How to Write a Personal Narrative Essay: Example & Topics

Instructor: Marquis Grant

Marquis has a Doctor of Education degree.

This lesson will highlight personal narrative essay topics and examples that will allow your students to write from their own experiences. A short quiz will follow to test your knowledge about personal narrative essay writing.


Personal narratives are great ways to have your students write from their own perspectives. Unlike many other forms of writing (i.e. expository, persuasive), personal narratives give them a way to express what they are feeling or thinking on an individual level, with you as the teacher offering them guidance along the way. Although you will choose the topics that your students will be writing about, they will pretty much have the freedom to engage in the composition process using their own insights and creativity to produce a final product.

Even though your students are writing about their own personal experiences, they will need to have a rubric, or guideline, that will tell them exactly what you are looking for in their essays. You will want to be as detailed as possible about your expectations, because your students should be able to refer back to the rubric as they are completing drafts of the essay. Many rubrics are based on points. For example, you may ask students to give at least four descriptive details about an event that took place that they will write about. Every detail would then be assigned a point, so a student that includes all four descriptive details earns four points, whereas three details would earn three points. As the number of details decrease, so would the student's overall points.

Topics and Examples

Depending on the age of your students, their experiences may be limited. This is why personal narrative topics should be age-appropriate, so that they can relate to that which they are expected to write about. However, there are several common topics that can be used to get your students into creative mode.

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