How to Choose a Topic for Your High School MLA Research Paper

Time for paper writing? Here’s how to choose a topic for your high school MLA research paper.

How to Choose a Topic for Your High School MLA Research Paper

How to Choose a Topic for Your High School MLA Research Paper

Choosing a topic for the homeschool high school research paper is the most daunting part of the paper. In my years as homeschool high school advisor, I’ve seen teens stall out on that part until they can take some solid, simple steps to get it started.

Fortunately, I’ve been able to point them to the MLA Research Paper Writing Guide by my 7Sisters sister, Allison Thorp. Allison has been coaching homeschool high schoolers through the research paper writing process for decades.

MLA research paper writing guide

Here is her advice (from the Research Paper Writing Guide) on how to choose a topic for your high school MLA research paper:

For many writing assignments you are given a specific topic or question to answer. Usually, though, you are the one deciding the topic for your research paper.

This can be a blessing and a challenge. It is a blessing because you are not forced to write on a topic in which you have no interest or which is totally unknown to you. It is a challenge because you have to come up with something on your own, and there are endless possibilities.

Choosing your topic wisely is vitally important to the success of your research project. Here are some steps to get you started.

1. Determine the broad subject: Choose something of personal interest or a school related topic which might enhance another subject for the year. If you are a little nervous about this project, choose a subject with which you are somewhat familiar. As you research you will learn a lot more, but you won’t start off in the dark.

2. Explore subtopics: Check the table of contents in general source books about your subject. Skim encyclopedia articles or internet sources on your subject. Jot down possible subtopics which look interesting. *See appendix, page 29, for some suggested subjects and subtopics.*

Once you have chosen a specific subject area and some possible topics within it, you need to explore it a bit to determine exactly what you want to research and write about in your paper. Read a general book or encyclopedia-type article about your topic BEFORE you begin doing specific research and taking notes.

This helps you develop an overall sense of the material before you break it down into specifics. This source does not have to be difficult, or even high school level. You just want to get your brain wrapped around the subject you are going to be covering.

Allison goes on to coach homeschool high schoolers through the process of NARROWING DOWN the topic so that it is not overwhelming and can fit in a 7-10 page research paper.

Download your MLA Research Paper Writing Guide for more step-by-step coaching for paper-writing success!

APA Style Research Paper Writing Guide
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For more information on other high school research paper writing styles see this post.


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How to Choose a Topic for Your High School MLA Research Paper

Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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