How to Write a
Critical Thinking Essay

Critical thinking essays help students to develop analytical skills while coming up with a strong argument. Unlike narrative or descriptive essays, this piece of writing requires to add your own ideas on a particular work – a book, film, scholarly text, poem, article or painting, instead of simply relying on the solutions of others.

Professors usually grade these essays by the ability to develop a coherent argument while presenting strong writing skills. If you are not sure how to do it, keep reading.

Here is a recipe for writing an effective critical thinking essay.

  1. Step 1 – Develop a Thesis Your thesis is your main argument; your entire essay will be based upon this thesis, so take the time to prepare a powerful one. The effective thesis statement should express the main focus of your essay and state an arguable claim. At the same time, it has to provide enough details. It’s not enough to say that something is “good” or “bad”, you need to explain what makes it so.

    Don’t include obvious facts (The Great Gatsby was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald) or your subjective opinion (The Great Gatsby is the greatest work of F. Scott Fitzgerald) into a thesis statement, instead present an argument that you can support with evidence.

  2. Step 2 – Outline Your Essay Creating an outline before you start writing your essay will help you structure all information and ideas effectively. You can make your outline as detailed as you wish. Just remember that if you include a lot of material into your outline, you’ll have to put everything into your essay.

    You may choose different formats of your outline: a more formal with Roman numerals, Arabic numerals and letters, or informal “mind map” one. Just make sure that at this stage of writing you have your own position and are ready to analyze the points mentioned in your outline.

  3. Step 3 – Start Your Paper with an Engaging Sentence Make sure that the first sentence of your essay gets right into your topic. Your introduction should present your opinion and identify the main idea. Make the first paragraph of your essay really engaging to grab the reader’s attention right from the first words. Consider to open with an interesting statistics, intriguing fact, anecdote or compelling question. Avoid using clichés such as In our modern world…, Dictionary defines…, etc.
  4. Step 4 – Draft the Body of Your Paper Use the main body of your essay to support your argument. Devote each paragraph to a piece of evidence in favor of your point. Your discussion of all aspects should contribute to proving your thesis statement.

    You may also provide some background information or additional details to help readers better understand your point of view. Use your body paragraphs to discuss specific components and judge the value of a work you discuss in your essay.

  5. Step 5 – Write a Strong Conclusion You need to add a concluding paragraph that summarizes your arguments. Your conclusion should stress what you have tried to show or prove your readers. Before you prepare the last paragraph of your essay, spend some time reflecting on what you have already written to end your work in the most efficient way.

    You may call the reader to action, review the main ideas, or explain how the topic affects the reader. Do your best to refer back to the earlier points and connect them into a single argument.

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Bonus Tips

  • Set aside your essay for some time before revising it. By taking a short break, you will give your brain a rest. Then revisit your draft and carefully proofread it for any typos, grammatical errors, wordy sentences and other mistakes that may negatively affect your work.
  • Ask your friend or a family member to have a look at your essay and make constructive comments.
  • Make sure to cite all the resources you used in your essay, including quotations, statistics and theoretical information.
  • To be less stressed, start writing in advance. Last-minute papers usually suffer from poor grammar and structure.

Try to get started as early as possible and craft a perfect critical thinking essay!

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