critical synthesis essay example

How to Write a Synthesis Essay: Your Guide From Start to Finish

critical synthesis essay example

In the fast-paced landscape of today's information age, the average person contends with an astonishing volume of data, akin to reading around 174 newspapers daily. The sources are diverse, ranging from news articles and social media updates to scientific studies and beyond. This constant deluge of information might create a sense of being overwhelmed—a feeling of drowning in a sea of facts, opinions, and statistics. Yet, amidst this information onslaught, the skill to synthesize and extract meaning is indispensable. As we navigate this era of data saturation, the ability to sift through and comprehend this abundance is not just valuable; it's a fundamental skill for navigating the complexities of our modern world.

How to Write a Synthesis Essay: Short Description

This guide goes beyond merely helping you navigate the sea of information; it empowers you to leverage it for crafting compelling synthesis essays. We'll walk you through crucial steps and tips, revealing the secrets to successful synthesis essay writing. Uncover the format that lends structure and clarity to your work, and master the art of selecting an essay topic that not only engages but also sparks critical thinking. So, let's delve in and discover how to transform fragmented information into coherent and persuasive essays that leave a lasting impression.

What Is a Synthesis Essay: Understanding Its Nature and Purpose

According to our ' write paper for me ' experts, the synthesis essay emerges as a dynamic catalyst in the realm of composition. Beyond the act of assembling disparate facts and opinions, it's a nuanced process of weaving coherence. Envision it as constructing an intricate tapestry from scattered threads.

The purpose of writing a synthesis essay extends far beyond the mere presentation of information; it beckons a deeper intellectual dive. This genre challenges writers to extract commonalities from diverse sources—be they articles, studies, or arguments—and leverage these connections to construct a compelling and persuasive narrative.

In our era of information saturation, this essay form has become an indispensable tool for insightful minds. It not only permits exploration of how diverse ideas interconnect but also serves as a platform for articulating well-considered perspectives on intricate subjects. Whether navigating through the realms of literature, science, history, or contemporary affairs, this kind of essay becomes a showcase of analytical finesse, offering a holistic viewpoint. It transcends the role of a mere knowledge conveyor; instead, it unveils profound insights by adeptly linking diverse pieces of information.

Explanatory vs. Argumentative Synthesis Essays: Key Differences

In the domain of synthesis writing, two primary categories come to the fore: explanatory and argumentative. Grasping the distinction between these is pivotal as it defines the purpose, tone, and approach of your essay.

Explanatory :

An explanatory synthesis essay precisely lives up to its name—it explains. These essays strive to offer an unbiased and well-balanced perspective on a topic by collecting information from various sources and presenting it in a clear, organized manner. The aim here is not to adopt a stance or persuade but rather to inform and clarify. Often serving as comprehensive overviews, they break down intricate concepts, theories, or ideas for a wider audience. These essays heavily lean on factual data and expert opinions to provide a thorough picture, steering clear of personal bias or persuasion.

Argumentative :

Conversely, argumentative synthesis essays are all about persuasion. They engage in the synthesis process with the primary goal of taking a stance on a particular issue or topic. They gather information from various sources not only to present a well-rounded view but also to construct a compelling argument. Argumentative essays aim to convince the reader of a specific viewpoint, leveraging the gathered information as evidence to support their claims. These papers inherently express opinions and employ rhetorical strategies to sway the reader's perspective.

And if you're keen on knowing how to write an informative essay , we've got you covered on that, too!

Synthesis Essay Structure

Knowing how to write a synthesis essay effectively is comparable to constructing a resilient building—it relies on a strong foundation. To guide you through this process, consider the following structured approach:

Introductory Paragraph: 

  • Creating a robust synthesis essay is comparable to constructing a resilient building—it relies on a strong foundation. To guide you through this process, consider the following structured approach:
  • Start with an engaging hook or an intriguing fact to immediately capture your reader's attention. Provide contextual information about your topic and the sources you'll be synthesizing. Present a concise and clear thesis statement outlining your primary argument or viewpoint.
  • If your topic requires it, incorporate background information to help readers understand the context of the sources.

Body Paragraphs:

  • Dedicate each paragraph to a specific sub-topic or source. Begin with a clear topic sentence directly related to your thesis. Introduce the source you're synthesizing and outline its key points.
  • Support your arguments with evidence from the source, employing quotes, paraphrases, or summaries. Analyze and interpret the source, elucidating its connection to your thesis and other sources.
  • Address counterarguments if relevant, ensuring a comprehensive exploration. Transition seamlessly between paragraphs to maintain the fluidity of your essay.
  • This pivotal section serves as the nexus between your sources, revealing intersections, divergences, or complementary aspects.
  • Highlight common themes, patterns, or contradictions among your sources.
  • Leverage your analysis to construct a coherent argument or perspective.
  • If pertinent, acknowledge opposing viewpoints and counter them with well-reasoned arguments.

Conclusion:

  • Restate your thesis and succinctly summarize the main points of your essay.
  • Emphasize the significance of your argument, elucidating its broader implications.
  • Conclude with a thought-provoking statement or a compelling call to action.

References:

  • Include a comprehensive list of all sources used in your essay, adhering to the prescribed citation style (e.g., MLA, APA).

Choosing a Synthesis Essay Topic: A Guide to Decision-Making

Selecting essay topics marks just the starting point; the synthesis process demands a critical evaluation and connection of various sources to construct a coherent argument or perspective. Here's a systematic approach to guide you in making an informed choice when choosing synthesis essay topics:

choosing a synthesis essay topic

How to Write a Synthesis Essay: Key Steps and Tips

Much like a compare and contrast essay , the process of writing a synthesis essay demands a systematic approach to effectively integrate information from various sources into a cohesive and compelling argument. Here are essential steps and insights to assist you throughout this journey:

  • Clarify Your Purpose

Define whether you are composing an explanatory or argumentative synthesis essay, as this choice will shape your approach and tone.

  • Source Selection and Analysis

Carefully pick credible and pertinent sources that contribute to your synthesis essay topic. Maintain a balance among different source types, such as academic articles, books, and reputable websites. Critically analyze each source, identifying the main ideas, arguments, and evidence presented.

  • Formulate a Strong Thesis Statement

Develop a clear and concise thesis statement that communicates your central argument or perspective. Your synthesis essay thesis statement should serve as the guiding force for the entire essay.

  • Structure Your Essay

Organize your essay with a well-structured synthesis essay outline, typically featuring an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Each body paragraph should center on a specific aspect of your topic, utilizing evidence from your sources to support your points.

  • Employ Effective Transition Sentences

Use transition sentences to smoothly connect paragraphs and ideas, ensuring a seamless flow in your essay.

  • Synthesize Information

Within the body paragraphs, synthesize information from your sources. Discuss how each source contributes to your thesis and identify common themes or contradictions.

  • Avoid Simple Summarization

Refuse the urge to merely summarize your sources. Instead, engage with them critically and employ them as building blocks for your argument.

  • Address Counterarguments (if applicable)

Recognize opposing viewpoints and counter them with well-reasoned arguments, showcasing a thorough understanding of the topic.

  • Craft a Resolute Conclusion

In your conclusion, restate your thesis and summarize your main points. Emphasize the significance of your argument or insights. Conclude with a thought-provoking closing statement or a compelling call to action.

  • Revise and Proofread

Review your essay for clarity, coherence, and grammar errors. Ensure your citations are accurate and consistent with the chosen citation style (e.g., MLA, APA).

  • Seek Feedback

Consider obtaining feedback from peers, instructors, or writing centers to enhance the overall quality of your essay.

  • Edit for Conciseness

Eliminate unnecessary repetition and ensure your writing is concise and direct, and don't overlook this step while learning how to write a good synthesis essay.

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Synthesis Essay Format

The structure of your synthesis paper hinges on the specific formatting style prescribed by your instructor. The most frequently employed styles encompass MLA, APA, and Chicago, each catering to distinct academic disciplines. APA takes center stage in Education, Psychology, and Science; MLA is the preferred choice for citations in Humanities, while the Chicago style finds its application in Business, History, and Fine Arts.

synthesis essay format

1. MLA (Modern Language Association):

  • Incorporates in-text citations featuring the author's last name and page number.
  • Concludes with a 'Works Cited' page at the paper's end, listing all sources alphabetically.
  • Prioritizes authorship and publication date.
  • Applied in academic essays, research papers, and literary analyses.

2. APA (American Psychological Association):

  • Utilizes in-text citations containing the author's last name and publication date within parentheses.
  • Includes a 'References' page, presenting all sources in alphabetical order.
  • Highlights the publication date and emphasizes scientific precision.
  • Adopted for research papers, scholarly articles, and empirical studies.

3. Chicago Style:

  • Provides two documentation styles: Notes-Bibliography (commonly used in humanities) and Author-Date (commonly used in social sciences).
  • Notes-Bibliography style incorporates footnotes or endnotes for citations, while the Author-Date style uses in-text citations with a reference list.
  • Suitable for a diverse array of academic writing, including research papers, theses, and historical studies.
  • Allows for flexibility in formatting and citation methods.

Synthesis Essay Example

In this section, we present two synthesis essay examples that exemplify the practical application of the synthesis process. They delve into intriguing topics and serve as practical guides for those looking to master the art of writing this kind of paper.

Synthesis Essay Example MLA

An article published by Jean Twenge clearly warns readers that the rise in the use of smartphones in the modern world is ruining teenagers. Furthermore, the author makes a sensational claim that the rise in social media and smartphone usage are creating a metaphorical earthquake, the likes of which have never been previously witnessed in the world. The author provides pieces of evidence from other studies concerning the issue, as well as personal observations—all of which support Twenge’s claim. According to Twenge, the main theory for claiming that smartphone and social media usage result in destroying a generation is that increased use of these two platforms results in mental depression and other mental problems. This paper will mainly refute the claims of the author by focusing on the issues raised by the author’s work.

Sample Synthesis Paper APA Style

Society has various aspects that signify the difference in lifestyles and behaviors amongst individuals in a community. Language is one of these essential aspects that help to identify individuals in a society. Identification of a common language will generalize a specific group of individuals possessing the same culture, even if they are from different races. In this essay, let’s examine how language defines our identity in society. Let’s also look at how two different authors have given different views about how language defines black schoolchildren in the Oakland School District.

Synthesis Essay Tips

Developing a compelling paper necessitates a reflective approach and strategic methodologies. Here are five crucial tips for writing a synthesis essay:

Thoughtful Source Selection : Opt for varied, reliable sources offering diverse perspectives on your chosen topic. Verify that your sources are recent and pertinent to the subject under consideration.

Skillful Source Integration : Steer clear of merely summarizing your sources; instead, seamlessly integrate them into your essay by analyzing, comparing, and contrasting their ideas. Demonstrate the connections between sources to construct a coherent narrative.

Maintain an Even-Handed Tone : In the process of learning how to write a synthesis essay, uphold a balanced tone in your writing. Despite personal opinions, synthesis essays demand objectivity. Present different viewpoints impartially and without bias.

Prioritize Synthesis, Not Recapitulation : Keep in mind that synthesis essays revolve around linking ideas, not solely summarizing sources. Scrutinize the relationships between sources and offer insights into how they interconnect to build a cohesive argument.

Address Counterarguments Deliberately : Similar to addressing persuasive essays topics , engage with counterarguments in a considerate and deliberate manner. Acknowledge opposing viewpoints and then elucidate why your perspective stands on firmer ground. This showcases a comprehensive understanding of the topic.

What Makes Synthesis Significant?

The importance of synthesis lies in its role in nurturing critical thinking and intellectual development. It provides a means for individuals to link varied ideas, information, and perspectives from multiple sources, fostering a comprehensive understanding of intricate subjects. Synthesis proves crucial in academic, professional, and real-world scenarios, empowering us to make informed decisions, construct compelling arguments, and tackle complex problems. Ultimately, it enables us to synthesize not just information but also our thoughts, fostering deeper comprehension and enriched perspectives. If you're looking for assistance in writing a paper, you can consider the option to order essay from our expert writing service.

How Should You Conclude a Synthesis Essay?

Writing a synthesis essay conclusion effectively is essential for making a lasting impression on your readers. Summarize your final section concisely in one paragraph by succinctly restating the thesis, providing a brief recap of the main supporting points, and underlining the broader significance of the synthesized information. When unsure how to write a conclusion , remember that this paragraph should leave readers with a sense of closure, reinforcing the importance of the central argument and ensuring that the impact of your essay extends beyond its final word.

Concluding Thoughts

When creating a synthesis essay, the crucial aspect involves choosing a range of reliable sources, skillfully integrating them to form a cohesive argument, and upholding objectivity. Utilize clear transitions, carefully consider counterarguments, and prioritize analysis over mere summarization. By employing these strategies, you'll craft essays that inform, persuade, and captivate your audience!

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How to Write a Synthesis Essay: Examples, Topics, & Outline

A synthesis essay requires you to work with multiple sources. You combine the information gathered from them to present a well-rounded argument on a topic. Are you looking for the ultimate guide on synthesis essay writing? You’ve come to the right place!

Our specialists will write a custom essay specially for you!

In this guide by our custom writing team, you will find:

  • a step-by-step writing guide;
  • a list of 34 synthesis essay topics;
  • a full essay sample in MLA format.
  • 📚 Synthesis Essay Definition
  • 📝 Essay Types
  • ✅ Step-by-Step Guide
  • ✍️ Topics & Prompts
  • 📑 Example & Formatting Tips

📚 What Is a Synthesis Essay?

A synthesis essay is an assignment that requires a unique interpretation of a particular topic using several reliable sources. To write it, you need to understand, analyze, and synthesize information. That is why this type of essay is used in the AP Lang exam to assess students’ reasoning skills.

The key features of the synthesis essay are:

  • Debatable topic . If your goal is to write a good synthesis essay, it’s necessary to choose an arguable topic. It’s best to choose something that people have different opinions about. This will allow you to use many sources with various viewpoints for your synthesis.
  • Clear thesis statement. It’s a sentence that briefly describes the main idea of your essay.
  • Reliable sources to prove your thesis . For a synthesis essay, your opinion is not enough. You also need to find the evidence. Keep in mind that simply reading an online encyclopedia won’t do; make sure to choose only reliable sources.

What Does It Mean to Synthesize Information?

Synthesis is a process that has huge importance in nature, science, and our everyday life. The word stems from Ancient Greek “synthesis,” which means “putting together.” In general, synthesis is the combination of components to form a connected whole.

The picture shows examples of synthesis usage in various spheres: biochemistry, physics, and sound creation.

