How to Write an Analytical Essay

You have read a great book or watched a good film and now want to analyze it in an analytical essay but have no idea where to begin. The first thing you need to do is understand what an analytical essay is, the purpose behind such a paper, and the steps that need to be taken to write a good analytical essay.

Writing an analytical essay involves several steps from deciding on a topic and writing a thesis statement and researching to find your main points to finding evidence to support your analysis, and bringing it all together clearly and coherently.

Analytical essays are not difficult to write if you follow the steps mentioned above, however, your first essay may be challenging if you don’t have experience in writing such essays. Let’s take a look at analytical essays, what they are, why they are written, and how to write a brilliant paper.

What is an Analytical Essay?

An analytical essay is a piece of writing in which you provide an analysis of your chosen topic. The word “analysis” is defined as being a “detailed examination of the elements or structure of something.” Thus, an analytical essay will consist of a detailed examination of a topic such as a book, a film, a historical event, or scientific research using supporting claims.

When writing an analytical essay, you need to provide more than just a synopsis of the main elements. This type of paper requires an in-depth look at the key arguments and points of the issue are and the reasons why.

For example, an analytical essay of a literary work will take a deeper look at various aspects of the work, and instead of summarizing the plot and characters, will delve into the purpose behind the piece, why the author wrote it in a certain way, and what message he/she wanted to get across.

An analytical essay does not attempt to persuade the reader to agree with your analysis or arguments like an argumentative or persuasive essay would do. It is to investigate, evaluate, and interpret the elements or the structure of the topic you have chosen.

What is the Purpose of an Analytical Essay?

So, why do we write analytical essays? The main aim of an analytical essay is to provide the reader with a greater understanding of the topic or subject you are focusing on. This type of paper dissects a topic, subject, or an item like a book, a film, a concept or idea, a character, or an event, and interprets it using in-depth analysis and cohesive arguments.

There are several ways to analyze a topic, including:

  • Process
  • Definition
  • Classification and Division
  • Comparison and Contrast

What Does an Analytical Essay Look Like?

An analytical essay is body of work, usually containing five or more paragraphs that is comprised of an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Specific components relating to the chosen topic are covered in each of these sections.

The basic outline of an analytical essay looks like this:

INTRODUCTIONBODY PARAGRAPHCONCLUSION
HookClaimWrap up essay
ThesisEvidenceRestate main points
SupportConnectionReword thesis statement
 Transition 

What are the Steps for Writing an Analytical Essay?

There are several steps to take when it comes to writing an analytical essay. The topic of the essay will be the core of the work, so it is important to take time when deciding on a topic and go through the following steps:

  • Brainstorm: Generate ideas for the topic of your essay and list all the possible issues you may come across with that subject.
  • Research: Research your chosen topic thoroughly.
  • Analyze: Analyze the sources available to you regarding your topic and check whether they are reliable and quality sources.
  • Evaluate: Evaluate your topic – make sure it is in an area that you are familiar with or an expert on – this will make it much easier to research and write the essay. Run your topic by a third party such as a lecturer or a teacher and get a second, educated opinion.
  • Title: Decide on a catchy title for your essay.

Now that you have chosen your topic for your analytical essay, you can get down to the nitty-gritty of writing it. The easiest way to write an analytical essay is to break it down into seven steps, as follows:

  1. Write a Thesis Statement
  2. Create an Essay Outline and Structure
  3. Conduct Research on Your Main Points in the Essay
  4. Find Evidence to Support Your Analysis
  5. Collate Everything Together
  6. Write a Draft Form
  7. Write a Final Draft

Let’s take a deeper look at each step in the process of writing an analytical essay and delve into some detail.

1. Write a Thesis Statement

 

The thesis statement is the central argument of your essay and is probably the most important step in the process. A strong thesis statement can make or break your essay so take some time to get it right. It tells the reader the importance of your subject matter and prepares the reader for what they can expect in the essay.

A thesis statement should identify an argument or an opinion on the topic. It should not only controversial and debatable but thoroughly answer the research question that was posed. For example, if your chosen topic is “Veganism,” a strong thesis statement would read as follows:

“While a healthy and ethical way to consume food, a vegan diet limits exposure to cultural food experiences when you travel.”

This thesis tells the reader what the topic is (veganism), what they can expect in the essay, and your argument or analyses (how veganism limits exposure to cultural food experiences during travel).

If you have chosen a topic that involves historical events, your thesis statement must introduce the reader to the external factors such as books, manuscripts, writings that led to your thesis. If you have chosen a topic about scientific research, your thesis statement should include the scientific method.

2. Create an Analytical Essay Outline and Structure

The structure of an analytical essay is essential for creating flow in the paper. Writing an outline of the essay before you begin to write it helps to organize your thoughts and create a structure for the essay.

As stated above, an analytical essay is an expanded five-paragraph essay containing an introduction, body, and conclusion and specific components are covered in each of these sections.

Introduction

  • Orientates the reader
  • Identifies the focus or the purpose of the essay
  • Outlines the scope of the work
  • Contains the thesis statement

Body

  • Topic sentence 1
  • Supporting details
  • Concluding sentence 1
  • Topic sentence 2
  • Supporting details
  • Concluding sentence 1
  • Topic sentence 3
  • Supporting details
  • Concluding sentence 3

 

Conclusion

 

  • Wrap up essay
  • Restate main points
  • Rewrite thesis statement in summary

3. Conduct Research on Your Main Points in the Essay

You have your topic, your angle, and your outline – now it’s time to start your research, and this where the bulk of your analysis (the information that will make your essay an analytical one) comes into play.

