We know that a task to write a synthesis essay might be confusing if you do not understand its purpose, types, and format. But do not panic. Here is the complete guide with everything you need to know to write an A-level synthesis essay.
What Is a Synthesis Essay?
The first step to understanding how to write a synthesis essay is to understand its definition and goal. Synthesis essay is a piece of academic writing that discusses a particular idea, combining information from different sources. Its aim is to check how well students can deal with research and analyze sources. Teachers commonly use it as an assignment for the AP English Language and Composition exam. However, it can also be assigned as a practice for students to teach them how to work with different sources.
It might sound similar to an expository essay. Yet, there is a difference between the two types of papers. Writing a synthesis essay, you will need to combine information from several sources to support one basic argument. The emergent idea will be unique in a way that it would not possibly exist without the synthesis of these references. This is not required in other types of assignments. Besides, synthesis essay sources are usually predetermined and given together with a prompt.
Before starting your draft, you need to decide on the type of synthesis to use. Generally, we distinguish two types: explanatory and argument synthesis.
- Explanatory Synthesis
Explanatory synthesis requires you to research a certain topic and present the facts taken from various sources in an objective manner. You do not need to argue or persuade anyone in the correctness of your stance. Instead, you should structure solid facts into a comprehensive text. Explanatory synthesis helps to gain knowledge on a topic and look at it from different perspectives.
- Argument Synthesis
For argument synthesis, you will need to create an argument, answering a particular prompt.
You should also provide justification for your thesis and introduce supporting ideas just as you do in an argumentative essay. Take relevant facts and evidence from the assigned reading materials and synthesize them in a way to draw your own conclusions.
Debatable Topics for Writing a Synthesis Essay
Synthesis essays allow students to use a wide range of topics. The only requirement is that they must be arguable. For example:
- Do gory movies provoke violent behavior in teens?
- Is progressive taxation fair?
- Do you consider affirmative action ethical?
- Is in-class education better than homeschooling?
- Are there any instances when censorship is beneficial?
- Should all citizens be involved in community service?
- Can technology improve students' communication skills?
- Are there any cases when torture can be justified?
- Has the #MeToo movement forgotten its initial aim?
- Is an equal number of male and female workers absolutely necessary?
- Can religion be dangerous?
- Are mobile banking operations safe?
- Should parents check their child's browsing history?
- Is euthanasia moral?
- Is online dating risky?
Synthesis Essay Structure
How do you write a synthesis essay? Usually, synthesis essays use a traditional 5-paragraph structure with an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Let's have a closer look at the peculiarities of each part.
How to Start a Synthesis Essay
In an introductory paragraph, you should capture the reader's attention. Think about how to introduce your synthesis essay topic best and show its relevance. You can start with a piece of statistical data, a thought-provoking question, or a striking fact. Then, provide some background information about the topic and your sources to help the reader understand your stance.
Example: Human fascination with wildlife may sometimes take a degenerate form. A lot of rare species are kept in captivity in aquariums, zoos, and circuses. They live without appropriate care and maintenance.
The last sentence of an introduction is a thesis statement, which requires particular attention. We will discuss it below.
How to Write a Synthesis Essay Thesis
To write a winning thesis statement, think about the general idea that unites all your readings. Note what the main takeaway of each text is. Then, synthesize these thoughts into a central thesis of your essay. This statement must be connected with every single source that you are required to read. For instance:
- Text A tells us that animals feel stressed when living far from their natural habitat.
- Text B discusses distortions in the social groups of animals in captivity.
We need to synthesize these two thoughts from different texts. Then, we can expand the idea and state that keeping animals in captivity is immoral because it harms their well-being. So, having analyzed two different texts, we have determined a common thread between them. It allowed us to come up with a thesis that combines both ideas.
Make sure a point of view in your thesis is clear and objective. You can use a parallel structure to show the synthesis of several ideas. A thesis statement should reflect a central idea of the whole piece, supported in each body paragraph.
Have a glance at one of the possible synthesis essay thesis examples suitable for our introductory paragraph from the previous section.
Example: Keeping animals in captivity is cruel because it deprives them of the possibility to live in their natural social groups and causes irreversible behavioral problems.
How to Write a Synthesis Paper Body
Usually, the body of a synthesis essay consists of three separate paragraphs. Each of them should focus on one particular idea that supports a thesis statement. Use at least three sources to back up your claims in each paragraph. It would be better if you use evidence from all your assigned readings. However, do not just drop random facts. Include only relevant proofs of your argument. When incorporating evidence, do not forget to comment on how this information underpins the central idea of the paragraph and your thesis statement.
Check the example of a body paragraph. Pay attention that you need to start it with a topic sentence, which introduces the focal point of the whole paragraph. Then, you can add supporting ideas and findings from the texts you are required to read. End your paragraph with a concluding sentence and restate the main points of the paragraph.
Example: Unnatural living conditions make animals develop abnormal behavioral patterns. Because of the continuous flow of visitors, they may become stressed or even depressed. It can be manifested in irregular pacing behavior and even self-mutilation. Besides, animals are often forced to leave their complex social groups and live alone, which is a common cause of anxiety. They lose interest in any kind of activity or physical exercise. Thus, these consequences show that captivity lowers the quality of life for most species.
How to Conclude a Synthesis Essay
To conclude a synthesis essay, restate a thesis statement and prove the relevance of your findings. Summarize the main points to help the reader memorize them. Make sure you do not leave any ambiguities. You can include a call to action as a final sentence of your synthesis essay and outline how the topic can be investigated further.
