How to Write a Good Critique Essay

by Patricia Hunt
Each paragraph in a critique should address a different aspect of the text.

Each paragraph in a critique should address a different aspect of the text.

Although the word "criticize," has a largely negative connotation, a fair assessment of any text, object, place or experience deeply analyzes all component parts and renders judgment. Readers need to understand how and why you arrived at your conclusion, and a thorough critique provides them with an understanding of the critic’s values.

Describe the work and its creator in the first paragraph. Do not assume that readers know the work or author, so place the work in context. Ask yourself if the text is a first outing for the author or the latest in a long series. Does the author have a reputation or expertise in a certain field? Is the work controversial or well-known or little-known, and why? Describe the intended audience for the work.

Write an accurate summary of the work’s main ideas in the second paragraph. Do not mingle your evaluation with the summary. Merely explain the most important ideas the author tried to convey in the entire work.

Judge the author’s presentation in the third paragraph. Did the author present accurate and relevant data in a logical manner? Did the author clearly define important terms or jargon? Did the author offer sound interpretations? Focus, in this paragraph, on whether the author achieved his or her purpose for creating the work.

State both your agreement and disagreement with the author in the fourth paragraph. Develop your ideas by explaining why you agree and disagree with the author’s ideas. Cite other critics who support your interpretation.

Compose the conclusion, often the shortest paragraph in the critique. Restate the main agreements and objections to the work. In the closing, do not mention any new idea that does not the body paragraphs. The final paragraph gives an overview of the entire essay by restating its main ideas.

Things You Will Need

  • Writing Implements
  • Assignment sheet
  • Text or object to critique
  • Summary of work in question


  • Document in instructor-recommended citation style all quotes, paraphrases and summaries.
  • Write a detailed summary of the text before writing the critique.


About the Author

Patricia Hunt first found her voice as a fiction and nonfiction writer in 1974. An English teacher for over 27 years, Hunt's works have appeared in "The Alaska Quarterly Review," "The New Southern Literary Messenger" and "San Jose Studies." She has a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from American University and a doctorate in studies of America from the University of Maryland.

Photo Credits

  • Jetta Productions/Lifesize/Getty Images