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How to write a critical response essay

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A critical response essay, (also referred to as a critical reaction essay), is an important tool in college used by lecturers to gauge what students know and understand on a given topic. When students have been assigned to write a critical response essay, they are expected to respond with an in-depth analysis of the article, giving their opinion on it based on their understanding of the background information that was provided along with any other necessary information they may be aware of. This is the most effective way for instructors and lecturers to tell whether or not their students understood the lecture material well enough that they can now apply it in a meaningful manner

Let us now define critical response essay:

What is a critical response essay?

A critical response essay is type of an essay in which a student offers her/his own critical reflection on either a book, movie or any other relevant piece of literature. The essay offers the opinion and evaluation of the object’s content and structure, so that it may help you to better understand the work. Remember, this kind of essays are not to be copied from somewhere else; they are entirely based on your thoughts about an issue.

The first reason as to why it is important to learn how to write a critical response essay stems from the fact that in order to effectively write any paper one must thoroughly review and analyze its subject matter beforehand. This process allows you to gain insight into what exactly you should write about and how you will structure your paper, so that it flows logically.

Essays are a learning tools where you can let loose your creativity, voice your own opinions and thoughts. This is why the creation of a critical response essay is not a simple task to accomplish. You must dive into the world of books or movies in order to conduct an effective analysis of them and find new perspectives no one else has noticed before or at least share yours with other people in a way they can easily relate to.

Critical response essays require thorough research, deep understanding of the issue under question as well as creative approach towards it, since after all this kind of papers are centered around personal opinion rather than strictly following some academic standards.

All in all, a critical response essay should be based on thorough analysis of the work’s content and structure (or other relevant aspects). It must also provide the reader with one’s own opinion about the issue under question, so that they could relate to your ideas. The instructions and requirements for this type of custom essays are very specific and you will find more detailed information on how to compose them in our writers’ guidelines.

Now, let’s review the process of writing our essay below.

How to Write a Critical Response Essay

Here are the steps involved when writing a good critical response essay. These steps are not to be followed word by word, rather they should act as an aid when you need it most. If you follow this guide, you will be in a better position to write grade winning college response essay.

Here are the steps:

Step 1: Familiarize yourself with the topic.

Get familiar with the requirements of your teacher and focus on them; they will most likely include some or all of the following elements: a specific book, movie, play, a particular theme(s) to be discussed as well as its background information. Read through the entire work under question and make sure you understand what exactly is being discussed in it;

For example find out whether this is a fictional or non-fictional piece and who was its author. The more knowledge you gather about the subject matter before starting writing your paper, the easier it will be for you to provide an effective analysis.

Step 2: Notes collection:

Collect notes and information about this work, book, movie that might be relevant while writing your paper;

for example read critics’ reviews or view additional online materials, like movie trailers, so that you can expand on the argumentation in your essay.

Step 3: Analyze all aspects of the issue:

Get ready to analyze every aspect of the issue: content, structure, theme(s), background information as well as personal opinions of experts and writers (you can use one of them as a source for citing if you want).

This is the stage when you should be most creative and think outside the box in order to find new perspectives no one else has explored or presented before.

Step 4: Collect and analyse sources:

Collect at least 5-7 sources of all kinds: books, journals , articles etc., which are relevant to the subject and support your arguments in a way that is consistent with the topic of your essay.

Always make sure that you cite them properly using MLA or APA style formats; otherwise, it will be considered plagiarism and you could get into serious trouble later on.

Step 5: Start writing:

Start off by introducing the work, book, or movie briefly by saying what exactly it is about, who was its author (if known), why do they think this particular piece should be read or watched etc. Make sure you specify the title of this work from the beginning.

Next, proceed by analyzing different aspects of this work: content, structure , main theme(s) and information related to background details either introduced in book or movie (or play) itself or elaborated by experts/other writers.

This step can be further divided into two more sub-steps;

In the first one you should try to provide a deep analysis of these aspects, possibly supported by examples from the work and then proceed to draw conclusions about them; additionally, make sure that your arguments are consistent with the requirements of your teacher.

On the other hand, if you believe that some elements of the work require additional explanation please elaborate on them further.

In this part of your essay it is also important to discuss any possible controversies or discrepancies associated with main theme(s) of this paper , thus allowing readers to better understand it. One way to do so is through personal opinion based on knowledge gained while reviewing different sources (if there is an opinion of an expert you can use, his or her thoughts and ideas are most welcome).

Now it is time to summarize everything that has been said before: make sure to introduce what the main theme(s) of this work were and then proceed by wrapping up all your points; additionally, you can provide a short outline of the situation as well as relate these points back to its overall context.

Finally, always keep in mind that purpose of critical response essay isn’t simply to analyze something but rather present new perspectives on current issues; therefore, never hesitate when showing off your knowledge!

Step 6: Revise your essay:

Once you have finished writing make sure to read it over and find out whether all aspects of your paper are consistent with the argumentation provided in them.

It is important to check that all facts are accurate, there aren’t any spelling/grammatical mistakes as well as ensure that you haven’t plagiarized someone else’s work. If using directly quoted sources (books, journals, articles), make sure they are cited properly either through parenthesis or footnotes at the bottom of each page.

When done proofreading go back and re-read your essay as if you were your teacher;

make sure that everything is clear for readers: transition from one statement to another should be logical and coherent. If necessary add additional outlines and explanations to make sure that the main idea behind your argumentation is properly conveyed to readers.

Step 7: Make final adjustments:

Once you are satisfied with everything that has been said, it is time to check whether all necessary elements of critical response essay have been included (i.e., introduction, conclusion and bibliography).

