Learn to Write a Synthesis Essay in 5 Steps (+Tips)

Greetings, everyone! It’s great to see you again today. Producing a synthesis essay is one of the most challenging academic papers a student has to write.

My classmates and I had a bad experience of writing this paper in high school. The school was divided into three trimesters. Those trimesters were divided into separate tasks:

  • First trimester: Choosing a topic and researching journal articles
  • Second trimester: Making notecards, outlining, and drafting
  • Third trimester: Writing the drafts and submitting the final paper

A few of my classmates only reached the final step. That’s how difficult it was to produce a synthesis paper from my experience. However, I do acknowledge that your teacher’s might differ from mine.

I hope this guide will motivate you to take on the challenge, as this is not a walk in the park.

What is a Synthesis Essay?

What is a synthesis essay?

According to the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, the word “synthesis” is defined as “the composition or combination of parts or elements so as to form a whole.”

As stated by the Miami Coral Park Senior High School, you are expected to:

  • Draw information from various sources (provided by your teacher) and formulate a claim for your synthesis essay.
  • Evaluate and establish the relationship between both sides of the argument.

Take note: Synthesis essays are not summaries.

Synthesis Essay Outline/Structure

Synthesis essay outline/structure

This is a sample outline for your synthesis essay. Feel free to make changes to suit your needs.

I. Introduction

      a. Background information/context of your topic (a summary would do)

      b. Why do you think your topic is a subject of debate? Or why is your topic controversial?

      c. Your thesis statement 

II. Body

       a. Point #1

                1.a. Evidence/supporting claim 

                2.a. Your analysis/evaluation of your first point

        b. Point #2

               1.a. Evidence/supporting claim

               2.a Your analysis/evaluation of your first point

        c. Point #3

                1.a. Evidence/supporting claim

                2.a. Your analysis/evaluation of your third point

          d. A resolution

                1.a Combines all of your main points in an attempt to establish a common ground (depending on what is asked in the essay prompt)

III. Conclusion 

       a. A brief summary of the main points of your essay

       b. Reassert your thesis statement

       c. Final notes/insights

How to Write a Synthesis Essay?

How to write a synthesis essay

This is a general tutorial on how to write your very own synthesis essay.

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1Read/Find a Topic!

You should find a debatable topic for your synthesis essay.


  • The relationship between video games and aggression or violence
  • Gun control

Read your essay prompt carefully to find out your synthesis paper’s objectives.

Take note: Be sure to follow the directions and requirements.

2Read (again) Your Sources/Find Sources

You might need to find three to seven references. Don’t forget to use academic and timely sources.

Take note: Always remember to read and take down notes.

3Form Your Thesis Statement!

You can do this after you have read your references. Ask yourself this question:

  • Given these sources, what will be my perspective on this issue?

Keep the objective of your paper in mind as you formulate your thesis.


Organize everything into an outline. It prevents your paper from appearing too cluttered.


Each paragraph must be dedicated to one topic, viewpoint, or theme.

  • Cite your sources correctly (APA, Chicago, Harvard, and MLA).
  • Write in third person, as a synthesis essay is considered as academic writing.


  • Read your essay if you find anything unclear.
  • Revise what needs to be revised (Ex: Poor sentence structure).
  • Check your paper for formatting and grammatical errors.

10 Tips to Write a Synthesis Essay

10 Tips to Write a Synthesis Essay

Tip #1: Know the Purpose!

Reflect on the questions outlined below:

  • What does the prompt ask me to do?
  • Am I tasked to formulate a recommendation or find a resolution between various viewpoints?

As cautioned by the Miami Coral Park Senior High School, you have to carefully read (and understand) the prompt.

Take note: Not reading the prompt might jeopardize your grade.

Tip #2: Look for Sample Essays!

I recommend you to look for samples online if this is your time writing a synthesis essay. Be sure to observe the author’s writing style and tone.

Tip #3: Don’t Just Summarize!

A synthesis essay requires you to evaluate or analyze your sources. Don’t be afraid to voice out your thoughts.


Tip #4: Use Some of These Words!

The Owens Community College lists words that capture the author’s tone of writing:

Argumentative Tone

Explanatory Tone

Emphatic Tone



















Tip #5: Arrange!

You can organize arguments from strongest to weakest. Your synthesis paper will appear confused or messy if they are not arranged that way.


Tip #6: Explore!

Use your school’s research portal (Ex: EBSCOhost Database) to your advantage. Consider these reference materials:

  • Books
  • Articles
  • Journals
  • Fact sheets

Take note: Don’t just stick to the internet! Visit your campus or local library. Wikipedia or any non-academic source is not allowed.

Tip #7: Take Down Notes!

I would like to suggest the “notecard method”. Please follow the steps below:

Part A:

  • Prepare an index card.
  • Write your outline on the index card. This is only for your reference.
  • On a separate card, write the author’s name, title, and publishing date. You may include the parenthetical citation of that particular source.

Part B:

  • Ask yourself: Which part of my outline should I place this? (Ex: II. Body, Main point #1). Write it on the corner of your card.
  • State his/her main points/arguments in your own words.
  • You may opt to write your evaluation on the front or back part of your index card.
  • Your index cards should be arranged chronologically. Stick to the structure of your outline.

I’ve tried this method in high school. Needless to say, it helped me organize all the information I’ve researched.


Tip #9: Dedicate Time!

You shoulds set a schedule for researching and drafting; procrastination is a big no!


Tip #10: Review and Practice!

Here are some reminders if you are writing a synthesis essay for your AP English Language and Composition exam:

  • Read about synthesis essays
  • Study sample papers.
  • Conduct a simulation of the exam. Try to research and write within the time limit (Ex: 15 minutes).


Synthesis essay- Final notes

Wow! Congratulations! You have reached the end of my guide.

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I know this topic is heavy for you, dear readers. It is not a joke to write a synthesis essay, as it takes a lot of sheer effort and dedication to accomplish it.

You can do it! Good luck!

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