How to Write a Critical Thinking Essay: Examples, Topics, & Outline (2023)

Critical thinking is the process of evaluating and analyzing information. People who use it in everyday life are open to different opinions. They rely on reason and logic when making conclusions about certain issues.

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A critical thinking essay shows how your thoughts change as you research your topic. This type of assignment encourages you to learn rather than prove what you already know. In this article, our custom writing team will:

  • explain how to write an excellent critical essay;

  • introduce 30 great essay topics;

  • provide a critical thinking essay example in MLA format.


  1. 🤔 Critical Thinking Essay Definition

  2. ✅ Step-by-Step Guide

  3. ✍️ Bonus Tips

  4. 🔍 References

🤔 What Is a Critical Thinking Essay?

A critical thinking essay is a paper that analyses an issue and reflects on it in order to develop an action plan. Unlike other essay types, it starts with a question instead of a thesis. It helps you develop a broader perspective on a specific issue. Critical writing aims at improving your analytical skills and encourages asking questions.

How to Write a Critical Thinking Essay: Examples, Topics, & Outline (1)

Critical Thinking in Writing: Importance

When we talk about critical thinking and writing, the word “critical” doesn’t have any negative connotation. It simply implies thorough investigation, evaluation, and analysis of information. Critical thinking allows students to make objective conclusions and present their ideas logically. It also helps them avoid errors in reasoning.

The Basics: 8 Steps of Critical Thinking Psychology

Did you know that the critical thinking process consists of 8 steps? We’ve listed them below. You can try to implement them in your everyday life:

Reflection Identify the issue and describe it.
Analysis Decide what you want to do about the problem.
Gathering of information Find sources, analyze them, and draw necessary conclusions.
Creativity Come up with creative arguments using the information you’ve gathered and your imagination.
Structuring arguments Arrange your ideas in a logical order.
Decision making Evaluate your options and alternatives and choose the one you prefer.
Commitment Think of how you can express your ideas to others.
Debate Defend your point of view.

It’s possible that fallacies will occur during the process of critical thinking. Fallacies are errors in reasoning that fail to provide a reasonable conclusion. Here are some common types of fallacies:

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  1. Generalization. It happens when you apply generally factual statements to a specific case.

  2. Ambiguity. It occurs when the arguments are not clear and are not supported by evidence.

  3. Appeal to authority. This mistake happens when you claim the statement is valid only because a respected person made it.

  4. Appeal to emotion. It occurs when you use highly emotive language to convince the audience. Try to stay sensible and rely on the evidence.

  5. Bifurcation. This mistake occurs when you choose only between two alternatives when more than two exist.

  6. False analogy. It happens when the examples are poorly connected.

If you want to avoid these mistakes, do the following:

  • try not to draw conclusions too quickly,

  • be attentive,

  • carefully read through all the sources,

  • avoid generalizations.

How to Demonstrate Your Critical Thinking in Writing

Critical thinking encourages you to go beyond what you know and study new perspectives. When it comes to demonstrating your critical thinking skills in writing, you can try these strategies:

  1. Read. Before you start writing an essay, read everything you can find on the subject you are about to cover. Focus on the critical points of your assignment.

  2. Research. Look up several scholarly sources and study the information in-depth.

    (Video) How to write the Critical Thinking Essay for ENG 106/106L

  3. Evaluate. Analyze the sources and the information you’ve gathered. See whether you can disagree with the authors.

  4. Prove. Explain why you agree or disagree with the authors’ conclusions. Back it up with evidence.

According to Purdue University, logical essay writing is essential when you deal with academic essays. It helps you demonstrate and prove the arguments. Make sure that your paper reaches a logical conclusion.

There are several main concepts related to logic:

✔️ Premise A statement that is used as evidence in an argument.
✔️ Conclusion A claim that follows logically from the premises.
✔️ Syllogism A conclusion that follows from two other premises.
✔️ Argument A statement based on logical premises.

If you want your essay to be logical, it’s better to avoid syllogistic fallacies, which happen with certain invalid deductions. If syllogisms are used carelessly, they can lead to false statements and ruin the credibility of your paper.

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💡 Critical Thinking Topics & Questions

An excellent critical thinking essay starts with a question. But how do you formulate it properly? Keep reading to find out.

