What is a Thesis Statement?

Thesis Statements

Hi, and welcome to this video on thesis statements! A thesis statement is a sentence or two, usually found in the first paragraph of your paper, that briefly explains the purpose of the text, the argument you will be making, and the evidence you’ll use to support it. Thesis statements are important because they act as an outline for the paper so the reader knows at a glance what the content of the paper will be.

Before you write your thesis, a great deal of research on your potential topic must be done. This will allow you to fine-tune your argument with counter-arguments or evidence to make your thesis stronger.
Let’s look at some of the elements of a strong thesis statement:

A STRONG THESIS STATEMENT…
Answers the prompt/question – If you are provided with a prompt or question to answer, the thesis should clearly state your answer to that prompt.

Takes a position/makes a statement that challenges an idea – A thesis will have an identifiable perspective on the subject you are writing about. The reader will know your stance on the subject and how you will explain it in greater detail in the paper.

Is clear and specific – Making your thesis a vague blanket statement will cause confusion for the reader. What are you actually writing about? Be specific about what your subject is and make sure your content thereafter follows your thesis.

Here are some examples of good and bad thesis statements:

Smoking is proven to negatively impact your health.

This thesis is very broad. The writer didn’t mention what they would talk about in regard to smoking. Do they agree? Will they counter this argument? What are the health risks? Why should the reader care about this subject? These are all questions that could make this thesis stronger. Let’s try it again.

Because of the health risks associated with smoking and unethical methods for harvesting tobacco, smokers should strive to quit the habit.

In this example thesis, the writer is much more specific. They not only give their stance that smokers should quit smoking but give two reasons why they should quit.

Let’s look at another example:
Standardized tests are not useful for students.

This sentence gives a stance, but it doesn’t state what else the writer will say about standardized tests nor does it mention evidence to support their statement that these tests are not useful. This could be a decent temporary thesis you can use until you do more research, but it needs more detail. Let’s see what a strong example looks like.

Standardized tests should not be the sole factor to determine a student’s ability, because these tests have a history of bias and using these scores alone can hinder students from potential educational opportunities.

This thesis is very thorough. It not only gives the stance and tells what the paper will be about, but it also gives reasons to support their stance that they will talk about in detail later in the paper.

Thesis statements are the solid foundation writers need to compose clear and detailed academic papers. Doing research and having your argument and supporting evidence planned out can help you fine-tune your thesis into a specific topic your readers can easily follow.

Thanks for watching, and happy studying!

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by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: December 11, 2019