Essay writing cheat sheet
Evidence, Thesis, and Analysis Before even starting to think about writing an essay, you need to understand the following: Evidence is the foundation of all history papers. You cannot formulate a thesis until the evidence has been studied and analyzed for its significance. Evidence for history papers is usually found in primary sources (texts written during the period under study), but one may also write a history paper based on secondary sources (texts written after the period). Evidence is comprised of: names, dates, events, places, laws, amendments, names, theories, concepts…all the nuts and bolts of history.
A good starting point to learning evidence is to know the terms on the lists I provide you with. You will build these nuts and bolts into something by analyzing them (telling what they mean/represent), by using PERSIA, SOAPSToneS, the APUSH Themes…. A thesis… is your idea that takes a position on a topic.
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is the main idea of your essay in 1-2 sentences. makes a claim or argument which you will then prove or support throughout the essay with evidence and analysis. helps you organize your argument by laying out analytic categories (sub-points). is supported by evidence (specific facts that prove your argument is right) and analysis.
Thesis checklist: Does your thesis… make an argument? get the job done in one to two sentences? build a roadmap (sub-points) for your essay? fit the evidence you use in your essay? ***You hold the burden of proof, meaning you must prove that your thesis is correct by presenting AND analyzing evidence. Analysis shows how evidence helps prove your thesis, or main argument. In addition to presenting reliable evidence, you must take it a step further. First, you need to explain the evidence. What does it mean? Second, you must state the significance of your evidence.
So what? And third, you must close the loop on your argument. How does this evidence support (substantiate) your thesis? Analysis explains your evidence. Analysis ties your evidence back to your argument, “completing the loop” (shows how your evidence proves your argument). Words that signal analysis: as a result, thus, thusly, therefore, hence, consequently, as a consequence, accordingly, then, this shows, so, in this way, in this manner, in this fashion… Types of Essay Questions What type of graphic organizer would you construct to organize an essay for each of these?
(In other words, what type of boxy, circly, t-charty thing would you use to organize your essay – thesis and evidence? ) 1. Change over time – Questions that ask you to look at a period of history and explain the evolution of a particular aspect within the time frame given. Chronological = events put in the order they happened. For example, “Between 1790 and 1870 the economic growth of the US was significantly stimulated by government aid. ” Discuss this growth. Graphic Organizer(s) 2. Cause and effect – Questions that ask you to weigh factors and explain the resulting relationship between those factors and the end result.
Cause/Effect = the beginning/ the result. For example, “Why did the US enter the First World War? ” Graphic Organizer(s) 3. Compare and contrast – Questions that ask you to show similarities and differences on the topic given. Compare = show how two things are alike. Contrast = show how two things are different. For example, “Compare and contrast the Northern Renaissance with the Italian Renaissance. ” Graphic Organizer(s) 4. Define and Identify – Questions that ask you to identify key factors by both definition and historical significance. Define = to give the meaning.
Identify = to associate or recognize. For example, “Identify the social, political and economic factors that led to the Age of Exploration. ” Graphic Organizer(s) 5. Statement/Reaction – Questions that ask you to form an opinion, on a given statement, based on historical evidence. For example, “‘Slavery was the sole cause of the Civil War. ’ Evaluate this statement. ” Never refer to “the statement” in your writing!!! Only refer to the argument yourself and make it your own. Graphic Organizer(s) 6. Evaluation – Questions that ask you to form an opinion based on historical evidence.
Evaluate = to give your opinion of what is important; discuss its good and bad points; discuss its strengths and weaknesses. For example, “Select any three of the following and evaluate their effectiveness as political leaders. ” Graphic Organizer(s) 7. Analyzing Viewpoints – Questions that ask you defend or refute a given historical viewpoint based on historical evidence. Analyze = to break into parts and explain the parts. For example, “Defend the economic policies of Hitler in the years 1921 – 1933 in Germany. ” Graphic Organizer(s) Other key terms that might appear in questions: 8.
Clarify – to make clear 9. Describe – to tell how something looks or how it happened 10. Discuss – to tell about the main points and important details 11. Diagram – to make a drawing of something and label its parts 12. Enumerate – to make a list 13. Explain – to give facts that elucidate 14. Fact – something that can be proven to be true 15. Illustrate – to give examples 16. Infer – to make a conclusion based on fact 17. Interpret – to offer an explanation 18. Justify – to give good reasons 19. Opinion – belief based on what a person thinks or feels 20. Predict – to make a guess about the future
21. Prove – to show something is true by giving facts 22. Question – to ask 23. Reflect – to think about 24. Relate – to show how things are alike or connected 25. Sequence – to put in the correct order 26. State – to give the main points or reasons\ 27. Summarize – to briefly cover the main points 28. Trace – to tell about the progress or growth Steps to Prepping an FRQ and DBQ Random Tips to refer back to over and over: Write in past tense – it’s history! Best advice: write your DBQ like it’s an FRQ Don’t explain documents, the readers already know what they say.
