How to Write an Exemplification Essay (2019 Guide)

exemplification essay
  • Published Date: September 6, 2018



An exemplification essay is the type of essay that teachers love to assign, because it sounds complex and it scares students. Okay, maybe (most) teachers don’t want to scare students, but they do like to test student knowledge and understanding. An exemplification essay is a perfect example of something that sounds complicated but actually isn’t at all. It just happens to be a type of essay that teachers don’t assign as often as other types (persuasive essay, descriptive essay, cause and effect essay, etc.) because this is a very, very specific type of writing assignment. An exemplification essay, at its core, is just a more precise type of argumentative essay.

What Is an Exemplification Essay?

When you read the definition of an exemplification essay, you might feel a flash of—that’s it? Essentially, an exemplification essay asks you to prove a thesis or main argument through the use reasons supported by examples. Sometimes teachers even refer to this type of essay as an illustrative essay (because the examples illustrate your point). In lieu of this, occasionally students protest and say, but don’t all argumentative essays use examples to prove their thesis? And the answer is: sometimes/it depends.

When you’re working on a classic argumentative essay, you need to support your thesis or main argument with evidence. This can be examples from real life, statistics or it can be data that gives strength to your thesis. For example, in an argumentative essay defending that creative activities help develop a child’s mind, one could cite a (fictional) Harvard Professor Snobb who stresses the importance of art or music based activities for the development of all cognitive functions. This would be a fine piece of evidence for an argumentative essay, but it wouldn’t be quite perfect for an exemplification essay. This is because the evidence endorses your thesis, but doesn’t offer a clear example from real life in support of your thesis. Exemplification essays are more particular versions of argumentative essays, because they are able to shed light on why a particular opinion or perspective is correct. They do this by offering clear, easy to understand examples from life.

Hence, writing an exemplification essay should be less of a headache than other types of essays, because you should be writing with your reader in mind. For every point you make, you want to have evidence that illustrates that exact point, and does not merely support it. For instance, for an essay about the dangers of social media on the self-image of young girls, offering an example of girls ranking lower on self-esteem assessments would be a useful and exemplary piece of evidence. On the other hand, a piece of evidence that states that social media can be addictive, really doesn’t offer a clear enough example in support of this thesis. Likewise, a piece of evidence that shows girls have higher amounts of distress after using social media for longer periods, still isn’t specific enough.

Instead, you would want to provide examples such as: research shows that young women become more focused on their appearance the more they spend time on social media. This example is fitting because a heightened focus on one’s appearance can be a sign of a damaged self-image. Or an example that shows that girls endure distress in the social and emotional branches of their lives—two branches that are connected to self-image. Alternatively, an example, which shows that girls are more competitive with other girls on social media, would also connect to a poorer self-image. As a whole, exemplification essays depend on examples that are explicit and directly support the validity of the overall thesis.

How to Write an Exemplification Essay

Writing an exemplification essay revolves around the strength of your plan or outline. Once you have your points mostly worked out in your head, you are more empowered to write a tighter essay.

How to start an exemplification essay:

  1. Pick your argument or position. Often with these essays, the topic is assigned to you, so you just need to pick a side.
  2. Jot down at least five reasons as to why your position is correct. Reread your reasons and circle the three strongest.
  3. Research and find evidence in the form of an example for each of the three reasons you’ve picked. The example must directly offer support for each reason with high specificity.
  4. Reread your reasons and supporting examples and connect them to the bigger picture of life using one sentence.

Exemplification Essay Format

The good news about an exemplification essay is that the format isn’t different from all the other types of essays you’ve mastered. You still need an introduction and conclusion. You still need to three strong body paragraphs. Really the only difference is the content of those three body paragraphs: you need to maintain a razor-sharp focus on the supporting evidence used and make sure that each piece is technically an example that directly illustrates your point.


Exemplification Essay Outline

#1 Introduction: Discusses the rise of social media, and the few benefits. Essay transitions into discussing the negative aspects of social media.

Example: Social media usage has a negative impact on the self image of girls and young women.

#2 Society has programmed young girls to be more competitive and social media enhances that sense of competition among female users.

Example: Research shows young girls tend to engage more heavily in the “compare and despair” aspect that thrives on social media.

