Writing a Critical Analysis Essay

Table of contents

How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay

Do you find yourself digging beneath the surface, and questioning the veracity of everything you read? If you are a natural-born skeptic, a critical analysis essay will be right up your alley. It requires that you analyze what is written, and provide a critical analysis as a response.

To write a critical analysis, you must start with critical reading. That’s because you must look past the writer’s tendency to use rhetoric and other deceptive techniques to convince you. Here, we will provide you with a clear definition of critical analysis, provide advice on finding topics, give you a few topic ideas, and give you the steps to take to learn how to do a critical analysis paper. There will also be a link to a critical analysis essay example.

The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism

- Norman Vincent Peale

What is a Critical Analysis Essay

A critical analysis is an evaluation that you make of a written work, film, event, argument or ideal, social issue, political viewpoint, etc. This type of analysis is subjective, and you’ll be giving your opinion. However, it’s also a researched essay, and you’ll be expected to have an informed opinion. By conducting critical analysis, you demonstrate that you understand the subject matter at a deeper level.

Critical analysis essay infographic

Critical Analysis Essay Topic Ideas

This is one area where you are never at a loss for potential topic ideas. Obviously, your topic should be relevant to the course you are taking. In some cases, your instructor may choose a particular topic for you, or provide you with pretty strict parameters to follow when selecting a topic on your own. On the other hand, if you are in an English composition class, or something similar, you may have free reign to choose your topic. In any case, here are some tips to follow:

  • Make sure the theme you pick isn’t too broad or too narrow.
  • Choose an interesting topic with more than one potential view.
  • Make sure it can be researched.
  • Select something that will appeal to your target audience.

Here are some essay topic ideas divided into different categories.

Environmental Topics

  • The value (or not) of recycling.
  • The role of nuclear energy.
  • Can individuals make an impact on the environment.
  • Carbon credits as a worthwhile tool or just a means to allow the rich to abuse the environment.

Trade and Economics Topics

  • Whether NAFTA is beneficial to American interests.
  • Potential solutions to unemployment.
  • The value of trickle-down economics.
  • Whether or not trade embargoes work.

Social Issues and Political Topics

  • Men and their role in reproductive choice.
  • Is universal basic income a good idea?
  • 15 dollar minimum wage.
  • Voting rights for the disenfranchised.
  • Settling the DACA conundrum.

Historic Topics

  • The necessity of using nuclear weapons in WWII.
  • Defending or criticizing various war strategies.
  • The impact of colonialism.

Sports and Entertainment Topics

  • Should college athletes be paid?
  • Use of performance-enhancing drugs.
  • Women in traditionally male sports.
  • The effectiveness of specific coaching techniques or strategies.

Sample Critical Analysis Essay on Mythology

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How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay Step by Step

Step 1: Conducting the Critical Reading

You must understand the writer before you can critique their ideas. Read their work carefully. Identify their thesis. Research the sources they used. Determine if they are academically valid and up to date. Identify where the writer may have used rhetoric, where they ignore facts or engage in other tactics such as building strawmen.

Step 2: Write a Clear and Accurate Summary

Summarize the work in your own words. Don’t label anything wrong or right at this point. Simply restate it.

Step 3: Consider the Writer’s Purpose

What is the writer trying to convey? What are they trying to convince their audience of? Who is their audience?

Step 4: Now the Critique

This is where your observations come into play. Is the writer successful or not? Keep in mind that this is not the same as determining whether or not they were right. Identify where their arguments and points are strong, and where they are lacking. Remember to keep things in the context of their intended audience. Of course, if you are critiquing something that is based on using factual arguments, then you can and should address the accuracy and use of appropriate sources.

Step 5: Write Your Thesis

Was the writer successful in their purpose? Write one or two sentences that capture your thoughts succinctly. This will be your thesis. You should be prepared to defend that in your paper.

Step 6: Write the Critical Analysis Essay Outline

Now you are at the point where you are ready to structure your notes into an outline. This will be the framework that you use to build your paper. Divide your outline into your introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.

Your introduction should begin with a hook. Try writing something catchy or compelling about the author or subject matter. The next sentences should intro the work with a brief summary. Finally, close out with your thesis.

Each body paragraph should begin with the main point supporting your thesis. Back this with supporting sentences.

Finally, write a conclusion. It should summarize how the total of the points you addressed in your paper prove your thesis.

Step 7: Write the Rough and Final Drafts

Converting your outline into a rough draft should not be difficult at this point. It’s just a matter of expanding the ideas you’ve jotted down into sentences and paragraphs. The outline provides the structure for you. Next, with a bit of editing and proofreading your paper should be finished and ready to turn in.

Best critical analysis paper topics

  1. Are the concepts of feminity and masculinity still valid in a gender-equal society?
  2. Homelessness and identity in media
  3. Xenophobia and racism
  4. Is violence a genetic abnormality?
  5. Nanotechnologies in ancient times


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How to do a Critical Analysis Paper

Here are some extra tips:

  • Read other critiques of the written work or topic you are analyzing. They may make points that you have missed.
  • Pay close attention to editing and proofreading.
  • Consider what the author had available to them in terms of research and other data.

Help With Your Critical Analysis Essay

This guide should help you with your next critical analysis assignment. If you find that you need additional guidance, let us know. Our professional team members will be happy to assist you with writing, editing, or proofreading your paper. You can also check out an example of a critical analysis essay.

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