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How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay With Examples

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Dr. Alex Freedman
  • Icon Calendar 18 May 2024
  • Icon Page 4618 words
  • Icon Clock 21 min read

Students in various higher learning institutions must complete critical analysis papers, which focus on evaluating the effectiveness of other sources in presenting multiple facts. In this case, the primary goal is to assess and observe objective elements. For example, a scholar may write about a wide range of topics and subjects in these papers. Moreover, these essays lead to a better understanding of subjects or sources under analysis. Then, such compositions help one to examine a controversial point of view. Besides, this guide on how to write a critical analysis essay provides steps that one must use when writing a critical analysis essay. In particular, facts revealed that critical analysis papers must contain a hook and clear thesis in the introduction. Also, writers should include a summary of a source in question. In turn, outstanding papers should have a detailed analysis of a subject. Finally, essays must end with a summative conclusion that brings the work to closure without introducing new details.

General Guidelines for Writing a Critical Analysis Essay

A critical analysis paper requires one to critique and evaluate another literary work. In practice, one may need to assess a book, an essay, a movie, or a painting, among other sources. Basically, critical analysis papers help readers to develop a better understanding of the work under evaluation. Also, one engages in objective writing that expresses his or her opinion or assessment of a text. In turn, the term “analysis” means the process of breaking down and studying various parts. Hence, one must engage in critical reading and writing.

How to write a critical analysis essay

Purpose of Writing a Critical Analysis Essay

Scholars write critical analysis essays when they focus on telling readers about a subject. For instance, a writer explains the purpose and meaning of a specific work. In this case, critical evaluation papers help one to express a point of view. Hence, students should communicate how they feel about a specific work. In practice, writers must analyze subjects critically to show their weaknesses and strengths. 

Important Features and Steps for Writing a Critical Analysis Essay

Scholars in higher learning institutions must engage in the critical writing process. Basically, this process requires them to read all the sources that they must use to support their opinions. In this case, one must ensure that the reading process helps to identify significant points and subjects related to assigned topics. For example, prudent writers ensure that they have a definite opinion on the matter of a critical analysis essay. However, one should examine an issue from multiple perspectives. Also, this aspect ensures that a person remains more objective and open-minded to the point. In turn, one must identify a thesis statement in a written piece under analysis and include supporting evidence for main arguments. Therefore, students in higher learning institutions should be prepared to take part in the critical writing process.  

1. Presenting an Opinion

Professional writers take their time to present other people’s opinions. For instance, one must think about a response and reaction toward a subject matter presented in an essay. Basically, a prudent writer must take the time to examine all the answers shown in a written piece. In turn, this process should focus on eliminating all forms of offensive responses and opinions toward literary works. Moreover, outstanding essays do not offend targeted readers. Instead, they consider different backgrounds and experiences that individuals might have into consideration.

2. Drafting

Consequently, one should draft an essay to include all the points. For instance, students should begin writing a critical analysis essay by having an overview of a subject and its major issues. In this case, writers must draw the readers’ attention toward the thesis statement created. Then, all body paragraphs must support the central argument, which helps to affirm the writer’s opinion. As a rule, each passage must focus on addressing a single point for such an analysis. Moreover, themes presented in each paragraph must give a fair judgment to a subject by avoiding an extreme bias and any irregular needs. In turn, such a strategy helps writers to prove primary arguments effectively. 

3. Ending

A critical analysis paper must end with a summative conclusion. For instance, writers should reiterate each point made in the essay’s body. Also, prudent students begin writing a critical analysis essay by restating their overall opinions. In this case, the process helps to bring a paper to an effective closure. Moreover, the process of writing a critical analysis involves significant steps. Basically, one must engage in essential reading and writing processes.

Step 1: Preparation

1. Critical Reading

Writing a critical analysis paper means engaging in a careful and focused reading process. Basically, students must read their texts under analysis thoroughly to identify the author’s central argument and the nature of the academic support provided. In practice, one may not understand a source by reading along. Instead, scholars should consider other related sources that can help to understand various concepts. Also, this process enables one to understand different takes and opinions on the same subject. Then, a prudent writer should pay close attention to details presented by an author and recognize possible biases, assumptions, and rhetorical devices. Hence, students should keep an eye on basic guidelines when engaging in the critical reading process:

