While in college, students are given different types of written assignments to prepare, and a synthesis essay is one of them. While being less common than argumentative, critical and other papers, a synthesis essay may seem to be rather challenging at first. But there’s nothing to worry about – our step by step guide for beginners reveals all you should know about crafting synthesis essays, including information about their structure, contents, format, tips on writing an outline, and more. With our help, you’ll write a good synthesis essay that will score you the best grade.

What Is a Synthesis Paper and What Should You Know About It

By definition, synthesis is a process of driving relations between different pieces of information, classifying them, and presenting in an organized manner. Therefore, the term ‘synthesis essay’ refers to a written assignment that collects data from several sources and puts it together in a common content. The aim of a synthesis paper is not just to find valid connections between parts of one work or between multiple sources, but to come up with a claim on a given topic, present and support it.

It’s worth mentioning that synthesis paper is a general name. There exist different types of synthesis essays, based on their contents and distinctive features. Two most popular ones are:

  • Explanatory synthesis – it doesn’t argue over a point, but simply presents a particular topic to the readers, objectively and clearly, through descriptions, and helps them understand it.
  • Argumentative synthesis – in this type of essay a writer presents their own point of view, in a concise, logical manner, and supports it by examples and relevant facts.

If you are allowed to choose a topic for your synthesis paper, do it wisely. Make it broad enough to let you pull a few related sources of information together but at the same not too broad so that it wouldn’t include widely varying sources. However, it’s common for professors to assign students to a particular topic of a synthesis essay or let them choose one from a given list.

Before you start writing, search for all relevant material that correlates to your topic, and read it carefully. Remember, that the better you know the subject, the easier the process of writing will be. Take notes while researching and reading; eventually, you’ll form them into an outline of your future essay. It should contain these basic points:

  • First paragraph – the introduction
  • Several paragraphs of the main
  • Last paragraph – the conclusion

An outline will work as a plan, and won’t let you miss out anything. You can write a detailed draft based on your framework and keep enhancing it to transform into the final version of the essay.

How to Start a Synthesis Essay?

Like many other types of student essays, a synthesis paper should start with an introduction. Normally, it should take one paragraph and contain an interesting example or a hook sentence that grabs the reader’s attention and induces them to learn more. Remember that quite often writing a good introduction may appear to be tricky and take more time than you expect. This introduction example may inspire you if you struggle to produce a good one:

synthesis essay example

How to Write a Thesis for a Synthesis Essay?

The thesis is the main idea presented in the essay. You must express it as one complete sentence which states the topic of the essay and gives your assertion on it. Most often, the thesis becomes the final sentence of the first paragraph and concludes the introductory part.

Next comes the main body of the synthesis essay in which you prove the main statement by using the source material. This part of the work may consist of a different number of paragraphs, but generally, it’s recommended not to make each section longer than five sentences.

How to Write a Synthesis Essay AP Lang?

AP English students who aim to get the Advanced Placement (AP) English credit have to write the AP Language and Composition essays during their final exam. They have to produce 3 pieces within 2 hours. One of these essays is the synthesis, and two others – rhetorical analyses and argument.

To succeed in the exam, it’s highly recommended to write practice essays at home. For this purpose, you can use the prompts of the AP Lang essays of the past years. You also should limit the timing while practicing, to prepare self for the time constraints of the real exam.

In a synthesis AP Language essay prompt, you’ll find several texts on the given topic. First, you should read them thoroughly and then produce the argument which synthesizes them.

Which Synthesis Essay Format Is Right?

Proper formatting is essential for a great synthesis essay. You may be required to write your paper in APA, MLA, Harvard, Oxford or Turabian format. All these styles have their own peculiarities and expect you to be attentive to details.

In case your professor hasn’t specified their demands, you should simply format the essay in a readable and clear manner. Use the 12pt size of Calibri, Arial or Times New Roman font and don’t forget to put the names, date, and details of the course on the paper’s header.

How to Write a Conclusion for a Synthesis Essay?

The conclusion of the paper should briefly state your point once again and show how the ideas in the thesis support it. You can also present further perspectives on the topic.

Make sure to proofread and edit your synthesis essay before turning it in.