The focus of your evidence as a whole can take your probable audience into account; for example, if you were arguing that a particular drug should be banned on health grounds and your main audience was teenagers, you might want to focus more on the immediate health risks, rather than ones that might only appear years or decades later.

7. Avoid platitudes and generalisations, and be specific

essay or debate

A platitude is a phrase used to the point of meaninglessness – and it may not have had that much meaning to begin with. If you find yourself writing something like “because family life is all-important” to support one of your claims, you’ve slipped into using platitudes. Platitudes are likely to annoy your readers without helping to persuade them. Because they’re meaningless and uncontroversial statements, using them doesn’t tell your reader anything new. If you say that working hours need to be restricted because family ought to come first, you haven’t really given your reader any new information. Instead, bring the importance of family to life for your reader, and then explain just how long hours are interrupting it. Similarly, being specific can demonstrate the grasp you have on your subject, and can bring it to life for your reader. Imagine that you were arguing in favour of nationalising the railways, and one of your points was that the service now was of low quality. Saying “many commuter trains are frequently delayed” is much less impactful than if you have the full facts to hand, e.g. “in Letchworth Garden City, one key commuter hub, half of all peak-time trains to London were delayed by ten minutes or more.”

8. Understand the opposing point of view

essay or debate

As we noted in the introduction, you can’t construct a compelling argument unless you understand why someone might think you were wrong, and you can come up with reasons other than them being mistaken or stupid. After all, we almost all target them same end goals, whether that’s wanting to increase our understanding of the world in academia, or increase people’s opportunities to flourish and seek happiness in politics. Yet we come to divergent conclusions. In his book The Righteous Mind , Jonathan Haidt explores the different perspectives of people who are politically right or left-wing. He summarises the different ideals people might value, namely justice, equality, authority, sanctity and loyalty, and concludes that while most people see that these things have some value, different political persuasions value them to different degrees. For instance, someone who opposes equal marriage might argue that they don’t oppose equality – but they do feel that on balance, sanctity is more important. An argument that focuses solely on equality won’t sway them, but an argument that addresses sanctity might.

9. Make it easy for your opponent to change their mind

essay or debate

It’s tricky to think of the last time you changed your mind about something really important. Perhaps to preserve our pride, we frequently forget that we ever believed something different. This survey of British voters’ attitudes to the Iraq war demonstrates the point beautifully. 54% of people supporting invading Iraq in 2003; but twelve years on, with the war a demonstrable failure, only 37% were still willing to admit that they had supported it at the time. The effect in the USA was even more dramatic. It would be tempting for anyone who genuinely did oppose the war at the time to be quite smug towards anyone who changed their mind, especially those who won’t admit it. But if changing your mind comes with additional consequences (e.g. the implication that you were daft ever to have believed something, even if you’ve since come to a different conclusion), then the incentive to do so is reduced. Your argument needs to avoid vilifying people who have only recently come around to your point of view; instead, to be truly persuasive, you should welcome them.

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How to Write a Debate Essay: Simple Principles to Follow

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Debating means almost the same as arguing. You have a standpoint on a certain issue and want everybody else to accept it. To have a better understanding of what debates are all about, we advise you to watch some videos of political debates. These are the best examples of how one should argue for a certain point.

However, oral debates between people are certainly different from debating on paper and writing a good debate essay. If this is your next written assignment and you face some difficulties with it, we are ready to provide necessary assistance.

So, if you want to know how to write a debate essay and win the “battle”, follow these simple principles.

⭐ Know the features of a good debate

👀 choose debate essay topics wisely, 🔎 investigate background of the problem, 🗣️ collect arguments and counterarguments.

A winning debate has several characteristics that you should know and use when writing own debate essay:

  • a certain position on an issue;
  • proofs and evidences;
  • refuting arguments;

Basically, a good debate essay topic is any current issue that is of great interest to public and causes… heated debates. Yet, it does not mean you should pick any burning issue for discussion. It should be something you feel strongly about and will be able to argue for in your debate essay.

It is very important to study the topic of your debate essay thoroughly. What are the causes of the problem? What makes it so important to people? Why does this issue call opposing views?

Needless to say, you have to study as many materials devoted to the problem as you can and collect your arguments. However, you should also take into account all the counterarguments so that to refute them later in your debate essay.

If you lack ideas for your debate essay, read our articles about an essay on Affirmative Action and essay on animal experimentation.

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Debate Essays and What to Know About Them

The nightmare of being a student is in the fact that you never know the type of assignment your teacher might ask you to do at any point in time. You might end up thoroughly failing in your class work unless you understand some of the most crucial concepts for handling some of these tasks. This paper will focus on debate essays and ways in which you can achieve high scores by following simple procedures and guidelines.

Introduction on How to Write a Debate Essay

These essays are narratives that are built on arguments. They divide people into two distinct groups – You are forced to either support or oppose a motion with no option for a middle ground. You are to present all the facts that you believe will help you win your argument. Such conflicts are mostly seen among politicians during parliamentary sessions. Arguments also occur among ordinary people in normal interactions.

Crucial Facts on How to Start a Debate Essay

You first need to know how to write a debate essay step by step if you are to get everything right. Understand what comes first and what needs to be placed in the middle and last section of your document. Here is something you should consider at the start of every paper:

  • Create a hook

You need to get the attention of your audience through the first few lines of your paper. Use facts that are mind-boggling and that are likely to make them trust you. Make this information sound new to them even if they have heard of it before. Provide statistics to support your claims. For instance, don’t just say that “road accidents are some of the major causes of death in the world.” Instead, show the number of people who are killed every year as a result of rogue driving. Show how some of these people are breadwinners in their families or even newlyweds. In other words, capture the attention and imagination of people by all possible means.

  • Show the origin

Every issue always has roots, some of which are never known to the public. Dig deeper into the archives and retrieve enough information that shows how the problem began. In the case of road accidents, you can research to find out how, why, and when the first road accident occurred. You can be more specific to reveal the names of those who lost their lives. Find out what impact these victims had in their nation and include it in your document. However, do not be too wordy.

  • Formulate a thesis statement

This is a summary of what the paper is all about. It shows the relationship between cause and effect by indicating why you support your argument. Avoid being too general since the sentence will lose meaning. Do not say, “Several factors lead to road accidents.” Instead, mention these factors. Say something like “Road accidents are caused by increased levels of corruption, drunk driving, poor roads, and faulty traffic lights.”

  • Choosing what to Omit

Resist the temptation of including every detail in your introduction. That is not how to write a good debate essay. Details are to be added in the body section and not in the introduction. Resist the temptation of wanting to share everything you know about a topic. Stay focused even as you try hard to make your audience agree with you.

Different Ways of Making a Thesis Statement

It is not a must that you use the same method as everyone else when creating your thesis statement. You have three distinct options for this section whenever you are writing a debate essay. Here are the three main ways to construct any thesis statement.

  • Provide all pointers

Your thesis statement can include the crucial points you intend to talk about. Take, for example, a topic like ‘Teenage Pregnancy.’ The points you might want to discuss probably include “neglect by family members, rot in the society, and drug abuse.” You can introduce these points in the following way:

Sample: “Increased pregnancy among teenage girls is as a result of neglect by parents, moral decay in the society, and unreported rape cases.”

You will need to discuss each point in details when you get to the body section. This might be the best option for you as you would easily spot all your crucial points and discuss them in details without forgetting any of them.

  • Answer a question

Use your topic to formulate a question. For instance, ask yourself why most people are unhappy with their lifestyles. You should be able to develop an answer that can be used in your thesis. Here is a typical response to such a question:

Sample: People are not happy with their lifestyles due to the high levels of unemployment that leaves them living below their means, and that denies them the ability to enjoy the luxuries of life.

  • Express your discontentment

You can show why you believe that some assumptions are wrong. Provide your reasons in the same sentence. Make this an argument that might strike a constructive conversation. Here is a good example:

Sample: “It is vague to assume that all old illiterate people can learn statistics since this is a technical discipline that requires young people with high IQ.”

We hope that all your questions on what is a debate essay were sufficiently answered. Make good use of the information provided here to master how to write your debate essay effectively.

Simple Tips for Writing a Debate Essay

The ideas provided in this article should be incorporated into the structure of a debate essay. Have a clear understanding of how to begin a debate essay. Here are more tricks and tips on how to make a debate essay.

  • Sound professional: You cannot convince people unless you make them believe that you know what you are talking about.
  • Be thorough: Exhaust all the points needed to create a convincing document.
  • Introduce your points: Every new paragraph should have a short sentence to let your audience know what to expect.
  • Strong conclusion: Amaze your audience with a memorable ending. It has to be in line with your thesis statement.

These tips will leave a mark in the heart of any examiner. This result leads to good scores.

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How to Structure a Debate Essay in 5 Easy Steps

Table of Contents

Learning how to structure a debate essay is a fundamental skill for anyone who wishes to be successful in their academic careers.

The student can learn about the subject of debate and its different points of view by doing a lot of research. This enables the student choose a point of view and back it up with evidence.

Empirical research, in which the student gathers data through interviews, surveys, observations, or experiments, is often required for argumentative tasks.

This article advises on the 5-step technique to structure a debate essay. Let’s dive in!

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What Is a Debate Essay?

Debate essays are the same as argumentative essays. An argumentative essay is a scientific paper that presents, argues, and defends a particular point of view supported by evidence, facts, and examples.

These essays are written to persuade others that your point of view is worth sharing. Students must use a first-person perspective to produce an excellent debate essay.

Regardless of the depth or breadth of their study, argumentative essays are obligated to develop a strong thesis and adhere to logical reasoning.

5 Steps to Structure a Debate Essay

Structuring a debate essay can be the most challenging task for students due to the difficulties of making an argument.

Knowing where to start your essay will give you confidence and assurance that you can successfully map out your essay . These are the structures upon which a debate essay rests.

1. Specific Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is well-stated, specific, and located in the essay’s first paragraph.

Students should provide background information by reviewing the issue broadly in the introductory paragraph of an argument essay.

The next step is for the writer to establish the necessity of or interest in the topic (exigence). This thesis statement needs to focus on the right way to meet the assignment’s requirements.

It will be challenging for students to write a compelling essay if they do not comprehend this section.

2. Proper Transitioning

There should be smooth progressions between the paper’s introduction, main body, and conclusion.

In an essay, transitions serve as the cement between paragraphs. Without a consistent line of reasoning, the reader will become confused, and the essay will fall apart.

A good transition should summarize the prior section’s ideas and set the stage for the new ideas in the subsequent section.

4. Provide Proof to Back Your Thesis

Your proof can be factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal. The information obtained to support your thesis statement in an argumentative essay must be current, accurate, and comprehensive.

The thesis statement needs to be backed up by evidence, be it factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal. However, students should think about more than one perspective when gathering evidence.

An effective and well-rounded argumentative essay will also cover the thesis’s counterarguments.

Dismissing data that might disprove a thesis is immoral. It isn’t the student’s responsibility to demonstrate why opposing viewpoints are incorrect. However, they should explain why contrary viewpoints may lack updated information.

3. Provide Evidence-Based Paragraphs

Start by discussing a broad notion in each paragraph. This will help the essay stay focused and organized throughout. In addition, the clarity that results from brevity will be appreciated by the reader.

