THE NOTION OF SYNTHESIS ESSAY

When your professor asks you to write a synthesis essay, the very word “synthesis” is often enough to scare some students into panic and procrastination. So, before moving on to the assignment, it is good to have a clear understanding of what a synthesis essay actually is. The word “synthesis” is of Greek origin, and it means combining two or more elements into something whole. Hence, a synthesis essay is the one where you combine several ideas for the sole purpose of backing up your point.

ANALYZING THE SOURCE TEXT

The task is usually made even simpler for you since you are given a text where you should look for these ideas. This narrows down your search, and you can spare some time on the research. To sort out these ideas from the text, you should basically answer the question “So what?” upon reading it. The aspects that interest you primarily are the rhetoric used by the author, the information and the message of the text, the author’s conclusion, etc. The answer to the “So what?” question is your argument around which you build your essay. As simple as that.

CHOOSING A TOPIC

Obviously, the topic of your synthesis essay will be the reader’s first introduction to your work, so it needs to be concise, informative, and of course, to the point. So, first of all, it should mention the problem that you are dealing with in your essay. Also, it should spin the reader’s attention and get them interested in reading on. As an option, rhetorical questions are good for that.

SETTING UP A THESIS STATEMENT

As you might already know, a thesis statement is the focal point of your entire essay. It is the axis around which your work takes form. Only after you have read your source text with all attention and thoroughly analyzed it, you begin to have the idea of what your synthesis essay will look like. This is all to be condensed into a solid message which will be your thesis statement.

PUTTING TOGETHER AN OUTLINE

We have mentioned that your thesis statement is the axis of your synthesis essay. Following this analogy, your essay outline is its skeleton: it will hold your text together, and you put the “meat” of your work – the evidence and the arguments – around the outline.

Usually, a synthesis essay consists of three main segments: the introduction, the main body, and the conclusion. If there should be any deviations from this standard, your teacher or professor should let you know. The introduction prepares your reader for the information that they are going to receive in the main body. The main body is the informative part of your synthesis essay where you list your evidence, analyze it, and reveal how it supports your thesis statement. Finally, the conclusion is the section where you summarize your whole essay in its entirety. There are a couple of tips here:

  1. If you come across some counter-arguments while analyzing your source material(s), you can also include that into your outline. You can acknowledge and rebuke them in your essay, thus supporting your argument even stronger.
  2. Remember to allocate more place to analyzing your source text, rather than summarizing it. This is the essential goal of a synthesis essay.

A template for your synthesis essay outline can look like this:

  • Introduction
    • Thesis statement point 1.
    • Thesis statement point 2.
    • Thesis statement point 3.
  • Main Body
    • Thesis statement point 1.
      • a) Supporting evidence from you source text.
      • b) Analysis.
    • Thesis statement point 2.
      • a) Supporting evidence from you source text.
      • b) Analysis.
    • Thesis statement point 3.
      • a) Supporting evidence from you source text.
      • b) Analysis.
  • Conclusion

Restate the thesis statement and suggest directions for further research.

FORMATTING

Essay formatting means putting your writing in accord with the academic requirements. This includes font type and size, margins, footnotes and endnotes, title page, bibliography, etc. There are several most popular format types that have been introduced for the convenience of both readers and writers. Depending on your major, research topic, and your school’s requirements, you will format your synthesis essay in one of the following styles:

  • APA (American Psychological Association) and ASA (American Sociological Association) styles are typically used in the fields of Education, Psychology, and Science;
  • MLA (Modern Language Association) style is used for Humanities;
  • Chicago / Turabian style is usually implemented in works in Business, as well as Fine Arts and History.

For more detailed information on any of these format styles, you are welcome to find comprehensive guides on all of these styles on our website. However, there some requirements which are more or less general for all format styles. They are as follows:

  • The font should be clear and easy to read. The recommended font is Times New Roman with size 12.
  • The margins are 1”.
  • The title is in the center.
  • The pages are numbered. The page numbers are in the upper right corner.
  • Apart from the page number, the headers may include any of the following information: the author’s name, professor’s name, essay title, affiliated school or institution.
  • You may need to include the abstract. The abstract is a brief annotation of your work meant to introduce it to readers who are unfamiliar with the subject so that they can decide whether they want to read it and whether it is interesting and relevant to them.
  • the last page is dedicated to your bibliography – the works of other authors that you have cited in your essay or the ones that have influenced your research.

