Critical Essay Writing Guide for Students

Feb 20, 2019

If you have to write a critical essay, be ready for preparing a well-grounded analysis of a literary piece, art object, event, theory, plan, a given period, etc. But, this academic paper is usually related to books and various written works. This assignment makes student deal with two tasks:

  • Find out the main concepts/statements raised
  • Evaluate and criticize them reasonably

After you have pinpointed all the key points, you can investigate whether you find them convincing and reasonable enough. To answer the question of how to write a well-grounded critical essay, we suggest you break your subject into several parts. Then, you have to study each of them by assessing their strong and weak sides. Hence, while dealing with this college critical writing, you are expected to have well-developed analytical skills, devote considerable time to research, and be attentive to details.

Features of the Critical Essay

After recalling the purpose of this assignment, we would like you to look through some signs of critical essays. This way, you can have a better understanding of what is expected by the professor.

  • Clear focus.
  • A topic of the paper has to be precise and understandable but engaging. For instance, "An analysis of main concepts in Sartre's work on existentialism" or "The analysis of the Toffler's wave theory's impact on modern society."

  • Solid grounds.
  • Any run-of-the-mill analytical paper requires its author to include a certain amount of the available evidence, yet in this case, it is prudent that you bring in as much solid proof as you can. You evaluate and judge, but it absolutely cannot be something you saw in a dream. Criticize, back it up, argue.

  • The 3rd-person POV.
  • Here, in favor of pondering on your individual experiences and taking advantage of your skills of descriptive writing, you put on an "unbiased cap" and sift everything through a prism of cynicism.

Language Particularities

While we're on the subject of proper writing, it would be useful for you to know what language to use while working on critical essays. To highlight that the overall writing is based on your own analysis, don't neglect such phrases like "my view is," "I think," "I found it," etc. You have to write this assignment in a formal style but don't overdo it with long words and unfamiliar terms. You need to find a balance and avoid tired phrases and redundant cliches. Although the name of a critical analysis speaks for itself, you shouldn't stand up against the overall issue (a book, an essay, a plan, a viewpoint, etc.) and express how bad it is. Your primary task is assessing and analyzing so that your evaluation and ideas are understandable but unobtrusive to the reader.

Choose a Relevant Topic

You can be asked to write an essay on a particular topic, but if you weren't, make sure you can stick to the chosen subject from the first paragraph to the conclusion without beating around the bush. You have to be clear and sharp like a miner on his quest to find the most perfectly shaped diamond. There is no place for subjective assessment. Pay attention to those issues that can be viewed from different perspectives without any prejudice or biased opinions. While looking for a good topic for your critical essay, turn only to reliable websites and relevant platforms. If you prefer searching offline or going to the library, make sure the books you use contain up-to-date materials and related facts.

Before You Start Writing

Take your time and approach the writing thoroughly. Treat the writing process as if you were building an apartment complex. You need to lay the foundation - resilient grounds to guarantee the strength of your argument.

Firstly, you have to deal with brainstorming. It will help you visualize everything you'd like to include in your paper. It can be your perfect solution for cases when you don't even know the topic well. Hence, we would like to offer you several ways to prepare solid grounds for your essay.

  • Subject tree.
  • You choose a particular issue for your critical essay and form a tree by adding all the related ideas, events, theories, and other things that can help you.

  • Simple list.
  • You just write down all the theses that pop up in your mind while thinking over the topic of your essay.

  • Clusters.
  • Make up a circle with your main issue as its center and your associations linked to it.

  • Free flow of writing.
  • The easiest way is to simply write down all your thoughts and ideas on the chosen topic without stopping or self-editing. It will help you understand what background knowledge or assumptions you already have.

  • Outline.
  • The most profound method when you write down logically-organized and precise ideas for each one of your paragraphs from the introduction and thesis statement to the conclusion.

Major Steps of Writing

You may be a master of your own writing - fictional stories or poems - but academic composing craftsmanship isn't something you can just create out of thin air or summon from the pits of the Underworld. You need to strictly follow every letter of the guidebook. Put yourself in your professor's shoes - nobody wants to read a stream-of-consciousness rant. It might be tolerable when it's one student, but imagine trying to work through dozens of such creations. Horrible!

You realize why being professional every step of the way is crucial. Now, allow us to present our sophisticated step-by-step strategy that can help you come up with a top-tier masterpiece.

Regardless of the type you have, your writing always has one constant element - an introduction. Here, you have to mention what is going to be "criticized" and state your main idea. An introduction is rather generalized and sets the mood for your writing, so don't go into detail - just describe the overall concept and explain its importance.

Your thesis statement should contain two main features - your major idea and a mention of sustainable points. This way, you make it clear that your writing won't be far-fetched.

Check if your thesis statement:

  • Is placed in the introduction
  • Is rather generalized
  • Makes a claim but is not a fact
  • Is intriguing and debatable

Then, proceed to the body of your critical essay writing. It is a part that will present your individual way of thinking and competence in a chosen issue. To develop a good main part for your assignment, think about a central idea for each of your paragraphs, but make sure all of them back your main statement and aren't just a bunch of facts. Prepare several convincing examples to show that your critique is reasonable. You may refer to well-known books, universal truths, or cite influential people.

These are the good methods to support your viewpoints. To do it accurately, you will need a range of information and facts taken from different sources. Your task here is not only to make sure that they are reliable but use endnotes or footnotes, so don't forget to mention every source material later. That is why you shouldn't neglect to discuss all the formatting requirements with your professor to fulfill the expectations. With enough amount of supporting detail, your reader could consider your viewpoint as a compelling one, and that is what you need to show the relevance of your analysis.

Now, it's time to sum everything up with a refined conclusion. The simplest way to write it is to formulate your introduction with the help of different words, but that would be self-plagiarism, and we recommend you to avoid it. Basically, your conclusion should contain three main components:

  • Restating of the importance and relevance of the issue you've criticized and analyzed
  • Summarizing the key points you've described in previous paragraphs
  • Drawing up the conclusions based on the statement that your main idea has been proven.

There are no pitfalls in writing a critical essay when you are aware of its primary purpose and main features. We hope this article was helpful for you, and your grade for this assignment will be the highest!

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