Your class has been writing a few argumentative essays here and there, and you have to admit … you’re getting pretty good at it. But now your instructor says that you need to take it a step further and write a synthesis essay.
The name might be a little intimidating, but don’t worry—I’ll be here to give you example topics and walk you through the steps to writing a great synthesis.
First … What Is a Synthesis Essay?
Before we jump right into generating ideas and writing your synthesis, it would be pretty useful to know what a synthesis essay actually is, right?
When you think about a synthesis essay, you can think of it as being kind of like an argumentative essay.
There is one key difference, though—your instructor provides you with the sources you are going to use to substantiate your argument.
This may sound a little bit easier than an argumentative essay. But it’s a different kind of thinking and writing that takes some time to get used to. Synthesis essays are all about presenting a strong position and identifying the relationships between your sources.
Don’t fall into the trap of simply summarizing the sources. Instead, make your point, and back it up with the evidence found in those sources. (I’ll explain this in more detail when we talk about the writing process.)
Many of your sources will probably have information that could support both sides of an argument. So it’s important to read over them carefully and put them in the perspective of your argument.
If there’s information that goes against your main points, don’t ignore it. Instead, acknowledge it. Then show how your argument is stronger.
If this all seems a little too theoretical, don’t worry—it’ll all get sorted out. I have a concrete example that takes a page from the Slytherins’ book (yes, of Harry Potter fame) and uses cunning resourcefulness when analyzing sources.
Great and Not-So-Great Topics for Your Synthesis Essay
A great topic for a synthesis essay is one that encourages you to choose a position on a debatable topic. Synthesis topics should not be something that’s general knowledge, such as whether vegetables are good for you. Most everyone would agree that vegetables are healthy, and there are many sources to support that.
Bad synthesis topics can come in a variety of forms. Sometimes, the topic won’t be clear enough. In these situations, the topic is too broad to allow for you to form a proper argument. Here are a few example bad synthesis essay topics:
Synthesis on gender
Write about education
Form an argument about obesity
Other not-so-great examples are topics that clearly have only one correct side of the argument. What you need is a topic that has several sources that can support more than one position.
Now that you know what a bad topic looks like, it’s time to talk about what a good topic looks like.
Many great synthesis essay topics are concentrated around social issues. There’s a lot of gray area and general debate on those issues—which is what makes them great topics for your synthesis. Here are a few topics you could write about:
Do video games promote violence?
Is the death penalty an effective way to deter crime?
Should young children be allowed to have cell phones?
Do children benefit more from homeschooling or public school?
The list of good topics goes on and on. When looking at your topic, be sure to present a strong opinion for one side or the other. Straddling the fence makes your synthesis essay look much weaker.
Now that you have an idea of what kinds of topics you can expect to see, let’s get down to how to actually write your synthesis essay. To make this a little more interesting, I’m going to pick the following example topic:
Are Slytherin House members more evil than members of other houses?
Steps to Writing an Impressive Synthesis Essay
As with any good essay, organization is critical. With these five simple steps, writing a surprisingly good synthesis essay is surprisingly easy.
Step 1: Read your sources.
Even before you decide on your position, be sure to thoroughly read your sources. Look for common information among them, and start making connections in your mind as you read.
For the purposes of my Slytherin synthesis example, let’s say I have four different sources.
- Source A is a data table that lists the houses of all members of the Death Eaters.
- Source B is a complete history of the Slytherin House, including the life and views of Salazar Slytherin.
- Source C is a document containing the names of students who were sorted into a different house than what the Sorting Hat had originally assigned to them.
- Source D is a history of the Battle of Hogwarts.
Step 2: Decide what your position is.
After you work through your sources, decide what position you are going to take. You don’t actually have to believe your position—what’s more important is being able to support your argument as effectively as possible.
Also, remember that once you pick a position, stick with it. You want your argument and your synthesis to be as strong as possible. Sticking to your position is the best way to achieve that.
Back to our example … after reading through my documents, I decide that the students and alumni of the Slytherin House are not more evil than students in the other houses.
Step 3: Write an awesome thesis statement.
Once you’ve decided on a position, you need to express it in your thesis statement. This is critical since you will be backing up your thesis statement throughout your synthesis essay.
