Writing and Revising Thesis Statements

Great writing comes from well-thought-out logical arguments and results in a structured and well-written piece. This structure, then, comes from a clearly laid out purpose, which is articulated in the form of a thesis statement in an academic essay. In other words, the thesis statement is the crux of an essay. It can be compared to the backbone of the essay as it holds up and pulls together all the other elements of the essay.

How and where to write a thesis statement

A good thesis statement is a clear, specific, declarative statement that asserts an idea or an argument. It also lists the key ideas that support the assertion that the thesis statement makes. Here are a few examples of good thesis statements:

  • Inculcating good reading habits in children aids them in developing critical thinking skills, improving their vocabulary, and making them better writers.

  • The advent of social media has revolutionized the way people connect with each other and keep in touch, which has also adversely affected people’s social skills.

  • The popularity of video-based learning content has forced creators to consider problems of scaling up the reach of their content, customizing the content for various populations, as well as ensuring the compatibility of their content with various devices.

While each of these thesis statements corresponds to a different kind of essay—argumentative, analytical, and expository—they all have a central assertion in common along with the reasons that support the statement. Listing out the reasons or central arguments in the thesis statements is a good practice because these clearly indicate to the reader the topics of the body paragraphs of the essay. Note that the thesis statement is often placed towards the end of the introductory paragraph, and therefore, occurs early on in the essay precisely to inform the reader of the coming arguments and/or explanations.

Additionally, although most thesis statements are written out in one sentence, it is not always necessary to limit it to just that. Thesis statements need to be concise, but if the topic warrants it, writing it out in two or, in rare cases, even three sentences is also appropriate.

Drafting a thesis statement

Before actually sitting down to write an academic essay, one should always spend time planning out the structure, tone, and purpose of the essay. One must also research the essay topic to gather relevant supporting details like facts, statistics, quotes, and textual evidence. Once these tasks are completed, writing out a thesis statement that clearly states the essay’s main point and lists its key arguments can help focus the rest of the writing task. The introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion can be fleshed out to center around the assertion made in the thesis statement.

However, one must also remember that sometimes, writing out a thesis statement at this pre-writing stage can also be limiting the scope of the essay. In this case, a thesis statement can be equated to the initial hypothesis of a scientific study or an experiment. Just as the results of such studies can sometimes disprove the hypothesis or result in unplanned-for conclusions, a pre-written thesis statement can also prove to be too narrow as the body paragraphs begin to take shape. This is where the idea of a working thesis statement can prove quite useful. Keeping the possibility of a revisable thesis in mind can help the writer be open to developing and/or exploring some of the key ideas further. Once the first draft is completely fleshed out, one can always go back to revising the thesis statement to include the additional ideas that have been worked into the essay.

Revising a thesis statement

After writing out the first draft, it is essential to revise the essay for issues higher-level issues like overall flow, idea progression, appropriate transitional elements from one idea to the next, etc. It is at this stage that writers should re-examine their thesis statement as well to ensure that it effectively states the main purpose of the essay. Do all the body paragraphs tie in with the reasons explicated in the thesis statement? Is the thesis statement too broad or too narrow? If the answers to these questions are yes, the thesis statement needs to be revised to realign it to the supporting details discussed in the main body of the essay.

Working on thesis statements at the various stages of the essay-writing process can greatly help one stay true to the purpose of the essay. Checking back in with the thesis can also help one refine their writing as it acts as a reminder of the main objective. Can you think of any other useful tips about thesis statements to improve one’s writing?