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How to Write a Response Paper: Outline, Steps & Examples

response paper

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Response essays are a frequent assignment in many academic courses. Professors often ask students to share their thoughts and feelings about a variety of materials, such as books, articles, films, songs, or poems. To write an effective response paper, you should follow a specific structure to ensure that your ideas are well-organized and presented in a logical manner.

In this blog post, we will explore how to write a good outline and how it is used to develop a quality reaction essay. You will also come across a response paper example to help you better understand steps involved in writing a response essay.  Continue reading to explore writing tips from professional paper writers that you can use to improve your skills.

What Is a Response Paper?

It is vital to understand the meaning of a response essay before you start writing. Often, learners confuse this type of academic work with reviews of books, articles, events, or movies, which is not correct, although they seem similar.  A response paper gives you a platform to express your point of view, feelings, and understanding of a given subject or idea through writing. Unlike other review works, you are also required to give your idea, vision, and values contained in literal materials. In other words, while a response paper is written in a subjective way, a review paper is written in a more objective manner.  A good reaction paper links the idea in discussion with your personal opinion or experience. Response essays are written to express your deep reflections on materials, what you have understood, and how the author's work has impacted you.

Response Paper Definition

Purpose of a Response Essay

Understanding reasons for writing a reaction paper will help you prepare better work. The purpose of a response essay will be:

  • To summarize author's primary ideas and opinions: you need to give a summary of materials and messages the author wants you to understand.
  • Providing a reflection on the subject: as a writer, you also need to express how you relate to authors' ideas and positions.
  • To express how the subject affects your personal life: when writing a response paper, you are also required to provide your personal outcome and lesson learned from interacting with the material.

Response Essay Outline

You should adhere to a specific response paper outline when working on an essay. Following a recommended format ensures that you have a smooth flow of ideas. A good response paper template will make it easier for a reader to separate your point of view from author's opinion. The essay is often divided into these sections: introduction, body, and conclusion paragraphs.  Below is an example of a response essay outline template:

  • Briefly introduce the topic of the response paper
  • State your thesis statement or main argument
  • Provide a brief summary of the source material you are responding to
  • Include key details or arguments from the source
  • Analyze the source material and identify strengths and weaknesses
  • Evaluate the author's arguments and evidence
  • Provide your own perspective on the source material
  • Respond to the source material and critique its arguments
  • Offer your own ideas and counterarguments
  • Support your response with evidence and examples
  • Summarize your main points and restate your thesis
  • Provide final thoughts on the source material and its implications
  • Offer suggestions for further research or inquiry

Example of an outline for a response paper on the movie

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Response Paper Introduction

The success of response papers is partly dependent on how well you write the introductory paragraph. As with any academic paper, the introduction paragraph welcomes targeted readers and states the primary idea.  Below is a guideline on how to start a response essay:

  • Provide a compelling hook to capture the attention of your target audience.
  • Provide background information about the material, including the name and author of the work.
  • Provide a brief summary of main points to bring readers who are unfamiliar with the work up to task and enable them to follow up on your subsequent analysis.
  • Write a thesis statement at the end of your introductory paragraph to inform readers about the purpose and argument you are trying to relay.

Response Essay Thesis Statement

A thesis statement summarizes a paper's content within a sentence or two. A response essay thesis statement is not any different! The final sentence of the introductory paragraph of a reaction paper should give readers an idea of the message that will be discussed in your paper.  Do you know how to write a thesis statement for a response essay? If you follow the steps below, you should be able to write one:

  • Review the material you are responding to, and pinpoint main points expressed by authors.
  • Determine points of view or opinions you are going to discuss in the essay.
  • Develop your thesis statement. It should express a summary of what will be covered in your reaction. The sentence should also consider logical flow of ideas in your writing.
  • Thesis statement should be easy to spot. You should preferably place it at the end of your introductory paragraph.

Response Paper Body Paragraph

In most instances, the body section has between 1 and 3 paragraphs or more. You should first provide a summary of the article, book, or any other literature work you are responding to.  To write a response essay body paragraph that will capture the attention of readers, you must begin by providing key ideas presented in the story from the authors' point of view. In the subsequent paragraph, you should tell your audience whether you agree or disagree with these ideas as presented in the text. In the final section, you should provide an in-depth explanation of your stand and discuss various impacts of the material.

Response Paper Conclusion

In this section of a response paper, you should provide a summary of your ideas. You may provide key takeaways from your thoughts and pinpoint meaningful parts of the response. Like any other academic work, you wind up your response essay writing by giving a summary of what was discussed throughout the paper.  You should avoid introducing new evidence, ideas, or repeat contents that are included in body paragraphs in the conclusion section. After stating your final points, lessons learned, and how the work inspires you, you can wrap it up with your thesis statement.

How to Write a Response Paper?

In this section, we will provide you with tips on how to write a good response paper. To prepare a powerful reaction essay, you need to consider a two-step approach. First, you must read and analyze original sources properly. Subsequently, you also need to organize and plan the essay writing part effectively to be able to produce good reaction work. Various steps are outlined and discussed below to help you better understand how to write a response essay.

How to Write a Response Paper in 7 Steps?

1. Pick a Topic for Your Response Essay

Picking a topic for response essay topics can be affected either by the scope of your assignment as provided by your college professor or by your preference. Irrespective of your reason, the guideline below should help you brainstorm topic ideas for your reaction:

  • Start from your paper's end goal: consider what outcomes you wish to attain from writing your reaction.
  • Prepare a list of all potential ideas that can help you attain your preferred result.
  • Sort out topics that interest you from your list.
  • Critique your final list and settle on a topic that will be comfortable to work on.

Below are some examples of good topics for response essay to get you started:

  • Analyzing ideas in an article about effects of body shaming on mental health .
  • Reaction paper on new theories in today's business environment.
  • Movies I can watch again and again.
  • A response essay on a documentary.
  • Did the 9/11 terror attacks contribute to issues of religious intolerance?

2. Plan Your Thoughts and Reactions

To better plan your thoughts and reactions, you need to read the original material thoroughly to understand messages contained therein. You must understand author's line of thinking, beliefs, and values to be able to react to their content. Next, note down ideas and aspects that are important and draw any strong reactions.  Think through these ideas and record potential sequences they will take in your response paper. You should also support your opinions and reactions with quotes and texts from credible sources. This will help you write a response essay for the college level that will stand out.

3. Write a Detailed Response Paper Outline

Preparing a detailed response paper outline will exponentially improve the outcome of your writing. An essay outline will act as a benchmark that will guide you when working on each section of the paper. Sorting your ideas into sections will not only help you attain a better flow of communication in your responsive essay but also simplify your writing process.  You are encouraged to adopt the standard response essay outline provided in the sample above. By splitting your paper into introduction, body, and conclusion paragraphs, you will be able to effectively introduce your readers to ideas that will be discussed and separate your thoughts from authors' messages.

4. Write a Material Summary

For your audience to understand your reaction to certain materials, you should at first provide a brief summary of authors' points of view. This short overview should include author's name and work title.  When writing a response essay, you should dedicate a section to give an informative summary that clearly details primary points and vital supporting arguments. You must thoroughly understand the literature to be able to complete this section.  For important ideas, you can add direct quotes from the original sources in question. Writers may sometimes make a mistake of summarizing general ideas by providing detailed information about every single aspect of the material. Instead of addressing all ideas in detail, focus on key aspects.  Although you rely on your personal opinion and experience to write a response paper, you must remain objective and factual in this section. Your subjective opinion will take center stage in the personal reaction part of the essay.

Example of a Response Summary

Below is a sample summary response essays example to help you better understand how to write one. A Summary of The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

The classic film The Adventure of Robin Hood (1938), as directed by Michael Curtis and William Keighley, stars an infamous outlaw, Robin Hood, who "robbed from the rich and gave to the poor''. The charismatic and charming Saxon lord, Robin Hood (Flynn), becomes an outlaw and seeks justice for poor people by fighting Sir Guy of Gisborne (Rathbone), Sheriff of Nottingham (Copper), and Prince John (Rains), who were oppressing people. After assembling an outlaw group, Robin defies the excessive taxes imposed on poor people by stealing from wealthy individuals and redistributing wealth to the destitute in society. Robin Hood is eventually lured into an archery tournament and gets arrested, but survives an execution. He later helps King Richard to regain his lost throne and banish Prince John.

5. Share Your Reaction

After summarizing the original material, the second part of a response paper involves writing your opinion about author’s point of view. After a thorough review of the material, you should be able to express your perspective on the subject.  In this section, you are expected to detail how the material made you feel and how it relates to your personal life, experience, and values. Within the short response essay, you may also be required to state whether you agree or disagree with author's line of thinking. How does the material relate to current issues, or in what way does it impact your understanding of a given subject? Does it change your opinion on the subject in any way? Your reaction should answer these questions.  In addition, you may also be required to outline potential advantages and shortcomings of the material in your reaction. Finally, you should also indicate whether or not you would endorse the literal work to others.