#3 Social media features accounts of girls who have amassed large followings as a result of their beauty

Example: studies demonstrate that young girls report being inundated with unrealistic standards of beauty while using social media. This is something they claim has a negative influence on their own self image.

#4 Social media highlights and promotes make up tutorials, hacks and products aimed at the accounts of young girls/women. Females are repeatedly reminded that their appearance is paramount.

Example: Research shows young women report being on social media and feeling pressured to buy cosmetics or to spend time make up their faces.

#5 Conclusion: Social media is particularly toxic for young girls/women because it promotes a sense of competition and comparison, spotlights unrealistic standards of beauty, and pushes a hyper-awareness one’s appearance.

Outline Template


  1. Attention-Catching Hook Sentence:
  2. Three Sentences Introducing Subject:
  3. Thesis Statement/Side in Argument:


  1. First reason in support of argument:
  2. One example that supports this reason:
  3. Discussion of the significance of this example:


  1. Second reason in support of thesis:
  2. One example that supports this reason.
  3. Discussion of the significance of this example:


  1. Third reason in support of thesis/argument:
  2. One example that supports this reason.
  3. Discussion of the significance of this example:


  1. Restate your argument:
  2. Recap your three main claims:
  3. Link your argument to the bigger picture of life/society/history/the future:

Download an exemplification essay outline template in microsoft word document format (docx) or adobe portable document format (PDF).

Exemplification Essay Topics


  • A college degree isn’t as necessary today as it was ten years ago. Agree/disagree.
  • Should the government enforce population control as a means of ensuring the survival of the species and planet?
  • Obese children should be given mandatory nutritional assistance by a government dietician and exercise coach. Agree/ Disagree.
  • Social media and technology create higher incidents of social anxiety. Agree/Disagree.
  • Aspects of modern society have created higher rates of ADHD. Agree/Disagree and discuss.
  • Society teaches children that gender discrimination is permissible. Agree/Disagree.
  • We are shaped by the historical events that occurred before many of us were even born. Agree/Disagree and discuss.
  • Celebrity culture has done a tremendous amount of damage to young people. Agree/Disagree and discuss.
  • Smoking should be made illegal in all public places. Agree/disagree and discuss.
  • The technology and its repercussions are causing older forms or art and entertainment to die out, such as the opera, ballet and symphony. Agree/Disagree.


  • It is better for a student to have wealthy parents who aren’t around often. Agree/ Disagree.
  • It is better for a student to have poor parents who take an active role in their child’s life. Agree/Disagree.
  • Homeschooling is inherently flawed. Agree/Disagree.
  • Should the SAT exam be abolished?
  • Most power corrupts the average man. Agree/Disagree.
  • Most people are a reflection of the friends they spend the majority of their time with. Agree/Disagree.
  • Smart phone usage should be illegal for children under 18. Agree/Disagree.
  • Reality television has warped our perspective of reality. Agree/Disagree.
  • Should the government mandate that certain days of the week people be banned from eating meat?
  • Should children be taught something about spirituality and the afterlife in public schools, outside of the context of major religions?


  • The effects of the transatlantic slave trade are still being felt today. Agree/Disagree.
  • The prison industrial complex is a modern day form of Jim Crow. Agree/Disagree.
  • Social media creates more problems than the perceived benefits it provides. Agree/Disagree.
  • Should capitalism be regulated in more stringent ways to prevent corruption?
  • Technology has enabled more good in the world, as well as corruption. Which consequence outweighs the other? Explain.
  • The influence of American media has a negative impact around the world. Agree/Disagree and discuss.
  • Should the government abolish all forms of gender and racial wage discrimination? Explain.
  • The happiest people are those who aren’t wildly successful. Agree/Disagree and discuss.
  • More of the nation’s budget should be dedicated to creating services for the elderly. Agree/Disagree and discuss.
  • Election forecasts and polling have an impact on voter decisions and election outcomes. Agree/Disagree and discuss.

