Sample Reference Page Thesis Statements

Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements

Summary:

This resource provides tips for creating a thesis statement and examples of different types of thesis statements.

Contributors: Elyssa Tardiff, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2018-01-24 02:29:37

Tips for Writing Your Thesis Statement

1. Determine what kind of paper you are writing:

  • An analytical paper breaks down an issue or an idea into its component parts, evaluates the issue or idea, and presents this breakdown and evaluation to the audience.
  • An expository (explanatory) paper explains something to the audience.
  • An argumentative paper makes a claim about a topic and justifies this claim with specific evidence. The claim could be an opinion, a policy proposal, an evaluation, a cause-and-effect statement, or an interpretation. The goal of the argumentative paper is to convince the audience that the claim is true based on the evidence provided.

If you are writing a text that does not fall under these three categories (e.g., a narrative), a thesis statement somewhere in the first paragraph could still be helpful to your reader.

2. Your thesis statement should be specific—it should cover only what you will discuss in your paper and should be supported with specific evidence.

3. The thesis statement usually appears at the end of the first paragraph of a paper.

4. Your topic may change as you write, so you may need to revise your thesis statement to reflect exactly what you have discussed in the paper.

Thesis Statement Examples

Example of an analytical thesis statement:

An analysis of the college admission process reveals one challenge facing counselors: accepting students with high test scores or students with strong extracurricular backgrounds.

The paper that follows should:

  • Explain the analysis of the college admission process
  • Explain the challenge facing admissions counselors

Example of an expository (explanatory) thesis statement:

The life of the typical college student is characterized by time spent studying, attending class, and socializing with peers.

The paper that follows should:

  • Explain how students spend their time studying, attending class, and socializing with peers

Example of an argumentative thesis statement:

High school graduates should be required to take a year off to pursue community service projects before entering college in order to increase their maturity and global awareness.

The paper that follows should:

  • Present an argument and give evidence to support the claim that students should pursue community projects before entering college

CWI Writing Center: How to Craft a Thesis Statement

You will often be asked to write an essay with a thesis statement. A thesis statement will provide your claim or focus, which is supported or explained by the rest of the paper. The thesis statement contains this claim or focus and a list of main points the paper will discuss.

A Thesis Statement:

  • can be a statement of substantiated fact or can offer a well-supported opinion.
  • will answer the question, “What is this paper about?”
  • is weak when it is too broad, too narrow, or off topic.
  • is strong when it clearly outlines the paper’s claim or focus and the main points.

Weak and Strong Thesis Statements

Sample Prompt: Write about an animal that would be an excellent pet and explain why.

Strong Thesis Example:

Cats make great pets because they are fun to watch, independent, and low maintenance.

Why: This thesis gives specific main points to focus on, which are easy to discuss in detail. These main points work together to help the paper flow from one point to the next.

More Examples of Weak and Strong Thesis Statements:

Expository Essay:

Sample Prompt: Provide research and help the reader to understand bluegrass music.

Weak Thesis Examples:

  • Too broad: Bluegrass music is more popular than people think it is.
  • Too narrow: Bluegrass music includes the use of a washboard as an instrument.
  • Off topic: Country music is a great music genre.

Strong Thesis Example:

Bluegrass music is a smaller branch of country music, uses unique instruments, and has strong roots in the southern United States.

Persuasive Essay:

Sample Prompt: Is human’s consumption of the world’s oil reserves a concern?

Weak Thesis Examples:

  • Too broad: Humans are consuming too many of the world’s oil reserves.
  • Too narrow: All Boise residents should drive a Toyota Prius to reduce gas consumption.
  • Off topic: Smart cars have excellent gas mileage.

Strong Thesis Example:

People should consume less gas because gas pollutes the environment, is costly for consumers, and is more expensive to produce than alternative energy sources.

Literary Analysis Essay:

Sample Prompt: How are the literary elements within Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” used to help the reader see the story unfolding before them?

Weak Thesis Examples:

  • Too broad: Coleridge is a literary genius.
  • Too narrow: Coleridge really likes to talk about ice in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”.
  • Off topic: Coleridge also wrote a really strange poem called “Kubla Khan” that is interesting to compare to “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”

Strong Thesis Example:

Coleridge, in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” creates an otherworldly experience by the use of imagery, tone, and subplot.

For more information, contact the Writing Center.

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