A synthesis essay is a form of writing that requires a student to come up with an idea that must be supported by several peer-reviewed sources.
A synthesis essay is usually used in AP language and composition writing.
This type of essay is similar to a research paper except for the fact that a synthesis essay has time and topic restrictions while a research paper does not. In other words, a synthesis essay has a timeframe, a predetermined topic, and predetermined sources.
A synthesis essay must state a claim by presenting a variety of supporting evidence.
It must also have substantial evidence, which includes: facts, observations, statistics, relevant anecdotes, opinions from experts, and so forth.
The ideas in a synthesis essay must be presented in a logical manner.
Also, you must be in a position to convince your readers that you understand the essay assignment and that you can apply your ideas and thoughts and the ideas you’ve gathered from the relevant and reliable sources to build a persuasive argument.
To argue your point, it must have a foundation of already proven points.
A synthesis essay requires two texts or two things put together to create a new idea that could not exist without both of them.
A synthesis essay could be summarized with the equation below:
A + B = C (Synthesis Essay Topic)
Think of a synthesis essay as a recipe for preparing a cake. For you to prepare a cake, you will need wheat flour, oil, sugar, and eggs. If we choose to forget the flour in the preparation process, we will end up with a sugary oily thing that is disgusting.
In the AP writing or composition writing context, take, for example, the documentary Emmanuel’s Gift.
One of the main themes in Emmanuel’s Gift is:
A = Heart matters more than the physical abilities
While in the novel Habibi, one of the main themes is:
B = Love overcomes differences
You can build your synthesis essay from the above by taking the two themes from the documentary and the novel to come up with the idea that never existed, such as:
C = In an ideal society, what matters most is on the inside, not on the outside.
A = “Dolphins go crazy in captivity.”
B = “Zoos are cruel”
C = Mammals are best left to exist outside captivity (this will be the topic for your synthesis essay)
An argumentative synthesis essay provides your opinion regarding a particular issue by supporting the issue with reliable evidence. An argumentative synthesis essay could be considered as a debate forum where the author must offer views from both ends of the argument, then give their convincing stand insofar as the debate is concerned. The author has to organize his or her content logically in order to support their thesis. It is important to note that the thesis of an argumentative synthesis essay is debatable. The thesis of an argumentative synthesis makes a proposition in which people could agree or disagree, and any other writers working using the same sources may support or disagree with your proposition.
The sources are solely used to augment or support your own argument. You are not required to summarize the sources; you are only expected to use what the sources say for your own purpose.
Position papers, also known as white business papers, usually take the form of an argumentative synthesis essay. This category of a synthesis essay is also used by students while taking their AP tests.
Consider what your examiner requires from you and determine your stand or opinion. It is worth noting that after reading the prompt, you could consider possible and relevant or controversial ideas. This should happen even before you start reading the available sources.
Having in mind that an argumentative synthesis is debatable, you may be prompted to either agree or disagree. It is important that you list your facts/claims/information in a T-chart. Put the sources of your information in parentheses. Some sources may have multiple useful claims or facts.
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Remember to mark all the readings and circle key concepts. Look out for the points that you may support or disagree with. Marking the important points makes it easier for you to return and get what you need.
Question the claims made by writers and note any unsupported claims or logical fallacies. Look out for the assumptions made by the writer. Do not take what you see as the truth.
Consider jotting down a few notes every time you finish reading each source. The points are meant to help you understand the essence of the article.
Ensure that you have at least three points that can make up three strong paragraphs for your essay.
Be ready to prepare a single paragraph that addresses the opposition’s viewpoint. The paragraph should also explain why you still disagree with the opposition.
Determine the most appropriate opening strategy for your essay. Also, consider how you intend to close your essay. Logically organize your paragraphs in a manner that each paragraph supports a specific idea, which in itself supports your thesis statement.
Keep in mind that your thesis statement should be at the end of the introductory paragraph, taking a clear and firm position.
This type of essay is meant to educate your readers on a specific topic. An explanatory synthesis is also known as a background synthesis. The author is expected to divide a topic into numerous components, making it easy for the reader to understand. This type of essay does not advocate for any viewpoint, and its thesis statement is a weak one. In other words, an explanatory synthesis essay’s objective is not to argue a particular point but to present facts in an understandable and orderly manner.
The author must make it clear from the beginning what they intend to write about.
To make your readers have a clear understanding of a topic, this type of essay requires lots of explaining and support.
The explanations are usually in the body of the essays, which is divided into numerous subtopics organized in a logical manner.
In explaining, personal experiences such as interviews from real participants related to the topic could be quintessential as long as the academic voice and structure is maintained throughout the essay.
Reliable sources must also be incorporated in the body of the essay as they are the greatest tools in presenting any information that you have to your audience.
At this juncture, it is worth noting that your opinion or emotions are not needed in an explanatory synthesis essay. All that is required is a good number of credible or reliable sources.
An explanatory synthesis essay requires at least three credible sources for supporting your topic.
Lastly, do not create controversies to your readers. The sole purpose of your essay is to make your reader understand your topic more, not jumbling their minds further.
A review is a discussion of what has been previously written on a specific topic.
This type of synthesis essay requires a critical analysis of the incorporated sources.
A review is a justification of what a student intends to research on.
It does not need a thesis statement. However, its unstated thesis statement usually indicates that more research ought to be done in that specific area.
Most scholars consider a review as what most students term as a literature review.