In my example, my thesis statement would read something like this:
Students and alumni from Slytherin are not more evil than students in the other houses because they fill the whole spectrum of morality, evil wizards are found in all houses, and their house traits of cunning, resourcefulness, and ambition do not equate to an evil nature.
Step 4: Draft a killer outline.
Now that you have your argument down in words, you need to figure out how you want to organize and support that argument. A great way to do this is to create an outline.
When you write your outline, write your thesis statement at the top. Then, list each of your sub-arguments. Under each sub-argument, list your support. Part of my outline would look like this:
Thesis statement: Students and alumni from Slytherin are not more evil than students in the other houses because they fill the whole spectrum of morality, evil wizards are found in all houses, and their house traits of cunning, resourcefulness, and ambition do not equate to an evil nature.
I. Evil wizards are found in all houses.
A. Source A: Examples of Death Eaters from other houses
B. Source D: Examples of what Death Eaters from other houses did at the Battle of Hogwarts
In my outline, I used my sources as the second level of my outline to give the names of the sources and, from each, concrete evidence of how evil non-Slytherin wizards can be.
This is only an example of one paragraph in my outline. You’ll want to do this for each paragraph/sub-argument you plan on writing.
Step 5: Use your sources wisely.
When thinking about how to use your sources as support for your argument, you should avoid a couple mistakes—and do a couple of things instead.
Don’t summarize the sources. For example, this would be summarizing your source: “Source A indicates which houses the Death Eaters belong to. It shows that evil wizards come from all houses.”
Do analyze the sources. Instead, write something like this: “Although many Death Eaters are from Slytherin, there are still a large number of dark wizards, such as Quirinus Quirrell and Peter Pettigrew, from other houses (Source A).”
Don’t structure your paragraphs around your sources. Using one source per paragraph may seem like the most logical way to get things done (especially if you’re only using three or four sources). But that runs the risk of summarizing instead of drawing relationships between the sources.
Do structure your paragraphs around your arguments. Formulate various points of your argument. Use two or more sources per paragraph to support those arguments.
Step 6: Get to writing.
Once you have a comprehensive outline, all you have to do is fill in the information and make it sound pretty. You’ve done all the hard work already. The writing process should just be about clearly expressing your ideas. As you write, always keep your thesis statement in mind, so your synthesis essay has a clear sense of direction.
Now that you know what a synthesis essay is and have a pretty good idea how to write one, it doesn’t seem so intimidating anymore, does it?
If your synthesis essay still isn’t coming together quite as well as you had hoped, you can trust the Kibin editors to make the edits and suggestions that will push it to greatness.
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All you, probably, know what an essay means. But the word “synthesis” gets every student a little bit confused and lost. Well, fortunately, we know how to help you, and this article would be your ultimate writing guide explaining how to write a synthesis essay. Let’s start from the beginning.
What is a Synthesis Essay?
Many students wonder, “What is a synthesis essay?” A synthesis essay is all about combination. While writing this essay type, you stay focused on different factors and ideas at once. The task contains a sample text that an author should analyze.
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Actually, analysis of the given content is a key point in the entire synthesis essay writing. You need to work directly with that prompt and find its purpose, writing style, rhetoric, and the main argument. You must tell what the author of that prompt wanted to express and what his tools were. Your own essay should be built around that text and your main argument.
Having an answer to the question, “What is a synthesis essay?” is not enough to demonstrate the best results in your English writing class.
How to Write a Synthesis Essay?
To understand how to write a synthesis essay, it is necessary to memorize 4 basic elements of a synthesis paper:
- Synthesizing sources
- Working on a thesis/main argument
- Formatting the paper
- Talking about the content
A writer is given a prompt to study. These are the instructions prepared by the tutor (e.g., ‘argue to support your hobby which assists in challenging college assignments’).
Draft a tentative thesis statement – the main argument of the entire paper. It is the initial idea which comes to the writer’s mind on the proposed topic. Without a good research, it is impossible to make a candy out of this idea; support your words by the credible information you find either online or in the library. An example: “I think my passion for drinking Coke positively impacts my academic performance as caffeine stimulates brain activity.”
