How to Formulate a Thesis Statement

Have you ever had difficulty writing a thesis statement? Most of us have floundered through the process of trying to find a focus for a topic.

What is a thesis statement?

It is a statement that presents the focus and intent for a paper that you are writing on a certain topic. It is highly specific and usually consists of one or two sentences. It is recommended that it appears somewhere in the first few paragraphs of the paper.Everything that follows will support this statement. Sometimes we have the tendency to begin with statements that are too general. We need to look for ways to narrow a topic.

Example: Standardized testing for college admission is not fair. (Too general. Most people would probably agree.)

Standardized tests for college admission are not an accurate depiction of a student's intelligence, rather they show the disparity between economically advantaged and disadvantaged students. (A more precise statement.)

How do we manage to narrow the topic so as to formulate a thesis statement? The process begins when we start to think about choosing search terms or keywords. These online databases can help explore the depth of a topic and related issues.

  • Articles in specialized encyclopedias or reference works can provide background information on issues relating to a topic.
  • Articles in databases, i.e.,  Academic Search Complete
  • Databases that give the pro's/con's on topics, i.e.,    Opposing Viewpoints in Context. See the "Browse Issues" tab at the top of the page to look for topics.


The OWL at Purdue gives examples of strong thesis statements that you may find helpful:

For more assistance, feel free to either speak with a Librarian by visiting the Library Help Web site or visit the SUNY Broome Writing Center