Evaluation essays are among the lesser-known essay types, and many people have little to no experience writing them. If you are writing an evaluation essay for the first time or without any guidance, you may be wondering what sorts of topics are best to write about or even where you should start.
Evaluation essays assert judgments on various subject matters, supported by thorough evidence. Essay topics can relate to almost anything, including:
- Technology, and more
Regardless of the category, essay topics should be focused and specific.
In addition to understanding the types of topics used in evaluation essays, you may also be wondering about how to structure evaluation essays, how to convince your audience effectively, and where these essays are commonly used. Read ahead for all you need to know to become an evaluation essay expert!
What is an Evaluation Essay?
To understand the types of topics to choose, you must first understand what an evaluation essay is exactly and why you write it.
Purpose of an Evaluation Essay
An evaluation essay’s main purpose is to present a reasoned, unbiased judgment on a particular subject.
While similar to a persuasive essay, an evaluation essay is designed to be a more balanced and objective exercise.
You should think of structuring evaluation essays just as you would structure a thorough, convincing argument.
Structure of an Evaluation Essay
All evaluation essays should follow the same basic structure:
- Subject overview
Wavering from this framework may not only weaken your argument, but it can also confuse your readers. Keep reading to learn how you can successfully employ each of these sections.
The first part of your evaluation essay is the overview, which gives the reader a primer on relevant information and criteria related to your subject matter. This section allows you, as the writer, to establish authority and to get buy-in from your readers by providing them with just enough background or context.
The second part of your evaluation essay, and arguably the most crucial part, is your thesis statement. This is a single-sentence statement that gives your reader a clear understanding of the stance you take and about your essay’s topic.
The thesis statement is like a roadmap for the whole essay. It provides both a starting point by taking a clear stance, and it lays out the main points that you will use to support this stance. Subsequent paragraphs and supporting evidence must always link to the thesis.
Now that you’ve established the main argument and key points, the third part of your evaluation essay is to back up your claims with evidence. After all, the whole goal here is to evaluate the subject matter at hand objectively, and the only way to do this is with a thorough evidence review.
You must remember that evidence should support your thesis and be presented in a way that acknowledges and addresses potential counterarguments. This allows you to remain unbiased and continue to gain rapport with your readers.
Some types of evidence you can incorporate in your essay include:
The fourth and final part of your evaluation essay is the conclusion. This brings your essay full-circle and summarizes the main points you’ve developed to support your stance. After the conclusion, your reader should be fully convinced and aligned with your evaluation.
Length of an Evaluation Essay
The length of an evaluation essay ultimately depends on the:
- Nature of the assignment
- Essay topic
- Depth of the content
Shorter evaluation essays might only be 1-2 pages, while longer papers might be 9-10 pages or more. It is important to understand length expectations before you dive into writing.
What Topics are Used in Evaluation Essays?
Evaluation essays can focus pretty much on any topic, assuming the choice is left to your discretion. The important thing to remember, however, is to make sure your topic is focused.
One of the biggest potential pitfalls when writing an evaluation essay is beginning with a topic that is too broad or all-encompassing. This can lead to an evaluation essay that lacks focus and one that opens up many opportunities for reasonable and legitimate counterarguments from the readers.
So focus your evaluation essay on one definite, specific topic. Below is a wide-ranging list of potential topics you could evaluate, depending on the overarching category. Remember that you are not at all limited to just these, but the examples should give you a picture of what a focused topic sounds like:
|Parenting and Relationships|
Your choice of topic will ultimately depend on the context in which you are writing. Certain topics may be more appropriate for particular assignments, audiences, or purposes as opposed to others. If relevant or possible, you may benefit from running your evaluation essay topic by a superior before you start.
How Do You Write an Effective Evaluation Essay?
From establishing a definitive thesis to gathering sound evidence, and everything in between, writing an effective evaluation essay can be challenging. But if you follow a few key rules, you’ll be sure to knock it out of the park!
Know Your Topic Inside and Out
To be effective, you need to do the research. Remember that you are the voice of authority in this type of essay, so you should be the expert before you even begin the writing process. Knowledge is power, after all!
As you research more about your topic, you will develop a better understanding of the body of relevant information out there. In turn, you will be able to develop a clear judgment, map out your key points, and predict what sorts of counterarguments may arise.