Each paragraph of the essay’s body should flow from and support the thesis statement introduced in the essay’s introduction.

Your thesis statement should be backed up by research in some paragraphs, which should be appropriately labeled. It should also detail why and how the evidence backs up the premise.

Arguing an issue requires thinking and explaining the other side of the argument. Students writing debate essays should devote one or two paragraphs to addressing opposing viewpoints, depending on the length of the assignment.

Students do not need to demonstrate why the contrary ideas are incorrect. They should instead show how opinions that do not coincide with their thesis may be poorly informed or outdated.

5. Proper Conclusion

Give a summary that revisits the thesis in light of the evidence presented rather than merely restating it.

This is where some students may start to have trouble with the essay. This section of the essay will most strongly impact the reader’s thoughts. It needs to do its job and make sense.

Avoid introducing new material in the conclusion and focus on synthesizing what you’ve discussed in the essay’s main body.

Justify the topic’s relevance, recap its essential ideas, and restate your thesis. Depending on the paper’s length, you should discuss some follow-up research that makes sense in light of your findings.

Final Words

One must know how to structure a debate essay before writing it. It is vital to have proper transitions and essential points. Remember to be persuasive in your approach.

This means showing convincing arguments rather than arguing with the opposition. A well-structured debate essay needs to be able to shift the reader’s perspective and change it radically.

How to Structure a Debate Essay in 5 Easy Steps

Abir Ghenaiet

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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How to Write a Winning Debate Speech

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What is a Debate?

A classroom debate involves students delivering persuasive speeches to present and support their opinions on a given subject. This activity helps develop critical thinking and communication skills, enabling students to gain a more comprehensive grasp of various topics.

Debate speeches are written according to a set of rules so a moderator can assess their effectiveness and allow others to question or challenge their statements within a formal debate.

A classroom debate is not an unruly fight or pointless argument but a structured formal conversation on a chosen topic in which two teams argue for or against it to convince the neutral moderator that they hold the stronger position.

Debating is a form of persuasive communication, and while we will be sticking to the fundamentals of how to write a debating speech, we also have a great guide to persuasive essay writing that elaborates on specific persuasive techniques.

Complete Teaching Unit on Class Debating

debate speech,debating | class debating unit 1 | How to Write a Winning Debate Speech |

This unit will guide your students to write excellent DEBATE SPEECHES and craft well-researched, constructed ARGU MENTS ready for critique from their classmates.

Furthermore, this EDITABLE UNIT will provide the TOOLS and STRATEGIES for running highly engaging CLASSROOM DEBATES.

How To Run A Classroom Debate

Before jumping in headfirst to write your debating speech, ensure you understand how a debate is run to maximise your strategy and impact when it counts.

Debates occur in many different contexts, such as public meetings, election campaigns, legislative assemblies, and as entertainment on television shows. These contexts determine the specific structure the debate will follow.

This guide provides a basic step-by-step debate structure we can comfortably run with students in a classroom. By familiarizing students with this structure, they will effortlessly transition to other debate frameworks.

Running a classroom debate can be an engaging and educational activity that helps students develop critical thinking, communication, and research skills. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to organize and facilitate a successful classroom debate:

1. Choose a Topic For Your Debate.

Also called a resolution or a motion , the topic is sometimes chosen to debate. This is usually the case in a school activity to practice debating skills. 

The resolution or motion is usually centered around a true or false statement or a proposal to change the current situation. Often, the motion starts, ”This House believes that….”

Select a topic relevant to your curriculum and the students’ interests. Ensure that it is debatable and has multiple perspectives. Further down this article, you can find a list of popular classroom debating topics.

2. Form Two Debating Teams

Two teams of three speakers each are formed. These are referred to as ‘ The House for the Motion ’ or the ‘ Affirmative ’ team and ‘The House Against the Motion ’ or the ‘ Negative ’ team.

Preparation is an essential aspect of debating. The speech and debate team members will need time to research their arguments, collaborate, and organize themselves and their respective roles in the upcoming debate.

They’ll also need time to write and rehearse their speeches. The better prepared and coordinated they are as a team, the greater their chances of success in the debate.

3. Assign Roles to Students.

Each team member should have a specific role, such as speaker, researcher , or rebuttal specialist . This encourages teamwork and ensures that each student is actively involved.

4. Research and Preparation:

  • Allocate time for teams to research and prepare their arguments. Encourage students to use multiple sources, including books, articles, and reputable websites. Make sure you read our complete guide to powerful student research strategies.

5. Set Debate Format:

  • Define the debate format, including the structure of each round. Common formats include opening statements, cross-examination, rebuttals, and closing statements.

6. Establish Rules:

  • Set ground rules for the debate, such as time limits for each speaker, etiquette, guidelines for respectful communication, and consequences for rule violations.

7. Conduct a Practice Debate:

  • Before the actual debate, conduct a practice round. This helps students become familiar with the format and allows you to provide feedback on their arguments and presentation skills.
  • On the day of the debate, set up the classroom to accommodate the format. Ensure that each round has a clear structure, and designate a timekeeper to keep the debate on schedule.

9. Facilitate Q&A Sessions:

  • After each team presents their arguments, allow time for questions and cross-examination. This encourages critical thinking and engagement among the students.

10. Evaluate and Debrief:

  • After the debate, provide constructive feedback to each team. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their arguments, presentation skills, and teamwork. Also, please encourage students to reflect on what they learned from the experience.
  • Have a class discussion about the debate, exploring different perspectives and opinions. This can deepen students’ understanding of the topic and enhance their critical thinking skills.

Consider integrating the debate topic into future lessons or assignments. This reinforces the learning experience and allows students to delve deeper into the subject matter.

Remember to create a supportive and respectful environment throughout the debate, emphasizing the importance of listening to opposing views and engaging in constructive dialogue.

Each speaker takes a turn making their speech, alternating between the House for the Motion, who goes first, and the House Against the Motion. Each speaker speaks for a pre-agreed amount of time.

Ensure your debate is held in front of an audience (in this case, the class), and occasionally, the audience is given time to ask questions after all the speeches have been made.

Finally, the debate is judged either by moderators or by an audience vote. 

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Stay fousssed with this handy template to keep all your ideas organized.

How To Write A Debate

How to start a debate speech.

In highly competitive speech and debate tournaments, students are only provided the topic on the day, and limited time is allowed for preparation, but this is not recommended for beginners.

Regardless of the stakes of your classroom debate, the speechwriting process always begins with research. Thorough research will provide students with both the arguments and the supporting evidence for their position on a topic and generate forward-thinking about what their opponents might use against them.

Writing Your Introduction

The purpose of the introduction in a debate speech is to achieve several things:

  • Grab the attention of the audience,
  • Introduce the topic
  • Provide a thesis statement
  • Preview some of the main arguments.

Grab The Attention Of Your Audience With Strong Hooks

Securing the audience’s attention is crucial, and failure to do this will have a strong, negative impact on how the team’s efforts will be scored as a whole. Let’s explore three proven strategies to hook your audience and align their thinking to yours.

Introduce Your Topic With Efficiency and Effectiveness

Once the audience’s attention has been firmly grasped, it’s time to introduce the topic or the motion. This should be done straightforwardly and transparently to ensure the audience understands the topic of the debate and the position you are approaching it from.

For example, if the topic of the debate was school uniforms, the topic may be introduced with:

Provide Your Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is a concise declaration summarizing the points and arguments of your debating speech.

  • It presents a clear stance on a topic and guides the reader on what to expect in the content.
  • A good thesis statement is debatable and allows for opposing viewpoints and discussion.
  • It serves as a roadmap for the writer, ensuring coherence and focus in the piece.
  • It helps the audience understand the purpose and direction of the work from the beginning.

The thesis statement should express the student’s or the team’s position on the motion. Clearly explaining the speaker’s side of the debate. An example can be seen here.

Provide A Preview Of Your Arguments

The final part of the introduction section of a debate speech involves previewing the main points of the speech for the audience.

There is no need to go into detail with each argument here; that’s what the body of the speech is for. It is enough to provide a general thesis statement for each argument or ‘claims’ – (more on this to follow).

Previewing the arguments in a speech is especially important as the audience and judges only get one listen to a speech – unlike a text, which can be reread as frequently as the reader likes.

debate introduction examples for students

Attention grabbers task.

After explaining the different types of attention grabbers and the format for the rest of the introduction to your students, challenge them to write an example of each type of opening for a specific debate topic. 

When they’ve finished writing these speech openings, discuss with the students which one best fits their chosen topic. Then, they can continue by completing the rest of the introduction for their speech using the format described above.

You might like to try a simple topic like “Homework should be banned.” you can choose from our collection further in this article.

Writing T he Body of the Speech

The body paragraphs are the real meat of the speech. They contain the in-depth arguments that make up the substance of the debate, and How well these arguments are made will determine how the judges will assess each speaker’s performance, so it’s essential to get the structure of these arguments just right.

Let’s take a look at how to do that.

How to structure an Argument

With the introduction out of the way, it’s time for the student to get down to the nitty-gritty of the debate – that is, making compelling arguments to support their case.

There are three main aspects to an argument in a debate speech. They are:

  • The Warrant

Following this structure carefully enables our students to build coherent and robust arguments. Ttake a look at these elements in action in the example below.

Brainstorming Arguments

Present your students with a topic and, as a class, brainstorm some arguments for and against the motion.

Then, ask students to choose one argument and, using the Claim-Warrant-Impact format, take a few moments to write down a well-structured argument that’s up to debate standard.

Students can then present their arguments to the class. 

Or, you could also divide the class along pro/con lines and host a mini-debate!

Concluding a Debate Speech

The conclusion of a speech or a debate is the final chance for the speaker to convey their message to the audience. In a formal debate that has a set time limit, the conclusion is crucial as it demonstrates the speaker’s ability to cover all their material within the given time frame.

Avoid introducing new information and focus on reinforcing the strength of your position for a compelling and memorable conclusion.

A good conclusion should refer back to the introduction and restate the main position of the speaker, followed by a summary of the key arguments presented. Finally, the speaker should end the speech with a powerful image that will leave a lasting impression on the audience and judges.

debate speech,debating | classroom debating | How to Write a Winning Debate Speech |

Examples of strong debate Conclusions

The Burden of the Rejoinder

In formal debates, the burden of the rejoinder means that any time an opponent makes a point for their side, it’s incumbent upon the student/team to address that point directly.

Failing to do so will automatically be seen as accepting the truth of the point made by the opponent.

For example, if the opposing side argues that all grass is pink, despite how ridiculous that statement is, failing to refute that point directly means that, for the debate, all grass is pink.

Our students must understand the burden of the rejoinder and ensure that any points the opposing team makes are fully addressed during the debate.

The Devils Advocate

When preparing to write their speech, students should spend a significant proportion of their team collaborating as a team. 

One good way to practice the burden of the rejoinder concept is to use the concept of Devil’s Advocate, whereby one team member acts as a member of the opposing team, posing arguments from the other side for the speaker to counter, sharpening up their refutation skills in the process.