Make sure these elements support each other and help you explain your points in an efficient way possible; additionally, ensure that all sources used in your paper are cited correctly using either parenthesis or footnotes placed at the bottom of each page in a standardized formatting style (MLA or APA).

Thus making process easier for readers who wish to pursue further study into this issue.

Structure of a critical response essay

The structure of a good critical response essay or reaction paper is pretty easy to follow. It’s a lot easier than you might think to write an effective essay of this type, and it will also help you in your academic life later (where the professor expects well-written critical essays).Here is a structure for a 5 paragraph critical response essay:


The introduction briefly mention the author’s contentions (the arguments in the article) and your findings about it (refer to specific information or examples that support why you have reached these conclusions). The purpose of this is to help give context for what the reader will be reading next and also to show how you interpreted piece of writing.

Body paragraphs

Body Paragraph 1

In this paragraph, you want discuss some main ideas found in the passage/article. Be sure to use quotations and evidence from textbook or other sources as proof while you are giving your interpretation on their meaning(s). Be sure to connect your sentences together by using transitions like “First”, “Second”, or “Moreover” so make sure you have good transitions as a flow of your paper.

Body Paragraph 2

This paragraph is pretty much the same concept as body paragraph 1, but different evidence/quotes will be used to show how you reached these conclusions in this paragraph. Again, use transitions like “First”, “Second”, or “Moreover”. It is also important to note that after each quote there should be a comma, so make sure when you are typing up your paper, you properly format it by pressing enter after each quote and before writing another sentence; otherwise the reader will get confused with what you are trying to say.

Body Paragraph 3

This paragraph is similar to the previous paragraphs; however, in this paragraph you are going to talk about how a specific quotation/evidence used in those previous body paragraphs supports your interpretation of that quote/evidence. You can include your counter-arguments here


You want to restate why you stated earlier about how (the author’s) position makes sense and how you (the reader) have reached the conclusion that what he/she is saying makes sense.

Sources Page

You want to include a sentence about where you got your information from. Be sure to use correct MLA or APA referencing formatting when you cite your sources in the text of the paper, not just at the end where all your works cited page would go.

Example Template – How to write a critical response essay to an article

When you have been asked to write a critical article response essay, one of the things that you’ll want to write is a good introduction, as well as three body paragraphs.

The most difficult part in writing the critical article response essay will be structuring your paper correctly by having an effective introduction and conclusion – which are both extremely important for this essay type – along with three well-written paragraphs which discuss your findings on how the author has reached his/her argument.

This is what your article critical response essay needs:


A couple of sentences that gives the reader some insight into your opinion about the topic. Explain why you are writing about this article/subject. Give at least one reason why someone else might be interested in reading it- after all, they are reading your paper!

Here is where the background information that was mentioned earlier gets used; however, this section should go further than just introducing readers to background info about the article topic. You need to keep in mind that when structuring your introduction, there are a few important pieces to it:

first, you want to connect the literature that was mentioned in the body of the paper with what you are planning on writing about in this essay;

second, include quotes from both (the article) and other sources so long as they support your argument. You may also include a quote from the author(s) who wrote the article.

Then at the end of this section write a sentence explaining why reading this essay will be beneficial for readers along with how they can benefit from these points.

Body paragraphs:

In each paragraph, discuss ONE thing from the piece of writing that was either done well or could have been done better. Use examples from the text to support your opinion.

  • Body Paragraph 1: In this paragraph just like the other body paragraphs, you want to include: Introduction of a topic that will be discussed in paragraph 2. You also want to use background information from the article here as well. Are you basically just explaining what the author has been trying to say within his/her article?
  • Body Paragraph 2: This is pretty much like your first body paragraph except it’s different because now you are going deeper into (the author’s) main points and giving examples; how they make sense by using specific evidence/quotes from the text or textbook. You want to do this for both paragraphs 1 & 2 of your 3-para essay; each one should have its own definition/topic sentence and examples given from two different parts of the text/article.
  • Body Paragraph 3: This paragraph is similar to the previous paragraphs; however, in this paragraph you are going to talk about how a specific quotation/evidence used in those previous body paragraphs supports your interpretation of that quote/evidence. You can include your counter-arguments here , but remember – this is not an argument essay. In order to make the perfect paper for a critical article response assignment, you will have to stick within the topic as well as stay on topic when writing this assessment of literature piece.


You want to restate why you stated earlier about how (the author’s) position makes sense and how you (the reader) have reached the conclusion that you’ve reached after reading the article. Now in your conclusion you want to make sure that you point out whether or not (your) opinion(s) have changed from before you read this paper or if they stayed the same and why.

Additional Information:

  1. Cite all references if you quote more than 5 lines of text from a larger piece of writing (movie, website, etc.)- use MLA formatting for this to be professional looking.
  2. Don’t talk about things in the article that aren’t mentioned in it!
  3. If any part seems difficult, try reworking it or asking another student for advice on how to word something better. We’ve been there too, and we’re here to help!

Critical response essay writing help

Nowadays writing essays about different aspects of books , movies and plays is one of the easiest ways to show off your knowledge while writing them; as such, if you are looking for a better solution on how to come up with critical response essay make sure to take advantage of our custom essay writing services!

If you want to grab top marks for every single assignment you write, pay our professional writers and they will do all the hard work for you.

You can either order a general paper or ask our experts to create something special according to your individual needs. In any case, feel free to contact us via phone or live chat at any time! We want you to get what you paid for – a high-quality essay that would meet all your requirements.

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That’s it, guys! We sincerely hope that this essay writing guide was helpful for you to understand the concept behind writing critical response essays better and make your academic life much easier!

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