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Tips for Writing Good MLA Thesis Statements


High School Students Preparing for CollegeWriting a thesis statement for your MLA style school paper can seem intimidating to high school and college students. You may have practice in understanding thesis statements when you prepared five-paragraph essays. Maybe you have even written short five page research papers in your English classes.

Writing MLA College Papers

However, now you are entering college and you will be writing a lot of school research papers. This includes not just in your English class but in most, if not all, of your humanities classes. Once you understand the purpose of a thesis statement and how to develop it, you will feel comfortable in doing this task.

What Is a Thesis Statement?

Simply put, your thesis statement is your argument or the answer to a question or problem. It is the core reason you are writing this paper. As you continue your research and write your paper, you may find the thesis changes and you need to revise it.

Knowing the purpose and audience for your paper gives you a starting point both in your research and in developing your thesis statement.

Developing Strong Thesis Statements

  1. Understand the type of paper you are writing – is it an argumentative or analytical paper?
  2. Identify your research topic. For example, you may be exploring social media and bullying in high school students.
  3. Start researching your topic. Find journal articles, websites, and books on social media and bullying.
  4. What is the purpose of your paper? For example, you may write an argumentative paper, based on your preliminary research, that females participate in social media bullying more than males.
  5. Who is the audience for this paper? Teachers, principals or parents?
  6. Write a first draft thesis statement.
  7. Finish your research.
  8. Write your paper.
  9. Go back to your thesis statement. Does your paper prove your thesis statement?
  10. Revise your thesis statement, if necessary.

Once you feel confident that your research and paper back up your thesis statement, write your conclusion.

Note: An argumentative paper requires you to establish a position on a topic, then persuade your reader to agree with it.


Note: Writing an analytical paper requires you to critically analyze sources presented neutrally to your readers.


Your teacher may require you to develop and submit your thesis statement before you start on your paper. Their feedback helps you know if you are on the right track before you spend hours writing your paper. Ask your teacher if you do not understand the assignment or you need direction.

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About the author

Adrienne Mathewson

Adrienne Mathewson, Editor-in-Chief of Bibliography.com, is an Information Professional with a Master of Library Information & Science degree from San José State University with an emphasis on information literacy and scholarly publishing. She is a certified librarian through the State of New Mexico.

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