Reaction in Response Body Paragraph Example

Below is a reaction in a response essay body paragraph sample to help you improve your skills in writing the response body paragraph: Reaction Paragraph Example

My main takeaway from watching The Adventure of Robin Hood (1938) is that society should prioritize good and justice over laws if the set rules oppress people. Prince John, Sir Guy, and Sheriff Cooper were cruel and petty and used existing laws to oppress and exploit poor people. In response, Robin Hood employed unorthodox means and tried to help oppressed people in society. I agree with his way of thinking. Laws are made to protect people in society and ensure justice is served. Therefore, when legislation fails to serve its purpose, it becomes redundant. Even in current society, we have seen democratic governments funding coups when presidents start oppressing their people. Such coups are supported despite the fact that presidency is protected by law. Although Robin Hood's actions might encourage unlawfulness if taken out of context, I would still recommend this film because its main message is advocating for justice in the community.

6. Conclude Your Response Essay

Do you know how to write a response paper conclusion? It should be the icing on the cake. Irrespective of how good previous sections were, your reaction essay will not be considered to be exceptional if you fail to provide a sum up of your reaction, ideas, and arguments in the right manner.  When writing a response essay conclusion , you should strive to summarize the outcome of your thoughts. After stating your final point, tell readers what you have learned and how that material inspired or impacted you. You can also explain how your perspective and the author's point of view intertwine with each other.  Never introduce new ideas in the conclusion paragraph. Presenting new points will not only disrupt the flow of ideas in the paper but also confuse your readers because you may be unable to explain them comprehensively.  You are also expected to link up your discussions with the thesis statement. In other words, concluding comments and observations need to incorporate the reaffirmation of the thesis statement.

Example of Response Paper Conclusion

You can use the responsive essay conclusion sample below as a benchmark to guide you in writing your concluding remarks: Conclusion Example

There are a lot of similarities between the film's message and my opinion, values, and beliefs. Based on my personal principles, I believe the actions of the main character, Robin Hood, are justifiable and acceptable. Several people in modern society would also agree with my perspective. The movie has provided me with multiple lessons and inspirations. The main lesson acquired is that laws are not ultimate and that we should analyze how they affect people rather than adhere to them blindly. Unless legislation protects people and serves justices, it should be considered irrelevant. Also, morality outweighs legislation. From the movie, I gathered that morality should be the foundation for all laws, and at any time, morality and greater good should be prioritized above laws. The main inspiration relates to being brave in going against some legislation since the end justifies the means sometimes. My point of view and that of the movie creators intertwine. We both advocate for human decency and justice. The argument discussed supports the idea that good and justice is greater than law.

Proofread Your Response Paper

It is important to proofread your response paper before submitting it for examination. Has your essay met all instructional requirements? Have you corrected every grammatical error in your paper? These are common questions you should be asking yourself.  Proofreading your work will ensure that you have eliminated mistakes made when working on your academic work. Besides, you also get the opportunity to improve your logical flow of ideas in your paper by proofreading.  If you review your work thoroughly before submitting it for marking, you are more likely to score more marks! Use our Paper Rater , it is a tool that can help you pinpoint errors, which makes going through your work even simpler.

Response Essay Examples

If you have never written this type of academic paper before, responsive essay examples should help you grasp the primary concepts better. These response paper samples not only help you to familiarize yourself with paper's features but also help you to get an idea of how you should tackle such an assignment. Review at least one written response essay example from the compilation below to give you the confidence to tackle a reaction paper. Response essay example: Book


Response paper example: Poem

Response paper sample: Movie

Example of a response paper: Article

Sample response essay: Issue

Response Paper Format

It is important to follow a recommended response essay format in order to adhere to academic writing standards needed for your assignment. Formats depend on your institution or the discipline.  A reaction paper can be written in many different academic writing styles, including APA, MLA, and Chicago, with each demanding a slightly different format.  The outlook of the paper and referencing varies from one writing style to another. Despite the format for a response paper, you must include introduction, body, and conclusion paragraphs.

Response Essay Writing Tips

Below are some of the best tips you can use to improve your response papers writing skills:

  • Review your assignment instructions and clarify any inquiries before you start a response paper.
  • Once you have selected topics for response essay, reviewed your original materials, and came up with your thesis statement, use topic sentences to facilitate logical flow in your paper.
  • Always ensure that you format your work as per the standard structure to ensure that you adhere to set academic requirements. Depending on the academic writing style you will be using, ensure that you have done your in-text citation as per the paper format.
  • If you have never worked on this kind of academic paper, you should review examples and samples to help you familiarize yourself with this type of work. You should, however, never plagiarize your work.
  • You can use a first-person perspective to better stress your opinion or feelings about a subject. This tip is particularly crucial for reaction part of your work.
  • Finally, before submitting your work, proofread your work.

Bottom Line on Response Paper Writing

As discussed in this blog post, preparing a response paper follows a two-step approach. To successfully work on these sections, you need to plan properly to ensure a smooth transition from the reading and analyzing the original material to writing your reaction. In addition, you can review previous works to improve your writing skills.  So, what is a response essay that will immediately capture the attention of your instructor? Well, it should have a captivating introduction, evidence backed reaction, and a powerful conclusion. If you follow various tips outlined above and sum up your work with thorough proofreading, there is no chance that you can fail this type of assignment.


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FAQ About Response Paper

1. how long is a short response essay.

The length of a short response essay varies depending on topic and your familiarity with the subject. Depending on how long original sources are and how many responsive points you have, your reaction paper can range from a single paragraph of 150-400 words to multiple paragraphs of 250-500 words.

2. How to start a response body paragraph?

Use an argumentative topic sentence to start your responsive paper paragraph. Failing to begin a paragraph with an elaborate topic sentence will confuse your readers. Topic sentences give readers an idea of what is being discussed in the section. Write a responsive body paragraph for every new idea you add.

3. Is reaction paper similar to a response paper?

Yes. Reaction papers and response essays are used interchangeably. Responsive essays analyze author's point of view and compare them with your personal perspective. This type of academic writing gives you freedom to share your feelings and opinion about an idea. People also discuss how ideas, concepts, and literature material influence them in a response paper.


Daniel Howard is an Essay Writing guru. He helps students create essays that will strike a chord with the readers.

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How to Write a Response Paper: Understanding the Basics

what is essay response

Writing a response paper is an important task for students. It allows them to critically analyze a text, express their thoughts and opinions, and improve their writing skills. In this comprehensive guide, our ‘ write my essay ’ experts will explore the basics of how to write a response paper, pre-writing steps, and crafting a winning introduction, body, and conclusion. So, let's dive in and discover a flawless response paper at the end!

Defining What is a Response Paper

A response paper is a written assignment that requires the student to read a text and respond to it by expressing their views on the topic. It can be a stand-alone assignment or part of a larger project. When writing a response paper, it is important to remember the audience you are writing for. Are you writing for your professor, classmates, or a broader audience? This will help you tailor your writing style and tone accordingly.

Moreover, this kind of academic assignment should not only summarize the text but also provide a critical analysis of its main arguments and ideas. It should demonstrate your understanding of the text and your ability to engage with it in a thoughtful and meaningful way.

Purpose of Crafting a Response Paper

Writing response papers aims to demonstrate your understanding of the text, give your opinions and thoughts, and provide evidence to support your claims. In addition, this type of paper can help you develop critical reading skills and formulate coherent arguments. By engaging with the text, you can identify its strengths and weaknesses, evaluate its claims, and form your own opinions about the topic.

Furthermore, crafting response paper examples can be a valuable exercise in self-reflection. It allows you to articulate your thoughts and feelings about a particular topic and can help you better understand your values and beliefs.

Types of Response Papers

There are various types of response papers, each with its own unique characteristics and requirements. These include:

How to Write a Response Paper

  • Personal response : Here, you express your personal opinions, thoughts, and emotions about the text. This type of paper allows you to engage with the text more personally and explore your reactions to it.
  • Critical response : Involves analyzing, evaluating, and interpreting the text to provide a critique. This type of paper requires you to engage with the text more objectively and analytically, focusing on its strengths and weaknesses and providing evidence to support your claims.
  • Research-based response : Research-based response paper examples involve using external sources to support your claims. This type of paper requires you to engage with the text and supplement your analysis with evidence from other sources, such as scholarly articles, books, or interviews.

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How to Write a Response Paper: Pre-Writing Steps

Before diving into the writing process, laying a strong foundation through effective pre-writing steps is crucial. These initial stages not only provide clarity and structure but also enhance the overall quality of your response. And if you aren’t sure how to write a reaction paper , these steps can also be employed for your assignment.

How to Write a Response Paper

Carefully Read and Analyze the Text

The first step in response paper creation is to carefully read and analyze the text. This involves more than just reading the words on the page; it requires critical thinking and analysis. As you read, pay attention to the author's tone, style, and use of language. Highlight important points, take notes, and identify the author's main argument and themes. Consider the context in which the text was written and how it relates to contemporary issues.

For example, if you are reading a historical document, think about how it reflects the social and political climate of the time. If you are reading a work of fiction, consider how the characters and plot relate to larger themes and ideas. By carefully analyzing the text, you will be better equipped to write a thoughtful and insightful response.

