Essay Writing Help Guide

Writing the Thesis Statements

What is a thesis statement?
How do you begin to write a thesis statement?

I.  Identify the key words in the question:
    a.  What are you being asked to do?
     Identify the action verbs:
    b.  What is the focal topic of the question?  Is there more than one question or topic to be addressed?
    c.  Is there a specified time period the question addresses? - this is essential!  You only get credit for information within the
         given time constraints of the question; no matter how "correct" the information is, if it is outside of the time constraints,
         it does not count towards your score.
II.  Use a concept map to help you identify the categorical / analysis areas of PERSIA (see below) that you will use and define them according to the key words.  Note the example question in the center of the concept map. 

Example Question:  “Geography was the primary factor in shaping the development of the British colonies in North America.”  Assess the validity of this statement for the 1600’s.

Example Thesis: While geography shaped the economic development of the British colonies, the colonies were also significantly influenced by religious beliefs and moderately influenced by political foundations of each colony.

Writing the Essay

Organizing the Essay

Most, though not all, essays are written in the 5-paragraph format. 

I.  Introduction
    a.  provide a general summary of background information that will set the stage for understanding the answer to your question - what is the topic?  how did this situation evolve? who are the key players involved in the situation / what key events led to the situation? At the end of the paragraph, write your thesis statement.
II-IV.  Body paragraphs

Each body paragraph should be centered around one of eight concepts; we will use the acronym PERSIA to help us remember these concepts:

P:  Political:  having to do with government.  This may include government structures, offices, laws, political beliefs, political parties.
E:  Economics:  having to do with business and money; how people make their livelihoods.  This may be the development of private business or government business.  It includes tariffs, taxes, trade.
R:  Regional or Religion: 
      Regional:  having to do with the differences between varying regions:  this may be geographic differences, cultural differences, etc.
      Religion:  having to do with differences in religious belief.
S:  Social:  having to do with how people live and how they interact with each other.  In particular, this includes challenges faced by minority groups (anyone who was NOT white, male, and protestant) in the U.S.
I:  Intellectual or Ideological:
    Intellectual:  having to do with education or literary movements; times when large bodies of new knowledge or new theories were created.
    Ideological:  having to do with broad based differences in the belief of how governments and economies should function.  Essentially, this deals with capitalism, communism, socialism, and anarchism.
A:  Artistic:  having to do with development of art and music.

Each paragraph should begin with a corollary statement.  This sentence explains how this concept is connected to, and helps to answer, the question.  The paragraph should also contain specific examples that support the corollary sentence.  Examples must be specific - the actions of a specific person, an event, a document, a term, etc.  Always define and describe every specific person / event / document / term / example you use.

V.  Conclusion
    a.  conclusions should go beyond summary;  if possible, they explain how this topic will influence future events.

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