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What is a Thesis Statement?

Remember my history teacher, Mr. Lexington? He taught us all about thesis statements. Here’s what he had to say about what a thesis statement is – and what it’s not.

“A thesis statement is not the same as a topic. Your thesis statement explains what you believe is the impact of your topic and why it is important. It can be a few sentences long, and it should answer the questions:

  • Why should we care about this topic in history?
  • What did it change?'”
  • Before we start, you should know that people sometimes call thesis statements “claims” or “arguments.” If a teacher asks you what your paper’s claim is, he or she is probably talking about the thesis statement.

    Mr. Lexington explained there are three elements that help to make a good thesis statement. He says it’s our job as researchers to make sure that our thesis statements:

    1. Address a narrow topic
    2. Express an opinion
    3. Evaluate historical significance

    Mr. Lexington wrote a few sample project topics and their thesis statements on the board to help us get started. Do you think they have all three parts of a good thesis statement?

    Notice how the topics are broad, but the thesis statements address a narrower subject? The thesis statements all express an opinion and make an argument – just like Mr. Lexington said they should.