How To Write A Critical Analysis

Has there been a situation where you posted a comment on someone’s work telling others that you think the author is biased? How about instances where you disagree with someone’s thoughts or opinions and you voiced them? If either of those situations are true, then you’ve done a critical analysis -albeit a small one.

How to write a critical analysis is simple on paper:


  • Understand what critical analysis is,
  • Pick a topic,
  • Gather information,
  • Start writing,
  • And proofread.


As simple as it looks, a critical analysis can be more in depth if you have the writing chops for it. Below are some tools and resources that you can use to write a stronger critical analysis.

What Is A Critical Analysis Essay?

In order for something to be a critical analysis in the first place, you need to be writing a crucial evaluation of an argument or statement. As such, these types of writings are reserved to things that you can analyze. Historical events, films, books, types of music, social and political issues, and more.

The goal of critical analysis is to help someone better understand a subject and it allows someone to examine various points of views of the subject. Ultimately, you want the writing to notify anyone who reads this about the subject followed up by an explication of the meaning and purpose.

It’s all about presenting your own viewpoint of this topic.

Because you’re basically stating your opinion in the end, these documents are highly subjective. You’ll want to make a point of avoiding common mistakes. Some of these mistakes are:

  • Using slang terms or industry lingo. Instead keep it formal.
  • Basing your findings off the work or others. When you are doing this analysis, it should be based on your own views. Other people’s work is supplemental in conveying said opinion. Of course, if you’re using sources, cite them.
  • Analyzing the description rather than the subject. Critical analysis focuses on the arguments made on the subject rather than the topic itself.
  • Not having proper structure. Your critical analysis should be structured and have a logical sequence to it. Moving from various argument points quickly can confuse a reader.

Critical Analysis Isn’t Descriptive Writing

As a side note, critical analysis and descriptive writing can be easily mixed up. The truth is, these two are very separate things.

In the case of descriptive writing, the idea is to show exactly what is the subject, or the sequence of events. People can use that as an argument point because it’s a statement of facts. That’s not an analysis even if you compare the facts with what the other person is saying.

The reality is these texts are all about stating why the information is significant to the topic at hand and then your personal opinion on the subject. As you can tell from above, it can thoroughly explore a subject and show how complicated something ist. It’s looking at the situation from various angles.

What Are Some Good Critical Analysis Topics?

Now that you know what critical analysis is, you need to find a topic to write about.

With a lot of people having political and social opinions, being able to write critical analysis is actually a very helpful skill. It’s very common these days for students and individuals to find events, articles, or subjects that are controversial in nature that lead them to analysing something in a critical way. As such, when looking for a topic to write about, it isn’t that hard to come by.

That being said, here are some things that can help you in narrowing down which specific topic you want to be writing about:

  • Check to see if the topic can be analyzed critically to begin with. As mentioned above, topics that can be analyzed are better so books or controversial articles are good starting points.
  • Make sure the topic is something people widely discuss. Critical analysis is about gathering opinions and forming your own. You want to make sure that the topic is something people are familiar with to some degree and that you can make strong arguments with.
  • Ensure the topic is narrow. There are several talking points that stem from a topic like a tree that has many branches. Be sure to focus on a single branch rather than the trunk of the tree.

Some other general ideas that come to mind are things like critically analyzing books from your favourite author. Many famous books have been analyzed time and again and every person has their own different way to interpret things. Analyzing books like Alice in Wonderland for example can give you plenty of source material to work with.


Some other topics to consider are the following.

In Culture

  • Doping within sports is common now more than ever. Summarize what you find and its overall impact on various sporting events.
  • Picking a college-level sport and discussing how it’s impacted a community. How has it changed the community? The college’s economics?
  • Turn to your town’s homeless situation. What is the city capable of performing in order to help those in that situation?
  • Anti-drug programs often cause more issues than solve problems. Look at these programs and evaluate their effectiveness in deterring drug-use.
  • Look at the overall portrayal of women in various mediums. A prime example is films. Has sexism from Hollywood’s 50’s been removed from films?


