How to Write a Synthesis Essay | Definition & Example
A synthesis essay is an advanced type of writing. Such an essay takes a viewpoint that is unique about a given central idea, topic or theme. The writer chooses a topic and then asserts a claim, finds and combines sources and uses the information acquired.
The process of writing a synthesis essay has three components. They are:
- Synthesizing sources
- Composing a claim or thesis
- Formatting essay
A synthesis is a written discussion that draws on one or more sources. It follows that your ability to write syntheses depends on your ability to infer relationships among sources – essays, articles, fiction, and also nonwritten sources, such as lectures, interviews, observations. This process is nothing new for you since you infer relationships all the time – say, between something you’ve read in the newspaper and something you’ve seen for yourself, or between the teaching styles of your favorite and least favorite instructors. In fact, if you’ve written research papers, you’ve already written syntheses. In an academic synthesis, you make explicit the relationships that you have inferred among separate sources.
The skills you’ve already been practicing in this course will be vital in writing syntheses. Clearly, before you’re in a position to draw relationships between two or more sources, you must understand what those sources say; in other words, you must be able to summarize these sources. It will frequently be helpful for your readers if you provide at least partial summaries of sources in your synthesis essays. At the same time, you must go beyond summary to make judgments – judgments based, of course, on the critical reading of your sources – as you have practiced in your reading responses and in-class discussions. You should already have drawn some conclusions about the quality and validity of these sources; you should know how much you agree or disagree with the points made in your sources and the reasons for your agreement or disagreement.
Synthesis Essay Example
Before actually writing a synthesis essay, one must follow the pre-writing steps:
- Understanding the prompt
- Drafting a tentative thesis
- Choosing sources
- Close reading
- Evaluating sources
Understanding the prompt means thinking about the selected topic, then following the instructions accordingly to support your ideas. An example prompt might be: ‘Argue in favor of a particular passion that will help manage the challenges of high school.’
Next, you’ll begin drafting a tentative thesis, which is the first draft of your claim for the prompt. This statement is the first idea you have regarding the topic, to jumpstart your research. After you choose resources, this thesis may be changed or adjusted to reflect your sources’ ideas. Following the example prompt, you might choose chocolate as your passion, and state your claim as: ‘Chocolate has a tranquilizing effect; it calms me and helps me to focus on homework, and perform better on exams.’
After you’ve drafted your thesis, you’ll begin the process of choosing sources. This is the preliminary research you do to find sources that you believe will support the viewpoint written in the tentative thesis. You may find six or seven sources, but only a few of them will help your claim. During your research, you discover six sources in various formats (essays, cartoons, articles, graphics) that discuss chocolate as a way to relieve stress.
Once you have gathered these sources, close reading (which includes the process of annotating, highlighting, or note-taking), will help you summarize their main ideas, and connect them to your claim.
Finally, evaluating sources means that you will use the main ideas from the close reading to justify using a source for your claim. The sources you decide on will eventually help construct your own (new) idea for the prompt.
Let’s look back to our example of chocolate. Of the six sources you gathered, you determine that Sources 2, 4, and 5 agree with your idea that eating chocolate makes it easier for you to function in high school:
Source 2: Cartoon shows a dreamy-eyed student with disheveled hair, sitting in front of a pile of homework, with chocolate smeared on his hands and face. The caption reads ‘A total chocolate relaxation.’
Source 4: Discusses the effect of chocolate on calming the brain and relaxing the heart.
Source 5: Graphic story illustrates an argument between chocolate lovers and chocolate haters who are high school students.
These sources might also offer objections against your claim as well. Why is this important? Since a synthesis is an argument, answering the objections gives the reader a fair and unbiased view of your position, making it more credible.
How To Write A Synthesis Essay
Synthesis writing will require you to have the ability to digest some given information and then present it in an organized manner. When writing a synthesis essay the first thing to do is to understand the concept of the essay. The purpose of writing a synthesis essay is to make connections between different works or multiple works with the ultimate goal of eventually supporting a claim.
Before you begin writing you should take some time and collect all the sources that you need for that topic. Go through your sources and write a brief summary for each of them. Examine the evidence that other people have given to argue against the issue or to support the issue. After reflecting on your research you can formulate your thesis.
Use the thesis that you have formulated as your start point. Free write brainstorm and map out the ideas you have on the topic. Using this pre-writing material you are in a position to create a scratch outline. Creating a scratch outline is essential in synthesis writing. It enables you to clearly and logically organize the multiple sources that you have. From each of the sources, you should develop your own perspective, interpretations, and analysis. Find different ways that you can organize the information depending on how you wish to argue or what you find. It might be of help to you to create a number of outlines.
The synthesis has to be organized so that other people could evaluate your comprehension of the sources and the presentation of your data, examples and your supporting points. The sources should not just be summarized but the writers should make their own point and back it up with the sources.
What Is A Synthesis Essay
Before you start writing, it is always a good idea to have an outline of the essay. The essay should have three parts:
The first sentence which is the introductory sentence should have a hook. This way your readers will be interested in reading. It should be engaging to the reader. You should then proceed to clarify the issue at hand. Finally, you can clearly present the thesis statement.
Each of the paragraphs in the body should start with a topic sentence that is a reason to support your thesis statement. The paragraphs should not be structured around the sources but around your paragraphs. Give your explanation and your opinion on the topic sentence. Use your sources to support your claim.
In conclusion, you should state the importance of your topic from the evidence and reasons that you have discussed in the essay. It might be helpful to restate your thesis.
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Synthesis Essay Outline
after the pre-writing stages are completed, you are ready to write a final thesis, by aligning the information, main ideas, and interpretations of your sources with the first thesis you drafted during the pre-writing process. The thesis contains a one-sentence claim that asserts what, how, and why you will write about the topic.
Thus, you write your final thesis as: ‘Chocolate and high school may seem like a strange combination, but eating it has benefits for those students who are overworked and overwhelmed.’
You’re satisfied you can argue your idea, so you are ready to write the essay.
Ap Lang Synthesis Essay
The two synthesis essay questions below are examples of the question type that has been one of the three free-response questions on the AP English Language and Composition Exam as of the May 2007 exam. The synthesis question asks students to synthesize information from a variety of sources to inform their own discussion of a topic. Students are given a 15-minute reading period to accommodate the additional reading required for the question.
What Is An Example Of A Synthesis?
How Do You Write A Synthesis In Research?
- Consider your purpose in writing.
- Select and carefully read your sources, according to your purpose.
- Formulate a thesis.
- Decide how you will use your source material and take notes.
- Develop and organizational plan, according to your thesis.