• EXPLORE Coupons Tech Help Pro Random Article About Us Quizzes Contribute Train Your Brain Game Improve Your English Popular Categories Arts and Entertainment Artwork Books Movies Computers and Electronics Computers Phone Skills Technology Hacks Health Men's Health Mental Health Women's Health Relationships Dating Love Relationship Issues Hobbies and Crafts Crafts Drawing Games Education & Communication Communication Skills Personal Development Studying Personal Care and Style Fashion Hair Care Personal Hygiene Youth Personal Care School Stuff Dating All Categories Arts and Entertainment Finance and Business Home and Garden Relationship Quizzes Cars & Other Vehicles Food and Entertaining Personal Care and Style Sports and Fitness Computers and Electronics Health Pets and Animals Travel Education & Communication Hobbies and Crafts Philosophy and Religion Work World Family Life Holidays and Traditions Relationships Youth
  • HELP US Support wikiHow Community Dashboard Write an Article Request a New Article More Ideas...
  • EDIT Edit this Article
  • PRO Courses New Tech Help Pro New Expert Videos About wikiHow Pro Coupons Quizzes Upgrade Sign In
  • Browse Articles
  • Quizzes New
  • Train Your Brain New
  • Improve Your English New
  • Support wikiHow
  • About wikiHow
  • Easy Ways to Help
  • Approve Questions
  • Fix Spelling
  • More Things to Try...
  • H&M Coupons
  • Hotwire Promo Codes
  • StubHub Discount Codes
  • Ashley Furniture Coupons
  • Blue Nile Promo Codes
  • NordVPN Coupons
  • Samsung Promo Codes
  • Chewy Promo Codes
  • Ulta Coupons
  • Vistaprint Promo Codes
  • Shutterfly Promo Codes
  • DoorDash Promo Codes
  • Office Depot Coupons
  • adidas Promo Codes
  • Home Depot Coupons
  • DSW Coupons
  • Bed Bath and Beyond Coupons
  • Lowe's Coupons
  • Surfshark Coupons
  • Nordstrom Coupons
  • Walmart Promo Codes
  • Dick's Sporting Goods Coupons
  • Fanatics Coupons
  • Edible Arrangements Coupons
  • eBay Coupons
  • Log in / Sign up
  • Education and Communications
  • College University and Postgraduate
  • Academic Writing

How to Write a Synthesis Essay

Last Updated: February 3, 2023 References Approved

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 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article has 12 testimonials from our readers, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 1,085,279 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

Image titled Write a Synthesis Essay Step 1

Image titled Write a Synthesis Essay Step 2

Image titled Write a Synthesis Essay Step 3

Image titled Write a Synthesis Essay Step 4

Image titled Write a Synthesis Essay Step 5

Outlining Your Essay

Image titled Write a Synthesis Essay Step 6

Image titled Write a Synthesis Essay Step 7

Image titled Write a Synthesis Essay Step 8

Writing Your Essay

Image titled Write a Synthesis Essay Step 9

Image titled Write a Synthesis Essay Step 10

Finalizing Your Essay

Image titled Write a Synthesis Essay Step 12

Image titled Write a Synthesis Essay Step 13

Image titled Write a Synthesis Essay Step 14

Image titled Write a Synthesis Essay Step 15

Outline Template

sythesis essay

Community Q&A

Community Answer

Video . By using this service, some information may be shared with YouTube.

sythesis essay

You Might Also Like

Write a Reflection Paper

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

Reader Success Stories


Aug 8, 2016

Did this article help you?


Adrian Mastrocola

Sep 29, 2016

Emmanuel Amoatey Djaba

Emmanuel Amoatey Djaba

Nov 26, 2016

Anna VonLeader

Anna VonLeader

Jun 6, 2016

Urvi Patel

May 7, 2017

Am I a Narcissist or an Empath Quiz

Featured Articles

Play FIFA 23 Career Mode

Trending Articles

Talk to a Girl in a Group

Watch Articles

Make Homemade Soup

wikiHow Tech Help Pro:

Level up your tech skills and stay ahead of the curve

Need a Synthesis Essay Written Fast?

sythesis essay

Writing a synthesis essay is one of the most engaging tasks you may face. The purpose of this type of paper, for a college or university student, is to demonstrate that you can deal with extensive research, take apart big concepts, and show the skeleton of the argument.

The perfect paper will take ideas from various sources, summarize them, and combine them into a thesis statement — a single position that the synthesis essay is trying to argue. Identifying the synthesis statement will help you combine it with other theses, helping you to write in cohesive synthesis essay format. If you have ever wondered how to write a synthesis essay, this article from EssayPro’s do my homework service will help you compose a synthesis paper outline, or give you a simple structure to guide you through the writing process.

What Is a Synthesis Essay

Writing a synthesis paper is just like creating any other form of thesis. According to the synthesis essay definition, it is a written discussion of ideas. They tend to draw on two or more sources from academic papers, fiction sources, speeches, interviews, articles, lectures, or observations.