In everyday life, we usually resort to it to synthesize information . This means taking the data from different sources and bringing it together. This process is the opposite of analyzing:

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  • For an analysis , you break problems into pieces,
  • For a synthesis , you combine separate elements into a whole.

We use synthesis for analysis papers, research papers, argument papers, and business reports.

What Does Synthesis Mean in Writing?

Synthesis in writing means summarizing and connecting different sources considering a particular topic. Although synthesis and analysis are two opposite things, they usually go together in synthesis essays. The process consists of 2 stages:

  • Conduct the analysis. For that, you break down a problem into parts and analyze the sources. It’s helpful to highlight everything regarding your topic while reading.
  • Carry out the synthesis. The next step is to formulate an opinion and combine the highlighted information from the sources.

Synthesis is not only used in writing but also in reading comprehension . It’s useful to do this kind of reading while studying your sources. There are three reading comprehension stages:

  • Your previous knowledge about the topic.
  • Expansion of your knowledge while you are reading.
  • Understanding of the problem when you have finished reading.

So, synthesized reading comprehension means combining three stages in one and formulating one statement.

Synthesis vs Summary: What Is the Difference?

A summary is a paraphrasing of the written source in your own words. For a good summary, it’s necessary to include all of the text’s key elements. Meanwhile, synthesis means combining different ideas from different sources. You don’t have to include all the key points; just choose everything related to your topic.

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The picture explains the difference between a synthesis and a summary.

Both of these techniques are used for the synthesis essay:

  • The summary goes in the conclusion. You briefly sum up your paper’s main ideas.
  • Synthesis goes in the body paragraphs. Here, you combine multiple sources to prove a point.

📝 Synthesis Essay Types

There are two main types of a synthesis essay: argument and explanatory synthesis.

Both of them require working with multiple reliable sources and analyzing information. The only difference is that an argument synthesis essay requires your own opinion, while an explanatory synthesis essay does not.

Argument Synthesis Essay: Outline and Definition

As you already know, an argument synthesis essay requires you to state your own opinion about the given topic and back it up with several reliable sources. The purpose of such an essay is to persuade the reader that your point is correct.

Here’s what an argument synthesis essay consists of:

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Explanatory Synthesis Essay: Definition and How to Write

An explanatory informative synthesis essay requires you to stay neutral towards the problem you are discussing. This means you cannot express your own opinion considering the given question or a problem. Your task is just to inform the reader. That’s why this essay type is also called informative synthesis.

Check out this explanatory essay outline:

✅ How to Write a Synthesis Essay Step by Step

When it comes to the synthesis essay outline, it’s not too different from other assignments. Have a look at this template:

The picture shows a synthesis essay outline: introduction, main body, and conclusion.

How to Synthesize: Working with Sources

After you’ve decided on your topic, it’s time to figure out how to synthesize articles into one text. This is how you do it:

  • Choose reliable sources: the ones printed in journals or published on academic websites.
  • Become familiar with them and see if they fit into your essay.
  • Try to find a few sources for each point. It will increase your essay’s reliability.
  • Relate each source to your arguments and see similarities between them.
  • Don’t forget to list every source in the references.

When you are done with a comprehensive analysis of related literature, try to step back and imagine a person who has a different opinion on this topic. Think of some arguments that they can provide to prove their opinion. After you have the list of arguments, find the written evidence of why they are wrong and put them in your essay.

Analyzing and organizing sources is the first and very important step for the synthesis essay. So make sure you do understand what the text means before using it as a reference.

Synthesis Essay Outline: How to Write

For structuring your essay, it’s useful to try mapping . This technique means combining the information from different sources and rearranging it to create a new direction. To do it, you need to analyze the authors’ ideas and come up with your own conclusions.

The best way to do that is called synthesis matrix or graphic organizer. It’s a chart that you can make when you start working on your essay. Here you have a horizontal column that states the main ideas and a few vertical columns that present sources. Your task is to take sources you have chosen and write down the main ideas from them.

Here’s an example of a matrix chart:

While doing that, you will see how many sources contain the same ideas. When you analyze them, you will be able to formulate your thesis backed up with evidence. The synthesis matrix also helps to see new arguments you can cover in your synthesis paper.

How to Write an Introduction for a Synthesis Essay

Now it’s time to start writing the paper. In the introductory part of the essay, you can include:

  • A short yet catchy sentence or a quotation that would present the topic. The start of your essay should make people interested. It’s best to make the first sentence not only informative but also easy to understand.
  • The texts that are used for the essay. Provide the titles and the authors’ names (use the appropriate guidelines depending on the writing style.)
  • The background information which is needed to understand your essay. Definitions of terms or unknown words considering the topic can be included in this part. Otherwise, people may find it hard to understand what they are reading about.

How to Write a Thesis for a Synthesis Essay

A thesis statement is a point of view on a certain problem that you will defend in your essay. It should contain the key points that you want to include in your paper. Here’s how to create a perfect thesis statement:

  • Find several central ideas in the chart.
  • Choose the ones that are repeated the most often and the ones that you feel need to be in your essay.
  • Combine them, and you have a thesis statement with all the key points.
  • Make a draft of the thesis statement. Try to formulate the main idea you want to present in your essay.
  • Elaborate on this idea. Add some details and expand it a bit further.

If the whole picture is coherent, and it conveys exactly what you wanted, then this is your perfect thesis statement. See the example below:

Gender inequality still exists at the workplace: women are less likely to get the most responsible positions, easily lose careers due to maternity leave, and often receive less pay for the same amount of work.

How to Write Synthesis Paragraphs for the Main Body

Your essay’s main body consists of a few paragraphs. Each of them presents a different argument considering the topic. When you start a paragraph, make sure to begin with a topic sentence, which informs the reader about the paragraph’s main idea. Then, include the synthesized sources and elaborate on them.

Here’s what you should and shouldn’t do when writing the main body:

You can use the following words to present the ideas from your sources. They will help you reflect the authors’ tone:

How to Conclude a Synthesis Essay

There are quite a few ways to conclude the synthesis paper. Have a look at some of the options:

  • Paraphrase the thesis. As you remember, the thesis is the main idea of your essay. The conclusion is a good place to remind your readers about it. When they are done with the reading, they remember the most important thing from your essay.
  • Synthesize the arguments. There is no need to repeat everything you wrote in your essay. Just briefly summarize the most crucial points.
  • Answer the “So what” question. Tell the readers why this topic matters, why you’ve chosen it, and why it’s valuable for the reader.
  • Provide a closure. It’s an effective strategy when you want to make the reader think. Leave them with a strong statement at the end of your essay.

Synthesis Paper Proofreading Tips

When you have finally written your paper, there is still one important thing left to do. You need to check your paper for any grammatical and contextual mistakes. You certainly can do it yourself, but it would be perfect if you could ask somebody else to read it.

The first thing you need to check grammar-wise is the tense you are using. There is no single tense you need to use for the synthesis essay. It depends on the format:

  • If you’re writing in MLA format, use the present tense;
  • For APA essays, you use the past tense.

The next step is to check whether your synthesis essay has everything that’s required. For that, we have prepared the checklist of questions you can ask yourself to proofread your essays.

  • Is there a clear thesis statement?
  • Did you include all of the key points from the synthesis?
  • Are there clear transitions between paragraphs?
  • Did you organize a paragraph around a single idea?
  • Did you use reliable and up-to-date sources?
  • Did you analyze sources rather than just summarize them?
  • Did you mention every source you’ve used?

If you’ve answered “yes” to all the questions—congratulations, you are done with the essay! Otherwise, you need to come back and fix everything that you’ve answered “no” to.

✍️ Synthesis Essay Topics and Prompts

Sometimes, when you don’t have a topic , it is tough to come up with a suitable idea. That is why we have prepared two lists of topics that you can use for any synthesis essay type.

Explanatory Synthesis Essay Topics

The topics below are suitable for an explanatory synthesis essay:

  • The beginning of Hollywood cinema . Cinema is a huge industry in the USA. Tell the readers about its history. Describe what it was like in the beginning, which movie was the first one, and who started this industry.
  • Tactics on dealing with noisy children. Sometimes kids can be very loud, especially in public places. Write about different tactics that can help with this issue.
  • The effects of climate change  on the water cycle.  Climate change has affected the water cycle significantly. Your task is to explain how.
  • The best American cities to live in. Provide the list of the best cities and explain why you’ve included them.
  • The importance of a healthy diet . Keeping a healthy diet is beneficial in many ways. Write about all the advantages it brings.
  • Who can become an entrepreneur? Entrepreneurship is not for everybody. In this essay, you can describe the qualities needed for having your own business.
  • The correlation between overpopulation and poverty . Describe how overpopulation leads to poverty and vice versa.
  • The advantages of taking an active vacation.
  • Cultural shock as a part of moving to a different country.
  • The consequences of the first wave of feminism .
  • Synthesis of Tan and Rodriguez’ essays ideas.
  • Difficulties you may encounter during the job interview.
  • How does reading prevent Alzheimer’s disease ?
  • The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses .
  • The connection between  religion and politics  in ruling the country.
  • What can non-verbal signals tell you about a person ?
  • The psychology of leadership .
  • The origins of the most common  stereotypes  about Americans.
  • Role of social media in business communication .
  • The synthesis of personal nursing philosophy concept.
  • Behavioral components of schizophrenia and psychosis.
  • Main components of successful entrepreneurship.
  • Critical components of scientific research.
  • Change in religion and human beliefs throughout history.
  • The effect of global warming on modern life.

Argument Synthesis Paper Topics

The list of topics for the Argument Synthesis Essay:

  • Vaping is better than smoking . People are starting to exchange cigarettes for vapes and e-cigarettes. In what ways are they less harmful?
  • Rich people should pay higher taxes. The same percentage of money doesn’t equal for rich and poor people. Explain why the ones who can afford more should share with others.
  • Depression is a disease . Prove that psychological problems must be recognized as real health issues that should be cured and not ignored.
  • Social media affects young people’s lives. Social media has a massive influence on people. In this essay, you can discuss which life spheres are the most affected.
  • Beauty pageants should be banned. Provide the reasons why they should be banned and tell the reader about psychological problems they can cause.
  • People should cut meat from their diet to stop global warming . Describe how the meat industry influences climate change.
  • The voting age should be 25+. Your task is to show the reasons why the votes of people under 25 should not be taken into account during elections.
  • A healthy lifestyle requires a lot of money.
  • Each healthy man should serve in the military.
  • School bullying should be punished by immediate exclusion.
  • Does friendship exist between men and women?
  • Drinking coffee is a bad habit.
  • Working hard is more important than being talented.
  • Everybody should visit a therapist at least once.
  • Should universities be free ?
  • Artificial intelligence will cause huge unemployment rates.
  • Gaming should not be allowed to children under 18.
  • Components and strategies of social responsibility
  • Integration of relevant ethical theory and conceptual principles in health care
  • Children under 10 should be banned from gadgets .
  • Social media platforms facilitate cyberbullying.
  • Issues of distance education .
  • Social media addiction is a serious disease.
  • Deforestation critically contributes to global warming.
  • Healthcare should be free for everyone.

📑 Synthesis Essay Example & Synthesis Essay Format Tips

Now let’s talk about formatting. There are two writing styles you can use for a synthesis essay: APA or MLA. You need to choose the one that is required for your assignment.

We will start with the paper in APA format. It is usually used in science and education.

And these are MLA formatting rules:

Finally, we’ve prepared a synthesis essay sample for you to check out. Feel free to download the PDF file below:

First introduced in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, affirmative action policies aim to mitigate the discrepancy in opportunities available for underrepresented social groups by taking into account one’s minority background. The policies have become a pressing public issue that obstructs previously marginalized individuals, particularly in the educational environment.

Thank you for reading the ultimate guide on synthesis essay writing. We hope you found it helpful. Don’t forget to share it with your friends. Good luck with your assignments!

🔍 References

  • Writing a Synthesis Essay: Bowling Green State University
  • What Is Synthesis: University of Manitoba
  • Synthesis: Biology Online
  • Reading Strategies: Difference Summarizing and Synthesizing: WordPress
  • Summary, Analysis, Synthesis Definitions: University of Utah
  • Argumentative Synthesis: University of Arkansas
  • How to Synthesize Written Information: Simply Psychology
  • Mapping of Synthesis Essay: University of Nevada, Reno
  • Writing a Literature Review and Using a Synthesis Matrix: Florida International University
  • Synthesis Essay: Cleveland State University
  • Literature Review: Synthesizing Multiple Sources: Louisiana State University
  • Writing a Conclusion: Texas Women’s University
  • General APA Guidelines: Purdue University
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One of the basic academic writing activities is researching your topic and what others have said about it. Your goal should be to draw thoughts, observations, and claims about your topic from your research. We call this process of drawing from multiple sources “ synthesis .” Click on the accordion items below for more information.

Definition, Use, and Sample Synthesis

Synthesis defined.

Synthesis Emerges from Analysis

Synthesis emerges from analytical activities we discussed on the previous page: comparative analysis and analysis for cause and effect . For example, to communicate where scholars agree and where they disagree, one must analyze their work for similarities and differences. Also crucial for understanding scholarly discourse is understanding how a particular work of scholarship shapes the scholarship of others, causing them to head in new directions.

When Should Synthesis Be Used?

When to Use Synthesis

Many college assignments require synthesis. A literature review, for example, requires that you make explanatory claims regarding a body of research. These should go beyond summary (mere description) to provide helpful characterizations that aid in understanding. Literature reviews can stand on their own, but often they are a part of a research paper, and research papers are where you will probably use synthesis most often.

The purpose of a research paper is to derive meaning from a body of information collected through research. It is your job, as the writer, to communicate that meaning to your readers. Doing this requires that you develop an informed and educated opinion of what your research suggests about your subject. Communicating this opinion requires synthesis.

Sample Synthesis

In 1655, an embassy of Dutch Jews led by Rabbi Menassah ben Israel traveled to London to meet with the Commonwealth’s new Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell. The informal “Readmission” of Jews—who had been expelled from England by royal edict in 1290—resulting from the Whitehall conference was once hailed as a high point in the history of toleration. Yet in recent years, scholars have increasingly challenged the progressive nature of this event, both in its substance and its motivation (Kaplan 2007; Katznelson 2010; Walsham 2006) . “Toleration” in this case, as in many others, did not entail religious freedom or civic equality; Jews in England were granted legal residency and permitted to worship privately, but citizenship, public worship, and the printing of anything that “opposeth the Christian religion” remained off the cards. As for its motivation, Edward Whalley’s twofold argument was representative: the Jews “will bring in much wealth into this Commonwealth: and where wee both pray for theyre conversion and beleeve it shal be, I knowe not why wee shold deny the means” (Marshall 2006, 381–82) 

(Bejan, 2015, p. 1103).

