Writing a thematic essay is a required component of every Global History and Geography Regents examination. While some students may feel overwhelmed at the prospect of writing a thematic essay, all students can learn to master the fine art of thematic essay writing.
It is important to remember that a thematic essay is an essay based on a particular theme from the Global History and Geography curriculum. After the stated theme, students are given a task which they must complete in essay format regarding the theme. Finally, students are provided a list of potential topics to write about regarding the theme.
Unlike a Document Based Essay Question, a thematic essay does not provide actual documents to answer the essay question. Instead, students must possess a prior knowledge base to answer the essay thoroughly. However, given the multiplicity of suggestions, students will invariably find several suggested topics that they can use to effectively write the essay. Thematic essay writing is possible if students remember several important guidelines for successful writing. On this page, students will find guidelines as well as outlines of previous Regents thematic essays.
First, the Guidelines!
1. Read the theme carefully. The theme is the essay’s big idea. It is critical that students understand the theme and begin to think about the various ways the theme has occurred throughout history.
2. Read the task box carefully. The task box provides the essay’s directions. It is critical that students understand exactly what they are expected to write about in the essay. Answering the questions in the task box thoroughly and accurately is more important than merely defending the theme. The essay is graded based on the writer’s ability to address every task in the task box.
3. Make an outline before you proceed. The task box will provide the categories necessary for an effective outline. Students must list the tasks that need to be addressed. Frequently, tasks have more than one component. For example, if two individuals are to be included in the essay, make certain that your outline has spaces for each individual. On this page, you will find many samples of outlines for thematic essays. Continue scrolling down the page and open the provided links to view effective outlining techniques.
4. Write the essay’s first draft. Yes, write a first draft of your essay using your outline. An essay must include an introductory paragraph stating the theme and its importance in world history, several body paragraphs that specifically address the essay’s tasks, and a concluding paragraph summarizing the essay’s main ideas. Your first draft will include all of the essay’s vital information but may need minor revisions to ensure the highest quality of writing. Hopefully, if time permits, you can edit it for excellence.
5. Write your final draft. If time permits, write your final draft. Edit your writing for greater clarity and grammatical sophistication. Don’t be satisfied with merely answering the questions. Strive for excellence in written communication.
6. Lastly, remember that you can write an effective thematic essay. If you follow the guidelines for successful writing and study your Key Word packets (See the Key Words, Key Connections Page on this site), a brilliantly written thematic essay is possible.
Links to Outlines!
The following links provide outlines to previously assigned thematic essays. Read the themes and task boxes carefully before examining the outlines. The outlines are clear reflections of the themes and tasks.
Advice on How to Organize an Essay and Write a Strong Body Paragraph
The Global History and Geography Regents Exam is one of the Regents Examinations given three times each year in New York State. It tests the students' knowledge of the global history course that they have taken over the last two years, starting with Ancient Civilizations and going right up to the present. It is given in January, June, and August. Most students that take it are high school sophomores and take it in June. If they fail the exam, they must take it in again in August and they must continue to re-take it until they pass because they need the exam to receive a high school diploma. In 2015, New York State changed graduation requirements, where students need to pass either Global History and Geography Regents Exam or United States History and Government Regents Exam. This is a part of the 4+1 Option for seniors to graduate high school.
In 2018, changes will be implemented to the Global History and Geography Regents Exam. The assessment will be based on the new Common Core State Standards listed in the Social Studies Framework. Students will be tested on events in global history from 1750 and onwards. The format of the exam will be modified as well. 
The Global History and Geography Regents Exam has three parts.
- Part I: Multiple Choice- 50 Multiple Choice Questions usually in chronological order from earliest to latest.
- Part II: 1 Thematic Essay Question- It can be on a variety of topics including belief systems, revolutions, important people etc.
- Part III: DBQ (Document Based Question)- A series of approximately 9 documents each followed by 1 or 2 scaffolding questions. Then 1 essay question based on the documents.