How to Write an Expository Essay Thesis Statement

How to Write an Expository Essay Thesis Statement

Knowing how to write an expository essay thesis statement is perhaps, the most important step in completing an expository essay successfully. A thesis statement refers to a sentence through which you express the major ideas of your expository essay while answering the posed research question.

A thesis statement should provide a simple and immediate way of following what your essay is discussing and what you intend to tell readers. An expository essay is usually required in college and high school classes and it allows the writer to make a specific argument or to explore an argument about an idea. In most cases, a thesis statement comes at the end of an introductory paragraph of an expository essay. It makes the opinion that the writer wishes to defend in the essay clearly.

What you need to know before you know how to write an expository essay thesis statement

An expository essay entails explaining something to an audience.

As such, a thesis statement of an expository essay should tell readers the following:

  • What do you intend to explain to them?
  • Categories that you will use in organizing the explanation
  • The order of presenting the categories.

How to write an expository essay thesis statement step by step

If you do not craft a good thesis statement for your expository essay, your thoughts will not be organized in the essay and writing your essay persuasively will not be possible. Basically, a thesis statement is a theme of an expository essay. Everything that you say in the essay should refer to and stem from your thesis statement. Thus, your thesis statement for an expository essay is the anchor of your essay.

To write a good thesis statement for an expository essay, follow these steps:

Step 1: Understand what to accomplish with a thesis statement

You should express a considered viewpoint through your thesis statement. This is different from an opinion since anybody has an opinion that they can express. For instance, if you say that you prefer ice cream to chocolate, another person can disagree or agree. However, this will not lead to an argument or investigation of a particular issue. Usually, blanket opinions stop conversations while thesis statements start conversations.

Step 2: Define your viewpoint

After receiving the expository essay assignment, come up with a less structured piece of writing. Take notes in a free writing manner so that you can sort your thoughts about an issue first. For instance, you can come up with a list of advantages and disadvantages of something before making a final decision on the position to take. This will enable you to clarify your thoughts or even decide on the line that your argument should take.

Step 3: Organize and clarify your thoughts to come up with a clear thesis statement

Use complex sentences to write a thesis statement because complex sentences enable you to convey rich thoughts which cannot be communicated with simple sentences. Complex sentences make unpacking and elaborating your thoughts in the expository essay’s body possible.


Simple sentence: I hate the weather in San Francisco during summer.

Complex sentence: Although the weather in San Francisco can be unpredictable and variable during summer, it can be unpleasant after mastering the “layering art.”


The first statement is simply an opinion that one can respond to by either agreeing or disagreeing. You can say you also hate the weather or say you love it. Thus, there is no conversation that is started by this statement because it is a blanket, flat statement. On the other hand, the second statement has more to offer to the reader. Its structure is complex and it has subordinate clauses. For instance, the writer can explain what it means for the weather to be unpredictable and variable. Additionally, the writer can elaborate on the idea of layering and how this is an art. Even the structure of this sentence alone shows how rich it is.

Step 4: Analyze

Instead of moralizing, analyze. Do not use words like must or should because they dictate what readers should do or should not do and these are usually off-putting. However, providing an interesting or fresh way of thinking about a complex or controversial issue invites readers even if the presented thought line has flaws.

Step 5: Do not generalize

Avoid terms like “everyone,” “all,” and “no one” among others, and use words like “some” or “many.” When a thesis of an expository essay makes universal statement it creates easy spots for an easy attack.

Bonus tips on how to write an expository essay thesis statement

  • Clarify directions

It is important that you understand what the assessor or teacher expects before you start writing a thesis statement for your expository essay. Clarifying directions enables you to know what exactly you are supposed to write an expository essay on. Remember that a thesis statement is the anchor of an expository essay. If you do not understand the instructions, you will come up with a thesis statement that does not address the issue that your instructor expects you to address. Thus, even your essay will not meet the requirements set by the instructor.

  • Make your thesis statement debatable and contestable

A good thesis statement should be debatable and contestable. This means that other reasonable people should object it. For instance, a statement like, “murder is a bad act for a society” is not a thesis statement unless it is qualified. Similarly, a statement like “the earth goes around the sun” is not a thesis statement since it simply states a fact.

  • Make your thesis statement complex

A vague or simple claim will lead to an unfocused expository essay. However, a complex, specific and rich claim will lead to a more coherent essay. For instance, “college athletics are generally unfair” cannot be used to write a good thesis statement. A statement like, “college athletics cause unfair scholarship funds’ distribution” can be used to write a clearer essay. How complex your thesis statement is should depend on the kind of essay that you want to write by expounding the reason that you state via your thesis statement by providing more details.

  • Make your thesis statement supportable

A statement that you cannot support is not a thesis statement because you will not have adequate content to use in writing the body. A statement that cannot be supported is either based on a belief system or taste. For instance, “there is life for the souls after death” or “the best flavor for ice cream is chocolate.” Make sure that your thesis statement is qualified correctly because nothing or all terms such as never and always are usually hard to support through an expository essay.

  • Be concise

This is perhaps, one of the most important tips on how to write an expository essay thesis statement. Take time to consider the words that you have used in your thesis statement for an expository essay. Although your thesis statement ought to be conceptually complex, you should not use too complicated words in it. Use words that make it concise, clear and above all, grammatically correct. You can ask a friend to read your thesis statement and give you feedback after which you can re-write it to ensure that it tells readers exactly what you want it to mean.

Expository essay thesis statement samples

Example 1:

Although the Southerners and Northerners engaged in Civil War over the slavery issue, the Northerners were fighting on moral basis while the Southerners were fighting to preserve their own institutions.


While writing an expository essay using such a thesis, you can expound on the causes of the war and how disagreements emerged between the two sides of these causes.

Example 2

Through contrasting shore and river scenes, the Huckleberry Film by Mark Twain suggests that leaving a civilized society to join nature is necessary to find the true democratic ideals of the American’s expression.


This is a good working thesis for an expository essay because it highlights a vital aspect of the investigation of the film. It interprets the literary work on the basis of its content analysis. Of course, evidence from the work must be presented so that the expository essay can be successful in convincing the readers about the presented interpretation.

How to evaluate an expository essay thesis statement

Once you have known how to write an expository essay thesis statement, it is important that you know how to evaluate it.

To do this, ask the following questions:

  • Does my thesis answer the question prompt?
  • Does my thesis indicate the position that I have taken that can be opposed or challenged by others?
  • Is my thesis specific?
  • Does my thesis statement pass the so what, why, and how tests?

If you answer yes to these questions, then you have a strong expository essay thesis statement. However, if you answer no to any of these questions, consider revising your thesis statement.

How to Write an Expository Essay Thesis Statement: References

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