How to Write a Critical Essay
That Analyzes a Topic in Full

Having the ability to think critically is what separates human beings from other species in the wild. Instead of living our day-to-day lives making quick decisions just to survive, as people, we’re able to ask questions, think deeply, and make judgments based on the information we’re given. And this critical thought process continues throughout our lifetimes.

From an academic perspective, thinking critically means going above and beyond simply memorizing facts that are presented to us by our teacher. As students, we take that information and make important connections between the real world and our own personal experiences, deciding how this new information will impact our lives and those around us.

So, whether you’re learning how percentages can help you calculate the sale price of an item at the store or trying to understand all the ways the world was impacted by World War II, you are practicing the art of thinking critically.

What is a Critical Essay

Now that you’re familiar with what critical thinking is, you may be asking yourself what all of that has to do with writing a critical essay. Fortunately, the answer to your hypothetical question is quite simple. A critical essay is basically a written form of what’s going on in your brain during the critical thinking process.

A critical essay is a piece of academic writing in which the author analyzes a topic in full. To write an effective critical essay, one must think deeply about a topic, ask plenty of questions, and evaluate how this topic affects their life. Then, the author presents the entire process of critical thinking that has taken place in the form of writing.

Critical essays are not easy to write. They require upper-level thinking skills and a significant amount of planning in order to complete them. By writing a critical essay, you’re showing your reader that you’re capable of mature thinking and communication.

Requirements for a Critical Essay

The requirements for a critical essay are pretty straightforward. Your reader, most likely your teacher or a peer reviewer, in this case, will be looking to see that you met each requirement as they read. Using a rubric or checklist, it becomes a rather simple process.

The 3 elements your reader will likely be looking for are as follows:

  • A clearly defined topic
  • A strong claim that is hard to refute
  • Evidence to support your claim

Plus, they will be looking for the 5 components of a basic essay structure:

  • An introduction
  • Body paragraph 1
  • Body paragraph 2
  • Body paragraph 3
  • A conclusion

Critical essays are examples of academic writing. As such, you will need to take the elements, structure, and style of them seriously in order to receive a good grade. To keep yourself organized, ask your teacher what they expect from this assignment, follow along with the rubric they provide, and refer back to this article often.

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Topics for a Critical Essay

Settling on a topic can be one of the harder decisions when it comes to writing an essay. In some cases, your teacher will provide you with a list of possible essay prompts and allow you to pick from that list. However, in other cases, you will be asked to select a critical essay topic of your choosing—and that’s a pretty hefty decision to make.

On one end, it allows you to find something you’re truly passionate about, which is a good thing. But on the other end, it can lead to analysis paralysis where you think about choosing certain topics, but you keep talking yourself out of each of them and feel like you’ll never be able to decide.

Choosing a critical essay topic shouldn’t be that hard.
Here are 10 critical essay topics
that can lead to some pretty incredible writing opportunities:

    • The evolution of gender in our society

    • How growing up in the church impacts youth

    • Whether or not scandals should derail a politician’s career

    • Should social media posts from the past be used against someone in the future

    • How racism is portrayed in literature

    • The lessons fairy tales were designed to teach children

    • The effects pesticides have on the human body

    • How pandemics affect a population

    • Why witchcraft accusations were believed throughout history

  • The impact of Native American boarding schools

Are you still feeling stuck? Think about a topic that really resonates with you and get started.


Critical Essay Structure

For this assignment, following the standard critical essay structure is your ticket to doing a thorough job and writing an effective essay. The critical essay structure includes:

  • An introductory paragraph with a topic sentence and a strong claim
  • A body paragraph that highlights your first main point and provides data to support it
  • A body paragraph that highlights your second main point and provides data to support it
  • A body paragraph that highlights your third main point and provides data to support it
  • A concluding paragraph that summarizes your entire paper and answers any questions your reader may be left wondering

The easiest way to stick to the critical essay structure is to remember that each paragraph has a specific job to do. Formal academic writing is not meant to be whatever pops into your mind. Instead, it’s supposed to be structured and well thought out. So, plan each paragraph around the job it was intended to do, and you should have a pretty effective essay at the end.

How to Write a Critical Essay

Teaching a student how to write a critical essay is a multi-step process. Knowing this, It’s likely that your teacher will break down each step for you in class and demonstrate how they expect you to meet the requirements of it.

The first step, of course, is to familiarize yourself with what a critical essay actually is. Reading the information provided above and staying engaged in class will help you develop the understanding that a critical essay is a way to analyze a certain topic and communicate your thoughts about it in a written format.

The next step is to select a topic that speaks to you. Doing so will make the entire writing process easier because you will feel connected to the material and excited about sharing your thoughts and feelings on the matter.

Next, you want to spend an ample amount of time in the planning stage for your essay. Jotting down notes, gathering data, and completing an outline are all ways you can prepare before you begin writing.

Then, you want to write a rough draft. The key word here is rough because it is not your final product. Once this is completed, it’s important that you read through your first draft from start to finish, seek advice from another source, and implement any necessary changes.

Lastly, you want to polish your final draft. Use digital tools to check your work and turn in a clean copy to your teacher.

Descriptive Essay Examples

One of the first steps to writing a good critical essay is exploring how other writers have tackled the same assignment. By looking at several critical essay examples, you can start to develop an understanding of what your essay should look like and what pitfalls you’d like to avoid.

As you read each critical essay example, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do I like about this paper?
  • What do I not like about this paper?
  • Did the author make a strong claim?
  • Was enough evidence provided to support that claim?
  • What holes do I see in this essay?
  • What suggestions would I give to improve this paper?
  • Is this written in a style that I can model my own paper on?

Once you have answers to each of these questions, you’ll feel better prepared to start writing your own essay.

So, here are some critical essay examples you can use as a new learning experience for you:


Besides just being a fun way to notice the differences between you and a pet, thinking critically shows others that your brain is capable of undergoing a mature thought process. No matter what age you currently are, you are fully competent in asking questions, gathering evidence, considering solutions, refuting opposing ideas, and communicating your thoughts in a logical way.

So being asked to write a critical essay is your chance to show off your skills and help other people see just how smart you are.

Writing a critical essay can be based on literature, social justice issues, history, the environmental impact of humans, or any other hot topic you can think of. But no matter what topic you decide on, be sure to plan your essay out, complete a rough draft, and take the time to make any revisions necessary. Doing so will help you earn the grade you deserve. And you can be proud of the efforts you put into this important assignment.

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