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How to Write a Synthesis Essay?


I am going to start off with a definition for a synthesis essay. In simple terms, this type of writing requires the author to formulate an idea which must be backed by several sources. Yes, it might remind you of a research or a thesis paper. But the main difference between these two styles of essay writing is that a synthesis essay has time and topic restrictions, whereas a research paper does not. In other words, the student will usually write a synthesis essay within a certain timeframe and will have a predetermined topic and predetermined sources.

So, the students will definitely require several sources to formulate a well-written and coherent synthesis essay. Now that you have a general idea of what a synthesis essay is, let’s take a closer look at the topics.

Here are synthesis essay example topics you can write on. “Is it possible for some drugs to be a primary cause of depression?” For this question, the author can talk about things such as cigarettes, alcohol, antidepressants and Class A drugs. “Is there enough proof to confidently state that racism is still widely existent in today’s society?” Here you can mention things like police brutality, affirmative action and unbalanced incarceration rates. But let’s go through A particular example.

Where to Start?

Confused student

The most common place for a synthesis essay is the AP English Language and Composition Exam, which is a course taken by high school students. Test writers will give you one question, and you are going to have directions and the list of sources with the authors’ names.

For instance, you were assigned an issue of whether or not a student should go to college, whether it is worth its price tag. What do you need to do? Carefully read all the sources, including the introductory information for each of them. Then summarize information from at least three of the sources and incorporate it into a coherent, well-developed synthesis essay which evaluates whether college is worth its cost. So, if you believe in this statement, you will use three or four sources to back it up. If you think the college is not worth the cost, you would use three-four sources to prove the opposite statement.

The first thing to start off with is brainstorming. Think about one or two reasons why you have this gut instinct and jot the ideas down. Then read all the sources and be prepared to mark with your pencil. Look for quotes to support your argument as well as quotes that have the counterarguments.

Sometimes the test givers will provide you with a chart as one of the sources. It is a great opportunity to show your analysis skills and interpret the information in your own way.

After you finished going through the sources, which should probably take you about 15 minutes, you will want to resume the planning of your synthesis essay. In order to do that, you need to be familiar with the structure.

Perfect Structure for a Synthesis Essay

We are going to be using the five paragraphs structure for this essay – introduction, three body paragraphs, and conclusion. The structure of each section in the outline has its own unique layout.


The first thing you want to do is introduce the topic of discussion and give it a little bit of background information. The first sentence should be a hook to catch the readers’ attention. Then you move from the hook to your issue. Here you can pepper in quotes that would help explain the issue. Afterward, present the sources you will be using to prove the idea. To finish off the introduction, explain your thesis statement. This sentence will represent the focus of your synthesis essay.

Body Paragraphs

Now we can move on to the three-body paragraphs (sometimes it could be more or less than that). You want them to include the following elements: an assertion or a general focus, correctly cited evidence and a commentary that is connected to the next passage. Each of the paragraphs should have its own focal point, and this should be an idea that logically links with the thesis statement. It must also have support from at least two sources. Your primary objective is to explain how the given sources support your overall thesis. Pick out pertinent quotes and use them to support your ideas but not to summarize. What separates a good essay from a great one? The number of sources. Two is simply not enough, five is a lot.


Another great thing to do in a synthesis essay at this stage is to address the counter-argument. You can quote or paraphrase the source that goes against your position and explain why the opposing argument is weak or unfounded. It also can be one of your paragraphs. AP graders look for this strategy, and it will help your overall score. It shows a certain level of intelligence and sophistication in the writing.


In the conclusion, you want to recap the main idea, restate your thesis statement with a tone of voice that infers confirmation. Psychologically speaking, if you present it in an already proven manner, then your audience will be naturally inclined to agree with it. Then go back through and summarize the connection between each sub idea and the thesis statement.

To finish it all off, present an overall concluding statement that explains the global importance of the thesis statement to the reader. In other words, how do your findings impact the situation? What steps should be taken to ensure positive progress in the field? Make sure your synthesis essay feels finished.

Tips on How to Write a Synthesis Essay

Essay writing

The synthesis essay requires you to show some similarities between more than two works, and it has to be done in a particular way that we have already discussed. Writing a synthesis essay, remember that it is a lot like a thesis essay. We are coming up with a big idea that we try to support, but because it is a synthesis, we are not just doing it with one text. We are trying to take two or three texts, combine them together and create a new idea that could not exist without the other texts. Here are a few pieces of advice on how to craft a synthesis essay.

Three Sources

Use at least three different sources, but not more than four.

Do not Forget about Citations

Each time you paraphrase or quote, you must use internal parenthetical citations. This is a key for this type of essay.

Connect the Ideas

Another key is that each time you use a source, you need to take the time to explain and connect your ideas in quotes. You have got to think about your audience and connect the dots.Avoid merely summarizing the sources.

The last thing you need to focus on is showing off your writing and language skills. This is a test of how you communicate.

The point of synthesis essay is to demonstrate your analytical and critical thinking. This is what they are expecting. Show them you have your own point of view and the 5 is within your grasp.

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