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Tuesday Jun 19, 2018

How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay: A Step by Step Guide

It's not unusual for college students to find themselves with several assignments that all fall under the category of the "critical analysis essay." Teachers and professors favor this task. It allows them to assess students' ability to process and review a given piece of text properly. The problem is, though, that not all of the aforementioned professors tend to teach how to write a critical analysis essay. They, for some reason, expect you to wrap your head around everything by yourself. Now, that is not the right way to educate! You may not have the time to go through dozens of textbooks to find the information you need. And that is why we've put together this "how to write a critical analysis essay step by step" guide. Let us give you a few tips on your path to academic proficiency!

What type of language should be used in a critical analysis essay?

Before getting right to the writing a critical analysis essay itself, you need to understand the whole concept of this paper type first. It was already established that a critical analysis essay is assigned with the purpose of assessing students' ability to dissect and study a piece of written work. But, exactly what is a critical analysis essay itself? Well, it is a paper that breaks down the given text piece by piece and states its different qualities and characteristics. This work should be written in a rather subjective manner. You express your opinion and thoughts on the subject matter. You should be careful, though, and avoid making your essay too personal. Don't try to convince the reader, just lay all the facts down in a manner that will seem seamless and unobtrusive. It is a critical essay, not an argumentative one.

But it still isn't the time to start writing. First, you need to read the text critically. It doesn't mean scanning it like you usually do with literary pieces. Prepare your pen and notepad because, while going through the text, you will need to:

  • Identify and write down the author's thesis, his goal in composing the subject of your study.
  • Single out main ideas and lessons present in the work.
  • Make sure you understand everything. If there is something unclear to you, don't neglect using a dictionary or some other sources in order to interpret what you read correctly.
  • It wouldn't hurt to make an outline of your essay and add a short description. This way, you will be able to understand the fundamental points in the plot or structure better.
  • Determine the methods employed by the author in order to get their point across.
  • Ascertain whether the text has been written according to the literary standards. What pros and cons does it have? Is it easy to understand and process the information?

After you're done with analyzing it all verbally, it's time to start writing. Now, don't forget that there is a proper critical analysis essay format. It may seem like an obvious answer because it is an essay after all. And yet, each type of essay has its own specific features. For example, in critical analysis essay, it isn't advisable to use such phrases as "I think" or "from my viewpoint." Once again, you are aiming to subtly present your thoughts, not scream them at the reader, trying to convince them that you're right. Your paper's purpose is to inform and evaluate. Interpret the information the way you see it, but don't forget to mention the title and the name of the author, and the general facts related to the text to let your reader become acquainted with what you're evaluating. Another tricky part here is critical analysis essay structure. So, let's get to it!

The Importance of a Critical Analysis Essay Outline

Before starting writing off the bat, take a moment to organize your thoughts. It will be much better to start by making a critical analysis essay outline. You should know by now that an outline is a form of a plan, a shape that will later form your essay. By developing it beforehand, you will aid the future you in composing the final version. You need to envision what you will write first in order to make it all make sense in the end. It's good when you write down all your thoughts, notes and arguments, but it will be much better if you put them in one place and structure them accordingly.

Naturally, the next logical step of the whole writing process is the "how to structure a critical analysis essay" issue. Well, the obvious answer would be "introduction, then the main body, and a conclusion." It may seem so, but there is so much more to it than this simple scheme. First of all, your essay has to make sense as a cohesive discourse. Structure your disputative points in a way that forms a smooth flow. The transition between your thoughts must be natural and logical. You shouldn't jump from point to point without finishing describing or explaining something. Second of all, you need to comprehend how to start a critical analysis essay fully. Getting to the point right away is not an option. You need to inform your reader about the core parts of what you're analyzing, who wrote it and where it was published. You should do that even if you're sure that people looking at your essay are aware of that. Imagine that your essay got into the hands of a complete stranger who had never even heard about the text-subject of your study. Inform him and help him understand. Make it clear and available for anybody to grasp what you're trying to convey.

Now, let's get another look at your possible outline. We will provide you with a structural outline example of a critical analysis essay so that you could draw your conclusion from that.

  1. Introduction.
    • Essential data about the analyzed text.
    • Identify the author's key points.
    • Your thesis statement, and your interpretation of the idea behind the text.
  2. Main Body
    • Summary of the book - five W's method (who, what, where, when, why).
    • Three (at least) argumentative paragraphs with the structure like:
      • The point you're getting across.
      • Example from the text.
      • How it relates to the main idea of your analysis.
  3. Conclusion
    • Round up all the points you've made. Try to make it short, dynamic and precise. Don't retell, but conclude.

So that is the standard structure for your critical analysis essay. It should be pretty much clear at this point, but we will still focus on two major parts - introduction and conclusion.

The introduction of a critical analysis essay

We've already stated what parts should be present in your introduction, but it wouldn't be out of place to focus on this specific part. You can even go as far as to call it the most important one. It is, of course, the thesis of a critical analysis essay. Don't forget that the thesis is a statement you provide that asserts your opinion about a particular part of a text or its entirety. Don't forget to support it with evidence and elaborate. Your thesis mustn't repeat what the author stated in their thesis. For instance, in case the author wrote "the sky is white," you'd have to write something along the lines of "the author's declaration about the sky being white is baseless and unsustainable..."

The conclusion of a critical analysis essay

The way you finish up your essay is what will remain in your reader's mind for a while. So, if you're wondering how to write a conclusion for a critical analysis essay, it means you're taking it seriously. Basically, what you need to do is:

  • Repeat your thesis (by restating it).
  • Summarize every main point you've made, but don't drag it out. Be short and precise.
  • Get through the importance of your analysis, and what you've achieved.
  • Pinpoint different perspectives of looking at the issue, encourage the reader to investigate further.

Choosing the Topic for Your Essay

Of course, you're free to select any topic that catches your eye, but it is better to be familiar with the text you're analyzing. In some cases, professors give a specific topic to you right away, based on the subject you're studying. But, a lot of teachers prefer to provide their students with freedom of choice in order to see what interests them more, and which topic they know better.

Remember that the topic should concern something you're familiar with. It's not a good idea, for example, to write about Charlotte Bront√ę if you're as far from classic English literature mentally as you are chronologically. Try to combine the things you enjoy doing with the things you study. That way, you will not only make your critical analysis essay an interesting and professional one, but you will also learn something new!

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