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How to Write an Essay Page 1 How to write an essay 1 Definition of Thesis Statement a Thesis statement A single sentence that controls and dire


Essay Form Thesis Statement document sample

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									How to Write an Essay
Page 1
                                    How to write an essay

   1. Definition of Thesis Statement
         a. Thesis statement: A single sentence that controls and directs the entire essay,
              which states the topic and main point clearly while focusing on one element. You
              will explain or illustrate with facts while including a judgment.

          b. Thesis Checklist
                  i. These statement focuses on a single, limited subject.
                         1. It is the main idea of your entire paper.
                         2. It is an expression of your position in a full, declarative sentence.
                         3. It controls the focus of the entire paper.
                         4. It points forward to the conclusion.
                         5. It conforms to your reasons, examples, and evidence.
                 ii. Thesis is stated in clear, direct sentence (or sentences).
               iii. Thesis conveys your point of view or attitude about the topic, but avoids
                     having it based on a personal opinion.
                iv. You have access to enough good information to support your thesis
                 v. Thesis statement is not too broad or too vague.
                vi. Thesis statement is not based on an obvious truth (e.g., “Breakfast is an
                     important meal”).
               vii. Thesis statement conforms to your reasons, examples, and evidence.
              viii. Thesis statement answers the “why” with a “because,” “since,” or similar

   2. Writing the A+ essay
         a. Introduction should include:
                  i. Topic sentence, which should catch the reader’s attention.
                 ii. Overview of what you plan on discussing in your paper.
                iii. Thesis statement, which states your POSITION.
                iv. Smooth transition into your next paragraph

          b. Avoid these mistakes in your introduction:
                 i. Avoid a purpose statement, such as, “The purpose of this …,” “Now I
                    shall prove …,” “In this paragraph I will tell you ….” Remember,
                    demonstrate, illustrate, suggest, but don’t “show,” don’t “tell,” don’t
                    “prove,” don’t “say.”
                ii. Avoid repetition of the title or text.
               iii. Avoid complex or difficult questions that may puzzle your reader if you
                    are not going to address these questions or puzzles to completion in your
               iv. Avoid simple definitions: explain.
                v. Avoid artwork or cute lettering.
How to Write an Essay
Page 2

               Examples of a working three-part (or three-pronged) thesis
Opinion and fact
      Dracula was one of the better films this summer because of

its setting, action, and philosophy.

      Social ostracism, great expense, and personal hardship are

three of the unfortunate results of the most dangerous disease

of the century: AIDS.

      From my personal experience, I believe that poor

preparation, alcohol consumption, and insect infestation can

cause most family picnics to fail.

   3. Introductory paragraph
   The first paragraph of an essay serves as a type of funnel opening to the essay. It draws and
   invites readers into the discussion, which is then focused by the thesis statement before the
   work of the essay actually begins. You may want to consider delaying your thesis statement
   until the end of the introductory paragraph for expository essays. This would differ if you
   were writing, say, a Social Studies position paper, where you may be required to develop a
   shorter introductory paragraph that restates the issue in one or two sentences.

   What you are learning is that there is more than one way to create an effective introductory
   paragraph. The following illustrates some of the different forms:

          a. The Funnel Approach
          You can start with a general statement and more logically to the thesis statement. To
          catch the reader’s interest, you can start with an interesting fact or statistic.

                  Only a small percentage of British children was

          enrolled in schools in the nineteenth century.                           In fact,

          for most of the time, no public education was provided.

          In his novel, Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

          criticized the education that was available.                          [Notice how

          the statistic acts as a hook for the topic!]
How to Write an Essay
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          b. The Inverted Funnel Approach
          You can start with a quotation or anecdote to lead to the thesis.

                 “By education most have been misled,” declared John

          Dryden, anticipating Dickens’ view of schooling in

          nineteenth century England.                 In Great Expectations, the

          novelist depicted his hero as a victim of poor teaching.

          Poor teachers who used inefficient methods staffed the

          school Pip attended. [Here the hook is a quotation.]


                 The beating of students was common in nineteenth

          century English schools.                Charles Dickens has described

          pupils as victims of this common disciplinary method.

          Corporal punishment was not the only problem encountered

          by students.         Poor teachers who used inefficient methods

          staffed the school Dickens’ hero in Great Expectations

          attended.        [An anecdote serves as the hook in this case.]

          c. Comparison/Contrast Approach
          You can start your introduction with an interesting phrase opposite to your thesis.

                 The serious student of today was unknown in Dickens’

          day.     In Great Expectations, he painted the average pupil

          as an idler and mischief-maker.                    Pip, the hero of the

          book, saw disinterested students in a non-productive

          atmosphere.         The faulty teaching method used was the

          cause of this poor education.
How to Write an Essay
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          d. The Problem-Solving Approach
          You can present a problem and deal with its solution in your paper.

