Step by Step Guide to Writing a Thesis Statement

ieltsIELTS Writing Task 2:  Thesis statements.

When writing the introduction of IELTS essays there are two steps that need to be taken. Paraphrase the task question and write a Thesis Statement. If the question asks for an opinion, it must be in the Thesis Statement. It depends on the type of essay you are writing as they are not all the same. It is important to write a thesis in the introduction for every type of essay. A good Thesis Statement goes towards getting a good band score in the writing section.

The Thesis statement tells the examiner what the essay is going to be about and the conclusion of the essay paraphrases the Thesis statement. Some teachers, however, have other views and say a Thesis statement is not needed. There are different approaches to writing an IELTS essay, if you have 10 IELTS teachers in a room, there will be 10 different opinions on the matter.

In my opinion, a thesis statement is logical and shows the reader what to expect in the rest of the essay. There is also an argument that this style is North American and not a British way to structure an introduction. It doesn’t really matter, as long as it is logical. One point I must make is do not confuse Thesis statements with Outline statements.

What exactly is a thesis statement?

‘a Thesis Statement tells the reader what your essay is going to be about in one or two sentences. It often includes an opinion’

Remember:

  • Don’t use questions in the introduction, the thesis statement is not a question.
  • Make it clear what you are going to write about briefly (1 or 2 sentences)
  • If it’s an opinion essay, make your opinion clear in the thesis statement
  • The thesis statement comes after paraphrasing the question.
  • Do not write an outline sentence, these look like a cliche and memorised, examiners are looking out for memorised phrases, for instance: ‘ This essay would like to explore reasons for this in more detail
  • Don’t confuse thesis statements with the above outline sentence. Outline sentences are for very long academic essays.


For each essay type this is what should be in the Thesis statement:

1. Opinion essays:  write your opinion or how you feel about the topic.
2. Advantage Disadvantage essays:  outline the advantage and the disadvantage,
3. Problem Solution essays:  outline 1 or 2 problems and possible solutions.
4. Discussion essays: after outlining both sides of the argument, give your opinion if asked for.
5. Two part question essays: answer the 1st question then answer the 2nd question

 

First you have to identify what kind of essay it is.

The first step before you begin to write is to make sure you understand the question, then identify what kind of essay this will be. There are 5 variations on an IELTS discursive essay click here to see a lesson on this.

Before you write the thesis statement you will need to paraphrase the question, click here more information on this.

Click here to see how to write a good introduction to a Problem Solution essay.


1. Discussion essay question.


Here you need to clearly outline both sides and then state your opinion. Choose one side of the argument when you give your opinion do not give two different opinions. Stick with one side and write about that. You have to write about the other side of the argument but you have to stick with your opinion on the matter.

This is the Paraphrased introduction with a Thesis statement.

“A number of people believe serious crimes need to have a set punishment, others however feel the situation of the crime must be considered. I agree that the circumstances of the crime itself should be taken into account, because every case is different.’

Thesis Statement:I agree that the circumstances of the crime itself should be taken into account, because every case is different’

It is important to give a brief reason for your view, the body paragraphs should expand on this. Also the examiner can clearly see your position in the introduction. In this essay, I can now write about how every case is different and a prison sentence would not be appropriate.


2. Agree Disagree (opinion) question

Again you need to paraphrase the question and then clearly agree or disagree, remember to choose just one side.. the words: “to what extent do you agree or disagree…” means how much do you agree/disagree, or how far do you agree/disagree. You should mention the other side of the argument but stick to your own opinion. Balanced essays do not necessarily get a higher band score.

This is the Paraphrased introduction with a Thesis statement:

‘It is argued that society would be better off if every type of advertising were prohibited. I disagree that all advertising should be disallowed, because this policy would not benefit society and would have a negative impact on the economy’


Thesis statement: I disagree that all advertising should be disallowed, because this policy would not benefit society and would have a negative impact on society.’

In this thesis statement, I have clearly stated why I hold the opinion that advertising should not be banned. The examiner can now see what I will write about in the essay. Remember to keep the introduction to under 55 words or it will be too long.


3. Advantages Disadvantages question


In this question I will choose one advantage and one disadvantage. no more than that, we don’t need a list of them… notice that this question is not asking for an opinion. Take a look at my thesis statement below, it’s a little long but I needed to cover one advantage and one disadvantage which I will then write my essay around.

