An evaluation essay is the piece of writing that offers valuejudgments about a certain subject in accordance with the set ofcriteria. It is a type of argument that gives evidence to justifyan author’s opinion about something.
These kinds of papers establish certain criteria and afterevaluate or judge the topic according to these criteria. In orderto write an evaluation paper, you need to analyze two sides inall the details and define a disputable judgment. You need tostudy the topic in full and offer proofs to support the judgment.
Picking a topic
You can write about something you have experienced ones or manytimes. Your paper will be better if you:
- Pick something you’ve recently experienced and that you canreview before you start working on a paper
- You have a strong opinion about something, whether it ispositive or negative
- You know a lot about the subject
Steps to follow to choose a topic
It is advisable to follow these steps to pick a good subject:
- Find something that you can evaluate. Brainstorm varioustopics that are applicable for an evaluation by compiling a list.For instance, you can compile a list of books, films, orpolicies. Pick a subject and then brainstorm again providing moredetails on the subject.
- Make a draft of the thesis statement. In the thesis, you letyour readers know the object of your essay and set the directionfor your argument. You have to argue the lack of value or thevalue of a certain topic according to the criteria that you willestablish.
- Determine your subject. Give background info about the topicbefore you start making any judgments. For instance, when you arejudging a book, include a short summary of the port and thecharacters to establish the context of the judgement for theaudience.
- Select the necessary criteria. To pass a judgment or assess asubject, detail criteria, which you will use to evaluate thetopic. For instance, if you’re judging the film, you can usecriteria such as the action, plot, cinematography, visualeffects, or realistic characters.
- Criticize the criteria. When preparing evaluation papers, thebody of the paper has to address ineffective or effectivefeatures of every block of criteria. Give examples to back upyour evaluation of every criteria and dispute according to yourthesis.
To transform your opinion into an evaluation, you will need toapply to criteria to judge your topic. Criteria are the parts ofyour subject that you will evaluate as bad or good, worse orbetter than something else.
Criteria can be the following:
- Restaurant criteria. Atmosphere, service, value, food, price.
- Movie criteria. Humor, plot, scenery, actors, directing,score.
- Website criteria. Content, design, visuals, ease ofnavigation.
In order to know how to write an evaluation essay in an effectiveway, you need to define what kind of topic you are evaluating. Ifyou’re writing about a movie then pay attention to the genre:romance, horror, drama, etc. Then give your opinion on what youthink will make an excellent movie in that genre. For instance,you may say that there should be three things in a good romanticcomedy like plot twists, humor, and good actors. After thatevaluate the movie you have selected to see how well it matchesthe criteria you set. Provide examples of how it does or does notfulfill your expectations of being a good romantic comedy.
Working on an assay
In order to judge something, you need to contrast it with thebest example of that certain thing. Thus, there are twosignificant questions you need to ask when choosing a topic thatyou can evaluate. They include:
- What category does the thing belong to?
- What is the perfect example of something in this category?
Organizing your paper
Using the criteria you set, you can create a plan for your workon a certain subject.
- One of the ways to organize a paper is point by point.Describe one element of the topic and then evaluate it. Thenevaluate the next element and so on.
- Comparison. This is when you can evaluate something bycomparing it to another item. This method is usually used formusic and culinary reviews.
- Chronologically. You can use this method to evaluate acertain event.
- Sequence. If you want to describe how something works andevaluate the effectiveness of procedure, process, or a mechanism,you may want to use this method.
- Spatial. When evaluating architecture or art use the spatialorganization.
Other methods to organize a paper
There are also other methods that you can use to structure yourpaper. They include:
- Frame. To frame a paper, you use a description of the topic.This way you’re getting right into the action. Stop halfwaythrough to keep your audience in suspense. Offer your evaluationand then finish with the end of your frame.
- Unfulfilled expectations. This option is very good for thistype of essay. You can use it in the intro to talk about what youwere anticipating before getting to the topic. Then describe howthe topic was either worse or better than you expected.
- Indicate the genre and contrast. Start with talking abouttypical expectations of the subject you have and then tell howyour topic either deviates from the norm or an example of thegenre. This method is good for a topic that deliberately tries toruin normal expectations of the genre or for a satire.
- Casual analysis. Using this method, you can measure theeffect on the audience.
- Analyzing by the criteria. Introduce the topic, explain whyyou are evaluating it, and how you collected your information.Then sequence your criteria spatially, in order of importance, orchronologically.
- Focusing on the social context or the story. Take an imageand analyze how it is effective for a certain point. Typically,the image is about an emotionally charged cultural or historicalevent or a controversial situation. In the analysis, you need totell how the image either contributes to the emotion or debatesthe event. The image can also be misleading or ironic.
- Focus on the visual. You can use this method to analyzepictures and works of art. Talk about arrangement, composition,background and foreground, cultural references, symbols, and mainfeatures that visual of the genre. Mention the tools the artistused like color, texture, shape, pattern, etc. Analyzing thedetails, you explain how they are related to the historical andcultural context of the work of art and then how they areconnected to the general meaning of the piece. Make sure toevaluate whether the piece is effective or not.