In other words, if you have two ideas from a similar topic, you can isolate the core of what they’re trying to say. For instance, you might have a paper that examines the use of smartphones in the modern world, and another on the rise of teenagers in social media. After synthesizing the information, you may come up with a combined thesis like: smartphones and social media are not destroying a generation.

Two Types of Synthesis

This type helps readers get a better understanding of a topic. Instead of arguing a point, the goal here is to explain a particular topic.

In the body, explain the topic using sources and present these sources objectively. Like in any regular writing assignment, back up each supporting claim with two or more credible sources.

The goal of this type of paper is to argue a specific topic and justify it with evidence. Unlike the explanatory type, here you will do the same thing you would do if working on a regular argumentative paper. State your position, make supporting claims, and then provide credible evidence to back up each claim.

Need an Synthesis Essay Written Fast?

We're here to do it for you. Send us your paper requirements, choose research essay writer and enjoy your time.

How to Choose a Topic

A synthesis paper prompt must be debatable. Depending on your assignment, you may have to choose a primary text. Choose a book that might have opposing viewpoints.

Step 1: Browse through topics and ideas. Read from sources and check selected topics in-depth to see if any of them take your interest.

Step 2: Choose a topic, then gather relevant and useful sources to include in your synthesis paper.

Step 3: Apply ideas from the sources onto your synthesis essay outline. Doing so should make writing far easier and save you time.

synthesis essay topic

It is important for good synthesis essay topics to be debatable as if they have been in public conversations for decades. This makes them emotionally-charged for all sides involved, and this will likely mean that a lot of evidence for them will be widely available.

Examples include:

Bad topics would be ones in which the debate has long been over, and the scientific community has provided an objective answer for them. Also, bad topics may include those that have a yes or no answer. For instance:

Synthesis Essay Structure

Creating an outline will be useful for structuring your synthesis paper and planning your work. Paste supporting evidence, sub-arguments, and specific points in the appropriate sections. Make sure that every aspect proves the claim of your thesis. Any extra information will only make your paper worse.

If the information goes against your central claim, then you should acknowledge it, as it will make your paper stronger. Make sure you check all of the sources you’ve picked carefully. When writing about the causes, do not summarize them – analyze them. Read further for a sample synthesis essay outline.

The basic synthesis essay outline template contains three major parts:

An outline for a synthesis essay starts with an introduction, which is a brief description of what the paper will be about. The essay introduction is important. It will consist of a hook, the background and relevance of your topic, and the thesis statement. How to write a synthesis statement is explained below.

Example: 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 with a magnitude never previously witnessed in the world. The author then provides pieces of evidence from other studies concerning the issue as well as personal observations — all of which seem to support his claim. According to Twenge, the main hypothesis for claiming that smartphones and social media usage result in destroying a generation is that increased use of these two platforms results in mental depression and other mental issues. This paper will mainly refute the claims of the author by focusing on the issues raised by the work.

Synthesis writing always includes a thesis, which is the central argument of the entire paper. Your thesis should be the core argument of separately sourced theses.

Example of a synthesis thesis: Although technology has brought tremendous changes to society, the use of smartphones and social media are not in any way destroying a generation, especially when looking at the reasons portrayed by Twenge.

The first paragraph must present a counterargument to your thesis. This demonstrates your ability to think from an opposing point of view — which can be greatly valued in higher educational facilities. Be sure to note that the counterargument isn’t strong enough to discredit your thesis.

Example: One of the main reasons for not supporting the article and observations by the author is the fact that all of the pieces of evidence chosen found by the author are biased. Twenge only uses and reviews studies that inherently support her views.

Your next paragraphs should now present arguments in favor of the thesis. Remember to structure all paragraphs in the body using the following synthesis format:

Example: At the same time, she ignores other studies which have been conducted to show that screen time does not have major impacts on depression and other mental health related conditions that affect teenagers. In one claim, the researcher used a study that contended that the more teens used social media like Facebook, the more they became depressed. However, she did not dwell on the issue of depression, yet the same research revealed that being depressed as a result of using Facebook did not result in more Facebook usage (Twenge). Such findings remove the blame from Facebook, as it shows clearly that unhappiness and Facebook are not entirely correlated—as portrayed by the Twenge. Moreover, by not using Facebook more often after they have become unhappy suggests that the use of Facebook has not entirely replaced how teenagers could use social media to find alternative happiness or to come out of their depression.

A conclusion should be a summary of the overall paper. Then, conclude the paper with a final sentence. In other words, restate the main points and address any unanswered questions.