This is the Paraphrased introduction with a Thesis statement:

‘People these days can reside wherever they want in the world because of progress made in technology and transport. The main advantages are the career opportunities that a person might not get in their home country, a possible disadvantage is the stress of adjusting to living in a different culture.’


Thesis statement: The main advantages are career opportunities that a person might not get in their home country, a possible disadvantage is the stress of adjusting to living in a different culture.’

Ideally the introduction should be just 3 sentences but in this case I needed to paraphrase the question and mention one advantage and disadvantage. If the question asks for your opinion you must state it in the thesis statement… just make sure the whole introduction is under 55 words. You can write about 2 advantages and 2 disadvantages, but you need to keep the introduction concise.

Another method is to just refer to the advantage and state the disadvantage. such as:

‘People these days can reside wherever they want in the world because of progress made in technology and transport. Although there are advantages, the disadvantage is the stress of adjusting to living in a different culture.’


This allows you to keep the thesis statement concise especially if you want to outline two advantages (or disadvantages)


4. Advantages Disadvantages question (this one needs an opinion)

This type of advantage disadvantage essay is special because it asks ‘Do the advantages of this outweigh the disadvantages?’
 . This means you have to write about what side you think is stronger and reflect that in the essay and also in the thesis statement. You need to state an opinion here.

This is the Paraphrased introduction with a Thesis statement:

‘Some experts argue that children should study a new language at primary school as opposed to secondary school. I agree that the advantages are stronger than the disadvantages, because youngsters pick up and master new languages much easier than at a high school age.’

Thesis statement: ‘I agree that the advantages are stronger than the disadvantages because youngsters pick up and master new languages much easier than at a high school age.’

I have underlined the reason for my opinion here. Giving a reason for your opinion is important in a thesis statement. The introduction is 44 words long so that will be fine. Remember to write about the other side of the issue in the main body paragraphs, the side you think is weaker.

Another method here is to use this style which is very concise at 32 words:

‘Some experts argue that children should study a new language at primary school as opposed to secondary school. In my view, the advantages of younger children learning new languages outweigh the disadvantages.’


5. Problem Solution question.

 

This is the Paraphrased introduction with a Thesis statement:

‘People living in large cities have to deal with a lot of issues in their day to day lives. The main problems people face are high rental costs and overcrowding, possible solutions would be to build more affordable housing and more green spaces.’


Thesis statement:
The main problems people face are high rental costs and overcrowding, possible solutions would be to build more affordable housing and more green spaces.

I have listed 2 problems high rents, overcrowding and 2 solutions affordable housing, green spaces . You can choose just one problem and one solution and that would be fine.


6. Two Part Question (Direct Questions)

This is the Paraphrased introduction with a Thesis statement:

‘The Internet, which is a huge source of knowledge, has created opportunities for people worldwide to study. However, not all information on the world wide web can be trusted so measures need to be put in place to restrict information’

Thesis statement: However, not all information on the world wide web can be trusted so measures need to be put in place to restrict information.

Two part question essays are sometimes called ‘Direct question’ essays. They are 2 direct questions in the task question. Sometimes they will ask for your opinion such as: Do you think….? , What do you think…?

If the question asks for the opinion then you must state it.

You should briefly answer the 2 questions in the thesis statement, then give more detail in the body paragraphs.


Check out the blog posts about how to identify the 5 essay types and also how to paraphrase the question. These are key stages before writing your thesis statement. Make sure your whole introduction is under 55 words or it will be too long.

Take a look here at how to write a good introduction in writing task 2.

Now you can try.

Here is a Discussion essay question where you have to give your opinion. Can you write a Thesis statement for it?

‘Some people believe that the best way to deal with heavy traffic in city centres is for privately owned vehicles to be banned, others however think this is not a realistic solution.  Discuss both sides and give your own opinion.’

 

Task question:

“Some people believe that the best way to deal with heavy traffic in city centres is for privately owned vehicles to be banned, others however think this is not a realistic solution.

Discuss both sides and give your own opinion.”

Paraphrased introduction: Some feel that prohibiting private cars from city centres is the best way to tackle traffic congestion. On the other hand, others argue that this is unrealistic.

Thesis statement: I agree that private vehicles should be banned from city centres, and more investment needs to be put into public transportation to alleviate traffic jams.

Full introduction with paraphrasing.

“Some feel that prohibiting private cars from city centres is the best way to tackle traffic congestion. On the other hand, others argue that this is unrealistic. I agree that private vehicles should be banned from city centres and more investment needs to be put into public transportation to alleviate traffic jams.”

(52 words)

 


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