Why you Should NOT Write a 3-point Thesis

Jun 11, 2013 by

Why you Should NOT Write a 3-point Thesis

There’s nothing less scary than a movie where you know who the killer is going to be at the end. There’s nothing more boring than a sports game where you know the final score already. There’s nothing less annoying than your parents giving you the same old, same old rant about how you need to keep your grades up.


Why are these so terrible? Because they’re predictable and formulaic.


Predictability and formula can work well in some cases, but they often completely ruin certain things. One of those certain things is your essays. And this is why you should AVOID writing a 3-point thesis for your ACT essay.


Learning how to write a 3-point thesis is something every child learns in grade school. A 3-point thesis is a good thing to learn…for a child. But by the time you want to impress the ACT graders as a high school student that you are a sophisticated, adult writer and thinker, then you need to come up with a different plan.


A 3-point thesis in your ACT essay is like wearing pigtails for your graduation picture. Or training wheels on your motorcycle. It just doesn’t mesh with the adult world of communication. It serves its purpose when you’re young, but it is the distinguishing mark of a young writer – not a mature one.


So AVOID using a 3-point thesis. Right away an ACT writing grader will notice the 3-point thesis and perceive you to be a child-like writer who knows the rules and follows the formulas, but does not deserve the respect of an adult. This is a sure-fire way to guarantee that you receive nothing higher than a 4 out of 6. The grader will put you in that box before even exiting your introduction.


So what should you do instead?


Remember that at its most basic, functional level, a thesis only really needs to do ONE THING: to tell your reader what argument you will be making. You don’t need to list three reasons why your argument is true. You may not even have three worthwhile reasons to write about.


So don’t spend the first excruciating minutes trying to figure out what three reasons you should give for your point and plugging them into a formula that will undoubtedly sound like everyone else’s thesis. Instead, try to compose a thesis that describes the entire CONTEXT your argument fits into.

Bad 3-point Thesis: “Movies made about books are bad to watch because they ruin the book, deviate from the book’s plot, and give kids a tempting alternative to actually reading.”


Better Thesis: “Although students might enjoy watching movies made about the books they read for school, they should avoid watching them until long after they finish the course because watching films made about books inevitably corrupts they’re understanding of that book’s content and message.”


See how that better thesis works? First, it shares what one side might think about the issue, then it shares the side the writer is taking, and then it shares the general reason (not three reasons) why that point is good. By writing in your essay thesis the general idea, all your body paragraphs will automatically fit it.


It’s less formulaic or predictable. It’s sophisticated, adult-like writing. Plus, it’ll even say you some time.


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