  1. Scholars need to write down vocabulary words and define terms that may remain unclear. Basically, this process helps them to understand ideas presented in a source under analysis. Also, one should rely on dictionaries and thesaurus to understand the meaning of problematic terms presented in an essay.
  2. One should identify the author’s intended audience. For example, good writers prepare their works in a specific way, which appeals to a particular audience. In this case, sources with statistical language tend to appeal to business people. Also, identifying this language helps one appreciate the intended purpose of the source’s author.
  3. Writers should identify the author’s means of persuasion. For instance, an author may use language or rhetoric devices to persuade the targeted audience. Basically, this strategy helps to understand the source’s effectiveness in communicating the intended message.
  4. Students should identify the general structure of the writing and its role in supporting the central message. In this case, significant scholarly sources utilize a unique design to communicate the main message to the intended audience. Also, authors must focus on the structure used in the reference under analysis and identify its role in communicating the intended message. In turn, this process helps to identify significant flaws in such a source.

These guidelines presented above show the purpose of the critical reading process. For instance, a good writer must identify the author’s intended audience, means of persuasion, and general structure. In turn, these three elements enhance one’s level of understanding of the intended message in the source under consideration.

2. Preparing Ideas for Writing a Critical Analysis Essay

Writers should prepare all the ideas identified in sources under review. In this case, students group the main ideas together during the writing process. Also, this process helps to organize thoughts before responding to an essay. Then, flow charts and flashcards are useful tools for managing important concepts considered in the text. In turn, scholars should use these tools to identify significant ideas and those that must appear when writing a critical analysis essay. Therefore, authors should consider organizing ideas to ensure that they capture intended messages.  

Step 2: Setting-Up the Stage

A prudent writer sets up the stage for developing writing a critical analysis essay. Basically, this process plays a crucial role in ensuring that students gather the necessary information and evidence for writing their papers. Hence, some activities that one must consider when preparing for the writing process are:

1. Finding Sources

Students must focus on finding credible sources to support central ideas to be presented in a paper. For example, reliable sources must contain credible information that supports all significant arguments and claims. In this case, writers must take time when identifying relevant references for their essays. Moreover, all scholarly sources must contain credible evidence that relates to assigned topics. Then, one should use journal articles, books, and reports published in the past ten years. In turn, this approach ensures that students obtain current evidence to support their arguments and claims. Besides, a prudent writer must avoid websites that may contain irrelevant information related to an issue in question. Hence, one must identify adequate and appropriate sources for supporting the main arguments when writing a critical analysis essay.  

2. Making Notes for Writing a Critical Analysis Essay

Writers should make notes related to a topic in question. For instance, one should engage in the critical reading process for all the sources considered. Basically, students should take relevant notes as they read through identified sources. Besides, one must determine appropriate in-text citations based on applicable formatting guidelines. In turn, the note-taking process allows one to remember and organize the relevant evidence for supporting opinions presented in the essay’s body. Hence, scholars must consider making notes from identified sources.  

3. Creating an Outline

Prudent students write outlines for their critical analysis papers. For instance, an essay outline contains all the sections of an essay. In this case, a suitable general description must have relevant evidence that writers must use to support arguments and claims made. Also, some of the parts that one must include are a brief introduction, a draft thesis statement, a body, and a summary. In turn, the body section should state the main points as opposed to containing paragraphs.

4. Writing an Annotated Bibliography for a Critical Analysis Essay

Scholars should consider preparing an annotated bibliography for sources. In particular, an annotated bibliography refers to a list of citations for scholarly articles on a specific topic. Basically, this list resembles a page with references but includes annotations for each entry. In this case, one should consist of a summary or a critical evaluation of a source. Moreover, students may consider some types of annotations when preparing for writing a critical analysis essay.

Type 1: Summary Annotation

This type of annotation should describe a source by answering:

  • Who wrote the source?
  • What does the source discuss?
  • When and where was the source published?
  • Why was the source published?
  • How was the source provided to the public?

Type 2: Evaluative Annotation

  • This annotation should include a summary of a source. However, one should consist of a critical assessment of the work. Also, the evaluation must examine the work for accuracy, relevance, and quality. In turn, evaluation annotations can help writers to learn more about a topic in question, develop a thesis statement, and decide if a specific source remains useful. Besides, this annotation allows students to determine if this source contains adequate and valid information to complete a paper. 

Prudent writers focus on preparing evaluative annotations when writing a critical analysis paper. Basically, this method helps to identify the most credible sources for supporting the main arguments in an essay. Besides, this process lays the foundation for evaluating and eliminating weaker sources.

