Nearly all of us – whether we do it consciously or not – usually look at the paper’s first section, for a sentence (or two) that talks about the argument or analysis that should follow.
So, what is a thesis statement? It’s a sentence that ties together an argument’s main idea.
In the context of a dissertation, it’s a statement that gives the topic’s summary and declares the writer’s position on it.
After reading your thesis, the reader will decide whether to continue reading your paper or not.
That’s why you should create a powerful thesis statement that will make someone want to read the rest of the paper.
A thesis statement usually fits at the end of the introductory paragraph of a dissertation.
Here are tips on writing a thesis statement:
Determine The Type Of Paper You Are Writing
The paper type will determine the kind of thesis you write. Here are different types of papers and examples of the thesis under them:
i. An analytical paper – It breaks down an idea or issue into components, evaluates the idea or issue, and presents the evaluation and breakdown to the reader.
An analytical thesis statement example:
Analyzing the college admission process shows that the main challenge that counselors face is admitting students with the best test scores or those with a strong extracurricular background.
In this case, the paper should:
Explain the challenge that admissions counselors face or
Analyze the process of college admission
ii. The expository paper typically explains something to the reader.
An expository thesis statement example:
A college student’s life is characterized by attending classes, studying, and socializing with peers.
Thus, the paper that follows ought to:
Explain how college students spend their time attending classes, studying and socializing with their peers.
iii. An argumentative paper often makes a claim about a certain topic and uses specific evidence to justify this claim.
The claim can be an opinion, a cause-and-effect statement, a policy proposal, an interpretation, or an evaluation.
The argumentative paper’s goal is to convince the reader that the claim is true according to the evidence given.
An argumentative thesis statement:
High school graduates need to take one year off to participate in community service projects before joining college to increase their global awareness and maturity.
Thus, the resulting paper should:
Provide an argument and evidence in support of the claim that high school grads should be involved in community service before going to college.
If your paper doesn’t fall under any of the above three categories, such as, if it’s a narrative essay, you should still include a well-thought-out thesis statement in the first paragraph to help guide your reader.
2. The thesis statement should be specific. In other words, it should address only what you intend to discuss in the paper. You should provide specific evidence to support it.
3. Include the thesis statement at the end of your paper’s first paragraph.
4. As you keep writing the paper, your topic may change. Thus, you should consider revising the thesis statement to reflect what you covered in the paper.
How To Formulate Thesis If The Topic Is Assigned
Nearly all assignments, regardless of their complexity, may be reduced into one question. The first step, therefore, is to distill your assignment into a particular question.
For instance, if the assignment states, “Create a report to be presented to the school board discussing the possible advantages of using laptop computers in a fifth-grade class,” you can turn it into a question such as, “What are the possible advantages of using computers among fifth-graders?”
Once you have created a question that the essay will answer, formulate a sentence or two that answers the question.
Question: “What are the possible advantages of using computers in a fifth-grade class?”
Answer: “The possible advantages of using computers in a fifth-grade class are …..”
The answer to your question becomes the essay’s thesis statement.
How To Create Thesis If The Topic Is Not Assigned?
At times, your assignment may not present a specific question.
But even in that case, you should still create a thesis statement that answers a question regarding the issue you want to address in your paper.
In that case, you should come up with a question your writing will answer.
A good thesis statement should have the following characteristics:
Take on a topic upon which a reasonable person could disagree
Address a topic that can be exhaustively discussed given the assignment’s nature
Express a single idea
Provide your conclusion about the topic
Arguable – it shouldn’t be obvious or something that everyone can agree with.
Example: How to make a thesis statement for a social policy paper.
Brainstorm A topic
Let’s suppose you have an assignment that focuses on the problems resulting from Americans’ dietary habits.
You decide to narrow down to the sugar amounts that Americans take.
In a bid to craft a good thesis statement, you start by writing it like this:
While this phrase isn’t a thesis statement, it sheds light on the general subject. Besides, the reader isn’t aware of what you’d like to explain regarding sugar consumption.
After some study, you conclude that elementary school children consume unhealthy amounts of sugar.
Narrow Your Topic
So, you decide to narrow your topic to:
Reducing the consumption of sugar among elementary school children
This fragment announces your subject. It also focuses on the population’s specific segment: elementary school children.
It also raises a topic that could make a reasonable person disagree. While most people may admit that children consume a higher amount of sugar than is required, not everyone may agree on what ought to be done or who needs to do it.
Note that this fragment isn’t a thesis statement, as the reader isn’t aware of your conclusions regarding the topic.
Take Your Position On The Topic
After a thorough reflection on the topic, you decide the direction you want to take is that something ought to be done to lower the sugar amounts that children consume.
Thus, you edit the thesis into this:
The food and beverage choices provided to elementary school children should be given more attention.
Get specific in your language
You go ahead to break down the meaning of food and beverage choices. Thus, you write:
Nutritionists estimate that 50 percent of elementary school children consume up to nine times the acceptable daily sugar allowance.
While this statement is specific, it isn’t a thesis. Instead of making an assertion, it only gives a statistic.
Create an assertion based on the statistic
You finally refine the thesis to read:
Because experts reveal that 50 percent of elementary school children consume as high as nine times the acceptable daily amount of sugar, schools should replace soda and ice-cream with healthy alternatives.
There you have it; a clear thesis statement that answers this question, “What needs to be done to reduce the amount of sugar that elementary school children consume, and who should do it?”
Remember, when you began thinking about this paper, a specific question probably didn’t pop in your mind.
However, as you started interacting with the topic a little more, ideas became vivid and more specific.
Your thesis started became a reflection of your new insights.
What’s Not A Thesis Statement
1. A question – Readers expect to have questions explored, answered, or discussed. A question such as, “What led to the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe?” isn’t an argument, and when there isn’t an argument, a thesis is dead on arrival.
2. A list – “For economic, political, cultural, and social reasons, communism had to collapse in Eastern Europe” will do a good job in showing the reader what to expect in the paper.
But the sentence lacks tension and fails to advance an argument.