REMEMBER THESE TIPS WHEN WRITING YOUR THEMATIC ESSAY:
- Depth: Ever heard the saying "It's not quantity, it's quality"? When you write a thematic essay, you really need both. When you are answering the thematic essay, remembers, you need DETAILS!!!! You need to analyze, or in simpler terms...you need to make a detailed examination using LOTS of relevant facts. EXPLAIN EVERYTHING, IN DETAIL!!! Pretend that you are explaining this topic to someone who has never heard it before...so you need to explain everything as if another person was learning it for the first time!
- Choose what you can write a lot about!: You need to write about a tipc that you know very well. The Regents will offer you different options as to what you can write about, but you are NOT limited to their choices. Don't choose something that you can only write a few sentences about! Write about something that you know. For example, if the thematic essay deals with the topic of technology, and you know a lot about cars, WRITE ABOUT THAT! Don't try and impress the teachers by writing about something that is hard and you know nothing about! WRITE ABOUT WHAT YOU KNOW!
- Answer every bullet equally!: The thematic essay will give you 2-3 bullets to answer. Don't forget to answer EVERY part! If you need to, break up the question into a grid to help you make sure that you are answering all parts of the question.
- Be careful!: Sometimes the thematic essay says: "You cannot write on certain topics." Make sure you read the bold words! On a 2014 Supreme Court Case essay, you couldn't write about Brown v. Board of Education because it was in the DBQ. Don't get tripped up....make sure you read!
- How many paragraphs?: According to the state, you need to do the following: Have a logical and clear plan of organization. Have an introduction and conclusion that doesn't just restate the theme. The state does NOT tell you how many paragraphs to write, however. The number of paragraphs is usually determined by the amoung of bullets in the question. Remember to answer all parts of the question thoroughly, and include lots of facts, examples and details.
WHAT TO STUDY FOR THE THEMATIC ESSAY?
- Court cases are important. Know at least THREE court cases REALLY WELL! Known Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education!!!! Even if the essay isn't on court cases, you can still you a cort case to answer something like "Turning points" or "Civil rights of minorities".
- Know the amendments (especially any that are associated with court cases). This can be good outside information, and sometimes amendments have been used as a thematic essay topic. Good ones to know are:
- 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 18th, 19th, 21st, 22nd, 24th, 26th
- Know your geography. Know how geography influences the US, and how the oceans, rivers and fertile farmland play a part. Know how we change our environment with canals and railroads.
- Know TWO laws. Knowing government legislation and its impact is important. Remember, write about the ones that you know the most about. Good laws to know include: Pure Food and Drug Act, Social Security, Meat Inspection Act, the Civil Rights Act.
- Know about technology: the Transcontinental Railroad, television, radio, internet. This tends to be an easier one to do, since you can show the impact of the invention.
- Know reform movements: this is great for writing about change. Good ones to know are the Progressive Era, Industrialization, abolition movment, suffrage, prohibition and temperance (no-alcohol). Know the writers from the different reform movements - Upton Sinclair, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Betty Friedan.
- Know TWO wars. Wars can be used for foreign policy, turning points, change, and conflict. Wars are good for presidential decisions such as dropping the atomic bomb in WWII, or suspending habeas corpus in the Civil war. The Cold War is probably fresh in your head since it was one of the last things covered in class.
- Know how the government has limited people's rights: Native American removal, Japanese American internment (and Korematsu v. US), slavery, and McCarthyism
Want more suggestions on what to study for the thematic essay? Click the link below.