How to write a critique

How to write a critique

Getting Started

A critique is a response to creative work like drama, a novel, painting or poetry. However, you may also have a critique for research articles and media pieces such as features. A critique focuses on the effectiveness and usefulness of the work under scrutiny. A good critique benefits you as the writer and the author of the document. From an objective critique, an author gets helpful comments about their work. Since critiques are part of class assignments, mastering how to write a critique will help you complete homework with a lot of ease.

This handout will help you understand the following:

  • The structure of a critique
  • Steps to following when writing a critique

These guidelines should help you become a good writer. Feel free to share with your tutor and make necessary adjustments to suit your assignment. Let us hit the road…

The golden rules of how to write a critique that will earn you credit

Ideally, critique is feedback on someone’s work. While feedback helps you understand your audience better, not every feedback will be positive. As an artist, expect any kind of feedback.

The following are the main parts of a critique. Take your time to internalize them before we look at a stepwise approach of writing a critique.

Parts of a critique


This is the first paragraph of your critique. Introduce the document you are analyzing by stating the following bibliographical information:

The author– Give the full names of the author

The title – State the title of the document

Source – Where can one get a copy of the document?

Publication – When and where was the work published?

Thesis statement – It should appear towards the end of your critique. It gives you direction and allows your ideas to flow logically.


This section carries the flesh of your critique. As you figure out how to write a critique, save enough energy to help you beef up your paper. Three to five points are enough to offer evidence to your thesis statement. Use the insights you got after reading the book or article. You may discuss the following:

The author’s credentials or absence of qualifications – Reveal why the author is respectable on the issue he or she is addressing. Is it because of previous publications or academic qualifications?

Audience – Bring out the author’s target audience. Also, evaluate the appropriateness of the critique depending on the audience.

Evidence – Analyze the amount and type of support the author uses to justify his or her ideas in the publication.

Research – Look for outside sources, which the writer uses to back the ideas in the document.

Counterarguments – Talk about how the author addresses opposing views on his arguments. Does he lend an ear to proponents?

Your reaction to the ideas – Depending on the knowledge, which you already have, how do you relate with the main ideas of the author?


It is the last part of your critique. Give it your best shot because like in any written work, this paragraph will create a lasting impression in the mind of your readers. This could be negative or positive.

Your critique conclusion should have the following elements:

  • Summarize main points
  • Restate thesis statement
  • Evaluate author’s effectiveness to woo readers
  • Address the significance of the work

A mastery of these three parts should give you enough knowledge on how to write a critique. Read and reread the section and you will be ready to nail that assignment that has been pending on your to do list for days now.

Examine the following example to drive these points home:

Example #1 Critique Essay

The Aleppo Codex (Matti Friedman) is an example of a critique. Here are excerpts from the article:

The Aleppo Codex by Friedman, Matti was published in 2012 by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, N.C. The author gives an account of the journey of the Codex, bringing out intriguing and controversial historical revelations. ….

Matti uses his experience as a journalist to present the story and explain the missing parts of the manuscript. He lays his focus on the religious significance of the book to the Jewish people. Importantly, he explains how sacred pages of the Codex were plucked out…

He turns out to be a great storyteller, knitting together events and relating them to the religious history of the Jews…


The writer introduces the article by giving bibliographical information of the book he is critiquing. This orients the reader to ensure that they move together. From these extracts, it is possible to point out the author’s focus, with his main ideas surrounding the history of the Jewish people and the meaning of the famous Codex.

It is a good sample to study and gain more insights on how to write a critique. You may as well click here to read the entire essay.

Things to do before writing your critique

Writing a critique will turn out to be a simple task if you prepare thoroughly and focus on the task ahead. In this section, you will discover what to do in preparation for a critique. Here are the steps.

Step #1: Examine your assignment – Be sure that you know and understand what your tutor wants from you. The assignment may be asking you to do a critique, critical assessment, critical review, or critical evaluation. All these prompts mean the same thing. This will require you not only to do a mere summary of the document you are examining but also to conduct a thorough evaluation of the work you are analyzing.

Step #2: Start reading the text – Once you know what your assignment requires of you, go ahead and start reading. Read from the beginning to the end. Make notes of the first impression before rereading the text. This is necessary because your perspective about the document will shift when you read the text for the second time.

Step #3: Reread the text. GO over the text several times to gain a deeper understanding of the authors’ message. As you do this, remember to take short notes. These will become handy when conducting your analysis. By rereading the text, you further develop a worldview of the author’s structure and gain extra details.

Step #4: Do Research – the last step that will give you a grasp of how to write a critique is research. Though you might not need a lot of research, digging into the sources will help you realize how the work relates to a bigger issue. You will also need to know the context of the issues, which the author is addressing.

A suggested format for you to use when writing a critique

Here is a format we have found to work well. Make it your guide and you will no longer experience difficulties with your critique writing assignments.

Summarize and interpret. Here, you are not making any judgment on the book. You are simply telling the author’s ideas in your way. It shows your level of understanding.

Give context for the work. This will largely vary depending on the type of work you are analyzing. Orient your reader by giving a brief history of the issues the author is addressing without getting into details.

Say what you think is good. Start by giving positive observations about the piece. Positive feedback encourages the author to read on. Bring out the strengths of the author in communicating his message.

Make constructive criticism. Give respective criticism that will allow the author to make the adjustments. Do not attack the author’s talent. Limit yourself to the piece and remain specific to the point.

The following example should further give you more hints on how to write a critique. Take a look:

Critical Review of Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl


Frankl has the moral authority to write about prison experience as a former inmate. However, this makes him biased in his arguments. He admits this bias and utilizes it to win the reader. This is the weakness of his writing style….

Frankl also makes unsubstantiated claims in describing the life in the concentration camp.  For example, he says that prisoners did not fear death, which cannot be true.

Lastly, the author is sometimes technical and verbose, making it hard for average readers to understand his work.

Adapted from

The writer clearly analyzes the author’s weakness and strengths objectively, giving credit where he deserves.

Hope you have now mastered how to write a critique. Use this guide to make your assignments a walkover. Let us know how it goes…

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