5 Steps to Writing a Thesis Statement

What is a thesis statement? Simply put, the most important statement in an essay is your thesis. It is often the first and last sentence you work on, tinkering and revising throughout the writing process. It must be specific enough to support within the scope of the essay, but general enough to be relevant and interesting for your readers. 

For the reader, the thesis statement acts as a guiding star. It describes the essay’s final destination and previews the route the essay will take to get there. Reading an essay without a thesis feels like walking in a dense forest without a compass—sometimes interesting, but ultimately confusing and disorienting.

So, How Do You Write a Thesis Statement?

How to Write a Thesis Statement in 5 Steps:

  1. Understand the Prompt
  2. Read and Research
  3. Develop a Working Thesis
  4. Draft the Essay
  5. Revise Your Thesis Statement

1: Understand the Prompt

Make sure you have a clear understanding of the assignment you’re working on. If your teacher has provided you with a variety of prompts to choose from, select the one that you find the most interesting. If you are developing your own prompt, consider exploring how a character or theme develops in the story. You can also start by exploring how a particular stylistic element conveys meaning in the text.

2: Read and Research

Read and reread the text that you’re working with, making note of specific details and quotations you want to use as evidence in your essay. It may also be appropriate to research what others have written about the story, though be careful to cite outside sources appropriately if you use someone else’s ideas in your essay. As you gather evidence, start brainstorming your own thoughts as to how different stylistic elements impact the story and why they’re relevant.

3: Develop a Working Thesis

Your working thesis is the initial draft of your thesis statement. Considering your evidence and your own ideas, write a response to the prompt or topic you’re working with. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect; your thesis will continue to evolve as you write your essay.

4: Draft the Essay

Using your working thesis to guide you, write your essay. Include your thesis at the end of the introduction. Be sure to keep your thesis in mind when you are analyzing the evidence you present in your body paragraphs. Ask yourself: how does this evidence support my thesis? Ideally, you learn more about the text as you analyze your evidence closely. Revise your thesis as needed.

5: Revise Your Thesis Statement and Essay

When you’ve written your draft, reread your essay closely. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does your thesis include stylistic elements and their impact on the text? Is it clear why your thesis is relevant to readers today? 
  • Do you support your thesis thoroughly in your essay?
  • Is there anything in your essay that doesn’t relate to your thesis? (If so, consider removing it.)

From there, examine your thesis statement again and consider whether or not it needs revising. It likely won’t need to be completely rewritten, but it’s quite possible that you’ll make some small changes to it. This is normal, since you now have a full draft of your essay. After you have made adjustments to your thesis statement, reread your essay draft to ensure that the evidence and analysis aligns with your goals and prompt. Finally, review and revise your essay for submission.