In Media

  • Watch a film that you love watching. Analyze what the message is and how it’s conveyed through the film.
  • You can do the same with graphic novels. What is the messaging these materials are conveying and how does it further the graphic novel world?
  • There have been several remakes of films and games. Compare the remake to the original.
  • Examine children’s television shows and their influence on development and behaviour. Focus on popular and recognizable ones.
  • Look at social media platforms. Consider the vision of it (or company message and values). Has that vision grown or shifted?


In History

  • Compare an ancient civilization to where it’s at now (think Ancient Egypt, Rome, Greece). Are the traditions from ancient times still relevant to those places now?
  • Colonization is a big part of Western culture and is a brutal part of history. Look back at it and ask whether it was necessary to kill indigenous people in America or Canada.
  • Look at a historical monument in ancient times and consider the conditions it was built in. For example, point to the Giza pyramids. Did aliens build them? Or was it actually slaves?
  • Pick a famous war and analyze the opinions people have given. For example, people say World War 2 was something that had to happen and shaped how the world is today. Look at why or why not that’s the case.


In Literature

  • Analyze a piece of writing and how it’s impacted the world at large. For example, Huckleberry Finn – one of the works from Mark Twain – has racial undertones. How has racism impacted America through that medium?
  • Look at dystopian novels and provide comparisons to real world places. Good examples are 1984, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451.
  • Analyze a book’s real life world and compare it to events, or history of the real place.


In Sports

  • Organizations’ hunger for money has ruined sports. Consider the argument and establish whether that statement is true or false.
  • Look at how betting has affected the sporting community.
  • Consider whether cybersports should be considered sports.
  • People say that EA is releasing FIFA games every year that exploit their player base. Consider whether that statement is valid.

Gathering Information

Once you know the topic, the next step is to gather information. If you’ve been following the guidelines mentioned above, you’ve chosen a topic that you’re somewhat familiar with. In fact, you probably already have an opinion on the topic.

Nevertheless, you still want to be reading all of your sources.

The reason for this is that you want to be covering the topic from various approaches. Your goal is to get people to open their minds and be objective. You don’t want to be biased in these types of works.

When reading through the source, find the thesis and use that to support the main point of this textt.


Doing this makes you a considerate writer as you’re showing off the opinions of other people. This also helps you because it allows you to respond and react to the subject matter. You also want to avoid your opinions being offensive to people who read it and be mindful of the backgrounds people might have.

Diving further into this, critical reading will be a crucial part for all of this. Here is how to do that.

Critical Reading

As mentioned above, you want to be looking for the thesis that the author presented within the source material. This is critical reading. You want to be gathering opinions from all kinds of places along with getting opinions on similar issues.

It’s key to notice the tiny little things. Recognize where the author is making an assumption, or they’re using rhetorical devices, or even if they have clear biases in those situations.

If there are words and define terms that these authors use, write them down if you don’t understand. Furthermore, when scouring through a source, look for the following:

  • Understand who this is intended for. Good writers present in a fashion that appeals to niche groups. For example, playful and easy to read words appeal to kids while mentioning data and statistics is more fitting for business people or investors.
  • The author’s persuasion (choice of words and rhetoric). Good writers won’t spell things out directly but rather infer. They won’t say Burger King is unhealthy, rather they’ll present evidence of Burger King’s ingredient list and let readers draw their own conclusions.
  • Notice how the text is formulated and how it compliments the statements made. Posts can be used to display certain points.

Your goal with critical reading is to pinpoint the author’s motives and then boil the text down to a simple meaning. You also want to figure out how the author achieves these purposes or even gains your trust throughout the article

Getting To Writing

The final step in how to do critical analysis writing is the actual writing itself. Up to this point, there are some general do’s and don’ts you want to be keeping in mind, however there is more to it.

Going back to the whole point of critical analysis is you want to help the reader through exploring the work with them. In order for this to happen, you’re going to need to structure it properly and deliver things that were often ignored or neglected.

