Barbara P
Barbara P

Learn How to Write a Synthesis Essay Step by Step

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Synthesis Essay

Ever found yourself in a panic, realizing your synthesis essay is due tomorrow, and you're absolutely clueless about where to start?

Asking yourself, 'How do I mix these sources together?' Tackling a synthesis essay can be a headache, but relax!

In this guide, we will walk you through the process of writing a synthesis essay, along with some amazing topics and examples. After reading this guide, you’ll be able to choose an effective topic, assert a strong claim, collect and combine data, and create a well-written and original essay.

So let’s get started!

On This PageArrow Down

  • 1. What is a Synthesis Essay?
  • 2. Synthesis Essay Types
  • 3. Synthesis Essay Structure
  • 4. How to Write a Synthesis Essay?
  • 5. Synthesis Essay Examples
  • 6. Synthesis Essay Topics
  • 7. Synthesis Essay Writing Tips

What is a Synthesis Essay?

According to the synthesis essay definition,

“It is an essay that takes a stance on a particular topic and then backs it up by combining the data collected from multiple sources. It is a combination and fusion of different sources that have a common point of view and shape a common claim through it.”

When you write a synthesis essay or paper, your goal is to combine different works on the same subject into one cohesive message. This means that you need to show the connection between all of the different sources that you are discussing.

The Role of Synthesis in Academic Research

Synthesis plays a crucial role in academic research by bringing together diverse ideas and information. It helps scholars analyze multiple sources, identify patterns, and construct a comprehensive understanding of a topic. 

This integration strengthens the credibility of research and fosters a deeper insight into complex subjects.

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Synthesis Essay Types

There are two types of a synthesis essay:

  1. The Explanatory Synthesis 
  2. The Argumentative Synthesis

Let’s take a look at the difference between explanatory vs. argumentative synthesis essays: 

Explanatory Synthesis

Argumentative Synthesis

Explain a topic or concept objectively.

Present a specific stance or viewpoint.

Focuses on providing information.

Takes a clear position on the issue.

Inform and educate the audience.

Persuade the audience to accept a claim.

Presents information from various sources.

Supports an argument with evidence.

Neutral and objective.

Can be persuasive, assertive, or opinionated.

Typically follows a chronological or thematic structure.

Often follows a structured argumentative pattern.

Example: "The Evolution of Renewable Energy Sources."

Example: "The Impact of Social Media on Society."

What is an AP Lang Synthesis Essay?

An AP Lang, Advanced Placement Language, is a college-level rhetoric and writing curriculum course. The purpose of assigning such essays is to test and analyze the students’ writing abilities, language command, and understanding capabilities.

For writing this essay, students are given multiple sources to analyze. They are asked to form a claim or argument about the given topic and formulate an effective essay on it.

Synthesis Essay Structure

A synthesis essay follows a well-organized structure to effectively convey information and arguments.

The structure typically consists:

  1. Introduction
  2. Body Paragraphs
  3. Conclusion

The body section is where the flexibility comes into play. Depending on the complexity of the topic and the depth of analysis, you may have more than three body paragraphs. 

Here is a simple synthesis essay outline:

Synthesis Essay Format


  • Hook
  • Background information
  • Thesis statement

Body Paragraphs (Multiple):

  • Topic sentence
  • Evidence from sources
  • Analysis and connection to the thesis


  • Summary of main points
  • Restate thesis
  • Final insights or call to action.


  • List of all sources used in the essay
  • Follow the specified citation style

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How to Write a Synthesis Essay?

Writing a synthesis essay involves several detailed steps to ensure a coherent and well-supported argument. Here's a comprehensive guide to write a compelling synthesis essay:

Step 1: Understand the Prompt

First and foremost start your essay prep by carefully reading  the prompt. Identify the central theme or issue and the specific requirements for the essay.

Step 2: Choose a Suitable Topic

Select a topic that allows for a synthesis of multiple sources. Ensure the topic is neither too broad nor too narrow, providing enough material for analysis.

Example: Select a specific aspect like "The Influence of Social Media on Face-to-Face Communication" to narrow down the broad theme of technology's impact.

Step 3: Conduct Research

Gather information from various sources such as articles, books, and academic journals. Consider both primary and secondary sources to develop a comprehensive understanding of the topic.

Step 4: Develop a Working Thesis

Formulate a clear and concise thesis statement that reflects your main argument. A good thesis should guide the organization of your essay.

Example: "While social media enhances connectivity, its prevalence has resulted in a decline in meaningful face-to-face interactions, altering communication patterns."

Step 5: Create an Outline

Structure a well-organized synthesis essay outline. Plan the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion, allocating specific points and evidence to each section.

