How To Write an A.P. U.S. History Thesis Statement

Wednesday, March 27, 2013
What is not a thesis?
  • The thesis statement is not a fact; it is an informed interpretation of the facts.
  • Neither is the thesis/argument just an opinion.
What is not a thesis?
  • The thesis statement is not a fact; it is an informed interpretation of the facts.
  • Neither is the thesis/argument just an opinion.
Don’t understand the prompt?
  • Thesis will not be good = essay flops
  • Don’t feel like answering the prompt?
    • Answering the prompt will ensure a fair score
    • Answering the prompt with good/great theses/arguments ensures a much higher score
The Importance of Understanding the Prompt

Many students want to read the question quickly and move on to writing. However, APUSH essay prompts are challenging. They ask students to perform specific writing tasks. The questions also contain qualifiers that guide and restrict your answer. Rather than taking 10 seconds to read the question, you would be better off spending 45 seconds reading, re-reading, marking, and analyzing. Remember, a mistake in understanding a question could make the rest of a student’s effort almost worthless.

Break it down like so:
Circle the task at hand (analyze, assess, compare, etc.) Underline the historical subject/content Box out the time period given, or assign one
  • Next, brainstorm (in whatever organic way makes sense to you) the information needed to answer the prompt in full.
  • Write a thesis statement that demonstrates an argument and the topics to come.
  • Double check that your thesis answers all parts of the prompt as you diagrammed it before you begin writing.
Try it!
“The South never had a chance to win the Civil War.” To what extent and why do you agree or disagree with this statement? Discuss the political, economic and social reforms introduced in the South between 1864 and 1877. To what extent did these reforms survive the Compromise of 1877?

Thesis Continuum
  • Most good questions allow for a range of possible answers.
  • A continuum exists and students can generally feel free to choose a response along that continuum.
  • Students should avoid crafting an extreme response at either end of the continuum.
  • Most questions require a response that is not black or white but instead some shade of gray. That does not mean, however, that students should attempt to respond in the exact middle of the continuum. Such an attempt usually results in a failure to articulate a clear position.

A good thesis is narrow but not too narrow

  • A well-written thesis statement must be narrow enough to limit the writer to something that can be addressed in about thirty minutes
  • but
  • not so narrow as to prevent them from writing relevant things that help answer the question or that ignore big evidence.
  • A thesis that is too broad will cause the student to briefly mention a wide variety of information that may seem unrelated to the reader.
To what extent did Andrew Jackson’s presidential policies reveal him to be a man of the people?
  • Andrew Jackson was a great president.
  • Andrew Jackson's handling of the bank question proved him to be a man of the people.
  • Some of Jackson’s policies made him a man of the people, but some did not.
  • Andrew Jackson's policies concerning the bank, Indian removal and rotation in office proved him to be a man of the people.

Positive Response Bias
  • Students should also beware of the fallacy of "positive response bias."
  • Many students are inclined to answer a question in the affirmative.
  • Students always need to carefully weigh all of the historical evidence and then craft a response that best articulates their understanding of the historical record.

A good thesis shows analysis
  • A strong thesis will go beyond a “Miss America” answering of the question.
  • Contestants in that pageant will often merely restate the question in the form of a statement and add a couple of words. This rewording of the question is overly simplistic and does not allow the writer to show analysis.
  • Readers of the APUSH exam want to see a well-developed thesis that goes beyond simply stating facts or basic opinions about the question. The thesis should help the reader understand why the position is held.

George Washington set precedents as president.
This is a fact, not an argument.

The precedents that Washington set as America’s first president greatly benefited the American political system.
This is a clear position that can be supported or opposed.

"Although America perceived Manifest Destiny as a benevolent movement, it was in fact an aggressive imperialism pursued at the expense of others. "
Assess the validity of this statement with specific reference to American expansionism in the 1840s.


Manifest Destiny was a expansion of American superiority over the continent and affected many.


During the mid 1800s, Manifest Destiny was presented as a positive "benevolent movement," though in reality, it promoted cultural superiority, aggressive foreign policy, and extended the already existing sectional crisis.
  • A belief in the racial and cultural superiority of white Americans was a tenet of the Manifest Destiny movement.
  • Because it was widely accepted that it was America’s destiny, even duty to go west, many accepted aggressive foreign policy as a means of fulfilling that duty.
  • Westward expansion during this era only deepened the debate between North and South: Would there be slavery in the new territories?
  • Manifest Destiny was indeed aggressive in nature, but this position for expansion was a necessary sentiment for congressmen and citizens alike, seeking territorial, financial, and social gain.
  • Because it resulted in a brutal Mexican War in which many people lost their lives, the philosophy of Manifest Destiny was indeed an aggressive and selfish phenomenon of the 1840s.
A good thesis may acknowledge the opposing argument

A good thesis allows the writer to show understanding of the complexity of the issue and knowledge of information on both sides of the issue. Most of the essay questions allow for an opinion on either side of the question. By acknowledging another view in the thesis, it becomes possible to add relevant information on that side of the issue.

