A synthesis essay is a mixture or combination of ideas that help in clarifying thoughts over a topic of discussion. You could take two different pieces of information about the same topic and combine them to give a more meaningful description of the topic. Care has to be taken to ensure that the overlap fits into the scheme of things. Essay topics are usually given to you as a test to see how well you can blend information.
If you have the opportunity to choose your own topic, then the exercise extends further to see if you have the ability to think logically and arrive at the appropriate topic. You research and organization skills would be tested. Understanding the fundamentals would go a long way in understanding the requirements of a synthesis essay.
There are basically two types of synthesis, background and thesis based. In a background synthesis, you would organize information as per topic and not by its source. This is usually an analytical essay assignment to be completed at the early stages of a thesis. It helps in developing research skills in a student.
Though a thesis would incorporate background information into it, the information is organized as per its source. The sources should be clearly indicated with the help of phrases as per the style of writing adapted and citations.
To help in enhancing understanding of a topic, you are allowed to use your own ideas blended into the text. Graphs, charts, tables, diagrams, pictures, and other graphics can be used to add clarity. A very good way of clarifying things would be to treat your synthesis like compare and contrast essays. Once you get the basic ideas listed into points to elaborate on, you can move on to organizing that information into the required essay format you have decided or have been assigned.
A thesis paper tends to be long. So organizing data into a structure that could link all the points you listed is not an easy task. Your critical thinking and organization skills will be tested. A simple method to do this would be to treat each point as a separate piece of information, elaborate on it, and then blend with the other points.
In a critical essay, you would follow the same exercise, wherein the points would complement each other or if the topic is controversial, each argument placed to support or contradict each point would effectively give meaning to explanations for all the points mentioned in different paragraphs of the essay.
The choice of essay topics is important at the start of the essay. Once you have established the structure of the essay, you spend more time in organization. It cannot be stressed further how important it is that you time yourself when you take up this assignment. Applying logic at various stages could bring in new ideas which you might want to incorporate into your essay. The exercise then becomes more complicated as you would have to synthesize it with other existing information. If you have time at your disposal, it would be interesting and might even offer much better understanding of the topic.
Edit your final synthesis essay before submitting it and adapt to technology that could enhance presentation.