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Thesis Statements

Page history last edited by evantheus@gmail.com 11 years, 5 months ago


Thesis Statements


What is a thesis statement?

The thesis statement can be considered the keystone of an essay, particularly for argumentative essays in which you have to argue in favor of one side of an issue over another. Thesis statements aren’t simply a summary of your argument, they provide a roadmap as to how your argument will be structured.


What makes a good thesis statement?

  •  It should be specific—a strong thesis statement should be limited in its scope. For example, if you’re arguing for a ban on smoking on the UNM campus, it    is important to set these limits in your thesis statement. Also, good thesis statements have 1 or 2 strong reasons in them supporting the claim.


  •  It should be tension-filled—a strong thesis statement not only establishes your position, but acknowledges the legitimacy of the opposing viewpoint. A     

             strong thesis statement is not be one-sided. 


  •     It should be arguable—a strong thesis statement is one that can easily be argued with.


  •  In sum, a good thesis statement follows this formula: Although x, it should be y because of z. NOTE: This formula does not need to be strictly adhered to, as    long as the thesis statement is specific, arguable, and has tension.  


Where do thesis statements appear in a paper?

Thesis statements most often appear at the end of the introduction (or somewhere early in the paper). In addition, it is a good idea to restate the thesis (not verbatim) at the beginning of the conclusion.


Examples of WEAK thesis statements

(related to the topic banning smoking on campus)

  • There are advantages and disadvantages to smoking (not specific, no tension, not arguable)


  • UNM should ban smoking on campus (not specific , no tension)


  • UNM should ban smoking on campus because it presents a health hazard to students, faculty, and staff (no tension)


Examples of STRONG thesis statements

(related to the topic banning smoking on campus)

  • While smoking tobacco may be considered a matter of one’s individual rights, UNM should ban smoking on campus because it represents a significant health hazard to students, staff, and faculty.


  • Although the purchase of tobacco is legal for those over 18 years of age, smoking should be prohibited on the UNM campus because of its health hazards to the UNM population and its adverse affects on the environment.


  • Even though people have the right to choose whether or not to consume tobacco, smoking should be banned on the UNM campus because it is endangers the health of students with asthma.



Extra Tips

  • Because the thesis statement provides a roadmap of your argument, it is best to insert it (like a keystone) after you have already written the body of your essay


  • A thesis statement does NOT have to be one sentence


  • Remember to be consistent in your claims—it all comes back to the thesis statement!


Click on the links below for more information on the writing process:

Topic Sentences

Transition Words

How to Use Quotations and Paraphrasing



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