Step 3: Start Writing a Critical Analysis Essay

1. Critical Analysis Writing

The essential purpose of the writing process is not to de-legitimize the author’s work. In turn, the fundamental purpose of the writing process is to help readers to explore a specific literary piece. Moreover, writers should open up to ignored or neglected aspects. Then, students have a primary duty of helping to understand a subject to a full extent. In particular, the critical analysis process begins with a summary of the considered source. For example, the overview demonstrates that students develop an adequate understanding of the main message. In practice, papers should not contain the writer’s opinion or reveal any bias toward the source under investigation. Instead, one should focus on addressing the following questions when preparing an outstanding summary:

  • How has the author organized the information in the text?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Why does the author target a specific audience?
  • What are the main assumptions about the audience made by the author?
  • What are the rhetorical, language, and imagery devices that the author uses in the text?

2. Creating a Draft

Writers should use a summary and working thesis to develop a draft of a paper. For example, credible drafts resemble actual critical analysis essays. In this case, students should organize drafts by having an introduction, body, and conclusion. Also, the primary goal of bringing the information together is to ensure that one develops a clear picture of an essay. In turn, this process ensures that one identifies the correct flow of ideas and possible gaps.

3. Putting Everything Together

Scholars must put the information together into a complete paper. Basically, writers should consider including all the evidence gathered in the previous section. In this case, this step lays the foundation for revising a paper and ensures that all the evidence presented supports the essay’s central argument.

4. Finding New Sources for Writing a Critical Analysis Essay

A prudent writer must consider if sources support an essay virtually. In this case, the primary goal of reviewing the references’ applicability is to ensure that critical analysis papers have a unique level of clarity. Moreover, if some sources fail to align with the ideas presented, one should look for more sources. Then, writers must look for those scholarly articles that contain weightier evidence and support to their essays. In turn, one should add more sources where applicable. As a result, writers must delete old ones if they have weaker evidence.

5. Altering an Outline

Prudent writers consider altering an initial outline after changing sources. In this case, one should change annotated sources used to support the main points in an essay. Besides, students should alter some of the claims presented to strengthen them by considering their working topics. In turn, a reviewed essay outline ensures that writers develop an essay structure that can guide the final paper’s preparation. Hence, one should revise the general description to ensure that it captures desired changes.

6. Developing a Working Thesis Statement

One should create a working thesis after summarizing the work. Basically, this approach helps authors to capture all the main ideas presented in the scholarly work under analysis to develop a balanced opinion. In practice, the critical analysis paper’s thesis statement represents the writer’s reaction to the analyzed source. Moreover, good opinions must be subjective, which implies that one should make a debatable claim. In turn, students should expect other scholars to challenge the thesis statement. However, one should articulate a personal opinion carefully and thoroughly to achieve the reader’s trust. Hence, scholars should remember the following points when developing a thesis statement for a critical analysis essay.

  • The thesis statement must communicate the main point to be proven by using various tools, like logical or emotional reasoning. Basically, students must create a thesis that acts as a root of where a paper develops.
  • The main claim must remain relevant to the topic under discussion. In this case, one must defend the central claim by using logic, analysis, and external support.
  • Students should not confuse the thesis statement with the introduction. In practice, the introduction of a critical analysis essay should include a hook, a summary of the topic, and a clear thesis statement. Moreover, the thesis should be the last sentence in the introduction of the essay.
  • One should rely on adequate research when developing the thesis statement. In particular, writers must gather credible evidence to have sufficient background information about the topic before writing the central claim. Also, this process leads to an accurate and understandable thesis that guides the body section of the essay.
  • A good thesis must reflect organized thoughts and a narrow focus on the entire paper. For example, many students make the mistake of developing an idea that covers a broad scope of the topic. In turn, this flaw makes the essay sound vague to readers. As a rule, one should create a first draft and revise it after completing a written piece to ensure that such a composition captures the main ideas.

Step 4: Wrapping Up

Students must consider the final stage of essay writing. For instance, scholars must ensure that writing a critical analysis essay meets the necessary quality before submitting it for marking. Hence, some activities that one must consider when wrapping up a paper are:

1. Revisioning

Writers must revise the work to ensure that it meets the desired quality. Basically, the revision process involves reading written compositions several times and ensuring that these papers contain the correct format and structure. In this case, one should pay close attention to spelling and grammar mistakes. Also, the primary goal of revising an essay is to ensure that it meets the necessary quality.

2. Editing

Prudent writers consider the importance of the editing process in improving the quality of the paper. For example, students should consider making essential changes in their essays. Then, reading by peers plays an instrumental role in the editing process. In this case, scholars rely on peers to identify some flaws that may impact the readability of their essays. Moreover, one should depend on positive criticism to make necessary changes when writing a critical analysis essay. In turn, editing should focus on all writing mechanics.