Once the thesis is ready, move to the time-consuming procedure of selecting sources. This is a primary research one must conduct to gather evidence. The sources make people believe the writer’s claim makes sense. You may study information from 6-7 good sources, but a couple of them will help to develop a powerful thesis statement. Among all sources, use credible, up-to-date pieces:
- Books and e-books
- Other essays
- Journal and scholarly articles
- Graphics and images
The credibility of sources depends on the relevance of chosen topic. The close reading is the process which follows any good research. Prepare annotated bibliography (list applied sources), highlight all main text ideas, and take notes during this procedure. Try to connect the best ideas with your synthesis essay writing.
Synthesis Essay Example (Sources)
Evaluating the value of the selected sources is the thing you should do before writing a synthesis essay. try to come up with innovative ideas for the prompt.
To understand how to interpret the prompt and choose sources, we have prepared several examples associated with Coke. You have chosen 8 different sources to speed up your writing. The writer decides Sources number 2, 3, and 4 agree with the main view (thesis). These sources help to prove drinking Coke assists in improving academic performance.
Source 2. Your synthesis paper writing benefits from choosing a documentary about the production of Coke. The documentary reflects the entire process, listing ingredients necessary for the proper human brain activity. The documentary provides necessary information to make your essay essential.
Source 3. One of the English synthesis essays you choose from the existing academic archives online explains the impacts Coke has on some other body parts.
Source 4. Select a source in English which breaks negative stereotypes about your favorite drink. Many parents do not allow their children drink this beverage because of the existing myths; try to prove the opposite using your essay’s arguments. An expert adds:
“If it is a presentation, use the graphic story to illustrate your thesis and supporting evidence. Show the never-ending confrontation between the Coke lovers and haters to prove you respect both sides. Do not ignore naming the negative effects of the drink! It is important to reply to any objections to provide the target audience with an unbiased point of view.”
Mary Ladder, Professor of Literature at GONZAGA UNIVERSITY, US
Types of Synthesis Essay Writing
Two types of synthesis essay writing exist:
- Explanatory synthesis essay
- Argument synthesis essay
The explanatory synthesis essay aims to make the reading audience understand the chosen topic. The writer makes an attempt to break the whole topic into separate parts to represent each of them clearly. The explanatory essay is made of the detailed interpretations of objects, locations, events, people, or state of affairs. The writer reflects information in an objective, sober manner. The writer skips obvious details of the analyzed text. Such paper tends to have different sections.
The argument synthesis essay is about proving your main claim is correct through using various effective persuasive methods. A student must apply credible sources in English to support his information. The argumentative synthesis essay writing involves many facts, statistics, in-text citations, quotes, and other techniques used to prove the specific view.
Synthesis Essay Topics
Your synthesis paper should be built around a prompt with perspective for negotiation and discussion. For example, you may analyze text written in Germany during WWII and get your argument with view on modern society and history of that period. It should be content with various views possible. Some good topics to write your synthesis essay:
Good synthesis essay topics would be ones that are debatable, for example:
- DST (Daylight Saving Time)
- Wage and its minimum
- Nature protection
- Weapon control
- Social media and its influence on humanity
How to Write a Thesis for a Synthesis Essay?
You need to read the prompt. Even if you are familiar with the target source, push yourself to read it once more; realize your position. Do you support the example text or have a negative review? Structure your claim and write it down for the whole synthesis essay; move to the synthesis essay outline.
Synthesis essay outline writing
Lots of students just don’t realize how important this step is for writing any type of essay or other academic papers. It is the best point to get your essay structure right. The outline is your road map. If you write a typical synthesis essay with three parts (Introduction, Body, Conclusion), you should write three different parts in your outline. Write down all the arguments, supporting facts, and evidence in a proper structure order.
Each argument should approve the statement you are supporting; acknowledge factors that go against your main thesis and idea. This step will make your essay even stronger and more diverse. Please note, that analysis does not mean summarizing - you need to answer related topic questions.