Example: To replace various factors that signified the previous generation, such as teen pregnancy and underage alcohol usage, as some of the indicators of how harmful these devices are to the current generation. All of these issues that have affected the previous generation have also had an impact on the future lives of teenagers, and by reducing them, it definitely signifies a more prosperous generation, based on moAlthough Jean Twenge has certain valid claims on the use of social media and teenagers, there is a lot of bias in her article, which further reduces the credibility of her article. She chooses only to focus on one side of the issue and completely neglects to give any attention to ideas that would oppose her stance, which shows that social media and smartphones could be of great use to teenagers. She also chooses to replace various bad factors that signified the previous generation, such as teen pregnancy and underage alcohol usage as some of the indicators of how harmful these devices are to the current generation. All these issues that affected the previous generation have much impact on the future lives of teenagers, and by reducing them, it definitely signifies a better generation, based on moral and values

If You need help With All of the Above

Feel free to use EssayPro Help.

Tips for Writing a Synthesis Essay

A key factor in working on a synthesis paper is doing a proper analysis of a given text or prompt. To successfully analyze it, you must comprehend the text’s purpose, rhetoric, and the argument the author claims. In other words, you are answering the question: “So what?” Then, you must build your application, and write your work around that.

Choose a coursework writer on our service, and get your task done fast.

Writing Techniques

Make use of Summarizing: One of the simplest methods of organization. It allows you to summarize the sources that possess the highest amount of relevance. The issue with this is that this method doesn’t include any of your independent thoughts.

Examples: Paraphrase source material. Write segments of sources in your own words. Quoting sources can also be used under this technique. In every case of using examples, make sure to cite the source.

Multiple Reasons: Using multiple reasons – typically two – is known to be an extremely effective method.

Strawman: Present one argument against your thesis. Though, make sure the argument is not very strong. The advantage of this method is to teach awareness of the other side of the argument. This type of evidence presents an introduction and description. It is followed by the opposing view and a decisive factor.

Concession: This technique illustrates the opposing viewpoint. It shows the positives being much stronger than the negatives.

Compare and Contrast: The compare and contrast method allows writers to examine two sources at once. Comparing shows similarities, as contrasting shows the differences. Illustrating an in-depth analysis of your chosen topic is possible.

Synthesis Essay Format

The synthesis paper format depends on what style is required by your teacher or professor. The most common formats are: MLA, APA, and Chicago style. APA is used in fields of Education, Psychology, and Science; MLA is used for citing Humanities; and Chicago style is used for Business, History, and Fine Arts. Purdue Owl is a format guide you can use that focuses mainly on MLA and APA, and Easybib is a citation multitool you can use for citing any of your external sources.

synthesis mla apa

Some key points are:

Chicago Style

Synthesis Essay Rubric

High range (8-9 points).

Note: 8-9s are rare. A strong ‘7’ paper can jump to an 8-9 if the writing style is mature and perceptive.

Middle-Range (5-7)

Note: A ‘7’ is awarded to papers of college-level writing. A ‘5’ on one of the AP English Language and Composition essays designates a three on the AP exam. It most likely relies on generalizations that have limited control of the claim and argument. ‘5’s often lose focus and digress.

Low-Range (1-4)

Notes: those papers ranked ‘4’ or ‘3’ do assert an argument but do not sufficiently develop it. A ‘2’ does not develop an argument. A ‘1’ has severe writing errors and does not assert a claim.

Synthesis Essay Example

Have you read the whole article and are still struggling? Check out these great critique paper example — from our term paper writer service . Feel free to use them as a reference.

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.

Struggling With Writing Your Paper?

Are you still having trouble crafting a synthesis essay? Need editing or writing help? You should seek advice from our professional writers. The team at our write my paper service have written many papers and are experts in their fields. With our efficient system, you will have your paper in no time. Click the button below to get started.

Related Articles

movie review


Choose Your Test

Sat / act prep online guides and tips, how to write a perfect synthesis essay for the ap language exam.

author image

Advanced Placement (AP)


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.


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.


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:

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.


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!

Looking for help studying for your AP exam?

Our one-on-one online AP tutoring services can help you prepare for your AP exams. Get matched with a top tutor who got a high score on the exam you're studying for!

Get a 5 On Your AP Exam

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 :

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.


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:

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:

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.


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!


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:

Get eBook: 5 Tips for 160+ Points

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.

Student and Parent Forum

Our new student and parent forum, at ExpertHub.PrepScholar.com , allow you to interact with your peers and the PrepScholar staff. See how other students and parents are navigating high school, college, and the college admissions process. Ask questions; get answers.

Join the Conversation

Ask a Question Below

Have any questions about this article or other topics? Ask below and we'll reply!

Improve With Our Famous Guides

The 5 Strategies You Must Be Using to Improve 160+ SAT Points

How to Get a Perfect 1600, by a Perfect Scorer

Series: How to Get 800 on Each SAT Section:

Score 800 on SAT Math

Score 800 on SAT Reading

Score 800 on SAT Writing

Series: How to Get to 600 on Each SAT Section:

Score 600 on SAT Math

Score 600 on SAT Reading

Score 600 on SAT Writing

Free Complete Official SAT Practice Tests

What SAT Target Score Should You Be Aiming For?

