Whether you are writing an essay in the eighth-grade or a college research paper, all students need to learn and understand how to write a good thesis paragraph. This critical introduction sets the tone of your entire paper and establishes a foundation for your opinion. All information following this paragraph will serve to substantiate your view.
Never Rewrite the Prompt or Questions
I would like to begin this article with my own personal preference whether writing an essay or in response to literature.
Throughout the year, students always ask me: “Do you want us to write the questions?”
My answer is always the same. I NEVER want questions written out. This is an exercise in futility. Questions should be restated in the answer. In other words, with a well-written prompt or question response, the reader will understand the query through the reply. Certainly, the prompt itself should not be a part of your thesis paragraph or the title for that matter. More on titles later.
First of all, let us define the term thesis statement:
“A statement or theory that is put forward as a premise to be maintained or proved.”
A thesis statement MUST be an arguable point and have more than one side to the issue. It CANNOT simply be a statement of scientific or other fact that cannot be refuted.
It is very important to understand that before you can write a thesis statement, you need to establish an opinion. The only way that you can accomplish this is through looking at all sides of the issue, having an open mind and becoming an investigator. There is nothing worse than coming up with a stance on a topic, only to change how you feel after being fully engrossed in your paper. Do your research first. Make sure you know what you are talking about.
Strength in your Argument
Remember, this is an “argument.” Take out the words, I feel, I think, in my opinion, as they weaken your position. You want to make your statement as a matter of fact. A good thesis statement will stir the reader to either agree or argue the point. If the reader has an immediate emotional response to your writing, you have been successful in gaining their interest. Now, your job is to retain that interest and pull them over to your side through evidence and support.
Where to Place Your Thesis Statement
Your thesis statement should be the last sentence in your first paragraph. Why? Once it is written there is nowhere to go but to begin your support, and this is not done in your introductory paragraph. Your body paragraphs should contain your reasoning. Your paper’s introduction has two jobs: Grab the reader’s attention and state your claim.
Many students neglect the importance of the “interest grabber.” This device sets the mood for your entire paper. It establishes whether this will be a lighthearted read or a serious undertaking. You want to tease the reader with a tidbit, then hit them with a strong statement of opinion. This can be an example from personal experience, statistics, facts or figures, depending upon your subject matter.
Review the examples below. One is an eighth-grade essay in response to a prompt. Following that paper, is a college research project. Notice the similarities: Both papers have an introductory “hook,” and both end with a strong argumentative statement.
Middle School Prompt
Disney World: The Best Vacation Spot on the Planet
You are steadily creeping higher and higher above the ground, the people below becoming as leagues of ants. Suddenly, your stomach feels as though it were in your throat as you plunge straight downward. Your ears are pierced as the silence is filled with screams of terror. The buzzing of the alarm clock awakes you to the realization that you were only dreaming about one of the greatest times of your life. Disney World has to be the best vacation spot on the planet.
College Research Paper
Music Should Be a Required Course versus an Elective
Over the course of several years, there has been extensive research demonstrating the value of music in education. The benefits of exposure to this art form by our youth cannot be gained through any other program. Nevertheless, the music curriculum is treated as an expendable subject matter. Due to its unquestionable advantages, music should be a required course versus an elective.
While titles may not be important in middle school, they become an integral part of a college research paper. I believe that students should begin using titles early-on. One thing I dislike is to see a paper with the title of: “Essay” or “Expository Essay.” This says nothing about the subject. A reader should be able to look at the title of a paper and have an idea with regards to its content. Notice the titles on the above examples are both reiterations of the thesis statements. While this may seem redundant, it is the proper way to caption a paper. Narratives and poetry on the other hand are completely different and will usually carry an abstract heading.
I hope you found this paper to be beneficial. It is the result of college writing classes, workshops, and several years of teaching in both Middle School as well as High School. Should you have additional points of interest, you are welcome to share.