Take Notes and Highlight Key Points

Another important step is to take notes while reading, as it helps you organize your thoughts and ideas. As you read through the text, jot down your reactions, questions, and observations. Highlight key points, evidence, and quotes that support the author's argument. This will make it easier to refer back to specific parts of the text when you are writing your response.

Additionally, taking notes can help you identify patterns and connections between different parts of the text. This can be especially helpful when you are trying to develop your thesis statement and outline.

Develop a Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is a central argument that you will be making in your paper. It should be clear and concise and provide direction for your essay. Your thesis statement should be based on your analysis of the text and should reflect your own perspective.

When developing your thesis statement, consider the main argument of the text and how you agree or disagree with it. Think about the evidence and examples that the author uses to support their argument and how you might use those same examples to support your own argument. Your thesis statement should be specific and focused and should guide the rest of your essay.

Create an Outline

If you want to unlock the most important tip on how to ace a response paper perfection, it lies in creating a well-organized outline. Identify key points, evidence, and arguments that you want to discuss and organize them into a well-written paper format. Your outline should include an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Start by introducing the text and your thesis statement. In the body paragraphs, discuss your main points and provide evidence from the text to support your argument. Use quotes and examples to illustrate your points. In conclusion, summarize your main points and restate your thesis statement. In the following paragraphs, we'll delve deeper into writing each section with more details.

Actual Writing Process with a Response Paper Format

Now that you have completed the essential pre-writing steps, it's time to delve into the actual writing process of your paper. In this section of our comprehensive guide, we will explore how to start a response paper along with developing insightful body paragraphs and culminating in a powerful conclusion.

Engage the Reader In Your Introduction

The introduction is the first impression that your reader will have of your paper. It is important to make a good first impression, so you want to engage them right from the start. There are several ways to do this, such as providing context, using a hook, or starting with a rhetorical question.

For example, if you are writing a paper about the effects of social media on mental health, you might start with a hook like:

'Did you know that the average person spends over two hours a day on social media? That's more time than they spend exercising or socializing in person.' 

When working with your paper, this hook immediately grabs the reader's attention and makes them interested in learning more about your topic.

Provide Context and Background Information

Once you have engaged the reader, it's important to provide context for the text you are analyzing. This includes information like the author's name, the title of the work, and the publication date. This information helps the reader understand the context of the text and why it is important.

For example, if you are analyzing a poem by Maya Angelou, you would want to provide some background information about her life and work. You might mention that she was a civil rights activist and a prolific writer and that the poem you are analyzing was written in 1969, during a time of great social and political upheaval in the United States.

Present Your Thesis Statement

Finally, it's important to present your thesis statement in the introduction. The thesis statement is the main argument of your paper, and it should be presented clearly and concisely so that the reader knows exactly what your paper is about.

For instance, if you are crafting a response paper example about the effects of social media on mental health, your thesis statement might be something like:

'This paper argues that excessive use of social media can have negative effects on mental health, including increased anxiety, depression, and feelings of isolation.'

By presenting your thesis statement in the introduction, you are setting up the rest of your paper and giving the reader a roadmap for what to expect. This helps them stay focused and engaged throughout your paper.

Meanwhile, you can find out more about how to write an essay format and set the right referencing style for your assignment!

Crafting the Body

One key aspect of ensuring a well-structured and articulate paper is to utilize your typical response paper outline as a reliable roadmap. By following it, you can maintain focus, coherence, and logical flow throughout your response. Moreover, keep the following points in mind as you proceed with crafting the body of your response paper:

  • Use evidence and examples from the text:
  • Incorporate relevant quotes, statistics, or other evidence that supports your opinions and arguments.
  • By using evidence from the text, you can strengthen your argument and demonstrate a deep understanding of the material.
  • Analyze and interpret the text:
  • Demonstrate your critical thinking skills by thoroughly analyzing and interpreting the text.
  • Explain how the text relates to your thesis statement and overall argument.
  • Provide a clear and concise response that showcases your knowledge and understanding of the material.
  • Address counterarguments and alternative perspectives:
  • Acknowledge and address opposing viewpoints to demonstrate your ability to consider different perspectives.
  • Explain why your argument is stronger than the opposing viewpoint.
  • Provide evidence to support your claim and solidify your stance.

Concluding Your Paper

In the conclusion of your response paper example, it is essential to consolidate your reactions, ideas, and arguments regarding the text. Summarize the key points discussed throughout your paper, drawing inferences whenever applicable. 

When uncertain about ​​ how to write a conclusion for a research paper , the first important rule is to refrain from introducing new ideas or reiterating information already presented in the introduction of your paper. Instead, provide a concise and coherent summary that encapsulates the essence of your response, leaving a lasting impression on the reader.

Response Paper Example

To show you how to write a response paper effectively, our essay writer has provided an amazing example below. It will inspire you and help you on your own learning journey. Get ready to explore new ideas and expand your knowledge with our response paper sample.

As we conclude this comprehensive guide on how to write a response paper, you have acquired the essential tools and knowledge to embark on your writing journey with confidence. With a firm grasp of pre-writing strategies, the art of crafting an engaging introduction, organizing a well-structured body, and understanding the significance of supporting arguments and addressing counter arguments with a good response paper example, you are poised to leave a lasting impression.

And if you ever find yourself struggling to find inspiration or facing challenges with any aspect of your essays, order essay online and take advantage of the opportunity to seek assistance from our professional writing service team. By trusting us with your college essays and ordering a response paper, you can confidently navigate your academic journey!

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A summary is a concise paraphrase of all the main ideas in an essay. It cites the author and the title (usually in the first sentence); it contains the essay's thesis and supporting ideas; it may use direct quotation of forceful or concise statements of the author's ideas; it will NOT usually cite the author's examples or supporting details unless they are central to the main idea. Most summaries present the major points in the order that the author made them and continually refer back to the article being summarized (i.e. "Damon argues that ..." or "Goodman also points out that ... "). The summary should take up no more than one-third the length of the work being summarized.

The Response:

A response is a critique or evaluation of the author's essay. Unlike the summary, it is composed of YOUR opinions in relation to the article being summarized. It examines ideas that you agree or disagree with and identifies the essay's strengths and weaknesses in reasoning and logic, in quality of supporting examples, and in organization and style. A good response is persuasive; therefore, it should cite facts, examples, and personal experience that either refutes or supports the article you're responding to, depending on your stance.

Two Typical Organizational Formats for Summary/Response Essays:

1. Present the summary in a block of paragraphs, followed by the response in a block:

Intro/thesis Summary (two to three paragraphs) Agreement (or disagreement) Disagreement (or agreement) Conclusion

Note: Some essays will incorporate both agreement and disagreement in a response, but this is not mandatory.

2. Introduce the essay with a short paragraph that includes your thesis. Then, each body paragraph summarizes one point and responds to it, and a conclusion wraps the essay up.

Intro/thesis Summary point one; agree/disagree Summary point two; agree/disagree Summary point three; agree/disagree Conclusion

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How to write response essay: guidelines from expert team.

January 31, 2022

How To Write Response Essay

Response writing can be tricky, but if you follow our step-by-step guide, you’ll have no trouble coming up with a great one! We will walk you through exactly how to write a response paragraph, how to properly structure it, and even give you some helpful tips to make your essay shine!

So, let’s get writing!

Table Of Contents

What is a response essay, structure of a response essay, steps to write a good response essay, 5 key features needed in a response essay, tips to write a stellar response essay, response essay example.

First things first – what exactly is a response essay? A response essay is a type of writing that allows the writer to respond to a piece of work. It can be a text, image, or event. It’s essentially a reaction paper – you’re giving your thoughts and feelings about whatever it is you’re responding to.

Response essays allow you to freely communicate your thoughts and feelings about any topic. Unlike summary essays where you just restate what you read, response essays require you to genuinely understand the content and context of the work you’re assigned.

Once you have a strong grasp of the subject material, you have to concisely put forth your insights, opinions, and analysis.

Now that you know what a response essay is, it’s time to learn how to structure one. A good response essay follows a specific format, which allows your ideas to be conveyed clearly and concisely.

Here’s the basic essay response format :

  • Introduction
  • Summary Of The Work
  • Reaction, Response, and Analysis

Let’s take a closer look at each of these elements that form the response paper format.

  • Introduction Your introduction should introduce the work that you’re responding to and mention the name of the author. You should also include your thesis statement in this section – this is your position on the subject matter. Overall, this part should be about 1-2 paragraphs long and it should keep the reader interested to read the rest of the response paper.

For example : “Should America atone for its past sins against black people? This is the question raised by Ta-Nehisi Coates in his powerful article ‘The Case For Reparations’. The author strongly believes that America should make reparations to the African-American community, and after much contemplation, I wholeheartedly agree with him”.

  • Summary Of The Work In your summary, you want to give a general overview of the content without giving away too much. You’ll highlight the main points of the work, provide direct quotations, and keep the writing objective and factual.

For example : “Ta-Nehisi Coates makes many compelling arguments for why America should make reparations to the African-American community. He cites statistics, historical evidence, and personal stories to support his position. According to him, “To celebrate freedom and democracy while forgetting American’s origins in a slavery economy is patriotism à la carte.”.

