College students are often required to ask questions about causes and effects, a rhetorical pattern known as causal analysis. A cause-effect paper can have one or several purposes. Generally, the paper addresses either causes or effect; it rarely does both. Writing an effective thesis statement for a cause and effect paper requires the reader to organize his thoughts clearly and properly set expectations for the paper.

Chart a Course

As the writer of a cause-effect paper, your obligation is to explain how a series of factors -- the causes -- have brought about a consequence, or an effect. The opposite also could be true: One factor may have triggered several consequences. Either way, write a thesis statement that charts a course for your paper. Such an example might be: “When I look back on that time with an adult perspective, I see that three life-altering events converged in propelling me to spend one year traveling the Italian countryside after high school.”

Follow that Course Logically

Your reader will expect you to explain the three life-altering events in some detail. Let's say that they are: the death of your best friend, the divorce of your parents and an unexpected inheritance from a distant aunt. Cover each point thoroughly, one at a time, before moving on to the next. By the end of your fully developed essay, your reader should fully understand how those three causes affected your decision to travel abroad.