15 Strategies to Improve Your SAT Essay

The 5 Strategies You Must Be Using to Improve 4+ ACT Points

How to Get a Perfect 36 ACT, by a Perfect Scorer

Series: How to Get 36 on Each ACT Section:

36 on ACT English

36 on ACT Math

36 on ACT Reading

36 on ACT Science

Series: How to Get to 24 on Each ACT Section:

24 on ACT English

24 on ACT Math

24 on ACT Reading

24 on ACT Science

What ACT target score should you be aiming for?

ACT Vocabulary You Must Know

ACT Writing: 15 Tips to Raise Your Essay Score

How to Get Into Harvard and the Ivy League

How to Get a Perfect 4.0 GPA

How to Write an Amazing College Essay

What Exactly Are Colleges Looking For?

Is the ACT easier than the SAT? A Comprehensive Guide

Should you retake your SAT or ACT?

When should you take the SAT or ACT?

Stay Informed

sythesis essay

Get the latest articles and test prep tips!

Looking for Graduate School Test Prep?

Check out our top-rated graduate blogs here:

GRE Online Prep Blog

GMAT Online Prep Blog

TOEFL Online Prep Blog

Holly R. "I am absolutely overjoyed and cannot thank you enough for helping me!”


In order to continue enjoying our site, we ask that you confirm your identity as a human. Thank you very much for your cooperation.

Language Flag

Find Study Materials for

Create Study Materials

Select your language

sythesis essay

Synthesis Essay

Want to get better grades, get free, full access to:.


Lerne mit deinen Freunden und bleibe auf dem richtigen Kurs mit deinen persönlichen Lernstatistiken

Nie wieder prokastinieren mit unseren Lernerinnerungen.

Imagine someone is trying to sell you a magic potion that they say can cure any disease, but they don't list out any of the ingredients, and they can't explain how it cures diseases. Would you want to buy the potion? Probably not!

The same goes when you're writing an essay. Even if you have great ideas, a reader won't believe them unless you can say where you got them from. That's where the synthesis essay comes in! A synthesis essay makes (or synthesizes) a claim based on outside sources . We use synthesis essays to build strong arguments for our ideas .

Synthesis Essay Definition

In writing, synthesis means gathering information from different sources and using it to support a central idea or thesis .

In other words, if you give a thesis statement , but you don't provide any evidence to back it up, it won't be very convincing. You have to synthesize a strong argument using info from outside sources.

The key steps in synthesizing an argument include:

Forming a strong thesis.

Finding relevant evidence to back up your thesis.

Explaining the connections between the evidence and your thesis.

Citing your sources to show exactly where you got your information from.

A good synthesis essay covers all of these elements to create a strong argument.

What is a Synthesis Essay?

The synthesis essay part of language and composition exams involves answering a prompt using information from a few sources, usually in a five-paragraph format. To get the full six points on the synthesis essay, you need to give:

A thesis statement that shows a defensible position.

Evidence from at least three of the given sources.

Commentary that explains how the evidence supports the thesis.

Sophistication in your understanding of the prompt, the sources, and your own argument.

Synthesis Essay Topics

The prompt on the first page of the synthesis essay section lays out the topic that your essay should focus on. Past synthesis essay prompts have dealt with the following topics:

Teaching handwriting in schools

Relevance of libraries in the Internet age

Wind power and renewable energy

Eminent domain (governments buying land for public use)

English as the dominant language in business

Honor codes in schools

Value of college education

These topics all involve debates. The prompt presents two opinions on the topic, and your job is to pick a stance on it. Every supporting paragraph in your essay will back up that stance on the topic.

Defending, Challenging, and Qualifying

Once you've looked over the prompt and you begin forming your thesis, you need to decide what angle to take with your argument. The prompt will tell you to defend, challenge, or qualify the claim of the topic with your argument.

Defending the Claim

Defending the claim means that you agree with the claim in the prompt. If you're defending the claim, you will want to get evidence from sources that also defend the claim.

Challenging the Claim

Challenging the claim means that you disagree with the claim in the prompt. If you're challenging the claim, you will want to get evidence that goes against the claim or could even prove it wrong.

Qualifying the Claim

Qualifying the claim means that you agree with parts of it but disagree with others . For this middle-of-the-road approach, you will want to get evidence from both sides of the argument . Use your supporting paragraphs to weigh out the pros and cons of the claim.

Qualifying the claim doesn't mean you can avoid making a clear statement on it! Even when you explore the pros and cons, you need to explain how those pros and cons inform your final decision.

Synthesis Essay Outline

This is the general outline of a synthesis essay. While you're reading through your sources for evidence, think of where the info would fit into the outline.