"Thomas Jefferson is often thought of as an idealist, but as president, he demonstrated his conviction as a pragmatist." Assess the accuracy of this statement.
  • Although Jefferson was idealistic in his insistence on an embargo that cut off trade to Europe, he showed himself to be predominantly a pragmatist in the way he handled the Louisiana Purchase, the issue of the constitutionality of the National Bank, and Federalist appointees.
  • Despite his pragmatic decision to purchase Louisiana, Jefferson proved himself to be primarily an idealist through his handling of the Embargo Act and the national debt.
A good thesis is placed at the end of the introductory paragraph

A well-written thesis is well placed. Some students want to save their thesis for the last paragraph. Perhaps they think that the reader’s interest will be held if they create suspense. In reality the reader is more likely to be frustrated as he wonders what you are trying to prove. Another mistake is to put the thesis as the very first sentence of the essay. This placement will not give the reader a chance to get his bearings. Since one of the purposes of a thesis is to clearly lead the reader through your paper, it makes sense to place the thesis where the reader expects to find it. For this reason the best placement is the last sentence of the first paragraph.

How to Write a Thesis Statement

Your ultimate goal is to use the essay to successfully prove, argue, and/or illustrate your thesis.

Observation versus Claim

Observations are statements of fact about the text that are obvious, conclusive, and not debatable. These are not thesis statements.
Dorothy kills the Wicked Witch of the West.
The Wicked Witch of the East first owned the ruby slippers.
People from Kansas have the ability to journey to Oz.

Claims are theoretical statements that are debatable and rely on interpretation, and therefore require justification and elaboration (you must prove your argument to your reader). Like in science, claims tell your reader what hypothesis you are testing in the essay. You arrive at a claim by asking driving theoretical questions (see Analysis workshop) about the sign/pattern/ subject/observation in the text.
When Dorothy kills with Wicked Witch of the West, she reveals her evilness.
The ruby slippers signify Dorothy’s wrath and antagonistic character.
The journey to Oz (the tornado) argues that the Depression acts as an unstoppable force of nature.

Thesis statements:

Move beyond the obvious to persuade your reader about an idea you have regarding the text.
Must be speculative and encourage further thought and argument.
Cannot be obvious and should be complex (or, not simple – should answer the So What?)
Should be specific, not broad (i.e., don’t do this: Emerson’s essay deals with many life questions. Which life questions? “Deals” is a vague verb as well. Do you mean “wrestle,” “examine,” “interrogate,” “approve,” “reject,” etc.?)

Do not simply tell what happens in the text (an Observation). Rather, discuss your chosen subject’s significance, meaning and/or impact. Refer to the Analysis handout for more information on analysis in essays.


Preachy statements (tends to involve words like “need” and “should”)
People need to practice aversion and escape the conformity in society.
Personal narrative (i.e., “I”, “me,” “my” “us” etc.)
The film makes us wonder if violence is ever really the answer.
Telling the reader what the text “is all about.” That is not an argument.
The Birds is about the Cold War.

How to Write a Thesis Statement

Working Thesis:

When you first sit down to write a thesis statement, the sentence you come up with will most likely be a “working thesis statement.” That is, you will use it to launch the writing of your essay.

However, sometimes your essay will end up in a different place than you thought, and your working thesis no longer fits. This is perfectly fine, and happens to everybody.

Instead of throwing out an essay that doesn’t follow the working thesis, you need to revise the working thesis until it declares what your essay argues.

Now you have your final thesis statement.

General Sentence Structure

[The text – optional] + (Subject of essay – the sign) + Verb + (Argument about the sign – So what?)

The dead squirrels signify the fragile mental state of the soldiers and the nonsensical nature of the Civil War.

When Dorothy kills the Wicked Witch of the West, she reveals her evilness.

[In Euripides' play, Medea,] Medea's ruthless attitude and merciless actions to take revenge on Jason strongly reinforce women's roles in Euripides' 4th century BCE society.

How to Tell if a Thesis is Argumentative or Not

  1. When you read it out loud or to a friend, can you or your friend understand what it says?
  2. Underline specific words or phrases that require proof – if you cannot, it is not argumentative.
  3. Can any reader of the text see your “argument”? If so, you have an observation.
  4. If it uses vague nouns, then it is not specific enough to be a thesis.
  5. Is it actually taking a side of an argument? If it is in the middle, it needs to identify the complexity of the situation (The Wicked Witch of the West performs deeds that appear evil, but her actions are reactions to the rejections she received throughout her life).
  6. Can you prove it?
  7. Is there a So what?