Your goal is to get the reader to understand the subject to the fullest extent as you can.

So how do you do that?


First, Summarize

The first thing is to summarize your source – whatever that happens to be. Why you want to do this is to show to the reader that you have an understanding of what you’re about to talk about

Summaries themselves don’t contain your actual argument or show any bias towards any particular source. It’s particularly this part where people think that critical analysis is descriptive writing since you’re merely stating facts.

That aspect is further emphasized since it’s encouraged that if your main source is a book or document- which in all likelihood it is – your summary will include things like the following:

  • The organizational methodology the writer took.
  • Pointing at who the niche group of individuals this is designed for,
  • All the assumptions that the author had to be making that they subjected their audience to.
  • And a list explaining the various writing techniques used. Everything from rhetoric to the language and tone used is mentioned.

Second, Present Your Thesis

Once all of the work is summarized, you finally can present your own thesis. While writing, it’s better to write the thesis after summarizing. This is better despite the fact your thesis still is presented at the beginning of the writing like any other thesis statement.

In writing critical analysis, it’s typical to use the thesis as a reaction to the source you’ve analyzed. Your own opinion is subjective of course, but if you’re able to state your opinion thoroughly and carefully, the reader will trust you and understand you.

The best way to really deliver all of this is through creating an outline.

Lastly, Proofread

Once the first draft is done, the next thing to do is proofread. It’s recommended to be taking a few hours or even a few days from the paper. This allows your mind to decompress and process everything.

From there, read your essay a few times over. Like your own critical reading before, you want to be looking for specific details. In these cases you want to be looking at mistakes – be they spelling or grammar or simply missing – and fix them.

You want to pay attention to even the smallest of details as well. If you can convey your thoughts in a stronger sentence, do it. If you can explain concepts better than what’s presented, make changes.

Proofreading is all about making your piece look tidier and something as simple as reading over what you wrote can help significantly.

Tools To Help You Write A Critical Analysis


A critical analysis does need formatting and structure. If you’re jumping from one argument point to the next in a single section, readers are going to have difficulty following you. You want your analysis to be fast and consistent with the message.

In school, professors tend to provide you with outlines for how they want these writings to be structured. However not everyone is in school so below is a template that you can use for your own writing work.


  1. Overall Description: Give the reader context; get them to understand the overall subject.
  • Information should include:
    • The title
    • Who authored the document
    • Any other info about the publication
    • What the topic is about and its purpose
  • Thesis statement: Your reaction to the information compiled.
  1. Summary: Show the reader you know what you’re talking about by summarizing your findings. Use the structure mentioned in the section above for guidance.
  2. Critical Analysis (Interpretation and Evaluation): The part where you analyze and provide a critical evaluation. In this section you want to:
  • State the organization method of the source;
  • What style and rhetoric is used;
  • The effectiveness of the message;
  • How the topic was handled; i.e. did the writer have a bias or did they do a good job?
  • Did the article appeal to the audience?
  1. Conclusion: Treat this the same way as any other conclusion. You restate the thesis as well as final thoughts. Summarize reactions and outtakes from the analysis.


Literary Critique Techniques

There are several critiques that you can take when doing these analyzing pieces. Being aware of these techniques can allow your writing skills to grow and adapt and can give you an edge in persuading people. Here are the most commonly used techniques:


  • An Objective Analysis – This is an analysis based solely on the facts. You don’t want to involve emotions in them. This format isn’t meant to be confused for descriptive writing.
  • Traditional Critique – Based on people who already have experience in this topic.
  • New Critique – Critique style focuses on the text presented. You’re looking at areas of writing styles (i.e. ambiguity, irony) more closely.
  • Marxist Criticism – A type of criticism that has a profound effect on our understanding of literature. It’s an analogy through class conflicts and identification that draws to conclusions of political or social natures.
  • Metaphorical Critique – As the name suggests, you’re looking at metaphors and forming a deeper understanding of the author’s work.
  • New Historicism – Studying literature based on the historical value of it.
  • Psychological Critique – Also called Freudian critique. The idea is to draw out the author’s unconscious wishes and dreams and speak through them.
  • Sociological Criticism – Focuses around the literature that represents social functions. It also shows how the work fits into society as a whole.
  • Moral or Ethical Criticism – Looking at the work or literary piece and evaluating it on the morals that are gathered from it.


