Essay Help: How to Develop Strong Thesis Statements

Have you ever seen a movie trailer on YouTube and thought “I really have to see this movie”? It’s because good movie trailer provides a short insight into the movie plot while still intriguing enough to make you want to see the movie and find out what’s going to happen.

When it comes to essays, thesis statements should accomplish the same thing. Essays and other papers must begin with debatable thesis or claim. Basically, thesis should offer differing opinions or different aspects of some particular topic. The reason is simple; when writing an essay your job is to convince the reader that your argument is valid. If thesis is something that is generally agreed upon, then there’s no need to persuade reader in the first place.

Read more Essay Structure articles:

Writing high-quality essays and other argumentative works depends on how you develop your thesis. I like to write an outline for my essays, determine every step of the process. Frankly, if you don’t develop your thesis adequately then your entire plan will suffer. Throughout this article I’m going to show you how to develop strong thesis statements. It’s easier than it seems, trust me.


Why thesis statement is a must?

  • It tests your ideas

  • Helps organize and develop an argument

  • Providers a reader with guidelines to your argument

  • Readers know what to expect from the paper

  • Makes a claim that others should dispute.


Debatable vs. non-debatable thesis statement

Before I list some useful tips and tricks you should use to create strong thesis statement it’s important to know the difference between debatable and non-debatable thesis.

Debatable statement (statement with which other people might or might not agree)

Example: At least 25% of the federal budget should be spent on preserving rivers in the country.

Non-debatable statement (statement with which no-one would agree or disagree, fact)

Rivers are heavily polluted nowadays which has a big impact on fish and other animal species.


Length of the thesis statement

Essays and other works might seem overwhelming to you at first and most writers or students make a common mistake by writing thesis statements that are too long. This happens because the length of essays makes them believe they should take a lot of time and space to elaborate their thesis as well. This is a trap!

Generally, the narrower the thesis statement the better. Why? It’s because your argument will be more effective as well. When it comes to the actual size of thesis, there’s no one size fits all rule. Ideally, you should make sure it’s long enough to intrigue the reader and establish the course of your essay. And it shouldn’t make the reader feel like you’re dragging the sentence.

Your thesis should be in introduction of your essay.


Types of claims

Claims made in thesis statements can be divided into four categories such as:

  • Fact or definition – arguing about definition of something or whether something is determined as a fact

  • Cause and effect – arguing that one person, thing or event caused another event

  • Value – arguing about worth of something i.e. how we would rate or categorize something

  • Solutions or policies – arguing for or against a certain solution or policy approach to a problem.

Type of claim you should use in your thesis statement depends on your audience, overall approach to a topic, knowledge of the topic etc.


Constructing a thesis

To construct a strong thesis statement you should:

  • Analyze primary sources – look for tension, ambiguity, controversy or other complications regarding the essay topic

  • Write down your ideas – you can either write down entire thesis statement or you can list useful info you come across while completing the step above. Use info you wrote as guidelines to create a powerful thesis statement

  • Keep thesis prominent in the introduction – it shouldn’t be strategically placed at the end of introductory paragraph

  • Anticipate counterarguments – once you come up with your thesis think about what the essay reader(s) could say against it, in case they don’t agree. Then, refine the thesis in order to strengthen your argument. Remember, it should make people wonder and debate.


How to create thesis statement when topic is assigned

In most cases your professor or client will assign you a certain topic that you should analyze. Here, you have to divide the assignment into a specific question that you’d like to discuss throughout the essay. Let’s say your assignment is “Write a report to the local school board explaining potential benefits of using multimedia approach in third-grade class.”

Then, choose one or two questions your essay will answer such as: What are the potential benefits of using multimedia approach in third-grade class?

The answer to your question is your thesis statement.


How to create thesis statement when topic is not assigned

Sometimes you won’t have specific essay topic or title and you’ll have to come up with your work, its course and argument etc. or maybe you’ll get a title but it doesn’t ask some specific question that you could use to come up with thesis statement. When this happens, your job is to come up with the question yourself. Ideally, you should take on a subject of thesis statement that some people would agree while others would disagree with. When topic isn’t assigned (or there’s no question you should discuss) you can also follow the rules from constructing a thesis section.

Thesis statement should not be

  • A question

  • A list

  • Vague, combative or confrontational

  • Basic and general.


How do I know my thesis statement is strong?

I always ask myself that question and it used to torment me. I would constantly think about thesis statement and whether I constructed it properly even after I submitted my paper to the client. But, to prevent frustrations that come with obsessing over this problem, when you’re done with thesis ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I answer the essay question?

  • Have I taken the question that others might oppose or challenge?

  • Is my thesis specific enough?

  • Would my thesis pass the “So what” test? (if you believe a reader would ask himself or herself “So what?” after reading your thesis, then you have to clarify)

  • Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering?

  • Is my thesis too general?

Thesis statement should aim to provide a brief insight into your essay while still making people debate and take sides. Follow tips from this article to create a strong thesis and demonstrate your knowledge of the specific subject and academic writing skills.

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