Every student is a little fearful of thesis statements. They seem really daunting, don’t they? Thesis statements are the foundation upon which your entire essay rests. Mess your thesis statement up, and there isn’t much hope for the rest of your essay. Get your thesis on the right track early, and you have a great chance of earning a high grade on your essay.
Thesis statements might seem scary, but let’s think about them in terms of a simple check list. Your thesis statement must have these 3 attributes:
My final essay for African Literature was entitled: “Expanding Feminism: Avoid Being the Western Feminist.” My title clearly summarizes my thesis statement: “By reading and analyzing Ferdinand Oyono’s Houseboy, Mariama Bâ’s So Long a Letter, and Sinidiwe Magona’s Mother to Mother, feminists from Western countries can work to expand their horizons by analyzing the ways in which gender roles and feminism are expressed in African societies.”
#1 Rule: Always examine your teacher’s essay guidelines first. In this thesis, I used three novels because that I was following exactly the prompt that my professor had given us for the essay. I would highlight and annotate the essay guidelines. Usually the professor will specify how many works you are analyzing (at most, usually 1 or 2 texts or films).
What Makes a Good Thesis Statement?
Let’s analyze my thesis from my final essay in African Literature. Remember, we’re analyzing the thesis in my final draft. Your first drafts of your thesis won’t always be great; that’s why you have to keep trying. Your thesis can tweak and change throughout the drafting processes, but you should try to get your thesis as complete as possible before writing anything further. Writing the thesis well before your first outline and rough draft saves you so much time and energy later on in the writing process. If you spend a lot of time on your thesis statement, you most likely won’t have to delete much of your first draft.
Say it again with me: arguable, researchable, and specific.
This thesis statement is arguable: other critics could interpret how gender and feminism are represented within the novels differently than I did. Plus, my focus on Western feminism and intersectionality is liberal by nature. I am sure many people could argue with me on these topics. Gender analysis in combination with race and ethnicity analysis is often where I find my strongest arguments. Know your own favorite lenses.
This thesis is researchable: I included 4 secondary sources and a lot of quotes from each novel to support my thesis statement. I did relevant, helpful research on these topics, and I used the secondary sources to make my argument stronger. My thesis wasn’t just opinion.
This thesis is also specific: it clearly outlines the novels and authors within my essay in the order in which they appear in my essay (acting as my roadmap). It also specifies which lenses my paper analyzes the novels through (gender along with race and ethnicity analysis).
Most importantly, my thesis leaves the reader with a clear idea of what my body paragraphs will argue. In these types of essays, you never want to surprise your reader. Show them the map, and hold their hand along the way. It’s all about making all the information in your essay easier for your reader to digest.
My professor always told us that if you can’t tell where your essay is going after reading the introduction, rewrite your introduction.
Extra Thesis Statement Tips
- Write a draft of your thesis statement after completing research, but before writing anything else.
- If you spend a long time on your thesis before you write your essay, you save a lot more time later on.
- Your thesis statement can always be two sentences. Better two sentences, rather than one that is too long and confusing.
- Every sentence within your essay should serve to prove your thesis statement. Never stray too far from your thesis statement, and always try to weave it into the conclusion sentences in your body paragraphs.
- You’ll be repeating your thesis statement a good amount of times throughout your essay. Better write a variety of versions of your thesis to reiterate it in different words.
Next Time You Write
Make sure you write your thesis statement before you start typing any words in your outline or essay. Critically look at your thesis, and be honest with yourself: is your sentence arguable, researchable, and specific? Making sure it is will save you time and effort later in the writing process, and it will earn you a high grade.