How to Write a Synthesis Essay: Effective Approach

As you already know, a student can write different types of essays in school. As you advance in your education, you encounter more challenging essay types, like synthesis essays, among others. The mention of synthesis essays often sends students running in the other direction; it thrills them – negatively. “Synthesis essay” sounds like a complicated piece of writing, but it’s all about the writing process – the steps taken.

Here is a guide showing you a practical approach to writing a synthesis essay – you’ll stop dreading them after this. You can use this approach to write an impressive synthesis essay that your teacher will be delighted to award an “A.”

Synthesis essay definition: what is a synthesis essay?

If you have an AP Lang synthesis essay to write, you first need to understand what you’re required to do. A synthesis essay is a piece of academic writing that gathers information from different sources to form a new question, idea, or argumentative thesis. Authors of synthesis essays typically discuss ideas, information, data, and evidence from several sources, explaining or arguing them.

High school and college students are familiar with synthesis essays because that’s where you write them most. They typically follow a five-paragraph essay structure, including theses or questions on which the essay will be based. While the theses may be based on a writer’s subjective opinion, they try to use objective evidence to argue their points. Opinion essays are different from argumentative essays, although the formatting is essentially the same.

A practical approach to how to write a synthesis essay

A standard synthesis essay will walk its audience or readers through a series of ideas with sources to prove or explain a central point. Here is a practical approach and step-by-step guide on how to write a synthesis essay.

Step 1: Choose your topic

The first step in writing a synthesis essay is choosing a topic; this requires a great deal of brainstorming. You may need to juggle a few synthesis essay topics before concluding on one, so remain flexible. While brainstorming ideas for your essay topic, ensure you prioritize the subjects you’re passionate about.

Step 2: Research

Extensively research your chosen topic on the internet, library, or available sources. For example, you can use statistics of scientific papers relevant to your topic or primary academic sources for scholars’ and experts’ quotes. Research helps you develop your viewpoint and back it up with factual information – which is why you should use credible, unbiased sources.

Step 3: Outline

Next, create an outline organizing how each of your sources relates to your topic and supports your point of view. Your synthesis essay should typically focus on either of two things: making an argument or explaining a specific perspective.

Step 4: Your first and final drafts

Once your synthesis essay outline is ready, you can create the first draft of the essay, starting with the introduction. We will talk more about the standard structure of a synthesis essay subsequently. However, do understand that you may need to create several drafts before writing the one you’ll eventually submit. With each draft, you will correct errors, churn out irrelevant points, and polish your paper to be more professional.

Step 5: Read through

Before submitting the final draft of your synthesis essay, proofread it a few times. You can also give your colleague or anyone around you who can help you proofread the paper. Proofreading ensures every grammatical error is corrected and that your grammar, syntax, and flow are accurate and precise.

The standard synthesis essay structure

Whether you are writing a 500-word essay or a 5,000-word essay, synthesis essays typically follow the same structure. Synthesis essays follow a five-paragraph format, with one introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs, and one conclusion paragraph.

  • Introduction: The introduction is the synthesis essay’s first paragraph, and it presents the general premise of the paper and the necessary information. You will include a strong thesis statement in the introductory paragraph, stating the argument you’re making or the viewpoint you’re exploring.
  • Body: A synthesis essay has three body paragraphs containing three main sections: a topic sentence, supporting sentences, and a concluding sentence. Each paragraph should discuss the different supporting arguments and elements of your thesis, with the evidence you drew from each source. You will explain the common theme between your sources, their relevance to your topic, and how they support it.
  • Conclusion: This is where you wrap up the synthesis essay, restating your thesis and summarizing your key supporting ideas. The conclusion should offer your readers a final impression of the essay’s central idea.


Do you now believe that a synthesis essay isn’t as hard as it sounds? You only need to learn how to choose a topic, do thorough research, and follow the correct synthesis essay template.

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