PARTS OF AN INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPH
The introductory paragraph has three essential parts: Context, Transition, and Thesis.
In your Introductory Paragraph, you are going to give some historical context to the time period in which your thesis is relevant. You should certainly give a chronological time frame (Example: "After the Civil War...") and follow up with the social, political and/or economic environment of the era. In the below example, the context is highlighted in BLUE.
It's a good idea to have some ORIGINAL pre-concocted sentences regarding context of different time periods. For prompts about INDUSTRIALIZATION, POPULISM, UNIONS, or PROGRESSIVISM the context will be very similar.
After Context, you should transition into your thesis statement. A transition need only be one or two sentences.
The transition is highlighted below in ORANGE.
A thesis is ALWAYS an opinion. You will support your opinion with FACTS in your body paragraphs, but for now, let's stick with the thesis. Your Thesis should directly address the prompt without simply repeating it. It should ALWAYS be a complex sentence that is split into one part that admits there is another point of view, and one part that gives YOUR argument. The Thesis in our example below is highlighted in PURPLE. The biggest mistake students make in a thesis is that it generally lacks direction and forcefulness. Avoid saying that something MIGHT be true or SOME SAY something or taking a stand for something no-one would argue against- (example: Hitler was a bad guy, or The progressives were good for America).
Prompt- Evaluate the effectiveness of Progressive Era reformers in bringing about change at the National level.
After the Civil War, the United States experience a period of rapid economic growth from new technologies, abundant natural resources, and cheap labor from immigration. Government policies embraced a laissez faire economic model which allowed businesses to thrive without government interference. During this time period, there were many societal problems that were hidden below the surface, prompting Mark Twain to call this the Gilded Age. Some problems were the mistreatment of workers, unsafe living conditions, and unfair business practices. To remedy these problems, a movement arose to help solve societal problems through reforms; this was called the Progressive Movement. Although there were many problems that were not improved at the local level, Progressives were able to make positive changes at the national level by bringing about women's suffrage, prohibiting child labor, and banning unfair business practices through the Clayton Antitrust Act.
More about the THESIS:
The thesis statement of an AP History essay is the most critical element of the essay. It will be establishing the basis of the entire paper, and if done properly will outline a comprehensive well-thought out essay.
For this reason, a lot of planning needs to be done for the thesis statement as your examples and phrasing could be the key to a successful essay and a great score on the AP exam.
The following steps should be completed to formulate a strong thesis statement for any DBQ or LEQ. The best thing you can do is to PRACTICE each element as much as possible – so it becomes second nature to you, and will not take long at all.
- 1) Read over the prompt, circle/underline task words, key phrases etc. You will not get credit for the thesis if you are not fully responsive to all aspects of the prompt.
- 2) Re-phrase the prompt for clarity – put it in to your own words!
- 3) Create a graphic organizer about the prompt. This is the part most people
skip due to time restrictions, but is a really crucial element. If you do this on all essay prompts (in any class), you will find that by the time you get to the AP exam, it will take no time at all.
- 4) Complete the graphic organizer, brainstorming all of your ideas. Not only will this eventually help you with contextualization/synthesis, it will also help you organize your essay. Based just on the prompt, you may think your thesis examples will be A, B and C... but after you complete the chart, you may find that you do not have enough information to use those examples and instead you will use A, C and D.
- 5) Looking at the graphic organizer and the prompt, decide what your claim will be.. then look at the other examples to use in the first part of the thesis statement.
Although (other example) , ultimately (claim responding to prompt specifying 3 examples).
Once you get used to writing a complex-split in this manner, you can tweak the wording – but for now, stick to this formula.
Example: Evaluate the main causes of World War 1 Simple thesis statement:
There were many causes of World War One
DON'T DO THIS:
Simple thesis statement:
Militarism, Alliances, Imperialism and Nationalism were all causes of World War One.
Complex/Split thesis statement:
Although the build up of new militaristic technology was a cause, ultimately a complicated alliance system, competition for foreign lands, and a strong call for nationalism were the driving factors behind the outbreak of World War One.
Why the complex/split?
By giving credence to other arguments, you are demonstrating critical analysis. With the second part of the sentence (your claim), you are using the words ultimately and specifying three examples to leave little doubt as to your argument.
The claim should stand alone! This will be the argument you should refer to at the end of each body paragraph as well as rephrase for your conclusion.
NEXT: WRITING THE BODY PARAGRAPH!!!