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A Comprehensive Guide To Writing A Critical Thinking Essay

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 Alice Smith  Published On Jun 21,2019 | Updated on Sep 06,2022  Essays

A Comprehensive Guide To Writing A Critical Thinking Essay

Almost everyone in this world is capable of expressing thoughts and opinions by writing. However, the world only appreciates a handful of people. Ever wondered, why? The simple answer would be the difference in writing skills. The authors or writers respected by people across the world process information much differently than a regular person. In simple words, their way of thinking is what makes them stand apart.

The process of critical thinking allows you to analyse and evaluate an issue to form a judgement objectively. Ideally, you should practice critical thinking before writing any kind of essay. When it comes to a critical thinking essay, it is mandatory for the author to think critically before writing.

What is a critical thinking essay?

A critical thinking essay is a form of academic writing that analyses, interprets and evaluates a particular subject. The subject can be a piece of literature, a movie, or a piece of art. In a critical essay, the author makes a claim about the chosen topic and them supports that claim with evidence from genuine sources.

Generally, this form of essay is written for academic audiences. The main objective of this essay is to help improve your critical thinking skills. Writing critically requires the ability to weigh what the original author, director or painter might have been trying to convey to his original audience. The insight is explained in a manner that the new audience can understand it.

Imagine you need to write a critical essay on the last book you read. It can be any book, but let’s assume it is Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”. You can talk about the theme of the story, the portrayal of the characters in the book, the virtues of the protagonist or any other significant character – anything meaningful that is worth analysing critically. Talking about raw content is not required here.

While working on a critical thinking essay, make sure it covers all the following conditions:

  • Answers the question.
  • Demonstrates that you have read thoroughly.
  • Shows that you have evaluated the evidence.
  • Confirms that you understand the question.
  • Contains a clear argument.
  • Is structured and well-organized.
  • Has relevant information to support your argument.
  • Adheres to academic style and is easy to read.
  • Uses consistent and accurate referencing.
  • Is grammatically correct.
  • Has been proofread for errors.

How to write a critical thinking essay? – A step by step guide

Due to its complex requirements, writing a critical thinking essay may seem complicated to a lot of people. However, you can finish the paper without any hassle if you can comply with the following steps.

  • Step 1: Make a list of the requirements:

In the first step, you need to understand the requirements of the task and what is expected of you. Most students fail to deliver a good critical thinking essay because they start their assignments without clearly understanding the details of the task. If you are not quite sure about the task requirements, simply talk to the instructor.

  • Step 2: Develop a deep understanding of the source material:

The source material usually comes in the form of a book, a film, or a piece of art. You need to prepare a critical thinking essay that analyses the source material. It is always recommended to consider everything from the source material that can enhance the quality of the essay. So, if you are asked to work on a particular book or film, it is better to read or watch the content as many times as possible.

  • Step 3: Write down notes while assessing the source material:

Taking notes while reviewing the source material for a critical thinking essay is a good practice. It can help you prepare and organise your critical thinking faster. Remember to note down key ideas and concepts that the author tried to convey through the work. It is advised to write down as many notes as possible so that it becomes easier for you to map your essay.

  • Step 4: Identify the primary challenges or patterns in the chosen subject:

Once you have reviewed the source material, you need to find the key challenges, patterns or problems. It can be the theme of the work being critiqued. It can be any other aspect of the story as well. As you try to uncover these aspects, other issues and key concepts may also begin to emerge. You need to be prepared to acknowledge them.

  • Step 5: Find out the solutions to the problems identified:

In the next step, you need to offer solutions for the challenges or patterns that you identified earlier. By this time, you should have a rough idea for the thesis statement of the essay. Since you have already reviewed and analysed the source material, you have a good understanding of the work done by the original writer. Now, it is time to evaluate and interpret that and share the information with your readers.

These steps can make it a lot easier for you to move to the next phase of writing a critical thinking essay.

The outline of a critical thinking essay

It is important to understand that every essay, irrespective of the topic and the nature, follows a standard structure. As you may realise, the structure includes three major components – the introduction, the body paragraphs, and the conclusion. However, it is always a good practice to draft an outline for the entire essay. The outline serves as a roadmap for the essay.

Figure: The basic outline of a critical thinking essay


5 essential tips to write a brilliant critical thinking essay

After learning about the structure of a critical thinking essay, you can draft one on your own. Just remember to follow these suggestions to enhance the content of the essay.

  1. Make a clear argument:

The main argument for the essay, also known as thesis, needs to be sound and clear. It should reflect the objective of your critical thinking essay as clearly as possible. Unfortunately, there is no particular formula for writing a good thesis. Everyone has their own way of doing it.

However, if you find something interesting while reviewing the source material, you can use it to develop your thesis statement. Needless to say, it can make the whole essay writing process much easier for you. Also, introduce the argument in the opening paragraph of the essay.

  1. Make proper use of textual evidence:

To validate your arguments, you need to support it with evidence. You can use quotations, summaries and paraphrases to make your point. The following tips can help you with the task:

  • Try not to use the sentences that are composed entirely of a quote. It is better to include an interpretive point about the quote into the sentence.
  • If it is obvious, do not use it in the essay. While writing about a movie, it is not necessary to discuss the plot. Your readers already know that. Instead, focus on the details.
  • Don’t quote unnecessarily. If you are including a long quote, remember to discuss it in detail. 
  1. Use every paragraph strategically:

It is possible to enhance your critical writing with smart uses of paragraphs. Here are some quick ways to do it.

  • Move to the next paragraph when you are transitioning from descriptive writing to your critical analysis. The separation should be visible.
  • You can use the paragraphs to include references within your essay.
  • Also, a paragraph break offers a small pause for the readers. Otherwise, it becomes difficult for the readers to hold too much information on their mind at once. 
  1. Use academic language:

Students are carried away while writing a critical thinking essay on their favourite book or movie. Well, it’s still an academic task. So, you need to use academic language to connect ideas. Transitional words and phrases can help you in the ways listed below.

  • To provide an example: for example, for instance, an example of this is.
  • To introduce additional information: moreover, besides, also, in addition.
  • To list ideas based on time: above all, first of all, more important, first and foremost.
  • To highlight the evidence: it can be seen that, the evidence is that, in support of this.
  • To present a result: therefore, hence, thus, accordingly, as a result. 
  1. Always revise the essay thoroughly:

Revise the essay before submission. It allows you to see whether the ideas are properly connected, the thesis is well-defined, and all the arguments are supported with the help of evidence. Also, it gives you the opportunity to identify and fix grammatical or punctuation errors in the paper.

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