Learn How to Write Marvelous Critical Response Essays!

If you want to write excellent critical response essays, you need to know what makes this essay different from other academic assignments. A critical response essay is one of many assignments given to students in colleges and universities. Professors often assign these tasks as they enable students to study literary works and develop their critical thinking. Such an assignment should enable the students to demonstrate their analytical and critical thinking skills by evaluating the content of an article, book, movie, or any other work. If you think that this assignment is pretty easy, you are mistaken as it requires thorough analysis, synthesis, and interpretation of the work being studied. By understanding what the author was trying to say, you will be able to develop your position on the subject. Most students mistakenly believe that writing critical response essays deal with pointing the flaws and inconsistencies in the work. However, writing about the disadvantages you have found in the work is just one of many dimensions of writing a critical response essay. This means that you need to identify both strengths and weaknesses of the work to provide your reader with the multifaceted analysis of the article. When you are a college student, you will not be able to avoid this task. Being pretty effort-consuming, it will require applying a professional approach. However, you can study multiple tips and secrets that will significantly facilitate the writing process. Now, when you know what is a critical response essay, you should have a look at our step-by-step guide that will help you understand the main stages of producing a winning critical response essay.

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Writing Critical Response Essays: How to Do Everything Right?

Step 1. Pre-Writing

Get prepared for writing your essay. Before you start working on your critical response essay, you will need to understand what you are going to write in it. The preparation part is particularly important since it involves the study of the primary source, evidence selection, as well as creating an outline. Besides, you can look for some samples of well-written critical response essays as they will help you understand how to structure and format your document. Although many students prefer to skip the pre-writing stage, we want to emphasize that it is particularly important as it will enable you to avoid spontaneous writing, which will have a positive impact on the quality of your essay. Sometimes, the pre-writing stage may take much time, though it will significantly economize your time and effort spent on the writing process.

Know your audience. When preparing to write a critical response essay, you will also need to consider your intended audience focusing on the needs, expectations, attitudes, and characteristics of your readers. Having this information, you will find it easier to address their needs, which will bring you the anticipated outcome. By knowing who your reader is, you will find it easier to choose the right tone and voice for your essay. This means that a critical response essay you will present to the multi-disciplinary audience will be different from the one you will write for your classmates.

Define a topic. The topic of your critical response essay will depend on the work you are going to analyze. Very often, professors provide students with a list of works to select from as they want students to apply creative thinking on this stage as well. If you are allowed to select the work for analysis, you will need to pick up the one that will be interesting, engaging, and multilayered. When choosing a topic for your work, you will need to pick up the one that would be neither too broad nor too narrow. Ideally, it should match your interests as it will enable you to create a brilliant piece that will meet your expectations. By selecting an inappropriate topic, you will not be able to enjoy the writing process. Thus, if you are not certain about the topic chosen, you should not hesitate to modify it.

Step 2. Writing an Essay

Create a thesis statement. Once you are done with choosing the work for analysis and studying the professor’s prompt, you will need to start working on your paper. First, you will need to formulate a good thesis statement that will serve as the main idea of your paper. A thesis statement is the main component of your essay that should outline the purpose of your work. Thus, after carrying out an in-depth investigation of your topic, you will need to formulate a strong and captivating thesis statement that will define the direction of your work. Do not be afraid to revise your thesis several times during the writing process, as it is normal to refine your idea depending on the evidence you find. 

Weight your evidence. Once you have formulated your thesis, you will need to study your evidence thoroughly to find out what ideas and claims of other people will serve as evidence for your work. You should also know that whenever you use any source, you will need to include it in your list of references. Taking the ideas of other researchers without mentioning their authorship is considered plagiarism. Pay attention that your professor will pay close attention to the quality of references you will use. Thus, we highly recommend you work with peer-reviewed and up-to-date sources. 

Make up an outline. An outline is a final product of the brainstorming process. It is a plan of your work that will help you stay focused and thesis-oriented. Without having a good outline, you can make your paper poorly structured, which will significantly compromise its quality. Therefore, it is highly recommended to take some time and write an outline that will include all significant points that will be addressed in your paper. The systematic arrangement of the main elements will ensure the smooth flow and coherency of your document. 

