Thompson Rivers University

Checklist for a Strong Thesis Statement

  Posted on: November 14, 2018

by Natalie Stewart

The most important part of an English academic paper is the thesis statement.  To determine if you have a strong thesis, here are five main elements you must consider:

Answers the Assignment Question
The thesis statement must directly respond to the assignment question. To do this, include key terms from the question in your answer.

For example, if asked, “What were the main causes of the American Revolution?” you could respond “The American Revolution had three main causes: …”

Arguable
An arguable statement is something that not everyone will agree with, not a statement of a fact. “Dogs are popular pets” is not arguable, but “dogs are better pets than cats” is.

Hint: a statement that only describes the topic is not arguable; you must take a clear position on the topic.

Focused
The thesis statement should only mention topics that are developed in your body paragraphs.

In a well-structured essay, these topics will be included in the topic sentences of each paragraph.

Specific
Write your thesis using precise, descriptive terms that cannot be misunderstood. Avoid vague and subjective terms when writing your thesis, as these words may have many possible meanings.

For example: “the movie was good” is vague. This is specific: “The movie created a strong sense of suspense in the viewer.”

Concise
The thesis should be written in the shortest, simplest way possible. In most Undergraduate papers, it should be a single sentence.

You may find compound and compound-complex sentence structures useful for writing a thesis statement about a complex subject.