How to Write a Synthesis Essay Like a Pro

synthesis essay

The definition of a synthesis entails a written discourse integrating support from multiple sources, each offering diverse perspectives.

Writing a synthesis essay demands the skill to comprehend information and structure it cohesively. This proficiency cultivated in academic settings also holds value in the realms of business and advertising. In this article, you will learn about the main types of this essay, writing steps, optimal structure, and hands-on writing hints. If you still require any help with any of the material, feel free to consult our essay writing service online.

What is a Synthesis Essay: Types and a Step-by-Step Writing Guide

The essence of how to write synthesis essay lies in forging insightful connections among various elements within a work or across multiple works, all with the overarching objective of formulating and substantiating a claim on a specific topic. Essentially, it's the art of researching a subject and discovering linkages that culminate in a well-supported perspective. It’s possible to name three types of synthesis essays:

how to write a synthesis essay

Argument Synthesis: Featuring a robust thesis statement, a synthesis argument essay articulates the writer's viewpoint. It systematically arranges relevant research findings to bolster the thesis, commonly seen in business white papers and AP test essays.

Review Synthesis: Often a precursor to an argument synthesis, this essay evaluates previous literature on a topic, offering a critical analysis. Typically, its implicit thesis suggests the need for further research or that the topic's problem remains unaddressed. It's prevalent in social sciences and medicine.

Explanatory/Background Synthesis: Focused on elucidating a topic, an explanatory synthesis essay categorizes facts to enhance the reader's comprehension. It refrains from advocating a particular perspective, and if it features a thesis, it tends to be relatively weak. Some business white papers adopt this approach, occasionally with a subtle viewpoint. Now, let’s find out how to start a synthesis essay.

Brainstorm Good Synthesis Essay Topics

Synthesis essay topics you choose should strike a balance – they must encompass a scope wide enough to unite various interconnected sources, yet not so expansive that they amalgamate vastly unrelated ones. If you are free to select your topic, conducting some initial research can guide your decision-making process. To illustrate, consider the transformation of a broad subject like "Social Media" into a more focused essay topic, such as exploring the impact of texting on the English language. When synthesis paper topics are assigned in a class, be sure to meticulously examine the prompts to ensure a thorough comprehension of their requirements.

Carefully Select and Double-Check Your Sources

For the AP test, your sources will be provided. For the purpose of learning what is synthesis essay, you should aim to choose a minimum of three sources for your essay. If time permits, study one or two additional sources, especially those directly relevant to your essay's purpose or argument.

Remember, it's more advantageous to analyze three sources than to superficially cover five thoroughly. While working on synthesis essay writing regarding sources, annotate them by jotting down notes in the margins. This practice will help you maintain a clear line of thought and develop your ideas effectively.

Write a Thesis Statement 

After reviewing the assigned sources or conducting independent research, it's time to formulate a synthesis essay thesis on the topic. Your thesis serves as the central concept in your essay, encompassing the subject and articulating your perspective. It should be expressed as a complete sentence. In your essay, the thesis statement can function as either the opening sentence or the concluding sentence of the first paragraph, depending on the essay's structure. For instance, consider the following example: "Climate change is an urgent global crisis, and its mitigation requires a coordinated effort involving government policies, renewable energy adoption, and public awareness campaigns to combat its detrimental effects on our planet.

Revisit Your Source Material to Identify Supporting Elements for Your Thesis

When learning how to write a synthesis thesis, thoroughly review your sources and identify key quotes, statistics, ideas, and facts that align with and support your thesis. As you encounter these elements, document them for use throughout your essay.

If you intend to address opposing claims and challenge them, seek out ideas or quotes that contradict your thesis statement and devise strategies to refute them. This practice, known as a concession, refutation, or rebuttal, can significantly bolster your argument when executed effectively.

For example, with the provided thesis statement of an argumentative synthesis essay, valuable sources may encompass quotes from linguists discussing the emergence of new words in 'text-speak,' statistics showcasing the continuous evolution of the English language with each generation, and factual evidence demonstrating that students maintain the ability to write with proper grammar and spelling. These elements can serve to counter the arguments against the positive impact of texting on the English language.

