Tentative thesis

As you know, a thesis statement is the main idea of any academic paper that indicates your approach, states the subject matter, and sets certain limits to the chosen topic. In other words, it helps the reader focus on the contents of your work and explains the purpose of your writing. However, sometimes it is quite difficult to build a really strong and sound thesis that clearly suggests your position on the raised issue at the very beginning of the project. This is where a tentative thesis comes into play.


A tentative thesis is a so-called working thesis that can be revised or changed at any stage of writing. You need it to form an opinion on the issue and explain to the reader what your work is about, and why it is worth paying attention to. Moreover, without a working thesis, you won’t be able to create a really good outline and logically structure your paper. It is a basis for your work, so take some time to learn how to write a useful tentative thesis.

How to write a tentative thesis?

How to write a tentative thesis

Since a tentative thesis is intended to guide your research and the whole process of writing rather than to be your final statement on the discussed problem or issue, don’t try to make it perfect. Instead, you need to formulate a preliminary position on the given topic. The following steps will help you with that:

Brainstorm the topic

Obviously, the first step to take is to brainstorm the given topic. Start with reviewing all the relevant course materials to understand what you really know about it. Try to find poorly studied areas or some fresh ideas that will be interesting to your reader. Make notes to discover connections that may help you compose a tentative thesis.

Ask questions

Since a tentative thesis offers a specific answer to a certain question, you need to create this question first. Look at your notes and ask yourself what you are going to write about, what you believe in, and what opinion you want to convince your reader of. Once you understand it, create the main question, to which your thesis will provide an answer.

Answer a question

After you create a question, you can formulate your tentative thesis. Include all the crucial elements you want to use in your work and show how actually you are going to use them. Your tentative thesis should represent a clear, well-thought-out answer to the set question.

What does a good tentative thesis statement look like?

Good Tentative Thesis

Although a tentative thesis can be refined, changed, or revised during the writing process, you still need it to be well-constructed. After all, it serves as a guiding idea and the main point of your work. So what should it look like?

A tentative thesis should:

  • cover only what you are going to discuss in your paper;
  • be written in a single sentence (maximum two sentences);
  • provide an idea of the main argument you want to use in your work;
  • make a focused claim that can be argued.

Thus, a good working thesis needs to be clear, specific, and interesting to clarify the contents of the essay or another academic paper you are going to write.

Writing an outline

Tentative thesis outline

Once you have a working thesis and know how to support it, you are ready to write an outline for your work. Your goal is to properly structure your paragraphs, ideas, and arguments that give a sense to your writing. The standard five-paragraph essay outline usually looks like the following:

  1. Introduction
    • Hook to attract the reader’s attention
    • Background
    • Thesis statement
  2. Body
    • Main point + supporting details
    • Main point + supporting details
    • Main point + supporting details
  3. Conclusion
    • Restated thesis statement
    • Summarized main points
    • Final statement

After the outline is complete, you can start writing your thesis paper. Keep in mind, if your thoughts or opinion on the given topic change at any stage of writing, feel free to revise and change your tentative thesis. However, make sure it still reflects the main idea of your work and fully answers the set question. Good luck!

Did you like the article?

Leave your email and sign up for our weekly blog digest

Did you like the article?
Leave your e-mail and sign up for our weekly blog digest