Let's Break It Down: Writing A Good Thesis Statement
Start writing a post
Student Life

Let's Break It Down: Writing A Good Thesis Statement

For students who struggle to start their essays, here's some advice on writing your thesis.

Let's Break It Down: Writing A Good Thesis Statement

When I was in high school, I had a really strict English teacher whose methods I'm thankful for now but certainly gave me a lot of stress at the time. One of the things she was especially hard on was the thesis statements we wrote for our essays. Anytime we had an assignment due for that class, we needed to get our ideas approved beforehand, and she would mark off an entire letter grade per day that she didn't approve of what we wrote. Since then, I've learned quite a few things that readers may find useful.

1. It's all about structure.

The purpose of a thesis statement is to tell your audience exactly what you're going to be writing about before you get into the meat of your essay. But this can be pretty difficult, so I've divided what a typical thesis should cover into three parts: the what, the how, and the why. To reflect how these parts work together, I'll use an essay prompt that was assigned to me last semester, which was to pick a passage in Frederick Douglass's autobiography and determine how it is important to the book's overall message.

As you may have guessed, the "what" in a thesis statement covers what you want to talk about. In this case, it would be the passage that I chose out of Frederick Douglass's book, when he hears the slaves singing as they walk to the Great House.

Next comes the "how". This identifies ways in which the chosen subject is relevant. Better yet, the terms used in the "how" should also be in your topic sentences, with a body paragraph for each item. For example, I said that Douglass uses tone, diction, and irony to describe how the passage is relevant. Because I have three items for my "how", I will also have three separate body paragraphs.

Finally comes the "why," which dictates why the subject you chose is worth talking about through the use of what you state in your "how." Per this example, the "why" would be that the passage focuses on two major themes in the book: the normalization of slavery and how ignorance was used to bolster white supremacy.

So now that I've highlighted the different parts of a thesis statement, it's time to string them all together. It should look like this: what, how, and why. Or,

"A passage that reflects the ideologies in Frederick Douglass's narrative is where he hears the slaves singing on the way to the Great House, as it uses tone, diction and irony to focus on two major themes in the book: the normalization of slavery and how ignorance was used to bolster white supremacy."

2. Your thesis length depends on your writing goal.

High school teachers will typically tell their students that a thesis statement should always be one sentence at the most, and while it's important to be as concise as possible when writing, this isn't always true. When writing your thesis, think in relative percentages, not in a set number of sentences. In the case of a typical five paragraph essay, yes, one to two sentences is best. On the other hand, condensing the point of a fifty-page long dissertation to a sentence or two is impossible. In that case, your thesis may be up to a paragraph long. Either way, you should always focus on the quality of what you're writing rather than how much you need to write.

3. The full-circle ending is crucial.

A stellar conclusion in any type of writing is absolutely crucial, as it will leave readers with a good taste in their mouth. One way to instantly re-vamp a conclusion is to reiterate what you mention in the introduction, including what you talk about in your thesis. That way, having already read your body paragraphs, you are able to further establish your ideas in the minds of your audience members. However, try to do so in a way that's different than your approach in your introduction, as it may come off as being overly repetitive. You're essentially closing the loop and tying off loose ends, leaving readers just as interested and satisfied in your work than they were at the beginning.

With that being said, I hope that whoever needs this advice found it useful. Remember, as you continue to write you'll find your voice and be able to understand what works for you in terms of formulating quality content that's unique.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

To My Fellow Girls With Resting B**** Face

A letter to my friends with RBF about understanding your own face and helping others deal with it.

Jupe du Jour

To the girl with resting b**** face:

Keep Reading... Show less

The Boyfriends Of The 2000s

Thank you, J14, for the Posters

J14 magazine

Every girl remembers her first crush. Even if your first crush was the boy in your kindergarten class that ate crayons, your first true love will always be the one that holds the key to your heart. Growing up in the 2000s, everyone knew who your dream guy was. Your family probably still give you grief and your best friends probably still reminisce, so it is impossible to forget your first celebrity crush. You bought a Tiger Beat magazine every chance you could just to read up about what your favorite celebrity was doing. Your room was fully decorated with posters of them, and it wasn't unusual to have fights with your best friends over who was going to marry him. If you were a 90's baby, lucky you because the 2000s were full of boys that were easy to love. I hope you enjoy a walk down memory lane and quickly realize that Bieber was definitely not the first guy with that hair cut. Here are 15 90's baby's first boyfriends.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

20 Things I Learned By The Start of My 20s

No one expects you to have your life together by the time you're 20, because honestly, they didn't either.

Allyson Foutty

We are all often faced with many life challenges throughout the time leading up to our 20s. Before this time, and throughout it, we often look back at the things we've learned and how they've influenced who we are as people today. Some of my biggest influences were some of the challenges I've faced, but they've taught me 20 important things by the start of my 20s.

Keep Reading... Show less

The Boyfriend Recipe

The ingredients to build a relationship are a little more complicated than just a bouquet of flowers and a box of candy.


Relationships. Long distance or not, significant others are much more than just that. I would be lying if I said I did not love the sweet gestures that only a boyfriend can give. The flowers, funny phone calls, hand holding, breakfast dates, and tight hugs are special but my relationship and many others out there exist on much more than just these little gestures. It is a tricky concoction that consists of one part boyfriend and two parts best friend and would not work without one part or the other. While having a relationship may not be quite as easy as baking a batch of cookies, it has its own recipe (with a few variations for flavor) to follow for a good match.

Keep Reading... Show less
google images

Fashion just keeps growing and changing and old trends are made new! Now, I'm no beauty guru, just a beauty guru wannabe, but personally I have compiled some stylish wardrobe must haves! These can be cute assets to go back to school or just to catch up on some of the latest trends...

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments