Composing a response essay can be compared with critique writing. This piece of writing should have a clear focus – analysis of a book, article, movie, blog, etc. It is of primary importance to interpret the subject matter from different perspectives and prove that you have a critical eye. Proper analysis and synthesis of critical ideas is always requested in response papers, so be sure you understand what this academic paper should include.

A Brief Summary of Ideas

If you have already read the book, article, etc., you will have to provide answers to such questions:

  • Do you clearly understand the key motifs, themes, and main author’s arguments?
  • How ideas are organized?
  • Does the author introduce a significant amount of evidential support?
  • What is the purpose of writing and the primary audience?

There might be slight adjustments in the list of questions referring to summarizing. Remember that in your summary and response essay, this part should take one paragraph only because you should mostly interpret and analyze the subject matter.

The Main Section: Analysis and Evaluation

According to a common response essay format, you should take into account the abovementioned question. They will help you analyze the text from a critical perspective, which is vital in response writing.

  • Did the author effectively get the message across? Did he/she succeed in making the reader interested in exploring the topic?
  • Was there anything special in introduction?
  • Did you find any parts that need further explanation and support?
  • Did you properly comprehend the main points or there are logical gaps?
  • What about the main arguments? Did they help you visualize the topic?
  • Are there any ideas you do not understand? Did you have to read some sentences twice to comprehend their content?
  • Do you think there are sections that need improvement?
  • Are all ideas clear, concise, and coherent?
  • Did you manage to find any hidden ideas?
  • What about the choice of vocabulary? Did you notice unusual collocations and word combinations that stirred your imagination?

How to Organize Your Ideas

Your personal response essay might include a single page of writing up to multiple pages of analysis. Therefore, the structure can vary accordingly. Check your instructor’s requirements to know how many paragraphs can be dedicated to summary, analysis, and evaluation. Here is a typical structure of a response essay:

  1. Introduction.
  2. Main body:
    • A brief summary
    • Analysis
    • Evaluation and your personal response
  3. Conclusion.

Do not forget that all main body sections in your critical response essay should have clear examples from reading. Moreover, the usage of transitions and linking phrases is highly recommended. The key to success in response writing is not to spend too much space on summarizing. You should not only enumerate characters, plot, symbols, etc., but analyze and reflect your own position of whether writer succeeded in the discussion or not.