Developing a good thesis statement is the most important part of an essay. It presents your opinion or argument and lets the reader know what to expect from the paper.
Where do you start?
You have either been assigned a topic or have a topic of your own. A topic, however, is just the first part of coming up with a thesis statement. Let’s say your topic is texting and driving. The next step is coming up with a question about texting and driving around which you will form your opinion. You may want to brainstorm several questions until you have one you like.
Texting and Driving
Who is texting and driving?
Is it really that dangerous?
What kind of laws exist about texting and driving?
Why do people text and drive?
Let’s say you choose the second question and do some research. You find out that texting while driving is just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.
Here is what the process of finding your thesis statement might look like:
Topic: Texting and driving
Question: Is it really that dangerous?
Answer: It is as dangerous as drinking and driving
My opinion: It should be treated the same as drinking and driving.
Working Thesis: Texting and driving is a dangerous combination and should have the same consequences as drinking and driving.
The thesis above is called a “Working Thesis” because it is likely to change as you go through the writing process. As you collect research and draft your paper, you are likely to come back and revise the thesis statement, but this is a great starting point!
What makes a good thesis statement?
1. It has a clearly defined argument
Poor: A controversial issue is whether elderly people should have driver’s licenses.
Poor: Some people think that elderly people should take a driver’s test in order to keep their driver’s licenses.
Poor: I want to give my opinion about elderly people and driver’s licenses and all the controversy surrounding this issue.
Good: People over the age of 65 should be required to take a driver’s test every year to determine whether they are fit to hold a driver’s license.
2. It contains one main idea
Poor: Alcohol can impair people’s decision-making skills, sometimes leading to disastrous consequences, and it is also bad for your liver and other organs, so the drinking age should not be lowered.
Poor: Studies show that crime rates increase when alcohol is involved, so young people should not have access to alcohol, and also gun laws should be more restrictive.
Good: Since alcohol impairs decision-making skills, young people, whose brains are not yet fully formed, should not have access to it before they are 21 years old.
3. It uses specific terms
Poor: Diversity is good for our country.
Poor: The workplace should embrace diversity and value what people can learn from differences.
Good: Employers with a broad customer base should strive to employ people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds in order to understand and meet their customers’ needs.
4. It is interesting and engaging (avoids the “so-what” problem)
Poor: There are many similarities and differences between siblings.
Poor: Birth order can affect personality.
Good: First-born children display better leadership skills and have greater financial success than their siblings.
5. It can be supported by research
Poor: Media images are the reason girls develop eating disorders.
Poor: Any girl who has body issues will develop an eating disorder.
Good: Although researchers believe that the cause of eating disorders is complicated, media images of ultra-thin, perfect-looking women are one of the contributing factors.
– Make sure your thesis fits the scope of your paper. If you have two or three pages,
you’ll want a narrow topic that you can cover adequately.
– Do not start your thesis statement with “I believe….” or “In my opinion….”
– Do not “announce” your topic, for example, “In this paper I will be discussing….”
– Make sure your thesis is not just a statement of fact, for example, “An eating disorder is
a serious illness.”