Your thesis statement is the most important part of your paper. It is the place where you state your topic and your position on that topic. It signals your purpose and serves as a “road map” for the rest of your work. A thesis statement can “make or break” your paper. So it’s worth it to take the extra time to craft one that serves you well.
Here are the critical components of a winning thesis statement.
1. It appears early in your essay
The thesis statement offers a sense of direction and should appear in your introduction as a guide to the reader. Usually, the best place will be at the end of the first paragraph, or near the beginning of the second paragraph for longer essays. If you bury it somewhere in the middle of the paper, your arguments will not seem clear or purposeful.
2. It’s one or two sentences
A tightly focused thesis states the topic and your position briefly, usually in just one sentence. If that sentence becomes too big and sprawling, you may consider breaking it up into two.
3. It’s specific
A vague, general thesis statement that doesn’t really say anything will not serve you. Get straight to the point. Avoid generic, meaningless words like “interesting,” “difficult,” “very” and “really.” Also do not use vague words like “the public” or “society” without clearly defining exactly what they mean.
4. It clearly reflects what you write about in your paper
Go back to your thesis statement several times as you craft your paper. If it no longer reflects the points you make, you may need to revise it. Every part of your essay needs to support your thesis in some way. It’s easier to revise the thesis statement than the entire paper.
5. It directly reflects the question asked of you
If you are responding to a question prompt, make sure that you read the question several times as you craft your thesis statement. The thesis should be a direct answer to the question posed in the prompt. Even the best writing will not help you if you have failed to accomplish the purpose of the assignment.
6. It takes a position that others might oppose
A good essay takes a position on an issue rather than simply reporting facts. Your paper will be much stronger if your thesis digs beneath the surface to make a convincing argument instead just presenting a summary.
7. It passes the “So what?” test
A strong thesis connects to large issues. Don’t just say something is “good;” explain exactly why it’s good. Do not leave it as a vague, open-ended argument. Make sure your reader knows precisely where you stand.
Here are some examples of strong thesis statements.
“Pornographic films portray the human body in a way that is degrading to both women and men.”
“Mark Twain’s representation of the character of Jim in the novel Huckleberry Finn shows that the author was ahead of his time on the issue of racism.”
“America’s love of fast food has led to widespread health problems such as heart disease and diabetes.”
“Privately owned cars contribute to a high percentage of air pollution in the US.”
“Technology in kindergarten classrooms gives students significant advantages in their later learning.”
Notice that these examples are all very specific and take a clear position.
With a well-crafted thesis statement, you will be well on your way to a well-written and persuasive essay.