The author of the above passage, Teresa Bejan, has synthesized the work of a number of other scholars (Kaplan, Katznelson, Walsham, and Marshall) to situate her argument.  Note how not all of these scholars are directly quoted, but they are cited because their work forms the basis of Bejan's work.

Key Takeaways

  • Synthesizing allows you to carry an argument or stance you adopt within a paper in your own words, based on conclusions you have come to about the topic.
  • Synthesizing contributes to confidence about your stance and topic.

Mailing Address: 3501 University Blvd. East, Adelphi, MD 20783 This work is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License . © 2022 UMGC. All links to external sites were verified at the time of publication. UMGC is not responsible for the validity or integrity of information located at external sites.

Table of Contents: Online Guide to Writing

Chapter 1: College Writing

How Does College Writing Differ from Workplace Writing?

What Is College Writing?

Why So Much Emphasis on Writing?

Chapter 2: The Writing Process

Doing Exploratory Research

Getting from Notes to Your Draft

Introduction

Prewriting - Techniques to Get Started - Mining Your Intuition

Prewriting: Targeting Your Audience

Prewriting: Techniques to Get Started

Prewriting: Understanding Your Assignment

Rewriting: Being Your Own Critic

Rewriting: Creating a Revision Strategy

Rewriting: Getting Feedback

Rewriting: The Final Draft

Techniques to Get Started - Outlining

Techniques to Get Started - Using Systematic Techniques

Thesis Statement and Controlling Idea

Writing: Getting from Notes to Your Draft - Freewriting

Writing: Getting from Notes to Your Draft - Summarizing Your Ideas

Writing: Outlining What You Will Write

Chapter 3: Thinking Strategies

A Word About Style, Voice, and Tone

A Word About Style, Voice, and Tone: Style Through Vocabulary and Diction

Critical Strategies and Writing: Analysis

Critical Strategies and Writing: Evaluation

Critical Strategies and Writing: Persuasion

Critical Strategies and Writing: Synthesis

Developing a Paper Using Strategies

Kinds of Assignments You Will Write

Patterns for Presenting Information

Patterns for Presenting Information: Critiques

Patterns for Presenting Information: Discussing Raw Data

Patterns for Presenting Information: General-to-Specific Pattern

Patterns for Presenting Information: Problem-Cause-Solution Pattern

Patterns for Presenting Information: Specific-to-General Pattern

Patterns for Presenting Information: Summaries and Abstracts

Supporting with Research and Examples

Writing Essay Examinations

Writing Essay Examinations: Make Your Answer Relevant and Complete

Writing Essay Examinations: Organize Thinking Before Writing

Writing Essay Examinations: Read and Understand the Question

Chapter 4: The Research Process

Planning and Writing a Research Paper

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Ask a Research Question

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Cite Sources

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Collect Evidence

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Decide Your Point of View, or Role, for Your Research

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Draw Conclusions

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Find a Topic and Get an Overview

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Manage Your Resources

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Outline

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Survey the Literature

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Work Your Sources into Your Research Writing

Research Resources: Where Are Research Resources Found? - Human Resources

Research Resources: What Are Research Resources?

Research Resources: Where Are Research Resources Found?

Research Resources: Where Are Research Resources Found? - Electronic Resources

Research Resources: Where Are Research Resources Found? - Print Resources

Structuring the Research Paper: Formal Research Structure

Structuring the Research Paper: Informal Research Structure

The Nature of Research

The Research Assignment: How Should Research Sources Be Evaluated?

The Research Assignment: When Is Research Needed?

The Research Assignment: Why Perform Research?

Chapter 5: Academic Integrity

Academic Integrity

Giving Credit to Sources

Giving Credit to Sources: Copyright Laws

Giving Credit to Sources: Documentation

Giving Credit to Sources: Style Guides

Integrating Sources

Practicing Academic Integrity

Practicing Academic Integrity: Keeping Accurate Records

Practicing Academic Integrity: Managing Source Material

Practicing Academic Integrity: Managing Source Material - Paraphrasing Your Source

Practicing Academic Integrity: Managing Source Material - Quoting Your Source

Practicing Academic Integrity: Managing Source Material - Summarizing Your Sources

Types of Documentation

Types of Documentation: Bibliographies and Source Lists

Types of Documentation: Citing World Wide Web Sources

Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations

Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations - APA Style

Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations - CSE/CBE Style

Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations - Chicago Style

Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations - MLA Style

Types of Documentation: Note Citations

Chapter 6: Using Library Resources

Finding Library Resources

Chapter 7: Assessing Your Writing

How Is Writing Graded?

How Is Writing Graded?: A General Assessment Tool

The Draft Stage

The Draft Stage: The First Draft

The Draft Stage: The Revision Process and the Final Draft

The Draft Stage: Using Feedback

The Research Stage

Using Assessment to Improve Your Writing

Chapter 8: Other Frequently Assigned Papers

Reviews and Reaction Papers: Article and Book Reviews

Reviews and Reaction Papers: Reaction Papers

Writing Arguments

Writing Arguments: Adapting the Argument Structure

Writing Arguments: Purposes of Argument

Writing Arguments: References to Consult for Writing Arguments

Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Anticipate Active Opposition

Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Determine Your Organization

Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Develop Your Argument

Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Introduce Your Argument

Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - State Your Thesis or Proposition

Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Write Your Conclusion

Writing Arguments: Types of Argument

Appendix A: Books to Help Improve Your Writing

Dictionaries

General Style Manuals

Researching on the Internet

Special Style Manuals

Writing Handbooks

Appendix B: Collaborative Writing and Peer Reviewing

Collaborative Writing: Assignments to Accompany the Group Project

Collaborative Writing: Informal Progress Report

Collaborative Writing: Issues to Resolve

Collaborative Writing: Methodology

Collaborative Writing: Peer Evaluation

Collaborative Writing: Tasks of Collaborative Writing Group Members

Collaborative Writing: Writing Plan

General Introduction

Peer Reviewing

Appendix C: Developing an Improvement Plan

Working with Your Instructor’s Comments and Grades

Appendix D: Writing Plan and Project Schedule

Devising a Writing Project Plan and Schedule

Reviewing Your Plan with Others

By using our website you agree to our use of cookies. Learn more about how we use cookies by reading our  Privacy Policy .

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How to Write a Synthesis Essay

Last Updated: January 15, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 1,115,614 times.

Writing a synthesis essay requires the ability to digest information and present it in an organized fashion. While this skill is developed in high school and college classes, it translates to the business and advertising world as well. Scroll down to Step 1 to begin learning how to write a synthesis essay.

Examining Your Topic

Step 1 Understand the concept of a synthesis essay.

  • Argument synthesis: This type of essay has a strong thesis statement that presents the writer's point of view. It organizes relevant information gathered from research in a logical manner to support the thesis' point of view. Business white papers known as position papers often take this form. This is the type of synthesis essay that students will write during the AP test.
  • Review: Often written as a preliminary essay to an argument synthesis, a review essay is a discussion of what has been written previously on a topic, with a critical analysis of the sources covered. Its unstated thesis is usually that more research needs to be done in that area or that the topic problem has not been adequately addressed. This type of paper is common in social science classes and in medicine.
  • Explanatory/background synthesis: This type of essay helps readers understand a topic by categorizing facts and presenting them to further the reader's understanding. It does not advocate a particular point of view, and if it has a thesis statement, the thesis is a weak one. Some business white papers take this form, although they are more likely to have a point of view, if understated.

Step 2 Choose a topic suitable for a synthesis essay.

  • Example of a broad topic narrowed down into a reasonable synthesis essay topic: Instead of the broad topic of Social Media, you could discuss your view on the effects texting has had on the English language.
  • If you've been assigned a topic as part of a class, make sure you read the prompt carefully and fully understand it.

Step 3 Choose and read your sources carefully.

  • Keep in mind that it's better to do three sources well than to do five sources incompletely.
  • Annotate each source by writing notes in the margins. This allows you to keep track of your train of thought, developing ideas, etc.

Step 4 Develop a thesis...

  • Example: Texting has had a positive impact on the English language as it has helped the millennial generation create their own form of the language.

Step 5 Re-read your source material for items to support your thesis.

  • If you wish to take on a claim by an opponent of your idea, and to poke holes in it, you should also find some ideas or quotes that go against your thesis statement, and plan ways to disprove them. This is called a concession, refutation, or rebuttal, which can strengthen your argument if you do it well.
  • Example : For the thesis statement listed above, excellent sources would include quotes from linguists discussing the new words that have developed through 'text-speak', statistics that show the English language has evolved with almost every generation, and facts that show students still have the ability to write with the use of grammar and spelling (which your opponents would bring up as the main reason texting has had a negative effect on the English language).

Outlining Your Essay

Step 1 Outline the structure of your thesis.

  • The introductory paragraph: 1. An introductory sentence that acts as a hook, capturing the reader's interest. 2. Identification of the issue you will be discussing. 3. Your thesis statement.
  • The body paragraphs: 1. Topic sentence that gives one reason to support your thesis. 2. Your explanation and opinion of the topic sentence. 3. Support from your sources that backs up the claim you just made. 4. Explanation of the significance of the source(s).
  • The conclusion paragraph: 1. State further significance of your topic from the evidence and reasons you discussed in the essay. 2. A profound thought or thoughtful ending for your paper.

Step 2 Use a more creative structure to present your thesis.

  • Example/illustration. This may be a detailed recount, summary, or direct quote from your source material that provides major support for your point of view. You may use more than one example or illustration, if your paper calls for it. You should not, however, make your paper a series of examples at the expense of supporting your thesis.
  • Straw man. With this technique, you present an argument opposed to the argument stated in your thesis, then show the weaknesses and flaws of the counter-argument. This format shows your awareness of the opposition and your readiness to answer it. You present the counter-argument right after your thesis, followed by the evidence to refute it, and end with a positive argument that supports your thesis. [6] X Research source
  • Concession. Essays with concessions are structured similar to those using the straw man technique, but they acknowledge the validity of the counter-argument while showing that the original argument is stronger. This structure is good for presenting papers to readers who hold the opposing viewpoint.
  • Comparison and contrast. This structure compares similarities and contrasts differences between two subjects or sources to show the facets of both. Writing an essay with this structure requires a careful reading of your source material to find both subtle and major points of similarity and difference. This kind of essay can present its arguments source-by-source or by points of similarity or difference.

Step 3 Create an outline appropriate for a background or review synthesis essay.

  • Summary. This structure presents summaries of each of your relevant sources, making a progressively stronger argument for your thesis. It provides specific evidence to support your point of view, but usually omits presenting your own opinions. It's most commonly used for background and review essays.
  • List of reasons. This is a series of sub-points that flow from the main point of your paper as stated in its thesis. Each reason is supported with evidence. As with the summary method, reasons should become progressively more important, with the most important reason last.

Writing Your Essay

Step 1 Write your first draft according to your outline.

  • Your essay should have an introductory paragraph that includes your thesis , a body to present evidence that supports your thesis, and a conclusion that summarizes your point of view.

Step 2 Write in the third person.

  • Lengthy quotes of three lines or more should generally be set off as block quotes to better call attention to them. [8] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source

Finalizing Your Essay

Step 1 Revise your essay.

  • Ask someone else to proofread your paper. The saying “two heads are better than one” still holds true. Ask a friend or colleague what would they add or remove from the paper. Most importantly, does your argument make sense, and is it clearly supported by your sources?

Step 2 Proofread your paper.

  • Read the paper aloud to guarantee that you don't accidentally add in or take out words when reading in your head.
  • If you can, get a friend or classmate to proofread your essay as well.

Step 3  Cite your...

  • Example of citing in an AP synthesis essay: McPherson claims “texting has changed the English language in a positive way--it has given a new generation their own unique way to communicate” (Source E).
  • For college essays, you'll most likely use MLA format. Whichever format you use, be consistent in its use. You may also be asked to use APA or Chicago style.

Step 4 Title your essay.

  • Example title: : English and the iPhone: Exploring the Benefits of 'Text-Speak'

Outline Template

critical synthesis essay example

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Just as your title should fit your essay instead of writing your essay to fit the title, your thesis, once chosen, should direct your subsequent research instead of subsequent research altering your thesis � unless you find you've adopted an unsupportable thesis. Thanks Helpful 21 Not Helpful 8

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  • ↑ https://success.uark.edu/get-help/student-resources/synthesis-paper.php
  • ↑ https://www.unr.edu/writing-speaking-center/student-resources/writing-speaking-resources/mapping-a-synthesis-essay
  • ↑ https://www.bgsu.edu/content/dam/BGSU/learning-commons/documents/writing/synthesis/planning-synthesis-essay.pdf
  • ↑ https://writingcenterofprinceton.com/synthesis-essays-a-step-by-step-how-to-guide/
  • ↑ https://jan.ucc.nau.edu/dso6/synthesis.htm
  • ↑ https://owl.excelsior.edu/argument-and-critical-thinking/logical-fallacies/logical-fallacies-straw-man/
  • ↑ https://writingcommons.org/section/rhetoric/rhetorical-stance/point-of-view/third-person-point-of-view/
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_formatting_quotations.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/proofreading/steps_for_revising.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/proofreading/proofreading_suggestions.html
  • ↑ https://www.edhs.org/ourpages/auto/2010/5/17/41759867/Synthesis%20Essay%20Introduction.pdf
  • ↑ https://writing.umn.edu/sws/assets/pdf/quicktips/titles.pdf

About This Article

Christopher Taylor, PhD

To write a synthesis essay, start by coming up with a thesis statement that you can support using all of the sources you've read for your essay. For example, your thesis statement could be "Texting has had a positive impact on the English language." Once you've got your thesis, go through your sources to find specific quotes, facts, and statistics that back up your claim. Structure your essay so it has an introduction that includes your thesis statement, a body that includes your arguments and evidence, and a conclusion that wraps everything up. For more tips on structuring your synthesis essay, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Synthesis Essay Writing

Barbara P

Learn How to Write a Synthesis Essay Step by Step

Published on: Jun 30, 2019

Last updated on: Nov 21, 2023

Synthesis Essay

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Best Synthesis Essay Topics and Prompt Ideas

Synthesis Essay Outline - Template and Examples

13+ Winning Synthesis Essay Examples For Your Inspiration

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Ever found yourself in a panic, realizing your synthesis essay is due tomorrow, and you're absolutely clueless about where to start?

Asking yourself, 'How do I mix these sources together?' Tackling a synthesis essay can be a headache, but relax!

In this guide, we will walk you through the process of writing a synthesis essay, along with some amazing topics and examples. After reading this guide, you’ll be able to choose an effective topic, assert a strong claim, collect and combine data, and create a well-written and original essay.

