The introduction and the thesis statement
The introduction is very, very important. Your reader will probably have fifty or more essays to mark at any one time and in order to impress her (or him) you need an introduction that catches her attention. This means that you should not waste words with waffle, but clearly state what your intentions are. A poorly drafted introduction with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors will give a very poor impression and is likely to doom your essay before the reader has got half way down the first page.
Some students assume that because there is an essay title at the top of the page, they do not need to tell the reader what they are going to write about. That is incorrect. It is very important to state your intentions right at the beginning of your essay, and this is done in the thesis statement.
The thesis statement comes at the start of your essay and it states very clearly what you're going to do in the essay. It will be an important part of the first paragraph where you outline what you are going to do and, perhaps, how you are going to do it. Your thesis statement:
- will be in the essay introduction
- will probably be a statement of intent: This essay will examine the reasons for the growth of racism within our society.
- will probably not be a simple statement of fact because a fact cannot be developed easily: The population of Pakistan is overwhelmingly Muslim.
- will not express your own opinion: I believe that fundamentalist religious views are a major problem in American society.
- probably will not be expressed as a question because this looks rather cumbersome: The question I want to examine is 'Can child abuse be completely eliminated from our society?'
Look at these good examples of thesis statements:
- In this essay I will attempt to show how recent changes in Iran have led to far greater opportunities for Iranian women.
- This essay will critically examine the process leading to the election of the Mayor of London and show how this process contributed to the election defeat of the Labour Party.
- Recent political changes in China have had far reaching economic effects. This essay will outline the political changes, and examine what impact these have had on the lives of ordinary Chinese people.
- Child abuse has proved to be a persistent problem within our children's homes. This essay will examine current policies towards children's homes and suggest ways in which these policies could be modified.
Have a look at these examples of introductory paragraphs and decide whether you think they could be improved in any ways.