I have a hook. But my thesis seems to be more like a restated topic rather than a piece that encapsulates my topic with a claim. Any tips on how to fix this? I don't want a weak topic, but I also don't want to have my thesis as a restated topic. Maybe I am misunderstanding the difference between the two concepts... Any help is greatly appreciated. Also, first time college student. This is for English 101.

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    Example: The topic of this research paper is about social class in Great Expectations. The thesis of this research paper is about how Pip's social class affects his character development.
    – Double U
    Feb 12, 2019 at 4:44
  • I never read Great Expectations. But I understand your example. It's exactly my problem. It goes from General to specific. From topic to thesis. Hmmm. I get it goes from speaking generally about social class. And then it goes to speak about pip specifically. But it feels unnatural. Why would my arguments be about social classes if my thesis is about pip? Feb 12, 2019 at 5:10
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    You can first talk about social class in the Victorian era. Then, you move onto how social class is depicted in Victorian literature. Then, you talk about one type of Victorian literature - Great Expectations. Then, you talk about the social class in Great Expectations. Then, Pip's social class in Great Expectations.
    – Double U
    Feb 12, 2019 at 5:12
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    "This is for English 101." Go ask your English 101 professor when her/his office hours (or ask a TA if there are any for that class). Someone who can sit down with you and look at your actual essay topic and work so far will do you a lot more good than strangers on the internet giving you general advice.
    – Cyn
    Feb 12, 2019 at 15:48
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    Folks, if we barred all questions that arise out of introductory classes, we'd have to close a lot more questions than we do. This isn't a homework request; it's a question about how an essay topic differs from a thesis and how to bring out the difference in the essay. That sounds on-topic to me. Feb 12, 2019 at 17:22

1 Answer 1


When I taught English 100 (basically a 101) at a local university, this is my Magic Formula for a strong thesis statement:

Although Commonly accepted theory , [this paper shows] what I'm going to argue in this paper.

For example:

Although light therapy appears to help those with seasonal affective disorder , this is merely the placebo effect at work .

(I did no research for that one - it's just grammatically correct and shows a distinct, specific, and arguable thesis about the topic of SAD treatments. )

Don't actually include "this paper shows", but I find it useful for helping when drafting to differentiate between the "generally accepted knowledge" that you're arguing against, and the part that IS your argument.

No need to stick with the word "although," but I do find it really useful.

A thesis statement must be:

  • Specific. (Placebo effect, not just "other treatments.")
  • Arguable (if no one disagrees, there's no point in writing.)
  • NOT in the form of a question (except when you're drafting).
  • NOT an outline or list of 3. (Options for treating SAD include vitamins, exercise, and light therapy)
  • NOT just a statement of fact. (SAD is a form of depression.)

Also, your thesis statement should be open to change if your research indicates it -- don't eliminate research that disproves your thesis statement -- revise the thesis statement to reflect your new understanding.

I favor a thesis statement at the end of the first paragraph. The rest of the introduction should set up enough context that the thesis statement makes sense. (For academic essays, don't worry about a "teaser" or "hook" to grab attention -- they're not essential. I guess your teacher wants you to do them, but really, don't stress on that point.)

One final thing -- often the best introductions/thesis statements come AFTER you write your body paragraphs -- what you discover in the process is what the reader needs to know at the START.

I hope this helps!
(Source - I taught ENGL 100 and other classes for 10+ years at a local university)

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