Writing a Critique or Critical Essay

A critique paper is an academic paper that calls for a careful evaluation and analysis of a given topic (such as a piece of writing/literature, a work of art). Many people have the wrong notion that a critique should only include criticisms; although a critique may point out or highlight the flaws and limitations of something, it should also have a discussion of the strengths and plus points of a given topic.

After learning about the formulation of evaluative statements, you will now apply what you have learned by drafting your critique paper.

Steps in Writing a Critique Paper

1. "Know" your material.

Study and/or read the material very well. Familiarize yourself with the topic, theme, and author. You must also have a good grasp of the overall organization of the text so that reading the material will not pose a big concern to you. Remember that aside from evaluating and interpreting it, doing a critique includes informing your readers what the material is about and describing the material to them.

2. Take notes as you read.

To remember the key points in the material you are critiquing, it is wise that you jot down important notes. Your comments, questions, and unclear parts should be noted down as well for these may form part of your paper later.

3. Understand the main points of the author/s.

After reading the mate-rial, review your notes so you can identify the major ideas of the text. Around these same ideas, you will identify your own points of agreement and/or disagreement, which you will discuss in your paper. Organize your main points to identify your thesis. You should also paraphrase these main points because this will save your time and paper space. More importantly, doing accurate paraphrases shows that you really understand the material that you are critiquing.

4. Identify the points that you agree and disagree with.

This is the heart of your paper so you need to clearly articulate your thoughts about your topic. You should be guided by these basic evaluative points in finalizing your main points: (1) accuracy, (2) relevance, (3) clarity, and (4) logic. Accuracy is whether the author’s idea is correct and precise. Was there proof presented? Were the words used mean exactly what the author really wants to convey? Relevance is the importance and significance of the author’s idea to the issue/topic being discussed and even to a broader area. Clarity is the understandability and orderliness of the ideas of the author, while logic is the soundness of the author’s idea, which is established primarily by giving proof and support for the claims he/she makes.

5. Steps 1-4 are all about preparing your content for the critique.

This should be followed by your preparation for the organization. For this, you have to look for connections among your main points. Then, decide on the most effective and logical way to present these points. This will be followed by thinking of the appropriate support for each main point. You may use an outline or a graphic organizer for this step.

6. Draft your paper.

Following the process approach to writing, anticipate that the first draft will take time to finish. Be patient. Remember that the goal of the first draft is to put into writing all your ideas identified in the prewriting stage.

7. Get feedback whenever possible and continue revising.

Mind grammar and mechanical neatness in the final draft. Minding the same beforehand might compromise the quality of the content of your write-up. 


Read the partial critique. Note the qualities of a good critique evident in the sample.

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