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Optimal Synthesis Essay Structure

You can choose to organize your approach formally with a synthesis paper outline or plan the structure in your head. But it's crucial to determine the most effective way to present your material. If you're composing this paper for the AP test, be aware that graders expect a specific structure of a synthesis essay thesis outline.

synthesis essay structure

Synthesis Essay Introduction:

  • An attention-grabbing opening sentence to engage the reader.
  • Clear identification of the issue under discussion.
  • Presentation of your thesis statement.

Body Paragraphs:

  • Start with a topic sentence that supports one aspect of your thesis.
  • Provide your interpretation and viewpoint on the topic.
  • Cite evidence from your sources to support your assertion.
  • Explain the significance of the source(s) in the context of your argument.

Conclusion Paragraph:

  • Reiterate the broader significance of your topic based on the evidence and reasons explored in the essay.
  • Conclude with a profound insight or thoughtful ending for your paper.

Explore a More Imaginative Structure for Your Synthesis Essay

If you are learning how to write a synthesis essay AP lang, consider adopting a structure that was outlined earlier. In another case, approach a synthesis essay structure more creatively. You have the flexibility to employ one or more of the following creative approaches:

1. Example/Illustration: This approach involves providing detailed anecdotes, summaries, or direct quotes from your source material to offer substantial backing for your perspective. You can employ multiple examples or illustrations, but avoid making your essay solely a series of examples at the expense of supporting your thesis.

2. Straw Man: With this method, you mean to present an argument opposing the thesis in your argumentative synthesis essay, subsequently highlighting its weaknesses and flaws. By showcasing your understanding of the opposing viewpoint and your ability to counter it, you enhance the strength of your argument. In the beginning, present the counter-argument immediately after your thesis, follow with evidence to disprove it, and conclude with a compelling argument supporting your thesis.

3. Concession: Essays structured with concessions resemble those using the straw man technique. However, they acknowledge the validity of the counter-argument while demonstrating that the original argument holds more weight. This structure effectively presents your paper to readers who maintain opposing viewpoints.

4. Comparison and Contrast: This structure involves examining similarities and differences between two subjects or sources to showcase their various aspects. Crafting an essay using this structure necessitates a meticulous analysis of your source material to identify both subtle and significant points of similarity and contrast. You can present your arguments either source-by-source or by highlighting points of similarity or difference. We know that this information might sound tricky, so we would like to offer you to order essay writing from expert writers to save you the trouble.

Generate an Outline Tailored for a Background and Review Essays

While a synthesis paper primarily focuses on articulating and substantiating a thesis, background and review essays delve into the concepts and ideas contained within the sources rather than centering on the author's perspective. There are two fundamental approaches to structuring such essays:

1. Summary: This framework provides summaries of each relevant source, gradually constructing a more robust argument for your thesis. It offers specific evidence to bolster your viewpoint but typically refrains from expressing your personal opinions. This method is most commonly employed in background and review essays.

2. List of Reasons: This approach consists of a series of sub-points derived from the central thesis of your synthesis in English. Each reason is fortified with supporting evidence. Similar to the summary method, the reasons should progress in importance, with the most significant reason appearing last.

Writing Tips That Will Help You Score Better 

One of the cornerstones of how to write a synthesis paragraph is to be ready to adjust your plan as needed, especially if you synthesize ideas and information in your source material that strengthens your thesis. If you're composing the synthesis for the AP test, remember that you won't have the luxury of multiple drafts, so manage your time wisely to ensure it reaches its utmost potential.

Synthesis essay writing should commence with an introductory paragraph that features your thesis, followed by a body that provides compelling evidence in support of your thesis. Conclude your essay with a summary of your perspective. Is everything clear so far? If not, simply say, ‘Help me write my essay,’ and our experts will get back to you with more practical assistance.

Write in the Third Person 

If you are wondering how to write a synthesis paper correctly, remember that writing in the third person is recommended. It involves the use of pronouns like "he," "she," and "it," alongside crafting clear and comprehensive sentences. It's essential to provide sufficient information that demonstrates your expertise in the subject matter of your essay. Writing a synthesis essay, strive to maintain an active voice in your writing. However, passive voice can be employed when necessary, particularly when avoiding the use of first-person ("I") or second-person ("you").

