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What is a thesis statement


The thesis statement is an integral part of an essay introduction, and it is essential if you know how to write it and where to place it. College writing, more often than not, comes in the form of persuasion. However, persuasion means your ability to convince others that you have a logical and interesting point of view on the subject matter under review.

So, this persuasion is a skill that can be developed through continuous and daily practice — for example, persuading your parents to let you use the car, persuading your roommate to clean up the room, or persuading your friend to vote for your favorite policy or candidate.

Therefore, in college, course assignments usually demand you to be persuasive in writing and convincing your reader of your point of view. This form of persuasion is often called an academic argument that follows a predictable pattern in writing.

Now, following a brief introduction of your topic, you disclose your point of view and usually in one sentence. This sentence is called the thesis statement, and it is the summary of your argument, which you will emphasize in the body of the assignment.

What Is Thesis Statement?

Every assignment or paper should have a main idea, the main point, or a central message. Your argument(s) in the paper must reflect this central message. So, the sentence that captures your viewpoint on this main idea is the thesis statement.

It gives a reader an overview of what to expect in the body of the paper. It tells the reader ahead how you will interpret the significance of the topic under discussion.

Besides, the thesis statement answers the question asked of you. It is an interpretation of a subject or question, and not the subject itself. The topic or a subject of an essay might be the First World War, so, a thesis must offer a way to understand the war.

Also, it comes up with a claim that others might not agree with. Remember, it is a single sentence, usually at the end of the first paragraph. Here, it presents your argument to the reader. The body of your essay then gathers and organizes facts that will persuade your reader of the rationale or the logic behind the interpretations of the subject.

So, if your assignment requires you to develop a claim or take a position on a subject, you will need to express that claim or position in a thesis statement near the end of the first paragraph of your draft. It is possible the assignment does not explicitly states that you provide a thesis statement because your tutor may assume you will include one.

When it is not very clear to you, ask your instructor if a thesis statement is required. But note that, when an assignment requires you to interpret, compare and contrast, analyze, take a stand on an issue, or demonstrate cause and effect on an issue, it is likely that you are being requested to come with a thesis and to persuasively support your argument.

Why Should Essays Contain a Thesis Statement?

Your essays should contain a thesis statement because it provides the readers with a guide to your argument.

It helps you to organize and develop your argument better, and to test your ideas by capturing them into one or two sentences.

Steps In Constructing A Thesis Statement

A thesis is the outcome of a lengthy thinking process. After reading an essay assignment, drafting a thesis is not the first thing. Before coming up with an argument on a subject matter, you need to collect and organize evidence, identify the relationships between known facts (such as similarities and contrast), then think about the similarities of these relationships.

Once this is achieved, you will most likely have a working thesis that presents a main idea and argument which you can support with evidence. Though both thesis and argument are likely to be adjusted along the way.

So, follow the following steps in constructing a working thesis statement. Firstly, you need a proper analysis of your primary source. Identify your instructor’s interest, ambiguity, and or complications. Does the instructor contradict himself or herself? What are the deeper implications of the instructor’s argument? The fact of being able to answer the ‘why’ to one or more of these questions will put you on the path to coming up with a working thesis statement.

Without identifying the ‘why’, what you probably have come up with are mere observations, that there are, for example, several different metaphors in such-and-such a poem. That is not a thesis.

Secondly, once you have come up with a working thesis, write it down. It could be frustrating after hitting a great idea for a thesis and then forgetting it due to loss of concentration. So, writing down your thesis will make you forced to think of it concisely, clearly, and logically.

Writing out a final draft version of your thesis the first time you try might not be possible, but writing it down will surely get you on track.

Let your thesis be prominent in your introduction. The standard place for your thesis statement is at the end of the first paragraph, especially in 5-15-page essays. Readers find a thesis statement there, so they pay attention to the introductory paragraph. On the other hand, this is not required in all academic essays; it is a good rule of thumb.

Be expectant of counter-arguments. Once you have a thesis, anticipate what might be said against it, this will assist in refining your statement. Also, it will make you come up with arguments that will be used to refute later on in your essay. You must note that every argument has a counter-argument, if yours does not have, then it is not an argument. It may be an opinion or a fact but not an argument.

What Are The Criteria For Having A Good Thesis Statement?

A good thesis statement must be arguable, contestable, expressing points that people can reasonably disagree with. It, therefore, means that a strong thesis is provocative; it justifies and takes a stand on the subject matter.

It does not use vague language like “it seems”

A good thesis statement must avoid the use of the first person like “In my opinion,” “I believe”. It must pass the Who cares? or So what? Test.

