Completely Guide - How to Write a Synthesis Essay: Prompts, Topics, Outline

synthesis essay

You will often encounter a synthesis essay as part of an exam similar to AP English essay writing test. The AP Lang synthesis essay is the first of three essays featured in the AP Lang exam's Free Response part. So, you might be wondering "how to write a synthesis essay?" Don’t stress too much, and remember: you will be provided with the same sources for your ap lang synthesis essay rubric which other students will be given. They should be able to draw information from the sources to make an argument. Synthesis essays can share similarities with analytical essay, argumentative essay (learn how to write an argumentative essay), or compare and contrast essay.

So, what is a synthesis essay? By definition, a synthesis essay is essentially an essay that aims to analyze a particular topic by demonstrating the writer's stance or viewpoint on the subject. This is also known as a thesis. For a good synthesis essay example, the foundation is laid by thorough research, which connects parts of multiple works and a combination of resources to build strong and logical connections. These connections are then used to form a well-supported conclusion and a solid perspective on that particular topic.

Synthesis Essay Topics

A great synthesis essay thesis topic encourages debate and intellectual analysis. For example, an explanatory synthesis essay does not necessarily take a side or try to persuade the reader in any particular way; instead, an expository synthesis essay objectively analyzes the similarities and differences between ideas. On the other hand, the format of an argumentative synthesis essay is the same as that of a standard argumentative essay. This means there can be many arguments for the topic - in favor and against. Even though it may sound intimidating, in the beginning, a strong argument synthesis essay is what differentiates a good prompt from a bad one. Bad prompts are often too broad and vague to open up any space for discussion. To name a few, bad topics can include gender, electricity, or the climate. These topics for synthesis essay do not give direction or stir enough interest for the readers or the writers alike.

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A Few Examples Of Good Synthesis Essay Prompts Could Be:

  • Is television ruining our generation?
  • Should advertisements for children be regulated?
  • Should zoos qualify as animal captivity?
  • Is academic achievement the only determinant of success?

These topics were provided to us by professional writers from an essay writing service online.

Other topics can be directed toward a specific economic policy, gun control, or freedom of the press. Once you start with a great topic, a brilliant thesis is sure to follow.

How To Start?

How to start a synthesis essay? Well, it is important to first understand the prompt of the synthesis papers. This means that there can be many sides to the argument for your topic, which need to be acknowledged during writing synthesis essays. So even before deciding on the final position, it is advisable to go through all the available resources and see what useful information can be found within them. This will help eliminate any predisposed biases, as people may only tend to look for information that supports their argument. Furthermore, collecting complete information will make it easier to accomplish the main purpose of the thesis, which is to build together ideas and present them concisely, logically, and consistently.

How To Write A Synthesis Essay

After carefully articulating the final viewpoint and gauging a detailed understanding of the argument, it is time to start synthesis essay writing. With just a little planning and careful calculations, many find the synthesis essay quite easy to write.

The first step is to finalize the argument, meaning the thesis statement. Then, proofread it and edit it as many times as might be required since this statement will be the anchor of the essay. After this, start work on the rough draft of the essay, its structure, and outline.

A Great Thesis Statement Example Here Can Be:

"Stunts or other life-like animations in advertisements can be misinterpreted by children who cannot distinguish between fantasy and reality; advertisements also give rise to superficial wants, debasing children's tastes. Therefore it is crucial that advertising to children needs to be stringently regulated so that these children can be protected."

How To Write Synthesis Essay Outline And Structure

After the basic concept, the arguments, and the content have been decided, it is best to create a synthesis essay outline. Everything from the main points and sub-arguments to the counterarguments must be placed appropriately in the thesis– this is the key to a strong synthesis essay. However, the most important aspect that should not be undermined is that each new point added to the essay should strengthen the main claim. If it is a counterargument, it should be value-adding, and the readers should have no problem drawing a direct connection to that point with the main argument. The paragraphs and content should be concise, logical, and concrete because even though the style is important, fluff and over-the-top, complicated vocabulary can prove counterproductive to the quality of the essay. This is because the readers will not be able to understand the thesis easily.

The recommended synthesis essay structure follows the introduction, the body paragraphs, and an end conclusion to tie it all together. We will look at these components individually for a more in-depth understanding and ensure that each one is effective.


The synthesis essay introduction outline can include the thesis statement to familiarize the audience with the essay's particular position. This will act as a hook for the readers. Then the main points to be addressed in the body paragraphs can also become a part of the introduction. Another strategy to make the essay stronger would be to cite the opposing argument and refute it in the introduction if this has not been done later in the essay.

Body Paragraphs

It is best for the body paragraphs to proceed in a structured manner. Each body paragraph should be centered on a sub-point or a sub-argument. The argument should be mentioned at the start of the body paragraph. This should then be followed by citing the supporting evidence that establishes the sub-arguments credibility. Then it should not just end here because the thesis is not a summary of multiple resources. To avoid this, the citations and evidence should be followed by the writer's analysis of the resources, which should then be linked to the sub-argument. Then these successive sub-arguments will lead to building the main argument and help it stand its ground.

Body Paragraph 1:

  • Main Sub-Argument
  • Resources and Evidence
  • Analysis of the resources

Body Paragraph 2:

  • Main Sub-Argument
  • Resources and Evidence
  • Analysis of the resources


The conclusion will reiterate the final claim and the significance of the topic. It can also include a suggestion or a policy that might be relevant to the argument, such as in a business report or a research paper pertinent to social topics.

After the structure is complete, all there is left to do is to write! This should be easy because now you need to clearly and impressively express all the information gathered. Always keep the main argument in mind, as that will serve as an anchor to provide direction so that the essay can neatly come together.

Infographics on synthesis essay writing


Many formats are used for the synthesis essay rubric. These include MLA, APA, and Chicago style, depending on what the synthesis essay is for. Purdue Owl can be easily used as a resource in MLA and APA formats. Another website called Easybib can be used as a citation tool for all the external resources used. The main difference between MLA and APA is the tense which is used. MLA uses the present tense, and APA uses the past tense.

Some of the main points that need to be kept in mind are that the font is generally set to be 12pt and Times New Roman with double spacing between the lines. The last name and page number are positioned at the top right of each page. Titles are centered, and most importantly, the last page should be a "Works Cited" page that is a collection of all the used resources. For APA, the essay needs to be distinctly divided into four parts: Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.


  • Proofread your essay repeatedly to ensure that the final synthesis writing is error-free and professional.
  • Since the synthesis essay calls for synthesizing ideas, it should keep in mind that all these ideas and works of others must be cited. Due credit should be given to the brilliant minds who produced these works. Also, never forget to cite work that has been either directly added or paraphrased to avoid plagiarism.
  • The resources gathered together for the synthesis essay should not be made into a summary or bullet points. They should be used to lay the foundations of an in-depth and well-articulated topic analysis.
  • Avoid structuring paragraphs according to particular sources. This is important because if the sources are to serve as evidence in support of your argument, then each of your paragraphs will need more than just one resource to suffice. More so, if one paragraph is used to describe a particular source, then the risk of simply summarizing the resources also increases.

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