How to Write Critical Thinking Questions: Examples with Answers

Asking the right questions is at the core of critical thinking. They challenge our beliefs and encourage our interest to learn more.

Here are some examples of model questions that prompt critical thinking:

  1. What does… mean?

  2. What would happen if…?

  3. What are the principles of…?

  4. Why is… important?

  5. How does… affect…?

  6. What do you think causes…?

  7. How are… and… similar/different?

  8. How do you explain….?

  9. What are the implications of…?

  10. What do we already know about…?

Now, let’s look at some critical thinking questions with the answers. You can use these as a model for your own questions:


Question: What would happen if people with higher income paid more taxes?

  • Answer: It would help society to prosper and function better. It would also help people out of poverty. This way, everyone can contribute to the economy.


Question: How doeseatinghealthy benefit you?

  • Answer:Healthy eatingaffects people’s lives in many positive ways. It reduces cancer risk, improves your mood and memory, helps with weight loss and diabetes management,and improvesyour night sleep.

Critical Thinking Essay Topics

Have you already decided what your essay will be about? If not, feel free to use these essay topic examples as titles for your paper or as inspiration. Make sure to choose a theme that interests you personally:

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  1. What are the reasons for racism in healthcare?

  2. Why is accepting your appearance important?

  3. Nature and spirit in Ralf Waldo Emerson’s poetry.

  4. How does technological development affect communication in the modern world?

  5. Is the representation of children in popular fiction accurate?

  6. Domestic violence and its consequences.

  7. Why is mutual aid important in society?

  8. How do stereotypes affect the way people think?

    (Video) Critical Essay Writing with Examples | Talent and Skills HuB

  9. The concept of happiness in different cultures.

  10. The purpose of environmental art.

  11. Why do people have the need to fit in?

  12. How did antibiotics change medicine and its development?

  13. Is there a way to combat inequality in sports?

  14. Is gun control an effective way of crime prevention?

  15. How our understanding of love changes through time.

  16. The use of social media by the older generation.

  17. Graffiti as a form of modern art.

  18. Why are reality TV shows so popular?

  19. Why should we eat healthily?

  20. How effective and fair is the US judicial system?

  21. How can police brutality be stopped?

  22. Freedom of speech: does it exist?

  23. What makes a good movie?

  24. Analysis of your favorite book.

  25. The connection between fashion and identity.

  26. Taboo topics and how they are discussed in gothic literature.

  27. Does our lifestyle affect our mental health?

  28. The role of self-esteem in preventing eating disorders in children.

  29. Drug abuse among teenagers.

Haven’t found a suitable essay idea? Try using our topic generator!

✅ How to Write a Critical Thinking Essay Step by Step

Now, let’s focus on planning and writing your critical thinking essay. In this section, you will find an essay outline, examples of thesis statements, and a brief overview of each essay part.

Critical Thinking Essay Outline

In a critical thinking essay, there are two main things to consider: a premise and a conclusion:

  • A premise is a statement in the argument that explains the reason or supports a conclusion.

  • A conclusion indicates what the argument is trying to prove. Each argument can have only one conclusion.

When it comes to structuring, a critical thinking essay is very similar to any other type of essay. Before you start writing it, make sure you know what to include in it. An outline is very helpful when it comes to structuring a paper.

How to Write a Critical Thinking Essay: Examples, Topics, & Outline (2)

How to Start a Critical Essay Introduction

An introduction gives readers a general idea of an essay’s contents. When you work on the introduction, imagine that you are drawing a map for the reader. It not only marks the final destination but also explains the route.

An introduction usually has 4 functions:

  • It catches the reader’s attention;

  • It states the essay’s main argument;

  • It provides some general information about the topic;

  • It shows the importance of the issue in question.

Here are some strategies that can make the introduction writing easier:

  1. Give an overview of the essay’s topic.

  2. Express the main idea.

  3. Define the main terms.

  4. Outline the issues that you are going to explore or argue about.

    (Video) Critical thinking: how to prepare for essays

  5. Explain the methodology and why you used it.

  6. Write a hook to attract the reader’s attention.

Critical Analysis Thesis Statement & Examples

A thesis statement is an integral part of every essay. It keeps the paper organized and guides both the reader and the writer. A good thesis:

  • expresses the conclusion or position on a topic;

  • justifies your position or opinion with reasoning;

  • conveys one idea;

  • serves as the essay’s map.

