Some aspects of writing are more challenging than others. Most high school and college students tasked with writing a thesis statement understand that it generally falls into the more challenging camp. Whether you are a skilled writer who approaches writing assignments with enthusiasm or a struggling writer who dreads them, knowing how to craft a quality thesis statement is the key to writing an effective essay or research paper.
What Is a Thesis Statement?
A thesis statement is the core of an essay. It is usually one but sometimes two sentences, which are often placed at the end of the introduction, and let the reader know what the essay will be about. If done properly, your thesis statement should read much like an outline in sentence form. Essays that are missing a thesis statement or have one that is inadequate will be harder for the writer to write and more challenging for the reader to follow and understand.
How to Come Up with Three Points for a Thesis Statement
A standard thesis statement has three main components: a narrowly defined topic, a claim and reasons that support the claim. If you want a strong thesis statement, you need to make sure that all three of these points are included in it.
First, identify your topic and narrow it down as much as possible. Clothing, for example, is too broad of a topic for a thesis statement. You could narrow it down to uniforms, but that is still too vague to truly know what type of uniforms the essay will explore. School uniforms is an example of a narrowly defined topic for a thesis statement.
Next, make a specific claim about the topic. Your claim is basically an assertion or opinion about the topic, but it needs to be debatable rather than obvious and socially relevant rather than personal. I like school uniforms because they make me feel proud of my school, for example, is not debatable and is only relevant to you. School uniforms should be required is a better claim because it is debatable and socially relevant.
Finally, include reasons that will support the claim you made, which are basically the “because” part of your thesis statement. Most essays require at least three reasons to properly support a claim. The reasons should be specific without going into too much detail. The details and examples belong in your body paragraphs, not your thesis statement. To figure out which reasons to include, identify the three main points you would like to make about your claim. For the claim about school uniforms, you might use reasons like: They make school safer, they promote school spirit, and they save parents money. These three main points essentially outline how the rest of your essay will be organized. The first reason (they make school safer) will be the sole focus of your first body paragraph where you will use evidence and examples to support that reason. The second reason (they promote school spirit) will be the sole focus of your second body paragraph, and the third reason (they save parents money) will be the focus of your fourth body paragraph.
So, an example three-point thesis statement would be: School uniforms should be required because they make school safer, promote school spirit and save parents money.
Characteristics of a Strong Thesis Statement
A strong thesis statement is one that includes all three essential components of a narrowly defined topic, debatable and socially relevant claim and reasons to support the claim. To develop a strong thesis statement, consider what you want your readers to know and why it is important.
“Zoos are bad” is an example of an incomplete and inadequate thesis statement because the claim is not very debatable and does not include any supporting reasons.
A stronger thesis statement would be more like: “Zoos should be banned because they are unethical, they change natural animal behavior, and they pose unnecessary risks to the animals in their care.” This thesis statement includes all of the necessary components and tells the reader exactly what points will be explored and supported in the essay.
Kristina Barroso earned a B.A. in Psychology from Florida International University and works full-time as a classroom teacher in a public school. She teaches middle school English to a wide range of students from struggling readers to advanced and gifted populations. In her spare time, she loves writing articles about education for TheClassroom.com, WorkingMother and other education sites.