Thesis Statement


A thesis is the result of a lengthy thinking process. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment. Before you develop an argument on any topic, you have to collect and organize evidence, look for possible relationships between known facts (such as surprising contrasts or similarities), and think about the significance of these relationships. Once you do this thinking, you will probably have a “working thesis,” a basic or main idea, an argument that you think you can support with evidence but that may need adjustment along the way. Writers use all kinds of techniques to stimulate their thinking and to help them clarify relationships or comprehend the broader significance of a topic and arrive at a thesis statement.

Every paper you write should have a main point, the main idea, or the central message. The argument(s) you make in your paper should reflect this main idea. The sentence that captures your position on this main idea is what we call a thesis statement. A thesis statement focuses your ideas into one or two sentences, near the end of the introduction; sometimes, in a long paper, the thesis will be expressed in several sentences or in an entire paragraph. A thesis statement makes an argumentative assertion about a topic; it states the conclusions that you have reached about your topic; identifies the relationships between the pieces of evidence that you are using to support your argument. It also makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of your paper.

The thesis statement will reflect the kind of paper being written. There are three kinds of papers: analytical, expository, and argumentative. An analytical paper breaks down an issue or an idea into its component parts evaluates the issue or idea and presents this breakdown and evaluation to the audience. While an expository (explanatory) paper explains something to the audience only. In addition, an argumentative paper makes a claim about a topic and justifies this claim with specific evidence. The claim could be an opinion, a policy proposal, an evaluation, a cause-and-effect statement, or an interpretation. The goal of the argumentative paper is to convince the audience that the claim is true based on the evidence provided.

An analytical thesis statement
An analysis of the college admission process reveals one challenge facing counselors: accepting students with high test scores or students with strong extracurricular backgrounds.

Here, the thesis statement reveals the analysis of the college admission process along with the challenge facing admissions counselors.

An expository (explanatory) thesis statement
The life of the typical college student is characterized by time spent studying, attending class, and socializing with peers.

Here, the thesis statement explains how students spend their time studying, attending class, and socializing with peers.

An argumentative thesis statement
High school graduates should be required to take a year off to pursue community service projects before entering college in order to increase their maturity and global awareness.

Here, the thesis statement presents an argument and gives evidence to support the claim that students should pursue community projects before entering college.

A thesis statement directly answers the question asked of you and makes a claim that others might dispute. However, making a thesis statement better is an orderly process: first, deciding on a topic or subject area. Second, do some preliminary research on the topic to obtain an overview of the relevant aspects of your subject area. Third, once you have decided what your topic will be and have done some research, consider what wording will clearly and accurately express the main idea(s) or concept(s) you will discuss in your paper. Fourth, write your thesis as a statement, not a question. Fifth, revising and finishing your thesis statement is consistent with what is presented in your paper.

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