3. Topic Sentences in Writing a Critical Analysis Essay

Credible essays should have topic sentences in each paragraph. In this case, one must ensure that each section dwells on a single point. For example, the first sentence of every body paragraph should state a single issue clearly. Basically, writers must ensure that all the passages reveal their themes. Otherwise, papers may appear vague and fail to communicate the intended message. In turn, all topic sentences must relate to the thesis statement presented in the introduction paragraph.

4. Concluding and Transition Sentences

Outstanding essays contain closing and linking sentences. In particular, the last sentence in each paragraph must summarize the main ideas presented. Also, one must ensure that this sentence gives a summative closure to the passage while linking it to the next section. In turn, failure to include effective closing and relating statements disrupts the unique flow of ideas in an essay.

5. Formatting When Writing a Critical Analysis Essay

Different learning institutions require writers to follow specific formatting styles. Basically, one must follow such guidelines when writing a critical analysis essay. In this case, writers must make necessary consultations with lecturers before submitting final copies. Also, one should rely on an essay rubric to format a paper and achieve higher grades.

6. Peer Review

Prudent writers share their works with peers for reviewing purposes. For example, one should identify other scholars with adequate knowledge in a subject matter. Basically, such choices support positive criticism and allow students to identify significant gaps that may undermine the essay’s readability. Moreover, one should consider the effectiveness of reviews before making final adjustments to papers. As a rule, scholars should consider various critics if they enhance the essay’s quality and readability. In turn, writers should feel free to reject some critics that may distort the meaning of the work. 

Sample Outline for Writing a Critical Analysis Essay

I. Introduction

  • Identify a source under critical review.
  • Preview the main argument and state some steps taken to prove this claim.
  • Present a thesis statement as the central argument of an essay.

II. A summary of a Source

  • This summary should not be comprehensive – present what readers need to know and understand the thesis statement.

III. Analysis/Argument

Include arguments that contain several other points of view. In turn, some of the factors of analysis include:

  • Discussion of the work’s organization.
  • Discussion of the work’s style.
  • Effectiveness.
  • Discussion of the topic’s treatment.
  • Discussion of appeal to a particular audience.

IV. Conclusion

  • Reflect on the thesis statement’s support given in an essay.
  • Point out the significance of a central argument.
  • Identify potential opportunities for supplementary research or investigation.

An example template for a critical analysis essay outline presented above varies from those of other paper types. Basically, one should not assume that the design of a critical analysis essay contains a summary of a source. In turn, this summary follows the introductory paragraph and reveals one’s understanding of the main ideas presented. As a rule, students must focus on the most important concepts presented in a critical analysis essay essay.

Breaking Down an Outline for Writing a Critical Analysis Essay

I. Introduction

The opening paragraph should begin with an interesting phrase. In this case, students should give a brief overview of a source under review. Besides, the last sentence must represent the primary argument or thesis statement. In turn, one should not use a question for the thesis statement. Instead, writers must present debatable claims.

II. Summary

Prudent writers summarize only important concepts. In particular, summaries must relate to the thesis statement. Unfortunately, many learners dwell much on this section, which makes their essays appear weak. Basically, students must remember that the summary does not contribute to supporting the thesis statement. Instead, writers should focus on presenting specific facts that promote the understanding of the main argument. 

III. Analysis/Argument

The body of a critical analysis essay should present major arguments. Basically, prudent writers break down the thesis statement into different subsections. In this case, one must discuss each sub-thesis exhaustively. Then, students must focus on the most crucial essay concepts while providing adequate supporting details. In turn, good critical analysis papers should contain real-life examples that relate to the topic and relevant explanations.

IV. Conclusion

a critical analysis essay should contain a relevant closing paragraph. In particular, students must ensure that the last paragraph summarizes all the ideas presented. As a rule, one should not introduce new evidence in this section. Instead, writers should bring the work to a unique closure by restating the thesis statement.

Example of Writing a Critical Analysis Essay

Critical Analysis Essay of “Two Principles of Justice”

I. Sample of an Introduction Section

The unjust social system undermines the effectiveness of human struggles to achieve equality. Basically, many individuals assume that they cannot access equal justice. In this case, Rawls argues that every society should ensure that all people access equal justice. Moreover, the first principle by Rawls advocates for equal liberty and equal rights for all citizens. Then, the second principle advocates for social and economic equality where individuals should access equal opportunities irrespective of their backgrounds. While societies struggle to achieve equality in justice, the article “Two Principles of Justice” by John Rawls presents hypotheses for promoting fairness that fails to lead to justifiable outcomes (thesis).