It is focused and specific. It shows what the paper is about. It also helps you keep your assignment to a manageable topic.

For instance, writing a seven-to-ten-page paper on hunger might require you to say, ‘World hunger has many causes and effects.’ It is a weak thesis for two reasons. Firstly, world hunger cannot be thoroughly analyzed in a seven-to-ten pages paper. On the other hand, many causes and effects are vague. You must be specific in your reasons.

So, a revised thesis can look like this ‘Hunger persists in Africa because jobs are scarce, and farming in the infertile soil is not profitable.’ That is a strong thesis statement because it narrows down the specific causes for why hunger exists, and also it makes the subject more specific and manageable.

It looks forward to and refutes the counter-arguments.

Let us consider some examples of thesis statements.

Weak Thesis: Everyone should exercise. Why should I? What is in it for me?
Strong Thesis: Americans should include exercise to their daily morning routine because it not only reduces the risk of high blood pressure but also keeps their bodies at a healthy weight.

Analysis of the statement. Several specifications have been made. For example, Americans, and not everyone, daily morning routine, and not any other time in the day), prevention of high blood pressure and weight maintenance. That makes your research easier when your objectives are specific.

Weak Thesis: High level of alcohol consumption is bad for you. That is very broad. There should be specific detriments of alcohol consumption that you would like to talk about.

Strong Thesis: High level of alcohol consumption has detrimental effects on your personal health, such as heart disease, liver complications, and weight gain.
Analysis of the statement. You will discover the idea got specific, and only focus on the main areas you will explore. Do not state every detriment you are going to layout.

Weak Thesis: Reading can help develop a child’s analytical mind. The use of a word like “can” is not strong enough. This statement begs for the question of how? If you are willing to write several pages of assignment about the topic, make sure you are well-equipped to defend every point you make.

Strong Thesis: Reading develops a child's mind by increasing vocabulary, fostering comprehension skills, and opening them up to a new world they might not otherwise come across.

Analysis of the statement: Here, the writer has not only stated that reading is good, but has also provided benefits to be discussed in the body of the paper.

Weak Thesis: All retirees should move to Florida. The essay will need to look into several supporting claims. This broad thesis statement runs the risk of making you lose focus on several tangents.

Strong Thesis: Retirees should move to Florida, where 80% of Americans choose to live because they afford themselves the opportunity to develop a wide array of friendships.

Analysis of the statement: So, a paragraph can be introduced addressing the importance of friendship with testimonials describing how people can discover these meaningful new relationships.

Weak Thesis: The internet has improved the lives of several people.
So, while your statement may be true, and your readers may also agree with you. The question is, how has the internet improved people’s lives? Besides, you need to also run the thesis statement through the “what’s in it for me” test. Why should your readers care?  

Strong Thesis: The internet serves as a means of connecting people across the world, fostering new friendships, and an exchange of ideas that would not have occurred prior to its inception.

Analysis of the statement: Now, while the internet provides a host of benefits, we are focusing on its ability to exchange ideas and foster new friendships. We need to also show how this would not have been possible before the inception of the internet. Fantastic, the tighter your focus, the better the quality of your paper.

Weak Thesis: Organ donors should be financially rewarded. Why? What happens to donors that cause you to take this stance?

Strong Thesis: Giving the lifelong changes and grueling surgery they go through, kidney donors should be financially rewarded for their act of self-sacrifice.

Analysis of statement: There are several living organ donations. Just as with another strong thesis, here, the focus is clear, and any reader will easily comprehend that the paper is describing the grueling process of kidney donation in addition to forthcoming lifestyle changes.

In conclusion, it is important the thesis statement be streamlined to a specific focus; the entire paper or assignment has to have a direction with points forward to the conclusion.

The thesis statement also needs to be introduced at the end of the first paragraph. It must clearly state your stance and justify further discussions. In order to make your writing enjoyable, your thesis statement must be arguable. You are writing to persuade your readers to see things your way and, at other times, you are simply giving your strong belief and expressing your case for it.

A thesis statement is not the same as a statement of fact. Your instructor wants to read an assignment that engages them. Consequently, the thesis statement must be arguable and not factual. Note that engaging assignment cannot be written around a statement of facts, because there are facts and easy to prove. Concentrating on factual statements, therefore, prevents you from expressing your analytical skills and critical thinking, which your instructor wants to see. That makes your writing dull because you are just stating facts that are generally known to the public.

So, when next you are writing, the thesis statement should be your excellent guide in writing compelling and engaging assignments.

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