  • Reaction, Response, and Analysis In this section, you’ll want to go into detail about your reaction to the work. What did you like or dislike? What were your thoughts and feelings? Be sure to back up your claims with evidence from the text.

For example : “I found Coates’ argument to be very convincing. He makes a strong case for reparations by providing ample evidence to support his position. I was also moved by his personal stories about the impact of slavery on African-Americans today. His writing is powerful and emotional, and it made me think about America’s history in a new light”.

Many students struggle with writing a good response essay simply because they’re confused about how to write response essay, where to begin, how to begin, and what to do next. Let’s take a look at the step-by-step process of writing a fabulous response paper that is sure to get the attention of your teachers and professors.

  • Step 1 – Read and Understand the Work Before you can write a good response essay, you first need to read and understand the work that you’re responding to. Whether it’s a book, movie, article, or poem, the quality of your response paper is directly proportional to how well you’ve understood the source material. Take notes as you read and highlight important passages so that you can refer back to them later. This is an important step in learning how to start a response essay.
  • Step 2 – Brainstorm Your Ideas Once you’ve read and understood the work, it’s time to brainstorm your ideas. This is the part of the process where you let your thoughts flow freely and write down any and all responses that come to mind. Don’t worry about making sense or sorting them out yet – just get everything down on paper.
  • Step 3 – Write Your Thesis Statement Your thesis statement is your position on the subject matter – it should be clear, concise, and easy to understand. This is what you’ll be arguing for or against in your essay. Don’t be afraid to genuinely put forth your opinion, whether it’s positive or negative.
  • Step 4 – Support Your Thesis with Evidence Now it’s time to support your thesis statement with evidence from the text. Quote directly from the work and provide a brief explanation of how it supports your argument. Don’t forget to cite your sources! The summary of the work and your personal opinion on the matter will form the core content of your paper.
  • Step 5 – Write a Conclusion Once you’ve finished arguing for your position, it’s time to write a conclusion. Restate your thesis and summarize your main points. You may also want to leave readers with something to think about or a call to action. A solid conclusion can sometimes make all the difference between a great response essay and a mediocre one!

By following these steps, you’ll be able to write some of the best response essays that are well-organized, informative, and persuasive. All it takes is a little time and practice! On the contrary, you can choose buying custom college papers and be free of this assignment.

When writing a response essay, there are certain key features that you need to keep in mind. Whether it’s for school, college, or university, these five features will make your response essay unique and interesting.

  • Summarizing – This is probably the most important feature of writing a response essay. You need to be able to summarize the work succinctly, highlighting the most important points without giving away too much of the plot or story.
  • Paraphrasing/Quoting – In order to support your argument, you’ll need to quote and paraphrase the work extensively. Make sure that you always credit your sources!
  • Organization – Your essay should be well-organized and easy to follow. Start with a strong introduction, then move on to your main points. Wrap things up with a conclusion that reiterates your position. No professor likes reading a haphazardly put-together essay!
  • Transitions – To keep your essay cohesive, you’ll need to use strong transitions and connecting words between paragraphs. This way, the reader can move between different portions of your writing (e.g. Introduction > Summary > Thesis > Conclusion) without losing interest.
  • Argumentation – Last but not least, your essay needs to be filled with strong argumentation. Make sure to back up your points with evidence from the text, and don’t be afraid to state your opinion openly. This is what will set your response essay apart from the rest!

We’ll share with you a few of our tried and tested essay writing tips that will masterfully elevate your response essay.

  • Take your time and read the source material carefully.
  • Write a strong thesis statement that reflects your position on the matter.
  • When stating definitive opinions, cite instances from the text to strengthen your stand.
  • Argument your points persuasively and with conviction.
  • Proofread your essay for errors such as grammar, language, punctuation, and spelling.
  • Have someone else, like a trusted friend or teacher, read it over for you as well – fresh eyes can sometimes catch mistakes that you’ve missed.
  • Use the help of a reliable paper writing service to assist you in the process.

Now that you’ve read all our instructions, there’s only one thing left to do. You have a chance to ged extended response essay sample and see all our tips in practice.

Response Paper In his article “The Militarization of the Police”, James Bouie argues that recent traegy in Ferguson is only one symptom of the broad problem of increasing police militarization in the USA. The purpose of the author is to bring this question into light and warn American citizens about the danger it entails for the whole society, with a special emphasis being placed on racial minorities. Bouie addresses the general public who are concerned with political and social tendencies in the US. The author begins his article with discussion of the photographs from Ferguson demonstration, pointing out the signs of inadequate aggression of the police toward the citizens. He puts the Ferguson tragedy in the context of increasing militarization of the US police force, which he believes to be one of the major problems of the American society. Bouie asserts that this process began with the war on drugs in the 1980s and intensified after the 9/11 attacks and the wars in the Middle East. He estimates that the value of military hardware owned by U.S. police agencies increased at 450 times from 1990 to 2013, despite the falling crime rates. Bouie also discusses the issue of increased SWAT deployment, which is disproportionately utilized in black and Latino neighborhoods. The conclusion the author draws is that the availability of heavy military weapons and a long-standing tradition of punitive policing toward racial minorities are the major factors that are likely to cause repressive reactions of the police. The Ferguson tragedy has recently riveted the attention of the whole U.S. population. While we may lament the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, it is important to view these events in the broader context of police misconduct, as the author does it. Despite numerous changes and advancements in law enforcement over the last decade, such as community policing and recruiting more officers from racial minorities, the society is still staunchly opposed to the police force, and the negative sentiment has predictably grown after the Ferguson unrest. The frequent SWAT raids are definitely an overreaction, given that they are mostly deployed for low-level offenses, such as drug use. Repressive and punitive actions with the disproportionate targeting of racial minorities suggest that positive changes in the police were of purely decorative nature and were not effective to eradicate stereotypes, prejudices and aggression from the mind of law enforcement officers. While the author does not explore this perspective in detail, the increasing militarization of the police is often viewed as a logical consequence of the militarization of the whole US politics, which is obsessed with identifying and eliminating national enemies. Incessant employment of war rhetoric by the officials has the power to alter the mindset of the whole society, not only police officers. The article provides a comprehensive account of the author’s opinion. No doubts arise as to the appropriateness of his observations, largely because they are aligned with the common social reaction to Ferguson tragedy. However, the author does not explore any potential solutions to the problem, thus leaving this question open for the readers to consider. Another overlooked issue, which may interest the readers, is how the situation in the USA compares to other developed countries and what policies they implement to prevent the overreaction of police force. The author has achieved the purpose of persuading his readers that events in Ferguson are linked to a broader social problem, as his arguments appeal to the common sense and show clear causality between acquisition of military equipment and overreaction to offenses and unrest. The author made his article more persuading by referring to Ferguson photographs, statistics and authoritative specialists to support his argument.

Want Someone To Write An Essay For You?

We hope this guide has taught you everything you need to know about how to write a strong response essay. Keep these key points in mind, and you’re guaranteed to produce a top-notch paper! If you want additional advice on how to write a response paper, simply hire someone to write an essay . Our team of professional, educated academic writers will write high-quality papers and essays that will get you in the good books of any of your teachers! It’s fast, affordable, and always 100% original. You won’t be disappointed! Good luck with all of your future academic endeavours!


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What Response Essays Are and How to Tackle Them

Writing a response essay might seem like a challenging task at first. Firstly, you need to understand to a great extent what the study that you are responding to is talking about and then make sure that you write an insightful, true to the source essay about it. Even if you need to write a response essay as part of your homework for faculty studies or high school assignments or you want to exercise your argumentative skills, it might seem like a lot of work at first. However, having in mind a clear structure of your future response essay is essential.

Before beginning to go through the main structure points that you need to check when writing a response essay, there are some tips that you need to know and that will help you lay your thoughts on paper in a more efficient way. First of all, after reading the essay or the article that you are responding to, you need to settle on whether you want to attack the ideas presented in that article or to agree with them. Based on that, you will structure the components of your response essay. For example, if your response essay is talking about protecting the environment and you want to show your agreement with the ideas presented in the original essay, then you should build your response essay around the idea of consolidating the thoughts in the main source.

Secondly, it is important that your readers clearly understand your position after reading your response essay. This means that you need to expose all possible arguments which might strengthen or attack the ideas presented in the main article. In order for you to achieve a strong position, it might be helpful to also expose a personal experience that can be related to the topic you are writing an essay about. This will not only make your argument points stronger but will also help your readers empathize with your writing. Also, it is important that you keep in mind that your response essay should be a response to something you have read, something that is a hot topic at the moment in various social contexts or something that has been debated for a long time and you want to present a new approach to things.

You also have to keep in mind that the more knowledge you show to your audience in your response essay about the author and the topic that is being debated, the more credibility you will gain. Read some cause or effect essay topics to get inspired. This is why it is important to also present a context in your response essay, such as details about the author and the paper you are choosing to respond to. Finally, after debating the ideas of the original text, you can also choose to talk about the effectiveness of the source text. It can be about how the main paper managed to reach the audience, if the writing style was effective, and how the author you are responding to had chosen to expose their ideas.

