How to Identify a Hypothesis

Three person using laptops while sitting on ladder.jpg

Identifying a hypothesis allows students to know what is being proven by a particular experiment or paper. Being able to determine the overall point not only makes you a more effective reader but also better at formulating your own theories when writing your own paper. By asking a few simple questions while you read, you should be able to pick out the intent of the author and identify the hypothesis.

1 Read over the beginning of the material

Read over the beginning of the material while asking what the purpose of the introduction is.

2 Look for if-then statements

Look for if-then statements. This type of wording is usually the hypothesis. It lays out a position for the overall paper or project.

3 Ask if the if-then statement

Ask if the if-then statement is testable or provable. Is this the type of statement you could supply evidence for in order to prove? Decide if you agree with the hypothesis. This puts you in a position to be convinced as you read the paper or follow the experiment.

4 Read through the rest of the paper

Read through the rest of the paper to determine if it is going in the direction you suspect. If you get to a point where the words seem to be proving something entirely different, revisit the first paragraph to see if there is another if-then statement.

  • Try not to jump to conclusions. Read the paragraph thoroughly through a few times to be certain you have not missed any other potential hypothesis.
  • When presented with the information, ask yourself what you would aim to prove. Oftentimes you will formulate a similar question. While your expectations might be different, picking out the hypothesis can be easier.
  • Not every hypothesis is accurate. Part of testing a theory is determining if the expectation is accurate. By the end of the paper the writer might draw a new conclusion. The author could even take that space to formulate an entirely new hypothesis.
  • Practice writing if-then statements. The more familiar you are with formulating hypothesis statements the better you will be at identifying the hypothesis.

Pharaba Witt has worked as a writer in Los Angeles for more than 10 years. She has written for websites such as USA Today, Red Beacon, LIVESTRONG, WiseGeek, Web Series Network, Nursing Daily and major film studios. When not traveling she enjoys outdoor activities such as backpacking, snowboarding, ice climbing and scuba diving. She is constantly researching equipment and seeking new challenges.