What is a thesis statement?
A thesis statement is a statement which clearly and concisely sums up your essay's overall argument and response to the question.
Have a look at this question:
“The break-up of the Soviet Union was the unintended result of policies introduced by Gorbachev.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?
Now have a look at these 'thesis' statements. Which is the most effective and why?
Gorbachev never intended for the Soviet Union to break-up and his policies aimed to hold it together.
Gorbachev's policies to a large extent did contribute to the break-up of the Soviet Union, however Reagan also played a role, albeit a lesser one, in the break-up of the Soviet Union.
Gorbachev’s policies of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) did greatly contribute to the collapse of the Soviet Union, something he never intended to spur on. Nevertheless, his policies alone do not explain the break-up of the Soviet Union: the weakness of the Soviet economy must also be taken into consideration, as must the role played by the Reagan administration in the United States and the growth of nationalism in the satellite states.
So, which one is the most effective?
A thesis statement should aim to be:
All three thesis statements are clear—it is not a struggle to understand what they are trying to say.
The first and the second thesis statements are reasonably concise. However, the third thesis statement isn't.
The most well considered thesis statement is number 2. Why? Well, it directly answers the question by stating that Gorbachev's policies were to a large extent responsible for the break-up of the Soviet Union. And then it considers a factor that was to a smaller extent also responsible for the break-up of the Soviet Union.
Statement number 1 is not really well considered as it fails to address the extent to which Gorbachev's policies were responsible for the break-up of the Soviet Union and therefore doesn't address the question.
Statement number 3 is not really well considered as it tries to cover too much. There is simply not enough time in an IB History essay to cover 4 different factors contributing to the break-up of the Soviet Union. It would be impossible to do justice to any single argument if you tried to cover the role played by Gorbachev's polices, the role played by the Soviet economy, the role played by Reagan, and the role played by the growth of nationalism in the satellite states in contributing to the break-up of the Soviet Union.
Therefore, thesis statement number 2 ticks all the boxes—clear, concise, considered—and is the most effective thesis statement.
Why don't you give it a try? Have a look at the following question and try to compose your own thesis statement. If you think it's worth sharing with others, please post it in the comments below!
'Assess the contribution of two Cold War leaders to the development of Cold War tensions.'