I. Introduction

A. Hook: Include an interesting, attention-grabbing sentence.

B. Introduce the topic: Summarize the topic the prompt gave.

C. Thesis statement : Write your stance on the topic you're about to defend.

II. Body Paragraph (x3)

A. Topic sentence: State what the paragraph and evidence is about.

B. Source/evidence: Summarize , paraphrase , or quote the source.

C. Analysis: Explain why the evidence supports your thesis.

III. Conclusion

A. Transition: Show that you're wrapping up the essay.

B. Summary : Go back over your main points and restate your thesis.

C. Close: Close off by saying how your conclusions apply beyond the essay.

Synthesis Essay Example

Below is a sample synthesis essay (including prompt, sources, and outline) that shows the key elements that it comprises.

Example Synthesis Essay Prompt

Growing issues of excess waste in our oceans and climate change have sparked debates about sustainability in packaging. Some argue that glass packaging is the most sustainable option because it is easily reused and recycled. Others argue that recyclable plastics are a more sustainable solution because they are lightweight and require less energy to produce.

Read through the provided sources completely. Then, synthesize an argument using information from at least three of the sources, and present your argument in a complete and structured essay. Your essay should defend, challenge, or qualify the claim that glass packaging is a more sustainable solution than plastic.

Use the sources to provide evidence for your argument and explain your stance on the claim. Incorporate the evidence by directly quoting, paraphrasing, or summarizing the sources. Remember to specifically credit each source you take information from.

The claim in the second paragraph of the prompt is the central question: is glass packaging a more sustainable solution than plastic? The thesis statement is an answer to the central question .

Synthesis Essay Plastic Waste Essay StudySmarter

Example Synthesis Essay Sources

In the sources given for the synthesis essay, you'll probably be provided with more information than you really need. In the synthesis essay, it's best to work with three sources out of the ones you're given. This means you have to be able to sort through the sources and find the ones that work best with your thesis.

The prompt says that there are six sources to work from. The list below outlines the types of sources that may be available. The writer's job is to choose sources that are relevant to the thesis.

Articles written by experts can provide scientific evidence to support the thesis: This kind of source is especially helpful for writing about scientific topics like this one.

Editorial articles express opinions on the topic: These sources don't provide scientific evidence, but they can give writers good points to work from. Writers can use them to show how the claim can be challenged or defended.

Graphs provide numbers and visuals to help us understand data: These are also useful sources because the numbers are objective. That means they're fact-based instead of coming from someone else's opinion.

Excerpts from literature: These are sometimes included in synthesis essay prompts. This kind of source can't give evidence on scientific topics; however, a literature excerpt can be effective when writers use it to add some dramatic flair, like in the hook portion of the introduction!

Imagine one of the sources (Source A) is a newspaper article. The writer can use the part of it below in their body paragraph:

The manufacturing of plastics is endangering our environment and our lives. Plastic production involves crude oil and natural gas. Crude oil must be extracted from beneath the earth's crust by drilling large holes through bedrock in the ocean. Harvesting natural gas involves a similar process called fracking, which also involves breaking the earth's crust. Fracking and oil drilling both cause pollution in our oceans.

There's a common saying about writing an essay: " Tell them what you're going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them." Your introduction is the first part of this.

In the introduction, set up the argument you're about to give and clearly state your thesis at the end.

On my last trip to the beach, I looked out at the ocean and saw nothing but waste. Bottles, boxes, and bags crowded the water and washed up on the shore. As a society, we must find more sustainable packaging solutions to prevent this pile of garbage from growing even larger. The sustainability of glass and plastic, in particular, is hotly debated. Due to problematic factors in plastic production and recycling, glass packaging is a more sustainable option and should be employed by manufacturers.

The last sentence is the thesis statement. It answers the main question from the prompt and clearly shows that the writer is defending the claim that glass packaging is a more sustainable solution than plastic.

The introduction to an essay can sometimes be the hardest part of an essay to write. It helps to save writing the introduction for the end and writing the body of the synthesis essay first instead. This can help writers formulate clear ideas and then go back and summarize them in their introduction.

The body is the main part of the synthesis essay. The body usually consists of three supporting paragraphs. This is where you'll add the info you picked from your sources and show how it supports your thesis .

Here is a short example of one of the three body paragraphs.

It is not only plastic waste that endangers our oceans but also plastic production. Crude oil and gas are necessary to produce plastic, both of which cause significant damage to the earth's crust and pollute the oceans (Source A). Glass production, on the other hand, does not require these methods. A transition to glass packaging over plastic would decrease the need for these environmentally damaging practices.

The first sentence introduces the paragraph. The second gives the information in the source. The last two sentences explain how that information backs up the thesis and analyzes the source. Each body paragraph will handle different evidence, but this general format will help the writer use each source to support the thesis.

The conclusion is the last part of that saying: "tell them what you told them."

In the conclusion, you'll summarize everything you just wrote in the body section. State your thesis again – this time, it will have all of the information from the body to back it up!

