How to Write an Evaluation Paper

Brainstorming criteria can help you determine the standards for your evaluation.
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Evaluation essays give you the chance to make your case for how well a topic meets a specific set of criteria. They frequently focus on reviews of books, music, restaurants or movies, as well as the usefulness of academic sources to research projects. Writing an evaluation paper can help you learn to use evidence to make fair judgments about entertainment, products and written works.

1 Create the Criteria

The criteria are a set of standards that establish the basis for your assessment in an evaluation paper. Judging your topic based on specific criteria gives your essay structure through objective standards, rather basing it simply around opinions. For example, if your paper is a review of a horror movie you'd begin by listing the elements that make up the ideal horror movie. These might include a terrifying villain, creepy music, a suspenseful plot and scary settings. Your criteria then will become the basis for the judgments you form as you write the essay.

2 Be a Fair Judge

Successful evaluation essays make clear, specific judgments about whether or not the subject meets the criteria for the ideal standard you've established. While it's OK to state strong opinions about the topic, avoid relying on your personal tastes as the basis for judgment rather than your criteria. For example, not liking the Bruce Springsteen album you've been asked to review simply because you don't like his music is an unfair judgment based on your own musical tastes. If you believe the lyrics and music fail to meet the criteria for a good rock album, though, you've begun to make a fair judgment.

3 Evaluate with Evidence

Fair judgments also need examples from the topic you're evaluating as proof for your ideas. This evidence establishes credibility with readers, showing them that you've studied the topic and have the knowledge required to assess it. If your evaluation of a new coffee shop is that it has a great atmosphere, for example, your evidence might include its comfortable chairs, spacious architecture and the ambiance of its soft jazz music. All these things demonstrate that you've spent time there studying and observing the business. Presenting your criterion, judgment and evidence in each paragraph will create a comprehensive, objective view of the topic.

4 Form the Final Analysis

In the end, your essay should draw together your criteria, judgments and evidence to provide an overall assessment of your topic. Looking over how well your topic meets your list of criteria is a good way to determine your general evaluation; if the majority of the criteria are met, the evaluation will be largely positive, while failure to meet them will lead to a negative conclusion. Whether your general assessment is good or bad, readers should leave your essay with a clear idea of whether or not your topic is worth investigating or would meet their needs.

Kori Morgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in professional writing and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has been crafting online and print educational materials since 2006. She taught creative writing and composition at West Virginia University and the University of Akron and her fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals.