Three Point Thesis Statement Instructions

Political Science/JSIS/LSJ Writing Center


Guide to Writing Thesis Statements

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Your thesis statement is the central argument of your essay. It must be concise and well-written.
  • Your thesis goes in the introductory paragraph. Don't hide it; make it clearly asserted at the beginning of your paper.
  • Your thesis must make an argument. It is the road map to the argument you will subsequently develop in your paper.

The key difference between an opinion statement and thesis statement is that a thesis conveys to the reader that the claim being offered has been thoroughly explored and is defendable by evidence. It answers the "what" question (what is the argument?) and it gives the reader a clue as to the "why" question (why is this argument the most persuasive?).

Examples of good thesis statements:
  • "The ability to purchase television advertising is essential for any candidate's bid for election to the Senate because television reaches millions of people and thus has the ability to dramatically increase name recognition."
  • The organizational structure of the United Nations, namely consensus voting in the security council, makes it incapable of preventing war between major powers."


1. Thesis statements must make a claim or argument. They are not statements of fact.

Statement of fact: "A candidates ability to afford television advertising can have an impact on the outcome of Congressional elections." This is essentially an indisputable point and therefore, not a thesis statement.

Similarly, the claim "The United Nations was established to promote diplomacy between major powers." is not likely to inspire much debate.

2. Thesis statements are not merely opinion statements.

Statement of opinion:"Congressional elections are simply the result of who has the most money." This statement does make a claim, but in this format it is too much of an opinion and not enough of an argument.

Similarly, "The United Nations is incapable of preventing war" is closer to a thesis statement than the factual statement above because it raises a point that is debatable. But in this format, it doesn't offer the reader much information; it sounds like the author is simply stating a viewpoint that may or may not be substantiated by evidence.

In conclusion, your thesis should make clear what your argument is; it should also provide the reader with some indication of why your argument is persuasive.

For example: In the congressional elections example, why is money important (and whose money? The candidates'? Corporations'? Special interests'?), are other factors irrelevant (the candidates' views on the issues?) and for which types of elections is this true (is your argument equally true for Senatorial elections and elections for the House of Representatives? Why or why not?)?

In the other example, you will need to think about why the United Nations is not capable of preventing war. Your thesis should indicate that you have an understanding of the relevant historical circumstances and that you are aware of alternative explanations.

Of course, one can re-work a thesis statement indefinitely and one can almost always find something at fault with it. The point is that you must be sure that your thesis statement is indicating to your reader that you have an argument to make.



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Thesis Statement Guide Development Tool

Follow the steps below to formulate a thesis statement. All cells must contain text.

1. State your topic.

2. State your opinion/main idea about this topic.
This will form the heart of your thesis. An effective statement will

  • express one major idea.
  • name the topic and assert something specific about it.
  • be a more specific statement than the topic statement above.
  • take a stance on an issue about which reasonable people might disagree.
  • state your position on or opinion about the issue.

3. Give the strongest reason or assertion that supports your opinion/main idea.

4. Give another strong reason or assertion that supports your opinion/main idea.

5. Give one more strong reason or assertion that supports your opinion/main idea.

6. Include an opposing viewpoint to your opinion/main idea, if applicable. This should be an argument for the opposing view that you admit has some merit, even if you do not agree with the overall viewpoint.

7. Provide a possible title for your essay.




Thesis Statement Guide Results

Thesis Statement Model #1: Sample Thesis Statement

Parents should regulate the amount of television their children watch.

Thesis Statement Model #2: Thesis with Concession

Notice that this model makes a concession by addressing an argument from the opposing viewpoint first, and then uses the phrase "even though" and states the writer's opinion/main idea as a rebuttal.

Even though television can be educational, parents should regulate the amount of television their children watch.

Thesis Statement Model #3: Thesis with Reasons

Here, the use of "because" reveals the reasons behind the writer's opinion/main idea.

parents should regulate the amount of television their children watch because it shortens children's attention spans, it inhibits social interaction, and it isn't always intellectually stimulating.

Thesis Statement Model #4: Thesis with Concession and Reasons

This model both makes a concession to opposing viewpoint and states the reasons/arguments for the writer's main idea.

While television can be educational, parents should regulate the amount of television their children watch because it inhibits social interaction, shortens children's attention spans, and isn't always intellectually stimulating.

Remember: These thesis statements are generated based on the answers provided on the form. Use the Thesis Statement Guide as many times as you like. Your ideas and the results are anonymous and confidential. When you build a thesis statement that works for you, ensure that it addresses the assignment. Finally, you may have to rewrite the thesis statement so that the spelling, grammar, and punctuation are correct.

Thesis Statement Guide: Sample Outline

Use the outline below, which is based on the five–paragraph essay model, when drafting a plan for your own essay. This is meant as a guide only, so we encourage you to revise it in a way that works best for you.

Introductory Paragraph

Start your introduction with an interesting "hook" to reel your reader in. An introduction can begin with a rhetorical question, a quotation, an anecdote, a concession, an interesting fact, or a question that will be answered in your paper. The idea is to begin broadly and gradually bring the reader closer to the main idea of the paper. At the end of the introduction, you will present your thesis statement. The thesis statement model used in this example is a thesis with reasons.

Even though television can be educational , parents should regulate the amount of television their children watch because it shortens children's attention spans, it inhibits social interaction, and it is not always intellectually stimulating

Paragraph #1

First, parents should regulate the amount of television their children watch because it shortens children's attention spans.

Notice that this Assertion is the first reason presented in the thesis statement. Remember that the thesis statement is a kind of "mapping tool" that helps you organize your ideas, and it helps your reader follow your argument. In this body paragraph, after the Assertion, include any evidence–a quotation, statistic, data–that supports this first point. Explain what the evidence means. Show the reader how this entire paragraph connects back to the thesis statement.

Paragraph #2

Additionally, it inhibits social interaction.

The first sentence of the second body paragraph should reflect an even stronger Assertion to support the thesis statement. Generally, the second point listed in the thesis statement should be developed here. Like with the previous paragraph, include any evidence–a quotation, statistic, data–that supports this point after the Assertion. Explain what the evidence means. Show the reader how this entire paragraph connects back to the thesis statement.

Paragraph #3

Finally, the most important reason parents should regulate the amount of television their children watch is it is not always intellectually stimulating.

Your strongest point should be revealed in the final body paragraph. Also, if it's appropriate, you can address and refute any opposing viewpoints to your thesis statement here. As always, include evidence–a quotation, statistic, data–that supports your strongest point. Explain what the evidence means. Show the reader how this entire paragraph connects back to the thesis statement.

Concluding Paragraph

Indeed, while television can be educational, parents should regulate the amount of television their children watch.

Rephrase your thesis statement in the first sentence of the conclusion. Instead of summarizing the points you just made, synthesize them. Show the reader how everything fits together. While you don't want to present new material here, you can echo the introduction, ask the reader questions, look to the future, or challenge your reader.

Remember: This outline is based on the five–paragraph model. Expand or condense it according to your particular assignment or the size of your opinion/main idea. Again, use the Thesis Statement Guide as many times as you like, until you reach a thesis statement and outline that works for you.

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