How to Write an Analytical Response Paper

An analytical response paper, also called a critical response or a reader response, depending on the teacher and the context, is a paper written to tell your opinion about some topic or idea based on a written work, question or study of some kind. It requires critical thinking to form your ideas and find support for the ideas based on the question.

Read the response directions from your instructor. The directions tell you what you are responding to and might even include a question to guide your answer. For example, it might ask you to respond to part of a text rather than a full text.

Write some short notes on your thoughts. An analytical response paper is not only your opinion about whether you agree with or like the material, but it also should include why you feel the way you do. For example, if a short story you are responding to makes you angry, write the reasons for that. Try to find at least two or three reasons to support your findings.

Analyze the material and your thoughts on it. If you feel the information in the text is false, find points that support the falsities in the text or that make it seem false to you as a reader. Write the quotes with appropriate citation to use in your essay.

Write an outline. Depending on the length requirements in the directions, you might need only two supporting paragraphs, or you might need more. The outline should point out your main ideas and provide at least two to three supporting ideas from the material. For example, if your essay's theme has two main supporting points, you must have two to three foundations for the supporting points.

Write an essay rough draft. The format of an analytical essay is the same as a basic essay: introduction, two or three supporting paragraphs and a conclusion. Write as if the reader has not read or seen the material making up the topic of the essay and provide a little background into the topic. State your opinion clearly in the introduction, and use the body paragraphs to show how your opinion is justified. Conclude with a reminder of the support and any final thoughts before showing that you are, indeed, correct in your thinking. Include at least one paragraph that looks at the other side of the argument, and break down any hidden points that fit your topic, such as hidden hints of bias from the author.

Read through the essay and ensure that it is well written and logical. Make any necessary changes. Have a friend or family member read the essay as well to get a second opinion on how it came out.

Rewrite the essay, making any necessary changes. Check that all the citations are correct and follow the proper format, which will vary depending on your class.

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