20 Great Debating Topics for Students

  • Should cell phones be allowed in schools?
  • Is climate change primarily caused by human activities?
  • Should the voting age be lowered to 16?
  • Is social media more harmful than beneficial to society?
  • Should genetically modified organisms (GMOs) be embraced or rejected?
  • Is the death penalty an effective crime deterrent?
  • Should schools implement mandatory drug testing for students?
  • Is animal testing necessary for scientific and medical advancements?
  • Should school uniforms be mandatory?
  • Is censorship justified in certain circumstances?
  • Should the use of performance-enhancing drugs be allowed in sports?
  • Is homeschooling more beneficial than traditional schooling?
  • Should the use of plastic bags be banned?
  • Is nuclear energy a viable solution to the world’s energy needs?
  • Should the government regulate the fast food industry?
  • Is social inequality a result of systemic factors or individual choices?
  • Should the consumption of meat be reduced for environmental reasons?
  • Is online learning more effective than traditional classroom learning?
  • Should the use of drones in warfare be banned?
  • Is the legalization of marijuana beneficial for society?

These topics cover a range of subjects and offer students the opportunity to engage in thought-provoking debates on relevant and impactful issues.


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Debating strategies for students.

Research and preparation are essential to ensure good performance in a debate. Students should spend as much time as possible drafting and redrafting their speeches to maximize their chances of winning. However, a debate is a dynamic activity, and victory cannot be assured by pre-writing alone.

Students must understand that the key to securing victory lies in also being able to think, write (often in the form of notes), and respond instantly amid the turmoil of the verbal battle. To do this, students must understand the following keys to victory.

When we think of winning a debate, we often think of blinding the enemy with the brilliance of our verbal eloquence. We think of impressing the audience and the judges alike with our outstanding oratory.

What we don’t often picture when we imagine what a debate winner looks like is a quiet figure sitting and listening intently. But being a good listener is one of our students’ most critical debating skills.

If students don’t listen to the other side, whether by researching opposing arguments or during the thrust of the actual debate, they won’t know the arguments the other side is making. Without this knowledge, they cannot effectively refute the opposition’s claims.

Read the Audience

In terms of the writing that happens before the debate takes place, this means knowing your audience. 

Students should learn that how they present their arguments may change according to the demographics of the audience and/or judges to whom they will be making their speech. 

An audience of retired school teachers and an audience of teen students may have very different responses to the same arguments.

This applies during the actual debate itself too. If the student making their speech reads resistance in the faces of the listeners, they should be prepared to adapt their approach accordingly in mid-speech.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The student must practice their speech before the debate. There’s no need to learn it entirely by heart. There isn’t usually an expectation to memorize a speech entirely, and doing so can lead to the speaker losing some of their spontaneity and power in their delivery. At the same time, students shouldn’t spend the whole speech bent over a sheet of paper reading word by word.

Ideally, students should familiarize themselves with the content and be prepared to deliver their speech using flashcards as prompts when necessary.

Another important element for students to focus on when practising their speech is making their body language, facial expressions, and hand gestures coherent with the verbal content of their speech. One excellent way to achieve this is for the student to practice delivering their speech in a mirror.

And Finally…

Debating is a lot of fun to teach and partake in, but it also offers students a valuable opportunity to pick up some powerful life skills.

It helps students develop a knack for distinguishing fact from opinion and an ability to assess whether a source is credible or not. It also helps to encourage them to think about the other side of the argument. 

Debating helps our students understand others, even when disagreeing with them. An important skill in these challenging times, without a doubt.

Debating Teaching Strategies

Clearly Define Debate Roles and Structure when running speech and debate events: Clearly define the roles of speakers, timekeepers, moderators, and audience members. Establish a structured format with specific time limits for speeches, rebuttals, and audience participation. This ensures a well-organized and engaging debate.

  • Provide Topic Selection and Preparation Time: Offer students a range of debate topics, allowing them to select a subject they are passionate about. Allocate ample time for research and preparation, encouraging students to gather evidence, develop strong arguments, and anticipate counterarguments.
  • Incorporate Scaffolded Debating Skills Practice: Before the actual debate, engage students in scaffolded activities that build their debating skills. This can include small group discussions, mock debates, or persuasive writing exercises. Provide feedback and guidance to help students refine their arguments and delivery.
  • Encourage Active Listening and Note-taking during speech and debate competitions: Emphasize the importance of active listening during the debate. Encourage students to take notes on key points, supporting evidence, and persuasive techniques used by speakers. This cultivates critical thinking skills and prepares them for thoughtful responses during rebuttals.
  • Facilitate Post-Debate Reflection and Discussion: After the debate, facilitate a reflection session where students can share their thoughts, lessons learned, and insights gained. Encourage them to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of their arguments and engage in constructive dialogue. This promotes metacognitive skills and encourages continuous improvement.

By following these tips, teachers can create a vibrant and educational debate experience for their students. Through structured preparation, active engagement, and reflective discussions, students develop valuable literacy and critical thinking skills that extend beyond the boundaries of the debate itself.


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How To Write A Debate: 9 Steps

  • Post author: Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka ACMC
  • Post published: May 28, 2022
  • Post category: Scholarly Articles

How To Write A Debate: A debate is a serious conversation on a topic done at a public gathering or legislative assembly when opposing viewpoints are given and the discussion is usually ended with a vote. A debate is a formalized discussion.

Two opposed sides alternate speaking in support and opposition to a specific point of dispute, which is frequently based on a topic. Unlike arguments with family or friends, each participant is given a set amount of time to speak, and interjections are strictly monitored. “ Affirmative ” speakers are those who agree with the subject, while “ opposition ” speakers are those who disagree.

Debate Writing Sample PDF

Almost everyone has had to write an argument at some time in their lives, whether for an English lesson, as part of a group, or simply for fun. However, just because the majority of people have done it previously does not mean it is simple. There are a plethora of things to think about: should you start by appealing to your audience’s emotions or go right to the point with cold hard facts? In your discussion, how many arguments should you include? Is it necessary to include a conclusion?

This article demonstrates how to easily organize and compose a debate to help you limit and reduce ambiguity.

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Table of Contents

Debate Writing Essentials

A debate must have a proposition, a topic, or a problem, and speakers must talk for or against it. As a result, each point should be carefully picked, taking into account both the benefits and cons of the topic at hand.

To make the ideas clear in one’s mind, an outline of the essential issues should be created in the order in which one would argue. Because a speaker’s time is frequently limited, the points should be concise and instructive. Every issue/subject has its own vocabulary, which must be carefully selected in order to prevent unwanted pauses in the argument due to a lack of words to communicate views on the spot.

The speaker addresses the chair makes an argument, ‘ appeals ‘ for empathetic comprehension and support, attacks the opponent’s position, and asserts the argument.

Writing a winning Debate Speech

Also see: How to speak in Public without fear or anxiety

What Are The Various Types Of Debate?

1. Cross-Examination Debate: This is a contemporary form of college debate in which two people compete against one other. These debates are meant to be values-based and to concentrate on the most important aspects of a contentious subject. While precise approaches differ, Cross-Examination Debate favors extensive use of evidence and an emphasis on the topic rather than delivery.

2. Lincoln-Douglas Debate: It is a one-on-one argument in which logic, ethical ideals, and philosophy are heavily emphasized. The Lincoln-Douglas Debate is a sort of high school debate in the United States. It is also known as LD Debate or just LD, and it is used in tournaments such as the National Forensic League.

Five speeches and two rounds of cross-examination make up an L-D debate session. The Lincoln-Douglas Debates, which took place between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas in 1858, are commemorated by the initials LD. Their arguments revolved around slavery, its morality, ideals, and logic.

Also see: Differences Between Interpersonal and intrapersonal communication

3. Academic Debate: Academic debate is an excellent way to strengthen your academic skills while also learning about new topics. Many different speeches, such as Lincoln Douglas’, might be utilized as a template.

Debate competition teaches students how to defend their point of view in front of others. Also, work on your writing and thinking skills.

4. Parliamentary Debate: In most regions of the world, these are the most prevalent types of debates. The practice differs from country to country. Although it is called a Parliamentary debate, it is not a debate held in a government legislature. These are called after the discussions that take place in the British parliament.

5. Spontaneous Debate: These debates, also known as SPAR, are frequently held in college and university classrooms. In these debates, two debaters pick a topic at random. Before engaging in a brief discussion on the topic, the debaters spend a few minutes preparing what they will say. These disputes are more concerned with presentation and style than with topic because they do not need much study.

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6. NDT Debate: NDT stands for National Debate Tournament. Tournament debate is one of the oldest and most popular types of debate at the collegiate level. The emphasis in this type of debate is on providing vast volumes of data as rapidly and as logically as possible.

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9 Steps to Write An Excellent Debate

1. A Strong Start: A great opening statement is the foundation of any excellent dissension. When dealing with something emotionally charged, such as debate themes, starting with an emotionally charged introduction is the best way to go.

How to write a debate outline

For example, if you were advocating for your nation to accept more migrants, an opening phrase maybe, “Have you ever imagined how it might feel to be forced to leave your home? To be so afraid of violence or other forms of persecution that you and your family must flee your home and migrate to a new country?”

It’s equally as effective to start your dissension with a compelling statistic. If your topic isn’t overly emotive, using a shocking or alarming statistic as your first line might nevertheless convey emotion. You should try to get your audience and judge to sit up taller in their seats.

2. Describing The Topic: Following your beginning, you must make the topic you’re discussing very obvious to your audience. Declare your issue as well as your team’s viewpoint on it. Make sure your topic’s keywords are defined. This doesn’t have to be an exact dictionary definition; alternatively, it might be your understanding of the word in the context of the discussion or scenario.

How to write a debate outline

While this may appear tedious, it is necessary to ensure that you and your opponent are on the same page. Debating someone who has a different interpretation of the issue than you is extremely difficult. If you’re not the first speaker in the discussion, you should use this time to either agree with or disagree with your opponent’s description.

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3. Titling or Signposting: Signposting may appear to be inconvenient and unneeded. It can even appear to impede the flow of your otherwise smooth and lyrical speech if you’re a word fanatic. However, it is very essential in the framework of a good discussion.

You may believe you’ve written the greatest and most straightforward debate in the world, but the audience isn’t you. They aren’t as knowledgeable about the subject as you are, and they aren’t nearly as committed to the discussion as you are. During the introduction, they may zone out for a few seconds before becoming fully disoriented. This is why signposting is so essential; it’s a quick and easy approach to remind your audience what you’re talking about and where you’re at in your speech.

Add a few phrases at the conclusion of your introduction to notify the listener how many points you’ll be making and in what sequence you’ll be delivering them.

You might state at the outset of each argument to remind the audience of what you’re talking about. While this may appear simple and as if you anticipate the audience to fall asleep on you, it is actually quite important and makes your discussion simpler to follow.

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4. Rebuttal: Sometimes the best attack is a solid defense, as the saying goes. If you’ve ever watched a professional debate, you’ll know that the most exciting portion is generally when one side takes one of the opposing side’s arguments and rips it apart.

While entertaining to watch, it is also the hardest aspect of any discussion to master. Rebutting arguments requires you to think on your feet. You have just thirty seconds to deliver a compelling counter-argument to one that your opponent has undoubtedly spent hours studying and polishing. Fortunately, there are several tactics you may do while rebutting to make the task seem less intimidating.

5. Make Pre-research: If you’ve decided on a discussion topic before the debate, time is your most valuable commodity. Use it. Put yourself in your opponent’s position after you’ve created your own arguments and try to predict what arguments they’ll employ.

