Guide: How to Write a Synthesis Essay

Synthesis essay assessments often send students into a state of confusion and bewilderment. For example, if you asked a student to rank a synthesis essay between one and ten, one being easy and ten being difficult, they’d probably choose eight. This fear of synthesis essays is largely because you cannot simply tell what the task is about from the name.

If you have a synthesis paper and no idea how to write it, you are right to be here. This article on synthesis writing will give you a comprehensive guide for writing your essay.

Standard synthesis essay structure: writing a good synthesis essay

Synthesis essays generally follow a five-paragraph structure, although the overall structuring is slightly different from a normal one. Find below the standard structure synthesis essays follow:

  1. The Introduction

The introduction of your synthesis paper should express the foundational ideas of the essay. In addition, you will be introducing some of your sources in your introduction; the general landscape of ideas around the topic will be addressed.

Also, you will state your thesis, which will introduce your argument. Your thesis should state your primary argument in one or two sentences. The thesis statement is usually the final part of the introduction of a synthesis essay; it rounds off the paragraph. Moreover, your synthesis essay introduction will occupy one paragraph, the first paragraph.

  1. The Body Paragraphs

The body of a synthesis essay paper would typically be three paragraphs long. Two paragraphs will synthesize your sources to provide evidential support for your argument. The final paragraph will acknowledge opposing arguments. Each body paragraph should follow the main point – evidence – analysis structure.

  1. The Conclusion

The conclusion of your synthesis essay is more than just a summary of all the main points. First, the conclusion should reiterate your arguments, only in shorter sentences. Then, it forms a relationship between the arguments and the topic of your synthesis essay. Moreover, the conclusion may further emphasize how the points you made and the sources cited validate and substantiate your point.

  1. Bibliography

Your synthesis essay should have a bibliography that will include a list of all the sources you use. Bibliography in a synthesis essay should be at the end of the paper and give due credit to the sources. The style you use will depend on the writing guidelines your college or school gives you. The common format and styles include APA, AP, Chicago, or MLA formatting. A synthesis essay bibliography is a list of all text citations in the essay; it would usually take up one or two pages at the end of the paper.

A guide on how to start a synthesis essay

What makes a great essay is the combination of several ideas backed up by several sources to prove or explain a unique and larger point. Below is a synthesis writing guide for you:

  1. If you’ve been given the opportunity to choose your synthesis essay topic, you have limitless options. As such, you can search until you find a topic you are passionate about or at least curious about. You may need to brainstorm a few ideas before finding the synthesis essay topic that interests you.
  2. After choosing a synthesis essay topic, carry out extensive research using the internet, library, and other sources. Research helps you establish your point of view while providing factual information to back it up.
  3. Next, create an outline for your essay, showing how each source relates to your topic and supports your point.
  4. Now, you can start by writing the introduction of the synthesis paper, which is the essay’s first paragraph.
  5. Move on to the body paragraphs, typically of three main sections: topic sentence, evidence, and analysis or a closing sentence.
  6. Create a strong conclusion that will drive home your point of view, restate your thesis, and summarize key supporting points throughout the paper.
  7. Proofread your synthesis essay a few times before submitting or presenting it to fizzle out grammatical and spelling errors.

Expert tips on how to write a synthesis essay

Before you start writing a synthesis essay, there are things you should do to make writing the essay easy:

  • Endeavor to utilize at least two sources that your professor may provide, or you have to search for them independently.
  • Read, annotate, and analyze the two sources, a practice known as ‘close reading.’ Close reading helps you mark passages of significance in the sources and make useful notes or annotations.
  • Recognize and establish the traits between the sources – that is, what they have in common. Review how the sources compare based on these traits, what each of the authors would say about them, and how they would disagree with one another.
  • Write a kernel essay one paragraph long; a kernel essay is a summarized form of a broader essay.
  • Expand your kernel essay into a full-fledged final synthesis essay.

In conclusion, no matter how difficult you find a synthesis essay, you should also see it as a way to develop yourself. You will get better the more you write, and you may even impress your professor.

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