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Evaluating Your Thesis Statement Study Guide (page 3)

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Updated on Oct 1, 2011

Becoming Your Own Best Critic

Every writer knows, deep down inside, that it is essential to learn how to be a demanding self-critic. In the end, it's you alone with the page that needs revision, and it's your job to make that page better. After taking a break from your essay (preferably overnight) to give your mind time to clear, you must begin the process of evaluating your own work.

Ask yourself the set of questions offered above for use in the peer review. Be strict. Here are some additional questions to ask yourself:

  • When I look back at the original assignment, can I honestly say that I have met its requirements?
  • Is my thesis statement clearly stated? When I read that thesis statement aloud, does it make sense and does it make a valid argument?
  • Have I provided sufficient support in the way of details, examples, anecdotes, and so on?

If you answered no to any of these three questions, you need to begin major revisions.

Common Revisions Needed In First Drafts

In most cases, the initial evaluation of a rough draft discovers one of three common weaknesses:

  1. The thesis statement isn't clearly supported by your draft. It's common for writers to establish a thesis, write the essay, and, in the writing, stray away from the original thesis and provide supporting detail and examples that don't quite fit. The most common revision needed is to tighten or narrow the thesis statement.
  2. If you decide you've failed to fulfill the assignment, you probably don't need to rewrite the whole essay. It's more likely that you can fix the problem by some minor revisions to your thesis statement.

  3. Your rough draft includes more than one idea. A fairly common failure of rough drafts is that the essay includes more than one main idea. Often writers get warmed up, and take on more topics than they originally planned. Usually this problem can be solved by narrowing the focus of the thesis statement or by deleting the irrelevant ideas you've included that don't really match up with the thesis statement.  
  4. Your essay completely lacks a thesis. If you've planned and outlined carefully, the least likely and most serious problem that writers encounter at this stage is that they have failed to include a thesis at all. Be demanding in your critique of this draft. If it doesn't seem to make one clear point, or if there is no argument being proved by the essay as a whole, then you will need to do extensive revisions.

The necessity of evaluating your thesis statement cannot be overemphasized. The thesis statement is the linchpin of your entire essay, and therefore deserves the most thorough examination. In the next lesson, we will explore the evaluation of other parts of the rough draft.

Practice: Evaluating Thesis Statements

Examine the following thesis statements and evaluate them on a scale of 1 to 5 for their strength and clarity (5 is a very strong thesis; 1 is either very weak or not a real thesis at all). Write a brief explanation of the score you have assigned to each.

Evaluating Your Thesis Statement

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