How to Write a Debate Speech

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6. Identify The Point: If your opponent is arguing for a change, there is one essential topic you may focus on while rebutting them. If your opponent is calling for a complex shift in government policy or social philosophy but has failed to articulate the benefits of the proposed change, here is your chance to strike.

Bringing up economic issues is extremely beneficial since it can be applied to almost any argument topic. Any discussion on social justice, a topical issue, a government policy, or something utterly out of the ordinary will have an economic component.

7. Make Your Own Claims: A simple but powerful technique to create a defense against your own case is to twist your own reasoning to refute an opponent’s claim. Of course, going too far and reciting your entire planned argument is a terrible error. However, you may break down the body of your speech into different parts to counter your opponent.

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8. The Body: Writing a body paragraph for an essay is essentially identical to writing an argument for a debate. Each argument should begin with signposting, followed by a one-sentence explanation of your case.

How to Write a Debate Essay

After that, you should expand on your point a little, provide some facts and statistics to back up your claims, and then neatly link back to the debate’s topic so the audience understands that you’re not just delivering a passionate rant, but rather a carefully calculated point that ties in with a general thesis statement.

In most debates, having three arguments is the best strategy to keep your speech running long enough. If you have a clearly weaker argument, attempt to wedge it between two stronger ones.

9. Collecting Proof: If your issue necessitates the use of statistics and specialists at every step, you must ensure that you are doing everything appropriately.

When you use the appropriate evidence in your dispute, you become more credible, but when you use the wrong sort of information from the wrong sources, you leave yourself up to criticism from the adversary.

The first step in locating appropriate evidence to quote is to examine the source. Second, ensure sure the information or figure is current. Your proof is the foundation of your argument; if it isn’t solid enough, everything will fall apart.

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It brings together the arguments you’ve made in the body of your essay and delivers a message that should leave the reader feeling informed. Writing an argument ending is one of the most significant, as well as one of the most fundamental, aspects of your speech.

Now it’s just a matter of expressing yourself. If you’re the last person to speak in a group discussion, make sure your conclusion addresses the most severe issues expressed by your peers.

Writing a debate might be difficult or tedious, but it can also be gratifying since it expands your understanding, fosters critical thinking, and sharpens your persuasive skills. However, in order to be effective, you must know how to write for a discussion. The preceding instructions will assist you in comprehending the debate speech writing process. A good debate involves a combination of subject knowledge, reasoning ability, and the ability to articulate the proper attitude.

essay or debate

Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka, ACMC, is a lawyer and a certified mediator/conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a developer with knowledge in various programming languages. Samuel is determined to leverage his skills in technology, SEO, and legal practice to revolutionize the legal profession worldwide by creating web and mobile applications that simplify legal research. Sam is also passionate about educating and providing valuable information to people.


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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 55 great debate topics for any project.

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General Education


A debate is a formal discussion about a topic where two sides present opposing viewpoints. Debates follow a specific structure: each side is given time to speak either for or against the topic at hand.

Many students study debate in high school to improve their speaking skills. As a debater, you learn how to clearly structure and present an argument. The skills you develop as a debater will help you on everything from a college admissions interview to a job presentation.

Selecting debate topics is one of the most important parts of debating. In this article, we’ll explain how to select a good debate topic and give suggestions for debate topics you can use.

How to Select Good Debate Topics

A good debate topic is one that lets the participants and the audience learn about both sides of an issue. Consider the following factors when selecting a debate topic:

Interest: Are you interested in the topic? Would the topic be interesting to your fellow classmates, as well as to the audience listening to the debate? Selecting a topic that you’re interested in makes the preparation part of the debate more exciting , as well as the debate more lively.

Argument Potential: You want to choose a debate topic that has solid argument potential. If one side is clearly right, or if there isn’t a lot of available information, you’ll have a hard time crafting a solid debate.

Availability of Data: Data points make an argument more robust. You’ll want to select a topic with lots of empirical data that you can pull from to bolster your argument.

Now that we know how to select a debate topic, let’s look at a list of good debate topics.

Debate Topics Master List

If you’re searching for your next debate topic, here are some suggestions.

Social and Political Issues Debate Topics

  • All people should have the right to own guns.
  • The death penalty should be abolished.
  • Human cloning should be legalized.
  • All drugs should be legalized.
  • Animal testing should be banned.
  • Juveniles should be tried and treated as adults.
  • Climate change is the greatest threat facing humanity today.
  • Violent video games should be banned.
  • The minimum wage should be $15 per hour.
  • All people should have Universal Basic Income.
  • Sex work should be legal.
  • Countries should be isolationist.
  • Abortion should be banned.
  • Every citizen should be mandated to perform national public service.
  • Bottled water should be banned.
  • Plastic bags should be banned.

Education Debate Topics

  • Homework should be banned.
  • Public prayer should not be allowed in schools.
  • Schools should block sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram on their computers.
  • School uniforms should be required.
  • Standardized testing should be abolished.
  • All students should have an after-school job or internship.
  • School should be in session year-round.
  • All high school athletes should be drug tested.
  • Detention should be abolished.
  • All student loan debt should be eliminated.
  • Homeschooling is better than traditional schooling.
  • All schools should have armed security guards.
  • Religion should be taught in schools.
  • All schools should be private schools.
  • All students should go to boarding schools.
  • Sexual education should be mandatory in schools.
  • Public college should be tuition free.
  • All teachers should get tenure.
  • All school districts should offer school vouchers.


Health Debate Topics

  • Healthcare should be universal.
  • Cosmetic procedures should be covered by health insurance.
  • All people should be vegetarians.
  • Euthanasia should be banned.
  • The drinking age should be 18.
  • Vaping should be banned.
  • Smoking should be banned in all public places.
  • People should be legally required to get vaccines.
  • Obesity should be labeled a disease.
  • Sexual orientation is determined at birth.
  • The sale of human organs should be legalized.
  • Birth control should be for sale over the counter.

Technology Debate Topics

  • Social media has improved human communication.
  • The development of artificial intelligence will help humanity.
  • Individuals should own their own DNA.
  • Humans should invest in technology to explore and colonize other planets.
  • Governments should invest in alternative energy sources.
  • Net neutrality should be restored.
  • Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies should be encouraged or banned.
  • Alternative energy can effectively replace fossil fuels.
  • Cell phone radiation is dangerous and should be limited.

How to Prepare for a Debate

Once you’ve selected your debate topic, the next step is to prepare for your debate. Follow these steps as you get ready to take the podium.

Read Your Evidence

The most important step to building your debate confidence is to familiarize yourself with the evidence available. You’ll want to select reputable sources and use empirical data effectively.

The more well read on your topic you are, the better you’ll be able to defend your position and anticipate the other side’s arguments.

Anticipate the Other Side’s Arguments

As part of your debate, you’ll need to rebut the other side’s arguments. It’s important to prepare ahead of time to guess what they’ll be talking about. You’ll bolster your own side’s argument if you’re able to effectively dismantle what the other side is saying.

Plan to Fill Your Speech Time

Each speaker at a debate is limited to a certain amount of time. You should plan to use every second of the time that you’re allotted. Make sure you practice your talking points so that you know you’re within the time frame. If you’re short, add in more evidence.

Practice to Build Confidence

It can be scary to take the stage for a debate! Practicing ahead of time will help you build confidence. Remember to speak slowly and clearly. Even if your argument is great, it won’t matter if no one can understand it.

Final Thoughts

Debate is a great way to hone your public speaking skills and get practice crafting and defending an argument. Use these debate topics if you're searching for a focus for your next debate.

What's Next?

Looking for ways to keep the debate going in non-academic life? Then you'll love our list of 101 "this or that" questions to argue over with your friends.

Thinking about how you can use your argumentative skills in a future career? Read up on the five steps to becoming a lawyer to see if that's a path you want to pursue.

Getting ready to take an AP test? Here’s a list of practice tests for every AP exam, including the AP literature exam .

It can be hard to schedule time to study for an AP test on top of your extracurriculars and normal classwork. Check out this article on when you need to start studying for your AP tests to make sure you’re staying on track.

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Hayley Milliman is a former teacher turned writer who blogs about education, history, and technology. When she was a teacher, Hayley's students regularly scored in the 99th percentile thanks to her passion for making topics digestible and accessible. In addition to her work for PrepScholar, Hayley is the author of Museum Hack's Guide to History's Fiercest Females.

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50 Argumentative Essay Topics

Illustration by Catherine Song. ThoughtCo. 

  • M.Ed., Education Administration, University of Georgia
  • B.A., History, Armstrong State University

An argumentative essay requires you to decide on a topic and argue for or against it. You'll need to back up your viewpoint with well-researched facts and information as well. One of the hardest parts is deciding which topic to write about, but there are plenty of ideas available to get you started. Then you need to take a position, do some research, and present your viewpoint convincingly.

Choosing a Great Argumentative Essay Topic

Students often find that most of their work on these essays is done before they even start writing. This means that it's best if you have a general interest in your subject. Otherwise, you might get bored or frustrated while trying to gather information. You don't need to know everything, though; part of what makes this experience rewarding is learning something new.

It's best if you have a general interest in your subject, but the argument you choose doesn't have to be one that you agree with.

The subject you choose may not necessarily be one you are in full agreement with, either. You may even be asked to write a paper from the opposing point of view. Researching a different viewpoint helps students broaden their perspectives. 

Ideas for Argument Essays

Sometimes, the best ideas are sparked by looking at many different options. Explore this list of possible topics and see if a few pique your interest. Write those down as you come across them, then think about each for a few minutes.

Which would you enjoy researching? Do you have a firm position on a particular subject? Is there a point you would like to make sure you get across? Did the topic give you something new to think about? Can you see why someone else may feel differently?

List of 50 Possible Argumentative Essay Topics

A number of these topics are rather controversial—that's the point. In an argumentative essay , opinions matter, and controversy is based on opinions. Just make sure your opinions are backed up by facts in the essay.   If these topics are a little too controversial or you don't find the right one for you, try browsing through persuasive essay and speech topics  as well.

  • Is global climate change  caused by humans?
  • Is the death penalty effective?
  • Is the U.S. election process fair?
  • Is torture ever acceptable?
  • Should men get paternity leave from work?
  • Are school uniforms beneficial?
  • Does the U.S. have a fair tax system?
  • Do curfews keep teens out of trouble?
  • Is cheating out of control?
  • Are we too dependent on computers?
  • Should animals be used for research?
  • Should cigarette smoking be banned?
  • Are cell phones dangerous?
  • Are law enforcement cameras an invasion of privacy?
  • Do we have a throwaway society ?
  • Is child behavior better or worse than it was years ago?
  • Should companies market to children?
  • Should the government have a say in our diets?
  • Does access to condoms prevent teen pregnancy?
  • Should members of Congress have term limits?
  • Are actors and professional athletes paid too much?
  • Are CEOs paid too much?
  • Should athletes be held to high moral standards?
  • Do violent video games cause behavior problems?
  • Should creationism be taught in public schools?
  • Are beauty pageants exploitative ?
  • Should English be the official language of the United States?
  • Should the racing industry be forced to use biofuels?
  • Should the alcohol-drinking age be increased or decreased?
  • Should everyone be required to recycle?
  • Is it okay for prisoners to vote (as they are in some states)?
  • Should same-sex marriage be legalized in more countries?
  • Are there benefits to attending a single-sex school ?
  • Does boredom lead to trouble?
  • Should schools be in session year-round ?
  • Does religion cause war?
  • Should the government provide health care?
  • Should abortion be illegal?
  • Should more companies expand their reproductive health benefits for employees?
  • Is homework harmful or helpful?
  • Is the cost of college too high?
  • Is college admission too competitive?
  • Should euthanasia be illegal?
  • Should the federal government legalize marijuana use nationally ?
  • Should rich people be required to pay more taxes?
  • Should schools require foreign language or physical education?
  • Is affirmative action fair?
  • Is public prayer okay in schools?
  • Are schools and teachers responsible for low test scores?
  • Is greater gun control a good idea?