How to Write a Thesis Statement

Un-Argumentative Sentences:

Marriage is love’s tangibles walls, they are defined and stable throughout time, love is the unseen passion burning between hearts that have no shields, through intense love you find the home of two hearts.

Greg Fraser shows how things are and questions them. I will find those things and analyze what I think his viewpoint is in situations where he does not say.

The literary devices emphasize the main focuses of the poem.

Throughout the poem "Habitation," there are many literary devices such as tone, structure, and imagery that help the reader capture the main idea of this poem.

In Euripides’ Medea, it’s hard for the audience to decide if they should or should not sympathize with Medea.

Jim eventually becomes aggressive, just like all men are inherently violent.

After the Wilderness demonstrates Freud’s death drive.

Essay on Divorce: Some Useful Prompts for Effective Writing

Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Essay on Divorce One of the most controversial social issues is the question of increasing of a number of divorces in the developed countries. The causes for the tendency are widely discussed in such type of academic writing as an essay. If you have the task to write an effective essay on divorce, you should pay attention not only to the causes of the problem but also to the possible effects.

What details can you concentrate on while writing your essay on divorce?
  1. Divorce can be considered as the legal termination of a definite marriage. When you start developing of your essay on divorce you may consult a lot of information from the Internet resources, from the articles in journals and newspapers. Analyze the data of the current statistics in different countries. What are the reasons for the differences in the data?
  2. Pay attention to the social aspects of the problem of divorce. There are some types of divorces which can be discussed successfully in your essay on divorce.
  3. Discuss such significant aspects and the most controversial details of divorces as the problem of the spousal and child support and spouses’ responsibilities.
  4. Moreover, you can pay attention to the history of divorces and examine all the possible causes for the termination of marriages in different periods.
  5. Analyze such causes for divorces as adultery and domestic violence in a family. Pay attention to the question of family crises.
  6. Concentrate on the problem of the results of divorces for children in the family. What are the ways of coping with critical situations in families and preventing divorces?
Essay on divorce requires following some necessary rules for writing. The prompts from the article can be useful for your essay on divorce.

Essay on Diseases: Some Necessary Tips for the Discussion

Essay on Diseases Every day people can face not only social issues but also their personal problems which are connected with their moral or physical health. Any abnormal condition of your health can be considered as a definite disease. The causes and effects of a lot of diseases are widely discussed in such type of academic writing as an essay. In your essay on diseases you can discuss a variety of issues associated with the question.

What details should you pay attention to in your essay on diseases?
  1. We can determine such types as infectious diseases and autoimmune diseases which differ in their causes. Moreover, diseases can be affected by various social problems. Thus, you can focus on diseases of poverty or diseases of civilization in your work. It is also interesting to pay attention to the peculiarities of medical sociology.
  2. To find the necessary material for effective writing of your essay on diseases, it is important to consult the information from the articles in specialized journals, from the available reports and investigations.
  3. In your essay on diseases you may analyze the symptoms of different diseases, and the difficulties in their diagnosing.
  4. What is the role of a person in the successful therapy? What is the role of medical treatment? Analyze social and psychological issues of the problem. Focus on the measures of effective treatment.
  5. Pay attention to the controversial questions about the diseases which can cause the death of a person.
  6. Concentrate on the moral and ethical problems which can be results of physical diseases.
  7. Analyze the role of the effective health care system.
Essay on diseases requires following some necessary rules for writing. The prompts from the article can be useful for your essay on diseases.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013 has launched its new online project – a useful thesis statement generator.

thesis statement generator

College education is not getting easier and the sheer number of simple academic assignments is overwhelming. Tha's why it's important to be able to complete them efficiently and properly, according to general standards of academic writing. decided to give a hand to thousands of students with a specific part of their academic work – thesis statements.

This doesn't sound like a big deal, but with years of experience the team behind the project knows that a confusing and long thesis statement can ruin any academic paper. Sometimes professors don’t even bother to read beyond it, because they can clearly see that the student is not really good with the subject matter of the presented paper.

"We realized back then, that we had to create a simple template, which can cover the majority of possible topics. We also realized that the task is pretty complex, although it might not seem like a lot. Our great team of academic writers and editors did most of the job. They brainstormed and discussed various standard forms for thesis statements, which can be easily modified and general enough to fit any description. We’re talking about hundreds of combined hours of research. They did a great job and all we had todo is simply wrap it up into some code and visuals" – says Patrick, one of the IT specialists, working for the project.

