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How to Write an Undergraduate-Level Essay

Step-by-step guidance and resources for planning, researching, and writing essays as an undergraduate student

Draft your thesis statement

Illustration of yellow sticky note with the words what's next     If you followed the instructions provided in Create a Preliminary Document Plan, you will already have a draft thesis statement for your essay. However, now that you've done some research and have a clearer idea of what direction you want to take in your paper, it's time to draft the thesis statement. If you're new to writing thesis statements, please view the resources available here: Thesis Statements.

The benefit to having a strong thesis statement is that it gives you and your reader clear boundaries of what will be discussed within the paper. For example, if my thesis statement is that Royal Roads University is unique amongst post-secondary institutions on Vancouver Island because of its history, diversity wildlife, Hatley Park, and educational programs, I know exactly what I need to prove to my reader within the document. I have the four body paragraphs or perhaps four sections for my essay: history, diversity of wildlife, Hatley Park, and educational programs.

Image credit: SK via Pixabay


Think about how you would describe your paper to a stranger in one or two sentences. "What's your paper about?", asks the stranger. You know that the person doesn't want a detailed description that would take many sentences to complete. How would you answer that question in one or two sentences?

If you're having a hard time writing it out, have an real conversation with someone so that you can describe your paper. Have your conversation partner ask you questions if he or she doesn't understand the focus of the paper until you have that one or two sentence description. Remember to keep in mind the assignment description so that you can be sure that your thesis statement is on track with the outcomes for the essay.