How to Craft a Persuasive Argument

After you've decided on your essay topic, gather evidence to make your argument as strong as possible. Your research could even help shape the position your essay ultimately takes. As you craft your essay, remember to utilize persuasive writing techniques , such as invoking emotional language or citing facts from authoritative figures. 

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How to Write a Debate Outline

Last Updated: April 12, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by wikiHow Staff . Our trained team of editors and researchers validate articles for accuracy and comprehensiveness. wikiHow's Content Management Team carefully monitors the work from our editorial staff to ensure that each article is backed by trusted research and meets our high quality standards. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 226,696 times. Learn more...

Debates are a common assignment in high school and college classes where 2 individuals or teams present opposing arguments about a particular issue or question. Although you may feel like you debate people all the time, writing a debate outline requires a bit more research and organization than simply arguing with someone. Fortunately, once you know how to effectively categorize and present the evidence for your argument, writing a debate outline is a relatively straightforward process.

Researching for Your Debate

Step 1 Identify the form of debate your outline is for.

  • Team debates are one of the most common debate forms. In the first half of the debate, each team has two segments to present arguments for their side. In the second half of the debate, each team has two segments to rebut arguments presented in the first half.
  • Lincoln-Douglas debates are set up to allow one side to present their arguments, and then the other team to cross-examine them. The second team then presents their arguments and has the first team cross-examine them. Finally, each team has an opportunity for a final rebuttal.

Step 2 Research the debate question and decide which side to take.

  • For example, if the topic of the debate is on the environmental impact of gas cars versus electric cars, gather research from academic journals and consumer watchdogs on carbon emissions, what impact carbon has on environmental degradation, and statements from experts on the topic, such as environmental scientists and car manufacturers.
  • If you're writing the debate outline for an assignment and can't pick your own side, focus on gathering as much evidence as possible to strengthen the argument you're tasked with making.
  • Whatever argument you ultimately make, make sure that it is logically sound and that you have convincing, relevant evidence that supports it.
  • Be sure to note all bibliographical information on your notes.
  • For every supporting piece of evidence you find for your case, try to find another piece of evidence to counter it. This will help you build your argument later.
  • It is better to include more points than you think you will need, than not doing enough research and lacking evidence.

Step 3 Categorize all the evidence you come across in your research.

  • For instance, if your most compelling piece of evidence is a graph that shows that gas cars emit twice as much carbon as electric cars, place this at the top of your evidence list.
  • If you have a fairly lengthy debate planned, break up your case evidence into categorical sections. For example, you could have legal, moral, and economic support for your case.
  • Aim to have a minimum of 3 supporting facts or pieces of evidence in your case outline.

Creating the Basic Outline

Step 1 Follow outlining principles...

  • Subdivide information. Main headings will probably consist of arguments, while subheadings will contain different pieces of supporting evidence.
  • Use correct symbols. Each level of the outline has a particular symbol to use. The main headings will use Roman numerals (I, II, III, IV). Subheadings use capital letters (A, B, C). Sub-sub headings use Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3). Keep these consistent throughout your outline.
  • Indent each level. Indentation helps you follow the line of argument and keeps your outline organized.

Step 2 Start by outlining your introduction.

  • Your thesis statement should explain which side of the debate you'll be taking and why your case is stronger than your opponent's.
  • For example, if you're debating whether gas cars or electric cars are cleaner, your thesis statement might be: “Electric cars are cleaner than gas cars.”

Step 3 Write out your first main point in the form of a thesis statement.

  • For example, if you're arguing that electric cars are cleaner than gas cars because they produce less carbon dioxide, your first main point would be: “Electric cars produce less carbon dioxide emissions than gas cars.”

Step 4 State the relevant evidence and significance for this main point.

  • For example, the evidence that electric cars produce less carbon dioxide emissions than gas cars might include statistical information compiled by the Energy Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Step 5 Repeat this process for each additional part of your argument.

  • For example, if you're pretty confident that your opponent will argue that your evidence relies on biased sources, you can prepare a rebuttal to that claim by finding additional evidence to support your argument from a variety of sources.
  • Look to find rebuttals for both the individual parts of their argument in addition to the whole of it. This will fortify your position in the debate.
  • Many times their argument will be the opposite of yours, so while your argument lists the pros, theirs is listing the cons of a particular value. If you pay attention to this, you will be able to not only prove their side of the argument invalid, but also help to further promote your own.

Step 7 Add detail to your outline.

  • Write this more detailed outline as if you were actually speaking in the debate. This will help you to better understand your own argument and come up with logical questions and rebuttals for your opponent.

Avoiding Logical Fallacies

Step 1 Steer clear of using a straw man argument.

  • For example, if you're promoting the abolition of the death penalty, your opponent might commit the straw man by accusing you of lacking sympathy for the families of victims, and that you don't want true criminals to pay for their crimes.

Step 2 Refrain from making assumptions to dodge the slippery slope fallacy.

  • For example, if you're arguing for legalizing gay marriage and your opponent says that it is a bad idea, because soon enough we will be legalizing polygamy and bestial relationships in all the states.

Step 3 Avoid the ad hominem fallacy by not attacking your opponent.

  • For example, if you've presented a well-crafted argument for your case but your opponent has not, they may instead try to call out your bad grades as a rebuttal. Even if this is true, it isn't relevant to the topic of the debate and therefore isn't logically valid.
  • Even if your opponent brings personal issues and insults into a debate, you should never do this back to them. Not only is it logically fallacious; it's also widely considered rude.

Step 4 Stick to using specific language to avoid the ambiguity fallacy.

  • For example, if you were to claim that electric cars are “always” cleaner than gas cars, your opponent might point out that a gas car in a carwash is cleaner than an electric car covered in mud. To avoid this fallacy, steer clear of ambiguous words like “always.”

Step 5 Stay away from the bandwagon fallacy.

  • For example, it would be logically fallacious to argue that the death penalty is the most effective form of punishment just because most people support it.

Step 6 Be careful of using the false dilemma fallacy.

  • For example, your opponent states that as a result, the only two options are to legalize all drugs or to outlaw them.

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wikiHow Staff

To write a debate outline, start by writing down your primary argument or the case you are trying to prove. Under your argument, list the supporting evidence so that the most powerful and persuasive evidence is presented first. Then, list potential questions or arguments that may be brought up by the other side, along with different ways to counter them. Finally, organize your outline using headings, subheadings, and bulleted lists, and write out each section in complete, detailed sentences. For more advice, including how to avoid logical fallacies that can hurt or weaken your argument, keep reading. Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Debate Writing

Debate Examples

Caleb S.

20+ Thought Provoking Debate Examples: Including Tips

Published on: Feb 13, 2022

Last updated on: Jan 31, 2024

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Many people struggle to find engaging and informative debate examples to enhance their understanding of various topics. Plus to improve their argumentation skills.

However, it can be challenging to find compelling examples that truly ignite intellectual discourse.

But worry no more! 

In this blog, we have curated over 20 captivating debate examples that will fuel your intellectual curiosity and stimulate meaningful conversations.

Whether you're a student, debater, or simply someone interested in the art of persuasion, this blog is for you.

Let’s get started!

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Debate Examples for Students

A detailed example is necessary to understand the proper format and structure for your debate. Likewise, written debate examples assist students in writing their own debates!

A perfect debate is an art that requires patience and dedication. These examples will help you master the skill.

Debate Examples for Primary School

Have a look at the examples for primary school to understand how debate questions are written. It allows you to see that even complex topics can be broken down in an easy-to-follow manner. 

Also, it will help you better grasp debate question writing and comprehension skills!

Debate Examples Ks2

Debate Examples Sentence

Debate Examples for Middle School

Check out these debate examples for middle school to get a better idea of the format.

Debate Examples for Class 8

Political Debate Examples

Debate Examples for High School

The following are good examples of debate for high school students. They can help you understand better and maybe even start a fiery political discussion with your friends!

Debate Examples for Class 11

Debate Examples for Class 12

Value Debate Example

Value debate is an argument that examines the values that drive decision-making. It usually pits debaters against each other to justify why their position should take precedence over others.

Take a look at the following example to know how to do it.

Value Debate Examples

Informal Debate Example

The goal of an informal debate is not to back up claims with evidence but instead assert or highlight something. For example:

A claim like ‘ I did the dishes last night ’ does not need any sort of logical reasoning.

This could be an argument to convince your siblings that they should do the dishes next time. 

Informal debates are more enjoyable than formal ones because they don't require the burden of proof. Instead, informal discussions aim to assert or point out something with little evidence.

It encourages people who aren’t convinced by what you say until then; maybe your tone makes them change their minds.

Individuals with different opinions use them to start the conversation. These debates may end up in confrontation or disagreement depending on how well-argued your position is compared with others.

Informal Debate Examples

Nature Debate Example

The nature debate is a philosophical argument about the origins and development of human behavior. It says that the physical features of your face are determined biologically.

It examines how environmental factors influence who we are. Among the factors that can be influenced are:

  • How we are brought up
  • Surrounding culture
  • Childhood memories
  • Social relations

The following are examples of a nature debate to help you understand the concept.

Nature Debate Examples

Nurture Debate Examples pdf

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Nature vs. Nurture Debate

The nature vs. nurture debate is a long-standing and complex discussion. It explores the relative contributions of genetics (nature) and environment (nurture) in shaping human traits, behaviors, and development. 

This debate has captivated researchers, psychologists, and philosophers for centuries. Refer to this example provided below for inspiration on how to write an outstanding nature vs. nurture debate.

Nature vs. Nurture Debate Examples

Rebuttal in Debate

A rebuttal is an attempt to refute, argue against, or deny while writing a debate. It mainly does so by introducing other evidence and reasoning to weaken opposing arguments.

To refute an argument, you need a clear idea of your side. A good starting point is to brainstorm ideas and come up with points that can change opposing side beliefs.

With the help of a given rebuttal example, you can get a clear idea.

Rebuttal In Debate Examples

Debate Examples Script

Given below are some more interesting debate examples. 

Criterion debate examples

Balloon debate example

How to Start a Debate 

Simply introduce yourself and your topic. Moreover, a captivating intro will make the listener pay attention and stay engaged for as long as possible.

The following characteristics must be present in an interesting debate introduction.

  • Your stance on the subject, whether pro or con
  • Tell an engaging story about the topic.
  • Make use of a rhetorical question or a strong quote.
  • Recognize the judges, audience members, and your counterpart.

This will surely create a sense of curiosity in the audience by making them want to know more.

Do you want to sound convincing? Check out this amazing opening statement debate example!