In conclusion, the evidence from these sources supports the use of glass packaging over plastic . The sheer amount of plastic waste in the ocean, as well as the harmful practices of fracking and oil drilling in plastic production, disadvantage the use of plastic packaging. A societal shift from plastic to glass packaging could help us to repair the damage to our environment and create a better future for the earth.

More explanations in this Study Set will go over these elements in more detail.

Synthesis Essay, Cheerleaders, StudySmarter

Using the Sources

When writing your synthesis essay, you should make sure that every source you decide to use supports the thesis and is cited correctly.

Supporting the Thesis

A successful synthesis essay clearly connects evidence with the thesis and smoothly transitions between topics.

Here’s an example of tying a source into your writing in an ineffective way:

Plastic waste in the oceans is a major environmental concern. Source B states that millions of tons of plastic enter the oceans every year. Glass packaging is more sustainable than plastic.

The writer has given information from a source and the thesis , but they're not connected. Readers can't see how they relate to each other, so it's hard to see the point.

A better way to tie these together would be something like this:

Plastic waste in the oceans is a major environmental concern. Source B states that millions of tons of plastic enter the oceans every year. This shows that plastic production is not a sustainable solution.

The final sentence brings the point together with the source. and shows how the information from Article A supports the thesis .

Some phrases from these three common cohesive patterns can help draw these connections and make your writing flow more smoothly. Here are some examples of phrases that can help draw connections:

Cause and effect: Show how one statement caused the other, e.g.:

This shows that…

This suggests…

Because of this…

Given this information…

In the same way…

Compare and contrast : Show how one statement is different from the other, e.g.:

By comparison ...


In contrast ...

On the other hand...

Problem and solution: Show how one statement solves the problem of the other, e.g.:

In order to...

As a result...

As a solution to...

To resolve this...

Citing the Sources

Last but not least, you need to accurately cite your sources. Citing your sources shows where you got the information from . Citing sources is also important because it credits the original writer. In the exam, the citation can be in the sentence or in parentheses at the end of it.

You can include the source information in your essay in three ways: paraphrase , direct quotation , and summary .

Paraphrasing means giving the information in your own words. Writers can use paraphrasing to tie a source to their thesis.

Source B states that millions of tons of plastic enter the oceans every year.

Direct Quotation

Direct quotation means repeating the source and placing it in quotation marks. If you use the exact same words as the source in your essay, you have to put them in quotation marks. That way, you're not accidentally using someone else's work as your own.

"Each year, the oceans are filled with millions of tons of added plastic" (Source B).

A summary is an overview of the information given in a source.

In this article, Smith discusses the potential consequences of increasing plastic waste in the ocean, stating that millions of tons of plastic enter the ocean every year (Source B) .

It's important to show the reader where you got your information from. You need to summarize , paraphrase , or directly quote the material and cite the source. This shows that you've done your research and helps you avoid taking credit for someone else's work.

Synthesis Essay - Key Takeaways

Frequently Asked Questions about Synthesis Essay

--> what is a synthesis essay.

A synthesis essay is an essay that involves gathering information from multiple sources and using it to support a central idea, or thesis. The synthesis essay is the first of three essays in the AP English Language and Composition Exam.

--> What is an example of a synthesis essay?

A synthesis essay is a short-form essay on the AP Language and Composition Exam that supports a thesis statement using information from multiple sources.

--> How to write a synthesis essay?

Form a thesis based on the main question in the prompt. Find relevant information in sources that can provide evidence for your thesis. Work the information into your body paragraphs, and make sure to show where you got the information from. Finish the essay with a conclusion.

--> What is the structure of a synthesis essay?

A synthesis essay has an introduction, where you state your thesis, a body, where you provide at least three sources of evidence for your thesis, and a conclusion, where you restate your thesis and draw conclusions from your evidence.

--> How do you write an introduction for a synthesis essay?

The introduction of a synthesis essay should address the prompt. Explain to the reader what the body of the essay is going to discuss, and state the thesis that the body is going to support. In other words, "tell them what you're going to tell them."

Final Synthesis Essay Quiz

What is the function of a synthesis essay?

Show answer

A synthesis essay is used to build strong arguments  by giving evidence from outside sources.

Show question

What are the three major sections of a synthesis essay?

Introduction, body, and conclusion

Where should you first state the thesis in your synthesis essay?

State your thesis first at the end of the introduction.

Which of these types of sources are best for giving scientific evidence?

Articles from experts

What is missing from this quote in a body paragraph?

"Hundreds of species have gone extinct because of deforestation."

The citation is missing! The source (either something like "Source A" or the name of the author) needs to go at the end of the sentence in parentheses. 

"Hundreds of species have gone extinct because of deforestation" (Source A).

What is the definition of synthesis in writing?

In writing, synthesis means  gathering information from different sources and using it to support a  central idea , or thesis .

How many sources should you take information from in your AP synthesis essay?

Take information from at least 3 sources to make a good argument and earn full points.

What kind of stance says that you agree with some parts of a claim, but disagree with others?