So let’s get started!

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What is a Synthesis Essay?

According to the synthesis essay definition,

“It is an essay that takes a stance on a particular topic and then backs it up by combining the data collected from multiple sources. It is a combination and fusion of different sources that have a common point of view and shape a common claim through it.”

When you write a synthesis essay or paper, your goal is to combine different works on the same subject into one cohesive message. This means that you need to show the connection between all of the different sources that you are discussing.

The Role of Synthesis in Academic Research

Synthesis plays a crucial role in academic research by bringing together diverse ideas and information. It helps scholars analyze multiple sources, identify patterns, and construct a comprehensive understanding of a topic. 

This integration strengthens the credibility of research and fosters a deeper insight into complex subjects.

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Synthesis Essay Types

There are two types of a synthesis essay:

  • The Explanatory Synthesis 
  • The Argumentative Synthesis

Let’s take a look at the difference between explanatory vs. argumentative synthesis essays: 

What is an AP Lang Synthesis Essay?

An AP Lang, Advanced Placement Language, is a college-level rhetoric and writing curriculum course. The purpose of assigning such essays is to test and analyze the students’ writing abilities, language command, and understanding capabilities.

For writing this essay, students are given multiple sources to analyze. They are asked to form a claim or argument about the given topic and formulate an effective essay on it.

Synthesis Essay AP Lang

Synthesis Essay Structure

A synthesis essay follows a well-organized structure to effectively convey information and arguments.

The structure typically consists:

  • Introduction
  • Body Paragraphs

The body section is where the flexibility comes into play. Depending on the complexity of the topic and the depth of analysis, you may have more than three body paragraphs. 

Here is a simple synthesis essay outline:

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How to Write a Synthesis Essay?

Writing a synthesis essay involves several detailed steps to ensure a coherent and well-supported argument. Here's a comprehensive guide to write a compelling synthesis essay:

Step 1: Understand the Prompt

First and foremost start your essay prep by carefully reading  the prompt. Identify the central theme or issue and the specific requirements for the essay.

Step 2: Choose a Suitable Topic

Select a topic that allows for a synthesis of multiple sources. Ensure the topic is neither too broad nor too narrow, providing enough material for analysis.

Example: Select a specific aspect like "The Influence of Social Media on Face-to-Face Communication" to narrow down the broad theme of technology's impact.

Step 3: Conduct Research

Gather information from various sources such as articles, books, and academic journals . Consider both primary and secondary sources to develop a comprehensive understanding of the topic.

Step 4: Develop a Working Thesis

Formulate a clear and concise thesis statement that reflects your main argument. A good thesis should guide the organization of your essay.

Example: "While social media enhances connectivity, its prevalence has resulted in a decline in meaningful face-to-face interactions, altering communication patterns."

Step 5: Create an Outline

Structure a well-organized synthesis essay outline . Plan the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion, allocating specific points and evidence to each section.

Step 6: Write Introduction

Now that you have developed an outline it's time to write the essay. Begin your synthesis essay introduction with a hook to engage readers. Provide background information on the topic and present a strong thesis statement , summarizing your main argument or stance. 

Clearly state the purpose of the synthesis essay.

Step 7: Explain Arguments in Body Paragraphs

Each paragraph should focus on a specific aspect of your argument. Begin with a topic sentence that introduces the main point of the paragraph.

Support your points with evidence from the sources, incorporating quotes or paraphrased content. Analyze and explain how the evidence supports your thesis. Connect the information from different sources to demonstrate synthesis.

Use Source Material Effectively

Integrate quotes or information from sources smoothly into your own writing. Read the sources carefully, and attribute them following the citation style specified in the prompt.

Example: Integrate a study showing a decrease in quality family time due to excessive screen use, attributing the findings to the author (Smith, 2020).

Step 8: Address Counterarguments

Acknowledge and address potential counterarguments. Use techniques like concession or the straw man approach to strengthen your position.

Example: Acknowledge the argument that social media fosters global connections, then refute it by emphasizing the superficial nature of many online interactions.

Step 9: Conclude Your Essay

Summarize the main points discussed in the body paragraphs. Restate your thesis in a conclusive manner.

Provide final insights or implications related to the topic. End with a thought-provoking statement or call to action.

Step 10: Edit and Revise

Review your essay for clarity, coherence, and logical flow. Check for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. Ensure that your essay meets any specific formatting requirements.

Step 11: Create a Bibliography

Cite your sources properly and include a list of all the sources used in your essay. Follow the citation style specified by your instructor (e.g., APA , MLA ). Provide the author's name, title of the source, publication date, and any other relevant information.

Step 12: Final Check 

Before submission, perform a final check to ensure all requirements are met, and the essay is polished and error-free. By following these detailed steps, you can effectively navigate the process of writing a synthesis essay.

Synthesis Essay Examples

Let’s take a look at some synthesis essay pdf examples to get an idea how to perfectly structure your essay: 

Synthesis Essay Example

Synthesis Essay Thesis Examples

Argumentative Synthesis Essay Example

Explanatory Synthesis Essay Sample

Need more sample essays for inspiration? We have got you covered in our “ synthesis essay examples ” blog. Check it out!

Synthesis Essay Topics

Synthesis essay topics often revolve around current and relevant issues. Here are some frequently asked synthesis essay topics:

  • Impact of Social Media on Society
  • Climate Change and Global Warming
  • Artificial Intelligence in Modern Society
  • Healthcare and Technology
  • The Future of Work
  • Education Reform in the 21st Century
  • Cybersecurity and Privacy
  • Impact of Artificial Sweeteners on Health
  • Criminal Justice Reform
  • Social Equality and Civil Rights Movements

If you are looking for more topic ideas for your synthesis essay read our synthesis essay topics blog!

Synthesis Essay Writing Tips

Here are some useful tips for writing synthesis essays:

Tip #1 Diverse Sources 

Draw from a variety of sources—academic articles, books, and reputable online platforms—to enrich your synthesis and present a well-rounded argument.

Tip #2 Critical Analysis

Evaluate the reliability and credibility of your sources. Consider the biases, motives, and methodologies to ensure a nuanced understanding.

Tip #3 Effective Transitions

Seamlessly connect ideas between paragraphs to maintain a smooth flow. Clear transitions enhance the coherence of your synthesis essay.

Tip #4 Thematic Unity

Align your body paragraphs around key themes, ensuring a cohesive and interconnected exploration of your topic.

Tip #5 Concise Language

Use precise language to convey your ideas, avoiding unnecessary verbosity for a more impactful synthesis essay.

Tip #6 Counterarguments

Acknowledge and address opposing viewpoints to strengthen your argument and demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the topic.

Tip #7 Societal Relevance

Highlight the broader implications of your synthesis, emphasizing the societal relevance and real-world applications of your argument.

Tip #8 Varied Sentence Structure

Incorporate a mix of sentence structures—simple, compound, and complex—to enhance the readability of your synthesis essay.

In conclusion, we've covered all the necessary steps to write an outstanding synthesis essay. This guide provides the essential tools and insights for effective synthesis, from understanding the process to crafting a cohesive argument.

We hope this comprehensive guide has empowered you to tackle your synthesis essays with confidence.

If you ever find yourself short on time or needing extra support, MyPerfectWords.com is here for you. Our expert writing service can help you with any writing assignment, ensuring top-quality work is delivered on time.

Let us help you succeed in your academic journey!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a synthesis essay argumentative.

A synthesis essay does present an argument however it is not a type of argumentative essay. Both have entirely different purposes and outlines.

Do you use quotes in a synthesis essay?

Quotes should only be used as short phrases or snippets so they don't get confusing for readers. When working with sources in your essay, it's important to keep the flow of written words and not disrupt any sentences.

What are the goals of a synthesis essay?

Barbara P (Literature, Marketing)

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

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  • Synthesizing Sources | Examples & Synthesis Matrix

Synthesizing Sources | Examples & Synthesis Matrix

Published on July 4, 2022 by Eoghan Ryan . Revised on May 31, 2023.

Synthesizing sources involves combining the work of other scholars to provide new insights. It’s a way of integrating sources that helps situate your work in relation to existing research.

Synthesizing sources involves more than just summarizing . You must emphasize how each source contributes to current debates, highlighting points of (dis)agreement and putting the sources in conversation with each other.

You might synthesize sources in your literature review to give an overview of the field or throughout your research paper when you want to position your work in relation to existing research.

Table of contents

Example of synthesizing sources, how to synthesize sources, synthesis matrix, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about synthesizing sources.

Let’s take a look at an example where sources are not properly synthesized, and then see what can be done to improve it.

This paragraph provides no context for the information and does not explain the relationships between the sources described. It also doesn’t analyze the sources or consider gaps in existing research.

Research on the barriers to second language acquisition has primarily focused on age-related difficulties. Building on Lenneberg’s (1967) theory of a critical period of language acquisition, Johnson and Newport (1988) tested Lenneberg’s idea in the context of second language acquisition. Their research seemed to confirm that young learners acquire a second language more easily than older learners. Recent research has considered other potential barriers to language acquisition. Schepens, van Hout, and van der Slik (2022) have revealed that the difficulties of learning a second language at an older age are compounded by dissimilarity between a learner’s first language and the language they aim to acquire. Further research needs to be carried out to determine whether the difficulty faced by adult monoglot speakers is also faced by adults who acquired a second language during the “critical period.”

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critical synthesis essay example

To synthesize sources, group them around a specific theme or point of contention.

As you read sources, ask:

  • What questions or ideas recur? Do the sources focus on the same points, or do they look at the issue from different angles?
  • How does each source relate to others? Does it confirm or challenge the findings of past research?
  • Where do the sources agree or disagree?

Once you have a clear idea of how each source positions itself, put them in conversation with each other. Analyze and interpret their points of agreement and disagreement. This displays the relationships among sources and creates a sense of coherence.

Consider both implicit and explicit (dis)agreements. Whether one source specifically refutes another or just happens to come to different conclusions without specifically engaging with it, you can mention it in your synthesis either way.

Synthesize your sources using:

  • Topic sentences to introduce the relationship between the sources
  • Signal phrases to attribute ideas to their authors
  • Transition words and phrases to link together different ideas

To more easily determine the similarities and dissimilarities among your sources, you can create a visual representation of their main ideas with a synthesis matrix . This is a tool that you can use when researching and writing your paper, not a part of the final text.

In a synthesis matrix, each column represents one source, and each row represents a common theme or idea among the sources. In the relevant rows, fill in a short summary of how the source treats each theme or topic.

This helps you to clearly see the commonalities or points of divergence among your sources. You can then synthesize these sources in your work by explaining their relationship.

If you want to know more about ChatGPT, AI tools , citation , and plagiarism , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • ChatGPT vs human editor
  • ChatGPT citations
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  • Using ChatGPT for your studies
  • What is ChatGPT?
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  • Common knowledge

Synthesizing sources means comparing and contrasting the work of other scholars to provide new insights.

It involves analyzing and interpreting the points of agreement and disagreement among sources.

You might synthesize sources in your literature review to give an overview of the field of research or throughout your paper when you want to contribute something new to existing research.

A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources (such as books, journal articles, and theses) related to a specific topic or research question .

It is often written as part of a thesis, dissertation , or research paper , in order to situate your work in relation to existing knowledge.

Topic sentences help keep your writing focused and guide the reader through your argument.

In an essay or paper , each paragraph should focus on a single idea. By stating the main idea in the topic sentence, you clarify what the paragraph is about for both yourself and your reader.

At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).

Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

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If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Ryan, E. (2023, May 31). Synthesizing Sources | Examples & Synthesis Matrix. Scribbr. Retrieved February 19, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/working-with-sources/synthesizing-sources/

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Note that these videos were created while APA 6 was the style guide edition in use. There may be some examples of writing that have not been updated to APA 7 guidelines.

Basics of Synthesis

As you incorporate published writing into your own writing, you should aim for synthesis of the material.

Synthesizing requires critical reading and thinking in order to compare different material, highlighting similarities, differences, and connections. When writers synthesize successfully, they present new ideas based on interpretations of other evidence or arguments. You can also think of synthesis as an extension of—or a more complicated form of—analysis. One main difference is that synthesis involves multiple sources, while analysis often focuses on one source.

Conceptually, it can be helpful to think about synthesis existing at both the local (or paragraph) level and the global (or paper) level.

Local Synthesis

Local synthesis occurs at the paragraph level when writers connect individual pieces of evidence from multiple sources to support a paragraph’s main idea and advance a paper’s thesis statement. A common example in academic writing is a scholarly paragraph that includes a main idea, evidence from multiple sources, and analysis of those multiple sources together.

Global Synthesis

Global synthesis occurs at the paper (or, sometimes, section) level when writers connect ideas across paragraphs or sections to create a new narrative whole. A literature review , which can either stand alone or be a section/chapter within a capstone, is a common example of a place where global synthesis is necessary. However, in almost all academic writing, global synthesis is created by and sometimes referred to as good cohesion and flow.

Synthesis in Literature Reviews

While any types of scholarly writing can include synthesis, it is most often discussed in the context of literature reviews. Visit our literature review pages for more information about synthesis in literature reviews.

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How to Synthesize Written Information from Multiple Sources

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When you write a literature review or essay, you have to go beyond just summarizing the articles you’ve read – you need to synthesize the literature to show how it all fits together (and how your own research fits in).

Synthesizing simply means combining. Instead of summarizing the main points of each source in turn, you put together the ideas and findings of multiple sources in order to make an overall point.

At the most basic level, this involves looking for similarities and differences between your sources. Your synthesis should show the reader where the sources overlap and where they diverge.

Unsynthesized Example

Franz (2008) studied undergraduate online students. He looked at 17 females and 18 males and found that none of them liked APA. According to Franz, the evidence suggested that all students are reluctant to learn citations style. Perez (2010) also studies undergraduate students. She looked at 42 females and 50 males and found that males were significantly more inclined to use citation software ( p < .05). Findings suggest that females might graduate sooner. Goldstein (2012) looked at British undergraduates. Among a sample of 50, all females, all confident in their abilities to cite and were eager to write their dissertations.

Synthesized Example

Studies of undergraduate students reveal conflicting conclusions regarding relationships between advanced scholarly study and citation efficacy. Although Franz (2008) found that no participants enjoyed learning citation style, Goldstein (2012) determined in a larger study that all participants watched felt comfortable citing sources, suggesting that variables among participant and control group populations must be examined more closely. Although Perez (2010) expanded on Franz’s original study with a larger, more diverse sample…

Step 1: Organize your sources

After collecting the relevant literature, you’ve got a lot of information to work through, and no clear idea of how it all fits together.