Depending on what it is you’re writing about, these various techniques can come in handy in presenting your writing to people.

Tips To Save You A Lot Of Time

Even though we perform critical analysis on a regular basis through social media posts, writing an essay means you need to go into more detail on the subject. This means it takes up a lot of your time. Here are some things that’ll help you move things along:

  • Explain everything. Don’t just assume that readers know everything. Describe technical terms and abbreviations fully.
  • Write your introduction and thesis later. It’s common practice to write these two sections at the very end. The summary will provide you with a proper presentation of the information. With that understanding, you’re able to better lead people and present your thesis by the end.
  • Have someone read over your work. Have a family friend, or colleague review your work. Second opinions are valid and can provide you new perspectives.
  • Have your own style. Writing styles are subjective as they’re a culmination of our speaking patterns but also of the various authors we read. If this is your first essay of this type, finding your style can be difficult. But give it some time and practice often. Once you know your own style, it’s easier to get into writing and what techniques work best for you.
  • Don’t be scared of issues. People show fear by withdrawing information or being vague or timid about explanations. Don’t do that as it annoys readers. Don’t be afraid to talk about issues, even if they’re uncomfortable.
  • Avoid rhetorical questions. Your arguments should only have the points you want to make based on your findings and factual statements.
  • Plan ahead. It’s very common for people to not have time to read through all the material. Plan ahead for what you want to learn over a day and stick with it.
  • Avoid long descriptions and statistics. Many people use statistics to prove points but these can be dangerous slopes in reality. Not everyone has a full grasp of the topic you’re presenting and long descriptions and offering data can confuse people.
  • Use examples more often. Examples are much better in conveying points to people. You can even present examples through visual aids which brighten the paper and save you time explaining everything.
  • Brainstorm your ideas early. The topics above are good starts but there are thousands more. Brainstorming can take hours since research, and topic development are involved. Start as early as you can so you have backup topics you can fall back onto.

Other Things To Note On Critical Analysis Writing

Below are some other things to be keeping in mind when writing these kinds of essays.

  • Spend a lot of time on your introduction. That is your hook to grab the reader’s attention. Every professional writer and speaker spends a lot of time carefully crafting their introduction.
  • Use topic sentences. Each part of the body should be divided by various topics you wish to discuss. Topic sentences are useful as they provide a brief summary that leads into the paragraphs that tie to your thesis.
  • Have evidence. Whenever you’re stating your opinion you want to back this up with evidence. Either refer back to the summarized articles or present new evidence whenever you’re making a statement.
  • The title of your analysis should be a “working” title. What this means is that the title should help you to focus on your own ideas. It’ll also help the reader have a clear view of what your analysis is all about. This is why when for critical analysis for literature, the titles are formatted as such: “On [name of literary piece], by
  • Avoid typical phrases. You know to avoid slangs and such, but the same goes for cliches and frequently used words in the industry. No one wants to be reading phrases that are annoying or overrated. These dilute your paper and doesn’t make it unique. Also avoiding those sentences forces you to develop your own style.
  • Aim to convince. This is an obvious one but with these types of writing it’s so easy for writers to get into the mind of presenting information about something and leaving it at that. Instead of doing that, present it and find a way to hook them in with it. Show them why it’s useful, valid, or has some worth to it.

Writing Your Own Critical Analysis

Despite the extensive research that goes into these types of essays, they can be really fun writing too. You get the opportunity to thoroughly analyze a topic that you’re passionate about and want to share with other people. In the end, the writing could also expand your horizons in understanding a topic more thoroughly and enjoying it more.

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