Whether you specialize in literature or just writing an essay for a class, knowing how to write a critical essay will give you an advantage throughout your studies at a university and in your professional career. Writing critical essays allows you to develop critical thinking skills, including attentive reading, technical analysis, academic writing skills, searching for reference books and editing. Mastering these skills will help you conduct a scientific conversation and allow you to communicate and think more productively.
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What is a Critical Essay?
A critical essay is an analysis of any piece of text. It can be a book, a movie, an article or even a painting. The main point of this type of an essay is to interpret text or position it in a wider context. For instance, if you write a critical analysis of a book, you may analyze the tone of its text and find out how it influences the overall meaning of the book. If you analyze a movie, you might concentrate on a symbol that you see over and over again. Nevertheless, you have to include an argumentative thesis about the text and have a lot of evidence sources, obviously textual, to support your statements.
How to write a Critical Essay? Step by Step Guide
- Find out the topic as early as possible to plan your research.
- Find the information you need in a wide variety of sources, including journal articles, books, encyclopedias, news. Gather more information than you plan to actually refer to when writing a paper, but do not collect too much, it can distract you from the main thing, and you will eventually include it in your essay simply because you found it. Do not use Wikipedia and do not copy other people's comments; no matter from which website you take them, plagiarism will be discovered.
- Look through your sources to separate interesting information from irrelevant material. Interesting research can be found in books, literary guides, in published critical articles on your particular topic. And vice versa, do not investigate things that do not relate to your topic, what I mean is, do not engage in the study of witches, if the topic of your paper is monarchy.
- Carefully reread the relevant materials and evaluate them critically. Highlight, underline or otherwise mark the necessary information in your personal articles and books. Use colored stickers to draw your attention to important details in library books. Make a brief summary of each source after reading it. Pay attention to important details and highlight the main point of view for further use.
- Formulate the theses by reviewing your notes and research. You can write a more general thesis or ask an important question that your paper will answer.
- Write a preliminary introduction, knowing that you can edit or even rewrite it later.
- Develop an approximate plan based on your notes and studies.
Identify two or three main sections of the body of your essay. These sections should consist of your most important arguments. Use your notes and research to fill these sections with details. You can copy and paste the most important details or arguments into your plan.
- Identify the relationships between sections of your essay and briefly describe them on the margins of your plan.
- Use this connection to write an approximate conclusion.
- Set your paper aside for a few days before rereading the draft.
- Leave enough time to make a thorough review of all material that will clarify any illogical reasonings or arguments.
- Complete your essay by carefully checking the final version of the printed version. Use your imagination and make the introduction interesting for readers. Write a clear thesis statement and use up-to-date sources, with a lot of useful information.
Critical Essay Outline
As any other essay, critical analysis consists of the introduction, body, and conclusion. The outline that you will see below is just a sample for you to understand what it can look like. Once you are comfortable, you are free to change it, add more details or arrange it differently to make it more effective. If you are really unsure how your essay is supposed to look like, you can also contact your teacher.
Introduction has three main functions. First of all, you have to introduce the reader to the topic of your paper, what are you going to analyse here but briefly. Then, describe how are you going to address the topic of your paper. And finally, grab reader’s attention, make them want to stay here and read the rest of your paper.
This is going to be the largest part of your essay. Here you have to write about something you said you are going to write about in the intro. In other words, support your thesis statement. You have to make a General Statement, then add some quotes to expand it or prove it. After that you have to explain how the quote relates to the thesis, here you have to ask yourself “so how does it relate to my thesis”. And do not forget about Transitions which are connecting paragraphs.
In other words, conclusion is restating of your thesis. If you have written a strong and clear introduction, the conclusion will not be a problem at all.
So, you have to Restate your Thesis. But do not just repeat what you said before, put it differently. Basically, you said that you are about to prove us something and now you have to show us that you did. And make a good ending. Make it memorable. Your reader have to have a feeling that the point have been proven.
- Briefly say what you are going to talk about
- Thesis statement
- Topic Sentence (piece of evidence that supports your opinion)
- Supporting Evidence and Details
- Concluding Sentence/Transition
- Restate the thesis statement in different words
- Summarize the main key pieces of evidence
- Final closing sentence
Critical Essay Topics
Good Critical Essay Topics
- Describe the way irony was used in your favorite classical book
- Feminist ideologies in a piece of literature
- Analyse how the background of the author affects his writing.
- Describe the secondary characters in your favorite book
- What makes a good and captivating drama series?
- Choose a movie/series that recently won a best picture award
- Provide one alternative to anti-poverty programs today and discuss
- What are the problems of eating healthy? Discuss
- What are the economic benefits of recycling? Discuss what makes it effective on your context
- Discuss how historical figures is portrayed in movies
Critical Essay Tips
- Try to start in advance, if possible. You will write a better essay and will not experience stress if you start writing earlier than the last night.
- Finish the draft a few days earlier to leave time for checking it.
- Ask a friend or a family member to check and comment on your essay. Professional writers write a few drafts of their work, and you, most likely, will have to do the same.
- Work according to your own needs. For example, some people need a plan, while others believe that the formal plan kills the inspiration. Find out what is best for you, and act accordingly.
- Write in your own style. It is better to correctly use words that you know, than abuse words that you do not know, in an attempt to sound smarter.
- Make sure that the quotes are given as accurately as possible, including inverted commas, statistics and theoretical concepts. If in doubt, it's better to be wrong in quoting than to be accused of not being able to conduct your research, which can lead to accusation of plagiarism.
- Essays written at the last minute, suffer from the lack of logic and poor grammar. Remember that your teacher has read hundreds, if not thousands of student papers, and can easily understand that you wrote an essay at the last minute.
I know that you might still be lost in all these long explanations but bear with me. Here are some useful links you might like
- Essay Topic Generator . Do not know how to name your essay? Then this link is just for you. Everything is simple, enter the key words for your essay and select the category and you’ve got yourself a great title.
- Essay Examples . I know that sometimes you just can’t start writing until you see how it all supposed to look like. So, here you go - essay examples. Be sure not to rewrite the content, though.
- Essay Checker . One of the most important parts of the writing an essay is checking it once it’s done. You might write a great essay in terms of content, but if you have grammar mistakes or your answers are not relating to the questions, say goodbye to your good grade.
- Essay Editing Service . Just to make sure you have not missed anything, use this service. Let professional do their work.
So, that is it. I hope your skills will get even better now. Good luck!