What is a Critical Analysis Essay and how to Write one

What  is a Critical Analysis Essay and how to Write one

What is a critical analysis essay?

Are you wondering what is a critical analysis essay? A critical analysis essay is one that examines other work or an article with the aim of determining whether it makes an effective point or argument.

Usually, this form of analysis is applicable to books or articles though it can also be used to analyze paintings, films as well as other works that are less traditional. While examining usage of rhetorical appeal by the writer, a critical analysis needs to be done on the overall effectiveness and ability of the work in question.

Critical thinking analysis demands that you open your mind as a writer and criticize what is written by other writers by using your own opinion. The term critical has both positive and negative meanings.

Such an essay can be in complete agreement with the author. ‘Critical’ is a term used to describe the kind of attitude a writer has and it is often described as ‘detached evaluation’ which means you have to carefully review the material you are analyzing. Also, you must ensure completeness of the data before either accepting or rejecting it.

Steps followed while learning what is a critical analysis essay writing?

If you want to fully understand what is a critical analysis essay, you need to learn steps followed while writing one. The essay on Voter Reform Pro is a perfect example of a well written and formatted essay. To write a similar essay, you need to follow the following steps.

Step 1-Identify the thesis

  • The first thing you need to do is establish what the author is arguing against or for. Often, thesis of academic articles is easier to identify compared to that of a movie, painting or creative work.
  • If the critique is on creative no-fiction or fiction, in film or written from, start by identifying the main theme of the piece.
  • For work that has to do with painting, analyze what the painter might be attempting to establish.
  • Also, ask yourself the context of argument used by the writer as well as the reason the author feels they need to argue it.
  • Ask whether the author provides a solution to problems they raise in the thesis. If they do, the solution is realistic.

Step 2-Note main ideas

Identify the main ideas in the work in order to analyze the structure of the work.

  • In the case of academic work, main ideas are found in topic sentences of every section or paragraph. In cases of painting or fiction work, you have to ask what kind of evidence is presented by the author in their bid to explain their thesis.

Step 3-Carry out research on unfamiliar work

You should use an encyclopedia or dictionary for purposes of briefly looking up words or materials you have heard little about.

  • Often, it is not necessary to carry out in-depth research. The exception arises where the work is surrounded by a concept that is unfamiliar in which case, you need to read other articles so as to describe the concept in a clearer context.

Step 4-Use your own words to describe the work

One option of accomplishing this is making an outline while the second is writing a brief summary. Make sure that you also include:

  • If you write a summary, ensure it has one or two paragraphs. Also, try phrasing the summary using your own words.

Step 5-If there are appeals used, identify them

The basic, 3 types of appeals are pathos, ethos and logos.

  • Pathos is the attempt to appeal to the emotions of the reader. Work that is designed to entertain often relies on use of pathos.
  • Logos is the attempt of using reason and logic to sway the perspective or opinion of a reader.
  • Ethos is a credibility appeal. An author explaining why they should be trusted on the basis of professional, academic or personal merit uses ethos.

Step 6-Evaluate how the meaning is conveyed by the author

You have to establish whether the author appeals to readers based on your own perspective.

  • Ask yourself whether you had any emotional response to the author’s emotional appeal. Were you, angry, happy or upset at any point? If you were, ask yourself why.
  • Determine the attempt of the author at reason and logic as well as whether it was enough for you to have a change of mind. At the same time, ask yourself whether the material was cohesive, accurate or clear.
  • You should also ask whether the author passes off as credible then determine your reasoning.

Example of an outline

The best way to understand what is a critical analysis essay is to look at the outline to use while writing one. This can be broken down as follows:

  • Background Information
  1. Information about the work
  • Title
  • Author
  • Publication
  1. Your reaction to that work, thesis statement
  • Provide summary of work
  • Provide analysis of the work
  1. Statement of topic or purpose of your work
  2. Evaluation of the work
  3. Evaluation of the style used
  4. Effectiveness of work
  5. Evaluation of how the writer approaches the topic
  6. Evaluation of how the work appeals to a given audience

What is a critical analysis essay- Layout of the essay?

Another example that shows what is a critical analysis essay, is the essay on The Interpreting of Body Art. Also, while reviewing this kind of essay, it is crucial to look at points you should bear in mind while writing one. These include:

  • Understanding what is a critical analysis essay lies in ensuring the work is informative, it should emphasize the work under study instead of the opinions and feelings of the individual writing it. All claims made in this kind of work must be evidence backed.
  • Difference between facts and feelings is quite simple in this essay. What you believe about a poem, book or play does not matter rather, what you are able to prove is what matters and should be drawn from evidence in the text.
  • Critical essay writing does not mean that as a write, you should attack the author or the work, simply put, it means you have to think critically, explore the topic and discuss the findings.
  • Often, when writing this kind of essay, you teach your audience something new regarding the text.
  • A critical analysis essay uses an objective and serious tone which varies in accordance to the audience. There are instances when it is okay to use a humorous or lighter tone though often, this is not the case
  • When writing this essay, use an “evidence and claims” approach. You ought to be specific regarding the points you make and back the same with evidence that your writers will find appropriate and credible. For instance, in the sample on tattoos when you say they are prohibited by most religions, you must provide evidence to back up this claim. Provide examples of the different religions that prohibit tattooing and the reasoning behind this.
  • Use evidence from the text as it is the best option you have. Getting speeches from the work you are analyzing will make your work more credible.
  • Use the criticism of other writers for purposes of explaining your point. Such critics can be treated as ‘expert witnesses’ whose ideas present support for any claims you make regarding the work.
  • Make sure your discussion is properly organized. Every section is supposed to support the major idea and logically lead as well as follow logical sections before and after it.
  • Always remember that in most instances, you should keep your tone objective and serious.
  • Always make sure you provide work that is free of stylistic and mechanical errors.
  • If you have to summarize or quote (which is more probable) make sure you use the right format and provide a list of the works cited once you complete the essay.


Here is a sample of a critical analysis essay Jacobs Chicken you can refer to.


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