An easy method of researching your main topics is to list all your ideas about your topic and research each one thoroughly. Once you have researched all of them, choose three of the strongest ideas for your essay. Use one paragraph for each idea, and always use credible sources (sources written by experts on the topic). Avoid using personal blogs or unverifiable sources as references.

4. Find Evidence to Support Your Analysis

This is an essential step when writing an analytical essay as you must be able to show evidence for or against your arguments and back up every claim you make to have a strong essay.

If your essay is about a literary work or a film, you can use excerpts or passages from the book (remember to quote correctly), or clips from the film. If your essay is about another topic such as a historical event or a scientific experiment, remember to always provide evidence in the form of surveys, quotes, research papers, etc.

5. Collate Everything and Write a First Draft of the Essay

You’ve selected a topic, done the research, gathered the evidence, and created an outline of your essay. Now it’s time to collate it all together and begin on a draft form of your essay. Following your outline, begin an introductory paragraph that ends with the thesis, followed by the body, which consists of three main paragraphs showcasing three different ideas. End off with the conclusion, which restates your thesis, summarizes the main points, and wraps up your essay.

An outline of the essay usually consists of a short five-paragraph piece that includes:

  • An introduction paragraph that introduces the topic of the thesis.
  • A first supporting paragraph that discusses the main idea behind the thesis.
  • A second supporting paragraph that discusses secondary ideas behind the thesis.
  • An antithesis paragraph that covers any opposition there may be to the topic. For example, conspiracy theorists that claim global warming doesn’t exist.
  • A conclusion where the thesis is restated and any ideas or thoughts for future research on this topic are presented.

7. Write the First Draft of the Essay

The first section of the draft will be the essay introduction. The introduction to your analytical essay is essential to “hook” your reader and get them interested in the subject of the paper. Once you have caught the attention of the reader, you then need to lay the groundwork for what is to follow in the main body of the text. You also need to state your thesis and provide a brief explanation of the evidence you found to help you arrive at that thesis.

How to Write a Hook for an Analytical Essay

 

A hook is made up of one to two sentences in the opening lines of the introduction that grab the reader’s attention. The type of hook will depend on the topic of the work and the intended audience. A hook could be one of several types, including:

  • a proven fact
  • a rhetorical question that aims to provoke debate
  • a quote from a famous person
  • a literary term or quote
  • a funny joke/anecdote
  • combination of several of the above

After the hook, give some background information on the subject, including a transition sentence leading to the thesis statement. The thesis statement highlights the topic of the essay, followed your opinion on the statement.

How to Write Body Paragraphs for an Analytical Essay

The body of your essay is the main section of the paper and will contain all the most important information regarding your topic. The body acts as the framework for your thesis statement and is usually divided into three paragraphs, each of which discusses a different idea relating to the main subject.

Each of the paragraphs in the body should follow the same structure:

  • Topic sentence: This sentence introduces the main point of the paragraph clearly and succinctly.
  • Analysis: This section is the most important part of the entire analytical essay writing as it analyzes your supporting evidence and explains how the evidence supports your thesis statement. It is usually one or two sentences long.
  • Evidence: These few sentences highlight the evidence that supports your thesis, such as surveys, reports, facts, statistics, etc. This section is inextricably linked with the analysis section of the paragraph and should flow seamlessly.
  • Concluding sentence: The concluding sentence of the paragraph restates the analysis and its significance to the point of the essay.

How to Write a Conclusion for an Analytical Essay

The conclusion collates the entire essay, bringing everything together in summary. The conclusion has a set structure that should be written as follows:

  • Rewrite/rephrase the thesis statement
  • Summarize the key points
  • Conclude the essay

The conclusion begins by restating the thesis statement to confirm to the reader that you have proven the original thesis statement. It also helps the reader understand your thoughts and their organization into a cohesive paper. It is best to paraphrase the thesis statement as this allows for a smooth transition from the body paragraphs into the conclusion.

 

The next step in the conclusion is to summarize the main points of the body paragraphs by highlighting the most significant facts from each. Finally, you will send the conclusion and the entire essay with an overall concluding statement. This can either state what the audience should take away from the paper or what you have learned from writing the essay.

A great way to end an analytical essay is to throw in another hook in a lighthearted way to remind the reader of the hook you used at the beginning of your paper.

Top Tips for Writing a Great Analytical Essay

Writing a great essay isn’t only about connecting with your readers. A poorly formatted essay with spelling and grammar mistakes and be the difference between an outstanding paper and a dud. Here are some top tips to remember when writing your next essay:

1. Check for Grammar and Spelling Mistakes

There is nothing worse than reading an essay that is riddled with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Double and triple check your paper or give it to someone else to read and edit to be sure it is free of silly mistakes. If you are working online, use a grammar tool like Grammarly to double-check your work.

2. Double-Check Your Facts

Double-check your facts and figures and be sure you have referenced them correctly. Make sure the names of people you are quoting or referencing are correct, as well as the names of events and places. Pay attention to detail as small mistakes can cost a lot. Also, always check for plagiarism and avoid copying anyone else’s work. Online tools like Copyscape are good programs for checking plagiarism.

3. Read Your Essay Out Aloud

This may sound silly but reading your essay out loud is a great way of picking up little errors you may have missed before. It is also a good way to check the flow and the rhythm of your essay. Reading your essay out aloud allows you to become your own reader and hear your work from a different perspective, which can be invaluable.

Final Thoughts

An analytical essay is a good way of investigating and interpreting a topic or a subject that interests you like a great book or a thought-provoking film. There are several steps to writing an analytical essay from brainstorming for ideas to analyzing information, finding evidence to support your claims, and concluding your thoughts. An analytical essay is a great way to present your opinions and thoughts on a specific topic in a concise and structured way.

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