College Students

  • Should religious organizations lose their tax-exempt status?
  • Fast food and junk food items should be taxed at a much higher rate. Agree/Disagree.
  • Political campaigns should not be allowed to take donations from big corporations or the individuals that represent them. Agree/Disagree.
  • Gender bias influences every segment of our society. Agree/Disagree.
  • The legalization of most drugs will create long term economic stability and wealth for the nation. Agree/Disagree.
  • Immigration policies in America should be stricter with harsher penalties for violators. Agree/Disagree.
  • Mass shootings reflect a mental illness problem in society, not a gun problem. Agree/Disagree.
  • The United States army should just be present for self-defense for the nation and not be sent abroad to foreign nations. Agree/Disagree.
  • Childhood hardship helps create bigger success later in life. Agree/disagree.
  • The government should enact mandatory carpooling days during the week. Agree/Disagree.

High School Students

  • Should politicians be banned from spending millions on campaigns?
  • Farm animals require more stringent legal protections. Agree/Disagree.
  • The government should put more regulations on religious and social cults. Agree/ Disagree.
  • Gender neutral toys are crucial in balancing gender equality. Agree/Disagree.
  • Spanking children is an acceptable form of punishment. Agree/Disagree.
  • Should government positions and political jobs have mandatory quotas for gender and race?
  • Alternative medicine is vital in treating depression, anxiety and other mental disorders. Agree/Disagree
  • Marriage as an institution is becoming obsolete. Agree/Disagree.
  • Parental training classes should be mandatory for all prospective parents. Agree/Disagree.
  • Animal abuse should be a felony. Agree/Disagree.


Exemplification Essay Examples

Gun Control

Can you imagine a surly British soldier invading your home, going through your belongings, or attempting to police you as you walked down the streets? Most Americans cannot even picture life like this. However, this is largely because we have the courage of our ancestors and the intrepid actions of the colonists to thank for our freedom from British rule. The colonists understood all too well that an abuse of power can easily create tyranny. Their practicality is forever solidified in the Bill of Rights; namely the second amendment, which gives all citizens the right to bear arms. In recent times, with the ugliness that has been unleashed upon the world, there is increased pressure to engage in stricter gun control laws, given things like mass shootings. However, in these modern times, we have even more need to cling to our rights to bear arms, as this is something that will ensure we are never victimized by an abuse of power.

The research demonstrates that gun  control laws do not have an impact on minimizing crime. Many against gun ownership on the individual level think very simplistically and believe once access to guns is more difficult, crime will go down. This mindset is dangerously over-simplistic, because it does not acknowledge the fact that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. The research directly supports this fact. A study conducted on the decades between 1980 and 2009 found that “…assault weapons bans did not significantly affect murder rates at the state level” and “…states with restrictions on the carrying of concealed weapons had higher gun-related murders” (Gius, 2013). Fundamentally, these facts show that instead of policing objects, there should be an attempt to fix and heal human nature.

At their core, guns offer self defense and this is something that all people have a right to. Perhaps the most compelling example of this is the fact that the police can’t be everywhere at once, protecting people. It isn’t humanly possible and in some areas, the police are corrupt. This was true in some parts of the United States during slavery and segregation, and remains true today in some parts of the nation. Not every cop is available and not every cop is a good cop. Condoleezza Rice is pro-second amendment, and she is someone who lived through the horrors of segregation, and in the south no less.

“‘I was a little girl growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, in the late ‘50s, early ‘60s. There was no way that Bull Connor and the Birmingham police were going to protect you.’ Rice’s father and his friends would fire their guns in the air when ‘night riders’ with the KKK would come through the neighborhood” (Ernst, 2018). Rice continues by explaining that if Bull Connor had had access to something like a gun registry, he would have no doubt collected them all, which is also why she does not favor things like gun registry (Ernst, 2018). America has a history of human rights violations, particularly for minorities and often the police cannot guarantee their protection. They have a right to take appropriate safeguards.

Gun control laws will do little to encourage criminals to follow them. Those in favor of gun control laws naively think that those who commit murders on a large and small scale are going to follow restrictive legal codes in connection with obtaining and using a gun. In the decades between 1982 and 2012, 69 mass shootings occurred in America: 49 of them involved a firearm obtained by illegal means (Follman et al., 2014). The perpetrators who orchestrated these mass shootings had 143 firearms in total and three-quarters of them were obtained illegally (Follman et al., 2014). Gun control laws simply will not have an impact on criminals. Disturbingly enough, they will take the guns out of the hands of citizens who need them for self-defense.