To have a clearer understanding of what a good thesis is, let’s have a look at these examples.


Bad thesis statement example Good thesis statement example
Exercising is good for your health. All office workers should add exercising to their daily routine because it helps to maintain a healthy lifestyle and reduce stress levels.

The statement on the left is too general and doesn’t provide any reasoning. The one on the right narrows down the group of people to office workers and specifies the benefits of exercising.

Critical Thinking Essay Body Paragraphs: How to Write

Body paragraphs are the part of the essay where you discuss all the ideas and arguments. In a critical thinking essay, arguments are especially important. When you develop them, make sure that they:

  • reflect the key theme;

  • are supported by the sources/citations/examples.

Using counter-arguments is also effective. It shows that you acknowledge different points of view and are not easily persuaded.

In addition to your arguments, it’s essential to present the evidence. Demonstrate your critical thinking skills by analyzing each source and stating whether the author’s position is valid.

To make your essay logically flow, you may use transitions such as:

  • Currently,

  • Meanwhile,

  • In fact,

  • Accordingly,

  • For instance,

  • Finally,

  • Thus,

  • On the contrary,

  • In conclusion,

  • Not only… but also,

  • Undoubtedly.

How to Write a Critical Thinking Conclusion

In a critical thinking essay, the notion of “conclusion” is tightly connected to the one used in logic. A logical conclusion is a statement that specifies the author’s point of view or what the essay argues about. Each argument can have only one logical conclusion.

Sometimes they can be confused with premises. Remember that premises serve as a support for the conclusion. Unlike the conclusion, there can be several premises in a single argument. You can learn more about these concepts from the article on a logical consequence by Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Keeping this in mind, have a look at these tips for finishing your essay:

  • Briefly sum up the main points.

  • Provide a final thought on the issue.

  • Suggest some results or consequences.

  • Finish up with a call for action.

📑 Critical Thinking Essays Examples & Formatting Tips

Formatting is another crucial aspect of every formal paper. MLA and APA are two popular formats when it comes to academic writing. They share some similarities but overall are still two different styles. Here are critical essay format guidelines that you can use as a reference:

APA formatMLA format
Title page
  • essay’s title in boldface centered in the upper part of the page;

  • your name;

  • the institutional affiliation;

  • the name and the number of the course;

  • the instructor’s name;

  • the date of the submission.

  • the heading at the top of the first page;

  • your full name;

  • your instructor’s name;

  • the name of course;

  • the assignment’s due date.

  • create a new page;

  • place the word Abstract at the top of the page;

  • write the abstract is a single paragraph (around 250 words).

  • no abbreviations;

  • use italics instead of quotation marks when referencing a long work.

  • write the abstract is a single paragraph (around 250 words).

  • double-spaced with 1-inch margins;

  • page header with page numbers on the flush right;

  • 10-12-point font.

  • make the paper double-spaced with 1-inch margins;

  • create a page header with page numbers flush right;

  • use an 11-12-point font.

In-text citations
  • when summarizing or paraphrasing, write the author’s name and the date of publication in brackets;

  • when quoting directly, add the number of the page;

  • if there are three or more authors, add “et al.” after the first author’s name.

  • write the author’s name in the sentence;

  • write the author’s name in the parentheses at the end of the sentence;

  • use footnotes and endnotes.

  • the word References in the center of a new page in bold;

  • the author’s name (in an inverted format);

  • publication year in brackets after the author’s name;

  • longer titles are italicized;

  • sources listed in alphabetical order.

  • the words Works Cited on a separate page;

  • the author’s name in an inverted format;

  • the name of the book in italics;

  • the date of publishing.

Finally, you’re welcome to check out a full critical essay sample in MLA format. Download the PDF file below:


(Video) Proven Tips for Writing a Critical Analysis Essay [Structure, Writing Steps, Example] | English

Currently, the importance of critical thinking has grown rapidly because technological progress has led to expanded access to various content-making platforms: websites, online news agencies, and podcasts with, often, low-quality information. Fake news is used to achieve political and financial aims, targeting people with low news literacy. However, individuals can stop spreading fallacies by detecting false agendas with the help of a skeptical attitude.