How to Start a Debate - Examples

How to End a Debate

The conclusion of a debate must contain the following elements in order not only to wrap up all arguments but also provide context for future discussions.

  • Reiterate the most critical points.
  • Close your concerns naturally.
  • Give your judges something to think about after your debate.
  • Make your final remarks about your case.
  • Add a quotation to conclude the final argument.

Tough Essay Due? Hire Tough Writers!

For more information, check out this video below.

Winning Strategies: Tips to Take Your Debating Skills to the Next Level

Mastering the art of debate requires more than just knowledge of the topic at hand. To truly take your debating skills to the next level, consider incorporating these winning strategies:

  • Research, research, research

Thoroughly educate yourself on the topic you'll be debating. Gather reliable sources, study different perspectives, and familiarize yourself with key arguments and counterarguments.

  • Construct A Strong Case

Develop a clear and logical structure for your arguments. Start with a compelling introduction, followed by well-reasoned points supported by evidence and examples. Anticipate potential rebuttals and prepare counterarguments.

  • Listen Actively

Engage in active listening during the debate. Pay attention to your opponent's arguments and be prepared to respond effectively. Take notes to organize your thoughts and identify areas where you can challenge their points.

  • Use Persuasive Language

Choose your words carefully to convey your ideas convincingly. Utilize rhetorical devices, such as analogies or powerful statistics, to strengthen your arguments and make them more memorable.

  • Maintain Composure

Stay calm and composed throughout the debate, even when faced with opposing views or aggressive questioning. Maintain a respectful tone and avoid personal attacks. Focus on the merits of the arguments rather than the individuals presenting them.

  • Rebut with Precision

When countering your opponent's arguments, address their main points directly. Clearly articulate why their reasoning is flawed or unsupported. Use evidence and logical reasoning to dismantle their claims.

Remember, debate is not only about winning but also about learning and gaining a deeper understanding of complex issues. 

In conclusion, debate can be an incredibly enriching and fulfilling experience. But with these debate examples and winning strategies, you will be equipped to engage in meaningful discussions and make your voice heard.

If you're looking to take your academic journey to the next level, be sure to check out our AI essay generator . is the best essay writing service available for students. Our team of experts is committed to helping you achieve your academic and professional goals, offering expert guidance on essay writing, college applications, and more. 

Take the first step towards academic excellence and hire our writing service now!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you write a debate example.

Here are seven steps to writing a debate:

  • Intriguing introduction 
  • Pre-speech note to draw the listener’s attention
  • A formal address to the audience 
  • The topic's development 
  • Negative consequences 
  • Conclusion 
  • A formal thank you to the audience 

How do you start a debate speech?

Below are some steps that will help you start a debate speech.

  • Start with a greeting
  • Tell an amazing story
  • Write facts
  • Share your opinion
  • State a problem

Caleb S. (Literature, Marketing)

Caleb S. has extensive experience in writing and holds a Masters from Oxford University. He takes great satisfaction in helping students exceed their academic goals. Caleb always puts the needs of his clients first and is dedicated to providing quality service.

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David Wallace-Wells

Are smartphones driving our teens to depression.

A person with glasses looks into a smartphone and sees his own reflection.

By David Wallace-Wells

Opinion Writer

Here is a story. In 2007, Apple released the iPhone, initiating the smartphone revolution that would quickly transform the world. In 2010, it added a front-facing camera, helping shift the social-media landscape toward images, especially selfies. Partly as a result, in the five years that followed, the nature of childhood and especially adolescence was fundamentally changed — a “great rewiring,” in the words of the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt — such that between 2010 and 2015 mental health and well-being plummeted and suffering and despair exploded, particularly among teenage girls.

For young women, rates of hospitalization for nonfatal self-harm in the United States, which had bottomed out in 2009, started to rise again, according to data reported to the C.D.C., taking a leap beginning in 2012 and another beginning in 2016, and producing , over about a decade, an alarming 48 percent increase in such emergency room visits among American girls ages 15 to 19 and a shocking 188 percent increase among girls ages 10 to14.

Here is another story. In 2011, as part of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a new set of guidelines that recommended that teenage girls should be screened annually for depression by their primary care physicians and that same year required that insurance providers cover such screenings in full. In 2015, H.H.S. finally mandated a coding change, proposed by the World Health Organization almost two decades before, that required hospitals to record whether an injury was self-inflicted or accidental — and which seemingly overnight nearly doubled rates for self-harm across all demographic groups. Soon thereafter, the coding of suicidal ideation was also updated. The effect of these bureaucratic changes on hospitalization data presumably varied from place to place. But in one place where it has been studied systematically, New Jersey, where 90 percent of children had health coverage even before the A.C.A., researchers have found that the changes explain nearly all of the state’s apparent upward trend in suicide-related hospital visits, turning what were “essentially flat” trendlines into something that looked like a youth mental health “crisis.”

Could both of these stories be partially true? Of course: Emotional distress among teenagers may be genuinely growing while simultaneous bureaucratic and cultural changes — more focus on mental health, destigmatization, growing comfort with therapy and medication — exaggerate the underlying trends. (This is what Adriana Corredor-Waldron, a co-author of the New Jersey study, believes — that suicidal behavior is distressingly high among teenagers in the United States and that many of our conventional measures are not very reliable to assess changes in suicidal behavior over time.) But over the past several years, Americans worrying over the well-being of teenagers have heard much less about that second story, which emphasizes changes in the broader culture of mental illness, screening guidelines and treatment, than the first one, which suggests smartphones and social-media use explain a whole raft of concerns about the well-being of the country’s youth.

When the smartphone thesis first came to prominence more than six years ago, advanced by Haidt’s sometime collaborator Jean Twenge, there was a fair amount of skepticism from scientists and social scientists and other commentators: Were teenagers really suffering that much? they asked. How much in this messy world could you pin on one piece of technology anyway? But some things have changed since then, including the conventional liberal perspective on the virtues of Big Tech, and, in the past few years, as more data has rolled in and more red flags have been raised about American teenagers — about the culture of college campuses, about the political hopelessness or neuroticism or radicalism or fatalism of teenagers, about a growing political gender divide, about how often they socialize or drink or have sex — a two-part conventional wisdom has taken hold across the pundit class. First, that American teenagers are experiencing a mental health crisis; second, that it is the fault of phones.

“Smartphones and social media are destroying children’s mental health,” the Financial Times declared last spring. This spring, Haidt’s new book on the subject, The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness, debuted at the top of the New York Times best-seller list. In its review of the book, The Guardian described the smartphone as “a pocket full of poison,” and in an essay , The New Yorker accepted as a given that Gen Z was in the midst of a “mental health emergency” and that “social media is bad for young people.” “Parents could see their phone-obsessed children changing and succumbing to distress,” The Wall Street Journal reflected . “Now we know the true horror of what happened.”

But, well, do we? Over the past five years, “Is it the phones?” has become “It’s probably the phones,” particularly among an anxious older generation processing bleak-looking charts of teenage mental health on social media as they are scrolling on their own phones. But however much we may think we know about how corrosive screen time is to mental health, the data looks murkier and more ambiguous than the headlines suggest — or than our own private anxieties, as parents and smartphone addicts, seem to tell us.

What do we really know about the state of mental health among teenagers today? Suicide offers the most concrete measure of emotional distress, and rates among American teenagers ages 15 to 19 have indeed risen over the past decade or so, to about 11.8 deaths per 100,000 in 2021 from about 7.5 deaths per 100,000 in 2009. But the American suicide epidemic is not confined to teenagers. In 2022, the rate had increased roughly as much since 2000 for the country as a whole, suggesting a national story both broader and more complicated than one focused on the emotional vulnerabilities of teenagers to Instagram. And among the teenagers of other rich countries, there is essentially no sign of a similar pattern. As Max Roser of Our World in Data recently documented , suicide rates among older teenagers and young adults have held roughly steady or declined over the same time period in France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Germany, Greece, Poland, Norway and Belgium. In Sweden there were only very small increases.

Is there a stronger distress signal in the data for young women? Yes, somewhat. According to an international analysis by The Economist, suicide rates among young women in 17 wealthy countries have grown since 2003, by about 17 percent, to a 2020 rate of 3.5 suicides per 100,000 people. The rate among young women has always been low, compared with other groups, and among the countries in the Economist data set, the rate among male teenagers, which has hardly grown at all, remains almost twice as high. Among men in their 50s, the rate is more than seven times as high.

In some countries, we see concerning signs of convergence by gender and age, with suicide rates among young women growing closer to other demographic groups. But the pattern, across countries, is quite varied. In Denmark, where smartphone penetration was the highest in the world in 2017, rates of hospitalization for self-harm among 10- to 19-year-olds fell by more than 40 percent between 2008 and 2016. In Germany, there are today barely one-quarter as many suicides among women between 15 and 20 as there were in the early 1980s, and the number has been remarkably flat for more than two decades. In the United States, suicide rates for young men are still three and a half times as high as for young women, the recent increases have been larger in absolute terms among young men than among young women, and suicide rates for all teenagers have been gradually declining since 2018. In 2022, the latest year for which C.D.C. data is available, suicide declined by 18 percent for Americans ages 10 to 14 and 9 percent for those ages 15 to 24.

None of this is to say that everything is fine — that the kids are perfectly all right, that there is no sign at all of worsening mental health among teenagers, or that there isn’t something significant and even potentially damaging about smartphone use and social media. Phones have changed us, and are still changing us, as anyone using one or observing the world through them knows well. But are they generating an obvious mental health crisis?

The picture that emerges from the suicide data is mixed and complicated to parse. Suicide is the hardest-to-dispute measure of despair, but not the most capacious. But while rates of depression and anxiety have grown strikingly for teenagers in certain parts of the world, including the U.S., it’s tricky to disentangle those increases from growing mental-health awareness and destigmatization, and attempts to measure the phenomenon in different ways can yield very different results.

According to data Haidt uses, from the U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health, conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the percent of teenage girls reporting major depressive episodes in the last year grew by about 50 percent between 2005 and 2017, for instance, during which time the share of teenage boys reporting the same grew by roughly 75 percent from a lower level. But in a biannual C.D.C. survey of teenage mental health, the share of teenagers reporting that they had been persistently sad for a period of at least two weeks in the past year grew from only 28.5 percent in 2005 to 31.5 percent in 2017. Two different surveys tracked exactly the same period, and one showed an enormous increase in depression while the other showed almost no change at all.

And if the rise of mood disorders were a straightforward effect of the smartphone, you’d expect to see it everywhere smartphones were, and, as with suicide, you don’t. In Britain, the share of young people who reported “feeling down” or experiencing depression grew from 31 percent in 2012 to 38 percent on the eve of the pandemic and to 41 percent in 2021. That is significant, though by other measures British teenagers appear, if more depressed than they were in the 2000s, not much more depressed than they were in the 1990s.

Overall, when you dig into the country-by-country data, many places seem to be registering increases in depression among teenagers, particularly among the countries of Western Europe and North America. But the trends are hard to disentangle from changes in diagnostic patterns and the medicalization of sadness, as Lucy Foulkes has argued , and the picture varies considerably from country to country. In Canada , for instance, surveys of teenagers’ well-being show a significant decline between 2015 and 2021, particularly among young women; in South Korea rates of depressive episodes among teenagers fell by 35 percent between 2006 and 2018.