Recommendations to write an effective paper
Other useful recommendation that you need to follow include:
- Provide the right amount of detail. Make sure to explain tothe reader what you are writing about and give enough informationabout the subject.
- Try to make your readers agree with your judgment. One of thereasons people like reviews is because they help them decidewhether they like the subject or not. Thus, giving more detailsto the reader is important in order for them to agree with you.
- Provide a list of at least three criteria. For instance, ifyou’re writing a paper about a mystery play you can use thecriteria such as setting, plot, costumes, the pace of the action,main and minor characters, and the unveiling of the mystery.
- Argue for your evaluation. As you voice your evaluations,give reasons to support them. As evidence you can use quotes,compare similar subjects, describe the subject, etc. Sometimes itis effective to counter argue.
As the government begins its crackdown on essay mill websites, it’s easy to see just how much pressure students are under to get top grades for their coursework these days. But writing a high-scoring paper doesn’t need to be complicated. We spoke to experts to get some simple techniques that will raise your writing game.
Tim Squirrell is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, and is teaching for the first time this year. When he was asked to deliver sessions on the art of essay-writing, he decided to publish a comprehensive (and brilliant) blog on the topic, offering wisdom gleaned from turning out two or three essays a week for his own undergraduate degree.
“There is a knack to it,” he says. “It took me until my second or third year at Cambridge to work it out. No one tells you how to put together an argument and push yourself from a 60 to a 70, but once you to get grips with how you’re meant to construct them, it’s simple.”
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The goal of writing any essay is to show that you can think critically about the material at hand (whatever it may be). This means going beyond regurgitating what you’ve read; if you’re just repeating other people’s arguments, you’re never going to trouble the upper end of the marking scale.
“You need to be using your higher cognitive abilities,” says Bryan Greetham, author of the bestselling How to Write Better Essays. “You’re not just showing understanding and recall, but analysing and synthesising ideas from different sources, then critically evaluating them. That’s where the marks lie.”
But what does critical evaluation actually look like? According to Squirrell, it’s simple: you need to “poke holes” in the texts you’re exploring and work out the ways in which “the authors aren’t perfect”.
“That can be an intimidating idea,” he says. “You’re reading something that someone has probably spent their career studying, so how can you, as an undergraduate, critique it?
“The answer is that you’re not going to discover some gaping flaw in Foucault’s History of Sexuality Volume 3, but you are going to be able to say: ‘There are issues with these certain accounts, here is how you might resolve those’. That’s the difference between a 60-something essay and a 70-something essay.”
Critique your own arguments
Once you’ve cast a critical eye over the texts, you should turn it back on your own arguments. This may feel like going against the grain of what you’ve learned about writing academic essays, but it’s the key to drawing out developed points.
“We’re taught at an early age to present both sides of the argument,” Squirrell continues. “Then you get to university and you’re told to present one side of the argument and sustain it throughout the piece. But that’s not quite it: you need to figure out what the strongest objections to your own argument would be. Write them and try to respond to them, so you become aware of flaws in your reasoning. Every argument has its limits and if you can try and explore those, the markers will often reward that.”
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Fine, use Wikipedia then
The use of Wikipedia for research is a controversial topic among academics, with many advising their students to stay away from the site altogether.
“I genuinely disagree,” says Squirrell. “Those on the other side say that you can’t know who has written it, what they had in mind, what their biases are. But if you’re just trying to get a handle on a subject, or you want to find a scattering of secondary sources, it can be quite useful. I would only recommend it as either a primer or a last resort, but it does have its place.”
Focus your reading
Reading lists can be a hindrance as well as a help. They should be your first port of call for guidance, but they aren’t to-do lists. A book may be listed, but that doesn’t mean you need to absorb the whole thing.
Squirrell advises reading the introduction and conclusion and a relevant chapter but no more. “Otherwise you won’t actually get anything out of it because you’re trying to plough your way through a 300-page monograph,” he says.
You also need to store the information you’re gathering in a helpful, systematic way. Bryan Greetham recommends a digital update of his old-school “project box” approach.
“I have a box to catch all of those small things – a figure, a quotation, something interesting someone says – I’ll write them down and put them in the box so I don’t lose them. Then when I come to write, I have all of my material.”
There are a plenty of online offerings to help with this, such as the project management app Scrivener and referencing tool Zotero, and, for the procrastinators, there are productivity programmes like Self Control, which allow users to block certain websites from their computers for a set period.
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Look beyond the reading list
“This is comparatively easy to do,” says Squirrell. “Look at the citations used in the text, put them in Google Scholar, read the abstracts and decide whether they’re worth reading. Then you can look on Google Scholar at other papers that have cited the work you’re writing about – some of those will be useful. But quality matters more than quantity.”
And finally, the introduction
The old trick of dealing with your introduction last is common knowledge, but it seems few have really mastered the art of writing an effective opener.
“Introductions are the easiest things in the world to get right and nobody does it properly,” Squirrel says. “It should be ‘Here is the argument I am going to make, I am going to substantiate this with three or four strands of argumentation, drawing upon these theorists, who say these things, and I will conclude with some thoughts on this area and how it might clarify our understanding of this phenomenon.’ You should be able to encapsulate it in 100 words or so. That’s literally it.”
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