Argumentative Essay Thesis Format Exercise

Writing Thesis Statements for Argumentative Essays

Introduction

University writing often requires students to use persuasion: they need to convince readers of a logical viewpoint on a debatable subject. The thesis statement is usually one sentence in the essay’s introduction that clearly states the writer's opinion and it often appears after some general background information about the issue. The thesis statement acts as a short summary of the writer’s stance in the debate, helping readers understand what will appear in the rest of the paper. Assignments may not state clearly whether a thesis statement is necessary, but if it asks you to take a position on an issue, analyze, interpret, compare and contrast or show cause and effect, you are probably expected to develop a persuasive thesis. (If you are not sure, it is wise to ask your instructor if the assignment requires a thesis statement.)

Developing a Thesis

Before you write a thesis statement, it is important to spend time reading academic articles to gather general background information about the issue. You need to evaluate the findings and arguments of different writers and decide which ones you think are the strongest and most convincing, which ones have the most credibility and which ones will help you write persuasively. Reading recent research will help you to decide your position and write a stronger, well-informed argument. Understanding and critically weighing others’ ideas will guide you towards developing a clear, logical and convincing thesis statement.

Thesis Statements: 4 points to remember

1. MAKE IT DEBATABLE

The first important point is that thesis statements must be debatable. (There is no point writing a persuasive argument if everyone already agrees!)

Example of an un-debatable thesis statement:

'Drinking too much alcohol may cause health problems.'

This is weak because it would be very difficult to build a persuasive argument that drinking too much alcohol would not cause health problems: most people (and doctors) already agree that it would.

Example of a debatable thesis statement:

'Alcohol should contain warning labels about the possible dangers of over-drinking.'

This is debatable because people can agree or disagree with the proposal. Some might agree that alcohol labels should contain warnings about the dangers of drinking while others may feel that warning labels would be ineffective as they would not stop people from drinking. Therefore, it is a good thesis statement.
The first point to remember then is that thesis statements must provide room for disagreement and debate.

2. MAKE IT SPECIFIC

Thesis statements should be specific, not general. The following thesis statement is too general:

'Drinking alcohol is harmful.'

This statement is too broad and unfocused because it does not specify:

*Who drinking alcohol harms
*What drinking alcohol harms
*What the main reasons are that make drinking alcohol harmful

Asking specific 'Wh' questions can help narrow your focus and make your paper more manageable.

The following thesis statement is more persuasive because it is focused:

'Alcohol consumption may negatively impact university students’ GPA.'

As this statement provides specific answers to the questions above, it significantly narrows the possibilities that the writer can write about and provides a clear focus for the entire argument.

Here are two more examples of focused thesis statements:

'A four-year university programme is better than a three-year one because students have more time for deeper learning.'
'Hong Kong will not become a world class city until it tackles its air pollution problem.'

The second point to remember then is that a thesis statement should be specific.'

3. HAVE ONLY ONE CONTROLLING ARGUMENT

As you can see from the examples above, a good thesis statement has only one controlling (main) argument:

'Alcohol should contain warning labels about the possible dangers of over-drinking.'
'Alcohol consumption may negatively impact amongst university students’ GPA.'
'A four-year university programme is better than a three-year one because students have more time for deeper learning.'
'Hong Kong will not become a world class city until it tackles its air pollution problem.

It is important that your thesis statements also contain only one controlling argument. Supporting details can be discussed in depth later in the essay's body paragraphs that follow the introduction.

4. MAKE IT CLEAR AND CONCISE

As you can see, good thesis statements use clear language and not too many words. It is important that your thesis be clear so that your readers know exactly what your position is. There should be no confusion, such as in the following poor example:

'Many people from around the world have different opinions about whether teenagers under eighteen years of age should be able to get a driving license and drive a vehicle or not and I tend to agree with some of them but not with others.'

This example is poor for a number of reasons. First, it is too long and ‘wordy’ (it uses too many unnecessary words which can be omitted). Second, the opinion of the writer is not clear to the reader. A better example of a thesis would be:

'Teenagers under eighteen years of age should not have driving licenses as most are not mature enough to handle the responsibility of driving.'

This thesis statement is much better as the writer’s position is very clear, and uses a minimal number of words. Clear and concise should be your goal in all writing, but it is especially important when writing a thesis statement.