Because much of our sense of teenage well-being comes from self-reported surveys, when you ask questions in different ways, the answers vary enormously. Haidt likes to cite data collected as part of an international standardized test program called PISA, which adds a few questions about loneliness at school to its sections covering progress in math, science and reading, and has found a pattern of increasing loneliness over the past decade. But according to the World Happiness Report , life satisfaction among those ages 15 to 24 around the world has been improving pretty steadily since 2013, with more significant gains among women, as the smartphone completed its global takeover, with a slight dip during the first two years of the pandemic. An international review published in 2020, examining more than 900,000 adolescents in 36 countries, showed no change in life satisfaction between 2002 and 2018.

“It doesn’t look like there’s one big uniform thing happening to people’s mental health,” said Andrew Przybylski, a professor at Oxford. “In some particular places, there are some measures moving in the wrong direction. But if I had to describe the global trend over the last decade, I would say there is no uniform trend showing a global crisis, and, where things are getting worse for teenagers, no evidence that it is the result of the spread of technology.”

If Haidt is the public face of worry about teenagers and phones, Przybylski is probably the most prominent skeptic of the thesis. Others include Amy Orben, at the University of Cambridge, who in January told The Guardian, “I think the concern about phones as a singular entity are overblown”; Chris Ferguson, at Stetson University, who is about to publish a new meta-analysis showing no relationship between smartphone use and well-being; and Candice Odgers, of the University of California, Irvine, who published a much-debated review of Haidt in Nature, in which she declared “the book’s repeated suggestion that digital technologies are rewiring our children’s brains and causing an epidemic of mental illness is not supported by science.”

Does that overstate the case? In a technical sense, I think, no: There may be some concerning changes in the underlying incidence of certain mood disorders among American teenagers over the past couple of decades, but they are hard to separate from changing methods of measuring and addressing mental health and mental illness. There isn’t great data on international trends in teenage suicide — but in those places with good reporting, the rates are generally not worsening — and the trends around anxiety, depression and well-being are ambiguous elsewhere in the world. And the association of those local increases with the rise of the smartphone, while now almost conventional wisdom among people like me, is, among specialists, very much a contested claim. Indeed, even Haidt, who has also emphasized broader changes to the culture of childhood , estimated that social media use is responsible for only about 10 percent to 15 percent of the variation in teenage well-being — which would be a significant correlation, given the complexities of adolescent life and of social science, but is also a much more measured estimate than you tend to see in headlines trumpeting the connection. And many others have arrived at much smaller estimates still.

But this all also raises the complicated question of what exactly we mean by “science,” in the context of social phenomena like these, and what standard of evidence we should be applying when asking whether something qualifies as a “crisis” or “emergency” and what we know about what may have caused it. There is a reason we rarely reduce broad social changes to monocausal explanations, whether we’re talking about the rapid decline of teenage pregnancy in the 2000s, or the spike in youth suicide in the late ’80s and early 1990s, or the rise in crime that began in the 1960s: Lives are far too complex to easily reduce to the influence of single factors, whether the factor is a recession or political conditions or, for that matter, climate breakdown.

To me, the number of places where rates of depression among teenagers are markedly on the rise is a legitimate cause for concern. But it is also worth remembering that, for instance, between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s, diagnoses of American youth for bipolar disorder grew about 40-fold , and it is hard to find anyone who believes that change was a true reflection of underlying incidence. And when we find ourselves panicking over charts showing rapid increases in, say, the number of British girls who say they’re often unhappy or feel they are a failure, it’s worth keeping in mind that the charts were probably zoomed in to emphasize the spike, and the increase is only from about 5 percent of teenagers to about 10 percent in the first case, or from about 15 percent to about 20 percent in the second. It may also be the case, as Orben has emphasized , that smartphones and social media may be problematic for some teenagers without doing emotional damage to a majority of them. That’s not to say that in taking in the full scope of the problem, there is nothing there. But overall it is probably less than meets the eye.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or go to for a list of additional resources.

Further reading (and listening):

On Jonathan Haidt’s After Babel Substack , a series of admirable responses to critics of “The Anxious Generation” and the smartphone thesis by Haidt, his lead researcher Zach Rausch, and his sometime collaborator Jean Twenge.

In Vox, Eric Levitz weighs the body of evidence for and against the thesis.

Tom Chivers and Stuart Ritchie deliver a useful overview of the evidence and its limitations on the Studies Show podcast.

Five experts review the evidence for the smartphone hypothesis in The Guardian.

A Substack survey of “diagnostic inflation” and teenage mental health.

Columbia's encampments and the clashes at UCLA prove it: Civil debate needs protection

4-minute read.

The man, unkempt and foul-smelling, approaches a commuter in the New York City subway underground. He quietly asks for money for a cup of coffee. He’s waved away. He asks again, louder. And is again ignored. Finally, shouting, menacing, spittle flying in the commuter’s face, he screams for money for a friggin’ cup of coffee.

Police arrest him. New York had a law against “begging” in the subway. His lawyers say he was just using his right of free speech, the same way that the Salvation Army asks for money.

And the age-old First Amendment question rears its head: Where is the line drawn between protected expression and illegal action? Speech is necessary in a self-governing democratic society so the people can, as the First Amendment pointedly says, “petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” It’s vital.

But action — putting hands on security guards, seizing control of a library, pitching tents on a lawn — is not protected by freedom of speech. Even civil disobedience, a long-admired form of protest, does not include the use of violence.

And now we’re watching this dilemma spread like a democratic virus across college campuses — from Columbia in New York to Emory in Atlanta to UCLA in California. More than a cup of coffee is at stake. Protesters are “petitioning” for an end to the Israeli-Hamas war where 34,000 Palestinians have been killed after Israel invaded the Gaza Strip, in response to Hamas, a terrorist group, crossing the border and killing 1,200 Israelis and taking 253 hostages. 

So many thorny questions in this First Amendment campus debate abound. Yet in some ways, it’s a perfect example of how free speech was supposed to work. Upset with how Israel has crushed a largely civilian people and brought thousands to the brink of starvation, pro-Pro-Palestinian protestors have massed on college campuses to voice their anger and prod government to stop Israel continuing its war. Some are asking that colleges disassociate financially from with Israel.

The protestors are “petitioning” the authorities to respond, “begging” for a response.

Some — let’s be frank — are antisemites, gleeful to go after Israel, part of a wave of antisemitism across college campuses. No surprise: the threat Jewish students now feel has more than doubled in the past eight years.

On the other side of the debate are those who think Israel is justified: their land invaded; Israeli citizens killed. Protesting the Hamas invasion — and its declared stance that Israel should not exist — deserves throaty airing. Hamas is evil. A threat to the Jewish homeland cannot be tolerated.

The idea of civil debate needs protection

Yet, the idea of a civil debate between angry opponents not only is worth having in public, it needs protection. At UCLA, the camps were allowed to literally go to battle. Police should have been between the sides, letting them scream but not dragging them off into the police wilderness. If speech truly has a higher value, it is not enough to allow it —it needs to be protected by authorities.

That does not answer the question of how society should react to hate speech — virulent antisemitic, anti-Israel banners and chants? Are pro-Palestinian rallies rally anti-Semitic gatherings?

“There is nothing wrong with being critical of any country,” explains the Anti-Defamation League director Jonathan Greenblatt. “But campaigns that demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state, often end up in actions that demonize and delegitimize Jewish people.”

Yet, we don’t want to stifle this debate because it is revealing of the continued rise of antisemitism. It is about how a democratic nation, an ally, wages war against an oppressed people. It is about the limits of American political power abroad — and about how we continue to arm the world for war. For good and bad.

Most commonly, we try to balance free speech against a competing value. But often we begin that balancing by conceding that speech takes a preferred position. We need to hear each other, even when we don’t like what the other says.

And the authorities do not take a position on who is right or wrong. All they do is protect the debate and, when needed, regulate the time, place and manner of the speech.

Opinion: I'm a student who was arrested at a Columbia protest. I am not a hero, nor am I a villain.

Revisiting Vietnam — and John Stuart Mill

America has been through this before. During the Vietnam War, I was a student at Wagner College, a small Lutheran campus on Staten Island, whose doors shut early in the spring of 1970 for fear of anti-war demonstrations. A real fear. On May 4 national guardsmen killed four student protestors at Kent State University in Ohio. No one wanted a repeat.

Wagner faculty could give students the grade they had that point or demand a final project. My literature professor, Marge Rooney, opted for a project. She knew I was reading “On Liberty,” a famous 1859 essay on free speech written by the English philosopher John Stuart Mill.

“You are a journalist,” she said, “What does he say about freedom of speech?” It was my first exposure to the principles that underline the First Amendment.

What Mill said so applies today.

“Absolute freedom of opinion and sentiment on all subjects,” he declared. Hateful or not, all speech is protected. I don’t think Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott read Mill, however. He declared recently that any students taking part in “hate-filled, antisemitic protests … belong in jail.”

Why protect all speech?

“If any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may be true,” Mill wrote.

Is Israel the bad guy for bringing on the deaths and starvation? Or is that on Hamas for its brutal rape-filled attack into Israeli territory? Pick your poison or your truth. But both sides need to be able to talk. Truth is difficult to uncover in silence — or if we or suspend protestors from school.

“Though the silenced opinion be an error, it may contain a portion of truth,” Mill adds. Thus, it’s up to the citizen — not the government or college authorities — to pick and choose truth from falsehood that come out of a heated debate.

“All opinions should be permitted,” Mill wrote, adding, “on condition that the manner be temperate, and do not pass the bounds of fair discussion.” In defense of Israel and the Jews, no one should be temperate. Meek protest makes no sense.

But, on the other hand, the oppression and freedom of the Palestinians calls for equally vociferous and “intemperate” language. That speech will be nasty and angry is to be expected.

The crossover point is deciding what is speech and what is an action. But, Mill conceded, we may face “the impossibility of fixing where these supposed bounds are to be placed.”

Posters, signs, bullhorns, demonstrations on campus — all protected. Encampments on campus, pushing security guards, seizing a building — not speech.

What can administrators do when protesters, wanting to get across their message, begin to take over buildings and camp out over night? Being clear about acceptable regulations of speech is a starting point. The key: no one gets silenced because the authorities do not like their viewpoint. The government must be neutral.

Moderate the debate, protect speakers and make sure their actions do not disrupt campus life. Easy to say. But it’s at the heart of democracy. Encourage debate. Let citizens decide. Make sure each side can be heard. But, understand, it will be messy.

Rob Miraldi’s writing on the First Amendment has won numerous awards. He taught journalism at the State University of New York. Email: [email protected].

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New fbi warning as hackers strike: email senders must do this 1 thing.

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A joint FBI/NSA security advisory warns of ongoing email attacks

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of State have issued a joint cybersecurity advisory warning of state-sponsored email hack attacks that evade authentication security measures.

The attackers have been identified as APT43, a hacking group linked to the North Korean military intelligence agency. APT43, also known as Kimsuky, has been using email authentication bypass as a means to impersonate journalists, researchers and other academics as part of coordinated spear-phishing campaigns designed to “provide stolen data and valuable geopolitical insight to the North Korean regime by compromising policy analysts and other experts.” The joint security advisory recommends that all those responsible for their email domain, where an email is served from in other words, be that in a personal or organizational capacity, do one thing immediately: update their Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance security policy.

