How to ask a question in an essay (with tips and examples)

An essay question is designed to test your understanding of a given subject. It is typically framed as a statement, or series of statements, that require you to answer with an essay-length response. The purpose of asking questions in an essay is to explore ideas, concepts, and topics in greater depth, enabling you to demonstrate your knowledge and critical thinking skills.

Essay questions are often composed of several parts. The introduction sets the stage, giving the reader an overview of what’s to come. The body of the question will typically contain the main points you need to discuss in your response. Finally, the conclusion will ask for your overall thoughts on the topic and provide you with a final chance to drive home the overall argument of your essay.

Sometimes an essay question can be divided into two or more sections, each containing a separate, but related, set of instructions. This type of question requires you to break down the topic into chunks, focusing on one element at a time before connecting them together in a cohesive way.

Essay questions are a great way to show off your understanding of the material, so make sure to read the question carefully and provide thoughtful, comprehensive answers. Think about the key concepts and relationships that are being addressed and focus on the underlying message or point of the question. Doing so will ensure that you are providing the best possible answer to the essay question.

Asking the right questions can be a major factor in writing a successful essay. The goal is to craft questions that are both thoughtful and direct – questions that will help you uncover and explore the key ideas within the essay topic. Here are some tips on how to ask questions in an essay:

How to ask question in an essay

Focus on the Big Picture

When crafting questions, it’s important to keep the big picture in mind. Start by thinking broadly about the topic and narrowing it down to a specific question. Ask yourself, “what overall insight can I gain from this topic?” or “what relevance does this topic have to the present world?”

Use Open-ended Questions

Open-ended questions allow for more creative exploration of the topic than closed-ended questions. An open-ended question is one that requires the reader to think critically and offer more than a single answer, while closed-ended questions are ones where the reader sees only one possible answer. Examples of open-ended questions include: “What are the most important considerations to make when exploring this topic?” and “How could this topic impact future generations?”

Be Mindful of the Structure

Questions should have a clear structure and logical flow. When crafting questions, make sure that each subsequent question builds upon and expands upon the previous ones. This helps to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the topic.

Think Critically

Asking critical questions encourages deeper thinking and analysis. Questions that require the reader to reflect on the implications or consequences of their answers are especially effective. Examples of critical questions include: “What are the ethical implications of this topic?” and “How can this topic be used to better the world?”

Incorporate Problem-solving Questions

Problem-solving questions are those that challenge the reader to consider an issue from multiple points of view and to develop an appropriate solution. In addition to being interesting and thought-provoking, these types of questions also allow the reader to apply their own knowledge and skills towards solving the issue. Examples of problem-solving questions include: “What steps can be taken to reduce environmental damage?” and “What legal policies should be instituted to prevent discrimination based on gender or race?”

By following these tips, you can ensure that your questions are well-crafted and thoughtfully constructed. Asking the right questions will enable you to uncover important insights and make your essay a success!

Tip 1: Read the Prompt Carefully and Analyze Keywords

Understanding the essay prompt is key to coming up with questions that are relevant and meaningful. You should begin by carefully reading the prompt and evaluating any keywords or topics to consider. This will help you to stay focused on the task at hand and ensure that your questions address the relevant points.

It is a good idea to make a list of all the keywords in the prompt and then come up with a few questions for each keyword. This will help you to tailor your questions to the specific points of the essay and ensure that you don’t miss any important details. Additionally, make sure to focus on the main topic and try to avoid getting sidetracked by tangential topics.

Finally, it is important to remember that the essay question should be clear and concise, so you need to make sure that your questions provide an effective way to explore the topic in depth. Avoid asking too many questions that are overly general or provide little insight into the subject matter.

Tip 2: Brainstorm Ideas

Brainstorming is an important step in the essay writing process. It involves generating ideas and topics related to the essay prompt or topic. Brainstorming can help you come up with a range of possible questions related to the essay prompt, as well as the many ways those questions could be addressed.

First and foremost, it’s important to carefully read the essay prompt and analyze any keywords or key topics within the prompt. Then, think of broader topics that may relate to the prompt. For example, if the prompt is about the history of the civil rights movement in the United States, consider what specific events, people, or legislation could be included in an essay about this topic.

It can also be helpful to generate ideas related to the prompt by doing research online or by consulting additional texts. This way, you can find new facts, data, or examples that can be used when forming questions and developing arguments for your essay. Additionally, conducting research and familiarizing yourself with other essays on the same topic can help you gain a better understanding of vocabulary and sentence structure related to the prompt.

Finally, brainstorming can involve coming up with multiple questions from a single prompt. This means exploring different angles on the same topic and creating questions that can be answered in various ways. For instance, if the prompt is asking you to write an essay on the effect of the civil rights movement on public education, consider how this topic can be approached and what unique points you can make using evidence and facts.

