Writing a well-done thesis statement can often feel easier said than done. After all, this one sentence sets the tone for your entire paper and can make or break your assignment. To help with your next essay, we've put together a list of the most common thesis statement mistakes and tips to help you avoid them.
What is a Thesis Statement?
Just in case you need a refresher, here's a quick review:
A thesis statement, as defined by Dictionary.com, is: “a short statement, usually one sentence, that summarizes the main point or claim of an essay, research paper, etc., and is developed, supported, and explained in the text by means of examples and evidence.”
A thesis statement introduces your essay's main idea in the first paragraph of your assignment. It is the guiding factor that controls and organizes all other thoughts in your research paper.
How Do I Write a Thesis Statement?
It can take a long time to master the art of crafting a thesis statement. Luckily, there are some tools to help.
A good place to start is by checking out a thesis statement template. This will help ensure that you're including everything you're supposed to.
Here's a quick example:
You can also use an online thesis generator to organize your main idea and evidence. You enter the basic information about your argument and topic, and it helps you create a solid thesis statement.
It also helps to take time to explore some thesis statement examples (both good and bad) to clarify how to fix some of these common mistakes.
What are the Most Common Thesis Statement Mistakes?
Once you know the basics of how to write a thesis statement, there are certain mistakes to watch out for. Learning how to identify these common errors and understanding how to avoid them will help make your thesis statement a strong one.
1. The Statement is Unclear
Your reader needs to immediately understand your purpose. If it is vague or unclear, you've lost your audience from the start. Narrow down your focus and use straightforward language to state your main idea.
- Example thesis: The food in America is gross, unhealthy, and expensive, so we probably shouldn't be eating any of it.
- Improved thesis: Due to the obesity crisis in America, lawmakers should consider creating a plan to lower the prices of healthier foods so that everyone can afford to eat high-quality foods.
2. The Statement is Too Complicated
Making a statement that is too long or wordy generally confuses your reader. It also weakens the argument you are trying to make.
- Example thesis: Many athletes, such as those who play in colleges or for organizations like the NCAA, do not make any money, which is devastating because they deserve to make a substantial amount of money due to their efforts on the court and on the field and due to the fact that colleges earn a profit off of the sports that these athletes play.
- Improved thesis: NCAA athletes should receive compensation for their sports in college because they are generating revenue for universities and risking injury for themselves.
3. The Statement is Too Basic or Obvious
As you move up through school, your writing should mature as well. A successful thesis statement from junior high is not necessarily a strong thesis statement in high school or college. While being very basic and obvious in your younger writing might be fine, writing as an older student should be more precise and refined.
- Example thesis: In this paper, I will be discussing the importance of eating a healthy breakfast every day.
- Improved thesis: Eating a healthy breakfast is important to help your body function at its optimal level throughout the day.
4. The Statement has No Real Purpose
Your readers need to care about your topic in some way. Is this information helpful? Beneficial? Worth investigating? If not, choose a heartier topic that's worth discussing.
- Example thesis: I think these blue socks are the prettiest ones in the drawer.
- Improved thesis: Students should be allowed to express themselves as individuals by choosing any type of socks and shoes they want to wear to school.
5. The Statement Uses Poor Language Choices
Slang, abbreviations, and poor spelling have no place in a clear thesis statement. Use professional language to make your point.
- Example thesis: The best comedians should make you LOL 24-7.
- Improved thesis: To be a quality comedian, you must develop your craft in a way that inspires laughter and smiles at every performance.
6. The Statement Lacks Connection to the Rest of the Essay.
Even if you have a decent thesis statement, it will mean nothing if the rest of the essay strays from your main idea. Always connect your thoughts back to the thesis statement. The paper needs to be coherent and stay on target with your original argument.
Crafting a thorough thesis statement can feel like a difficult task, but it doesn't have to. If you are mindful of common mistakes that students make, you can avoid these errors and create a thesis statement that is clear, engaging, and purposeful.