One of the principal characteristics of the academic essay is that it is thesis driven. This means
that the thesis is revealed early in the essay and everything that follows serves to support it.
The thesis is the basic argument that your essay makes: it is the single sentence that
encapsulates your main argument and clarifies what you are trying to say in your essay.
Goals of a thesis statement
• Provide comprehensive statement of the writer’s intentions and the central idea
• Indicate the complexity of the writer’s thinking
• Suggest how the essay will be organized
• Serves as a reference point to eliminate ideas that don’t support main idea
• Forecasts to reader (or listener) what arguments will follow
A thesis must have a claim and controlling idea for that claim:
CLAIM ---A college education is a good idea.
+CONTROLLING IDEA-- A college education prepares people for a variety of different careers.
=THESIS-- A college education is a good idea because it prepares people for a
variety of different careers.
Construct a debatable position
Present an arguable claim – a claim that a reasonable person could disagree with. Present a
single, focused argument.
1. Don’t use a factual statement as your thesis.
Keep your thesis open to further discussion. Your thesis and essay should focus on developing
ideas. If you use a fact for your thesis statement, you have no place to go; a fact does not invite
Many businesses pollute the environment.
Tax penalties should be levied against
businesses that pollute the environment.
Movies today are violent.
Movie violence provides a healthy outlet for
2. Don’t write a highly opinionated statement.
Although your thesis should express your attitude toward your subject, don’t go overboard with
a personal, overstated thesis.
A more moderate thesis will not alienate readers, and it gives you room to develop your
The ridiculous smoking ban on campus is
discriminatory and shows hostility and
unfairness to one group of students.
The University should consider on-campus
smoking areas to accommodate students who
smoke. This will also ease tensions with the
outer community and protect students at
3. Don’t make an announcement
Announcements are statements of intent and come off as sterile, generic postings that lack
attitude and personality:
Weak: My essay will discuss the need for a student pub on campus.
Better: Alcohol should not be sold on campus due to the high rate of binge-drinking among
Avoid using statements such as “This paper will examine…” “I am going to write about…” “My
subject will be…” etc…
4. Avoid using questions
Questions, rhetorical or otherwise, imply uncertainty on part of the writer. It can also be seen
as a way for the writer to transfer responsibility to the reader. Essays are not questionnaires –
they answer questions, they don’t ask them. Change all questions in your rough drafts to
Do you want to live in a world populated by
No one wants to live in a world populated by
Is the new texting law really fair?
The new texting law is unfair.
5. Don’t make a broad statement: make sure your thesis can be reasonably supported in the essay.
Broad statements make it difficult for readers to grasp your essay’s point. If you start with a
broad thesis, you’re saddled with the impossible task of trying to develop a book-length idea in
an essay that runs only several pages:
Nowadays, a high school education is often
High school diplomas have been devalued by
Newspapers cater to the taste of the American The success of USA Today indicates that
people want newspapers that are both easy to
read and entertaining.
Assignment: Thesis paragraph
Writing Assignment: Using the guidelines and samples, write a fully developed introductory
paragraph: The Legalization of Marijuana in the US; Texting while Driving; or the Smoking
Ban on Campus.
Assume that you are assigned a 5 page paper on this subject.
Do not write the complete 5 page draft – this exercise requires only one introductory
As these are fairly common topics, use your own ideas and avoid using and abundance of
statistics or outside research.
For this exercise, do not focus heavily on substance or ideas – I am primarily concerned with
Do not write in first person
Use the guidelines and samples to help you draft your paragraph.
Be sure to edit for conciseness and wordiness.
Follow MLA formatting guidelines.
Additional guidelines can be found in chapters 3, 4, 5, and 6 in the textbook.
Submit your completed draft through blackboard.
Purchase answer to see full attachment