How to write a critical essay

A critical essay is an essay that analyses a text, a novel, a book or even a movie or film. The essay offers a broad context of the text that is under analysis. It is through a critical essay that the author of the book or any text is able to get the response of different readers. People understand works of literature in different ways. However. There are those general ideas that are salient throughout the entire text. An in-depth analysis and response to a literary work is the content of a critical essay.

The format of a critical essay

The format of a critical essay usually follows the form of an argumentative evaluation of a certain idea or topic. Primarily, critical essays are targeted for academic purposes hence they use the academic writing style as well as the language.  As specified by the lecturer or the course instructor, the essay can take APA, MLA or any other format. It is of essence to note that the essay is explicitly analytical and offers an interpretation of literature materials in a pure academic language.


Critical essay takes the structure of the introduction, the body and the conclusion. In the introduction, the writer gives a brief description of the topic or the main idea. The introduction should also give the background information about the subject of the thesis. It is also the introduction that offers the thesis statement. The body critically evaluates the main topic of the texts. It presents objective analysis of facts, data and theory with the perspective of the writer. It evaluates the scope of the supreme concept in a logical consistence using imaginative skills. The conclusion summarizes the main points of evaluation that have been discussed in the body. It also re-states the thesis statement.


A critical essay can focus on any topic of the text under analysis. For example, a student can be asked by their teacher to write a critical essay on the topic of female genital mutilation basing their argument on the constitution and the international laws. The assumption here is that the students have read the two documents. One can also write a critical essay on the topic of environmental degradation after watching a documentary from the national geographic channel.


A critical essay should have an abstract. This is a brief summary of the writer’s perspective and approach. The body should have the comparative evaluation and analysis of work under study with contemporary standards of work in a similar genre. The leading facts about the topic under study should be prioritized.

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