1. What is a thesis statement?

  • A thesis statement tells others how you will interpret the significance of your subject matter under discussion—it is the road map of what to expect from the rest of the paper/presentation.
  • A thesis statement declares what you believe and what you intend to prove. A good thesis statement makes the difference between a thoughtful research project and a simple retelling of facts.
  • It should be contestable, proposing an arguable point with which people could reasonably disagree. A strong thesis is provocative; it takes a stand and justifies the discussion you will present.
  • It tackles a subject that could be adequately covered in the format of the project assigned.
  • It is specific and focused. A strong thesis proves a point without discussing “everything about …” Instead of music, think “American jazz in the 1930s” and your argument about it.
  • It clearly asserts your own conclusion based on evidence. Note: Be flexible. The evidence may lead you to a conclusion you didn’t think you’d reach. It is perfectly okay to change your thesis!
  • It provides the reader with a map to guide him/her through your work.
  • It anticipates and refutes the counter-arguments
  • It avoids vague language (like “it seems”).
  • It avoids the first person. (“I believe,” “In my opinion”)
  • It should pass the So what? or Who cares? test (Would your most honest friend ask why he should care or respond with “but everyone knows that”?) For instance, “people should avoid driving under the influence of alcohol,” would be unlikely to evoke any opposition.


2. How to write a thesis statement

  1. Primary Statement
    • Motivation ([Something] [does something].)
  2. Secondary Statement
    • Because [reason(s)], [something] [does something].
  3. Tertiary Statement
    • Although [opposing evidence], [reasons] show [Something] [does something].
  4. Supporting Statement
  5. Concluding Statement


  1. Primary Statement
    • Creativity rises from beneath repression.
  2. Secondary Statement
    • When resources are removed, the materials available are reimagined to meet needs.
  3. Tertiary Statement
    • Good design may not look well-made or well-produced.
  4. Supporting Statement
    • Boredom sets in easily in prison, so prisoners are always coming up with ingenious ways to keep themselves busy. Dice and chess sets are made of paper mache, which in prison consists of toilet paper, water and glue.
  5. Concluding Statement
    • Powerfully innovative and creative design emerge out of limitation and need.




Craft your thesis statement using the above format. Keep in mind the points noted in class today about what makes a strong and compelling thesis statement.

Post your statements on the blog under the category Thesis Statement by class on Thursday, and be prepared to present it to the class.