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How to Write an Effective Thesis Statement in Three Easy Steps

by Rebecca Epstein, Demand Media

    An academic essay needs a thesis statement to make sense and achieve coherence. A thesis is the sentence in the introduction that lets the reader know exactly what you will be writing about or arguing. If the thesis statement tells the reader your exact stance, the rest of the essay tells the reader why you think the way you do. It is important that a thesis statement not be too general because you won't have enough space to cover every possible aspect of your thesis statement.

    Step 1

    Ensure that you are clear on exactly what the assignment is asking. If you are not writing for an assignment, ask yourself a question relating to what you'd like to write, such as "What were the social, economic and personal factors that influenced my decision to attend college?"

    Step 2

    Answer the question. For example, an answer might be, "The factors that led to my decision to attend college were my family's long history of attending college, my placement in the upper-middle class, and my desire to become an engineer."

    Step 3

    Examine your thesis statement to make sure it is neither too broad nor too general. Include just enough information to guide the shaping of your essay without constricting it too much. Also check on the grammatical correctness of your thesis statement, and make sure it meets all assignment requirements. For example, are you allowed to state your personal opinion? Are you allowed to use first-person voice in your essay? Is the purpose of your essay to be informative, persuasive, entertaining, reflective or something else?

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    • Think ahead about how many body paragraphs you want your essay to have, not including the introduction and the conclusion. If you choose to have three, for example, you might want to list three elements in your thesis statement that you can cover, one in each paragraph.
    • Write your paper and then return to your thesis statement. You will often find you need to change it a little bit to match the rest of the paper.

    About the Author

    Rebecca Epstein has been writing since 2004 with work appearing in journals such as "The Seneca Review" and "Arts and Letters." She received her Bachelor of Science in human development with a concentration in neuropsychology from Cornell University and a Master of Fine Arts in fiction from the University of Arizona. Epstein is a MFA candidate in nonfiction at the University of Iowa.

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