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Thesis Statement Checklist

This page is Part 2 of How Do I Write a Thesis Statement?.

Thesis Statement Questions to Ask as You Work Through Your Writing Process

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Does my thesis address a debatable topic?

Almost every paper assignment requires you to make an argument.  In order to do this, you must first have a topic about which one could reasonably make at least two different arguments.  If it isn’t debatable, why spend the time to write about it?

Does my thesis make a specific claim on a topic?

The thesis statement is the central claim of your paper, so it must be a complete sentence that explains the argument or purpose of your paper. It is not a general topic or question; rather, it takes a stand on the topic at hand.

Does my thesis offer a roadmap for the reader, containing organizational cues as to how to arrange the various parts of my argument in the pages that follow?

Your thesis should not only state your argument but offer a roadmap for your readers, as to how the paper as a whole will proceed. This will often require one or two sentences beyond the single sentence that states your thesis.

Does my thesis contain the key words or central idea that focuses my argument?

Including the key words of your analysis in your thesis statement allows your reader to better understand the important points of your argument in the following paragraphs. Defining your key words also helps to keep you focused on your argument as you write the body of your paper.

Is my thesis focused enough or complex enough to satisfy the page length of the assignment?

Remember: Part of your task in writing a paper is not only to state what you will argue, but also to make the argument itself. If you cannot complete the argument in the space required, then you must narrow the scope of your topic. Similarly, if your thesis is too narrow, you will have to brainstorm ways to broaden your argument.

Can I support my thesis with the material available?

If you cannot support your claim, then you cannot make an argument. If your thesis cannot be supported with the material available in your text/s, you will have to reframe your argument in provable terms.

Does my thesis accurately reflect my final argument?

If your thesis statement does not accurately express your claim, your readers will be confused. The tricky part is that often in the course of writing a paper, our ideas change or we modify our opinions on the topic.

This means that it is vitally important to continuously check that your thesis statement is the most accurate expression of your argument possible. When you’re finished with a draft, revise your thesis so that it reflects what you’re really saying, or revise the rest of the paper so that it proves your thesis.

Last revised: 07/2008 | Adapted for web delivery: 5/2021

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