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How to Write a Synthesis Essay and Get Top Grades

When tasked with writing a synthesis essay, many students start wondering what steps they should take to complete the assignment on time. To help you out, we have outlined the main things that you should consider when writing a synthesis essay.

Writing a top-level essay starts with selecting a topic. Then, a writer should select sources, conduct thorough research, and come up with a thesis statement combining different positions from the sources. To get the highest grades, you should also write body paragraphs with clear arguments and summarize your findings in the conclusion. Read on to find out how to ensure that your synthetic essay fully meets academic writing standards.

What is a Synthesis Essay?

A synthesis essay is a type of academic writing assignment that involves combining different arguments to form a defensible position. After analyzing the available sources, students should be able to use different pieces of information to create a strong argument demonstrating their position.

The most difficult part about writing a synthesis essay lies in the fact that students should avoid summarization at all costs. Instead, they are expected to establish a relationship between different pieces of evidence and arguments to create an easy-to-defend position.

Types of Synthesis Essays

There are two main types of synthesis essays, namely, explanatory synthesis essays and argumentative synthesis essays. However, you may also be tasked with writing a synthesis essay in the form of a review. While explanatory synthesis essays should explain the arguments in the analyzed sources, argumentative synthesis essays combine the pieces of important information from sources to make a new argument.

When you have just started to research the main topic of your interest, you may be assigned the task of writing a background synthesis essay. This assignment is aimed at helping you get to learn more about your topic and the available sources. You need to read the sources thoroughly and systematize the available information by finding similar takes on a range of issues. Keep in mind that such writing tasks do not always require you to come up with a thesis statement. However, they help you to see a particular problem from different perspectives.

Argumentative synthesis essays require you to state your position clearly after analyzing the available information and systematizing it by common themes. You may be asked to present your arguments on the issue you are analyzing, evaluate your sources, or even compare and contrast different positions. Depending on the task at hand, you should take a different approach to write your synthesis essay.

Literature reviews are also considered to be the type of synthesis essay as they require you to analyze the sources and systematize the available information. When writing such assignments, you can find less-researched areas that require further analysis. While literature reviews don’t necessarily contain thesis statements, you still need to formulate the reasons that make your research important.

Tips for Writing a Synthesis Essay

To write a synthesis essay with well-elaborated arguments and a strong thesis, you need to follow several tips that will help you improve your academic writing skills.

  • Start by selecting an intriguing topic that will grab the attention of a reader. Don’t select a topic if you don’t know it well, as you may not have enough time to explore it in detail.
  • After analyzing the available sources on your topic, select the most credible ones. They might include articles published in top-level academic journals and books.
  • Follow the required citation style when compiling a list of references. For instance, you may be asked to use MLA, APA, or Harvard citation styles.
  • After completing your essay, read it thoroughly to correct grammar and spelling mistakes.

By using these tips, you can avoid getting lower grades.

How to Start a Synthesis Essay and Write a Strong Thesis Statement

When you know what type of essay you are expected to write, you need to create a detailed outline. A clear structure will help you bring your point across and defend your arguments. If you are stuck and don’t know how to start your synthesis essay, you may use an unusual fact that shows a problem in a different light or add an illustrative quote showing the importance of the topic. It will help you engage your reader right from the start and demonstrate the importance of an argument you are going to make.

While some essays don’t require you to start with a powerful thesis, you still need to follow a specific structure to avoid getting downgraded. In the introductory paragraph, write about the purpose of your synthesis essay and demonstrate what arguments you are going to use to support your thesis statement.

A strong thesis statement is a must for argumentative synthesis essays. You may need to outline the thesis statements used by other researchers first and then combine them into one that represents your take on the problem.

How to Write Body Paragraphs of a Synthesis Essay

When your introduction is ready, it is time to write body paragraphs. Each of them should be dedicated to a specific argument supporting your thesis. To get top grades, avoid summarizing the information from different sources. It is better to find specific themes and analyze how they are considered from different points of view. In this case, every paragraph of the main body will contain pieces of information from multiple sources. When writing an argumentative synthesis essay, start your paragraphs with a topic sentence referring to the thesis.

To make your synthesis essay more convincing, make sure to indicate how different pieces of information are connected. It will allow you to put the analyzed ideas in a different context. Don’t focus solely on similarities, as it is crucial to explain differences as well. If you have been asked to write an argumentative synthesis essay, you need to describe opposing views as well. Then, you have to refute arguments supporting the opposite position.

How to Conclude a Synthesis Essay and Summarize Your Main Points

You should end your synthesis essay with a paragraph that briefly summarizes your main arguments. In this part, it is crucial to demonstrate how each paragraph from the main body supports the main thesis. By providing your own interpretations of the analyzed issues, you can make your position clear and suggest areas of future research.


How many paragraphs is a synthesis essay?

Experienced academic writers believe that a synthetic essay consisting of 5-6 paragraphs allows a writer to explore any topic in detail. In the first paragraph, you should write a short introduction to your topic and formulate a powerful thesis statement. The main body typically consists of 3-4 paragraphs where you should defend your main arguments. Finally, you have to write a concise conclusion summing up your findings.

What is the purpose of a synthesis essay?

When writing a synthesis essay, you are expected to establish meaningful connections showing how two or more works relate to each other. It is important to argue why this connection is necessary to establish. An academic writer should compare different parts of the works, provide clear definitions, and illustrate arguments with examples to show the purpose of the synthesis. By looking at the analyzed works from a specific angle and juxtaposing their arguments, you can change the way these works are interpreted.

How to write a thesis statement for a synthesis essay?

To come up with a strong thesis statement, define your main goal clearly. After analyzing your sources, think about how you can use them to support your thesis. Make sure to summarize the ideas from the sources that you want to use and combine them in a single thesis. The best thesis statement clearly states a defensible position and allows an essay writer to demonstrate what arguments can be used. When elaborating upon your thesis statement in the main body of the text, you can add additional claims, provide evidence, and explain your position.

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