How to Write a Critique

How to Write a Critique

If you are in college or university, you should know how to write a critique. A critique refers to a disciplined and systematic method of analyzing an oral or written discourse- Most people associate critique with negative judgment and fault finding. However, it can also entail merit recognition. In philosophical traditions, critique can also imply a methodical doubt practice.

In writing, to critique usually implies to evaluate the weaknesses and strengths of a theory, framework, response or an idea. Writing a critique entails evaluating the important or useful elements, the problems, competing perspectives and what can be supported-

How to write a critique in 9 simple steps

  • Examine the assignment or prompt

This entails understanding what the assignment requires you to do. The words “critical evaluation” or “critical assessment” can be used instead of critique. However, they all require you to evaluate and summarize the work. Therefore, start by examining the assignment or prompt so that you can understand what exactly you are required to critique and how.

  • Read the work

Start by analyzing the article or book that you are required to critique. While reading, identify thesis statement or the main point of the author. If you come across concepts or words that you do not understand, underline them and then find out what they mean. Divide the article or book into thought sections then summarize each section in a brief manner using simple words-

While reading the work, ask these questions:

  • What questions do you ask when you read the work?
  • What responses does the work provoke?
  • Who are the target audiences for the work?
  • Is the main goal or point stated clearly?
  • Conduct some research

You may not have to conduct extensive research because you have the work that you are required to critique. However, if there are concepts that you do not understand, you need to conduct some research. Conducting research is also necessary because it enables you to talk about other works that relate to the one that you are critiquing. You understand the context in which the work was created better after conducting some research. For instance, when critiquing an article on a newly developed flu treatment, conduct research on other treatments of flue because this enables you to understand the context of the article. Similarly, when critiquing a movie, conduct a research of other movies by the same and other directors to come up with a comprehensive critique-

  • Write the introductory paragraph

In the introduction, provide basic information of the work. This should be short and clear. In the introductory paragraph, give the name of the book or title of the article, movie or simply the work that you are critiquing. Tell readers about the time when the work was created and who created it. Describe its purpose and the main point or argument in it. Also explain its context. For instance, you can explain the political or social context in which the work was produced. You can also position the work in the academic or creative tradition as well as how the work relate to the life experience of its creator. In concluding the introductory paragraph, tell the readers what necessitated the critique and what you will be evaluating or critiquing. For instance, tell readers whether the critique will be a mixed, a negative or a positive evaluation.

  • Write the body

You cannot claim to know how to write a critique if you do not know how to write the body of a critique. In this section, organize your assessment of the work or critical evaluations properly. This is the bulk of the critique. Therefore, come up with at least three paragraphs for the body section of the critique. There is no specific way of organizing the body of a critique but it depends on your approach for the critique. Nevertheless, you should have a paragraph for every main point of your critique. For instance, if you have three points to discuss in the critique, write a paragraph for each point. For example, when critiquing a painting work, you can have three paragraphs for the following elements; color, composition and light. Alternatively, you can organize the critique in terms of weaknesses and strengths. Basically, your critique should be aimed at pointing out what has been done well as well as what has not been done properly rather than just criticizing.

  • Discuss styles and techniques that the creator has used

Discussing the used styles or techniques is very important especially when critiquing creative works that include music, art and literature. This section should be shorter that the critical evaluation or the body section- While writing this section, explain how stylistic devices or techniques have been used in promoting the purpose of the work. For instance, when critiquing media item or a research work, consider the methods used to gather data during an experiment or the methods that the journalist used in gathering information. If you are evaluating a song, consider the tone or beat and whether it distracts or supports the lyrics of that song.

  • Explain the evidence that has been used to support the argument

This is very important especially for a research work or a media item. You need to consider other sources, logic and evidence that the author employs in supporting their arguments. For instance, has the author used primary sources like interviews and historical documents? Are there secondary sources used in the work such as qualitative and quantitative data? How has the author presented this evidence? Has it been presented selectively, in a distorted manner or fairy? Is the argument logical on the basis of the presented evidence? In explaining these aspects, use examples to support your critique.

  • Write the conclusion

In the conclusion, state the overall assessment or critical evaluation of the piece. This implies that you should comment on the success of the assessed work. For instance, did the work accomplish the purpose or goal of the creator? If yes, how was that success achieved? If not, why? Remind readers the main points that you have made in the body of the critique- Also summarize the main reasons for your critique. Since you already stated them in the introduction, summarize them in different, simple words. Also recommend the areas that you think require improvement. However, provide reasons for your recommendations.

  • Provide references

In the reference, include all sources that you used in writing the critique. The format that you use for the reference part depends on the preference of your instructor. The instructor can ask you to use Chicago, APA or MLA style depending on your discipline.

More tips on how to write a critique

When writing a critique, consider the following:

  • Continuity

Find out whether the work has loose ends or if there was something that the author should have explained further to make the work better and comment about it-

  • Argument or conflict

Identify the main argument or conflict in the work and how the author develops it. In case of an argument, find out if the author has provided adequate evidence to support it.

  • Techniques

Identify all the techniques or styles that the author has used in the work. Also find out if there are errors like grammatical and typo errors that the author did not correct before publishing the work and comment about them in the critique.

  • Format

Find out if the work was formatted in a professional manner. Was the work easy to read? Were paragraphs too choppy or too long? Identify these aspects of formatting and comment about them in your critique.

  • Plot

Evaluate the plot of the work especially for a novel or a short story. Find out if the plot was believable and clear. For a non-fiction work, comment on whether the organization was succinct and clear.

  • Placement

For a story, state on whether the dialogue and actions were balanced. Also state on whether pages, scenes and information were placed in a way that enables the reader to follow and understand the events of the story. For non-fiction work, comment on whether the information flows logically throughout the work.

After reading your critique, readers should understand why and how you reached at the conclusion- Your critique should enable the readers to understand your values as the critic.

Struggling to write a critique and wish that you knew how to write a critique? Then follow the steps and tips above to write a unique and comprehensive critique. You can also get in touch with us today for assistance in writing a critique or visit our homepage for more information about our custom writing services. Alternatively you can continue reading more essay writing guidelines and samples on our blog.

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