All things considered, citizens have a duty to protect and fight for their second amendment rights. The research shows stricter gun laws do not reduce murders. The right to bear arms protects the individual citizen from tyranny, racist violence and a host of other potential horrors that have shaped this nation. Finally, gun legislation does little to discourage criminals who are intent on unleashing mayhem anyway. Rather than attempting to police an object as quick fix to a complex problem, as a nation we have a duty to look inward and find answers for disturbing behavior that continues to persist.

Child Discipline

No television? Video games? Grounded? Spanked? Nearly every adult remembers how they were punished as children. Many have an opinion about it. A parent’s parenting style and how they addressed (or didn’t) the issue of proper discipline is something that has an immediate impact on a child development all the way to adulthood. Authoritarian parents can help mold adults who are fearful or resentful of authority and of all codes and rules. Totally permissive parents can create children who grow into adults that are completely unable to self-regulate, who have no sense of boundaries or consequences. One of the best methods of child discipline is instead the authoritative (but not authoritarian) method, as it teaches children that their actions have consequences, but it is not so harsh as to be problematic.

With an authoritative style of child discipline, the child is forced to develop their own “locus of control”: this is the mindset that addresses the perspective the child carries through life. An authoritative parenting style can help a child develop a more realistic “locus of control” helping them develop into a go-getter. Through this discipline style,

the child has to pick a way of viewing the world. The child must decide if karma is guiding the events of their life or their own beliefs and actions. Research demonstrates that authoritative parenting styles generally raise more pro-active kids that understand the importance of setting goals and objectives. These young people understand how the actions they take can ensure they may or may not meet them. Authoritative parenting styles show the child that his/her actions have consequences, but is also deliver the lessons that teach the child how to make progress through the world.

Good discipline teaches children more than about what happens when they don’t follow the rules. This good discipline gives children a bigger road map for becoming successful adults. This is because an authoritative parenting style of discipline puts responsibility on the child for his or her actions. If their bad behavior has created a problem, the child understands they have the responsibility of fixing it. This teaches valuable lessons to the child about their own personal agency. They learn if they have a problem, they can fix it. This creates moment after moment of meaningful lessons that make the child feel more empowered, so that they can grow into empowered adults.

The authoritative parenting style still reminds the child that their needs are important, and need to be balanced out against their responsibilities to the world. This parenting style seeks to “balance the responsibility of the child to conform to the needs and demands of others with the rights of the child to be respected and have their own needs met” (Baer, 2016). This is just another form of old-fashioned boundary setting, but is something that forces the child to understand at a young age that there are things the world expects from him/her and that there things that he/she needs from the world. This will ensure that the child doesn’t grow into a doormat as an adult or someone with a take, take, take attitude. This is a difficult lesson to master, but repeated exposure to the authoritative parenting style will help the child find the appropriate balance in a variety of situations.

In summary, child discipline is about so much more than just what happens to young people when they are bad. Discipline is the tip of the iceberg of a parent’s overall parenting style. While many parenting styles are appropriate (and some are toxic), the authoritative parenting style asserts that the parent is the authority, but also that the child is an important, autonomous individual. Authoritative parenting means that the child understand what appropriate consequences for their actions are and why these consequences need to be enforced. Moreover, the child learns that his actions matter and can be used to take him forward in life and to solve problems. The authoritative parenting style better prepares the child for the demands of the adult world.


Thus, once one is familiar with the phrase “exemplification essay” and the reality of the demands of such an essay, it ceases to be very intimidating. Exemplification essays can be thought of as a more accessible type of argumentative essay. The essay is more accessible to the reader because the examples given are so illustrative. Rather than attempting to connect each point to some vague or over-complicated notion, the exemplification essay has concrete examples showing why certain viewpoints are correct. This can be tremendously persuasive for the average reader. As always, if you’re ever stuck, we have a roster of writers who are all too familiar with what teachers are looking for when they assign exemplification essays. Our writers can help nudge you along, edit what you’ve written, or offer meaningful suggestions to take your written essay to the next level. We’ve worked on so many of these essays that we know just what to do to keep your work looking both original and innovative.


Baer, D. (2016, October 20). Yes, There’s a Right Way to Discipline Your Kids. Retrieved from

Ernst, D. (2018, March 1). Condoleezza Rice defends gun rights on ‘The View,’ reminds hosts about ‘Bull’ Connor. Retrieved from

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