If we were to summarize the main points you should keep in mind before starting to tackle the components of a response essay, these would be:

  • Make sure to clearly expose your position regarding the article or paper you are responding to
  • Don’t forget to expose the personal experiences or thoughts that might help you relate to the matter in question and your reader to empathize with your way of writing
  • Prove that you have knowledge about the author of the main text and can put your response essay in a context
  • Evaluate the main text’s effectiveness and how it managed to reach the audience

Get Started: Write an Introduction

One important thing when writing a response essay is the way you structure the introduction. This is one of the key parts of your essay, as it embodies the topic you are about to debate and the premises you are basing your essay on. The introduction will make your audience decide if they want to keep reading your response essay or not. This is why it is important that you keep in mind the following tips:

  • Introduction is all about catching your audience’s attention
  • It should provide a brief description of the topic
  • You should be able to briefly summarize your thesis
  • Don’t forget to give a short description of the author and the article you are responding to

It might be the case that the source article that you are about to discuss contains several parts or has different ideas which can be debated and your response article refers only to a part of them. In this case, don’t forget to also mention this. Do not forget that you need to keep it short and catchy.

How to Make Your Introduction Catchy – Introduction Ideas

Writing a catchy introduction that will make your reader read the whole response article is challenging. This is why you will find here some ideas to start with, such as:

  • Making use of a statistic: some puzzling conclusion that researchers might have reached at some point and which is relevant to the topic you are about to respond to.
  • Citing someone who is related to the area of expertise of your topic or is known for having deep knowledge about the topic. The more popular the person you are citing is, the more efficient your introduction will be.
  • Story-telling or reproducing a dialogue might also help, provided they are relevant and short.
  • Starting with a question or with a situation regarding the topic you are about to talk about might also be a good introduction idea.

You might even want to combine some of these ideas and write your introduction based on an example and a statistic or any other possible combination. Whatever you choose, make sure it stays to the point and is catchy to the eye of the reader.

How You Can Connect Introduction to Conclusion

Another important aspect that you need to consider when writing your introduction to the response essay is that you need to somehow connect it to the conclusion. In order for you to achieve a perfectly cyclic response essay, you need to find a way to make the two feel correspondent. This will help your response essay have a “frame” and will help your writing style be more efficient.

It might be a bit difficult at first to start with an introduction and end with a conclusion that are connected, mostly if you want to write very long and thorough response essays. However, one important suggestion that might help is to always make sure that before starting off your response essay, you are clear about the ideas and position you want to present. This will help you avoid changing your position as you advance in writing your essay and make your introduction and conclusion connected, giving a sense of symmetry to your text.

Below you can find some examples of how you can connect your introduction with the conclusion:

  • If you are writing about the usage of mobile devices in our everyday life, you could start your introduction by exposing a real-life experience, maybe someone who is driving to work on a normal day and is stuck in traffic. You could start by asking your readers what they would do on their phones as they wait in traffic and end with several possible outcomes of this scenario.
  • If you are choosing to present an essay about a personal experience and you start with an introduction about how a certain day started in your life, you could end your essay with how that day ended. This way, you will make sure you keep your readers connected to the story and have their attention all throughout the essay.
  • If you decide to write about any other topic, such as a topic of national importance or even an environmental topic, you could start by stating the facts to which you want to draw the attention and end with the facts about the current situation or how it can be improved.

How to Write a Strong Thesis

After making sure that you have caught your readers’ attention, it is all about making it clear to them what your position regarding the source article is. However, you should also provide a context to your response article by mentioning details about the author and the main ideas in the article that you have chosen to respond to. It can be that you are choosing to respond only partially, to a few of the ideas presented there, so this is the reason why it is important to clearly state the ideas of the article you want to respond to. Make sure to give an account of whatever it is debated in the article, by presenting the information in an objective way. At this point, it is more important for your readers to understand what you are trying to agree or disagree with than hear your personal opinion. Also, exposing the ideas of the source text in an objective, impersonal way will help your readers decide for themselves if the position you are taking is one that they would take or not.

Afterwards, it is vital that you expose what is known as “thesis statement” by allocating one paragraph in which you clearly state if you agree or disagree with the main topic presented in the source text. This should start with “I agree/I don’t agree with” and should be followed by a short and powerful message about the main reason why you are taking this position regarding that text.

The next step is to talk more about the reasons you are considering attacking or agreeing with the ideas presented in the original text. This can be done by either reviewing what the author is saying or just expanding on the main ideas. You can, for example, try to understand why the author has reached a certain conclusion that you are debating by trying to relate it to the author’s background or career. It can be that the author has chosen to promote oil drilling because they work in a factory that wants to make this process a sustainable one. It is important that you stay true to your debate and present the situation from both points of view: yours and the author’s.

How to Respond to Articles – Ideas

After tackling the introduction and the conclusion, the main body of your response essay is left to deal with. This is mainly the way in which you choose to present the source text and where you are standing regarding it. It is up to you if you choose to agree or disagree, however, what you have to keep in mind is that you need to be consistent and stay true to the topic you have chosen to debate.

One way to do that is to map the main three components of the response essay, namely, the introduction, body, and conclusion. Here are some helpful suggestions on how to structure your responding ideas:

  • Whether you agree or disagree, you can state 3 or more reasons for which you are doing so. Make sure to start each new paragraph and allocate enough space for your ideas to be clearly distinguished and stated.
  • If you are partially agreeing or disagreeing, make sure to always mention that so that your readers will clearly understand your position.
  • It is always important to see how the author’s ideas managed to reach the audience and in which ways the ideas were brought forward.

How to Better Structure the Body of the Response Essay

Make sure to utilize evidence to back-up your thesis. In order to do this, you can use quotes, author tags or simply rely on other readings and give references.

Make sure that you achieve a personal voice throughout the text. This can be done by differentiating yourself from the author and using author tags.

By using author tags, you communicate to your readers the fact that it is the author you are responding to who has a certain idea or it is their article that makes this reference. You can use any of these suggestions when talking about someone’s article:

  • The author mentions
  • The author refers to
  • The author is suggesting
  • The author writes
  • The author asks
  • The author recommends
  • The author is presenting
  • The author points out
  • The author relates
  • The author pleads
  • The author denies
  • The author’s remarks point to
  • The author explains

Write a Conclusion Your Readers Won’t Forget

One important thing to keep in mind when writing a conclusion to your response essay is that you shouldn’t repeat the arguments in the same form in which you have presented them in the body. Offering a conclusion to your response article is still needed, as this will help your readers make a clear decision whether they agree or disagree with the ideas presented in your response essay.

Besides making sure that your essay is built around a very powerful introduction and a conclusion that sums up the main ideas of your position regarding this essay, you can also:

  • Present the topic that you have been debating throughout the essay in a broader perspective; for example, if the topic you are tackling is national, you can connect this topic to the situation in other countries worldwide
  • Promote an organization or an event that has some influence on the topic you have been responding to
  • Present the current situation of the topic you are talking about and ring the alarm if anything needs to be done about it
  • Summarize how your arguments shed a new light on the topic

A Brief Summary of How a Response Essay Should Look Like

Keeping everything in mind, the essential parts of a response essay and the main suggestions that you have to keep in mind when starting to write are:

  • Paragraph 1: The first part of the introduction which needs to be vivid, catchy and reflect the point you are about to make.
  • Paragraph 2: Provide a context to your response essay: details about the source-text and the author and what the main points in the article are.
  • State your position regarding the ideas presented in the introduction and if you agree with the author’s take on the matter or not.
  • Clearly mention if you are going to question the author’s position or expand on the author’s account of the facts.
  • Give clear arguments pro or against the matter and allocate one paragraph to each of these arguments.
  • Use statistics, story-telling, research findings, scientific discoveries, and any other tools suggested in this article.
  • Provide an insightful and catchy conclusion that correlates with the introduction you have chosen for your response essay.

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Humanities LibreTexts

12.9: Essay Type - Literary Response

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  • Heather Ringo & Athena Kashyap
  • City College of San Francisco via ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative

The Response Essay

The response essay is likely the most informal type of literary analysis essay students will encounter in a literature course. This essay simply asks the student to read the assigned text(s) and respond to said text(s). There are several purposes in writing such an essay. This kind of essay:

  • helps students better understand the reading through informal analysis
  • enables students to practice close-reading in a low-stakes, informal, and more comfortable way
  • prepares students for writing a more formal essay by recording their initial impressions of a text

book, pen, and journal full of reading notes

"Fernando Pessoa" by Jennifer Fred Merchán , 2006. CC BY-SA 2.0

Usually, the requirements for such an essay are more open-ended than what is expected on more formal essay assignments. For example, students are often allowed to use first-person "I" and colloquial (that is, spoken rather than academic) language. A thesis statement and formal organization are also usually not required.

