How to Write a Thesis

How to Write a Thesis
And the rest of the an essay
Creating a Thesis
• Take a reasonable position that answers the
question or prompt and that can be supported
by evidence.
• Write a well crafted thesis that directly
answers the question and provides categories
for your essay.
• Consider creating a complex type of thesis by
using a key word such as “although,”
“however,” despite” etc.
First Paragraph
• The most important part of the first paragraph
is the thesis.
• A thesis states a point of view that you intend
to support with primary and secondary source
• If your essay does not have a thesis, there is
then nothing to support.
The Prompt
• To what extent did the American Revolution
fundamentally change American society? In
your answer be sure to address the political,
social and economic effects of the Revolution
in the period from 1775 to 1800.
– First ask yourself what the question wants to
– Then list the categories that you must address
– Finally, what is the time period that you must
Types of Thesis Statements
• Direct: This is a straightforward statement
that clearly and directly answers the question
– To a remarkable degree, the American Revolution
fundamentally changed American society.
• Use this approach when trying to prove two
main points. Use the word “and” to connect
• The American Revolution held the promise of
fundamental change and, indeed, significant
and permanent changes did occur in a
number of areas.
• This approach splits the thesis into several
categories. In essence it combines the thesis
statement with the plan of attack/themes of
the essay. This works best when the prompt
itself provides the essay categories.
– The American Revolution did not create
significant political, social, or economic changes
in this country.
• This type of thesis statement acknowledges that contrary
evidence exists and addresses the complexity inherent in
most essays prompts. A well executed complex thesis
offers students the best opportunity to earn a high score.
Key words such as “although” or “even though” are helpful
in constructing this type of thesis.
– Although the impact of the Revolutionary War has been
criticized by some historians for not living up to its
revolutionary ideals, the years following the war did bring
fundamental political, social, and economic change to
– Despite the failure of the American Revolution to create a
more equal society, especially for women and blacks, it did
usher in significant and lasting political and economic changes.
Types of History Essay Questions
• Change over time: “The period from 1783 to
1815 was a period of evalution to economic
maturity for the infant United States.” Assess
the validity of this view
• Cause and Effect: Why did the United States
enter the First World War?
• Compare and Contrast: Compare and contrast
Jacksonian Democracy and Jeffersonisan
• Define and Identify: Discuss Jacksonian
• Statement, React to it: “Presidents are rarely
successful in both foreign and domestic
policy.” Assess the validity of this statement.
• Evaluation: Pick any three of the following
and evaluate their effectiveness as political
leaders: George Washinston, John C. Calhoun,
Thomas Jefferson, Henry Clay or John Adams
• Statement from a particular viewpoint:
Defend British policies during the period from
1763 to 1776.
• Given Framework: “The powers of the
president grew because of war and foreign
• Problem-Solution: “What causes of the Civil
War were resolved by the Civil War and
• Answer and Include: Analyze the relative
importance of three of the following as
contributing to the Civil Right movement.
– Aunnar Mydral, An American Dilemma
– The desegregation of the armed forces
– Brown v. Board of Education
– African American demographic shifts.
Rules of Argument in Historical Writing
• Always state your argument quickly and concisely, as
early as possible in your paper.
• When you make an assertion essential to your case,
provide some examples as evidence.
• Always give the fairest possible treatment to those
against whom you may be arguing
• Always admit weaknesses I your argument and
acknowledge those facts that opponents might raise
against your position.
• Stay on the subject throughout your essay so your
argument is not submerged in meaningless detail.

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