Summary

Remember! When you include a thesis statement in your introduction that is…

1. debatable
2. specific
3. has only one main argument
4. is clear and concise

…your essay will be focused and your reader will know exactly what to expect in the body paragraphs that follow your introduction. With a little practice, you can write high quality thesis statements that bring focus to all of your argumentative essays.

More information and practice with thesis statements:

http://create.arizona.edu/content/weak-thesis-statements-recognizing-and-fixing-them
http://www.uark.edu/campus-resources/qwrtcntr/resources/handouts/thesis.html
https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/588/01/
http://depts.washington.edu/owrc/Handouts/How%20to%20Structure%20and%20Organize%20Your%20Paper.pdf

Now do the interactive activities on the right.

What is a Thesis and How to Write It

It is very simple to get lost in the task if you don’t know what is a thesis and how to complete it properly. It greatly differs from any other assignment you may have, as it requires lots of concentration and an ability to provide information in a limited number of words.

If you want to get a clear picture of a thesis definition, you should pay attention to an opening paragraph of any assignment. If it is a properly written task, you will surely find thesis there, as it aims to grab attention of the reader, provide the main idea of your work and its key features. However, it is impossible to write a proper argument before completing a research, as you need to base it on the information you collect.

If you want to learn how to write a good thesis, here are some tips, which may be of a great use:

  • A proper essay always creates discussion. It is not interesting to base the whole work on the things, which are clear and obvious. Try to find a provocative and challenging topic, which may stir discussion and different points of view;
  • Always choose a topic, which will suite your class or audience. It should be adequate and interesting;
  • Remain focused. The best way to grab attention of the reader is to concentrate on the details, instead of talking about everything at once;
  • Be flexible. Remember that sometimes you may change your opinion throughout the process and it is absolutely ok. Don’t hesitate to change your essay in such a case;
  • Use details. Your argument should be a sort of a map, which will guide the reader through your paper, so don’t forget about using names, dates and other important details;
  • Pass the ‘So what?’ test, which means that you need not only to select a challenging topic but also use a lively language to hold attention of the target audience.

In order to deliver a great essay, you need to avoid vague language, like ‘it seems’ and so on. Your ideas should be backed with credible arguments and sources, not with your assumptions. Always try to avoid the first person, which makes any thesis less academic and professional. By using all of these advices, you will surely learn how to write a thesis and catch attention of any audience.

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Thesis Examples

Every day students have to face lots of tasks and they simply don’t have enough energy or time to complete a proper thesis or any other written assignment. That is why some of them ask other students for help or download thesis examples online to make sure they are doing everything right.

However, you need to remember that a thesis template should only be used as an example, because any professor will easily find out that it wasn’t you who wrote the essay if you decide to copy a sample online. In all other cases such examples can be of a great help and will give you a chance to learn more about the structure of the assignment, main requirements to the formatting style and structure.

Thesis Examples

Thesis Template

Thesis Format

Thesis format is as important, as it contents that is why many students are looking for information how to complete formatting to avoid the most common mistakes and provide the task without any flaws. You need to remember that your professor may have specific requirements and you should first ask for any guidelines he has to provide. If none, here is a common list of format requirements, which are used in most of the colleges across the world:

  • Fonts and publishing. You should always remember that the main thing to stand out in your thesis is the idea itself, its originality and importance, so try to avoid too many headers and titles. They may visually create too much fuss. Try to limit the usage of italics or bold print. The most popular and accepted fonts are Times Roman 12/14, Geneva 12, Helvetica 12. LaTeX is also acceptable;
  • Paper size. A usual paper format is 8,5 x 11 inches, however it may differ for art or architecture students, depending on the assignment itself;
  • Spacing. Always use double spacing. Single space can be used only with footnotes, bibliography entries, table captions and long quotations;
  • Title page. Remember that any title page should contain the name of your establishment, title, your name and degree. It is better to consult your professor, as almost every college has specific requirements, which may vary significantly;
  • Margins should be 1 – ½ inches on the left and 1 inch on the top, bottom and right. Try to follow this structure to make your argument clear and aesthetically pleasant.

Writing thesis is not as difficult as it may seem and if you pay enough attention to the details, you will be able to complete the task in the best possible way and attract attention of the reader by providing a catchy and engaging argument.

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