The critique is a rigorous critical reading of a passage. The guiding question behind a critique –
“How well does the author make his or her argument?” – should remain at the forefront of your
mind as you proceed through the process. In this way, a critique differs from other forms of
essay. Please follow the steps outlined below to compose your critique of any single reading
assignment we have had this semester from Rereading America.
Before You Draft: Pre-Writing, Directed Annotating, and Other Preparation
? Read the passage thoroughly – and more than once. Identify the SOAPS as well as the
speaker’s tone. Make plenty of notes, ask lots of questions, and highlight or underline
anything you may wish to quote in your paper. While this may feel like a tedious
process, take your time with this step, as it will provide the necessary platform for a
? Next, write a summary. Identify the author's main point (thesis) and list the types of
proofs he or she employs to persuade the reader to believe or accept the thesis.
o For example, does the author use historical anecdotes, quote noted authorities,
provide statistical evidence, or appeal to a reader's sense of patriotism or
generosity? These are all common types of proofs used in persuasive writing.
o Consider why the author is writing and to whom. Remember that the purpose of
a text and its intended audience can affect the way the paper is written.
? Now, without concerning yourself with whether or not you agree with the author’s
opinion (sometimes a difficult task), evaluate the validity of his or her argument.
o Does the author provide complete and accurate information? Some authors may
leave important facts out of their presentations in order to avoid dealing with
them, or they may include inaccurate data either through ignorance or in a
deliberate attempt to mislead readers.
o Does the author provide information that is relevant to the issue?
o Does the author define key terms adequately and clearly? Just because someone
uses the words "freedom," "rights," or "harm" in an essay, does not necessarily
make those terms universal. Some people might interpret "harm," for example, as
"injury," while others might interpret it as "offense."
? Once you have examined carefully the passage you intend to critique, use the
information you have collected to draft a response to the passage.
o Do you agree or disagree with the author's views and proofs? Be sure to discuss
specific reasons why you agree or disagree with something. The critique's value
as an academic document rests on your ability to say precisely why you agree or
Drafting the Critique: An Outline
I. Introduction (1 paragraph): Include the TAG (title, author, genre) of the text in your
information. Clearly state the author's thesis and introduce the arguments you intend to
make about it, as well as some background information to inform your reader about the
topic at hand and the author.
II. Brief Summary (1 paragraph): Using the summary you drafted in pre-writing, create a
paragraph that summarizes the author’s main points. Be sure to include adequate
transitions so that the writing flows smoothly.
III. Analysis (2-to-3 paragraphs): Present your reader with an in-depth analysis of the
validity of the author's logic and use of evidence, as discussed above. Be sure to present
your information in a form that is easy to follow, using transitional elements whenever
necessary to preserve the smooth flow of your writing. Avoid evaluating the text in
chronological order, as this will make you more likely to fall into simply summarizing it;
instead, organize your paragraphs by topic (for example, rhetorical appeals or types of
IV. Response (1 paragraph): You may agree or disagree with the author's views, and this is
the part of the critique where you make your own views on the issue clear. Remember
that your own arguments must be well-supported, offering compelling reasons for your
agreement or disagreement with the author.
V. Conclusion (1 paragraph): Evaluate the author's overall success or failure in achieving
his or her purpose. Also, remind your reader of the strengths and weaknesses of the