Synthesis essay structure
Synthesis has typical structure, and it looks like that:
- Main argument 1
- Main claim 2
- Main claim 3
Main argument 1
- Analysis of Evidence
Main claim 2
- Evidence Analysis of Evidence
Main claim 3
- Analysis of Evidence
- Restate your main idea and get your view straight
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Synthesis essay formatting
The formats of synthesis essay are also typical for all academic essays. Three most widespread formats include MLA, APA, and Chicago style. Each of these formats has their typical areas of use (APA is mostly used in Psychology, Education, and Science). Chicago style is a common format for business purposes; MLA works best for Humanities.
Synthesis Essay for AP English Language and Composition
AP English Language and Composition is a tough course of dealing with. The main goal of this course is to your knowledge of the subject and understanding of the material you are working with. And your grammar and perfect formatting do not pay that big role in your essay grade. The main factor that influences your grade is about defending your claim and point of view.
Three main areas of AP English and Composition course that you should focus on are:
- The argument is the starting and the simplest point. You just need to come up with your statement and get many supporting facts. It all should work to convince your reader that your view is right.
- Synthesis is the thing that requires some deep research and identifying various areas of one single text. You should identify the agreements and disagreements between sources. It will help to come up with your claim.
- Rhetorical analysis is the direct work with prompt and its author; find what was his rhetorical tools to appeal to the reader. What was the main idea about the text?
General Synthesis Essay Tips
We should talk about acronyms. Main ones that will help you to deal with this essay are:
Speaker: Write who was the speaker or writer of the original source. Tell what you know about his life and background.
Occasion: Identity what was the time and place when the source of your synthesis essay was created; get the reason why it was created. You may come up with your own suggestion and build your text around it.
Audience: Identify the audience of the original text
Purpose: Identify the tone and purpose of the text
Subject: What was the main claim in original piece?
Another strategy to write your synthesis essay: these three points appeal to different factors that you should identify and analyze.
Logos is the reason. If your sample text has various definitions and quotations, you need to constitute a wider range of backup info to get successful with your essay.
Ethos is philosophy: Apply to sources that demonstrate credibility and reliability of speaker.
Pathos is emotions. It works great for vivid imagery texts with strong language - connect your reader with your source emotionally. It is a tough task to change someone’s view if the person is already linked to the source emotionally.
It is a simple explanation of these three elements. To get a higher grade with your AP Lang, you need to read more about it.
1 last tip to write your synthetic essay well is to apply this scheme to your analysis. Get these five factors identified: Diction, Imagery, Details, Language, and Structure – feel free to add anything else to your analysis in case it is special.
How to get a higher grade with your essay?
Few main factors that influence your grade for synthetic essay writing:
- The effective statement about assigned source and its topic.
- Complete understanding of the source and its subject.
- Synthesis of sources and position identification.
- Writer appeals to his researched arguments, not the source itself.
- Convincing and effective arguments.
- Clear structure and writing style.
- Good organization.
- No grammar or structure mistakes.
- Quotation of the source.
You should note that the best essays with highest grades always are those with the strong writing style. It means that your essay should be a standalone piece - not just a simple exam essay to get it done. Try to develop your own writing style and get your soul into your essay. You may read some examples of the most popular and successful essays to borrow some ideas and other factors to make your own paper stronger.
Some Extra Essay Writing Advice
Well, these were basic tips and facts about s synthesis essay and its writing specifics. It is recommended to read more about analyzing AP English essays from other sources on the web - it will help you to develop a stronger view of the task itself. The most important thing you need to pay attention to is the thesis statement.
This point plays a great role in your essay, and you need to identify it perfectly; it will be a total failure if readers will not understand your view. All your arguments will look like no purpose and ridiculous.
What we want to advice is to ask yourself a question if your thesis statement is really about your feelings and view. If you are writing your essay with some too short deadline on an exam, you need to stress on your argument in every single paragraph. Then connect each of your ideas to the thesis statement. Write down your thesis statement and put it before dealing with your essay - it will help you to focus on it and add it every time you write a new paragraph.
How does a Great Synthesis Essay Example look?
Synthesis essay writing in English is difficult without having a high-quality synthesis essay example in front of your eyes. Students find many free samples of synthesis essay writing in English online. Keep in mind it is important to decide on the synthesis essay type. Mind topic before searching the examples.
If you’re looking for someone to help you with this tough task, you can always call our professionals. Fill in the simplest order form, and all your academic troubles will be solved immediately.