Thesis Statements

The Thesis Statement: How to Write It and Use It

Some questions for you …

  • Do you know how to overcome writer’s block, especially when you have to write an essay?
  • Do you know what helps you to develop your essay?
  • Do you know what holds your essay together and saves it from becoming a wreck?

Three questions. One answer:

It’s the thesis statement

  • Without it, the blank page will become a tyrant;
  • Without it, your essay, if you write anything at all, will be as a rudderless boat tossed about on a sea of random thoughts;
  • Without it, your essay will be as the wreckage of that rudderless boat on the rock of your instructor’s grade sheet.

How do you construct a thesis statement?

  • Choose a topic;
  • Have an opinion about the topic;
  • Join the topic and your opinion in a strong statement that will be proved or defended with facts, evidence, and logic.

Here is an example:

  • Topic: College readiness;
  • Opinion: Too many students are not prepared for college;
  • Thesis: High schools must teach the key non-cognitive skills that students need to be ready for college in a fast-changing world.

How does a thesis statement help you to develop your essay?

  • Take your thesis statement and let it tell you the three or more points that need to be made;
  • Are they three or more facts, or reasons, or problems, or justifications?
  • With these points you have the substance for your essay’s development.

Applying this development to the above example:

This essay will have to identify the key non-cognitive skills and present evidence to justify the teaching of each skill:

  • Identify and justify the teaching of non-cognitive skill #1;
  • Identify and justify the teaching of non-cognitive skill #2;
  • Identify and justify the teaching of non-cognitive skill #3.

Your thesis statement provides your essay’s goal and destination

  • It gives you the major points that you must pass through on your route to reach your destination;
  • It helps you to know where you are going;
  • It motivates you to keep on writing as you supply the facts and the evidence of your research and apply solid reasoning;
  • It holds your essay together as a co-ordinated whole.

A most useful video

In this video you will be given the clearest and simplest explanation of how the thesis statement works for you. The substance of this article is drawn from here, with thanks to Prof. David Taylor.


What has been your experience with thesis statements? Have you found this video useful? Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome.

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