Before you can start writing, you need to organize your notes in a way that allows you to see the relationships between sources.

One way to begin synthesizing the literature is to put your notes into a table. Depending on your topic and the type of literature you’re dealing with, there are a couple of different ways you can organize this.

Summary table

A summary table collates the key points of each source under consistent headings. This is a good approach if your sources tend to have a similar structure – for instance, if they’re all empirical papers.

Each row in the table lists one source, and each column identifies a specific part of the source. You can decide which headings to include based on what’s most relevant to the literature you’re dealing with.

For example, you might include columns for things like aims, methods, variables, population, sample size, and conclusion.

For each study, you briefly summarize each of these aspects. You can also include columns for your own evaluation and analysis.

summary table for synthesizing the literature

The summary table gives you a quick overview of the key points of each source. This allows you to group sources by relevant similarities, as well as noticing important differences or contradictions in their findings.

Synthesis matrix

A synthesis matrix is useful when your sources are more varied in their purpose and structure – for example, when you’re dealing with books and essays making various different arguments about a topic.

Each column in the table lists one source. Each row is labeled with a specific concept, topic or theme that recurs across all or most of the sources.

Then, for each source, you summarize the main points or arguments related to the theme.

synthesis matrix

The purposes of the table is to identify the common points that connect the sources, as well as identifying points where they diverge or disagree.

Step 2: Outline your structure

Now you should have a clear overview of the main connections and differences between the sources you’ve read. Next, you need to decide how you’ll group them together and the order in which you’ll discuss them.

For shorter papers, your outline can just identify the focus of each paragraph; for longer papers, you might want to divide it into sections with headings.

There are a few different approaches you can take to help you structure your synthesis.

If your sources cover a broad time period, and you found patterns in how researchers approached the topic over time, you can organize your discussion chronologically .

That doesn’t mean you just summarize each paper in chronological order; instead, you should group articles into time periods and identify what they have in common, as well as signalling important turning points or developments in the literature.

If the literature covers various different topics, you can organize it thematically .

That means that each paragraph or section focuses on a specific theme and explains how that theme is approached in the literature.

synthesizing the literature using themes

Source Used with Permission: The Chicago School

If you’re drawing on literature from various different fields or they use a wide variety of research methods, you can organize your sources methodologically .

That means grouping together studies based on the type of research they did and discussing the findings that emerged from each method.

If your topic involves a debate between different schools of thought, you can organize it theoretically .

That means comparing the different theories that have been developed and grouping together papers based on the position or perspective they take on the topic, as well as evaluating which arguments are most convincing.

Step 3: Write paragraphs with topic sentences

What sets a synthesis apart from a summary is that it combines various sources. The easiest way to think about this is that each paragraph should discuss a few different sources, and you should be able to condense the overall point of the paragraph into one sentence.

This is called a topic sentence , and it usually appears at the start of the paragraph. The topic sentence signals what the whole paragraph is about; every sentence in the paragraph should be clearly related to it.

A topic sentence can be a simple summary of the paragraph’s content:

“Early research on [x] focused heavily on [y].”

For an effective synthesis, you can use topic sentences to link back to the previous paragraph, highlighting a point of debate or critique:

“Several scholars have pointed out the flaws in this approach.” “While recent research has attempted to address the problem, many of these studies have methodological flaws that limit their validity.”

By using topic sentences, you can ensure that your paragraphs are coherent and clearly show the connections between the articles you are discussing.

As you write your paragraphs, avoid quoting directly from sources: use your own words to explain the commonalities and differences that you found in the literature.

Don’t try to cover every single point from every single source – the key to synthesizing is to extract the most important and relevant information and combine it to give your reader an overall picture of the state of knowledge on your topic.

Step 4: Revise, edit and proofread

Like any other piece of academic writing, synthesizing literature doesn’t happen all in one go – it involves redrafting, revising, editing and proofreading your work.

Checklist for Synthesis

  •   Do I introduce the paragraph with a clear, focused topic sentence?
  •   Do I discuss more than one source in the paragraph?
  •   Do I mention only the most relevant findings, rather than describing every part of the studies?
  •   Do I discuss the similarities or differences between the sources, rather than summarizing each source in turn?
  •   Do I put the findings or arguments of the sources in my own words?
  •   Is the paragraph organized around a single idea?
  •   Is the paragraph directly relevant to my research question or topic?
  •   Is there a logical transition from this paragraph to the next one?

Further Information

How to Synthesise: a Step-by-Step Approach

Help…I”ve Been Asked to Synthesize!

Learn how to Synthesise (combine information from sources)

How to write a Psychology Essay

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Synthesizing Sources

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When you look for areas where your sources agree or disagree and try to draw broader conclusions about your topic based on what your sources say, you are engaging in synthesis. Writing a research paper usually requires synthesizing the available sources in order to provide new insight or a different perspective into your particular topic (as opposed to simply restating what each individual source says about your research topic).

Note that synthesizing is not the same as summarizing.  

  • A summary restates the information in one or more sources without providing new insight or reaching new conclusions.
  • A synthesis draws on multiple sources to reach a broader conclusion.

There are two types of syntheses: explanatory syntheses and argumentative syntheses . Explanatory syntheses seek to bring sources together to explain a perspective and the reasoning behind it. Argumentative syntheses seek to bring sources together to make an argument. Both types of synthesis involve looking for relationships between sources and drawing conclusions.

In order to successfully synthesize your sources, you might begin by grouping your sources by topic and looking for connections. For example, if you were researching the pros and cons of encouraging healthy eating in children, you would want to separate your sources to find which ones agree with each other and which ones disagree.

After you have a good idea of what your sources are saying, you want to construct your body paragraphs in a way that acknowledges different sources and highlights where you can draw new conclusions.

As you continue synthesizing, here are a few points to remember:

  • Don’t force a relationship between sources if there isn’t one. Not all of your sources have to complement one another.
  • Do your best to highlight the relationships between sources in very clear ways.
  • Don’t ignore any outliers in your research. It’s important to take note of every perspective (even those that disagree with your broader conclusions).

Example Syntheses

Below are two examples of synthesis: one where synthesis is NOT utilized well, and one where it is.

Parents are always trying to find ways to encourage healthy eating in their children. Elena Pearl Ben-Joseph, a doctor and writer for KidsHealth , encourages parents to be role models for their children by not dieting or vocalizing concerns about their body image. The first popular diet began in 1863. William Banting named it the “Banting” diet after himself, and it consisted of eating fruits, vegetables, meat, and dry wine. Despite the fact that dieting has been around for over a hundred and fifty years, parents should not diet because it hinders children’s understanding of healthy eating.

In this sample paragraph, the paragraph begins with one idea then drastically shifts to another. Rather than comparing the sources, the author simply describes their content. This leads the paragraph to veer in an different direction at the end, and it prevents the paragraph from expressing any strong arguments or conclusions.

An example of a stronger synthesis can be found below.

Parents are always trying to find ways to encourage healthy eating in their children. Different scientists and educators have different strategies for promoting a well-rounded diet while still encouraging body positivity in children. David R. Just and Joseph Price suggest in their article “Using Incentives to Encourage Healthy Eating in Children” that children are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables if they are given a reward (855-856). Similarly, Elena Pearl Ben-Joseph, a doctor and writer for Kids Health , encourages parents to be role models for their children. She states that “parents who are always dieting or complaining about their bodies may foster these same negative feelings in their kids. Try to keep a positive approach about food” (Ben-Joseph). Martha J. Nepper and Weiwen Chai support Ben-Joseph’s suggestions in their article “Parents’ Barriers and Strategies to Promote Healthy Eating among School-age Children.” Nepper and Chai note, “Parents felt that patience, consistency, educating themselves on proper nutrition, and having more healthy foods available in the home were important strategies when developing healthy eating habits for their children.” By following some of these ideas, parents can help their children develop healthy eating habits while still maintaining body positivity.

In this example, the author puts different sources in conversation with one another. Rather than simply describing the content of the sources in order, the author uses transitions (like "similarly") and makes the relationship between the sources evident.

critical synthesis essay example

How to Write a Critical Synthesis Essay

How to Write a Critical Synthesis Essay at SolidEssay.com

Under “criticism” you should not understand something like “being critical to a given standpoint” but rather search causal chains and logical order. Critical thinking is the basis of contemporary society, as it does not admit the existence of absolute truths or absolute values. One always should prove their thesis in a rational manner, no matter who they are or what have they done before. No one is protected from criticism, and actually only by critical thinking can we achieve more certainty and gain more knowledge. In short, criticism is to be comprehended in its opposition to dogmatism, i.e. the attitude that there are eternal, everlasting and absolute truths.

Synthesis is a method which is related to integration of different points of view and different sides of one and the same issue. In contrast with analysis, synthesis starts from the particulars and concludes with universal statements (but they are not dogmatical). For example, if an analytical procedure comprises bringing a problem down to its basic elements, a synthesis is always focused on bringing these parts and elements together, in order to reach an innovative interpretation of the problem.

This method has the following advantages:

  • it takes into account various points of view.
  • it is of heuristic essence (it can lead very often to new and surprising conclusions).
  • it reflects the character of reality better, since the world consists of integrated elements (which only our intellect conceives as separate elements).

How to write a critical synthesis essay – 10 things you should do

It is pretty hard writing a critical synthesis essay without good preparation. Hence, it is recommended to plan your work well in advance, and also to collect the required information according to the main thesis of the paper.

1. Speak with your instructor about the topic

Tell him/her about your ideas and working hypothesis. Listen to their advice.

2. Find an appropriate topic for a critical synthesis essay

Be careful because topics which you are unfamiliar with will take you a lot of time (you should be more effective).

3. Manage your time

Plan how long it will take you to collect information, to write the first draft and to revise it. For a short essay 3 weeks would be enough.

4. Define precisely your thesis

Remember that the thesis cannot be changed during the writing process. Try to relate the thesis to the topic.

5. Find reliable sources

For example, not “opinions” on the forums or newspaper articles written by ignorants.

6. Be pluralistic

Present several points of view on the topic (at least two, at most five, but this depends on the length of the paper).

7. Discern facts from opinions

When you refer to facts, always emphasize this.

8. Present your arguments smoothly, without logical leaps

For example, arguments should be logically ordered and related to each other.

9. Cite correctly and always refer to the correct title and page

Be careful, particularly with the page numbers.

10. Follow only one academic style of reference (MLA, APA, Chicago , and so forth)

The critical synthesis essay does not intend to compare, to describe, or merely to present information. On the contrary, you have to integrate particular elements from each point of view, so that they form a unified conception. This would be an ideal case of critical synthesis. Thus, by following our instructions you will know more about how to write a critical synthesis essay. However, a process of writing cannot be taught only on paper, so you’d better start researching the topic and planning your draft as soon as possible. 

The critical synthesis essay does not intend to compare, to describe, or merely to present information. On the contrary, you have to integrate particular elements from each point of view, so that they form a unified conception. Tweet This

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Synthesising

Developing a strong argument requires you to do more than just summarise the main ideas of each source - an approach that is likely to result in a very descriptive rather than analytical paper. To demonstrate your critical thinking, you must synthesise your sources. Snythesising involves combining multiple sources that share similar ideas.

The following statement, for example, points out a similar approach taken by economists and behavioural scientists when investigating a specific issue:

How to synthesise?

To synthesise:

Identify similar studies

Identify contrasting studies.

  • Where is there agreement?
  • What are the authors' different viewpoints? What explains these differences?
  • What key issues or themes emerge? How do these issues or themes relate to each other (structure)?
  • Use language to explicitly show how the studies are related to each other
  • Write your synthesis in the context of your overall position and arguments

Studies could be similar in a range of ways. Studies can have similar aims, questions, outcomes or make similar arguments. The scholars could belong to the same school of thought (i.e. theory) or adopt the same methodology or approach to their study.

In the following example of a psychology essay on the complex interaction of nature and nurture in face recognition, the student introduces one side of the debate by combining studies that argue that face recognition is 'innate':

It is also important to identify studies that offer alternative arguments, perspectives and approaches to more dominant or traditional scholarship. Even studies that take a broadly similar approach or theory can exhibit important differences. For example, in international relations, the realist school of thought is divided into classical realism and neorealism. Furthermore, there are two variants of neorealism: defensive and offensive. Pointing out these differences and interrogating where these differences come from allows you to make more nuanced arguments and connections.

In the same psychology essay, the student introduces the alternative theory or other side of the debate, drawing together studies that argue the skill to recognise faces comes from 'early visual experience':

Note the use of the word, 'additionally' to indicate that the 2003 study is not alone in making this argument. The student goes on to cite two other studies that support the experience-expectant theory.

Plot the relatedness of the information

When reading and note-taking for your assignments, it is important to look for shared ideas, where there is agreement or consensus on an issue in terms of how that issue should be understood, explained and / or resolved. Also, look for different perspectives and ideas, where scholars disagree or have different findings and conclusions. Can you explain the similarities as well as differences?

Identify key issues and themes

What key issues or themes emerge from mapping the relationship between your sources? Are there macro (big picture, overriding) and micro (smaller, more specific) themes? Is there a clear narrative?

This process may involve reframing, highlighting disagreements and agreements that have not been foregrounded previously in the literature. This process can even lead you to new insights and paradigms, which is more of an expectation if you are writing a PhD thesis but not a coursework assignment.

In this published example, [1] the author draws our attention to criticism levelled at one perspectivefor being 'too broad' from at least two sources, and identifies another source suggesting how this problem could be resolved by defining agency more specifically:

This is an important move by the author, who goes on to acknowledge the useful insights of the compliant agency perspective as embodied in the work of one particular scholar (Mahmood 2005), but ultimately argues that the perspective has limitations:

When synthesising, work out what you wish to highlight based on your overall argument. Make sure you pull out the main ideas of your sources and show their relevance or connection to your task.

Synthesising sources is clearly a complex skill and an important way to combine and integrate multiple sources in your work. However, to achieve even better grades, you need to develop your position and voice, as demonstrated in the Rinaldo example above. What do you think about the various arguments and issues? Make it clear to readers where you stand on the specific issues you have identified and why. Distinguish your ideas from others' by showing your critical analysis and developing your voice.

As you will see in the next section on style and authorial voice, developing your voice requires declaring your affinity to certain ideas / arguments and not others within a debate. Avoid fence sitting or ambiguity about where you stand on certain issues or how you feel about the contribution of particular research to knowledge.

[1]  Adapted from Rinaldo, R 2014, 'Pious and critical: Muslim women activists and the question of Agency', Gender & Society , vol. 28, no. 6, p. 828.

Using sources

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Summarising and paraphrasing

Style and authorial voice

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How to Write a Synthesis Essay?

