Critical essays are written across many academic disciplines and can have wide-ranging textual subjects: films, novels, poetry, video games, visual art, and more. However, despite their diverse subject matter, all critical essays share the following characteristics. Writing a critical essay requires rigorous analysis and a meticulous argument-building process.
If you're struggling with a critical essay assignment, these tips will help you get started. Share Flipboard Email. Olivia Valdes is a college admissions consultant and the founder of Zen Admissions. Updated August 26, Central claim. This argument is typically expressed at the beginning of the essay in a thesis statement , then supported with evidence in each body paragraph.
Some critical essays bolster their argument even further by including potential counterarguments, then using evidence to dispute them. In many critical essays, most of the evidence comes in the form of textual support: particular details from the text dialogue, descriptions, word choice, structure, imagery, et cetera that bolster the argument.
How to Write A Critical Essay
Critical essays may also include evidence from secondary sources, often scholarly works that support or strengthen the main argument. After making a claim and supporting it with evidence, critical essays offer a succinct conclusion. The conclusion summarizes the trajectory of the essay's argument and emphasizes the essays' most important insights. Practice active reading strategies. These strategies for staying focused and retaining information will help you identify specific details in the text that will serve as evidence for your main argument.
Definition of Critical Essay
Active reading is an essential skill, especially if you're writing a critical essay for a literature class. Writing an outline before you begin drafting your essay will help you to organize your information more effectively. You can make your outline as detailed or as scant as you want. Just keep in mind that the more detail you include in your outline, the more material you will have ready to put into your paper.
Or, you may want to use an informal "mind-map" type of outline, which allows you to gather your ideas before you have a complete idea of how they progress. Begin your essay with an engaging sentence that gets right into your topic. Your introduction should immediately begin discussing your topic. Think about what you will discuss in your essay to help you determine what you should include in your introduction. Keep in mind that your introduction should identify the main idea of your critical essay and act as a preview to your essay. Do: open on an intriguing fact, an anecdote, or another attention-grabber with relevant content.
Provide background information to help guide your readers.
Providing adequate background information or context will help to guide your readers through your essay. Think about what your readers will need to know in order to understand the rest of your essay and provide this information in your first paragraph. This information will vary depending on the type of text you have been asked to write about.
Do: tailor your introduction to your audience. A conference of English professors needs less background info than a blog readership. Use your body paragraphs to discuss specific components of your text. Rather than trying to talk about multiple aspects of your text in a single paragraph, make sure that each body paragraph focuses on a single aspect of your text. Your discussion of each of these aspects should contribute to proving your thesis. For each body paragraph, you should do the following: Provide a claim at the beginning of the paragraph.
Support your claim with at least one example from your primary source s.
Support your claim with at least one example from your secondary sources. Develop a conclusion for your essay. Your conclusion should emphasize what you have attempted to show your readers about your text. Before you write your conclusion, spend some time reflecting on what you have written so far and try to determine the best way to end your essay.
There are several good options for ending an academic essay that might help you decide how to format your conclusion. For example, you might: Summarize and review your main ideas about the text.
Explain how the topic affects the reader. Explain how your narrow topic applies to a broader theme or observation. Call the reader to action or further exploration on the topic. Present new questions that your essay introduced. Don't: repeat the same points you made earlier in the essay. Do: refer back to earlier points and connect them into a single argument. Set aside your paper for a few days before revising your draft. By taking a break after you have finished drafting your paper, you will give your brain a rest. When you revisit the draft, you will have a fresh perspective.
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It is important to begin writing a paper far enough ahead of time to allow yourself a few days or even a week to revise before it is due. If you do not allow yourself this extra time, you will be more prone to making simple mistakes and your grade may suffer as a result.
Give yourself sufficient time to do a substantive revision that clarifies any confusing logic or arguments. As you revise your paper, you should consider multiple aspects of your writing to make sure that your readers will be able to understand what you have written. Consider the following questions as you revise: What is your main point?
How might you clarify your main point? Who is your audience? Have you considered their needs and expectations?
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What is your purpose? Have you accomplished your purpose with this paper? How effective is your evidence? How might your strengthen your evidence?
Does every part of your paper relate back to your thesis? How might you enhance these connections? Is anything confusing about your language or organization? How might your clarify your language or organization? Have you made any errors with grammar, punctuation, or spelling? How can you correct these errors? What might someone who disagrees with you say about your paper?
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How can you address these opposing arguments in your paper? Complete your paper by carefully proofreading a printed version of your final draft. Read your paper out loud to make sure that you have identified any typos, grammatical errors, wordy or incomplete sentences, and other minor mistakes that may negatively affect your grade. Once you have identified any minor errors, revise your paper and print a fresh copy to turn in.
If you have used any textual formatting in your paper, you may wish to save it as a PDF file to preserve your formatting.
Sample Critical Poetry Essay. Third-person is the best choice for making the essay feel authoritative and assertive. Yes No. Not Helpful 1 Helpful The first paragraph should state the background or the introduction of the essay topic. Write using three sections. The first is the background or introduction; the second is the body of the essay where you state your case arguing for or against the essay you read; and the third is the conclusion or ending paragraph.
The conclusion or ending paragraph restates the initial thesis of the essay and recaps your critique. This is the most important paragraph, since it is the last paragraph the reader will see. Not Helpful 3 Helpful Summarize the content of your essay and outline the main objective. Not Helpful 3 Helpful 8. Unanswered Questions. Answer this question Flag as Flag as Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Already answered Not a question Bad question Other. By using this service, some information may be shared with YouTube.
Tips Ask a friend, family member or other acquaintance to proofread and make constructive comments on your paper.