05/08 update below. This article was originally published on May 6.

Joint Cybersecurity Advisory Reveals Details Of North Korea Hacking Campaign

In Joint Cybersecurity Advisory JCSA-20240502-001 , national security and intelligence agencies warn not only anyone who might be a potential target but all email users of the dangers of the state-sponsored North Korean Kimsuky malicious hacking group. Kimsuky, as part of North Korea’s military intelligence cyber program, is tasked with helping to maintain “consistent access to current intelligence about the United States, South Korea, and other countries of interest to impede any perceived political, military, or economic threat to the regime’s security and stability,” according to the JCSA authors.

Specifically, the APT43/Kimsuky group is line-managed, so to speak, by North Korea’s military intelligence 63rd Research Center, which has been known to U.S. intelligence agencies since 2012. The primary mission of Kimsuky would appear to be to compromise expert targets such as policy analysts in order to attain data offering valuable geopolitical insight. In which case, you might be thinking, why should this FBI warning worry anyone else? Simply put, every successful attack, even the most basic of phishing campaigns, can help build better attacks yet to come. In particular, the crafting of the most credible emails in spearphishing attacks that focus on high-value targets holding the most sensitive of data. Why it should bother you, apart from the obvious national security reasons, is the method being employed by the attackers which can leverage your misconfigured email authentication settings.

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Wells fargo championship 2024 golf betting preview odds and pga picks, the minnesota timberwolves are suffocating everyone defensively, misconfigured dmarc records allow malicious email spoofers free reign.

Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance is one of those things most email users have never heard of, but everyone with their own email server really needs to have done. There’s a reason that Google has recently implemented new email authentication rules that will see non-authenticated messages from bulk senders to Gmail addresses returned unopened. That reason is to reduce the amount of spam and, in turn, reduce the potential for that spam to be carrying malicious content to Gmail users. Although spearphishing campaigns would not trigger the Gmail sender limits, the same authentication technology is what is being bypassed by the Kimsuky attackers. So how are they doing it?

What Is DMARC?

First, you need to understand that DMARC is a security protocol that enables a receiving email server to know if the email originated from where it claims. In other words, DMARC authenticates that a message has not been spoofed but does come from the person, or at least the organizational email domain, it claims. It’s actually very good at doing this, apart from when it isn’t. The DMARC policy will instruct the receiving email server what to do with that message after first checking that the associated Sender Policy Framework and DomainKeys Identified Mail authentication records are a match. The DMARC policy itself can be configured so as to send the email on to the recipient’s inbox, mark it as spam or reject it totally.

Exploiting DMARC Security Policy Apathy

This is where Kimsuky comes in. They exploit the fact that many DMARC policies have been left blank or marked as no action to be taken if an email fails the tests, as there’s a p=none modifier to show no policy exists. The JSAC itself includes a number of real-world examples of emails sent by Kimsuky. After warning that Kimsuky campaigns will start with a broad reconnaissance phase, the advisory states that “content from emails of previously compromised email accounts” are also used to enhance the authenticity of the communication. Kimsuky will create fake usernames but use legitimate domain names in order to spoof individuals from organizations such as think tanks and higher education institutions. These emails don’t come from the actual organization’s domain but the hacker-controlled email address and domain instead. And all because DMARC policy was found to be lacking.

Do This 1 Thing Now To Mitigate Kimsuky Attack Threat, FBI Urges

The FBI and NSA advisory urges all email users to act on one piece of mitigation advice that could help prevent such attacks from succeeding. That advice follows on from recent moves by Google to protect users of the Gmail service from spammers by demanding bulk emails use domain authentication protections.

The new Gmail rules are to be applauded, but all email users have been advised by the FBI and NSA to take one action immediately: update your or your organization’s DMARC security policy.

To do this, you should ensure that your DMARC policy, which can be edited within your email domain’s DNS settings, is one of two configurations: “v=DMARC1; p=quarantine,” which instructs the email server to quarantine emails that fail DMARC testing as spam or “v=DMARC1; p=reject,” which tells the server to reject or block the email. If you only use a web service such as Gmail, and don’t administer an organisation’s custom domain, then you need not be concerned. Everyone else, though, should check with their IT team or web hosting company and ensure that the DMARC policy is properly configured.

“Spearphishing continues to be a mainstay of the DPRK cyber program,” NSA cybersecurity director Dave Luber said, “and this CSA provides new insights and mitigations to counter their tradecraft.”

05/07 update:

Proofpoint Security Researchers Analyze Recent Kimsuky Group Activity

Researchers working at Proofpoint have taken a deep dive into what the cybersecurity company labels threat actor TA427, better known as APT43 or Kimsuky. Describing the North Korea-aligned group working in support of the Reconnaissance General Bureau as “one of the most active state-aligned threat actors currently tracked” by Proofpoint, the researchers have noted new attack tactics being employed by Kimsuky . This uptick in various techniques being employed by the threat actor follows on from the group “impersonating key DPRK subject matter experts in academia, journalism, and independent research,” as part of a long-term strategic intelligence gathering campaign, Proofpoint said. The problem is that, thanks to what the researchers referred to as a clear degree of success, there are no indications that Kimsuky is either slowing down or becoming less agile as far as such tactic-switching is concerned. Hence the joint advisory from the FBI and NSA.

Kimsuky Employs Web Beacons As Part Of The Initial Attack Reconnaissance

One of the new tactics to be employed by Kimsuky is the use of web beacons. Only spotted by the Proofpoint team as being actively used by the threat actors in February 2024, web beacons embed a hyperlinked but non-visible object, often a single same color as the background pixel, to help validate and track targets. This works by linking that invisible pixel to an image server which attempts to load it in the content that is being rendered. The image itself is benign, but its value as part of the initial reconnaissance is as malicious as it is priceless. Not only do these beacons show that “emails are active,” but also gather “fundamental information about the recipients’ network environments, including externally visible IP addresses, User-Agent of the host, and time the user opened the email,” the report explained. The tactic itself is far from new, of course, being a favorite of advanced persistent threat groups, but coupled with exploiting poorly implemented, if implemented at all, DMARC policies to spoof legitimate-looking personas is a profitable current one for Kimsuky.

Look For Kimsuky Campaign Indicators Of Compromise

When it comes to indicators of compromise, the Proofpoint researchers have noted that the following message subjects have been used during the latest spike of activity from Kimsuky:

  • Invitation: August DPRK meeting
  • Draft Taiwan Issue
  • Emergence of Indigenous Nuclear Weapons Debate
  • Request for Meeting (Korean Embassy)
  • Invitation to Korea Global Forum 2024 (Seoul, February 20-21)
  • Event with the Korea Society "Rumbles of Thunder and Endangered Peace on the Korean Peninsula"
  • Invitation: US Policy Toward North Korea - Pocantico Center February 6-8
  • RISG 2024 Winter Meeting Invitation
  • Invitation to speak at the East Asia Strategy Forum
  • Discussion about DPRK sanctions
  • Invitation: 3/5 Conference - An Allied Approach to North Korea
  • Essay Series: Peaceful Co-existence with North Korea

How To Check Your DMARC Record Using This Free Tool

Check your DMARC status using this free tool

Proofpoint has a free DMARC record-checking tool that allows users to check up to 100 domains. This tool pokes the domain records of the organization being researched and will validate that a permissive DMARC policy of the type often exploited by APT actors, such as APT43, is not present.

From APT43 To APT42, North Korea To Iran

05/08 update: Threat intelligence researchers working for Mandiant, a subsidiary of Google, have published a thorough analysis of another state-sponsored advanced persistent threat group. APT42 is, the researchers said, operating not under the control of North Korea though, but rather Iran. To be more precise, the group is thought to be exploiting intelligence-gathering campaigns on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Intelligence Organization. It would appear that there are enough clear operational overlaps when it comes to these hacking attacks for APT42 to also be known as Charming Kitten, Mint Sandstorm and TA453. Whatever the name, there are some similarities with how APT43, or Kimsuky, works. Notably, APT42 is known to be targeting academia, legal services, media organizations and activists by impersonating journalists and event organizers.

The Mandiant intelligence report, Uncharmed: Untangling Iran's APT42 Operations , warns that APT42 is using “enhanced social engineering schemes to gain access to victim networks, including cloud environments.” Although it isn’t clear whether APT42 has employed DMARC policy weaknesses in order to garner initial trust from targets, that trust is certainly the focus of the initial phase of any hacking attack by the Iranian group.

Building Trust With Real Credentials And Fake News

The Mandiant threat intelligence research team of Ofir Rozmann, Asli Koksal, Adrian Hernandez, Sarah Bock and Jonathan Leathery, say that APT42 was observed using social engineering schemes to harvest real credentials which were then used in order to gain basic access to cloud environments from where it “covertly exfiltrated data of strategic interest to Iran, while relying on built-in features and open-source tools to avoid detection.”

Spear-phishing, which can be thought of as highly-targeted and thoroughly researched phishing, is central to the way that APT42 operates. Indeed, the researchers said that the group uses precisely this method to deliver two custom backdoor malware programs called NICECURL and TAMECAT. These deployments are then used as a “command execution interface or as a jumping point to deploy additional malware.”

The credential-harvesting part of any operation usually comprises three stages according to the Mandate analysis.

  • Emails that contain malicious links using lures such as documents related to foreign affairs topics, especially those with an Iranian connection.
  • These then direct the target to fake websites that are using address shorteners or copycat domains which often include yet another decoy document.
  • Finally, the by-now-invested user is redirected to a fake Google or Microsoft account login page where the credential harvesting occurs.

Mandiant said it identified three distinct clusters of infrastructure used by the group, all employing similar tactics, techniques and procedures while varying in terms of the domains, decoys, themes and masquerading patterns used.

APT42 Attack Cluster A: News Outlets and NGOs

Active from 2021 through to today, this cluster targets the credentials of “journalists, researchers, and geopolitical entities in regions of interest to Iran.” It does this by posing as well-known publications including The Washington Post, The Economist and The Jerusalem Post. Most often, this would involve the attackers using typosquatted domains where an address looks convincing at first glance but uses different character-swapping techniques, such as a q instead of a g, for example, or another domain identifier altogether, such as .press instead of .com or similar.

APT42 Attack Cluster B: Generic Legitimate Services

Also active today, but observed since 2019, this cluster targets those perceived as a threat to Iran and has included journalists and human rights activists. This cluster involves posing as login pages, file hosting services and even YouTube. Using realistic-sounding invitations to conferences, as well as legitimate documents that are hosted on a cloud-based file service, the target is prompted for their credentials if they use the original links and their credentials harvested. Mandiant has observed examples where fake Google Meet invitations were used to garner Google credentials, while others directed the target to cloned Gmail login pages.

APT42 Attack Cluster C: Mailer Daemons And URL Shortening Services

The most recently initiated APT42 cluster started in 2022 and remains active to this day. It targets those affiliated with defense and foreign affairs in both the U.S. and Israel. “Specifically, in November 2023, Mandiant observed this cluster targeting a nuclear physics professor in a major Israeli university,” the researchers said. Again, spear-phishing campaigns using invitations to conferences and legitimate documents on cloud services were the attack route. URL shortening services were used to obfuscate real addresses, with credentials harvested upon login.

Davey Winder

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