Step 6: Write Introduction

Now that you have developed an outline it's time to write the essay. Begin your synthesis essay introduction with a hook to engage readers. Provide background information on the topic and present a strong thesis statement, summarizing your main argument or stance. 

Clearly state the purpose of the synthesis essay.

Step 7: Explain Arguments in Body Paragraphs

Each paragraph should focus on a specific aspect of your argument. Begin with a topic sentence that introduces the main point of the paragraph.

Support your points with evidence from the sources, incorporating quotes or paraphrased content. Analyze and explain how the evidence supports your thesis. Connect the information from different sources to demonstrate synthesis.

Use Source Material Effectively

Integrate quotes or information from sources smoothly into your own writing. Read the sources carefully, and attribute them following the citation style specified in the prompt.

Example: Integrate a study showing a decrease in quality family time due to excessive screen use, attributing the findings to the author (Smith, 2020).

Step 8: Address Counterarguments

Acknowledge and address potential counterarguments. Use techniques like concession or the straw man approach to strengthen your position.

Example: Acknowledge the argument that social media fosters global connections, then refute it by emphasizing the superficial nature of many online interactions.

Step 9: Conclude Your Essay

Summarize the main points discussed in the body paragraphs. Restate your thesis in a conclusive manner.

Provide final insights or implications related to the topic. End with a thought-provoking statement or call to action.

Step 10: Edit and Revise

Review your essay for clarity, coherence, and logical flow. Check for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors.
Ensure that your essay meets any specific formatting requirements.

Step 11: Create a Bibliography

Cite your sources properly and include a list of all the sources used in your essay. Follow the citation style specified by your instructor (e.g., APA, MLA). Provide the author's name, title of the source, publication date, and any other relevant information.

Step 12: Final Check 

Before submission, perform a final check to ensure all requirements are met, and the essay is polished and error-free.
By following these detailed steps, you can effectively navigate the process of writing a synthesis essay.

Synthesis Essay Examples

Let’s take a look at some synthesis essay pdf examples to get an idea how to perfectly structure your essay: 

Expert Tip

Need more sample essays for inspiration? We have got you covered in our “synthesis essay examples” blog. Check it out!

Synthesis Essay Topics

Synthesis essay topics often revolve around current and relevant issues. Here are some frequently asked synthesis essay topics:

  • Impact of Social Media on Society
  • Climate Change and Global Warming
  • Artificial Intelligence in Modern Society
  • Healthcare and Technology
  • The Future of Work
  • Education Reform in the 21st Century
  • Cybersecurity and Privacy
  • Impact of Artificial Sweeteners on Health
  • Criminal Justice Reform
  • Social Equality and Civil Rights Movements

Expert Tip

If you are looking for more topic ideas for your synthesis essay read our synthesis essay topics blog!

Synthesis Essay Writing Tips

Here are some useful tips for writing synthesis essays:

Tip #1 Diverse Sources 

Draw from a variety of sources—academic articles, books, and reputable online platforms—to enrich your synthesis and present a well-rounded argument.

Tip #2 Critical Analysis

Evaluate the reliability and credibility of your sources. Consider the biases, motives, and methodologies to ensure a nuanced understanding.

Tip #3 Effective Transitions

Seamlessly connect ideas between paragraphs to maintain a smooth flow. Clear transitions enhance the coherence of your synthesis essay.

Tip #4 Thematic Unity

Align your body paragraphs around key themes, ensuring a cohesive and interconnected exploration of your topic.

Tip #5 Concise Language

Use precise language to convey your ideas, avoiding unnecessary verbosity for a more impactful synthesis essay.

Tip #6 Counterarguments

Acknowledge and address opposing viewpoints to strengthen your argument and demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the topic.

Tip #7 Societal Relevance

Highlight the broader implications of your synthesis, emphasizing the societal relevance and real-world applications of your argument.

Tip #8 Varied Sentence Structure

Incorporate a mix of sentence structures—simple, compound, and complex—to enhance the readability of your synthesis essay.

In conclusion, we've covered all the necessary steps to write an outstanding synthesis essay. This guide provides the essential tools and insights for effective synthesis, from understanding the process to crafting a cohesive argument.

We hope this comprehensive guide has empowered you to tackle your synthesis essays with confidence.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is a synthesis essay argumentative?

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A synthesis essay does present an argument however it is not a type of argumentative essay. Both have entirely different purposes and outlines.

Do you use quotes in a synthesis essay?

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Quotes should only be used as short phrases or snippets so they don't get confusing for readers. When working with sources in your essay, it's important to keep the flow of written words and not disrupt any sentences.

What are the goals of a synthesis essay?

FAQ Icon

When you write a synthesis essay or paper, your goal is to combine different works on the same subject into one cohesive message. This means that you need to show the connection between all of the different sources that you are discussing.

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Barbara P


Barbara P

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

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