What is always required is a willingness to ask questions and engage with the text. The following are some questions students might respond to when writing a response essay:

  • First impressions: When reading the title and first lines, what impression did you get from the text? How did this impression change as you read the rest of the story or poem? What might the title indicate about the story or poem?
  • Characters: What kind of character is the main character of the story or poem? Are they likable? Trustworthy? Why? Which character do you like or relate to the most, and why? Which character do you dislike the most, and why? What kinds of characters ( dynamic, round, flat, static ) are featured in this story?
  • Tone: How would you describe the tone of the story? What words, phrases, images, or snippets of dialogue indicate this tone?
  • Figurative language: What figurative language or literary devices do you notice? Why do you think certain images appear? What kinds of patterns of language do you notice, and what significance might these patterns or literary devices have on the story or poem?

In addition to these basic literary analysis questions, some helpful tips for writing this kind of essay:

  • Take notes as you read. Use highlighters to mark quotations or passages that jump out at you, along with post-it notes or page clips to mark those pages so you can find them again when writing the essay. Don't be afraid to write notes in the margins of the book. If you must sell back the book to the bookstore, or don't want to mark the book for other reasons, you can use post-it notes to write your responses. Essentially, effective note-taking is like having a conversation with the text.
  • Keep a document or journal open to record your ideas as you read. For example, refer to the image at the top of this page. This way, you can begin responding to the text as you read it, making efficient use of your time. You can then simply develop your reading notes in the essay.
  • Cite passages to support your analyses. Like in an argumentative or persuasive essay, be ready to drop quotations or paraphrase into the essay to support your analysis and show those reading your essay examples of what you are talking about. Be ready to provide page or line numbers to cite the source. For example, if you say Hamlet (the main character of Hamlet by William Shakespeare) comes across as whiny and egotistical, be prepared to quote or paraphrase the play and point readers to the act, scene, and line numbers which show your point.

Example Student Response Essay Prompt

By the end of this assignment, students will be able to engage with a work of literature through analysis and response. They will be able to define and locate examples of at least three basic literary devices within a single literary text.

Audience: instructor & classmates

Purpose: practice analyzing literature in a less formal environment

Content: literary analysis & response, practice for the upcoming literary analysis essay

Students will choose one work of literature to analyze (that is, pick apart, zooming in, and looking closely at the literary devices and narrative elements of the story). Students may choose any of the stories we have read so far in class. As you read the story, respond to anything interesting in the text you notice.

  • Focus on one story
  • Identify & analyze at least three literary devices such as character, plot, setting, metaphor, and so forth
  • Use either objective third-person or first-person “I”
  • Present tense verbs, informal tone
  • Quote & paraphrase the text using MLA Works Cited + In-Text citation
  • Do not to bring in any secondary sources yet: this should be your personal observations and analysis of the text. Avoid using Shmoop, Cliffnotes, or any other plot summary websites. These will tarnish your reading process. I am interested in YOUR thoughts, not Shmoop’s
  • Avoid plot summary, unless used briefly to contextualize analysis. I know what happens in the stories. This is NOT a “summarize the story in your own words” exercise, but a “what patterns or interesting devices did you notice? What stuck out to you? Why do you think the author made the choices they did? In what ways does the story’s form reflect its content?” exercise.
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How to Write a Reader Response

Last Updated: March 14, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Diane Stubbs . Diane Stubbs is a Secondary English Teacher with over 22 years of experience teaching all high school grade levels and AP courses. She specializes in secondary education, classroom management, and educational technology. Diane earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Delaware and a Master of Education from Wesley College. There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 432,288 times.

A reader response assignment asks you to explain and defend your personal reaction to an assigned text. Reader response papers can be difficult because they force you, the reader, to take responsibility for giving meaning to the text. Often these assignments feel open-ended and vague, but don't worry, a good reader response paper will follow a standard essay format that you can easily master. This guide will walk you through the creation of a well-crafted reader response paper that's sure to wow your instructor and earn you an awesome grade.

Writing the Reader Response

Step 1 Write the introduction.

  • It is often helpful to use the first body paragraph to include more information about the text, the plotline, major themes, etc., and then use the rest of the paragraphs to provide an analysis of how you felt about the text.

Step 3 Remember to explain how, why, and what.

  • Remember that a reader response is meant to be personal, so it's OK to incorporate personal anecdotes and opinions into your analysis.
  • Example: "Forcing Hester Prynne to wear the scarlet "A" reminded me of a time when I was cyber-bullied in eighth grade, and my "friends" spread rumors about me online where the whole school could see."

Step 4 Incorporate specific examples into your analysis.

  • Example: "At the end of The Old Man and the Sea, Manolin promises to once again fish with Santiago, so the old man no longer has to be alone. This was Santiago's greatest wish, but it was a different kind of success than he initially set out to achieve."

Step 5 Keep quotations short and sweet.

  • Example: "'My big fish must be somewhere,' said Santiago. This is exactly how I felt after I received my third rejection letter, but like Santiago, I kept trying, and eventually I was accepted."
  • Make sure and cite your examples per class directions. You will usually be required to note the page numbers of any quotations or specific examples in parentheses at the end of the sentence.

Step 6 Write the conclusion.

  • A great way to think of your conclusion is that it's one last chance to explain to your reader how you see all of your points fitting together.

Step 7 Proofread, proofread, proofread!!

  • Sometimes it's hard to see our own mistakes, so it can really help to exchange papers with a friend, and proofread each other's work.

Drafting the Reader Response

Step 1 Identify an angle you can take when talking about the text.

  • "Even though I found The Scarlett Letter hard to follow at times, Hester Prynne's story is still relatable, and made me think a lot about the effects of publicly shaming people online."
  • "Some people believe the Old Man and the Sea is a book about failure, but it is really a story of perseverance that teaches us that success may not always come in the form we expect, and even disasters can lead to positive outcomes."

Step 2 Outline the essay.

  • Introduction: 1 paragraph.
  • Analysis/Body Paragraphs: 3-4 paragraphs. How you organize these paragraphs will depend on the parameters of the assignment.
  • Conclusion: 1 paragraph.

Step 3 Choose example passages to use in your analysis.

Reading the Text

Step 1 Go over the assignment directions before you begin.

  • Do you like or dislike the text?
  • Can you identify the author's purpose?
  • Do you agree or disagree with the author?
  • Does the text relate to you and your life? If so, how? If not, why not?
  • Does the text agree with, or go against your personal world view?
  • What, if anything, did you learn from the text?

Step 2 Read the text.

  • Taking a bit of extra time during this phase will save you a lot of time in the writing process. [9] X Research source

Step 3 Contemplate what you have read.

  • I think that...
  • I feel that...
  • I see that...
  • I have learned that...

Sample Reader Response

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About This Article

Diane Stubbs

To write a reader response, develop a clear thesis statement and choose example passages from the text that support your thesis. Next, write an introduction paragraph that specifies the name of the text, the author, the subject matter, and your thesis. Then, include 3-4 paragraphs that discuss and analyze the text. Finish up with a conclusion paragraph that summarizes your arguments and brings the reader back to your thesis or main point! For tips on analyzing the text before writing your assignment, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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  • How to Write a Response Essay
  • How to Write a Response Essay: Things That Make It Work

How to Write a Response Essay: Things That Make It Work

What is a Response Essay?

Response paper purposes and objectives, how to write a response paper step-by-step, develop a strong response essay thesis, creating response essay outline, response essay structure, 1. response essay introduction, 2. main body, 3. response paper conclusion, response essay examples, what are important dos and don’ts, common response paper format mistakes, where to get expert assistance, 1. what is a reader response essay, 2. what is a short response essay, 3. what is the difference between summary and response essays.

Response essays are written to teach you to reflect on a specific written piece . Such essays are perfect for checking your ability to express your points coherently. How to write a response essay? Organize your workflow - define major points , provide logical reasoning to draw a reader in.  And, of course, close it with a strong summary . Your teacher may ask you to express your attitude to a text. You may be required to describe the writer's intention, topic or story. In any case, a good response paper requires quite an effort. So let’s start and find out where to start, how to focus on school work and what our final goal is.

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According to the response paper definition, this piece of writing has to trigger thought-provoking questions or issues . Feel free to include your personal perspective and give a deep analysis and overall meaning. All of your statements and arguments should be sound. Support them with enough evidence and examples.

A response or reaction essay is asked by professors so that you carefully study what you feel or think about a particular work. This type of writing takes a considerable amount of time for research. You need to interpret a text and review how it serves its unique purpose . What are the things to focus on? When reading your literary piece, answer the following questions:

  • How you feel about it
  • Whether you agree or disagree with the author
  • The best way to value the entire story

Your major objective is to find your unique angle and to disclose it with references and critical commentary.

If you wonder how to write a good response essay , follow these simple steps :

  • Understand your first impressions
  • Define a subject and give reasoning
  • Determine strong and weak points
  • Make a summary outline

Focus on your personal impressions when reading a text. Firstly you should outline its title, style and specify the major idea. Pay attention to the key questions or issues you deal with. Also, define the subtext, provide an explanation for specific details. Point out their meaning or importance on global and personal levels. Reflect on your life experiences. Determine weak and strong points of the entire content in body paragraphs. Tell readers your attitude towards those ideas. Let them know if you disagree or agree with the writer’s point. To sound legit, you need to present good counter arguments that you can bring up. Finally, summarize all thoughts and restate your thesis in a conclusion.

