Working From a Thesis Statement

Working From a Thesis Statement

English: Working From a Thesis Statement

            In order to be successful in English class, there are a lot of writing assignments you'll have to do. Quite a few of them will ask you to present a thesis statement, and then work from that statement to create a great paper that addresses the statement and then argues for your point and/or provides information to back up the thesis itself. It's not that difficult to work from a thesis statement, but there are certain issues you need to be careful with. If you don't have a good thesis to begin with, or you aren't really sure what type of argument you're trying to make, you could end up with a paper that doesn't really have much of a direction. Fortunately, you can avoid that. There are ways to develop a good thesis statement, and also ways to make sure you can take that thesis and use it to create a strong paper. When you learn those, you'll be more likely to get a good grade in your English class. Follow these steps in order to get started on higher quality English papers.


  1. Know Your Topic

No matter what you're going to be writing about, you have to know your topic. That can be easy if you get to choose what you write about, but you'll often be assigned a topic from your instructor. It might not be something you've ever heard of before, or it might be a direction you would never take with the topic. No matter what it is, and no matter whether you get to pick what you write about – and the direction you take – or not, knowing your topic means you'll be much more likely to come up with a good thesis statement you can work with. Keep in mind that knowing your topic is more than just common knowledge information, too. You'll need to understand both sides if the topic is one that could easily be argued. If it's more informational, providing something the reader won't know is important.

  1. Create a Strong Thesis

You can't work from a bad thesis statement. Creating a statement that's strong, clear, and direct may take some effort, but when you're writing the paper you'll be very glad you took the time to create a statement that will actually work for the paper itself. Spend some time thinking about what you actually want to study, address, or argue. If you're not clear on the overall subject matter or you aren't sure what you really want to address, it will be very difficult for you to come up with a good paper. You'll also have trouble if your thesis is weak, because your arguments and other information will get picked apart much too easily. Instead of risking that, you need to make sure you create a strong thesis statement you can work from, and that clearly addresses the information you want to provide or the area or field you'll be examining. Then you'll be able to move forward with your paper.

  1. Determine Your Argument or Direction

If your thesis states that something is right or wrong, you'll need to use your paper to make an argument that backs up that statement. Even with a strong thesis, you can still have a weak paper if you don't take the time to provide a clear argument or direction for the paper itself. When you create a thesis statement, you need to consider how you'll argue for or against something. Your argument should be something you believe in. However, some instructors will ask you to develop a paper where you're arguing for the other side, instead of what you actually believe or agree with, personally. It's an exercise in making your writing stronger, and it also forces you to think about the other side of the issue in a new way. Whether you're writing from a point of view you agree with or not, it's still very important that you take the time to determine which direction you're taking or what kind of argument you're going to make. Poor planning won't help you work from your thesis statement to a completed paper.

  1. Do Your Research

Your research is one of the most important parts of your paper, and it's vital to making a good argument. When your thesis statement is clear, you know what types of things you should be searching for. Otherwise, you'll spend your time looking for bits and pieces of your initial argument, but never really collect enough information to properly address it. A weak thesis statement translates to weak research, because you're not sure what you're looking for or trying to prove. With that in mind, you'll need to focus not only on what you're researching but on where you're finding what you're researching. You can certainly start finding information on websites, but you don't want to make your paper something you found on Wikipedia or from a quick Google search. Look for textbooks and journal articles, news stories, and other types of sources that can be used to add relevance and factual information to your paper. Then you'll have something much more credible.

  1. Decide on the Important Points

When you work from a thesis statement you should decide the most important points you're going to make. Whether you're presenting only a particular argument or "side" to the issue you're discussing, or you plan to focus on an argument, counterargument, and rebuttal style of paper, you have to make good, strong points. Your thesis will provide a specific issue and direction for your paper, but it's up to you to come up with points that address that issue and move the paper in the proper direction for the reader. If you can't do that, you may have to do some more work on your thesis statement. It should not be too general or you won't be able to make specific points very well. Conversely, if you make a thesis that's highly detailed or specific, you might not be able to make many points because you don't have enough opportunity to discuss the issue from various angles.

  1. Work Through Your Paper Methodically

Once you've collected all your research documents and determined which specific points you're going to be making, it's time to actually write your paper. Work through it with a methodical mindset. Creating an outline can help you do that, but it's not required. No matter how you plan your paper, it's important that you handle the information you're supposed to be providing to readers, the counterargument or opposing viewpoint that goes against your thesis, and the rebuttal that shows why your thesis is correct in the face of the evidence. You won't convince every reader, especially if it's a hot-button issue. The concern, though, is not really about whether you're convincing everyone. It's about showing that you can make a proper argument and provide information that supports it based on a clear thesis. If you're not methodical about the information you're presenting, you can't expect readers to follow your argument and believe in what you're trying to convey to them.


  • Don't pick a thesis that's too broad. If it's not specific enough, you won't be able to narrow down a good argument.
  • Don't choose a thesis statement that's too specific, or you won't have a way to expand on it enough to create a good paper.
  • If you don't believe in your thesis statement, your readers probably won't either. Keep that in mind when you're working on your statement and then working from what you've created. You need to be realistic.
  • Get help, before things get out of hand. Not everyone is good at writing thesis statements, or even knowing how to get started working from them. Ask your instructor, a tutor, or other students so you can get a high grade and a better understanding of what you need to do.

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