Seeking Feedback to Ask Engaging Questions

When you are writing an essay, it is easy to get stuck on coming up with the right questions. Seeking feedback from peers or editors can be a great help in this process. Having someone else read your work can help identify areas that need improvement or need more thought. It also gives you the opportunity to get outside perspectives and develop new ideas for asking questions.

Having feedback from others can help you answer questions more effectively. It can also help you see your own essay from a different angle, helping you to come up with more engaging questions. Sometimes, even just talking about the essay idea to someone else can provide insight into the topic and help you come up with new and interesting questions.

When seeking feedback, it’s important to explain your goal: to come up with engaging questions. That way, the person reviewing your work can offer more help in that area. Additionally, it can be helpful to share any research you’ve already done, sources you’ve consulted, or any reading material you’ve found that could support your ideas.

To get the most out of feedback, it’s important to ask questions that will help you better develop your ideas. You might want to ask questions such as “What other questions could I ask to explore this topic further?” or “Are there any other points I could make to support my ideas?” Asking these types of questions will help you get the most out of the feedback and gain valuable insight into the topic.

Seeking feedback from peers and/or editors is a great way to improve your essay and come up with engaging questions. By leveraging feedback from others who are familiar with the essay topic, you can gain valuable insight, identify potential gaps in your understanding, and develop better questions. Ultimately, seeking feedback can help you write a better essay and ask questions more effectively.

Tip 4: Ask Clarifying Questions

Asking clarifying questions about the essay prompt or topic can be extremely helpful when trying to select the right question. It is important to focus on the key elements of the essay and try to understand the overall message or purpose being conveyed in the prompt. This can help guide you in finding the best question to ask in order to get the most out of your essay.

What Are Clarifying Questions?

Clarifying questions are questions that are used to help better understand a given topic or prompt. They are asked to gain a clear, concise understanding of what is being asked in the essay. For example, if the prompt for an essay was “Describe the changes that occurred in the economy during the Industrial Revolution”, a clarifying question might be “Which countries are being referenced when discussing economic changes during the Industrial Revolution?”.

How Can Asking Clarifying Questions Help?

Asking clarifying questions can help you hone in on the right question to ask in your essay. It can also help to provide context which can make it easier to craft an effective essay. Crafting the right questions before starting the actual writing of the essay can give you an advantage over other students who may not have put in the same time and effort to think through their essay topics.

Tips for Asking Clarifying Questions

When asking clarifying questions there are a few tips to keep in mind to make sure you get the necessary information from the prompt:

  • Be precise – use precise language that is easy to understand and doesn’t leave room for interpretation.
  • Ask why – don’t just ask what, but also ask why the prompt is asking what it is.
  • Be specific – make sure the questions you are asking directly relate to the essay prompt.

Asking clarifying questions can help you develop a deeper understanding of the essay topic and ensure that you are crafting the best question for your essay. Taking the time to ask clarifying questions will be well worth the effort as it can help you construct an engaging and effective essay.

Tip 5: Be Specific

Writing effective questions for an essay requires some thought and consideration. Asking the right question can mean getting the most comprehensive answer or uncovering significant detail. For this reason, it’s important to be specific and avoid vague descriptions when writing your questions.

The difference between a specific and a general question can be seen in the wording and detail provided. A specific question will ask for detail, analysis, and examples, while a general question will provide broad statements or multiple choice answers.

For example, let’s say you are writing an essay about the Revolutionary War. A specific question might be, “What role did African Americans play during the Revolutionary War?” This question requires more detailed research and thinking as it is specific. A general question such as, “Who fought in the Revolutionary War?” is much too broad and does not require any further thought on the matter.

When writing your question, consider what information you need to answer the prompt. A good rule of thumb is to write out a sentence that contains the main idea or point of the question and then break it down into two or three parts. Each part should ask for more detail or analysis. For instance, a more detailed question than the one above could be, “What contributions did African Americans make to the Revolutionary War effort, and how did this influence the outcome of the war?”

In addition, be sure to avoid creating questions that have no real answer. Your questions should always be able to be answered with evidence and/or research. For example, avoid questions like “Do you think the Revolutionary War was good or bad?” as there is no clear answer or evidence to back up either side.

By taking the time to create specific questions for your essay, you are ensuring that you are asking the right questions and getting the most out of the research and thought process. Being specific will also help focus your research and answer the essay prompt more efficiently.

Overall, when writing questions for an essay, you must be sure to create specific questions that ask for detailed answers and provide evidence to back them up. Avoid general questions and questions that can’t be answered with evidence or research. With practice and careful consideration, you will be well on your way to creating specific and effective essay questions.

Tip 6: Avoid Vague Descriptions

When asking questions in an essay, it’s important to avoid making statements that are too vague. Vague descriptions can easily lead to confusion and may cause the reader to misinterpret the intention of the question.