You can probably tell now why it is so important to have a focused topic. If you find yourself with endless amounts of seemingly relevant research, then you might want to take a step back and make sure your topic is focused enough.
Develop a Clear and Focused Thesis
As mentioned before, your thesis is perhaps the most crucial part of your evaluation essay. So it is more than worth your time to make sure you have a killer thesis!
Remember that the thesis should provide your stance on the topic as well as a roadmap to what main points you’ll be arguing in your essay.
Let’s say, for example, that you’ve chosen to evaluate a long-running TV show, Grey’s Anatomy, and you are assessing what has made it so popular. Here are two examples to illustrate what an effective thesis sounds like:
- Option 1 (Bad): Grey’s Anatomy is a popular medical television series by Shonda Rhimes.
- Option 2 (Good): Through in-depth character development, intriguing medical cases, and captivating relationship drama, Shonda Rhimes has created the master television series that is Grey’s Anatomy.
Both options cite Grey’s Anatomy and its popularity, so the choice of topic is sound. However, Option 2 is preferable because it clearly establishes your stance on the topic and lays out points about character development, medical cases, and relationship drama that you will subsequently evaluate.
Gather Cold, Hard Evidence
You must use reputable and relevant evidence to back up your judgment. The quality of the evidence you present to the readers will significantly impact how they judge the legitimacy of your stance.
Supporting-evidence based on reputable sources is a must. If you are making general statements with widely known or accepted information, then this is less relevant. But many times in your essay, you will be citing examples, facts, statistics, testimony, and more.
Here are some general best practices:
- Know people’s credentials: mostly relevant for anecdotes or examples, you should make sure that people have the qualifications to back up the information they provide to you
- Prioritize recent information: unless you are writing about a historical period, it is generally best to use data as recent as possible
- Read studies critically: if relevant, be sure to read about experimental methodologies, sample sizes, etc. to ensure the legitimacy of your findings
- Use reputable sites: .org, .edu, and .gov if possible
Regarding relevance, you will want to make sure that each and every piece of evidence directly relates back to your thesis. After all, there is no point in gathering reputable evidence if it is entirely irrelevant!
An effective evaluation essay necessitates that you demonstrate impartiality. This means that all of the evidence you present in support of your argument must also be balanced with evidence to address counterarguments.
At the end of the day, you are making an objective judgment based on the information you’ve gathered related to your topic. Not every one of your readers is going to agree with that judgment, so you need to be prepared for weaknesses or disparities in your judgment and address those vulnerabilities head-on.
Leave Your Readers with No Doubts
At the end of the day, if you follow all of the key rules described above, there should be no questions about your judgment.
An effective evaluation essay should provide a resounding case and irrefutable evidence that leaves readers completely convinced and onboard.
If this is not the case, you most likely have issues in one of the areas described above that necessitate review and revision.
Where are Evaluation Essays Used?
When you hear the word “essay,” you are likely to assume that this only applies to students in high school, undergraduate, or graduate studies. People who have heard of evaluation essays before are likely to have come across them in school-based settings.
Overall, evaluation essays are indeed used most often in these school-based settings. They are often assigned in everyday classes when professors want their students to take a stance on a subject and do a thorough, impartial review of the relevant information.
Outside the classroom, however, evaluation essays are also used in admissions and application settings. Depending on where you are applying, certain colleges or universities might ask you to write a short, supplemental evaluation of a specific topic (or one of your choosing).
But evaluation essays are not just used in the school or admissions/application settings. In fact, they are used in all different types of settings and professions that require thorough and rigorous evaluations.
Some common examples (aside from student assignments) include:
- Book and movie reviews – critical reviews of popular media can often use the evaluation essay structure by making a particular judgment on the overall quality of a book or movie and backing up these claims with thorough evidence
- Work process reviews – employers and employees can often use the evaluation essay structure to assess not only workplace performance but also to assess the efficiency of team output and overall satisfaction with workplace conditions
- Program assessments – a thorough review of particular programs like those in government or education can often employ the evaluation essay structure, with the majority leveraging hard data and statistics from studies related to the programs themselves
We make evaluations and decisions every day, so it makes sense that evaluation essays are used in all different places!
Well, there you have it – all you need to know about evaluation essay topics and more. The basic elements of an evaluation essay are quite simple; it is really just a matter of taking the time to choose the right topic and pushing ahead from there. So get out your pencils or open up your computers, and get started today!