Often this will be decided for you, but if not, try to choose something you're interested in or, better yet, passionate about. It will make the essay easier to write. On the other hand you could choose a stand you disagree with because it will allow you to see flaws in your argument more easily. You can also think of your thesis statement at this point, but it shouldn't be set in stone since it may be elaborated or changed as you do your research in the next step. A thesis statement is what your essay is attempting to explain and prove. Make sure your thesis statement explains everything you will talk about in the essay. It should also be no longer than 1 sentence. You can brainstorm a few different thesis statements and use them to guide your research. Some examples:
I deserve this scholarship because I am going to give back to the community. Crop failure is directly caused by lack of fertility in soils, not by drought. Charles Dickens' Hard Times is a social criticism of utilitarianism Making people take tests before they're allowed to keep pets would decriminalize society in many ways.
Whether it's personal observations or scientific facts, you'll need evidence to back up your thesis statement. Take detailed notes, keeping track of which facts come from which sources. As you're researching your topic, don't ignore facts and claims that seem to disprove your thesis statement. A good essayist includes the contrary evidence and shows why such evidence is not valid.
Going with the example about crop failure above, what if you find a research study with graphs showing that every time there's a drought, there are more crop failures? Maybe all those crop failures occurred on farms that had poor soils, and unless the condition of the soils can be provided, the crop failures can't be attributed solely to drought.
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