A review is usually common in the field of medicine and social sciences.
This technique enables a student to analyze two reliable sources against each other. You have to look out for the differences as well as the similarities between the sources.
While using this technique, it is crucial that you intensively read your sources. Through intensive reading, you will be able to discover unique points in which the different authors agree or disagree.
This technique introduces an argument against your thesis, then later on in the essay, you prove that the argument is not strong enough. This technique is quite useful as it demonstrates to your readers that you are conversant with all sorts of arguments regarding a specific topic.
The strawman technique first brings out the introduction and thesis, the argument, a refutation of the argument, then, at the end, your positive argument.
This technique is not complicated. You are only expected to summarize all your sources. However, this technique is not popular as it does not show your thoughts. It could be considered as it makes your essay relevant.
Just like the strawman, the concession technique presents opposing views; however, it does not demystify the opposition. Instead, it supports the opposition. This method is efficient, especially when you know that your audience supports the opposing view.
Be sure to come up with the idea that you can argue and defend.
Also, the idea must be related to every single source that you have been provided with.
This idea is commonly referred to as the thesis statement.
A synthesis essay usually utilizes the five-paragraph structure of:
The introduction is an essential segment of the essay as it introduces your readers to the topic of discussion. You have to get it right to get the best grade.
You are expected to introduce your topic of discussion, giving it some background information on what you intend to talk about.
You should also present all the sources that you will use to prove the idea that you have come up with.
Finally, finish the introduction by explaining the main idea, also known as the thesis statement.
The thesis statement represents the focus of your synthesis essay.
To shed more light, the introduction is made up of the following components:
A hook is supposed to capture the attention of your readers. Examples of hooks to use could be:
The background information provides your reader with an overview of your topic. It is usually made up of three to six sentences. The sentences should give a brief overview of the issue you want to discuss.
NB/ Do not go into your argument or start defending your claims or thesis. Save this for your supporting paragraphs.
One sentence should be dedicated to answering or briefly giving an overview of why your topic is controversial or relevant today. This is important as it reassures your readers why they should continue reading your essay.
It is the roadmap to your essay. It identifies the topic that you intend to discuss.
The example below is a perfect guide that you could use to understand more how you can prepare your introduction:
I bet you are familiar with the phrase, “Be sure to study for the test!” However, have you ever tried to consider whether standardized tests play any role in your overall success in education or life?
Standardized testing took precedence in the year 2002 following the “No Child Left Behind Act” with this act, schools were expected to prove their annual growths. Otherwise, they risked getting shutdown, losing funding, or being taken over by the State. What followed? The performance of students in the United States went down from 18th to 27th in the whole world in the year 2012. The “No Child Left Behind Act” also increased State spending on education and tests by 160% compared to the previous years. Obama’s presidency saw the overhaul of the act by introducing “The Race to the Top” program. The program by Obama saw an increase in the use of test scores.
The relevance of the topic
Standardized testing has been used across the globe as many governments consider it a criterion for determining the good schools versus the bad ones or the bad teachers versus the good ones. The result of standardized tests is the death of many schools and teachers. Many professionals in the education sector, as well as intellects from various fields, consider standardized testing unfair. However, there is little they can do about the current situation when colleges consider it as the minimum entry requirement while high schools require it for graduation.
Standardized testing is flawed and detrimental as it plays a significant factor in the funding of a school, it fails to support student’s growth adequately, and it is a wreck to the mentality of students with the looming emphasis and importance that are placed on the test.
Each paragraph must address a specific and separate theme. The facts that you collect from different sources should be integrated and grouped based on specific themes.
Every paragraph must begin with a topical sentence that somehow addresses the thesis statement.
Don’t forget to include phrases that show the relationships between the different sources.
Synthesis essays are fundamentally informative. It is, therefore, important that you show how the various facts in your essay interact, their similarities and differences.
Be sure to indicate the facts and their sources by use of in-text citations, topic sentences, and transitions.
The body paragraphs could be represented in the following manner:
The conclusion is meant to remind your readers about the most important themes that you addressed, and most importantly, how these themes connect with the overall topic.
Be sure to restate your thesis statement in a tone of voice that infers confirmation. This makes your audience naturally inclined to agree with you.
Summarize the connection between every sub-idea with the thesis statement.
To finish, provide an overall concluding statement that presents the overall significance of the thesis statement.
In other words: how do your findings impact the situation? What steps should be taken to ensure positive progress in the field?
Go through every sub-idea and make sure that there is an evident and logical link back to the thesis statement.
Proofread your work to ensure that there are no grammar mistakes.
In most cases, students are required to select a topic of their preference from the limited options that they have. Selecting the best topic for your synthesis essay may become a challenge. However, the following tips provide guidelines that students need to adhere to before selecting a perfect topic for their synthesis essay:
Synthesis essay is usually not very long, and the shorter an essay is, the more focused their topics should be. Therefore, avoid topics such as drug abuse, global warming, corruption, social media, and so forth as they are too general.
Selecting a topic that interests you makes it easy for you to even conduct the research. In fact, topics that interest you consume less time in research.
A perfect synthesis essay will make your reader hesitate or disagree with the options that you offer them. There is no point in examining a synthesis essay if your audience automatically agrees with your text. Topics that make your reader automatically agree with you are never appealing.
There is no need to research on a topic whose facts are unchangeable or obvious. Look for topics that have the potential for negotiable improvements or change.
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