The Importance of Critical Thinking in the Age of Mass Media

Download the free sample

✍️ Bonus Tips: Critical Thinking and Writing Exercises

Critical thinking is a process different from our regular thinking. When we think in everyday life, we do it automatically. However, when we’re thinking critically, we do it deliberately.

So how do we get better at this type of thinking and make it a habit? These useful tips will help you do it:

  1. Ask basic questions. Sometimes, while we are doing research, the explanation becomes too complicated. To avoid it, always go back to your topic.

  2. Question basic assumptions. When thinking through a problem, ask yourself whether your beliefs can be wrong. Keep an open mind while researching your question.

  3. Think for yourself. Avoid getting carried away in the research and buying into other people’s opinions.

  4. Reverse things. Sometimes it seems obvious that one thing causes another, but what if it’s the other way around?

  5. Evaluate existing evidence. If you work with sources, it’s crucial to evaluate and question them.

Another way to improve your reasoning skills is to do critical thinking exercises. Here are some of them:

Brainstorming Free-writing Choose a topic and write on it for 7-10 minutes straight. Don’t concern yourself with grammar.
Clustering Choose a keyword and write down the words that you associate with it. Keep doing that for 5-10 minutes.
Listing List down all the ideas that are concerning the subject you are about to explore.
Metaphor writing Write a metaphor or simile and explain why it works or what it means to you.
Journalistic questions Write questions such as “Who?” “When?” “Why?” “How?” Answer these questions in relation to your topic.
Organizing Drawing diagrams Jot down your main ideas and see if you can make a chart or form a shape depicting their relationship. 
Rewriting an idea Try briefly outlining the central idea over the course of several days and see how your thoughts change.
Solution writing Look at your idea through a problem-solving lens. Briefly describe the problem and then make a list of solutions.
Drafting Full draft writing Write a draft of a whole paper to see how you express ideas on paper.
Outlining Outline your essay to structure the ideas you have.
Writing with a timer Set a timer and write a draft within a set amount of time.
Revising Analyzing sentences Analyze your draft at the sentence level and see if your paper makes sense.
Underlying the main point Highlight the main point of your paper. Make sure it’s expressed clearly.
Outlining the draft Summarize every paragraph of your essay in one sentence.

Thanks for reading through our article! We hope that you found it helpful and learned some new information. If you liked it, feel free to share it with your friends.

Further reading:

  • How to Write an Analysis Essay: Examples + Writing Guide

  • How to Write a Critique Paper: Tips + Critique Essay Examples

  • How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay Step by Step

🔍 References

  1. Thesis Statements: Arizona State University

    (Video) Simple Step by Step Approach to Write a Critical Analysis Essay


How do you write a critical essay outline? ›

How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay
  1. Read Thoroughly and Carefully. ...
  2. Choose a Thesis Statement. ...
  3. Write an Introductory Paragraph. ...
  4. Carefully Organize the Body of Your Essay. ...
  5. Craft Clear Topic Sentences. ...
  6. Populate Your Essay With Evidence. ...
  7. Summarize Your Analysis in a Concluding Paragraph. ...
  8. Revise as Necessary.
Jun 7, 2021

What is an example of critical thinking topic? ›

Examples of Critical Thinking

A triage nurse analyzes the cases at hand and decides the order by which the patients should be treated. A plumber evaluates the materials that would best suit a particular job. An attorney reviews evidence and devises a strategy to win a case or to decide whether to settle out of court.

How do you start a critical essay paragraph? ›

Topic Sentence Begin each paragraph with the main idea/ topic sentence. This tells the reader what the paragraph will be about. Expand Make sure your reader understands the main idea by explaining or giving a definition of any abstract or problematic terms.

What should a critical essay look like? ›

Link: Use concluding Sentence (Para 1) or extra intro sentence (Para 2) Relate the essay back to the essay question. Restate the thesis point. Restate most important evidence supporting the position taken. Finish strongly with an original and striking statement.

