When teaching students to write a thesis statement, it is useful to provide them with clear guidelines. This way, students can follow a procedure and know when they’ve written a solid thesis statement. With this in mind, consider offering students a thesis statement checklist. A checklist will help students methodically answer questions to guide them toward writing a great thesis statement no matter what type of prompt is thrown their way. Afterwards, you can offer students an example of a literary analysis thesis statement.
Respond to the Prompt
A thesis statement should respond directly to the prompt. If the prompt is a direct question, the thesis statement should include a direct answer. If the prompt asks students to develop an opinion or position about a topic or issue, then the thesis statement should clearly promote that one position. Using words and phrases from the prompt in the thesis will make a direct connection and capture the reader’s attention.
Include a Definite Statement
There should be no “maybes” in a thesis statement. Students must avoid weak or wishy-washy language. Tell them to commit to the point of view they are expressing and stick to one side.
Create an Arguable Claim
This means a thesis statement is an opinion rather than a fact. Students must have something to argue, and they can’t argue with facts.
Show Knowledge of the Topic
Although students are not expected to be experts about the topic on which they are writing, they should write a thesis from the perspective of someone who has at least done preliminary research. One of the goals of writing an essay is to inform a reader, even if it just of a particular point of view. Tell students to keep that in mind when they are writing.
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Convey a Passionate Perspective
Frankly, if students don’t care about their topic, neither will the reader. A thesis statement that conveys passion and commitment will entice readers and motivate them to read the entire essay.
A thesis statement should be specific enough to tackle in a five paragraph essay. However, it should be broad enough to invite discussion, allow for analysis, and offer a variety of examples.
Outline the Essay
A three-point thesis statement will list the three key reasons used in the body of the essay. By listing these reasons in the thesis, readers will know what to expect in the body of the essay. A three-point thesis statement will also help keep novice writers on track. That is, the topic sentence of each body paragraph should relate directly back to a segment of the thesis statement. The order of the paragraphs should follow the order the reasons were introduced in the thesis statement.
When students are constructing their thesis, they need to ensure they can identify sufficient reasons and examples to back up their assertion. That’s why the brainstorming process should occur before students write their thesis. Students should have reflected and researched enough to have a variety of ideas in their mental file cabinet.
Thesis Statement Checklist
To review, here is a checklist you can share with your students.
- Does your thesis statement respond directly to the prompt?
- Does your thesis contain a definite statement?
- Is your thesis an arguable claim?
- Does your thesis show you have knowledge about your topic?
- Does your thesis illustrate a passionate perspective?
- Is your statement neither too specific nor too broad?
- Does your thesis list the key points to be discussed in your essay?
- Can you provide evidence to back up your thesis?
With guidelines such as those listed above, students will feel well-supported as they are planning to draft their essays. Remind them to refer back to their checklist frequently to ensure they have met all of the requirements for a great thesis statement. You can also offer them an essay revision checklist to help them draft the body of their essay.