Writing an essay for your high school English class or college writing course can be a bit of a challenging task. Although there are aspects of writing a critique paper that are fairly straightforward, putting all your ideas together in a way that will be attractive to the reader takes time. Ultimately, any strong critique paper must start with thorough research that's tied into a powerful introduction.
The first step to starting a critique paper is to conduct research on the piece you will be analyzing and thus critiquing. In some cases, your teacher may assign the text to you, but in other cases, you may need to choose which piece you want to critique. Once you have that piece available, read through it several times, highlighting which aspects you believe are strong and which aspects could use improvement.
Understanding the Objective of a Critique
While a critique paper can come in many forms, the idea of this essay is for the writer to critique another piece of writing. This can be anything from a book or an article to an essay or professional text.
This is a chance for the writer to analyze the work in front of them. To do this, there are several questions or guidelines you can use as a checklist to help assist you in really interpreting this text from the point of view of someone who will be critiquing it:
- Is the hypothesis clear in the text's introduction?
- Is there enough background information in the introduction to clearly understand the main idea?
- Is the text clearly organized and is it easy to read?
- Are any graphs or images used in the text clearly labeled or relevant to the text at hand?
- Is the body of the text structured well?
- Does the conclusion make sense with the rest of the piece? Does it tie in all the important points?
- Is it good? Is this a text that people would want to read or that they can gain valuable information from?
Using these questions to help guide your research of the text can help you start your critique paper easily.
Create a Strong Opening Sentence
Once you have all your ideas organized, and you feel that you have enough information to discuss your critique confidently, it's time to write your introduction. Like with any paper, the introduction needs to grab the attention of the reader right from the start. And because this is a critique paper, the writing needs to be exceptional. After all, you can't critique someone else's writing if yours needs work itself!
In order to hook the reader, you can try several different things. You can use a quote from the text or another outside source, a statistic, a fact or information from the text itself.
Summarize the Text
In the introduction of your critique paper, you must also summarize the text that you are critiquing. Although your own critique needs to be firm, you can use this part to give a brief overview of the text you're analyzing, while emphasizing the author's main point and purpose. You may also want to write a brief counterargument in one sentence, just to give the reader an idea of what the opposing views are.
Highlight Your Thesis Statement
Every critique paper must have a thesis statement. Your thesis is how you summarize your argument which supports the critique your giving. This should be your opinion or a very brief overview of your thoughts on the text. You don't want to give everything away, but you can continue to draw the reader in by writing a sentence or two that firmly states your opinion and the critique you're about to draw out.
Don't Forget to Mention the Text
An introduction should not be more than two paragraphs maximum. That, of course, does not give you a lot of space to squeeze in all the necessary points. However, it's necessary that when writing the introduction, that you also mention the title of the text and information about the author.
- Write the introduction last. After writing the rest of your paper and re-reading it, you may be able to more clearly articulate a summary of your argument.
Hana LaRock is a freelance content writer from New York, currently living in Mexico. Before becoming a writer, Hana worked as a teacher for several years in the U.S. and around the world. She has her teaching certification in Elementary Education and Special Education, as well as a TESOL certification. Please visit her website, www.hanalarockwriting.com, to learn more.