How many paragraphs is a critical essay? ›

Most critical analyses have a concise introduction, two to four body paragraphs and a conclusion.

What is an example of critical thinking by a student? ›

For example, students might apply critical thinking in their science lesson to work out the best way to approach their group project. They make decisions such as who will complete each task, in what time frame. They solve problems like how and where they will meet outside of school hours to work together.

What is a real life example of critical thinking? ›

It's easy to find examples of critical thinking skills being applied, everyday, in everyday life. Here are fifteen positive examples of critical thinking: A person trying to interpret an angry friend's needs, expressed through a rush of emotion and snide comments, to give that friend some help and support.

How do I start my critical thinking? ›

Six key steps to developing your critical thinking skills and mindset
  1. Clarify your thinking purpose and context. ...
  2. Question your sources. ...
  3. Identify arguments. ...
  4. Analyse sources and arguments. ...
  5. Evaluate the arguments of others. ...
  6. Create your own arguments.

What is critical thinking short paragraph? ›

Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.

What is the introduction of critical thinking? ›

Critical Thinking involves striving for understanding; to have an inquisitive yet open-minded and flexible approach to exploring ideas. It also requires the ability to evaluate information and draw clear conclusions based on the evidence to hand.

What is a topic sentence in a critical essay? ›

A topic sentence states the main point of a paragraph: it serves as a mini-thesis for the paragraph. You might think of it as a signpost for your readers—or a headline—something that alerts them to the most important, interpretive points in your essay.

What is a critical essay outline? ›

Follow the basic structure of a critical essay: write an introduction stating your thesis, a few body paragraphs analyzing your strengths and weaknesses as a writer, and a conclusion that restates your thesis and sums up what you've learned about yourself.

How many words should an introduction be for a critical essay? ›

Views:66828 Answer. The introduction and conclusion should both be approximately 10% of the overall essay word count. For example, if you write a 1500 word essay, your introduction and conclusion will be around 150 words each.

What words should you not use in a critical essay? ›

20+ Words to Avoid Writing in Your Essay
  • 1) Contractions. ...
  • 2) Idioms. ...
  • 3-5) “So on,” “etc,” “and so forth“ ...
  • 6) Clichés. ...
  • 7-11) “Thing,” “stuff,” “good,” “bad,” “big“ ...
  • 12) Slang, jargon, teen speak. ...
  • 13) Rhetorical questions. ...
  • 14-17) “In terms of,” “needless to say,” “in conclusion,” “it goes without saying“
Mar 13, 2018

Should a critical essay have a title? ›

The title should name the author and/or the title of the text under consideration in the essay, and provide a sense of the essay's focus. It is a good idea to give your essay a “working title” to remind you of your focus (thesis) while drafting the paper.

How does an essay start? ›

Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order: An opening hook to catch the reader's attention. Relevant background information that the reader needs to know. A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.

How to write an introduction? ›

Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:
  1. An opening hook to catch the reader's attention.
  2. Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
  3. A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.
Feb 4, 2019

How many quotes should a critical essay have? ›

If you're aiming to write three paragraphs per essay then that means you will want to include three quotations, one per paragraph. I would therefore suggest learning 5-6 quotes so that you can tailor your quotes and essay structure to the specific question.

What are the 3 C's of critical thinking? ›

Teaching the 3 Cs: Creativity, Curiosity, and Courtesy.

What are the 7 key features of critical thinking? ›

Critical thinking involves asking questions, defining a problem, examining evidence, analyzing assumptions and biases, avoiding emotional reasoning, avoiding oversimplification, considering other interpretations, and tolerating ambiguity.

What are the 3 types of thinking? ›

3 Modes Of Thinking: Lateral, Divergent & Convergent Thought.

What is critical thinking in a sentence? ›

Critical thinking is important for all group members in order to come up with the best possible solution to the decision.

What is an example of critical? ›

Example Sentences

The program presents a critical analysis of the government's strategies. She has a talent for critical thinking. We need to look at these proposed changes with a critical eye before we accept them.

What is not an example of critical thinking? ›

Monitoring an exam is not an example of critical thinking abilities. Was this answer helpful?