13 June, 2020

16 minutes read

Author:  Tomas White

We’ve all wondered how to write a synthesis essay. Synthesis papers are hard to write and offering general advice on them is even harder. However, we will give it a try! Thanks to our expertise and excellent understanding of the subject, you can learn how to write a synthesis essay in no time. So, let’s dive in!

Synthesis Essay

An excellent synthesis essay is based on in-depth analysis of multiple sources. Often it is the sources that dictate the style and method of writing used to analyze, debate, and argue about the ideas in the source material.

What is a Synthesis Essay?

A synthesis essay is a discussion that is based on two or more sources that can come from various places (television, radio, adverts, lectures) but, frankly, it mostly centers on written pieces. Students can be often be assigned to write these types of essays in History class. Their teachers might ask them to analyze a few sources talking about a single issue and synthesize them.

what does synthesize mean

What Does it Mean to Synthesize a Text?

The definition of synthesis is ‘the combination of components or elements to form a connected whole. So, to synthesize a text you have to combine information from a number of sources into a coherent paper.

Sure, dictionary talk on synthesis essay writing never makes much sense. So, to help you out here:

To synthesize your paper means to form a new perspective on an issue by placing extracts from sources next to each other.

One thing a lot of students have trouble with is understanding the difference between synthesizing a text and summarizing it . A summary of a synthesis essay reiterates the critical points of the text to provide an overview. Meanwhile, synthesis moves beyond this by contrasting the critical points of your knowledge on a subject to what other sources say about it.

Different Types of Synthesis Essays

There are mainly two types of synthesis essays – expository and argumentative.

Types of synthesis essays

An expository essay explains the issue in as much detail as possible. Expository synthesis essay can also be called research synthesis essay at times. As an excellent synthesis essay example, you can check out any literature review on issues related to the social sciences, such as sociology, linguistics, or psychology. Alternatively, look for synthesis essay examples in books on History.

An argumentative synthesis essay is one where you’re using the source material to prove your claim by citing credible conflicting theories, experiments where the theory was falsified, quotes or statistics. You’re not seeking to explain. You aim to understand how to persuade and write an argumentative essay that supports and proves your argument.

The Purpose of a Synthesis Essay

The purpose of a synthesis essay depends on the type of essay you’ve received, the question that was set and its subject.

The purpose of a synthesis essay

Advanced high-grade essays must demonstrate these four things:

  • Your understanding of the major issues presented in the synthesis essay.
  • Your understanding of the smaller issues in the sources.
  • Critical reading, analytical and evaluation skills.
  • Your ability to develop an argument.

Basically, the purpose of writing a synthesis essay is to assess your ability to form and defend a viewpoint using source materials.

In general, the process of writing a synthesis essay consists of six steps:

  • Analyzing the source.
  • Choosing an interesting title.
  • Building an outline.
  • Crafting an introduction.
  • Developing the main body paragraphs.
  • Writing a conclusion.

So, if you are wondering how to write a good synthesis essay, we’ve got your back!

Now, let’s take a closer look at each one of these points.

Analyzing the Sources

If you have been assigned sources for your synthesis essay, start with reading them in-depth, drawing out how they connect and looking for common themes. Thus, if you are making a comparison on how money is presented in literature, look for what the texts are saying about society’s perceptions of wealth.

It goes without saying that you have to start with the sources. If there are two different perspectives in sociology, see what they have in common before you start working on a synthesis essay.

As you start to build a thread of interest, you can build up an argument or a thesis statement . It’s best to choose sources that encourage discussion.

And unless you lived under a rock you know that the best way to draw connections and threads together is by using some visual aid or tool. This can save you hours of work and take your synthesis essay to a new level.

Choosing an Interesting Title

Start with a working title based on the core issue you’re writing about. Don’t worry about the first draft of your synthesis essay. You’ll come back, clean it, and make it compelling later.

Besides, if you have been given a title, the taking out the keywords or the question can help you focus on the task too.

Nevertheless, bear in mind that the title has to be interesting. It should specify the problem and intrigue the audience. They need to want to keep reading your synthesis essay and to dig a little deeper into your exciting subject. In other words, grab their attention from the start and keep them on the hook!

Related Posts: Argumentative essay topics list

How to Write a Synthesis Essay Outline

Now, that you have studied the sources, understand the issue better and even have an interesting title for your paper, make sure you know how to create a perfect outline for your piece. It will keep you focused as you dive into the writing process and won’t let you lose your sight of the thesis.

As a rule, synthesis essay structure consists of:

  • An introduction with a hook and a thesis statement;
  • Main body paragraphs with each one of them supporting the thesis;
  • A conclusion to summarize the whole piece.

Finally, comes the time to get the show on the road.

We will start the process with an introduction. After all, that’s where it all begins!

Crafting an Introduction to a Synthesis Essay

How to write an introduction to a synthesis essay

An introduction to a synthesis essay should:

Introduce the Topic You’re Discussing.

This is used to clarify the theme or topic you will focus on based on the sources you chose. Here’s an example of a synthesis essay introduction: ‘The sources all discuss and agree that climate change is a serious problem that the world is facing today but disagree over what causes the problems and the solutions to it.’

Specify the Main Sources.

Let the readers know what you are basing your synthesis essay on. And explain how the theme or topic emerges in the text, or how the author in each text addresses the idea and why it is important. For example, ‘Mr. Believer’s speech on climate change recognizes that there is a real threat from the climate affecting the planet. He states that measures should be taken to reduce C02 levels. Meanwhile, Mr. Doubter’s speech questions the science behind the above-mentioned plan using the anecdotal evidence to suggest that it’s a natural change not affected by man.’

Introduce the Thesis Statement.

At the end of the introductory paragraph of a synthesis essay comes a thesis statement. It should answer the question succinctly and state your position on the issue or title of the essay. Moreover, it should explain why this issue is important and how the world would be different without you raising this problem.

If you are not sure how to write a thesis statement , here is our complete guide to help you out!

Here is how your thesis statement should go: ‘Believer makes a compelling argument about how dangerous the climate change is as well as why we need to take an action now to prevent further damage by lowering the C02 emission.’

This is what a comprehensive introduction should look like. Now, let’s move on to the next section of your synthesis essay.

Developing Main Body Paragraphs According to the MEAL Approach

An excellent way to structure the body paragraphs is in applying the MEAL acronym – Main Idea, Evidence and Analysis and Link Back.

MEAL approach to writing a synthesis essay

If that doesn’t make much sense to you, let’s see what it stands for when it comes to synthesis essay.

This is where you want to make a claim on the topic that presents an argument or an author’s position. With the climate change issue as the main subject of a synthesis essay, it can go something like this: “People may try to pass the climate change off as a hoax. However, there is an undeniable link between the human intrusion and CO2 emission problem on the planet.”

The evidence is a quote or a fact or a paraphrase from the sources you have been provided for a synthesis essay. ‘Mr. Believer states that ‘CO2 is the cause of climate change’ supporting his statement with credible scientific evidence.’

At this stage of writing a synthesis essay, you need to specify how the evidence above proves your argument. ‘This demonstrates the global warming theory has significant backing in the scientific community.’

This is just a link back to the central claim of your synthesis essay. ‘Although causal evidence cannot scientifically prove cause and effect, the number of studies cited in these sources find a correlation between an increase in CO2 emission and climate change.’

Last but not least comes a conclusion. Don’t underestimate its potential in the synthesis essay: after all, this is often the only thing the readers will remember after finishing reading your piece.

Writing a Conclusion

It is vital to ensure that a conclusion has proper structure too.

  • Restate the thesis statement. Remind the readers what the main point of your synthesis essay was. It is always a good idea to help them remember it.
  • Mention the evidence. You used various sources to support your thesis statement in a synthesis essay. And a conclusion is the perfect time and place to remind of them. Don’t take too long though. Just briefly go over each one of them. If someone forgot something and needs a more vivid reminder, they can go back to a particular place in your article and read it.
  • Call to action. This might not be applicable all the time. However, if you are trying to persuade the audience in something, you should definitely make sure that use your chance now to encourage them to take measures after finishing your synthesis essay.

All in all, in a conclusion you need to reiterate how the topics are a connection, include a suggestion or conclusion to the arguments.

Synthesis Essay Format for an AP English Exam

Knowing what format meets the requirements of the description of an AP English exam is vital. That is why we strongly recommend you to pay close attention to the formatting you use in the AP language and composition synthesis essay.

The only way to ensure you are referencing correctly is by having the reference guide open as you edit.

If you need assistance with proper MLA and APA formatting at an AP English exam synthesis essay, you can check out our complete guides. They will provide you with comprehensive data on the synthesis essay format for AP English exam.

While still on the subject, you might want to check out our guide on how to write a rhetorical analysis essay , since it is a part of an AP English exam. We have all the answers for you here!

By now you are probably wondering what topics you can opt for when crafting a piece in question. We have prepared a list of themes to take a look at to help you out. So, read on!

Interesting Synthesis Essay Topics

When you choose synthesis essay topics, you should think of subjects that have debates around them. Pick issues with grey areas around them or the ones you can form a unique view or opinion on.

Here are a few synthesis essay topic ideas :

  • Do video games lead to an increased violent behavior level among teens?
  • Rehabilitation or capital punishment: Which is the most effective way to deter crime?
  • How did the Treaty of Versailles contribute to the WW2?
  • Social Learning Theory or Biology: Which has the most significant impact on crime?
  • Does the UFO exist?
  • Do people cause the climate change?
  • Should abortions be made legal?
  • How social media impact our day-to-day lives?
  • Is euthanasia a murder or an act of mercy?
  • Is sex education at schools really necessary?

Choose one of our topics for a synthesis essay – and you’ll definitely end up having a great piece with lots of sources to refer to and credible authors to cite.

Now, let’s polish your writing skills and see how general writing differs from the synthesis essay writing in the long run.

Tips on Writing the AP Synthesis Essay

Here are a few tips on how to write the AP lang. synthesis essay with flying colors:

  • Keep a consistent tone and voice throughout the essay.
  • Craft good strong argument and specify what your position regarding it is.
  • Use some of the rhetorical techniques to craft a more compelling evidence (for more on rhetorical essay writing and preparation to the AP English exam or the synthesis essay ap lang. check our guides here).
  • Know the style and purpose of the essay you are writing.
  • Always have a clear synthesis essay thesis statement to help you write with purpose.
  • Bear in mind the importance of the proper APA or MLA writing guides, and always edit with a reference guide in front of you for better results on your AP English synthesis essay.
  • Analyze the existing sources to find common insightful traits between them.
  • Develop a thesis statement for the essay to guide your outline.
  • Map your main points visually. Do these main points have science-backed evidence to support them? Do they contradict each other? Or does one point support your thesis, the other one debunks your theory while the third one contradicts everything mentioned above? Be consistent in your writing and mapping the ideas.

These tips will help you better craft your synthesis essay. And if you’re still having hard times and struggling with the main points of the paper, remember that HandmadeWriting is the best place to ask for help with your synthesis essay! Our professional essay writers are available 24/7. And don’t forget to use our synthesis essay prompts to ease your writing.

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Advanced Placement (AP)

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If you're planning to take the AP Language (or AP Lang) exam , you might already know that 55% of your overall exam score will be based on three essays. The first of the three essays you'll have to write on the AP Language exam is called the "synthesis essay." If you want to earn full points on this portion of the AP Lang Exam, you need to know what a synthesis essay is and what skills are assessed by the AP Lang synthesis essay.

In this article, we'll explain the different aspects of the AP Lang synthesis essay, including what skills you need to demonstrate in your synthesis essay response in order to achieve a good score. We'll also give you a full breakdown of a real AP Lang Synthesis Essay prompt, provide an analysis of an AP Lang synthesis essay example, and give you four tips for how to write a synthesis essay.

Let's get started by taking a closer look at how the AP Lang synthesis essay works!

Synthesis Essay AP Lang: What It Is and How It Works

The AP Lang synthesis essay is the first of three essays included in the Free Response section of the AP Lang exam.

The AP Lang synthesis essay portion of the Free Response section lasts for one hour total . This hour consists of a recommended 15 minute reading period and a 40 minute writing period. Keep in mind that these time allotments are merely recommendations, and that exam takers can parse out the allotted 60 minutes to complete the synthesis essay however they choose.

Now, here's what the structure of the AP Lang synthesis essay looks like. The exam presents six to seven sources that are organized around a specific topic (like alternative energy or eminent domain, which are both past synthesis exam topics).

Of these six to seven sources, at least two are visual , including at least one quantitative source (like a graph or pie chart, for example). The remaining four to five sources are print text-based, and each one contains approximately 500 words.

In addition to six to seven sources, the AP Lang exam provides a written prompt that consists of three paragraphs. The prompt will briefly explain the essay topic, then present a claim that students will respond to in an essay that synthesizes material from at least three of the sources provided.

Here's an example prompt provided by the College Board:

Directions : The following prompt is based on the accompanying six sources.

This question requires you to integrate a variety of sources into a coherent, well-written essay. Refer to the sources to support your position; avoid mere paraphrase or summary. Your argument should be central; the sources should support this argument .

Remember to attribute both direct and indirect citations.

Introduction

Television has been influential in United States presidential elections since the 1960's. But just what is this influence, and how has it affected who is elected? Has it made elections fairer and more accessible, or has it moved candidates from pursuing issues to pursuing image?

Read the following sources (including any introductory information) carefully. Then, in an essay that synthesizes at least three of the sources for support, take a position that defends, challenges, or qualifies the claim that television has had a positive impact on presidential elections.

Refer to the sources as Source A, Source B, etc.; titles are included for your convenience.

Source A (Campbell) Source B (Hart and Triece) Source C (Menand) Source D (Chart) Source E (Ranney) Source F (Koppel)

Like we mentioned earlier, this prompt gives you a topic — which it briefly explains — then asks you to take a position. In this case, you'll have to choose a stance on whether television has positively or negatively affected U.S. elections. You're also given six sources to evaluate and use in your response. Now that you have everything you need, now your job is to write an amazing synthesis essay.

But what does "synthesize" mean, exactly? According to the CollegeBoard, when an essay prompt asks you to synthesize, it means that you should "combine different perspectives from sources to form a support of a coherent position" in writing. In other words, a synthesis essay asks you to state your claim on a topic, then highlight the relationships between several sources that support your claim on that topic. Additionally, you'll need to cite specific evidence from your sources to prove your point.

The synthesis essay counts for six of the total points on the AP Lang exam . Students can receive 0-1 points for writing a thesis statement in the essay, 0-4 based on incorporation of evidence and commentary, and 0-1 points based on sophistication of thought and demonstrated complex understanding of the topic.