Use them to show that you know and understand history (what is their significance? ). Cite them as evidence Be specific, don’t say “some” or “they” or “laws. ” Name the things you are referring to Don’t just say something is important, say how important. Don’t just say something changed, say how much it changed, and how fast. Use sub-points as laid out by PERSIA or the APUSH Themes Start your thesis with “Although” to get a more complex, gray area statement FRQ and DBQ (without or before turning to documents): 1. Analyze the question: a. mark the date by putting it in a box (or writing it in if you have to infer it) b.
circle any key concepts that indicate the type of question c. underline the setting (who, what, when, where) d. squiggle underline the analysis (the issue: why, how ) 2. Create your graphic organizer (based on the above analysis, especially part “b”). 3. Brainstorm and list outside info IN the graphic organizer (it’s ok if you need to adjust your graphic organizer because maybe you didn’t pick the right one). 4. Write a tentative thesis with sub-points (must use PERSIA or even the APUSH themes for inspiration if categories aren’t supplied in the question).
* If it’s an FRQ, begin writing essay, making sure to structure your intro paragraph properly. DBQ (turn to the documents) 5. Count how many documents there are. Use ? the number plus 1 as a minimum. You should aim for using all of them but don’t dwell on any single one if it’s too hard/long (you can cut it out for time management’s sake, but if you have extra time at the end, try to add it back in). 6. Analyze the documents keeping SOAPSToneS (especially the last S) in mind, without actually writing it out – you don’t have enough time to do that. a. Underline important info in documents.
b. Note in margin next to each document “What’s the point? ” or “So what? ” for your thesis (the final S in SOAPSToneS). 7. Plug documents into your graphic organizer (see item 2 above) in order to synthesize outside and document info (just use the doc letter). 8. When done, look at the graphic organizer for a visual representation of your thesis and check your tentative thesis to make sure it’s correct. 9. Write your intro paragraph properly and write your essay based on that organizational set-up. Seven Steps of Essay Writing 1. Read and analyze the question
Mark the date (in a box, or write it in if it’s inferred), circle any key concepts that indicate the type of question, underline the setting, squiggle underline the analysis (issue). Does the question give you sub-points? If not, what sub-points will you use (PERSIA or APUSH Themes)? Incorporate the sub-points into your graphic organizer. What type of question is it? What graphic organizer will you use? 2. Collect and sort the data needed to answer the question Make sure your graphic organizer has sub-point categories. Brainstorm a list of factual information within your graphic organizer.
3. Create your thesis statement The thesis is your answer to the question. It is the guiding argument of the essay. The thesis must fully address the question, take a position with regard to the question, and provide organizational categories for analysis (2-4 sub-points). 4. Write the introduction to your essay Setting: taken from the question – who, what, when, where (1st sentence) Analysis statement: taken from the question – why, how (2nd sentence) Explain sub-points: explain each organizational category (sub-point) in one detailed sentence per sub-point.
Fall-back sub-points are social, economic, political change. (2-4 sentences – one each subpoint) Thesis statement: your answer to the question (as analytical and evaluatory as you can possibly make it, including all sub-points listed briefly) (1-2 sentences) 5. Write the body of the essay Each paragraph MUST have a topic sentence (introducing the sub-point for that paragraph and what your argument is about it) Each paragraph must have evidence, or historical facts. This is the necessary ingredient to prove that your thesis is correct. Aim to include at least 3 supporting facts.
Each paragraph must have analysis, which explains how your piece(s) of evidence prove your thesis. You can either BLEND YOUR EVIDENCE and ANALYSIS into the SAME SENTENCE, or, you can write ONE EVIDENCE SENTENCED FOLLOWED BY ONE ANALYTIC SENTENCE…and repeat. Each paragraph MUST end with a linking sentence that directs the reader to the next paragraph (it contains your sub-point plus argument about that sub-point for the above paragraph and compares/contrasts it with the next paragraph’s sub-point/argument). 6. Write the conclusion Start with a “concluding phrase” Restate your thesis statement a bit differently.
The conclusion must summarize the main points of the body paragraphs. The conclusion must synthesize the linking sentences. The conclusion must address “so what? ” (historical significance): 1. End of some trend/movement/idea, etc. 2. Beginning of some trend/movement/idea, etc. 3. Endo of one and beginning of another 4. Do NOT end on the note that this is the reason we are where we are today! 7. Proofread your essay Eliminate grammatical errors and contradictions between the thesis and the body. Try to add in any further details (NAMING specific facts, people, events, phenomena…).
Transition and Signal Words for Essays *Always spell out full names first, then use abbreviations or last names only thereafter. * Sequence and Chronological Order Stems After Afterwards Ago Already At last At the same time As Before During Eventually Even now Finally (the) final First, first of all Following For a time Further, furthermore Immediately Initially In the first place In the meantime Last, lastly Later Long after Meanwhile Next Now Not long after Once On (date) Preceding Presently Second, secondly Several Sometimes Soon, soon after Some Subsequently
Suddenly Then Thereafter Third To begin with Today Until While Compare and Contrast Stems Although Also As opposed to As well as But By comparison Compared with Conversely Despite Different from Either…or Even though Equally important However In comparison In contrast In like manner In the same way In spite of Instead of Just as Like Likewise Neither…nor Nevertheless Notwithstanding On the contrary Not only…but also On the other hand Rather then Regardless Same as Similarly Still Unlike Unless Whereas While Yet Cause and Effect Stems Accordingly As a result As if
As though Because Consequently Hence In order to If…then It follows that May be due to Nevertheless Provided that Since So So that Then Therefore Thus Emphasis Words Besides Certainly Furthermore Indeed Moreover Obviously Of course Stems for Examples Another For example For instance Furthermore First, second, etc… In addition Most important Namely Specifically Such as To begin with That is To illustrate Conclusion Words As a result Consequently For this reason In brief/short In other words It follows that In fact On the whole Therefore Thus To summarize To sum up