How do you write a critical thinking thesis statement? ›

Thesis statements bring unity to a piece of writing, giving it a focus and a purpose. You can use three questions to help form a thesis statement: What is my topic? What am I trying to say about that topic? Why is this important to me or my reader? for a critical analysis essay and how to create a corresponding outline.

What words describe critical thinking? ›

Synonyms for critical thinking include brainstorming, conceptualising, conceptualizing, deliberating, inventing, problem solving, reasoning, thinking, abstract thought and consideration.

What is the final step in critical writing? ›


Presenting ideas orally or in writing is crucial and is often the distinguishing feature between good results and average ones.

What are 3 examples of a topic sentence? ›

Topic Sentence: Cooking requires a number of different skills. The topic is "cooking" and the controlling idea is "many different skills." Topic Sentence: It is important to be ready before buying a house. The topic is "buying a house" and the controlling idea is “it is important to be ready."

What are some good topic sentence starters? ›

Topic sentence starters for essays
  • This paper discusses . . .
  • In this paper . . .
  • Here, we discuss . . .
  • Below, you will find . . .
Jun 2, 2022

What is a topic sentence outline? ›

The two main types of outlines are the topic outline and the sentence outline. In the topic outline, the headings are given in single words or brief phrases. In the sentence outline, all the headings are expressed in complete sentences.

How long should a paragraph be in a critical essay? ›

At no point should any paragraph consist of only one sentence. Another guideline suggests that a paragraph should be between 100 and 200 words long.

What are the 3 steps in writing a critical paper? ›

To critique a piece of writing is to do the following:
  • describe: give the reader a sense of the writer's overall purpose and intent.
  • analyze: examine how the structure and language of the text convey its meaning.
  • interpret: state the significance or importance of each part of the text.

How many pages is a critical essay? ›

A critical review is generally one to four pages in length and has a structure similar to the one given here. Starts with opening sentences that state the writer, the title and give a brief explanation of the topic of the text. The aim of the text and a summary of the main findings or key argument are presented.

What are the 3 sentences for your introduction? ›

There are three parts to an introduction: the opening statement, the supporting sentences, and the introductory topic sentence.

How do you start an introduction sentence? ›

Think of your first sentence as a hook that draws your reader in. As you have researched your topic, you have probably discovered many interesting anecdotes, quotes, or trivial facts; these make great hooks to use for an engaging introduction.

How to structure an essay? ›

The 'Rule of Three' structure It is important that your essay has a clear introduction, main body and conclusion. Put simply, you should: The actual number of paragraphs in the main body of the text depends on the topic, the discipline, and the number of words you have to write.

Why is an outline a critical step in writing an essay? ›

Outlining is a vital part of the essay planning process. It allows the writer to understand how he or she will connect all the information to support the thesis statement and the claims of the paper. It also provides the writer with a space to manipulate ideas easily without needing to write complete paragraphs.

What are the components of a critical essay? ›

Parts of a Critique Essay

Introduction. Summary. Critique. Conclusion.

What are the 4 parts of a critical analysis? ›

A critical analysis has four main parts.
  • Introduction.
  • Summary.
  • Analysis.
  • Conclusion.
Oct 15, 2021

What is outline and example? ›

An outline presents a picture of the main ideas and the subsidiary ideas of a subject. Some typical uses of outlining might be an essay, a term paper, a book review, or a speech. For any of these, an outline will show a basic overview and important details.

How do you write a topic outline? ›

How do I write an outline?
  1. Identify your topic or thesis statement.
  2. Decide what points you would like to discuss during your paper.
  3. Put your points in logical, numerical order so that each point connects back to your main point.
  4. Write possible transitions between paragraphs.

What is an outline in writing example? ›

An outline is a general plan of the material that is to be presented in a speech or a paper. The outline shows the order of the various topics, the relative importance of each, and the relationship between the various parts. There are many ways to arrange the different parts of a subject.

How do you write critical writing? ›

How to write critically
  1. analysing information to understand a problem or topic from more than one perspective;
  2. making logical connections between ideas;
  3. offering your own perspective on the topic based on your evaluation of the available evidence.

What makes a good critical analysis? ›

A critical analysis paper asks the writer to make an argument about a particular book, essay, movie, etc. The goal is two fold: one, identify and explain the argument that the author is making, and two, provide your own argument about that argument.


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