Draft your paper. Once you are done with all the preparation stages, you will need to start working on your paper. If you have a good outline, the writing process will turn into a truly exciting experience. It will enable you to move from one point to another gradually without any logical inaccuracies. When writing your paper, you will need to follow a traditional essay structure. When drafting your paper, you do not need to put much attention to mechanical flaws, as you will be able to fix them later when working on a revision of your paper. 

Step 3. Post-Writing

When you are done with writing your draft, you do not need to hurry up to submit it. There is one more stage that should be taken if you want to receive a good grade. Once you are done with writing the draft of your paper, you will need to revise it carefully fixing all flaws and inconsistencies jeopardizing its quality. When revising your paper, you will need to pay attention to its compliance with instructions, the accuracy of ideas, the credibility of your evidence, as well as many other significant points. Also, you will need to make sure your paper is free from plagiarism. 

To improve the quality of your paper, you can also use a strategy that is called collaborative revision. This means that you need to ask one of your fellow students to have a look at your paper and provide their comments on its coherence, organization, structure, formatting, and mechanics. It is great to have an extra pair of eyes to get an objective opinion about your work.

Editing is the final stage of your writing process that involves polishing the quality of your text. There are a couple of efficient strategies that will help you edit your paper properly. For example, you may print out your paper and start reading from the last lines. This approach will help you focus mainly on the mechanics of your paper without paying attention to its content. A lot of students mistakenly rely on automatic spell-checking tools, though you should understand that these tools make a limited number of corrections. Although you are free to use these checkers, we strongly recommend you not to underestimate the importance of manual proofreading. Make sure to read your paper several times because it will help you achieve excellence. To evaluate your paper with a good grade, your professor wants to see that you follow all specific requirements mentioned in the grading rubric. When you are done with writing your paper, you will need to make sure it corresponds with the instructions provided.


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Sample Outline

Below, you will find a sample outline you will need to follow regardless of the type of work you are analyzing:

  1. Introduction. 
  • Summary of the article;
  • Thesis statement. 
  1. Main body.

First body paragraph:

  • Topic sentence;
  • Main argument;
  • Evidence supporting the argument;
  • Concluding sentence.

Second body paragraph:

  • Topic sentence;
  • Main argument;
  • Evidence supporting the argument;
  • Concluding sentence.

Third body paragraph:

  • Topic sentence;
  • Main argument;
  • Evidence supporting the argument;
  • Concluding sentence.
  1. Conclusion:
  • Summary of the main points discussed in the main body;
  • Closing remarks.

No matter what the topic of your paper is, you will need to follow this outline as it will help you make your paper engaging and well-structured.

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How to Cite Sources in a Critical Response Essay?

When writing a critical response essay, you will also need to follow the formatting style indicated by your instructor in their prompt. APA and MLA are the most popular styles used in academic writing. Below, you will find examples of citing academic sources following these styles.

APA 7th edition

In-text citation:

  • Parenthetical: (Jones, 2020).
  • Narrative: Jones (2020).


  • Jones, L. (2020, September 7). Finding a balance between theory and practice in management. New York Times. 

MLA 8th edition

In-text citation:

  • Parenthetical: (Jones par. 2).
  • Narrative: Jones argues . . . (par. 2).


Jones, Luke. “Finding a balance between theory and practice in management.” New York Times, 7 Sept. 2020.

Critical Response Essay Example

Final Thoughts on Writing a Critical Response Essay

Below, you will find a list of tips that will help you turn the quality of your essay from good to brilliant:

  1. To write a good-looking critical response essay, you will need to read your piece critically;
  2. Before you start writing your paper, you will need to conduct thorough research working with credible academic sources;
  3. Make sure to annotate your sources to avoid plagiarism accuse;
  4. Make sure to create a good plan of your paper that will ensure the sequence of your ideas;
  5. Arrange your paragraphs in accordance with a typical outline;
  6. Do not forget to revise your essay when it is written. Pay attention that both individual and collaborative revisions are efficient;
  7. Make sure to submit your paper within the deadline allocated by your tutor.

We assure you that following our tips and suggestions will enable you to submit a brilliant paper that will bring you the best outcome. Nevertheless, practice makes perfect and every new assignment will turn you into a skilled academic writer.

You might also be interested in Summary and Response Essay Example
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