Example: All things considered, depriving animals of freedom is an immoral act. It puts them at risk of developing anxiety and depression. Animals' physical health is also endangered because of unsatisfactory living conditions. Such a lifestyle violates the rights of wild animals and threatens their well-being.
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Synthesis Essay Format
A synthesis essay is an academic paper, which requires proper formatting. You should clarify the citation and formatting style with your teacher. The most popular options are APA, MLA, and Chicago citation. If you want to get a good grade for your paper, formatting must be flawless. Take some time and read guidelines for the required style. Fonts, spacing, headings, margins, and other peculiarities matter as they keep your writing neat and structured. Besides, correct citations allow you to avoid accusations in plagiarism. Let us discuss the most popular styles used to format synthesis essays.
Papers written according to APA guidelines should start with a title page. It includes the title of your paper, your name, and institutional affiliation, as well as the names of your instructor, course, and due date. Center this information on the page. Include a running head with a title and page numbers on each page if it is a professional paper, and only page numbers in it is a student paper.
There is no single font that is compulsory for all APA papers. Yet, 12-point Times New Roman and 11-point Calibri are the most widely used ones. Indent first line of each new paragraph by 0.5" and use 1" margins from all four sides. Double-space the whole essay.
MLA formatting style is widely used for papers in humanities. It is easy to follow as a title page is not necessary. All you need to do is to write a header in the upper left corner with your name, the name of your professor, course number, and date. Then, add the title of a synthesis essay, using the title case, and center it.
As for the font, use 12-point Times New Roman. Add half-inch indents for the beginning of each paragraph and 1-inch margins. Do not forget to include page numbers in the upper right corner and use flush left alignment for your text.
Chicago Formatting Style
To format a title page according to the Chicago style, go down to a third of the page and type the title in standard capitalization. Then, skip another one-third of the page and add your name, title and number of the course, and date. Use at least 10 pt. font, preferably Times New Roman or Courier.
As for citations, use either parenthetical citations with an author and the year of publication or footnotes. The latter is generally preferred by most teachers. As APA and MLA, this formatting style also requires half-inch indents, one-inch margins, and double-spacing. Include page numbers on all pages, except for the title page.
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Additional Tips to Synthesis Essay Writing
Let us show you how to write a synthesis essay fast and easy. Just follow simple rules: read mindfully and make notes, create an outline, use basis synthesis techniques, and take some time to proofread your synthesis essay.
How to Read and Analyze Sources
To write a top-notch synthesis essay, start by reading a prompt attentively. You should have a full understanding of the task to know what information to focus on when reading the sources. Try to single out the arguments of the authors. If time permits, highlight, or note down central ideas. This way, you will be able to return to them later and choose the most relevant pieces of evidence for your synthesis essay. At this stage, you should also identify a common theme that unites all sources. You can create a thoughtful thesis only when you have an in-depth understanding of all texts and their propositions.
Synthesis Essay Outline
To make sure that your synthesis essay will turn out coherent and logical, you should carefully plan it and create an outline. Sketch out your introduction and a thesis statement. Think about the three ideas supporting your main argument that you will discuss in different body paragraphs. Finally, plan what points can serve to conclude the synthesis essay.
An outline does not have to be perfect or too detailed. You should only decide on your argument and supporting ideas. It helps to organize an essay and ensure its logical flow.
Techniques for Writing a Synthesis Essay
When you have already read all your sources and drafted the thesis, you need to prove it. There is a wide range of techniques you can apply to support your argument. Check the most effective options:
If you do not want to struggle with any fancy and complicated techniques, summarize the most relevant information from your sources. This way, you will add reliable evidence and show that your argument is based on solid facts. However, you cannot copy ideas. The synthesis essay must reflect your authentic writing voice.
How to prove that your idea is accurate and sensible? Yes, you need to illustrate how it works in real-life situations. Use statistical data, anecdotes, and quotes from reliable sources to prove your stance on the issue. The most important thing here is not to forget to include correct citations in one of the formatting styles.
- Suggest Reasons
Once the thesis statement is ready, you need to provide at least three reasons why it is correct. These reasons must be supported by carefully selected evidence taken from the sources you are required to read. The more sources you can synthesize, the better. Start with the most influential reason and move on to less important ones.
- Make Use of the Straw Man Fallacy
The straw man fallacy allows students to introduce an opposing view and refute it immediately. It helps to demonstrate that you are able to look at the discussed issue from a wide perspective, considering both sides of the problem. An opposing idea is usually placed at the beginning of the first body paragraph. Then, you should provide its refutation and claims in support of your thesis statement.
- Compare Sources
As the process of synthesis requires you to work with a number of sources, you can try to explore them with the focus on a common theme they have. It helps to perform complex analysis of the readings and single out relevant ideas.
Proofread Your Synthesis Essay
Once your draft is ready, do not neglect to proofread it. Make sure your synthesis essay has smooth transitions between paragraphs and a logical flow of ideas. The structure of your sentences should be simple and easy to read. Eliminate mistakes and style inconsistencies. You should stick to a formal academic style and neutral tone. It means that you need to refrain from using personal pronouns or expressing your subjective opinion on the discussed issue. Pay special attention to the formatting of a paper. You must cite all the sources used in your synthesis essay according to the style required by your teacher or professor.
To Sum Up
So, writing a synthesis essay, you should first determine the type of synthesis to use. Then, read and evaluate your sources to get the information for your paper. Do not forget that the correct structure and format of your synthesis essay are of crucial importance. They will help you to present the results of your work in a comprehensive way.
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