Use Transitions

Transitions serve as effective tools for illustrating the intersections where your sources reinforce each other. For instance, you can highlight this synergy as follows: "Hallstrom's insights into market dynamics receive further validation from Anderson's comprehensive study, 'Market Trends Unveiled,' where he argues…"

For extensive quotations spanning three lines or more, it's advisable to set them apart as block quotes to emphasize their significance.

Self-Check List Before Handing Your Work In

Now is the moment to fortify your argumentative synthesis essay and enhance the flow between points and paragraphs. Strive for clarity and conciseness in your argumentation, making it easily comprehensible. Reading your essay aloud can be beneficial, as it reveals awkward sentences and incoherent arguments.

Consider enlisting a second set of eyes for proofreading; the phrase "two heads are better than one" remains relevant. Request feedback from a friend or colleague regarding potential additions or removals from your synthesis in English writing. Crucially, ascertain whether your argument is logically sound and well-supported by your sources.

Proofread Carefully

In the framework of how to write an academic essay, proofreading is absolutely key. Thoroughly review your paper to identify and rectify any grammar, punctuation, or spelling mistakes. Pay special attention to the accurate spelling of names and proper nouns. Check for run-on sentences or sentence fragments and make necessary corrections as you proceed.

To ensure accuracy, read your paper aloud, as this can help prevent accidental insertions or omissions that might occur when reading silently. Whenever possible, seek the assistance of a friend or classmate for additional proofreading to enhance the overall quality of your essay.

Acknowledge and Cite Your Source Material

The process of how to cite in a synthesis essay includes Incorporating footnotes to cite material within the body of your essay and compiling a bibliography of the cited works at the conclusion is the preferred method. Ensure that footnotes and in-text citations are employed whenever you quote, paraphrase, or reference any material. If you're composing this essay for the AP test, a specific citation style may not be required, but it is essential to identify the source after citing it.

For instance, in an AP essay, you might mention: “Johnson posits, ‘The advent of texting has revolutionized the English language, offering a distinct mode of communication for the younger generation.’"

In college essays, you'll typically adhere to MLA format, although you may be asked to use APA or Chicago style. Regardless of the format, maintain consistency in its application throughout your essay. To help you with this, we’ve prepared a guide on how to format an essay.


What Should Not Be Said in a Synthesis Essay?

In an argumentative synthesis essay, it's crucial to avoid expressing personal opinions or introducing new informative insights not supported by your cited sources. Steer clear of making sweeping generalizations or assumptions without proper evidence, and do not rely solely on personal anecdotes or anecdotes that aren't reinforced by reputable sources. Additionally, avoid simply summarizing sources without analyzing and documenting the information to build a cohesive argument. Your essay should focus on presenting a well-supported thesis derived from the integrated ideas of your sources rather than introducing personal viewpoints or extraneous information.

Should a Synthesis Paper Have a Title?

Yes, you can certainly have a title for a synthesis paper. A well-chosen title can provide readers with an initial understanding of the essay's topic or theme and can make your paper more engaging. The title should be relevant to the content and give readers a sense of what to expect from your essay. Make sure the title is concise, descriptive, and reflective of the main idea or argument in your paper.

What Is the Length of a Synthesis Paper?

When writing a synthesis paper, the length can vary significantly depending on the specific assignment or guidelines provided by your instructor. Typically, synthesis papers range from 2-5 pages for shorter assignments to longer papers of 10 or more pages for more extensive projects. The exact page count may also depend on the complexity of the topic and the number of sources you are required to integrate into your synthesis. It's essential to adhere to your instructor's instructions regarding the required length for your synthesis paper.

Is There a Difference Between Synthesis and Argument Essay?

A synthesis essay combines information from multiple sources to develop a balanced viewpoint on a topic, emphasizing objectivity. In contrast, an argument essay focuses on presenting and defending a particular perspective on a subject, often using reasons and evidence to persuade the audience. The use of sources and the tone differs, with synthesizing essays adopting a more objective tone and incorporating various perspectives. In contrast, argument essays take a persuasive approach with a clear thesis. In summary, the key distinction lies in their purpose, use of sources, and the tone and voice employed.

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