Writing a Thesis
A thesis is just a sentence--a carefully constructed sentence that sits at the end of the first paragraph of your essay. And this song defines a "thesis," as well as offering strategies for writing a strong one. A thesis has to argue something, and writers can make that argument strong by keeping the sentence focused and specific.
What's a thesis? A sentence that you write for your readers,
Tells them what you’re believing, gives them a reason for reading.
It’s gonna drive your essay, like it’s in the cockpit,
Make it stand out like a nun in the mosh pit.
Put at the end of your first paragraph,
Treat it like a baby - are you taking care of that?
This is big - a thesis needs to be an argument,
That you’re arguing, not something so obvious.
Don’t say, “Apple is a company,”
That’s obvious, and sounding kind of dumb to me.
But if you say: “Apple’s products are overrated,”
Now that’s something that could be debated.
Okay, you can test if it’s a thesis,
“Is it something that a smart person could disagree with?”
Don’t say, "Tupac made some good hip-hop."
That’s a bad choice like wearing socks with flip-flops.
But: “The Black Panthers influenced Tupac’s ideology.”
Is that a better choice? It’s gotta be.
Don’t make it too large, don’t supersize,
Keep it really focused, like a camera guy.
Make your thesis tight like skinny jeans,
Take your time to scrub it down, Mr. Clean.
Do the leg work, make it legitimate,
Do you need to revise? Consider it, get specific with it,
You don’t want to mess your message up and misdeliver it,
Have people thinking you’re illiterate.
Don’t be vague, don’t go talking in the first person,
Saying, “I think this book is kind of worth it.”
Yeah - make it clear like a windshield,
And by your conclusion, you will know how a win feels.
Make your thesis clear like a windshield,
And by your conclusion, you'll know how the win feels.
1. The topic
2. Your position on the topic
3. A short summary of the ways that you will support your position in the essay.
Quite a lot for one sentence! But by the end of this song, you'll be an expert. We'll tell you everything you need to know to craft a thesis that will leave your essay readers totally convinced.
Everything in an essay should be related to the thesis. A good essay will contain enough information to prove the thesis--no more and no less.
A thesis is almost always the last sentence in the first paragraph of an essay. Knowing this fact makes it easy for writers and readers. As a writer, you always know where to put your thesis--right at the end of your introduction. And as a reader, if you want to get a quick summary of someone's essay before you read it, just look at the thesis.
Your essay can't just say something. It needs to argue something. It needs to present a point of view that someone could disagree with.
"Argument" is a tricky word because it can both refer to your thesis itself and to the supporting evidence you use to back up your thesis. Either way, make sure you're not saying something completely obvious.
If you're trying to figure out whether something is a thesis or not, use this test: Ask, "Could it be debated? Could someone disagree with what I'm saying?" If the answer is yes, you have a thesis. So "Apple is a company," isn't a thesis at all, because it is just a fact; nobody would disagree. "Apple's products are overrated," is a thesis because it passes the thesis test. Many, many Apple lovers would disagree with the statement.
But just because something is a thesis, it doesn't meant that it is a good thesis. In fact, "Apple's products are overrated" isn't a very good thesis. Read on to figure out how to tell a good thesis from a bad thesis.
A good thesis is specific, and gives the reader a strong idea of the type of information that will follow. If an essay had the thesis, "Tupac made some good hip-hop," the reader can't predict what the essay will be about. How will you prove that his music was "good?" Will it include music reviews? Will it discuss the differences between good and bad hip-hop? Since we can't answer any of these questions after reading it, this isn't a strong thesis. (In general, if you see a thesis that calls something "good" or "bad," it isn't a strong thesis.)
"The Black Panthers influenced Tupac's ideology" is a better thesis, because it clearly shows what the essay will be about. A reader knows that he can expect an essay that gives examples of how the Black Panthers had an influence on Tupac's ideas. If you recall, though, "Tupac made good hip-hop" doesn't show the reader what is coming next. This thesis could actually get even more specific and focused. Read on to find out how.
The more specific and focused you can get within a thesis's single sentence, the better. Make sure not to include extra details.
For example, a vague thesis might say, "Green Eggs and Ham is an effective tool for teaching kids how to read." A better version could say, "Green Eggs and Ham is a highly effective tool for teaching young children how to read because it uses limited vocabulary, rhyme, and characters with whom children can identify." But lots of extra detail can get in the way of clarity. If you're writing an essay about Green Eggs and Ham's effectiveness, this thesis isn't as good because it is unfocused: "Green Eggs and Ham is a highly effective tool for teaching young kids how to read, and it has recently become a cult hit among older folks." The fact that older readers like the book is beside the point.
How could you improve the Tupac thesis to make it even stronger?
When you get to the end of your essay, you may find that your main point changed a little bit. At this juncture, you either need to revise your thesis to accomodate the altered argument, or you need to revise the paragraphs of your essay that don't match your thesis. Whichever you choose, it is important that your thesis directly relates to the specific content of the essay. So get revising!
Don't write a thesis in first person; that means it shouldn't include the word "I." If you started your thesis with, "I think Apple's products are overrated," you can just chop off the "I think." Since you're writing it in your essay, the reader already knows that the thesis includes your thoughts, so "I think" would just be redundant or unnecessary. Instead, it should be written in third person. Additionally, make sure that the thesis is a complete sentence.
Once your essay is complete, and it is time to write the conclusion and revisit your thesis one last time. Many writers restate their thesis in the first sentence of the conclusion. Often the restated thesis will include more specific examples than the introduction.
Let's say your essay has this thesis: "The internet has not only revolutionized the daily lives of Americans, but has also altered the diction, syntax and plots of modern short stories." You could restate it in the conclusion as, "Examples of internet speech used by characters in short stories, as well as online chatting being crucial to plotlines, prove that the internet has had a major impact on Americans--in real life and in fiction." How could you restate the Tupac thesis in a different way?
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