When writing their critical response essays, students frequently misunderstand the task and try to give thumbs down to the author. However, critical is not the same as negative.
Critical essays are objective evaluations of an author’s work and, as such, they can be either positive or negative, as the work deserves.
A critical response paper can thus be your chance to throw rotten tomatoes at the author, but only if s/he truly deserves it and you are able to find enough evidence to support your position.
Essentially, your paper has to do justice to the author’s work. To learn more about this, you might want to check this quick guide on how to write critical response essays and get excellent grades for them.
Critical response essay: main dos
What is a critical response? It is your detailed examination of the main theme and organization of a book, article, movie, artwork or whatever you are assigned to critique. The next step is to fairly evaluate it. The main dos are to summarize, analyze, interpret and evaluate the work. These are the main issues that you should address in your critical response essays:
- Has the author done a good job in selecting the topic and gathering the evidence?
- What techniques did the author use to communicate the main message? Were these techniques effective?
- Is the author’s style perfectly fitting the topic?
Critical response essay: main don’ts
The main don’ts when writing critical response essays are:
- Don’t pay too much attention to the topic discussed by the author. For example, if the topic of an article is positive thinking, it does not mean that you should discuss only the value of optimism throughout your paper. Instead, you should state the topic in a brief summary and then focus on how the author addressed the topic rather than on the topic itself.
- Don’t express your personal opinion and bias. The only part where you can express your opinion is your critical response (it is preceded by summary and analysis).
- Don’t fabricate false evidence to enable you to give thumbs down to the author. As it was already mentioned, critical essays do not necessarily have to be negative.
Critical response essay: main parts
The main parts of good critical response essays are:
- Summary. Make it brief and ice-cold. Discuss only the main ideas and arguments offered by the author.
- Analysis + interpretation. Discuss what the author’s main goal was and if it was achieved successfully. State with evidence, whether the arguments provided by the author were convincing enough (remember that you should not include your personal bias here).
- Evaluation + response. After reading the first two parts, your readers are prepared for your objective response. To write professional response papers, you need to know how to actually include your critical responses into essays that are even entertaining to read.. Do not hesitate, and use strong language. If you consider the article under analysis weak and poorly-structured, you may state this directly. However, this is admissible only if you have provided enough evidence to show these weaknesses in your analysis and interpretation sections.
By keeping these simple truths in mind, you will be able to write a winning critical response essay and get an excellent grade for it.