Response essay thesis is a major idea that you stand for in your paper. In most cases, the thesis is reflected in just 1-2 sentences. But completing this task can be pretty challenging. You need to interpret and understand a text and express your opinion. State your major idea in a brief sentence in an opening paragraph. A good thesis statement is a cornerstone of a successful paper. Do not haste with it and spend some extra time composing the best one.

Response paper outline is a planned structure of the text, key ideas, and points. Write an outline before starting a paper to get the major idea of your structure. But what to include in its outline? There are certain components that should be present in your plan. For instance, the chosen point of view, major argument, and so on. Your opinion can take the following forms:

  • Disagreement or agreement with ideas
  • Examination of authors and their audience
  • Reflection on how concepts describe other ideas
  • Feedback to how major arguments relate to your own experiences
  • Assessment of how a text influences readers

A good essay outline may facilitate your writing process. So it’s always better to start with one when you have already defined the topic. Still have some questions? Read one more blog - it is about an argumentative essay outline . This essay type has the same structure and you can get more useful tips.

Response essays have a regular 3-part essay structure. It includes an introduction, body, and conclusion. However, the actual content and intent of this essay are different. Learn its specifics and check the easy steps to writing its structure.

Response paper introduction starts with a few sentences to summarize the work you have read. You may also make notes while researching the topic to use in your intro. It should be brief and precise. An introduction should be closed and summed up with a strong, debatable thesis statement.

In the main body of the response paper, express your main ideas and reactions. It should consist of at least three paragraphs. Make sure to explain one reaction per paragraph. Otherwise, you risk making your paper messy.

The response essay conclusion should summarize the main ideas mentioned in the paper. Restate the writer’s thesis statement in the introductory paragraph. Avoid repeating the same ideas, preferably synthesize new ones. Also, do not introduce any new ideas in conclusion. And don’t use ideas that contradict the arguments given in the paper.

And now, it will be good for you to check out response essay examples. We offer several professional essay samples. Examine the structure, the style, and the narration. Pay attention to important elements as the thesis statement and conclusion. Check out the paper attached below.

A good response paper should include a review of the author’s work based on your critical judgments about its concept. Make sure that your writing reflects the ideas that you disagree or agree with.  Make sure that it classifies weak and strong points logically. A good response essay has to be convincing. It must be based on relevant examples and strong evidence. And, of course, to reflect your attitude. Dos:

  • Analyze a figurative and thematic meaning of your story
  • Describe your emotional attitude towards characters
  • Use interesting examples or quotes
  • Review text several times to make sure you noticed everything
  • Add your unique perspective and vision
  • Avoid simply reviewing and summarizing the plot
  • Never say that you don’t like major or minor characters for no reason
  • Don’t simplify, don’t give vague reasons behind your analysis and reflection
  • Avoid making obvious or superficial insights
  • Don’t repeat the ideas of other students

Also, keep in mind such basic things as grammar and punctuation. If you want your response paper to look great, spend some effort on proofreading.

Response essay format requires a writer to follow certain stylistic rules. To submit a perfect draft, make sure that you avoid all common mistakes. For instance, including your personal story in a response essay can be inappropriate. It is not an essay about yourself to feature your life experiences. Don’t reiterate the same thoughts again. Never retell readers the whole text because teachers expect you to analyze the information. The other typical mistake is procrastination. Many students tend to procrastinate because of the task’s difficulty. This academic assignment is time-consuming, and it requires in-depth analysis and reading. Set aside enough time to complete it successfully. Look for useful samples or templates to avoid making common mistakes. It's a winning strategy to end up with top-quality content.

After reading this helpful guide , you’ll get a clear idea of how to write the best response essay with ease. What if it’s not enough? If you feel that you need extra help , turn to online professionals! Reach your academic goals with effective custom writing solutions.

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A reader response essay is a form of reflection on a book, essay, or another historical source. This essay requires good knowledge of the text and may involve direct quotations. The author needs to express the attitude to the text, not to retell the plot.

A short response essay is normally between 300 and 500 words. This variation usually serves as classwork for 25-30 minutes.

The difference between summary and response lies in the writer’s intent. In the summary essay, you need to analyze and interpret the information. When in a responsive essay, you need to express your opinion on some point. In most cases - opinion on a book, essay, or text.  

When your rhetorical analysis essay is due next week, you cannot escape this problem anymore. Further procrastination will lead to the failing grade. As far as each paper matters for your final score per course, it is important to catch up with all deadlines.You may face this kind of assignment for ...

What is a classification essay? Students often write this paper in social and science studies. If you need to complete this assignment, but you don’t know how to write a classification essay, there’s no need to panic. To answer the question what is a classification essay, the first thing that you sh...

You have definitely learned some definitions at school and college or even had to give your own definition of some terms or things. You know that definitions are usually short and consist of one to three sentences. But now you’ve got a task to write the whole definition essay. Have no idea how to wr...

How to Write a Critical Response Essay With Examples and Tips

16 January 2024

last updated

A critical response essay is an important type of academic essay, which instructors employ to gauge the students’ ability to read critically and express their opinions. Firstly, this guide begins with a detailed definition of a critical essay and an extensive walkthrough of source analysis. Next, the manual on how to write a critical response essay breaks down the writing process into the pre-writing, writing, and post-writing stages and discusses each stage in extensive detail. Finally, the manual provides practical examples of an outline and a critical response essay, which implement the writing strategies and guidelines of critical response writing. After the examples, there is a brief overview of documentation styles. Hence, students need to learn how to write a perfect critical response essay to follow its criteria.

Definition of a Critical Response Essay

A critical response essay presents a reader’s reaction to the content of an article or any other piece of writing and the author’s strategy for achieving his or her intended purpose. Basically, a critical response to a piece of text demands an analysis, interpretation, and synthesis of a reading. Moreover, these operations allow readers to develop a position concerning the extent to which an author of a text creates a desired effect on the audience that an author establishes implicitly or explicitly at the beginning of a text. Mostly, students assume that a critical response revolves around the identification of flaws, but this aspect only represents one dimension of a critical response. In turn, a critical response essay should identify both the strengths and weaknesses of a text and present them without exaggeration of their significance in a text.

Source Analysis

How to write a critical response essay

1. Questions That Guide Source Analysis

Writers engage in textual analysis through critical reading. Hence, students undertake critical reading to answer three primary questions:

  • What does the author say or show unequivocally?
  • What does the author not say or show outright but implies intentionally or unintentionally in the text?
  • What do I think about responses to the previous two questions?

Readers should strive to comprehensively answer these questions with the context and scope of a critical response essay. Basically, the need for objectivity is necessary to ensure that the student’s analysis does not contain any biases through unwarranted or incorrect comparisons. Nonetheless, the author’s pre-existing knowledge concerning the topic of a critical response essay is crucial in facilitating the process of critical reading. In turn, the generation of answers to three guiding questions occurs concurrently throughout the close reading of an assigned text or other essay topics .

2. Techniques of Critical Reading

Previewing, reading, and summarizing are the main methods of critical reading. Basically, previewing a text allows readers to develop some familiarity with the content of a critical response essay, which they gain through exposure to content cues, publication facts, important statements, and authors’ backgrounds. In this case, readers may take notes of questions that emerge in their minds and possible biases related to prior knowledge. Then, reading has two distinct stages: first reading and rereading and annotating. Also, students read an assigned text at an appropriate speed for the first time with minimal notetaking. After that, learners reread a text to identify core and supporting ideas, key terms, and connections or implied links between ideas while making detailed notes. Lastly, writers summarize their readings into the main points by using their own words to extract the meaning and deconstruct critical response essays into meaningful parts.

3. Creating a Critical Response

Up to this point, source analysis is a blanket term that represents the entire process of developing a critical response. Mainly, the creation of a critical response essay involves analysis, interpretation, and synthesis, which occur as distinct activities. In this case, students analyze their readings by breaking down texts into elements with distilled meanings and obvious links to a thesis statement . During analysis, writers may develop minor guiding questions under first and second guiding questions, which are discipline-specific. Then, learners focus on interpretations of elements to determine their significance to an assigned text as a whole, possible meanings, and assumptions under which they may exist. Finally, authors of critical response essays create connections through the lens of relevant pre-existing knowledge, which represents a version of the element’s interconnection that they perceive to be an accurate depiction of a text.

Writing Steps of a Critical Response Essay

Step 1: pre-writing, a. analysis of writing situation.

Purpose. Before a student begins writing a critical response essay, he or she must identify the main reason for communication to the audience by using a formal essay format. Basically, the primary purposes of writing a critical response essay are explanation and persuasion. In this case, it is not uncommon for two purposes to overlap while writing a critical response essay. However, one of the purposes is usually dominant, which implies that it plays a dominant role in the wording, evidence selection, and perspective on a topic. In turn, students should establish their purposes in the early stages of the writing process because the purpose has a significant effect on the essay writing approach.

