Synthesis essays require challenging academic work. You, the writer, will compile sources and synthesize them to determine your thesis, which you will then argue. Your professors want you to use your critical thinking skills with objective evidence and data to prove your point. This is rigorous work, but step by step and one sentence at a time, we believe you can do it.

We will walk you through the whole process of writing a synthesis essay, from finding your sources to wording your thesis to writing your conclusion. With key steps, such as understanding your professor’s synthesis prompt, conducting research, and effectively synthesizing information from various sources, we will cover everything you need to know. You, in turn, will compose a well-structured, well-argued, and coherent synthesis essay.

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What is a Synthesis Essay?

A synthesis essay is a paper that gathers information from multiple sources to make a point. You will find credible sources and discuss the data and evidence they have to offer, synthesizing all of it down into one argument or idea. This paper is almost like a funnel, in which you explain all the evidence and data on one topic and then whittle it down to one point.

Most synthesis essays follow the 5-paragraph essay structure, either explaining a point of view or arguing a point. If your professor assigns an explanatory synthesis essay, you’ll be looking at multiple sources to understand why something is. With an argumentative synthesis essay, you’ll be sorting through source material to prove one specific point.

There are 4 techniques you should use when writing a synthesis essay:

  1. Observe. What do your sources say? What point is being made?
  2. Cite your sources. Properly attribute the evidence in your essay.
  3. Interpret. Who is your source, and how do they prove your thesis?
  4. Evaluate. What discussion is happening between your sources?

How to Start a Synthesis Essay

A girl with long hair and glasses studying outside.

Although this assignment might seem like a major task, there are only a few things to seriously consider before beginning. Synthesis essays are a serious academic task that you want to get right.

One way to look at a synthesis essay is by breaking it down into 7 steps:

  1. Reread your assignment. Yes, really! Your professor may want you to use sources they have mentioned in class, or to make a specific argument about the topic. Also, you should know before you start whether you are expected to turn in an explanatory synthesis essay or an argumentative essay.
  2. Read about the topic. Even if you have sources from your professor, you should understand what else is being said on the issue before diving in. When writing a synthesis essay, you must begin by finding and reading your sources. You cannot form a coherent argument without knowing what’s being said on the topic! Your thesis statement should instead come after you’ve carefully read your research.
  3. Draft your thesis. Once you know what the evidence has to say, you can write your thesis statement for the synthesis essay. Your thesis is the central point that the entire paper should prove. All of your sources should be in alignment with this thesis unless you’re using them to demonstrate counterarguments.
  4. Create an essay outline. Know in advance of writing what each paragraph is attempting to state. This will keep things organized for you as you work.
  5. Draft your essay. The first sentence is always the hardest! In your introduction, you should give an overview of the topic you’re covering and state your thesis. In the middle paragraphs, you will choose a subtopic or theme for each. When writing the conclusion of a synthesis essay, you will summarize the points you’ve made and restate your thesis.
  6. Draft a bibliography. Do not skip this step! Your arguments are meaningless if you don’t cite your sources to back up your thesis.
  7. Format your essay and review. This part is tedious, but it’s arguably the most important step of turning in any paper. You would hate to lose points on a project you wrote well just because you missed a typo or formatted it in APA style instead of MLA.

What to Avoid in a Synthesis Essay

Whether you are writing a synthesis essay for AP Lang or grad school, there are a few mistakes you must take care to avoid.

First, don’t just summarize your sources. Most likely, your professor or fellow students have also read those sources. Instead of writing a synopsis, discuss how those sources communicate with each other and how they support your thesis.

Next, make sure that every sentence in your essay supports your thesis. A synthesis essay is used to make a point. Don’t waste time with filler sentences that don’t get at the heart of your argument.

We know that writing a synthesis essay doesn’t come naturally at first, but with practice, you will gain the skills you need to write cohesive and well-structured essays every time.

Write Strong Synthesis Essays With PaperDue

Synthesis essays are one of the most difficult types of research paper because they require evidence to support a strong thesis statement. You have to cite your sources carefully and explain how the evidence backs up your points. This is hard work!

If you’re struggling with a synthesis essay assignment, reach out to PaperDue for help. In our custom example essay program, we will create a blueprint from your assignment to give you inspiration and a place to begin. From generating topic ideas to one-on-one writing support, PaperDue can help you ace even the trickiest essays!

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