Defending the claim

Where would a literature excerpt be most effective as a source in a synthesis essay?

In the hook at the beginning of the introduction

How should you end each body paragraph of your synthesis essay?

End the body paragraph by explaining how the evidence from your source supports your thesis.

What kind of stance says that you agree with the claim in the synthesis essay prompt?

Why is it important to cite your sources in a synthesis essay? Choose the BEST answer.

It proves your evidence is credible and that you are not stealing intellectual property.

Which of the three common cohesive patterns do these phrases represent?

This shows that … 

This suggests …

Because of this …

Given this information …

In the same way …

Cause and effect

What kind of stance says that you disagree with the claim in the synthesis essay prompt?

In order to ...

As a result ...

As a solution to ...

To resolve this ...

Compare and contrast

What is the definition of a thesis statement?

A thesis statement is a one-sentence statement toward the end of the first paragraph (the introduction) that summarizes the main point of an essay. 

What are the primary goals of a thesis statement?

To set up the main idea for the reader

The thesis statement might be considered the "_______" of an essay, providing guidance on what's coming.

Where should the thesis statement appear in an essay?

The thesis statement should always appear toward the end of the first paragraph (the introduction).

What is the purpose of an expository thesis statement?

The purpose of an expository thesis statement is to explain the relationships between facts and ideas from different sources in one sentence.

What types of words should one stay away from when writing an argumentative thesis statement?

When writing an argumentative thesis statement, avoid vague position words like "for" or "against." Instead, one should explain their specific position on the issue.

What question should be asked when writing a comparative thesis statement? 

When writing a comparative thesis statement, one can ask "What are the most important areas of agreement and disagreement between my sources?"

What is the purpose of an analytical thesis statement?

The purpose of an analytical thesis statement is to describe what was analyzed, how it was analyzed, and what was learned from that analysis in one sentence.

What is the first step when writing a thesis statement?

The first step when writing a thesis statement is to determine what type of thesis statement is needed.

What is the second step of writing a thesis statement?

The second step of writing a thesis statement is to create a question that reflects the purpose of the essay.

An effective thesis statement states the main point AND ______.

An effective thesis statement states the main point AND summarizes the writer's reasoning.

Is it okay to write the thesis statement after writing the rest of the essay? 

It IS okay to write the thesis statement after the rest of the essay. Work in reverse! Use the body of the essay to decide which type of thesis statement is needed and figure out the main point. 

True or False: 

The body of an essay does not need to support or connect to the thesis statement. 

How long should a thesis statement be?

A thesis statement should be one sentence long. Keep it focused and concise!

What are some of the ways that a thesis statement can help with the writing process?


What is the third step of writing a thesis statement? 

The third step of writing a thesis statement is to answer the question created in step 2. 

What is an intended audience? 

An intended audience is the person or group of people a writer has in mind as potential readers for their work.

Identifying the intended audience can help with: 

Establishing purpose

What is the tone of an essay?

The tone is a writer's attitude toward their subject and intended audience. Think of tone as the "voice" of an essay.

When writing, use ONLY  ______, ______, or _____ the intended audience is familiar with.


The 3 types of intended audiences are:

What are some examples of an individual audience?

What are some examples of a group audience?

American teachers

True or False: When writing for a General Public audience, it is safe to assume they are familiar with the subject.

What is the first step in identifying the intended audience?

The first step in identifying the intended audience is establishing the purpose of the essay.

Where can one look for clues to identify the intended audience?

One can look to the essay prompt  for clues to identify the Intended Audience.

If the essay prompt gives no clues, what can be done to identify the intended audience?

If the essay prompt gives no clues, imagine who would be interested in the subject matter to determine the Intended Audience.

What specifics are important to consider when identifying an intended audience?

It is important to be as specific as possible when identifying the Intended Audience.

True: The specifics help with the writing.

When writing for a group audience, what should one consider?

When writing for a group audience, one should consider what this group of people is likely to know about and respond to in the essay.

What is the purpose of an essay?

The purpose of an essay is the effect the writer wants to have on the reader.

Why is it important to identify the intended audience?

It is important to identify the intended audience so one can achieve their purpose for writing.

True or False: The intended audience can be real or imaginary.

What is exigency?

Exigency is what a situation requires. In rhetoric, exigency is what is required to address an issue, problem, or situation. 

What is the key difference between rhetorical exigency and non-rhetorical exigency?

Rhetorical Exigency can be addressed with rhetoric. Non-rhetorical exigency cannot.

of the users don't pass the Synthesis Essay quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

More explanations about Synthesis Essay

Discover the right content for your subjects, business studies, combined science, english literature, environmental science, human geography, macroeconomics, microeconomics, no need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed packed into one app.

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Have all your study materials in one place.

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Join millions of people in learning anywhere, anytime - every day

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.

This is still free to read, it's not a paywall.

You need to register to keep reading, get free access to all of our study material, tailor-made.

