Have you ever composed a critique essay? Do you know how to evaluate the work of another writer productively? Can you distinguish between a critical paper and a review? Wondering how to avoid mistakes while writing a critique?
This article reveals all the secrets of brilliant critique papers!
A critical essay is mostly an academic paper that offers an argument based on the analysis and interpretation of a piece of writing, music, poetry, play or a painting. It is closely similar to a formal paper as it is made up of scholarly discussion, observations and facts that are properly cited and referenced.
A critical essay is mistakenly similized to a review assuming that both papers deal with the work of another author. However, there is some difference which we want to point out to those writers who would like to produce a proper critique.
When you are reviewing the work you act as a reader –you reflect, respond, react – all of this you do subjectively, often emotionally driven by your personal opinion and impressions. Your review may be influenced by a number of factors including nasty weather, unpleasant talk with your boss or just a bad mood. Let’s face it, if you wrote two reviews to the same book with an interval of a couple of days, they would look different. And this is OK.
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Another situation is when you are going to critique the work. You are not a reader anymore; your role is a writer, judge and expert because your purpose is to analyze the work from various perspectives.
The key word to understand what the word “critique” stands for is objectivity. A critic’s task is to fairly present the evaluation of the work and make an attempt to tell the others how he would make it better.
A common mistake of people who are writing a critique is looking into the matter from the perspective of the author. Criticizing is a kind of expertise that reports and suggests the methods and recommendations for corrective action. It does not mean that the work you are analyzing should be altered or improved just because you want it. No way. Your judgments are meant to be the objective comments on what might be more effective for the paper if it could be improved.
How to write in a critique mode
Regardless of what piece you are assigned to criticize, you should be well-informed about it before you start writing your essay. Also, your success as a critic depends on how well you can organize your writing process at the very start. The tips below will help you conduct the research effectively and use the writing tools that best suit your critical position.
- You should seek suitable materials in articles, books, journals, online sources relevant to your topic as long as they are credible and scholarly. Do not rely on popular sources as they often include unauthentic data and above ground arguments.
- During your research, it is advisable to write down every information that you think will be serviceable to your essay. It will be good if some notes are written in question as they may help to formulate a good argument and monitor if you are on the right path to your goals.
- Be prepared to write more than three body paragraphs in your essay. There are no strict rules as to the structure of a critical paper except for the introduction and concluding parts which are essential to every kind of an academic essay. Of course, it is your choice how many paragraphs to write, however, critical essays frequently analyze plenty of elements of the work. Also, the number of essay parts depends on the argument but your critique will be more solid and worth looking at if you use more paragraphs to discuss the point.
- Introduction and conclusion have to be composed as finely as possible. The mission of the first essay part is to put the reader in the way of things, present the argument and the thesis. Set the topic in an intriguing way in order to tempt the reader to read the entire paper at one go. For a note: write the introduction last to make it more apprehensible and stronger. A conclusion of a critical essay summarizes the argument, wraps up the point and refutes the thesis. Make sure that your conclusion follows these steps and do not make it a surprise for the reader.
There is no use to remind you about the editing phase of the writing process. Even if your essay is well-designed and has impressive fact-based content, a few grammar or stylistic mistakes can have a devastating effect on your potential grade. Professors detest poorly reviewed papers because firstly, they distract the eyes from the point of the essay and secondly, they show that the writer took the matter carelessly.
Dos and don’ts for your critique
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- Do treat the outsourced conclusions with caution while referencing them in your paper. Remember that the essay you are writing is the space for your own argument backed up with your own observations.
- Do paraphrase the information you are referencing in the most accurate way.
- Do refer to the opinions that oppose your argument and show that you are familiarized with them.
- Do support your argument throughout all body paragraphs.
- Do avoid colloquial speech, slang and clichés.
- Do not accept the judgments and deductions of other critics and writers unless you evaluate their arguments thoroughly.
- Do not tend to criticize only in a negative tone. A critique is not created for the utter negation of the work analyzed. Include both positive and negative feedback in your critical review.
- Do not make categorical comments without supporting quotes and referenced facts.
- Do not approach the work subjectively.
- Do not use commonplace evidence otherwise; your critique will not sound powerful and impressive.
- Do not disguise a poorly-made argument with eloquent language or vice versa.
A word to the body paragraphs of a critique
When learning how to write a critical essay, students often ask about its structural components. We advise using this algorithm for an effective critical paragraph:
- Introduce the point with a topic sentence.
- Develop the point by supporting it with the evidence.
- Explain why you are using this or that the evidence, i.e. how it contributes to the point of your critique. Despite the relevance of your supporting data seems obvious to you, the reader may not follow your logic, and therefore you need to clarify it.
- Give a critical reflection on the argument.
The body of the critical paper begins with a summary. Let the reader understand the subject of your critique. For this, you should briefly represent the situation, characters, the scene and major events of the piece of work. The summary may also include a word about the author’s message and the tools used to uncover it to the audience.
Next, you start analyzing. The purpose of the analysis is to discuss how well the author reveals the idea, what are the weaknesses and strong points of his or her writing. When evaluating some phenomenon or event you may do it by showing the causes and effects of that event.
If necessary, another paragraph will disclose your own viewpoint on the book. Whether to include this response depends on the instructions given by your professor or your personal decision. The thing is not to draw too personalized conclusions because they can destroy the entire argument line of the previous paragraphs.
Things that can ruin your critique essay
This section will be extremely helpful for those who need direct guidance to keep critical and at the same time stay balanced enough not to go too far with some personalized opinions. That is why the following recommendations on how to write a critical essay will come in handy:
- Tip1. If you think that your critical paper should intensely influence the readers’ feelings, you are going the wrong way. Surely, it must be appealing but not too much. Moreover, an appeal is pointful only in the introduction; other parts of the essay should follow the argument mode.
- Tip2. As it was said above, the essay should exclude a categorical tone. Intense language and frequent repetitions will not work as strong as proper well-researched evidence.
- Tip3. Effective critique is impossible without direct quotes. It is worth mentioning that your references should be up-to-date and relevant to the topic and the subject of the essay.
- Tip4. Avoid writing impolitely as it does not add respect to your critique. In addition, try to avoid unfavourable manner while analyzing and interpreting the work. Be predominately positive with reasonable criticism only.
Zooming the essentials
This is a brief roundup of the guideline teaching how to write a critical essay. Whatever the writing challenge is, you will not achieve tangible results and improve your academic scores without taking some pains. A recipe for a successful critique essay has vital components:
- A strong argument
- Investigative approach
- Credible materials
- Step-by-step presentation: summary, analysis, interpretation and evaluation
- Proper formatting
- Splendid intro and concluding paragraphs
- Flawless language
- Polite and moderate tone
To reach maximum effectiveness, please check if you have followed these rules:
- Make sure your paper is polished for different kinds of errors.
- Follow the required format (commonly critical papers are performed in MLA format)
- Beware of a too broad topic as well as broad subjects. It is better to focus on a few ideas rather than to boil the ocean. The narrower your subject is, the more efficient the critique will be in the end.
- Please ensure that your paragraphs and statements are smoothly and logically connected.
- Carefully compose your reference list and cite the references according to the chosen essay format.
- It is not the case with a critical paper to write in a humorous tone.
- A good option is to support your argument with the examples – words, events, descriptions – from the work itself.
Very often students give up writing a critical essay due to a number of reasons including lack of experience, strict academic requirements or poor evaluating and analytical skills.
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