So you’ve just been assigned a research paper, and your teacher or professor keeps stressing the importance of a well-developed thesis statement.
But what exactly is a thesis statement and how can you make sure yours is good enough?
This step-by-step guide will make writing an excellent thesis statement a breeze so you can ace your next term paper.
What Is a Thesis Statement?
A thesis statement is the sentence (or sentences) that captures your main argument, central point, or personal stance on a subject.
It is not just the subject itself. For example, “World War II” or “why Germany is to blame for WWII” may be what your paper is about more generally, but neither can be your paper’s thesis statement.
A strong thesis statement should take the form of a complete sentence that defines the main message of your paper. It should also foreshadow the main supporting points that will be discussed.
Foreign language instruction should be required in all elementary schools because learning a second language improves memory, leads to greater job opportunities, and fosters more tolerant attitudes.
How to Write A Thesis Statement
Follow these simple steps to write a strong, well-developed thesis statement.
Step 1: Write a Question
Writing your thesis statement first as a researchable question can help guide you through the research process.
Based on the example above about foreign language instruction, our question would be:
Why should foreign language instruction be mandatory in all elementary schools?
Your thesis statement (and the rest of your paper) will ultimately be written as an answer to this question, so this will give you a strong base from which to start your research and plot the rest of your paper.
Step 2: Research Possible Answers
Start searching the internet or academic journals for potential answers to your question, if you don’t have some in mind already.
Choose at least three strong points on which your paper will be focused. You’ll expand on each and provide supporting evidence as you learn more through your research.
In the example above, the three strong points I chose to focus my answer on (which I found through a little quick research) were:
1. Bilingual individuals tend to have stronger memories than monolinguals.
2. There are more job opportunities available to multilingual employees.
3. Learning a new language gives students a new perspective and increases their tolerance of other cultures and backgrounds.
Step 3: Choose a Position (or Call to Action)
Now that you’ve researched possible answers to your question, decide what you want your readers to take away from your paper.
Are you trying to convince them that a certain policy needs to be implemented? That they should vote a certain way? That they should recycle more?
Your thesis statement could also answer an expository question, such as “What were the three most significant factors that led to WWI?”
In this case, you might not be convincing so much as explaining, but you’ll still need a thesis statement that outlines your answer. Your paper will justify why the events you’ve chosen were the most significant.
Step 4: Map Out Your Main Points
Before finalizing your thesis statement, make sure that you’ll have enough evidence to support each main point.
Keep in mind that your thesis statement may evolve as you continue researching and writing your paper.
While it helps to have an idea of your thesis in place as you begin writing, you may find that your final version will be ready only once the rest of your paper is written.
Step 5: Place Your Thesis
Your thesis statement should always be placed in your introduction, but the exact position depends on how you work the rest of your paragraph(s).
Generally, the first few sentences consist of a hook and background information for context.
Don’t let your audience read for too long without having an idea of where your paper is headed.
Thesis Statement Examples for Research Papers
Below are several examples of well-developed thesis statements.
Daily meditation is important because it lowers blood pressure, alleviates anxiety, and helps us to live more mindfully.
Regular exercise is essential because it helps to reduce body weight, regulate blood pressure, and decrease the risk of heart disease.
Reading every day has many benefits, including improved focus, strengthened memory, and an expanded vocabulary.
As you can see from these examples, each one includes a clear statement (“meditation is important,” “reading every day has many benefits”) followed by an elaboration, or our main supporting points.
From each of these examples, we can get a clear idea of what the paper will argue and what we want our readers to understand.
Thesis Statement Template
Download our thesis statement template for a simplified guide to writing your thesis statement.
Ace Your Next Paper
Writing a great thesis statement is easier than it looks when you’re armed with the right instructions.
Check out our guide for writing an excellent research paper to learn how you can ace your next paper.
Do you have any tips for writing a solid thesis statement? Share them with us in the comments below!