An instructional video on what a thesis statement is with examples.

Your research question provides the basis for creating a preliminary thesis statement about the issue you've decided to address. A preliminary thesis statement is a tentative answer to your research question. It's the important first step in the process of developing your thesis statement. For now, think about the difference between a preliminary thesis statement and a thesis statement as the difference between saying, "I'm not exactly sure what I want to say yet, but I'm leaning toward saying this" and "I know precisely what I want to say, and here it is."

Your thesis statement is the central argument of your essay. It must beconcise and well-written.

Getting started is always tough. However, the first step to writing an effective, strong thesis statement is to begin with your purpose and audience.

How To Write a Thesis Statement What is a Thesis Statement

(Note that the thesis statement is more complex than the purpose statement)

The first thing to keep in mind about a thesis statement is that itis never set in stone. Most writers find that their arguments changebetween the time they begin writing a paper and the time that they finishit. You only need a rough or working thesis to start drafting a paperso long as you are willing to look critically at that working thesis onceyou start writing and/or finish writing the paper.

The thesis statement is also a good test for the scope of your intent. The principle to remember is that when you try to do too much, you end up doing less or nothing at all. Can we write a good paper about problems in higher education in the United States? At best, such a paper would be vague and scattered in its approach. Can we write a good paper about problems in higher education in Connecticut? Well, we're getting there, but that's still an awfully big topic, something we might be able to handle in a book or a Ph.D. dissertation, but certainly not in a paper meant for a Composition course. Can we write a paper about problems within the community college system in Connecticut. Now we're narrowing down to something useful, but once we start writing such a paper, we would find that we're leaving out so much information, so many ideas that even most casual brainstorming would produce, that we're not accomplishing much. What if we wrote about the problem of community colleges in Connecticut being so close together geographically that they tend to duplicate programs unnecessarily and impinge on each other's turf? Now we have a focus that we can probably write about in a few pages (although more, certainly, could be said) and it would have a good argumentative edge to it. To back up such a thesis statement would require a good deal of work, however, and we might be better off if we limited the discussion to an example of how two particular community colleges tend to work in conflict with each other. It's not a matter of being lazy; it's a matter of limiting our discussion to the work that can be accomplished within a certain number of pages.The key difference between an opinionstatement and thesis statement is that a thesis conveys to the reader thatthe claim being offered has been thoroughly explored and is defendable byevidence. It answers the "what" question (what is the argument?) and itgives the reader a clue as to the "why" question (why is thisargument the most persuasive?).