By avoiding vague descriptions, you can ensure that your essay is clear and concise. This will also make it easier for readers to understand the message that you are trying to convey.

Vague descriptions generally contain words or phrases that have unclear meaning. These may include words such as “many”, “some” or “most”, as well as phrases like “it varies”. It’s important to avoid these types of words and phrases when asking a question in an essay.

In some cases, you may need to use a vague description. In these cases, it’s important to provide additional context so that the reader can interpret the intention of the question. You can do this by providing specific examples or additional details about the topic.

For example, if you wanted to ask how technology has changed our lives, you could provide an example of a specific type of technology and ask how it has impacted our lives. This would provide clarity on the exact question that you are asking and make it easier for the reader to understand.

Overall, avoiding vague descriptions is essential when asking questions in an essay. This will help ensure that your questions are clear, concise and easy to understand. Additionally, provide additional context and examples if you do need to use a vague description. This will make it easier for readers to interpret the message of the question and understand the point that you are trying to make.

Examples of Good Questions to Ask in an Essay

Asking the right question can make all the difference when writing an essay. A good question will do more than just state a fact—it will help you to explore an idea, argue a point, or provide insight. That’s why it’s important to understand what makes a good question.

When asking a question in an essay, it should be direct, pointed and relevant to the topic. Here are few examples of good questions to ask in an essay:

  • What is the historical context of this issue?
  • How does this argument fit into current debates on the topic?
  • What are the implications of this argument for future research?
  • What do other scholars have to say about this issue?

When using example-based questions, it’s important to make sure that the example is relevant to the subject and that the question being asked isn’t too broad or difficult to answer. Here are some examples of good example-based questions:

  • How did John F. Kennedy’s speech on civil rights inform current policy debates?
  • What impact did the invention of the printing press have on the spread of literacy?
  • What role did the French Revolution play in the development of modern democracy?
  • What are the implications of the Eurozone crisis for economic growth in Europe?

These types of questions encourage deeper exploration of a topic and can help you to develop a more nuanced argument. Remember to always focus on asking relevant questions that are directly related to the essay prompt.


Writing an essay is a great way to answer questions, express your opinion, and tell a story. It’s important to make sure you ask the right questions in your essay. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself what you are trying to get out of this essay. Will it help you prove a point? Explain something? Move the reader’s understanding along? If you can answer these questions, you’ll be better prepared to pick the best questions for your essay.

Here are some key takeaway points to remember when asking questions in an essay:

  • Read the prompt carefully and analyze keywords.
  • Brainstorm ideas and develop multiple questions from one prompt.
  • Seek feedback from peers and/or editors to refine your thoughts.
  • Ask clarifying questions to help guide your question selection.
  • Be specific when asking questions.
  • Avoid vague descriptions.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to easily identify the right questions to ask in any essay. Asking the right questions will help you get clear answers and move the conversation forward. This will ultimately help you write a better essay that expresses your thoughts more effectively.


Making sure you reference the sources of information that you use in your essay is important for acknowledging the work of others and also for avoiding plagiarism. Including references in your essay can help to support your arguments, add credibility and make your writing more compelling.

When writing an essay, it is important to look for outside sources of information or data that backs up your argument, but always make sure to cite them properly. You should include a list of references at the end of your essay, providing details such as the authors’ names, the year the source was published, and the title of the source.

When formatting your reference list, check with your teacher or professor to find out if there is a preferred style, such as MLA or APA. The format may vary depending on the type of sources you used. For example, books require different information than online sources.

  • For books: author name(s), title, edition number, publisher name, place of publication, date of publication.
  • For articles: author name(s), title of article, name of magazine or journal, volume and issue number, page numbers, date of publication.
  • For websites: author name(s) (if available), title of page/article, website name, web address, date of publication or last update.

It is good practice to cross-check your reference list with the in-text citations that you have used throughout your essay. Make sure the two match up. If you have any doubt about whether something should be referenced, it’s best to include it. It is also important to keep track of all information used in your research, so you can easily create a comprehensive list of references.

Nick Radlinsky

Nick Radlinsky

Nick Radlinsky is a devoted educator, marketing specialist, and management expert with more than 15 years of experience in the education sector. After obtaining his business degree in 2016, Nick embarked on a quest to achieve his PhD, driven by his commitment to enhancing education for students worldwide. His vast experience, starting in 2008, has established him as a reputable authority in the field.

Nick's article, featured in Routledge's "Entrepreneurship in Central and Eastern Europe: Development through Internationalization," highlights his sharp insights and unwavering dedication to advancing the educational landscape. Inspired by his personal motto, "Make education better," Nick's mission is to streamline students' lives and foster efficient learning. His inventive ideas and leadership have contributed to the transformation of numerous educational experiences, distinguishing him as a true innovator in his field.

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