How to Write an Analysis Response Essay

Analysis Response Essays Include:

1. Evaluating author's purpose and audience.

3. Analyzing effectiveness of writing for that purpose and audience.

4. Giving personal response.

What You Need to Do

You have two jobs in this sort of essay. Your first job is to think carefully about what the author is trying to say to the readers of the essay and deciding whether they write effectively to persuade that audience. Secondly, you need to explain how you personally react to the essay. Does this essay persuade you? Give you new ideas? Remind you of something you've seen, read or heard? Have you had a personal experience which gives you an insight into this subject?

Evaluating Purpose and Audience

In order to analyze the essay, you will need to consider the author's purpose in writing and the audience the author intended to reach. You may or may not be a part of that audience. In addition, you will need to consider any events or historical circumstances that prompted the author to write. Here are some questions to answer that can help you develop this part of your essay:

  1. Who was the author? What is their point of view on this subject? What about their personal life would make them take this point of view? You might want to research to find out more about the author's life.
  2. Why did the author write this? Before you can decide whether the author did a good job of writing the article, or what was effective or ineffective, you will need to decide what the author intended to so. To find out the purpose, think about these questions:
  3. When was the article written? What was happening in that moment of time that made the author decide to write? You might want to research the news, events or ideas in the article.
  4. Who was the audience for this article? Was the author writing to people who would tend to agree with them on the issue, trying to persuade a group that was neutral, or trying to argue with an audience who disagreed?
  5. Where was this published? What sort of a publication was this and who were the readers? What did the readers of this publication think about this subject? Were readers of the article the main group the author hoped to persuade?
  6. What is the takeaway for readers? What does the author want the readers to think, believe or do after reading this article?

What to Do About Summary

Often, you will need to include at least a brief summary of the ideas in the article you are discussing. If your audience is familiar with the text, then this can be a one or two sentence reminder:

Example: In Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, King sets forth his idea of a society free from racial discrimination and encourages his audience to not only envision but to work to create this new world.

If your article is not familiar to your readers, you may need to do a more extended summary, but be careful not to get into too many details because you want to make sure most of your paper is analysis and response. Just tell the main ideas. Generally, one paragraph is enough.

Want to include more? Don't forget that you can include more details from the original article as examples to prove your different points of analysis or reasons for your response.

Respond to Images

Hay on crowded road. How would you analyze this photo?
Hay on crowded road. How would you analyze this photo? | Source

Basic Features of Analysis

  1. Describes author's purpose in writing.
  2. Explains historical context and events which prompted the author to write.
  3. Analyzes intended audience and what they believe about this subject.
  4. Examines how this piece of writing fits into other writing about this subject.
  5. Describes the organization of the essay.
  6. Tells the claim and sub-claims.
  7. Explains the support.
  8. Analyzes the type, quantity, quality and relevance of the support.
  9. Explains how the author shows they are an authority.
  10. Explains how the author makes their writing interesting and effective for this audience.
  11. Tells what makes this essay effective or ineffective as an argument.

How to Summarize and Analyze

Writing Analysis

There are several ways to effectively analyze an article but every analysis must have two parts: description and evaluation.

I. Description: describe how the essay was written.

1. What kind of an essay is it? What sort of claim does it make? Types of essays: cause, problem solution, definition, evaluation, analysis, comparison and contrast, personal experience. Types of claims: fact, definition, cause, value, policy.

2. How is the essay organized?

Do a short outline and/or annotate as you read. Where is the main claim (thesis)? Where are the sub-claims (reasons to support the thesis)? Where is the support? What does the author do at opening and conclusion?

3. What kind of support does the author use? Types of support: Logical: sign, induction, cause, deduction, analogy, definition, statistics, pathos, authority, emotional, values. Don't forget visual proof and stories in the article which attempt to persuade you.

II. Evaluation: evaluate how effectively the essay is written

  1. Who is the audience? How well does the author appeal to this audience? How does the author establish common ground?
  2. Is the organization effective?
  3. Is support effective? Relevant? Enough? Logical?
  4. What is the purpose of the author in this essay? Is the argument obvious? Extremist? Hidden? Unconscious? Exploratory? Objective Reporting?
  5. Is this article a classic argument where the author wants to convince you of their point? Or is it more exploratory and consensual, attempting to look at several sides of an issue and letting the reader decide or leaving the decision tentative?
  6. What are the constraints on this issue? What current events, circumstances or attitudes affect the audience and author?

Analyze Author Attitude


Analysis Essay Sample

Sample essay form: You can turn your answers to the questions above into an essay. Here is a sample format:

In "Why I Hate Cats" author John Stephans explains....(summary of article). Because the article was published in XXXXXX, the intended audience is probably XXXXXX and they believe XXXXXXX. Stephans wants to convince them XXXXXXXXXX. This article is effective/inefffective because XXXXXXXX

The essay opens with XXXXX and makes the claim XXXX in paragraph XXX that XXXXX. The rest of essay is organized by XXXX (very brief description of the outline of essay perhaps telling where the description of problem is, where claims are and where support is located—which paragraphs).

The support includes XXXX The support is adequate/ inadequate and is relevant/ irrelevant to the author’s claim.

The author establishes his/her authority by XXXX. The author assumes an audience who XXXXX. He/She establishes common ground with the audience by XXXX.

This is an effective/ineffective argument because XXXXX.

How Do You Respond?


What is a Response?

A response answers the question, "What did you think?" It may include one or more of the following:

  1. Your personal reaction to the article's ideas.
  2. Your reaction to the author's writing.
  3. Your opinion about the topic.
  4. How your life experience makes you reflect on this topic in a similar or different way from the author.
  5. How the current events when you are reading the essay make you view the article ideas differently.
  6. How other things you've read, heard about or seen make you reflect on the article.

Part of your reaction will be based on your life experiences and values. In order to evaluate your reaction, you need to think about how your life has been the same or different from the authors. You may want to address those similarities or differences in your response. In addition, you can consider what about the way the author has written the piece makes you respond the way you did. Perhaps you agree with the author's claim, but find the writing dull and ineffective, the examples outdated, or the argument too predictable.

Questions to ask to help you develop your response:

  1. What is your personal reaction to the essay?
  2. What common ground do you have with the author?
  3. What was the original audience of the essay? How are they the same or different from you? Did the author argue effectively for the original audience?
  4. What in the essay is new to you?
  5. What does this essay make you think about?
  6. How do current events relate to this essay?
  7. What personal experiences does this essay remind you about?
  8. How do other things you've heard or read about relate to essay ideas?
  9. What do you like or dislike about the essay and/or the ideas in the essay?

Sample Response Format

Before reading this essay, my understanding of this topic was XXXXX. I have XXXX as common ground with the author. I am like the original audience because XXXXX and unlike them because of XXXX. My reaction to this essay is XXXXXX. What was new to me is XXXXX. This essay makes me think XXXX. I like/ dislike XXXXX in the essay.

Analysis Essay Poll

Which would you rather analyze and evaluate?

  • political article
  • a picture
  • a story
  • a movie
See results without voting

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Comments 2 comments

Shana 3 years ago

I had to read the story Attitude is everything and report what it is that the eassy means, as well as giving my evaulutaion of the ideas in the story.

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rockdresses 5 years ago from Turkey

very useful information!

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    VirginiaLynne1,250 Followers
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    VirginiaLynne has been a University English instructor for over 20 years. She specializes at helping people write essays faster and easier.

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