You'll be evaluated based on how effectively you do the following in your AP Lang synthesis essay:

Write a thesis that responds to the exam prompt with a defensible position

Provide specific evidence that to support all claims in your line of reasoning from at least three of the sources provided, and clearly and consistently explain how the evidence you include supports your line of reasoning

Demonstrate sophistication of thought by either crafting a thoughtful argument, situating the argument in a broader context, explaining the limitations of an argument

Make rhetorical choices that strengthen your argument and/or employ a vivid and persuasive style throughout your essay.

If your synthesis essay meets the criteria above, then there's a good chance you'll score well on this portion of the AP Lang exam!

If you're looking for even more information on scoring, the College Board has posted the AP Lang Free Response grading rubric on its website. ( You can find it here. ) We recommend taking a close look at it since it includes additional details about the synthesis essay scoring.

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Don't be intimidated...we're going to teach you how to break down even the hardest AP synthesis essay prompt.

Full Breakdown of a Real AP Lang Synthesis Essay Prompt

In this section, we'll teach you how to analyze and respond to a synthesis essay prompt in five easy steps, including suggested time frames for each step of the process.

Step 1: Analyze the Prompt

The very first thing to do when the clock starts running is read and analyze the prompt. To demonstrate how to do this, we'll look at the sample AP Lang synthesis essay prompt below. This prompt comes straight from the 2018 AP Lang exam:

Eminent domain is the power governments have to acquire property from private owners for public use. The rationale behind eminent domain is that governments have greater legal authority over lands within their dominion than do private owners. Eminent domain has been instituted in one way or another throughout the world for hundreds of years.

Carefully read the following six sources, including the introductory information for each source. Then synthesize material from at least three of the sources and incorporate it into a coherent, well-developed essay that defends, challenges, or qualifies the notion that eminent domain is productive and beneficial.

Your argument should be the focus of your essay. Use the sources to develop your argument and explain the reasoning for it. Avoid merely summarizing the sources. Indicate clearly which sources you are drawing from, whether through direct quotation, paraphrase, or summary. You may cite the sources as Source A, Source B, etc., or by using the descriptions in parentheses.

On first read, you might be nervous about how to answer this prompt...especially if you don't know what eminent domain is! But if you break the prompt down into chunks, you'll be able to figure out what the prompt is asking you to do in no time flat.

To get a full understanding of what this prompt wants you to do, you need to identify the most important details in this prompt, paragraph by paragraph. Here's what each paragraph is asking you to do:

  • Paragraph 1: The prompt presents and briefly explains the topic that you'll be writing your synthesis essay about. That topic is the concept of eminent domain.
  • Paragraph 2: The prompt presents a specific claim about the concept of eminent domain in this paragraph: Eminent domain is productive and beneficial. This paragraph instructs you to decide whether you want to defend, challenge, or qualify that claim in your synthesis essay , and use material from at least three of the sources provided in order to do so.
  • Paragraph 3: In the last paragraph of the prompt, the exam gives you clear instructions about how to approach writing your synthesis essay . First, make your argument the focus of the essay. Second, use material from at least three of the sources to develop and explain your argument. Third, provide commentary on the material you include, and provide proper citations when you incorporate quotations, paraphrases, or summaries from the sources provided.

So basically, you'll have to agree with, disagree with, or qualify the claim stated in the prompt, then use at least three sources substantiate your answer. Since you probably don't know much about eminent domain, you'll probably decide on your position after you read the provided sources.

To make good use of your time on the exam, you should spend around 2 minutes reading the prompt and making note of what it's asking you to do. That will leave you plenty of time to read the sources provided, which is the next step to writing a synthesis essay.

Step 2: Read the Sources Carefully

After you closely read the prompt and make note of the most important details, you need to read all of the sources provided. It's tempting to skip one or two sources to save time--but we recommend you don't do this. That's because you'll need a thorough understanding of the topic before you can accurately address the prompt!

For the sample exam prompt included above, there are six sources provided. We're not going to include all of the sources in this article, but you can view the six sources from this question on the 2018 AP Lang exam here . The sources include five print-text sources and one visual source, which is a cartoon.

As you read the sources, it's important to read quickly and carefully. Don't rush! Keep your pencil in hand to quickly mark important passages that you might want to use as evidence in your synthesis. While you're reading the sources and marking passages, you want to think about how the information you're reading influences your stance on the issue (in this case, eminent domain).

When you finish reading, take a few seconds to summarize, in a phrase or sentence, whether the source defends, challenges, or qualifies whether eminent domain is beneficial (which is the claim in the prompt) . Though it might not feel like you have time for this, it's important to give yourself these notes about each source so you know how you can use each one as evidence in your essay.

Here's what we mean: say you want to challenge the idea that eminent domain is useful. If you've jotted down notes about each source and what it's saying, it will be easier for you to pull the relevant information into your outline and your essay.

So how much time should you spend reading the provided sources? The AP Lang exam recommends taking 15 minutes to read the sources . If you spend around two of those minutes reading and breaking down the essay prompt, it makes sense to spend the remaining 13 minutes reading and annotating the sources.

If you finish reading and annotating early, you can always move on to drafting your synthesis essay. But make sure you're taking your time and reading carefully! It's better to use a little extra time reading and understanding the sources now so that you don't have to go back and re-read the sources later.

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A strong thesis will do a lot of heavy lifting in your essay. (See what we did there?)

Step 3: Write a Strong Thesis Statement

After you've analyzed the prompt and thoroughly read the sources, the next thing you need to do in order to write a good synthesis essay is write a strong thesis statement .

The great news about writing a thesis statement for this synthesis essay is that you have all the tools you need to do it at your fingertips. All you have to do in order to write your thesis statement is decide what your stance is in relationship to the topic provided.

In the example prompt provided earlier, you're essentially given three choices for how to frame your thesis statement: you can either defend, challenge, or qualify a claim that's been provided by the prompt, that eminent domain is productive and beneficial . Here's what that means for each option:

If you choose to defend the claim, your job will be to prove that the claim is correct . In this case, you'll have to show that eminent domain is a good thing.

If you choose to challenge the claim, you'll argue that the claim is incorrect. In other words, you'll argue that eminent domain isn't productive or beneficial.

If you choose to qualify, that means you'll agree with part of the claim, but disagree with another part of the claim. For instance, you may argue that eminent domain can be a productive tool for governments, but it's not beneficial for property owners. Or maybe you argue that eminent domain is useful in certain circumstances, but not in others.

When you decide whether you want your synthesis essay to defend, challenge, or qualify that claim, you need to convey that stance clearly in your thesis statement. You want to avoid simply restating the claim provided in the prompt, summarizing the issue without making a coherent claim, or writing a thesis that doesn't respond to the prompt.

Here's an example of a thesis statement that received full points on the eminent domain synthesis essay:

Although eminent domain can be misused to benefit private interests at the expense of citizens, it is a vital tool of any government that intends to have any influence on the land it governs beyond that of written law.

This thesis statement received full points because it states a defensible position and establishes a line of reasoning on the issue of eminent domain. It states the author's position (that some parts of eminent domain are good, but others are bad), then goes on to explain why the author thinks that (it's good because it allows the government to do its job, but it's bad because the government can misuse its power.)

Because this example thesis statement states a defensible position and establishes a line of reasoning, it can be elaborated upon in the body of the essay through sub-claims, supporting evidence, and commentary. And a solid argument is key to getting a six on your synthesis essay for AP Lang!

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Step 4: Create a Bare-Bones Essay Outline

Once you've got your thesis statement drafted, you have the foundation you need to develop a bare bones outline for your synthesis essay. Developing an outline might seem like it's a waste of your precious time, but if you develop your outline well, it will actually save you time when you start writing your essay.

With that in mind, we recommend spending 5 to 10 minutes outlining your synthesis essay . If you use a bare-bones outline like the one below, labeling each piece of content that you need to include in your essay draft, you should be able to develop out the most important pieces of the synthesis before you even draft the actual essay.

To help you see how this can work on test day, we've created a sample outline for you. You can even memorize this outline to help you out on test day! In the outline below, you'll find places to fill in a thesis statement, body paragraph topic sentences, evidence from the sources provided, and commentary :

  • Present the context surrounding the essay topic in a couple of sentences (this is a good place to use what you learned about the major opinions or controversies about the topic from reading your sources).
  • Write a straightforward, clear, and concise thesis statement that presents your stance on the topic
  • Topic sentence presenting first supporting point or claim
  • Evidence #1
  • Commentary on Evidence #1
  • Evidence #2 (if needed)
  • Commentary on Evidence #2 (if needed)
  • Topic sentence presenting second supporting point or claim
  • Topic sentence presenting three supporting point or claim
  • Sums up the main line of reasoning that you developed and defended throughout the essay
  • Reiterates the thesis statement

Taking the time to develop these crucial pieces of the synthesis in a bare-bones outline will give you a map for your final essay. Once you have a map, writing the essay will be much easier.

Step 5: Draft Your Essay Response

The great thing about taking a few minutes to develop an outline is that you can develop it out into your essay draft. After you take about 5 to 10 minutes to outline your synthesis essay, you can use the remaining 30 to 35 minutes to draft your essay and review it.

Since you'll outline your essay before you start drafting, writing the essay should be pretty straightforward. You'll already know how many paragraphs you're going to write, what the topic of each paragraph will be, and what quotations, paraphrases, or summaries you're going to include in each paragraph from the sources provided. You'll just have to fill in one of the most important parts of your synthesis—your commentary.

Commentaries are your explanation of why your evidence supports the argument you've outlined in your thesis. Your commentary is where you actually make your argument, which is why it's such a critical part of your synthesis essay.

When thinking about what to say in your commentary, remember one thing the AP Lang synthesis essay prompt specifies: don't just summarize the sources. Instead, as you provide commentary on the evidence you incorporate, you need to explain how that evidence supports or undermines your thesis statement . You should include commentary that offers a thoughtful or novel perspective on the evidence from your sources to develop your argument.

One very important thing to remember as you draft out your essay is to cite your sources. The AP Lang exam synthesis essay prompt indicates that you can use generic labels for the sources provided (e.g. "Source 1," "Source 2," "Source 3," etc.). The exam prompt will indicate which label corresponds with which source, so you'll need to make sure you pay attention and cite sources accurately. You can cite your sources in the sentence where you introduce a quote, summary, or paraphrase, or you can use a parenthetical citation. Citing your sources affects your score on the synthesis essay, so remembering to do this is important.

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Keep reading for a real-life example of a great AP synthesis essay response!

Real-Life AP Synthesis Essay Example and Analysis

If you're still wondering how to write a synthesis essay, examples of real essays from past AP Lang exams can make things clearer. These real-life student AP synthesis essay responses can be great for helping you understand how to write a synthesis essay that will knock the graders' socks off .

While there are multiple essay examples online, we've chosen one to take a closer look at. We're going to give you a brief analysis of one of these example student synthesis essays from the 2019 AP Lang Exam below!

Example Synthesis Essay AP Lang Response

To get started, let's look at the official prompt for the 2019 synthesis essay:

In response to our society's increasing demand for energy, large-scale wind power has drawn attention from governments and consumers as a potential alternative to traditional materials that fuel our power grids, such as coal, oil, natural gas, water, or even newer sources such as nuclear or solar power. Yet the establishment of large-scale, commercial-grade wind farms is often the subject of controversy for a variety of reasons.

Carefully read the six sources, found on the AP English Language and Composition 2019 Exam (Question 1), including the introductory information for each source. Write an essay that synthesizes material from at least three of the sources and develops your position on the most important factors that an individual or agency should consider when deciding whether to establish a wind farm.

Source A (photo) Source B (Layton) Source C (Seltenrich) Source D (Brown) Source E (Rule) Source F (Molla)

In your response you should do the following:

  • Respond to the prompt with a thesis presents a defensible position.
  • Select and use evidence from at least 3 of the provided sources to support your line of reasoning. Indicate clearly the sources used through direct quotation, paraphrase, or summary. Sources may be cited as Source A, Source B, etc., or by using the description in parentheses.
  • Explain how the evidence supports your line of reasoning.
  • Use appropriate grammar and punctuation in communicating your argument.

Now that you know exactly what the prompt asked students to do on the 2019 AP Lang synthesis essay, here's an AP Lang synthesis essay example, written by a real student on the AP Lang exam in 2019:

[1] The situation has been known for years, and still very little is being done: alternative power is the only way to reliably power the changing world. The draw of power coming from industry and private life is overwhelming current sources of non-renewable power, and with dwindling supplies of fossil fuels, it is merely a matter of time before coal and gas fuel plants are no longer in operation. So one viable alternative is wind power. But as with all things, there are pros and cons. The main factors for power companies to consider when building wind farms are environmental boon, aesthetic, and economic factors.

[2] The environmental benefits of using wind power are well-known and proven. Wind power is, as qualified by Source B, undeniably clean and renewable. From their production requiring very little in the way of dangerous materials to their lack of fuel, besides that which occurs naturally, wind power is by far one of the least environmentally impactful sources of power available. In addition, wind power by way of gearbox and advanced blade materials, has the highest percentage of energy retention. According to Source F, wind power retains 1,164% of the energy put into the system – meaning that it increases the energy converted from fuel (wind) to electricity 10 times! No other method of electricity production is even half that efficient. The efficiency and clean nature of wind power are important to consider, especially because they contribute back to power companies economically.

[3] Economically, wind power is both a boon and a bone to electric companies and other users. For consumers, wind power is very cheap, leading to lower bills than from any other source. Consumers also get an indirect reimbursement by way of taxes (Source D). In one Texan town, McCamey, tax revenue increased 30% from a wind farm being erected in the town. This helps to finance improvements to the town. But, there is no doubt that wind power is also hurting the power companies. Although, as renewable power goes, wind is incredibly cheap, it is still significantly more expensive than fossil fuels. So, while it is helping to cut down on emissions, it costs electric companies more than traditional fossil fuel plants. While the general economic trend is positive, there are some setbacks which must be overcome before wind power can take over as truly more effective than fossil fuels.

[4] Aesthetics may be the greatest setback for power companies. Although there may be significant economic and environmental benefit to wind power, people will always fight to preserve pure, unspoiled land. Unfortunately, not much can be done to improve the visual aesthetics of the turbines. White paint is the most common choice because it "[is] associated with cleanliness." (Source E). But, this can make it stand out like a sore thumb, and make the gargantuan machines seem more out of place. The site can also not be altered because it affects generating capacity. Sound is almost worse of a concern because it interrupts personal productivity by interrupting people's sleep patterns. One thing for power companies to consider is working with turbine manufacturing to make the machines less aesthetically impactful, so as to garner greater public support.

