A thesis statement is a central element of an academic essay and an important academic writing skill. It presents the major message of the paper and a short summary of the points you make. This way, a thesis statement prepares your reader and facilitates understanding.
It is a thesis statement that adds logic and coherency to your writing.
A logical and coherent essay can be written only around a thesis statement: presented in the introduction, supported in the body paragraphs, and restated in the conclusion.
The good news is that once you have a strong thesis statement, you know what to include into each of these elements of an essay structure.
So let me show you what a strong thesis statement looks like.
What Makes a Good Thesis Statement
- Being relevant to the essay type. A good thesis statement is relevant to the goal of an assay. If your goal is to argue, a thesis statement should present an argument; if your goal is to compare, it compares, and so on. If you need to analyze a debate on an argumentative topic, and your thesis statement argues your own position on it, do not expect an effective essay or a good grade.
- Being debatable. Purdue Owl Writing Lab emphasizes that a strong thesis statement is debatable. What does it mean? It should not be common knowledge, a fact, or something all reasonable people will agree to like “Violence is bad for society”. To be debatable, a thesis statement should be a summary of your own conclusions, which can be debated or refuted by the reader.
- Being narrow. Neither a short essay nor even a thesis is able to cover all the controversies of a large topic. Thus, an essay topic and, consequently, a thesis statement should be narrowed. This means that instead of arguing that “People should avoid sexism”, you can argue that “The X country should start regulating sexism in job proposals and on job interviews”.
- Having a nice parallel structure. If you include reasons in your thesis statement, it becomes a rather long sentence. To facilitate reading and understanding, make sure your thesis statement has a parallel structure. For example, “The United States should refuse from capital punishment overall, as this practice is irreversible, extremely expensive for the state, and painful for the victims’ relatives” or “Capital punishment should be forbidden as it allows killing people, whose innocence may be proven later, triggers enormous expenses, and causes suffering to the victims’ relatives due to long and repetitive trials”.
Thesis Statement for an Argumentative Essay
A thesis statement for an argumentative essay should show your position – the claim you make regarding the controversial topic. There are three types of claims you can make:
- claim of fact (X happens/is true/is false)
- claim of value (X is bad/good)
- claim of policy (we/everyone/the state should/should not do X)
Mind, in most of the cases you have to avoid using personal pronouns; thus, you can’t write, “I think the Internet ruins our mind.” Instead, you write a claim you make, “the Internet ruins the human mind”, and support it with several arguments.
Therefore, here are the best patterns to use:
Because of A, B, and C, the claim is such.
The claim is such as it (is) A, B, C.
Using such a pattern is great, for it helps you structure your essay and add logic and coherence to it, as each supporting point becomes a topic sentence of a paragraph developing the idea. For example, the essay with on capital punishment can have three paragraphs beginning with such sentences:
1 para: There have been many cases when people, executed for a crime, were eventually proven not guilty.
2 para: The experts emphasize that capital punishment does not reduce the level of crime, so the enormous expenses associated with the trial and execution are not justified.
3 para: Furthermore, a long process of conviction puts extra pressure on victims’ relatives and keeps their wounds sore.
You may also formulate a thesis statement around several aspects of the issue. For example,
“Contrary to concerns, the Internet promotes both individual intelligence and the collective intelligence of society.”
Thesis Statement for Other Types of Academic Essays
The purpose of thesis statements is to inform the reader what your essay wants to say. As different types of essay accomplish different missions, their thesis statements will differ.
A thesis statement for a school essay/ Toefl or IELTS essay should state your opinion and present the supporting points just like an argumentative essay. The main difference is that you can freely use “I” and include personal facts as reasons supporting your position. For example,
I believe it is better to live in the city because A, B, C.
A thesis statement for a compare and contrast paper has to show the actual similarities and/or differences you have found in the pieces you have been comparing. For example,
Although Edmund Wall and Vaughana Feary both consider harassment an unwelcome statement or conduct of a sexual character, their ideas differ in several important points, which makes the scholars view cases of (possible) sexual harassment differently.
