The Reverse Outline and the TEA Formula.

In a previous post, I explained the thesis statement; in this post, I want to shed some light on the reverse outline and the TEA formula.

The Reverse Outline is done after a draft is written and highlights the main ideas in the draft. This outline method is to make it easier for you to focus on the main idea in your paper. To create your reverse outline consider the steps below:

  • Reflect on your first draft and the key points in it, and how you have your paragraphs organized.
  • Create your outline by writing down the key point in each paragraph. Your introduction will include an overview of these key points and your thesis statement. Each body paragraph will have a topic sentence. Each topic should reflect and support your thesis statement (the claim you make about the article and each supporting point). When reviewing your essay, you find a sentence that backs up the main claim you make about the article, you can use this as one of your topics in a paragraph. Also, each topic should be unique and work to support your claim(return to the examples of the thesis statement for clarification of this)Write a one-sentence summary in each paragraph that reflects on the key point in that paragraph.
  • To make it easy to reference, you can number each topic in your paragraphs.

I will use a sample thesis statement to show you what I mean by a topic sentence:

  • People should limit their consumption of beef and pork because it is high in saturated fat (claim) which can lead to an increase in bad cholesterol(LDL), increase the risk for heart disease, and lead to becoming overweight.(three supporting key points)

Someone using this thesis statement may have a topic sentence in the first body paragraph like the following:

  • Consuming foods high in saturated and trans fat daily will consist of more LDL cholesterol that can clog arteries, (topic sentence supporting the claim in the thesis statement). This can be followed by a specific example of how saturated and trans fat has contributed to weight gain.

The TEA formula( Thesis, topic sentences, Evidence, Analysis) is a method to help organize your essay. The TEA formula helps focus on the thesis statement, topic sentences, the evidence from the article, and your analysis of the topic and evidence. More details on each of these can be found below:

The thesis statement: When using the TEA, the first step is to analyze your thesis statement. You should be able to answer “yes” to the following questions:

  • Is there a thesis statement? Does it appear at the end of the introductory paragraph?
  • Does my thesis statement express one single central idea/opinion in response to the essay prompt or course-related topic?
  • Does it express my opinion?
  • Have I arrived at a thesis statement only after a careful and well thought out consideration of the prompt or topic and evidence at my disposal?
  • Does the evidence* I present in the body of the essay connect back to the thesis statement?

Topic Sentences: The next step is to organize the topic sentences for each body paragraph. You should be able to answer “yes” to the following questions:

  • Do I have a topic sentence at the beginning of each body paragraph?
  • Do my topic sentences relate back to the thesis statement? These are the first sentence of each body paragraph.

Evidence: The next step is to look closely at the evidence you are using in your essay, such as quotes, paraphrases, personal experience, historical data, statistics, etc. You should be able to answer “yes” to the following questions:

  • Do I have primary evidence? (Primary evidence is the main evidence that will be used to support the thesis statement.)
  • Have I selected relevant and convincing evidence?
  • Do I have enough evidence to support my thesis statement?
  • Does my evidence fulfill the requirements for the essay?
  • Does each selected piece of primary evidence contribute to a different topic sentence, which develops support for my thesis statement?

Analysis: In this final step, you should engage in the process of analysis by examining how each piece of evidence in your essay supports the thesis statement. You should be able to answer “yes” to each of the following questions:

  • Do I have an analysis for each piece of primary evidence?
  • Does my analysis go beyond merely re-stating what is obvious in the evidence.

Connecting the dots between these can lead back to the thesis statement to check if it reflects your topics and is coherent throughout.

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