Idea Topics For Writing A Diagnostic Essay

What is a diagnostic essay?

College instructors are often faced with the need to identify their students’ strength and weakness in terms of which specific skill each student has. A diagnostic essay is used to achieve this objective. This is often used at the start of the semester to help instructors identify the kind of curriculum, exercises, and the type of exercises they need to give to students both individually and holistically. Such essays are time-bound and students need to respond to the instructors’ prompts. Diagnostic papers are effective in testing the student’s ability hence diagnostic essay writing is also used on standardized tests including SAT tests.

Occasionally, the writer is given two or more prompts and allowed to choose the one he or she likes. A diagnostic essay is best written by dividing the paper into three sections: introduction, body, and conclusion. A diagnostic essay is time-bound thus the author must set aside some time to go through the question and plan how to effectively write the essay. A captivating introduction and a clear thesis are aspects that make a diagnostic assignment to stand out.

How to start a diagnostic essay

The writer has to set aside time to read and answer the prompt, to formulate the thesis as well as plan on how to write the essay within the allocated time period. After pondering over the topic and coming up with a mental sketch of what one needs to write about, the next step is to introduce the topic. This entails reviewing the three key ideas that one would like to focus on as he writes the essay. The writer can start the introduction with a restatement of the essay prompt. For instance, if one is given a prompt to write about the most challenging task that they have ever undertaken, he will give an explanation of the hardest thing he has ever done. The writer can first list a number of tasks that he might consider to be the most challenging to him. From the mentioned options, he will then identify one specific task and pursue it. He will introduce the task and give a detailed review of the same including, for instance, nature and time period the task took, and other relevant aspects. The other key part of the introduction is the thesis statement. The thesis for a diagnostic paper will be a one sentence highlight of the three key reasons why the task is most challenging to the writer.

How to write main part of a diagnostic essay

Having written the introduction and the thesis, the next part is the essay body. The body should have three paragraphs. Each of the three paragraphs will focus on a specific idea and explain it in detail. In the first paragraph, the writer needs to point out and then explain the first reason why he or she thinks the specified task is the most challenging he or she has ever undertaken. The student should pick his or her strongest point or reason and place it in the first paragraph. Clear explanation on, for instance, the mental effort it took to accomplish the task, should be provided.

The second paragraph will outline the point or factor that the writer considers the second most important reason. For instance, in explaining the most challenging task ever undertaken, the second paragraph can focus on the financial burden or responsibility that the task brought upon the student. If one was compelled to go for an unanticipated loan which has since weighed heavily on the borrower, this can be elaborated in detail in the second body paragraph.

The third paragraph will give the third most important idea addressing the prompt. In the aforementioned example, the writer can weigh among all other remaining reasons and identify the strongest. Depending on the weight that the author attaches to each factor, the physical effort it took to complete the task can be discussed in the third paragraph. The third paragraph can also briefly touch on the other key reasons or factors which, although not critical to the prompt’s reply, have a significant impact on the bearing of the writer’s life.

How to conclude a diagnostic essay

A good diagnostic essay has an effective conclusion. The conclusion will restate the key points identified in the introduction as well as in the thesis statement. This will be done in brief and with a major focus on the main three aspects discussed in the body paragraphs. In the aforementioned example, the student can identify the mental, financial, and physical effort and highlight the connection briefly. As diagnostic essays have tight timeframes, it is of utmost importance that the writer makes the conclusion brief and ties it to the expected reply to the prompt.

Outline Example

Introduction – Essence, and basis of the diagnostic essay, explication of the prompt.

Body –   First paragraph: first major/most important point or reason.

  • Second paragraph: second key point
  • Third paragraph: third key point

Conclusion – restatement of three key ideas, and link to the prompt.

The Top 15 Diagnostic Essay Topics For College You Wouldn't Think Of


The diagnostic essay is not exactly a style of essay writing, it is more accurately described as a test of essay writing ability. It is most often administered right before or right after the student is allowed into an institution so that their skill level can be accurately gauged. Based on the content of the essay remedial writing classes may be assigned or higher level classes may be allowed. It all depends on the quality of the showing made. Fortunately, it counts for little or nothing in terms of actual grades.

Because you are allowed to write on whatever you please, this is a good way to let you imagination run loose and show more than your understanding of grammar: show your creativity just as much or more. Here is a list of some out of the ordinary topics that can make your writing stand out from the crowd:

  1. The last moments of a freshly cut blade of grass still nestled amongst its living brethren on the lawn
  2. Can the use of mesmerism ever be justified in the pursuit of higher grades?
  3. Compare and contrast the plot of ‘Beowulf’ with that of “Romeo and Juliet”
  4. Should children be given the right to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol if their intellect is at adult level or higher?
  5. How to start a new religion and gain the respectability required to not be labelled as a cult
  6. Should performing arts schools be banned from applying ageist policies against dancers?
  7. Should citizens of countries be allowed to revoke all citizenship and live on self-sufficient crafts in unclaimed sections of the ocean?
  8. What are the benefits of ordinary people forming armed militias to take the law into their own hands?
  9. How do some women benefit from the continued existence of patriarchal systems?
  10. How likely is it that supernatural creatures such as mermaids, werewolves, vampires and unicorns exist in secret?
  11. Should people who anthropomorphise their pets be charged with animal abuse for trying to undermine their true nature?
  12. The concept of race and why it exists only in the imagination
  13. Why cold medicine can be dangerous in the wrong hands
  14. The benefits of a soap free cleansing routine
  15. How necessary is sleep?

Strange topics will not appeal to students uniformly. Choose the one you feel shows your skill to the best advantage.

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