                 Why did Dickens criticize the education offered in

          nineteenth century England?                In many of his novels, he

          had established himself as a commentator on life in his

          time, dealing with children in prison and in the work

          force.        Since he was concerned about young people, he

          naturally concentrated on their preparation for life.                          In

          Great Expectations, he surveyed the field of education

          and found problems in the areas of the teaching staff and

          inefficient instruction.              [The question provides the hook


          e. Things not to do in an Introductory Paragraph
                 i. Don’t apologize. Never suggest that you don’t know what you’re talking
                     about or that you’re not enough of an expert in this matter that your
                     opinion would matter. Avoid phrases like:
                         1. “In my humble opinion ….”
                         2. “I’m not sure about this, but ….”
                ii. Don’t announce your intentions. Do not flatly announce what you are
                     about to do in an essay:
                         1. “In this paper I will ….”
                         2. The purpose of this essay is to ….”
                   Get into the topic and let your reader perceive your purpose in the topic
                   sentence of your beginning paragraph.
How to Write an Essay
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                 iii. Don’t use a dictionary or encyclopedia definition.
                          1. “According to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, bigotry
                               means ….”
                          2. “The Encyclopedia Brittanica explains that ….”
                     Although definitions are extremely useful and it might serve your purpose to
                     devise your own definition(s) later in the essay, you want to avoid using this
                     hackneyed, cliché beginning to your essay.
                 iv. Don’t dilly-dally. Get to it. Move confidently into your essay. Many
                       writers find it useful tow rite a warm-up paragraph (or two, even!) to get
                       them into an essay, to sharpen their own idea of what they’re up to, and
                       then they go back and delete the running start.

   4. Body paragraphs
         a. Fact sentences are sentences that are a demonstration of “reading the lines”—
            irrefutable evidence or illustrations to support your thesis. These are always cited
            to enable the reader to reference the source.
         b. Fact sentences are either direct quotes; a paraphrase of a sentence, paragraph, or
            chapter; or a summary of a section, chapter, or book. These are always cited to
            enable the reader to reference the source.
         c. Thought sentences are sentences that demonstrate “reading between the lines”—
            your interpretation of the facts and how they support your thesis. These should
            vary in structure, length, and composition. These are your thoughts! Express
            them eloquently and uniquely.
         d. Transition sentences are the last sentence of each paragraph. This last sentence
            should reflect:
                 i. What you have just discussed in the paragraph
                ii. A signal to change into the next paragraph

   5. Conclusions
   In your conclusion you should restate your thesis. This is called an “echo.” Go beyond the
   thesis, however, by stating something worthwhile: reach a judgment; endorse an issue;
   discuss findings; offer directives. It’s the big “ah ha” moment of your paper. Leave the
   reader with a thought-provoking statement. If you’ve raised a question in your opening
   paragraph, you’re answering that question now. Asking yourself, “What was important
   about what I’ve written?” and “Why is it significant?” are helpful questions. Most writers
   agree that in the expository/analytical form of writing, a philosophy or theme should
   conclude the essay. As the writer, ask yourself, “What was important and why?” about the
   essay, then what does this teach mankind, or how is this applicable in the human experience?
How to Write an Essay
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                        Graphic depiction of your opening paragraph:

        “   ”       ?       !      SS        F.A.         P.E.         Ha-Ha

                            General Topic Observation
                              Specific Focus (details)
                               Personal Opinion (judgment)

                                 Thesis Statement
“ ”     = Direct Quote
?       = Question
!       = Startling Statement
S.S.    = Shocking Statistic
F.A.    = Factual Account
P.E.    = Personal Experience
Ha-Ha   = Joke or Humor
How to Write an Essay
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                        Flow Chart of A+ Essay Structure

       Arouse reader
      curiosity                               First support to Main Idea/Thesis
       Establish working                     Describe using concrete examples
      foundation (facts,                        from the text or a direct quotation (cite
      background)                               your source).
       Reveal your                           Support each fact sentence with two
      purpose and position   Transition         thought sentences.
      (thesis statement)

                                             Second Support to Main Idea/Thesis
                                              Describe using concrete examples
              Conclusion                        from the text or a direct quotation
       Tie all ideas together.                 (cite your source).
       Echo the thesis.                      Support each fact sentence with two
       Go beyond the thesis by                 thought sentences.
      stating something worthwhile:
          o Reach a judgment                                Transition
          o Endorse an issue
          o Discuss findings
          o Offer directives
       Leave the reader with a              Third Support to Main Idea/Thesis
                                              Describe using concrete examples
          statement.            Transition     from the text or a direct quotation
       Avoid presenting                       (cite your source).
          new ideas
                                              Support each fact sentence with two
       Avoid stopping at an                   thought sentences.
          awkward spot.

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