In any case, if you are uncertain about some formatting details, it is always best to consult with your teacher or professor. These details are not to be overlooked since they can have a crucial impact on the final grade that you get for this synthesis essay.

SYNTHESIS ESSAY AS A PART OF YOUR AP ENGLISH EXAM

If you take an AP English Language and Composition course and need to pass an exam in it, you will have to write several kinds of essays for this exam. This task has to be completed in class, and you will have a limited amount of time to reveal your deep understanding not only of the subject-mater but also that of the writing process as such.

Normally, a course in AP English Language and Composition will focus on three main aspects: argument, synthesis, and rhetorical analysis. Since this is what you were trained in during this course, this is what you should focus on while writing your synthesis essay on the exam. Let us briefly revisit these aspects:

  • The argument is the easiest one. It is basically about finding supporting evidence for your point.
  • Synthesis is rather about viewing the source material from several – sometimes opposite – angles and finding their touchpoints to build your own argument upon them.
  • Finally, a rhetorical analysis is more focused on the author. Here you investigate the idea that the author puts in the text, the goal that s/he sets and the means used to achieve it, as well as the historical and cultural background and the audience.

GENERAL TIPS:

  1. Ethos, Pathos. And Logos.

In case you are unfamiliar with these terms, they have to do with rhetoric. Basically, they represent the ways to appeal to the audience or the techniques to persuade them. As one may guess, they have to do with rhetorical analysis. It is vital that you can tell the difference between the three and see when the author is using one of them or a combination of several. Here are brief descriptions of the three persuasion techniques:

  • Ethos appeals to ethics and subordination. It stresses the authority of the author/speaker and/or the standpoint presented.
  • Pathos appeals to emotion. It uses bright and vivid imagery to create a strong emotional bond with the audience. Emotional bonds are very hard to break, and when done properly – it automatically validates any standpoint – even though it does not exactly appeal to reason.
  • Logos is what we most commonly understand by persuasion. It appeals to the commonsense by employing facts and figures, evidence, and logic.

Remember that these methods of persuasion are not exclusive, and – more often than not – an author will use all of them in one text. It is up to you to be able to tell them apart.

  1. DILDS

This is an acronym that stands for the following: diction, imagery, details, language, and sentence. These are the details that can make any text stand out. Scrutinize the text to see if the author uses any (or all?) of those, and make sure that you analyze them thoroughly and mention them in your synthesis essay.

  1. SOAPS

Yet another acronym. This time it stands for the details that you need to keep in mind when analyzing your source material: speaker, occasion, audience, purpose, and subject. Here is a brief breakdown of these details:

  • Speaker. It is most likely a person, and people are seldom non-biased. Explore this bias, its source, and its influence on the speaker.
  • Occasion. This means the circumstances under which the text was written and presented. They include place, time, and reason. If the reason for the text to be written is not evident, you are not restricted to invent one.
  • Audience. This is about who is the text aimed at.
  • Purpose. It means the message of the text, what it is trying to achieve. The tone is one of the key elements here.
  • Subject. Finally, this is the subject-matter of the text and its argument.
  1. The thesis statement is crucial.

While we have mentioned more than once that thesis statement is the fundamental part of your synthetic essay, we feel like one should be reminded about it constantly, because the importance of a firm thesis statement is difficult to overestimate. We suggest that once you come up with a thesis statement for your synthesis essay, you write the statement down on a piece of paper and re-read it every time you stumble into a writer’s block. This can and should be done at any stage of writing because the thesis statement is universally relevant to all and any parts of your essay.

If you are still not sure that you can perform to your fullest and write an essay yourself, it is no reason to fall into despair. You are always free and welcome to contact a professional synthesis essay writing service like ourselves for assistance. Even though some teachers and professors frown upon the very idea of custom writing services, we are all human, and there are situations when addressing professionals is the best – if not the only – way.

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