SAT essay: The thesis statement

The thesis statement is one of, if not the, most important sentences in your SAT essay.  Typically it comes at the end of the introductory paragraph, and its purpose is to present your viewpoint on the issue addressed in the prompt.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind to write a stellar thesis!

-Do not “waffle” on the issue.  When the reader is finished reading your thesis, he or she should have no doubts as to which side you are taking.  That being said, it’s ok to not be too extreme in your viewpoint.  For example:

Although there are certain situations in which lying is necessary, people should generally live by the value of honesty.”

The author makes it clear what his or her point of view on the matter is, but allows that there are certain exceptions to the rule.

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-Don’t use generic sentence starters like “My thesis is..” or “My point of view is…”  These statements are obvious and make your thesis sound less sophisticated.  A more experienced writer knows that the reader is already aware that this is the thesis simply by its content.

-Use concise, clear wording rather than flowery, elaborate vocabulary.  If you know a lot of fancy words and are confident you can use them appropriately, great.  But if you’re using words you aren’t comfortable with, your meaning could become muddled.  The most important thing is for your message to be crystal clear.  Apply the same idea to length.  A thesis made up of several clauses does not always equal a good one.

-A good thesis does not end once it is written.  It is the anchor of your essay that you should keep in the back (or front) of your mind throughout its completion.  Your examples should support your thesis, and the “meat” of your essay is your analysis, where you tie your examples back to the thesis.  This is when you tell your reader how each example supports and proves your thesis.  Finally, in your conclusion you should try to restate your thesis without being repetitive.

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  • http://twitter.com/harvardmom1 Harvard Mom

    Another great tip for acing the essay on the SAT exam is to make a list of books you’ve read with the main themes and supporting evidence for each book and historical events that you’ve studied and the lessons from those examples.
    It’s a big task but it really helps students to access this information quickly so their examples in their essay might be able to include an example from literature or history along with their personal experience.