II. Example of a Summary Part

Rawls presents two principles of justice when referring to the supposed situation where societies choose standard justice. For example, the first standard focuses on equal freedom for all individuals irrespective of their social, economic, cultural, political, or religious background (Rawls, 1971). In this case, each person has fundamental rights to the most respected liberties. Moreover, Rawls holds that all members of society must enjoy similar privileges. Then, the second standard promotes social and economic justice across the country (Rawls, 1971). In this case, all citizens should benefit from public opportunities available. Also, all individuals should access equal job prospects without any form of barriers. For instance, two principles intend to allocate extensive liberties to all people equally (Rawls, 1971). Further on, these values provide practical strategies that should govern the allocation of available resources and opportunities. In turn, modern societies should embrace two principles as pillars in sharing social and economic reimbursements. Hence, Rawls presents two principles that allow all people to get equal opportunities irrespective of their backgrounds.

III. Sample of an Analysis/Argument Section

Rawls fails to clarify the level of equality that each community must achieve. Basically, the first principle states that people should access essential liberties without any possible barriers (Rawls, 1971). In turn, the statement disregards the nature of the universal trait of human rights. On the other hand, fundamental human freedoms have conflicting interests, which makes it hard for individuals to access them equally. Moreover, Rawls fails to make justifications that lead to a better understanding of the fundamental rights that societies must promote. Hence, Rawls does not explain the universal rights clearly that people must access.

Rawls makes some assumptions that disregard important factors that lead to inequality in modern society. In particular, the second principle argues that disadvantaged people should have easy access to the most significant benefits (Rawls, 1971). Basically, this argument fails to consider factors that influence leadership in modern communities. In this case, people with higher literacy attainments make more outstanding contributions to the management of various institutions. As a result, they deserve more significant advantages than those who make lesser contributions. Therefore, differences in commitment levels among multiple members of the community disapprove of Rawls’ second principle.

IV. Example of a Conclusion Part

Many civilizations strive to achieve equality in justice processes. However, achieving absolute parity remains an elusive goal. In this case, the article “Two Principles of Justice” by John Rawls presents hypotheses that people can embrace in promoting equality. Moreover, Rawls argues that all individuals must access equal liberty and social and economic opportunities. In turn, this example of writing a critical analysis essay shows that two principles appear vague since such statements may not lead to justifiable outcomes. Hence, scholars should focus on defining specific liberties that promote equality.

Citing a Source for Writing a Critical Analysis Essay in Various Formats

APA 7th edition – A reference entry should follow a sentence case rule, while in-text citations should include the author’s name and publication year. Hence, examples of a reference with an in-text citation are:

  • Rawls, J. (1971). Two principles of justice. In a theory of justice (pp. 1017–1024). Harvard University Press.
  • (Rawls, 1971).

MLA 9th edition – A Works Cited entry should follow a title case rule. Also, in-text citations should entail the author’s surname and page numbers. Hence, examples of a Works Cited entry with an in-text citation are:

  • Rawls, John. “Two Principles of Justice.” A Theory of Justice, Harvard University Press, 1971, pp. 1017–1024.
  • (Rawls 1017).

Harvard – A reference entry should follow a sentence case rule. Moreover, in-text citations should include the author’s surname, publication date, and page numbers. Hence, examples of a reference entry with an in-text citation are:

  • Rawls, J 1971, ‘Two principles of justice’, in a theory of justice, Harvard University Press, pp. 1017–1024.
  • (Rawls 1971, p. 1017).

Chicago/Turabian – A bibliographic entry should follow a capital case rule. Also, in-text citations must appear as footnotes. Hence, examples of a bibliography entry with a footnote are:

  • Rawls, John. “Two Principles of Justice.” In A Theory of Justice, 1017–1024. Harvard University Press, 1971.
  • 1. John Rawls, “Two Principles of Justice,” in A Theory of Justice (Harvard University Press, 1971), 1017.

Summing Up on How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay

Writing a critical analysis essay is common in a higher learning institution. Basically, topics for critical analysis focused on evaluating the effectiveness of other scholarly sources. In this case, students write about a wide range of topics and subjects. Moreover, the primary goal is to evaluate and observe the defined elements. Then, the process leads to a better understanding of the matter in question. Besides, these essays help one to examine a controversial point of view. Hence, some points that one must remember when writing critical analysis essays are:  

  • include a hook and a clear thesis in the introduction;
  • provide a summary of a source in question.
  • focus on a detailed analysis;
  • end with a summative conclusion.  

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