How to Write a Critical Analysis

how to write a critical analysis

Imagine you are reading an article, a book, or watching a movie. In the process, you start evaluating what it does well and what areas need improvement. This evaluation is a critical analysis from your point of view. Literary works are basically for educating and entertaining the audience. However, you can take a step further to analyze if that work of art delivers the message it ought to and in the right way.

There always comes a time when you will need to write a critical analysis essay. This type of academic paper involves a lot of reading and critical thinking. In this article, we will give you a detailed definition of critical analysis. We will also discuss the steps and processes required in writing a successful critical analysis piece. Our professional writers at Grade Amplifier can provide additional paper writing services. We offer the best essay writing service in the USA and will help you get a high grade.


What is a Critical Analysis Essay?

To write an excellent essay, you must first grasp the meaning of critical analysis. Critical analytical writing is a paper where the writer evaluates the work of another author or artist. Literary works are often the center of this analysis. However, the subjects can range from films, historical events, music, social concerns, to paintings. A critical analysis of these subjects helps you understand the argument and form an opinion.

This kind of essay helps you develop critical and analytical skills. The main aim of a critical analysis writing is to help your readers understand a subject better. Also, your judgment and point of view are essential in this writing. In other words, you should let your audience know your stance on the subject of discussion.

Furthermore, in critical analysis, you need support from the works of other authors. You use these works as pieces of evidence for your work. However, do not build your writing on other people’s analysis. Always remember that the focus of this paper is your personal opinion and evaluation, not another person’s assessment. Though you will be building this essay from your point of view, be sure to keep it formal and well-structured.

How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay?

Before you start writing, you need to have a proper understanding of the work you are analyzing. For example, if you are writing a critical analysis of a film, you will need to watch it more than once. The first time, you watch it for entertainment, without trying to evaluate the work. Subsequent times, maybe at the second or third watch, you can start to pay attention to plot and presentation. You can also research to understand the film better and read other people’s thoughts and reviews.

When you are sure you understand the subject and have an opinion on it, you are ready to create a draft. You start by introducing the literary work to your audience and the creator’s main argument. Each body paragraph in your essay should highlight a new point of evaluation. Also, use other people’s works as supporting evidence for your thesis. Finally, you write a conclusion that restates your opinion on the subject matter. Let’s take you through each step on how to write a critical analysis essay.

Read Critically

The first step is to critically read the work and identify the author’s main idea. You will also need to read different sources and ascertain their opinion on the subject. The aim of reading your source or sources is not to only understand the different views on the subject. You also need to pay attention and identify how the author passes their message to the audience. A guideline on how to go through the critical reading phase:

Takes Notes as you Read the Sources

As you go through all the sources for your critical analysis, highlight important passages, and take notes. To completely understand the text, you will need to read the materials more than once. If there are any foreign concepts and information you come across, you should look them up. Be sure to study and find out vital pieces of information that can help you in your writing. 

Identify the Author’s Thesis 

A thesis is the main argument or idea in a literary piece. The thesis statement may not be clear if you don’t read thoroughly. Carefully go through your source and pinpoint the predominant message. It is easier to identify the thesis in an academic paper than other creative works. If you’re using an essay as a source, the thesis statement is usually in the first paragraph – the introductory part of the paper. For other creative works, identify the central message the creator is trying to pass to the audience.

Pay Attention to the Structure of Writing 

You should note the author’s main ideas, supporting evidence, and the way they present this information. Studying the topic sentence of each paragraph, and the passage that supports it is a great way to analyze the structure of the writing. Also, monitor the author’s use of language and means of persuasion.

Write a Summary in your Own Words

The final step at this reading segment is to write a summary of what you read about. It is necessary as it will help you know if you understand your source.

In your summary, include the author’s main argument and other vital pieces of information. Keep it short, about one to two paragraphs long. Also, do not add any personal thoughts or opinions.

Evaluate the Text

Assuming your source is a text; after you read through it thoroughly and identified the main points, the next step is evaluation. Analyze the accomplishments of the paper and its effect on you. So, how do you carry out this evaluation?

Study the Persuasive Tools the Author Employs 

First, you need to reflect on how you felt after going through the subject – article, painting, or movie. The emotional effect of the writing is also known as the pathos. Did it make you feel happy, angry, or sad? Write down your experiences and highlight what aspect of the source spurred the emotion and why.

The second aspect of the text to evaluate is the ethos, which is the writer’s credibility. Start by finding out the author’s expertise and how knowledge in a particular domain influences their writing. Conduct a background check on credentials, affiliations, and character of the author. Does this background affect his response on the subject? If a creator establishes authority in a field, it is easier to build trust with the right audience.

Lastly, examine the implementation of logic in the literary work – that is, the logos. Analyze the author’s use of case studies, facts, and other materials for evidence. Do these pieces of evidence make the work more effective and persuasive? Also check if the sources in use are unbiased, credible and trustworthy. If they are and provide adequate support to the main points, you can say the author appeals to logic. Bear in mind that not all text include evidence. For example, a film, painting or work of art may not have supporting sources.

Analyze how the Author Explains Concepts in the Text

The other method of evaluation is by analyzing how the author defines theories and concepts. A well-written text should be easy to understand. There should be clear definitions of unpopular terms and notions. If you read an article or watch a movie, for example, and find it hard to follow, then the work does not achieve its purpose. The author’s motive with the text should be clear, in simple language, and appeal to the intended audience. Pinpoint the vague concepts in the source and highlight how it could be better.

