Up Your Thesis Game with 4 Steps

Up Your Thesis Game with 4 Steps

It is tempting to use a recycled version of an essay theme as a thesis. (And, in fact, many high schools students do this.) It’s certainly easy to do. The truth is, writing a stellar thesis isn’t hard. An original thesis is your chance to present a unique argument—and who doesn’t like a good argument?

An excellent thesis serves two main purposes: (1) to provide your reader with an outline of thoughts contained in your essay, and (2) to keep your writing on task. Essentially, a thesis statement condenses the main idea of your essay into one or two sentences. Typically it is located at the end of your introductory paragraph.

Here are four simple steps to writing an amazing thesis guaranteed to impress even the most uncompromising teacher:

Step 1: Understand the task. You can’t expect to win a game if you don’t understand the rules, right? Same principle applies here. You need to understand exactly what the task is asking you to do before you begin scribbling ideas haphazardly into paragraphs.

It’s important to know that the rules are different depending on the type of essay you are writing. So step one is to read the assigned task carefully and understand the requirements.

Argumentative essay: Should college athletes be paid?

  • You need to take a stand and have a backbone for this type of essay. No middle-of-the-road here. Choose a side: either they should or they shouldn’t. What evidence do you have to support your claim?

Expository essay: How have trade routes impacted global communication?

  • Here you are required to provide facts and information. Consider what trade routes you will write about. What evidence of communication (or lack thereof) can be provided?

Analytical essay: Evaluate the impacts of communism in China under Mao Zedong

  • Here you have a specific topic that you need to break down and explain. You also need to take a stand and make a claim (hence the term evaluate). You need to explain the rule of Mao Zedong, what impacts he had on China, and whether those impacts were positive or negative.

Step 2: Brainstorm. Here is where you devise your battle strategy. Decide exactly what evidence the essay will include to support your claim. The best way to do this is a quick brainstorm.

Example: Should college athletes be paid?

Brainstorm ideas:

  • No
  • They already receive athletic scholarships which is like getting paid
  • Athletes are also rewarded by increased visibility to potential recruiters

Step 3: Build a mini-outline. Now string your ideas together using the word “because.” At any time during writing, if you find yourself drifting away from these ideas, you will need to: (1) re-work your thesis to include the additional evidence, or (2) get yourself back on track. This is the time to provide your reader with the down-and-dirty version of what this essay is about.

          Example:

College Athletes should not be paid because they all receive compensation in the form of scholarships and benefit from more visibility to potential professional recruiters.

How easy is that? Simply combine the task and the brainstorm! Voila!

Step 4: Analyze your word choice. Go back and re-read your thesis. Even read it aloud. Avoid words that suggest an opinion or are vague such as “good”—that term means something different to everyone. Another pitfall to avoid is being all inclusive (“all”) or exclusionary (“none”) unless you can substantiate that word choice with hard evidence.

          Our thesis:

College Athletes should not be paid because they all receive compensation in the form of scholarships and benefit from more visibility to potential professional recruiters.

Ask yourself: Do ALL college athletes receive full scholarships? Do you have evidence of that? If not, perhaps change the word “all” to “many” or “some.”

Our new and improved thesis:

College Athletes should not be paid because many receive compensation in the form of scholarships and benefit from more visibility to potential professional recruiters.

Ta-da! That’s it. Four easy steps to writing a stellar thesis.

Share this master thesis hack with others. You can help other students improve their writing game and maybe that uncompromising teacher will even give you extra credit.


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