How To Write A Synthesis Essay


how to write a synthesis essay

Have you been given the task to write a synthesis essay, and you’re not sure how to go about it? Not to worry, as this guide will show you what a synthesis essay is, and walk you through how to create a top grading essay. Let’s take a look at how these are written.

What Is A Synthesis Essay?

This is the first thing you need to know, before you can even start writing. A synthesis paper is essentially a paper that discusses similar ideas. Typically, you’ll take ideas from two or more sources, and use your essay to drill down for the meaning in them.

As an example, you may have two sources that discuss teenagers and smartphone use. One could be a piece about how smartphones are needed in the modern world, and another that looks at how teenagers use social media. Once you’ve read and really analysed those sources, you can isolate the shared idea between them that teenager’s use of social media is not a catastrophe ready to happen.

There are two types of synthesis essay: explanatory and argumentative essays. If you’re writing an explanatory essay, you’re simply presenting the ideas in your sources to the reader. In an argumentative essay, you’ll be using those sources in your topic to make a point.

How To Write A Synthesis Essay

Now you know what a synthesis essay is, you need to write yours. Here’s how you should go about it:

Understand the assignment: Like any essay, firstly you’ll need to understand the assignment you’ve been given. Read it carefully to know how you should start writing your essay. For example, is the professor looking for an explanatory or argumentative essay? Have they given you a topic, or any sources to use?

If you haven’t been given a topic, then you’ll need to find one that fits your subject and assignment. You can take a look online to find ideas that fit your needs.

Analyse your sources: Once you have a topic, you’ll need to find the sources that you want to use in your essay. Your professor may have already given you sources to use, or you may need to find some on your own. Either way, you’ll want to find credible sources from a wide range of essay writers, to get a good all round idea of the subject at hand.

With this, you can start analysing your sources that you’ll use in the essay. Remember that you’re looking for their core argument, and what they both share. Take notes as you read them, and pull out any key facts or quotes that you’ll want to use in the text.

Write an outline: With your research you’re now ready to write an outline. Like any essay, your synthesis essay will need an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Your introduction will show your thesis, that is, what you believe your sources have in common. Your body will argue those points, and the conclusion will tie this together.

In the body, each paragraph should bring in a different point. Ensure that you’ll be able to back those points up using the sources you have, as well as other evidence. Try to order them in a way that makes sense for the reader.

Write your essay: Now you’re ready to get writing. Give yourself plenty of time to do this, and make a couple of drafts before you have the finished piece. That allows you to polish the essay up as you go and make it the best it can be.

Proofread your essay: Once you’re finished writing, you’ll be ready to start proofreading your essay. Make sure you leave time for this step, as it’s amazing what you may need to correct before you can submit it. Without proofreading, you can lose marks on very easily fixable mistakes.

Example Of A Synthesis Essay

Let’s take that example earlier, of teenagers and smartphone use. How would that synthesis essay look? You’ll have two sources, the first one on smartphone usage in general and the second on teenagers and social media.

In your intro, you would look to put forward the idea that teenager’s smartphone use is not a danger to them. In the body of the text, it would then use each paragraph to pull ideas from both sources that back this up. So, it could look like this:

Paragraph one: Smartphone usage has gone up across all generations, as seen in your first source.

Paragraph two: On a similar note, social media usage is up amongst all generations, as seen in that first source again.

Paragraph three: Teenagers use different social media sites to adults, so they are given different information, as the second source shows.

Paragraph four: Because teenagers are more online savvy, as seen in both sources, they are more likely to critically think about what they see online.

In your conclusion, these points are then brought together to show how all generations are using smartphones more, but it’s actually older generations that are facing more risks, as they’re not considering the information, they take in through them.

Topic Ideas For Synthesis Essay

Not sure what to write your essay on? A good synthesis essay topic won’t have a yes or no answer, and won’t be something that’s easily proven by one side, such as ‘the flat earth theory’. Instead, they should be something that’s debatable. This includes the following ideas:

  • Immigration policy
  • Gun control
  • Drug legalization
  • Income equality
  • Impact of Instagram on self confidence
  • Can online communities create a sense of belonging?

These are just a few ideas, but now you have an idea of how these topics would work.

Now you know what a synthesis essay is, and how to write one. With all this in mind, you can start crafting an essay that will get you top marks.

written by Mary Watson

editor and tutor, 12 years experience

Mary, our exceptional editor and online tutor, brings a wealth of knowledge to the table. With her extensive expertise in academic writing, she guides and mentors aspiring students, providing them with constructive feedback that propels their essays to the next level.