Critical essays are not as common as argumentative or persuasive papers, but they are still a staple of every English and Literature course, with Journalism and Art History issuing their fair share of these assignments. Despite this, many high school and college students fail to understand the task and receive poor grades for their efforts. If you have missed the mark on your last critical paper, you have come to the right place. PaperCoach essay writing service will share our writer’s tips and tricks collected over years of practice. Use them to make your paper stand out and earn your professor’s praise.
What Is A Critical Paper?
When you think about the word “critical”, nasty comments and bad grades come to mind. However, this notion possesses other meanings. In case of a critical essay, it has nothing to do with being snide and petty. Instead, it requires you to use critical thinking to perform an in-depth analysis of a work of art. The professor might ask you to critically assess a book, a movie, a speech, a sculpture, etc.
If this explanation is too complicated and you are still asking yourself “What is critical writing?”, Think about RottenTomatoes or Yelp. You might have stumbled upon useless comments and reviews, but you have also seen beautifully written analysis of pros and cons, with thoughtful recommendations and useful advice to make the experience more enjoyable. That is what your critical essay should look like. Imagine yourself a movie or book critic for a night and let yourself rip into the object of your research with vigor.
WARNING: A critical essay is not a review, so your opinion should not be at the center of attention. At best it deserves a single sentence in the conclusion. Instead, try to be as objective as possible. Even if you don’t like the object of your research, don’t let it show in your writing. State the facts and analyze them, this approach will earn you more points with your professor than a thousand words of complaining about the boring book you had to read.
How To Write A Critical Essay?
While writing a critical essay seems daunting now, it will become manageable if you divide it into smaller blocks. Let us take you on the road from a blank page to a finished paper, one step at a time.
Choose The Focus Of Your Paper
While the general requirements remain the same, there are three different approaches to writing critical essays. The choice is yours; however, it should meet the assignment’s parameters, if you wish to get a good grade. Depending on the prompt and your preferences, your critical essay may focus on:
- Description. Do not confuse this approach with writing a descriptive essay, a review, or a summary. Your job is to analyze the original work through the lens of the literary devices used by the author. Concentrate on the settings, characters, themes, and specific techniques the author uses to deliver the main idea. Analyze the surreal characters by Lewis Carroll or the multiple settings in Lord of the Rings. Use ample quotes from the text you are analyzing and provide your take on the efficacy of the devices used by the author.
- Evaluation. If you choose this approach, your paper should resemble a professional review. Your goal is to determine whether the work is good or bad, provide sufficient evidence and analysis to convince your readers. You can’t expect an A for an essay that comprises a single sentence stating “Avengers: Infinity War is cool”. Identify the aspects of the work you enjoyed most and analyze their impact on the overall impression. Another trick you can use is comparing the work you are investigating to similar books or movies. This will help you put your opinions into context and convince readers that your analysis is not biased.
- Interpretation. If you enjoy digging deep into the subtext and decipher the author’s meaning, this approach will suit you best. It focuses on the lesson or idea the writer wanted to impart to readers through their creation. You should not limit your focus to the work itself. Be innovative and consider how the text or movie mirrors the author’s reality and whether the lessons learned years ago still apply to our lives. However, be ready to defend your position, since everyone experiences the work through a different lens of life choices and experiences. Don’t be surprised if your teacher and classmates don’t agree with your interpretation.
Choose The Right Subject For Analysis
Skip this step if your professor has assigned you with a critical essay on a particular movie, book, etc. However, if you have free rein of the topic, your options are endless. If you don’t want to get stuck on this step, doubting your choice, answer three simple questions:
- Do I have enough time to study the primary source and learn its secrets?
- Can I stay sane while analyzing this work?
- Will my readers enjoy learning about this subject as much as I do?
If your answers are “yes” across the board, move on to the next step. If even a single “no” mars the results, you better look for another subject. Having enough time, resources and motivation to complete the paper are all necessary for getting a high grade.
Study The Primary Source And Take Notes
When writing an essay on critical aspects of a movie or a book, study your primary source religiously. Read or watch it as many times as you need to answer the crucial questions. They will vary depending on the approach you’ve chosen on the first step. However, pay close attention to literary devices, characterization, themes, and ideas. As you peruse the primary source, take note of the quotes and passages you could use in the paper. Highlight them or write them on post-it notes to use later. Jot down any ideas and thoughts that pop in your head while reading.
Secondary sources are also a good idea if you want to discuss the writer’s background and evaluate the work’s context. Look for professional critical papers, not Wikipedia articles. While you can use secondary sources to support your claims, the critical essay is about developing your own opinion and analysis, so don’t rely on others’ work too much.