Over 10 million students from across the world are already learning smarter.


StudySmarter bietet alles, was du für deinen Lernerfolg brauchst - in einer App!

The Writing Center of Princeton

Synthesis Essays: A Step-by-Step How-To Guide

A synthesis essay is generally a short essay which brings two or more sources (or perspectives) into conversation with each other.

The word “synthesis” confuses every student a little bit. Fortunately, this step-by-step how-to guide will see you through to success!

Here’s a step-by-step how-to guide, with examples, that will help you write yours.

Before drafting your essay:

After reading the sources and before writing your essay, ask yourself these questions:

In a way, writing a synthesis essay is similar to composing a summary. But a synthesis essay requires you to read more than one source and to identify the way the writers’ ideas and points of view are related.

Sometimes several sources will reach the same conclusion even though each source approaches the subject from a different point of view.

Other times, sources will discuss the same aspects of the problem/issue/debate but will reach different conclusions.

And sometimes, sources will simply repeat ideas you have read in other sources; however, this is unlikely in a high school or AP situation.

To better organize your thoughts about what you’ve read, do this:

There’s one more thing to do before writing: You need to articulate for yourself the relationships and connections among these ideas.

Sometimes the relationships are easy to find. For example, after reading several articles about censorship in newspapers, you may notice that most of the writers refer to or in some way use the First Amendment to help support their arguments and help persuade readers. In this case, you would want to describe the different ways the writers use the First Amendment in their arguments. To do this, ask yourself, “How does this writer exploit the value of the First Amendment/use the First Amendment to help persuade or manipulate the readers into thinking that she is right?

Sometimes articulating the relationships between ideas is not as easy. If you have trouble articulating clear relationships among the shared ideas you have noted, ask yourself these questions:

sythesis essay

Synthesis Essay Materials

The two synthesis essay questions below are examples of the question type that has been one of the three free-response questions on the AP English Language and Composition Exam as of the May 2007 exam. The synthesis question asks students to synthesize information from a variety of sources to inform their own discussion of a topic. Students are given a 15-minute reading period to accommodate the additional reading required for the question.

Below is a sample synthesis essay question, sample scoring guidelines, comments from the Chief Reader about the sample student essays, seven sample student responses, and scoring commentary for each sample.

Approximately 300 AP English Language and Composition students from eight schools in New York, Maine, Texas, Tennessee, Washington, Florida, and New Mexico wrote responses to this synthesis topic. Students from these schools were given a 15-minute reading period followed by a 40-minute writing period in which to complete the sample synthesis assignment.

An additional sample synthesis essay question is provided here.


  1. Synthesis Essay: Basic Guide with Examples

    sythesis essay

  2. How To Write A Conclusion For A Synthesis Essay

    sythesis essay

  3. Well-Written Synthesis Essay Examples

    sythesis essay

  4. Synthesis Essay: All You Need to Know to Write a Good Synthesis Paper!

    sythesis essay

  5. Synthesis Essay Example and Definition at KingEssays©

    sythesis essay

  6. Synthesis Essay: All You Need to Know to Write a Good Synthesis Paper!

    sythesis essay




  3. Writing A Descriptive Essay

  4. The basic understanding about FM Synthesis in Reason

  5. How to: Conclude a Language Analysis Essay

  6. How to write a Descriptive essay? [ Structure| Steps| Tips]


  1. Writing a Synthesis Essay

    Writing a Synthesis Essay. 1. What is a synthesis? A synthesis is a written discussion incorporating support from several sources of differing views. This.

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

    A synthesis essay is a type of essay that gathers information from a variety of sources to form a new idea, question, or argumentative thesis.

  3. How to Write a Synthesis Essay: 15 Steps (with Pictures)

    The purpose of a synthesis essay is to make insightful connections between parts of a work, or multiple works, with the goal of ultimately presenting and

  4. Writing Guide with Synthesis Essay Example

    Writing a synthesis paper is just like creating any other form of thesis. According to the synthesis essay definition, it is a written

  5. What Is a Synthesis Essay?

    successful synthesis essay, you must gather research on your chosen topic, discover meaningful connections throughout your research, and develop a

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

    In other words, a synthesis essay asks you to state your claim on a topic, then highlight the relationships between several sources that support

  7. How to Write a Synthesis Essay: Definition & Example

    A synthesis essay is a written work that takes a unique viewpoint about a central idea, theme, or topic, and backs it up with a combination of

  8. Synthesis Essay: Defintion, Topics & Examples

    A synthesis essay is an essay that involves gathering information from multiple sources and using it to support a central idea, or thesis. The synthesis essay

  9. Synthesis Essays: A Step-by-Step How- To Guide

    A synthesis essay is generally a short essay which brings two or more sources (or perspectives) into conversation with each other.

  10. Synthesis Essay Materials

    The synthesis question asks students to synthesize information from a variety of sources to inform their own discussion of a topic. Students are given a 15-