How do I know if my thesis is strong? If there’s time, run it by a professor or make an appointment at the Writing Center to get some feedback (http:///writingcenter/). Even if you do not have time to get advice elsewhere, you can do some thesis evaluation of your own. When reviewing your first draft of your working thesis, ask yourself the following:
1) Do I answer the question? Re-reading the question prompt after constructing a working thesis can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question.
2) Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, it’s possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument.
3) Is my thesis statement specific enough? Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument. If your thesis contains words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what specifically makes something “successful”?
4) Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? If a reader’s first response is, “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
5) Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering? If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go together, one of them has to change. It’s okay to change your working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and revise your writing as necessary.
6) Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? If a reader’s first response is “how?” or “why?” your thesis may be too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader. See what you can add to give the reader a better take on your position right from the beginning.
If I went to a doctor and said “Tell me how to diagnose a patient,” or I went to a judge and said “Tell me how to interpret the law,” or I went to an artist and said “Tell me how to be creative,” do you think they would be able give me a few sentences that completely answer my question and prepare me for professional work as a doctor, judge, or artist? If they had spent years as students learning their subject matter, and additional years teaching or writing a textbook on their specialty, they might be very good in their professions but I’d bet they’d all find it tough to answer such a question in any meaningful way.