Above all, remember that you are not analyzing the work only to pick out the bad aspects of the creative work. The analysis also includes a positive review of the text. 

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Critical Analysis Writing

Writing a critical analysis essay requires several processes. Before we explore these steps, it’s important to note that the purpose of a critical analysis is not to undermine an author’s work. Your goal is to evaluate the text and help your audience increase their understanding of the subject. Weigh different sides of the argument, highlight both the negative and positive qualities in the text, but do not challenge the author.

The structure of a critical analysis essay is different from the traditional method. Instead of introduction, body, and conclusion; your essay outline will have the following sections:

  • Introduction, including the thesis statement.
  • Summary
  • Critical Analysis
  • Conclusion

Sometimes, your instructor may provide a sample outline to use in your essay. Be sure to read the instructions and follow all guidelines. Creating an essay outline before writing helps organize your thoughts and will make the process easier.


The introduction contains the background information and thesis statement. Provide your readers with an overview of the work you are analyzing. Some pieces of information you can present are the title, name of the author, date of publication, and other vital details you think they should know. Also, include a description of the topic and its purpose. At the end of the introduction, include your thesis statement.  

Developing a Thesis Statement

The thesis is your reaction to the subject. After going through the work you will be analyzing, your opinion on it is what forms your thesis statement. Note that your thesis doesn’t have to be rigid. If during your writing, your opinion changes, you can go back and change it. Another thing to note is this: the reader should be able to ascertain your position on the subject by reading your thesis. In other words, your opinion should be clear and precise.


This section comes next after you have introduced the text. Provide in one paragraph a summary of the work you are evaluating. Demonstrate to your readers that you understand your source and know about what you are writing. Likely, your audience has never come across your text before. The summary will give them a brief overview. For example, say the subject of your analysis is Animal Farm by George Orwell. Your summary should help anyone who has never read the book understand it. Remember to limit this part of the essay to one paragraph and don’t include personal opinion here. Also, if you want to, you can use the summary you wrote down after reading the text. Or if you prefer, you can always write a new one.


This section is the most important part of your essay. You will present your analysis of the work in different body paragraphs. Three paragraphs are typical, but you can use more, with each one dedicated to evaluating the author’s point. After your critical evaluation and you think the source is effective, use each paragraph to highlight why you think so. If it is ineffective or disorganized, state your reasons.

Often, students have troubles trying to highlight the reasons for a text’s effectiveness or ineffectiveness. If that is the case with you, you can organize each paragraph by focusing on different elements of the subject. Some of these are:

Organization of the source: Discuss how the author organize their argument, whether it’s an excellent approach or not.

Style and Rhetoric of the Source: Talk about the technique the author uses in getting his message across and persuading the audience. Also, did the style help pass the point, or did it hurt the argument?

Effectiveness of the Source: Do you think the creator achieved the aim with the text? If you think it did, discuss how. If otherwise, explain to your readers why it failed.  

Appeal to a Target Audience: Who are the specific audience for the literary work, and why did the author target them? In what ways did the author attempt to appeal to these people? It could be in the use of language and rhetorical devices.

Fair or Biased Viewpoint: Furthermore, analyze the perspective of the author on the subject. Do you think the viewpoint is biased or neutral? Also, give your reasons.

Provide Evidence to Support your Analysis 

Your evidence can come from the source itself and other people’s attempt at analyzing it. As you go through the work, write down quotes, plots, and sections that you will use to support your points. When quoting the author of a written text, be sure to put in quotation marks and format correctly. Your instructor will provide details of which citation style you can use in your essay.  


This section is where you provide your final verdict on the argument. Summarize your points from the analysis of the source and reaffirm your thesis. Of course, you will not repeat your thesis statement in the same words as in the introduction. Furthermore, your conclusion should build on the main points in the body paragraph. Do not include any new information or a different perspective from what you discussed in your analysis. Put effort into making this last section strong, and brief. 

Editing your Paper

After writing, the final action is proofreading your work to ensure it is professional and free from mistakes. It’s best to edit and proofread the paper a few hours or days after writing. This way, you will take a fresh look at the essay and read with a clear head. Some editing and proofreading tips you could use:

  • Check thoroughly for grammatical and spelling errors. Try to change the font size or color of the document when editing. This action will make your brain think the paper is different.
  • You can use a second pair of eyes. Ask a friend to read your paper and review it. They can help you detect mistakes you may overlook.
  • Be sure to follow the formatting style your instructor provides.
  • Do your paragraphs and sentences transition well? If not, you should use transition words for a better flow, particularly between paragraphs.
  • Read your introductory paragraph. You can read it out loud. Does it sound like it can lure a person into reading your paper?

Final Tips for Critical Analysis Writing

  • The basis of a critical analysis is to demonstrate your personal opinion. Do not be afraid of having a strong opinion on the subject supported with evidence.
  • Clarity is vital when writing a critical analysis essay or any academic paper. You should define technical terms that might be unclear to your reader. Use words that are part of everyday vocabulary and avoid ambiguous sentences.
  • Develop a professional writing style. Stick with the use of formal language as it is the appropriate tone in academic writing. To prevent monotony, vary the length and structure of your sentences. Avoid writing in the passive voice when possible.  
  • Lastly, always set up a schedule and adhere to it because you don’t have all the time. It’s best to create a plan that will allow you to research, write, and edit before the deadline.

Still Struggling with your Critical Analysis? 

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