A thesis statement for a rhetorical analysis essay should state whether the author has created a persuasive argument and what made him (not)succeed in doing so. For example,
The author managed to build a persuasive argument in favor of … due to the effective use of ethos, logos and pathos. or
The author has started with an effective argument in favor of a gun carry, but later focus on emotional appeal with little factual support has weakened the author’s argument.
When your task is to analyze a poem, a short story or an article, your thesis statement should explain what the text communicates and how (what supporting points the author uses in his argument). For example,
The poem … creates a vivid image of war due to A, B, C (e.g. the use of metaphors, alliteration, etc.)
In the article …, Author creates an effective argument against the use of technology at school.
A thesis statement for a response paper should give your evaluation of the source, tell what you consider its core strengths and weaknesses. For example,
I consider the article by … to be biased and based on unsupported generalizations.
The chapter … gives a very good insight of …
A thesis statement for a literature review should provide a conclusion you have made. Note, this is not a conclusion on separate sources, it is a conclusion on the existing knowledge on the topic. Here are some examples of such thesis statement:
Despite the long history of enquire into the effect of TV viewing on children, the topic remains controversial.
According to research, parental divorce has a particularly negative impact on children.
A thesis statement for the problem and solution essay has to state what solution is best to the problem you consider:
Investing in the healthcare of developing nations is the most humane and effective way to tackle overpopulation.
A thesis statement for a cause and effect essay should either identify the cause for a particular effect or an effect for a particular cause. For example,
A growing rate of divorces is the consequence of A, B, C (changing society values, poor communication skills, unrealistic expectations of marriage, etc.).
Bullying has multiple long-term effects such as A, B, C (lower self-esteem, inability to trust people, etc.)
Place and Length of a Thesis Statement
A thesis statement usually appears at the end of an introduction and is usually one sentence.
When you are allowed or expected to be creative, you may violate this rule and finish with something emphatic. Consider the following example. Here, a thesis statement is a last but one sentence so that an introduction finishes with an emphatic direct quotation:
Though there are theories of the future, where the humans benefit from the merge with robots, the prospects of humans to be the governing force in this new form of life are rather doom. As Lev Grossman puts it, “You don’t have to be a super-intelligent cyborg to understand that introducing a superior life-form into your own biosphere is a basic Darwinian error”.
If you include a roadmap for the paper, place it at the end of the first paragraph, after a thesis statement.
Do not confuse a thesis statement with a roadmap!
A roadmap is a description of what the paper will consider; it is a short plan of the paper, which helps the reader not to get lost. It is usually included only in longer works with several sections or even chapters. A roadmap may look like this,
Chapter 1 will be devoted to … Chapter 2 will look into … Therefore, Chapter 3 will consider … A Conclusion will …
“This paper will look into the effect of the Internet on people’s mind” is neither a thesis nor a roadmap. Forget such pattern once and for all!
In a better case, if the paper was meant to investigate the debate over the effect of the Internet, the statement will be considered a weak thesis statement. However, if you had to write an argumentative essay, you can get F (yes, Fail) because the main purpose of an argumentative essay is to argue and make a claim.
How do I write a thesis statement?
First, do your research: do a rhetorical analysis of a persuasive piece you have chosen, analyze two texts you are comparing and note similarities and differences, analyze several different positions that writers of credible sources take and note, which argument sounds more convincing for you, etc. If you have made your research right, you might already have a clue about what to include in your thesis statement using one of the above examples as a sample.
Can you help me with my thesis statement?
Yes, for sure. You may ask for support in this Facebook group I have created.
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What is the formula for a thesis statement?
One formula of thesis statement won’t help, as a thesis statement is different for different types of academic essays. Even if you manage to find a ready-made thesis statement example for your topic, I would not recommend using it. Your thesis statement should summarise the arguments you are going to make – the ones, for which you have found support in credible sources. Using someone’s else thesis statement might make the process of research longer.
How do you write a thesis statement in APA format?
The process of writing a thesis statement is similar for all formatting styles. A thesis statement does not require any specific formatting: bolding, italics, etc. It is just a normal sentence that you include at the end of your introduction.