Of course, as has been said by some of the staff members, the tool is not perfect. However, they are working hard to perfect it over time. Customer feedback plays a huge role in this process. team is enthusiastic about it, because they’ve already seen some buzz online about their tool, which makes them very proud. The team is not sure about the future projects, because some of them currently are only available as inscriptions on one of the white boards in the office. The project will offer more free academic online tools, just like thesis statement generator: in the future.

Essay on Dogs: Some Possible Topics for the Discussions

Essay on Dogs There are few people who do not like dogs. These animals are considered as the most devoted people’s friends. When you have the task to write an effective essay about dogs you can use the opportunity to choose one of the most interesting topics for the discussion in this type of academic writing. There are many aspects which can be developed in your essay on dogs successfully.

What details should you pay attention to while writing your essay on dogs?
  1. To find the most interesting and effective topic for your essay on dogs, it is necessary to examine a lot of information from the articles in specialized journals, from the Internet resources.
  2. You may discuss the variety of breeds and their peculiarities in your essay on dogs. You may concentrate on dogs as pets and on the aspects of the care. However, it is more effective to focus on some provocative and unusual details of the topic. For instance, discuss the history of domestication of dogs. Why are dogs so devoted to their owners?
  3. In what types of work people can use dogs? What breeds can be used for work?
  4. Is it possible to use dogs in shows? What is your opinion? What breeds can be schooled well enough for participating in different kinds of shows?
  5. Discuss the question of using dogs in various kinds of sport. What are the main difficulties which can face trainers in their work with dogs?
  6. Analyze the role of dogs in mythology and art. Who among the artists used the image of dogs in order to create their masterpieces?
Essay on dogs requires following some necessary rules for writing. The prompts presented in the article can be useful for your essay on dogs.

Essay on Domestic Violence: Some Useful Prompts for Writing

Essay on Domestic Violence Family is a social organism, and its successful activity depends on the peculiarities of the relations within it. It is the fact that many spouses can face the problem of domestic violence during their marriage life. This issue is widely discussed by psychologists and sociologists in such type of academic writing as an essay. To write an effective essay on domestic violence, you should pay attention to some necessary prompts for its developing.

What peculiarities of the question can be discussed in your essay on domestic violence effectively?
  1. What problems can we consider as examples of domestic violence? Any occurrences of physical or psychological and emotional aggression which are directed toward one of the spouses can be considered as domestic abuse.
  2. To write an efficient essay on domestic violence, it is useful for you to consult some specialized literature on the problem. Pay attention to the information from the articles in journals and newspapers, from the available surveys and investigations, from the Internet resources.
  3. Analyze the data of the current statistics and refer to the modern psychologists and sociologists’ opinions on the issue. Study reliable resources on the problem.
  4. In your essay on domestic violence you may focus on the types of family abuse and present the possible causes for the issue with their proper analysis. What is the meaning of jealousy and marital conflicts as the main causes for domestic violence?
  5. Concentrate on the psychological and physical effects of domestic aggression for the members of the family. Discuss the problem of possible dangerous effects on children. What are the ways to prevent these effects?
Essay on domestic violence requires following necessary rules for writing. The prompts from the article can be useful for your essay on domestic violence.

Essay on Dreams: The Peculiarities of Effective Writing

Essay on Dreams The peculiar features of the cinematographic art allow creating of different wonderful images which attract the audience’s attention. Moreover, films created by talented directors and their definite messages are widely discussed in such type of academic writing as an essay. In 1990 Akira Kurosawa presented his Dreams. The film was admitted by the public, and today its ideas are developed in essays on Dreams.  

What peculiarities should you discuss in your essay on Dreams?
  1. To write an effective and interesting essay on Dreams, it is necessary to examine a lot of information about the film which is presented in a number of articles from specialized journals, in reviews from newspapers. Examine the material from the Internet resources in order to make your essay on Dreams successful.
  2. The film is unique in its consideration of the principles of magical realism in cinematography. That is why it is full of rich imagery and significant symbols.
  3. Pay attention to the fact that the film is based on Akira Kurosawa’s dreams. Thus, there are many details in the film which can be considered as rather personal.
  4. In your essay you can focus on the images and symbols of the nature in the film. Discuss the meaning of such symbols as rain and sunshine. Concentrate on the symbolism of the peach blossoms. What are the messages of these symbols and images?
  5. Pay attention to the symbol of wedding. What are the peculiarities of its depicting in different parts of the film?
  6. Accentuate the meaning of the symbol of the tunnel in the film. What is the main idea of various colours in the film?
Essay on Dreams requires following necessary rules for writing. The prompts presented in the article can be useful for your essay on Dreams.