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How to Write a Synthesis Essay

A synthesis essay is something that you will often encounter as part of an exam (similar to AP English essay writing test). The writer is provided with the same sources which other students will be given.  They should be able to draw information from the sources to make an argument.  Synthesis essays can share similarities with analysis, argumentative or compare and contrast essays.

By definition, a synthesis essay is essentially an essay which aims to analyze a particular topic by demonstrating the writer’s stance or viewpoint on the subject. This is also known as a thesis. For a good synthesis essay, the foundation is laid by thorough research which is used to connect parts of multiple works and a combination of resources to build strong and logical connections. These connections are then used to form a well-supported conclusion and a solid perspective on that particular topic.


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How to decide on the Synthesis Essay Topics?

A great thesis topic is the one which encourages debate and intellectual analysis. This means that there can be many arguments for the topic – in favor and against. Even though it may sound intimidating, in the beginning, this is what differentiates a good prompt from a bad one. Bad prompts are often too broad and vague to open up any space for discussion. Just to name a few, bad topics can include gender, electricity or the climate. These topics do not give direction or stir enough interest for the readers or the writers alike.

A few examples of good synthesis essay prompts could be:

  • Is television ruining our generation?
  • Should advertisements to children be regulated?
  • Should zoos qualify as animal captivity?
  • Is academic achievement the only determinant of success?

Other topics can be directed towards a specific economic policy, gun control, or freedom of the press. Once you start off with a great topic, a brilliant thesis is sure to follow.

Learn more tips about Critical Lens Essay

How to Start with a Synthesis Essay?

It is important to understand the prompt of the synthesis essay. This means that the fact that there can be many sides to the argument for your topic is something that needs to be acknowledged. So even before deciding the final position, it is advisable to go through all the available resources and see what useful information can be found within them. This will help get rid of any predisposed biases as people may only tend to look for information that is in support of their argument. By collecting complete information, it will be easier to accomplish the main purpose of the thesis which is to build together ideas and present them in a concise, logical and consistent manner.

How to Write a Synthesis Essay

After carefully articulating the final viewpoint and gauging a detailed understanding of the argument at hand, it is time to start writing. With just a little planning and some careful calculations, many find that the synthesis essay is quite easy to write.

The first step is to finalize the argument, meaning the thesis statement. Proofread it and edit it as many times as might be required since this statement will be the anchor of the essay. After this, start work on the rough draft of the essay, its structure and outline.

A great thesis statement example here can be:

“Stunts or other life-like animations in advertisements can be misinterpreted by children who cannot distinguish between fantasy and reality, advertisements also give rise to superficial wants, and they debase children’s tastes. Therefore it is crucial that advertising to children needs to be stringently regulated so that these children can be protected. “

How to Write Synthesis Essay Outline and Structure

After the basic concept, the arguments and the content have been decided; it is best to create an outline for your synthesis essay. Everything from the main points and sub-arguments to the counter-arguments must be placed appropriately in the thesis– this, in fact, is the key to a strong synthesis essay. However, the most important aspect that should not be undermined is that each new point that is added to the essay should work on strengthening the main claim. If it is a counter argument, then it should be value adding, and the readers should have no problem drawing a direct connection to that point with the main argument. The paragraphs and content should be concise, logical and concrete because even though the style is important, fluff and over the top, complicated vocabulary can prove counterproductive to the quality of the essay.  This is because the readers will not be able to understand the thesis easily.

The recommended structure follows with the introduction, the body paragraphs and an end conclusion to tie it all together. For a more in-depth understanding, we will look at these components individually and ensure that each one is effective.


The introduction can include the thesis statement to familiarize the audience about a particular position that the essay takes. This will act as a hook for the readers. Then the main points that are to be addressed in the body paragraphs can also become a part of the introduction. Another strategy to make the essay stronger would be to cite the opposing argument and refute it in the introduction, if this has not been done later in the essay.

Body Paragraphs:

It is best for the body paragraphs to proceed in a structured manner. Each body paragraph should be centered on a sub-point or a sub-argument. The argument should be mentioned at the start of the body paragraph. This should then be followed by citing the supporting evidence which establishes the credibility of that sub-argument. Then it should not just end here because the thesis is not a summary of multiple resources. To avoid this, the citations and evidence should be followed by the writer’s analysis of the resources which should then be linked back to the sub argument. Then these successive sub-arguments will lead to build the main argument and help it stand its ground.

Body Paragraph 1:

  • Main Sub-Argument
  • Resources and Evidence
  • Analysis of the resources

Body Paragraph 2:

  • Main Sub-Argument
  • Resources and Evidence
  • Analysis of the resources


The conclusion will reiterate the final claim and the significance of the topic. It can also include a suggestion or a policy that might be relevant to the argument such as in business reports or other research papers pertinent to social topics.

After the structure is complete, all there is left to do is to write! This should be easy because now you need to clearly and impressively express all the information that has been gathered. Always keep the main argument in mind as that will serve as an anchor to provide direction so that the essay can neatly come together.

Synthesis Essay Format

There are many formats that are used for the synthesis essay. These include MLA, APA and Chicago style depending on what the synthesis essay is for. Purdue Owl can be easily used as a resource on MLA and APA formats. Another website called the Easybib can be used as a citation tool for all the external resources that are used. The main difference between MLA and APA is that of the tense which is used. MLA uses the present tense, and APA makes use of past tense.

Synthesis Essay Help

Some of the main points that need to be kept in mind are that the font is generally set to be 12pt and Times New Roman with double spacing between the lines. The last name and page number are positioned at the top right of each page. Titles are centered, and most importantly the last page should be a “Works Cited” page that is a collection of all the used resources. For APA, the essay needs to be distinctly divided into four parts that include Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.

Tips for Your Synthesis Essay

  • Proofread your essay again and again to ensure that the final writing is error free and professional.
  • Since the synthesis essay calls for synthesizing ideas, it should keep in mind that all these ideas and works of others need to be cited. Due credit should be given to the brilliant minds who produced these works. Also never forget to cite work that has been either directly added or paraphrased to avoid plagiarism.
  • The resources that are gathered to together for the synthesis essay should not be made into a summary or bullet points. They should be used to lay the foundations of an in-depth and well-articulated analysis on the topic.
  • Avoid structuring paragraphs according to particular sources. This is important because if the sources are to serve as evidence in support of your argument, then each of your paragraphs will need more than just one resource to suffice. More so if one paragraph is used to describe a particular source, then the risk of simply summarizing the resources also increases.

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