[5] As with most things, wind power has no easy answer. It is the responsibility of the companies building them to weigh the benefits and the consequences. But, by balancing economics, efficiency, and aesthetics, power companies can create a solution which balances human impact with environmental preservation.

And that's an entire AP Lang synthesis essay example, written in response to a real AP Lang exam prompt! It's important to remember AP Lang exam synthesis essay prompts are always similarly structured and worded, and students often respond in around the same number of paragraphs as what you see in the example essay response above.

Next, let's analyze this example essay and talk about what it does effectively, where it could be improved upon, and what score past exam scorers awarded it.

To get started on an analysis of the sample synthesis essay, let's look at the scoring commentary provided by the College Board:

  • For development of thesis, the essay received 1 out of 1 possible points
  • For evidence and commentary, the essay received 4 out of 4 possible points
  • For sophistication of thought, the essay received 0 out of 1 possible points.

This means that the final score for this example essay was a 5 out of 6 possible points . Let's look more closely at the content of the example essay to figure out why it received this score breakdown.

Thesis Development

The thesis statement is one of the three main categories that is taken into consideration when you're awarded points on this portion of the exam. This sample essay received 1 out of 1 total points.

Now, here's why: the thesis statement clearly and concisely conveys a position on the topic presented in the prompt--alternative energy and wind power--and defines the most important factors that power companies should consider when deciding whether to establish a wind farm.

Evidence and Commentary

The second key category taken into consideration when synthesis exams are evaluated is incorporation of evidence and commentary. This sample received 4 out of 4 possible points for this portion of the synthesis essay. At bare minimum, this sample essay meets the requirement mentioned in the prompt that the writer incorporate evidence from at least three of the sources provided.

On top of that, the writer does a good job of connecting the incorporated evidence back to the claim made in the thesis statement through effective commentary. The commentary in this sample essay is effective because it goes beyond just summarizing what the provided sources say. Instead, it explains and analyzes the evidence presented in the selected sources and connects them back to supporting points the writer makes in each body paragraph.

Finally, the writer of the essay also received points for evidence and commentary because the writer developed and supported a consistent line of reasoning throughout the essay . This line of reasoning is summed up in the fourth paragraph in the following sentence: "One thing for power companies to consider is working with turbine manufacturing to make the machines less aesthetically impactful, so as to garner greater public support."

Because the writer did a good job consistently developing their argument and incorporating evidence, they received full marks in this category. So far, so good!

Sophistication of Thought

Now, we know that this essay received a score of 5 out of 6 total points, and the place where the writer lost a point was on the basis of sophistication of thought, for which the writer received 0 out of 1 points. That's because this sample essay makes several generalizations and vague claims where it could have instead made specific claims that support a more balanced argument.

For example, in the following sentence from the 5th paragraph of the sample essay, the writer misses the opportunity to state specific possibilities that power companies should consider for wind energy . Instead, the writer is ambiguous and non-committal, saying, "As with most things, wind power has no easy answer. It is the responsibility of the companies building them to weigh the benefits and consequences."

If the writer of this essay was interested in trying to get that 6th point on the synthesis essay response, they could consider making more specific claims. For instance, they could state the specific benefits and consequences power companies should consider when deciding whether to establish a wind farm. These could include things like environmental impacts, economic impacts, or even population density!

Despite losing one point in the last category, this example synthesis essay is a strong one. It's well-developed, thoughtfully written, and advances an argument on the exam topic using evidence and support throughout.

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4 Tips for How to Write a Synthesis Essay

AP Lang is a timed exam, so you have to pick and choose what you want to focus on in the limited time you're given to write the synthesis essay. Keep reading to get our expert advice on what you should focus on during your exam.

Tip 1: Read the Prompt First

It may sound obvious, but when you're pressed for time, it's easy to get flustered. Just remember: when it comes time to write the synthesis essay, read the prompt first !

Why is it so important to read the prompt before you read the sources? Because when you're aware of what kind of question you're trying to answer, you'll be able to read the sources more strategically. The prompt will help give you a sense of what claims, points, facts, or opinions to be looking for as you read the sources.

Reading the sources without having read the prompt first is kind of like trying to drive while wearing a blindfold: you can probably do it, but it's likely not going to end well!

Tip 2: Make Notes While You Read

During the 15-minute reading period at the beginning of the synthesis essay, you'll be reading through the sources as quickly as you can. After all, you're probably anxious to start writing!

While it's definitely important to make good use of your time, it's also important to read closely enough that you understand your sources. Careful reading will allow you to identify parts of the sources that will help you support your thesis statement in your essay, too.

As you read the sources, consider marking helpful passages with a star or check mark in the margins of the exam so you know which parts of the text to quickly re-read as you form your synthesis essay. You might also consider summing up the key points or position of each source in a sentence or a few words when you finish reading each source during the reading period. Doing so will help you know where each source stands on the topic given and help you pick the three (or more!) that will bolster your synthesis argument.

Tip 3: Start With the Thesis Statement

If you don't start your synthesis essay with a strong thesis statement, it's going to be tough to write an effective synthesis essay. As soon as you finish reading and annotating the provided sources, the thing you want to do next is write a strong thesis statement.

According to the CollegeBoard grading guidelines for the AP Lang synthesis essay, a strong thesis statement will respond to the prompt— not restate or rephrase the prompt. A good thesis will take a clear, defensible position on the topic presented in the prompt and the sources.

In other words, to write a solid thesis statement to guide the rest of your synthesis essay, you need to think about your position on the topic at hand and then make a claim about the topic based on your position. This position will either be defending, challenging, or qualifying the claim made in the essay's prompt.

The defensible position that you establish in your thesis statement will guide your argument in the rest of the essay, so it's important to do this first. Once you have a strong thesis statement, you can begin outlining your essay.

Tip 4: Focus on Your Commentary

Writing thoughtful, original commentary that explains your argument and your sources is important. In fact, doing this well will earn you four points (out of a total of six)!

AP Lang provides six to seven sources for you on the exam, and you'll be expected to incorporate quotations, paraphrases, or summaries from at least three of those sources into your synthesis essay and interpret that evidence for the reader.

While incorporating evidence is very important, in order to get the extra point for "sophistication of thought" on the synthesis essay, it's important to spend more time thinking about your commentary on the evidence you choose to incorporate. The commentary is your chance to show original thinking, strong rhetorical skills, and clearly explain how the evidence you've included supports the stance you laid out in your thesis statement.

To earn the 6th possible point on the synthesis essay, make sure your commentary demonstrates a nuanced understanding of the source material, explains this nuanced understanding, and places the evidence incorporated from the sources in conversation with each other. To do this, make sure you're avoiding vague language. Be specific when you can, and always tie your commentary back to your thesis!

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What's Next?

There's a lot more to the AP Language exam than just the synthesis essay. Be sure to check out our expert guide to the entire exam , then learn more about the tricky multiple choice section .

Is the AP Lang exam hard...or is it easy? See how it stacks up to other AP tests on our list of the hardest AP exams .

Did you know there are technically two English AP exams? You can learn more about the second English AP test, the AP Literature exam, in this article . And if you're confused about whether you should take the AP Lang or AP Lit test , we can help you make that decision, too.

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

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Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.

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  3. ⛔ Critical analysis essay introduction example. The Critical Analysis

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  4. 4 Synthesis Essay Examples Which Will Inspire You

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  6. Unforgettable How To Start A Synthesis Essay ~ Thatsnotus

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  1. Synthesis Essay Overview

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Synthesis Essay, WIth Examples

    Example outline: I. Introduction A. Thesis statement II. Topic 1 A. Source A discussing Topic 1 1. A point or piece of evidence/data from Source A about Topic 1 2. Another point or piece of evidence/data from Source A about Topic 1 3. [Etc.] B. Source B discussing Topic 1 1. A point or piece of evidence/data from Source B about Topic 1 2. [Etc.]

  2. Guide to Synthesis Essays: How to Write a Synthesis Essay

    Writing Guide to Synthesis Essays: How to Write a Synthesis Essay Written by MasterClass Last updated: Aug 19, 2021 • 4 min read The writing process for composing a good synthesis essay requires curiosity, research, and original thought to argue a certain point or explore an idea.

  3. How to Write a Synthesis Essay: The Ultimate Handbook

    How to Write a Synthesis Essay: Short Description This guide goes beyond merely helping you navigate the sea of information; it empowers you to leverage it for crafting compelling synthesis essays. We'll walk you through crucial steps and tips, revealing the secrets to successful synthesis essay writing.

  4. Well-Written Synthesis Essay Examples

    This synthesis essay example discusses the topic of 'is homeschooling a good idea?' Learn how to craft a strong introduction in your essay. In the movies, the doe-eyed homeschooler getting thrust into public education becomes either a comedy or horror fest. But does art truly mimic life when it comes to homeschooling?

  5. PDF Writing a Synthesis Essay

    • For example looking at economic and social effects of proposed legislation. • Argument papers to compare differing views and support a coherent claim. • For example, is Turn it in a violation of student's rights? One side may argue that the company steals students' papers while others claim that students agree to have their work archived.

  6. 13+ Synthesis Essay Examples: Tips & Expert Guidance

    Synthesis Essay Examples Looking at synthesis essay examples can really help you write a great essay. Here's an example of a synthesis essay to inspire you in your own writing: Title: The Evolution of Human Relationships in the Digital Age

  7. How to Write a Synthesis Essay: Examples, Topics, & Outline

    📑 Example & Formatting Tips 📚 What Is a Synthesis Essay? A synthesis essay is an assignment that requires a unique interpretation of a particular topic using several reliable sources. To write it, you need to understand, analyze, and synthesize information.

  8. Critical Strategies and Writing: Synthesis

    Synthesizing allows you to carry an argument or stance you adopt within a paper in your own words, based on conclusions you have come to about the topic. Synthesizing contributes to confidence about your stance and topic. Mailing Address: 3501 University Blvd. East, Adelphi, MD 20783. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution ...

  9. PDF Help…I've Been Asked to Synthesize!

    The purpose of the Multiple Source Essay is to give students the chance to practice this process of "synthesis". In English 1120, synthesis is not ... Now that we've got all that down, let's look at a rather good example of synthesis: In the past, opponents of immigration raised economic, racial, religious, and

  10. How to Write a Surprisingly Good Synthesis Essay

    Step 4: Draft a killer outline. Now that you have your argument down in words, you need to figure out how you want to organize and support that argument. A great way to do this is to create a synthesis essay outline. When you write your outline, write your thesis statement at the top.

  11. How to Write a Synthesis Essay

    Business white papers known as position papers often take this form. This is the type of synthesis essay that students will write during the AP test. Review: Often written as a preliminary essay to an argument synthesis, a review essay is a discussion of what has been written previously on a topic, with a critical analysis of the sources covered.

  12. How to Write a Synthesis Essay

    Synthesis Essay Examples 6. Synthesis Essay Topics 7. Synthesis Essay Writing Tips What is a Synthesis Essay? According to the synthesis essay definition, "It is an essay that takes a stance on a particular topic and then backs it up by combining the data collected from multiple sources.

  13. Synthesizing Sources

    Example of synthesizing sources. Let's take a look at an example where sources are not properly synthesized, and then see what can be done to improve it. Example: Poor synthesis. Lenneberg (1967) theorized that language acquisition could occur only within a critical period of development between infancy and puberty.

  14. Synthesis

    Basics of Synthesis. As you incorporate published writing into your own writing, you should aim for synthesis of the material. Synthesizing requires critical reading and thinking in order to compare different material, highlighting similarities, differences, and connections. When writers synthesize successfully, they present new ideas based on ...

  15. Synthesis Essay

    A synthesis essay combines information from multiple sources to support the writer's target assertion about the topic of the essay. Synthesis essays can vary in length and coverage. However, the ...

  16. How to Write a Synthesis Essay

    Here's a handy timeline to keep in mind during the 55-minute-long synthesis essay portion of the AP Lang exam: Reading the directions, sources, and prompt: 15 minutes. Analyzing the sources and outlining your response: 10 minutes. Drafting your response: 25 minutes. Reviewing and revising your response: 5 minutes.

  17. How To Write Synthesis In Research: Example Steps

    On This Page: Step 1 Organize your sources. Step 2 Outline your structure. Step 3 Write paragraphs with topic sentences. Step 4 Revise, edit and proofread. When you write a literature review or essay, you have to go beyond just summarizing the articles you've read - you need to synthesize the literature to show how it all fits together (and ...

  18. How to Write a Synthesis Essay ⇒ Synthesizing Explained

    A relevant argumentative synthesis essay example here would be a white paper or any other proposal that examines already voiced thoughts. Yet it should offer a unique idea, argument, or solution to a problem. ... A thesis statement is arguably among the most critical elements in the paper. A synthesis essay is no exception. An effective thesis ...

  19. Synthesizing Sources

    Cite Using citation machines responsibly Powered by A summary restates the information in one or more sources without providing new insight or reaching new conclusions. A synthesis draws on multiple sources to reach a broader conclusion. There are two types of syntheses: explanatory syntheses and argumentative syntheses.

  20. How to Write a Critical Synthesis Essay

    1. Speak with your instructor about the topic Tell him/her about your ideas and working hypothesis. Listen to their advice. 2. Find an appropriate topic for a critical synthesis essay Be careful because topics which you are unfamiliar with will take you a lot of time (you should be more effective). 3. Manage your time

  21. Synthesising

    To demonstrate your critical thinking, you must synthesise your sources. Snythesising involves combining multiple sources that share similar ideas. The following statement, for example, points out a similar approach taken by economists and behavioural scientists when investigating a specific issue: Economists and behavioural scientists have ...

  22. How to Write a Synthesis Essay?

    A summary of a synthesis essay reiterates the critical points of the text to provide an overview. Meanwhile, synthesis moves beyond this by contrasting the critical points of your knowledge on a subject to what other sources say about it. ... As an excellent synthesis essay example, you can check out any literature review on issues related to ...

  23. How to Write a Perfect Synthesis Essay for the AP Language Exam

    Step 5: Draft Your Essay Response. The great thing about taking a few minutes to develop an outline is that you can develop it out into your essay draft. After you take about 5 to 10 minutes to outline your synthesis essay, you can use the remaining 30 to 35 minutes to draft your essay and review it.

  24. Teaching grad students the important skill of text synthesis (opinion)

    Despite the recent advent of generative AI tools like ChatGPT, graduate students still struggle with effective synthesis skills. Multilingual international writers, for instance, face the distinct challenges of reading, interpreting and writing about sources in an additional language, while all graduate writers must cope with critically evaluating and distilling information as emergent members ...