A thesis statement is one of the most important elements of any successful essay. A thesis statement controls the subject matter of the essay and states something significant to the reader. It is the one statement that summarizes the main point of the essay and states why the essay is important and worth reading. An essay that lacks a strong thesis will be inadequate and often lacking in focus.
The following are qualities of a well-crafted thesis statement:
- A thesis statement should identify a specific purpose, a specific way to accomplish the purpose, and oftentimes a specific audience (depending on the type of essay).
- A thesis statement should assert something about the essay.
- A thesis statement should be easily identifiable by a reader and should be clear and not ambiguous.
- A thesis statement generally comes toward the end of the introduction.
Examples of thesis statements:
"In order to succeed in the classroom, college students need to utilize the resources available to them throughout their academic careers." Notice how this thesis statement includes a specific audience (college students), a specific purpose (success in the classroom) and the specific way this can be accomplished (utilizing available resources).
"The United States government needs to implement a nationalized healthcare system to lower the cost of healthcare and improve the overall health of all citizens." Notice how, much like the above example, this thesis statement also has a specific purpose (lowering the cost of healthcare and improving health) and a specific way to do so (implementing national healthcare). What this thesis does not address, because of the nature of the essay and topic, is a specific audience. A thesis statement for an argument essay does not always address a specific audience since it is written to broader audience with the attempt to persuade others to a specific viewpoint.
Just as the contents of the essay may change during the writing process, so, too, may the thesis statement. It is important to create a thesis statement before writing the paper, but this type of thesis is generally referred to as a working thesis and may change along with the contents of the essay. It is important that a writer uses the thesis to direct the creation of the essay, but it is also important that the writer is open to changing the thesis as necessary.
A reader should be able to easily identify the thesis in any essay. If someone reads your essay and cannot identify where the thesis statement is located, take this as a sign that the thesis is not clear and/or is not as specific or strong as it can be. Make sure that the thesis stands out and can be easily interpreted.
For more information on writing an effective thesis statement, please see the thesis statement exercise.
What is a Thesis Statement?
The thesis statement is the sentence that states the main idea of a writing assignment and helps control the ideas within the paper. It is not merely a topic. It often reflects an opinion or judgment that a writer has made about a reading or personal experience. For instance: Tocqueville believed that the domestic role most women held in America was the role that gave them the most power, an idea that many would hotly dispute today.
What Makes a Strong Thesis Statement?
- A strong thesis statement gives direction to the paper and limits what you need to write about. It also functions to inform your readers of what you will discuss in the body of the paper. All paragraphs of the essay should explain, support, or argue with your thesis.
- A strong thesis statement requires proof; it is not merely a statement of fact. You should support your thesis statement with detailed supporting evidence will interest your readers and motivate them to continue reading the paper.
- Sometimes it is useful to mention your supporting points in your thesis. An example of this could be: John Updike's Trust Me is a valuable novel for a college syllabus because it allows the reader to become familiar with his writing and provides themes that are easily connected to other works. In the body of your paper, you could write a paragraph or two about each supporting idea. If you write a thesis statement like this it will often help you to keep control of your ideas.
Where Does the Thesis Statement Go?
A good practice is to put the thesis statement at the end of your introduction so you can use it to lead into the body of your paper. This allows you, as the writer, to lead up to the thesis statement instead of diving directly into the topic. If you place the thesis statement at the beginning, your reader may forget or be confused about the main idea by the time he/she reaches the end of the introduction. Remember, a good introduction conceptualizes and anticipates the thesis statement.
Tips for Writing/Drafting Thesis Statements
- Know the topic. The topic should be something you know or can learn about. It is difficult to write a thesis statement, let alone a paper, on a topic that you know nothing about. Reflecting on personal experience and/or researching will help you know more information about your topic.
- Limit your topic. Based on what you know and the required length of your final paper, limit your topic to a specific area. A broad scope will generally require a longer paper, while a narrow scope will be sufficiently proven by a shorter paper.
- Brainstorm. If you are having trouble beginning your paper or writing your thesis, take a piece of paper and write down everything that comes to mind about your topic. Did you discover any new ideas or connections? Can you separate any of the things you jotted down into categories? Do you notice any themes? Think about using ideas generated during this process to shape your thesis statement and your paper.