Plan And Outline The Paper
Crafting a thesis statement is a good starting point after you’ve familiarized yourself with the primary source. It should contain the purpose of your essay, your take on the work and the critical claims you will make. Think of a thesis statement as your one-sentence abstract and outline in one. If you can’t formulate it on your first try, write every major idea you want to include in the paper and go from there. You will ultimately rework this jumble of thoughts into a workable thesis. Just remember that going without a thesis statement is not an option if you want an A. It’s the one thing every professor expects to see in the first paragraph.
Another way you can go about developing a thesis statement is starting with an outline and shortening it until you have a single sentence. Traditional three-part paper outline suits your purpose best. Start with a short introduction. Besides a thesis statement, it should include the name of the primary source and its author, as well as essential background information. Think of a hook while you read the primary source, you might find a suitable quote perfect for opening your paper.
A conclusion is not just the place to restate your thesis, but to demonstrate the bigger picture of the issue. Explain why your readers should care about the subject. How does it influence their everyday lives? If your professor allows it, include a personal recommendation at the end. Describe the people who might find the work exciting and situations in which it might be helpful.
The number of the body paragraphs will vary depending on the word count of your assignment. The largest part of the critical essay usually contains three or more sections structured by point or argument. Each passage should include:
- A topic sentence to explain the main point of the paragraph;
- An example (a quote) to illustrate and support the topic sentence;
- Your analysis of the example and an explanation of its choice;
- A sentence connecting the point to the thesis statement;
- A transition to ensure a seamless flow of your writing from one passage to the next.
At the planning stage, specify the point of each paragraph and note the suitable quotes from the primary source. You will have time to fill in the blanks at the next step.
Write, Edit, And Rewrite
Starting at the beginning is a good idea for but a few lucky students. Most of us can’t think of a good hook and put the assignment away until the last moment. So be daring. Start at the end or any other part of the paper you can confidently write right now. Set a timer for 30 to 60 minutes and write as much as you can. Don’t worry about typos and mistakes. First, get everything on paper, worry about editing later.
Once you’ve typed everything you could, take a break. Return as your worst critic in a day or two. Assess the logic and the flow, question the power of examples and strike out redundancies. It’s time to clean up your writing and make it stand out. You can rearrange the paragraphs and add new claims. However, if you don’t use a cloud-based word processor, copy the original draft and edit it in a separate document. You might want to return some parts to their previous version, and this trick will save you lots of time on rewriting the same text.
Proofreading might be the most important thing about a critical essay in writing. Beautifully written and edited text riddled with missing commas and misused prepositions won’t make your professor happy. Get a second pair of eyes on your essay if possible. If not, there are professional software options for writers that are way more helpful than your average Word spell check.
Common Critical Essay Topics
There are dozens of critical essay examples online though few of them meet the parameters of a picture-perfect paper. While you might have to write a critical paper on Politics of Finances, most common topics are literature and movies. Here’s our list of tried-and-true subjects you can use for inspiration:
- Evaluate the impact of George Orwell’s 1984 on the post-WWII world
- Is Alan Turing’s life depicted correctly in The Imitation Game?
- The notable differences in Harry Potter books and movies.
- What are the most potent literary devices in Odyssey?
- Interpret the main ideas in Lord of the Flies
- How did Arthur Conan Doyle’s background help him in writing about Sherlock Holmes?
- Evaluate the impact of H. G. Wells’ influence on the modern sci-fi genre
- The efficacy of imagery in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland
- The historical context of The Great Gatsby
- The pros and cons of the classic movie’s remake
- The terrifying moments of The Shining
- The creative value of CGI in comic book hero movies
- Evaluate the central themes and ideas of Zootopia
- The stunning settings and costumes of Lord of the Rings movie adaptation
- The differences and similarities between Spiderman reboots
- What is the impact of nudity and violence in Game of Thrones series?
- The weakest and most powerful monologues in Hamlet
- What can make an insightful documentary as popular as an MCU movie?
- Which is the best episode in the Star Wars franchise?
- What is the romcoms’ contribution to the development of moviemaking?
How Can PaperCoach Help You?
Let’s say you did your best, you’ve learned everything about writing critical essays, have chosen the right topic and have completed all the prewriting routines we’ve suggested. Still, you got a disappointing S instead of an A. One of the common causes of bad grades is a lack of time for proper editing and proofreading. If your paper is due tomorrow, you don’t have a chance to go through it with the fresh eye and weed out typos and errors. That’s where our editors come into play. Upload your essay and let them work their magic. They can work miracles and turn your solid writing into an outstanding piece in just a few hours.
If your problems are bigger and you need a critical essay complete in under a day, and you still have not written a single line, ordering it from professionals might be your only saving grace. Our essay writing service can complete your assignment within the tightest of deadlines. We produce high-quality zero-plagiarism papers that have successfully brought high grades for thousands of students across the world. If you are in trouble, get PaperCoach on your side!