Audience. Students should establish a good understanding of the audience’s expectations, characteristics, attitudes, and knowledge in anticipation of the writing process. Basically, learning the audience’s expectations enables authors to meet the organizational demands, ‘burden of proof,’ and styling requirements. In college writing, it is the norm for all essays to attain academic writing standards. Then, the interaction between characteristics and attitudes forces authors to identify a suitable voice, which is appreciative of the beliefs and values of the audience. Lastly, writers must consider the level of knowledge of the audience while writing a critical response essay because it has a direct impact on the context, clarity, and readability of a paper. Consequently, a critical response essay for classmates is quite different from a paper that an author presents to a multi-disciplinary audience.

Define a topic. Topic selection is a critical aspect of the prewriting stage. Ideally, assignment instructions play a crucial role in topic selection, especially in higher education institutions. For example, when writing a critical response essay, instructors may choose to provide students with a specific article or general instructions to guide learners in the selection of relevant reading sources. Also, students may not have opportunities for independent topic selection in former circumstances. However, by considering the latter assignment conditions, learners may need to identify a narrow topic to use in article selection. Moreover, students should take adequate time to do preliminary research, which gives them a ‘feel’ of the topic, for example, 19th-century literature. Next, writers narrow down the scope of the topic based on their knowledge and interests, for example, short stories by black female writers from the 19 th century.

B. Research and Documentation

Find sources. Once a student has a topic, he or she can start the process of identifying an appropriate article. Basically, choosing a good source for writing a critical response essay occurs is much easier when aided with search tools on the web or university repository. In this case, learners select keywords or other unique qualities of an article and develop a search filter. Moreover, authors review abstracts or forewords of credible sources to determine their suitability based on their content. Besides content, other factors constrain the article selection process: the word count for a critical response essay and a turnaround time. In turn, if an assignment has a fixed length of 500 words and a turnaround time of one week, it is not practical to select a 200-page source despite content suitability.

Content selection. The process of selecting appropriate content from academic sources relies heavily on the purpose of a critical response essay. Basically, students must select evidence that they will include in a paper to support their claims in each paragraph. However, writers tend to let a source speak through the use of extensive quotations or summaries, which dilutes a synthesis aspect of a critical response essay. Instead, learners should take a significant portion of time to identify evidence from reliable sources , which are relevant to the purpose of an essay. Also, a student who is writing a critical analysis essay to disagree with one or more arguments will select different pieces of evidence as compared to a person who is writing to analyze the overall effectiveness of the work.

Annotated bibliography. An annotated bibliography is vital to the development of a critical response essay because it enables authors to document useful information that they encounter during research. During research and documentation stages for a critical response essay, annotated bibliographies contain the main sources for a critical analysis essay and other sources that contribute to the knowledge base of an author, even though these sources will not appear in reference lists. Mostly, a critical response essay has only one source. However, an annotated bibliography contains summaries of other sources, which may inform the author’s critical response through the development of a deep understanding of a topic. In turn, an annotated bibliography is quite useful when an individual is writing a critical response to an article on an unfamiliar topic.

Step 2: Writing a Critical Response Essay

A. organization..

Thesis . A thesis statement sentence is a crucial component of a critical response essay because it presents the student’s purpose, argument, and the conclusion that he or she draws from the textual evidence. Also, the thesis statement is the response to the thesis question, which an author creates from assignment instructions. After completing the research stage, students can develop a tentative thesis statement to act as a starting point for the writing stage. Usually, tentative thesis statements undergo numerous revisions during the writing stage, which is a consequence of the refinement of the main idea during the drafting.

Weigh the evidence. Based on the tentative thesis, an author evaluates the relative importance of collected pieces of textual evidence to the central idea. Basically, students should distinguish between general and specific ideas to ascertain that there exists a logical sequence of presentation, which the audience can readily grasp. Firstly, for writing a critical response essay, learners should identify general ideas and establish specific connections that exist between each general idea and specific details, which support a central claim. Secondly, writers should consider some implications of ideas as they conduct a sorting process and remove evidence that does not fit. Moreover, students fill ‘holes’ that are present due to the lack of adequate supporting evidence to conclude this stage.

Create an outline. An essay outline is a final product of weighing the significance of the evidence in the context of the working thesis statement. In particular, a formal outline is a preferred form of essay structure for a critical response essay because it allows for detailed documentation of ideas while maintaining a clear map of connections. During the formation of an outline, students use a systematic scheme of indentation and labeling all the parts of an outline structure. In turn, this arrangement ensures that elements that play the same role are readily discernible at a glance, for example, primary essay divisions, secondary divisions, principle supporting points, and specific details.

Drafting. The drafting step involves the conversion of the one-sentence ideas in an outline format into complete paragraphs and, eventually, a critical response essay. In this case, there is no fixed approach to writing the first draft. Moreover, students should follow a technique that they find effective in overcoming the challenge of starting to write a critical response essay. Nonetheless, it is good practice to start writing paragraphs that authors believe are more straightforward to include regardless of specific positions that they hold on an outline. In turn, learners should strive to write freely and be open to new ideas despite the use of an outline. During drafting, the conveyance of meaning is much more important than the correctness of the draft.

Step 3: Post-Writing

Individual revision. An individual revision process focuses on the rethinking and rewriting of a critical response essay to improve the meaning and structure of a paper. Essentially, students try to review their papers from a perspective of readers to ensure that the level of detail, relationship and arrangement of paragraphs, and the contribution of the minor ideas to the thesis statement attain the desired effect. In this case, the use of a checklist improves the effectiveness of individual revision. Moreover, a checklist contains 12 main evaluation categories: assignment, purpose, audience and voice, genre, thesis, organization, development, unity, coherence, title, introduction, and conclusion.

Collaborative revision. Collaborative revision is a revision strategy that covers subconscious oversight that occurs during individual revision. During an individual revision of a critical response essay, authors rely on self-criticism, which is rarely 100% effective because writers hold a bias that their works are of high quality. Therefore, subjecting an individual’s work to peer review allows students to collect critique from an actual reader who may notice problems that an author may easily overlook. In turn, learners may provide peer reviewers with a checklist to simplify the revision process.

Editing . The editing step requires authors to examine the style, clarity, and correctness of a critical response essay. In particular, students review their papers to ascertain their conformance with the guidelines of formal essay writing and the English language. Moreover, sentence fragments, subject-verb agreement, dangling modifiers, incorrect use of punctuation, vague pronoun references, and parallelism are common grammar issues that learners eliminate during editing. Then, writers confirm that their critical response essays adhere to referencing style guidelines for citation and formatting, such as the inclusion of a title page, appropriate in-text citation, and proper styling of bibliographic information in the reference list. In turn, students must proofread a critical response essay repeatedly until they find all errors because such mistakes may divert the audience’s attention from the content of a paper.

Sample Outline Template for a Critical Response Essay

I. Introduction

A. Summary of an article. B. Thesis statement.

A. First body paragraph

  • The idea for the first paragraph.
  • Evidence for the first point from an article.
  • Interpretation of the evidence.

B. Second body paragraph

  • The idea for the second paragraph.
  • Evidence for the second point from an article.

C. Third body paragraph

  • The idea for the third paragraph.
  • Evidence for the third point from an article.

III. Conclusion

A. Summary of three points that form a body section. B. Closing remarks.

Uniqueness of a Critical Response Essay Outline

The presence of a summary in the introduction and an interpretation for each piece of evidence are defining features of a critical response essay. Typically, the introduction, being one of 5 parts of an essay , does not contain a succinct summary of a source that an author uses in body paragraphs. In this case, the incorporation of a summary in the introduction paragraph provides the audience with specific information concerning the target article of a critical response. Specifically, a critical response essay differs from other response papers because it emphasizes the provision of reasonable judgments of a text rather than the testing and defense of one’s judgments. In turn, authors of a critical response essay do not provide evaluation for their judgments, which implies that critical responses may be different but correct if a specific interpretation is reasonable to the audience.

Expanding an Outline Format Into a Critical Response Essay

1. introduction.

The introductory paragraph in a critical response essay consists of two primary sections: a summary of an article and a thesis statement. Firstly, a summary of an article consists of the text’s central argument and the purpose of the presentation of the argument. Basically, students should strive to distill the main idea and purpose of the text into a few sentences because the length of the introduction is approximately 10% of the essay’s word count. Then, a summary provides the audience with adequate background information concerning an article, which forms a foundation for announcing the student’s primary idea. In this case, writers may include an additional sentence between a summary and a thesis statement to establish a smooth flow in the opening paragraph. However, learners should not quote thesis and purpose statements because it results in a fragmented introduction, which is unappealing to readers and ineffective.

  • All body paragraphs have in a critical response essay four main elements: the writer’s idea, meaningful evidence from a reading text, interpretation of the evidence, and a concluding statement.

A. Writer’s Idea

The writer’s idea for a paragraph appears in the first sentence of a paragraph, which is a topic sentence. For example, if students know how to write a topic sentence , they present readers with a complete and distinct idea that proves or supports a thesis statement. In this case, authors should carefully word their topic sentences to ensure that there is no unnecessary generalization or spillovers of ideas from other paragraphs. Notably, all the topic sentences in the body of a critical response essay share a logical relationship that allows the audience to easily follow the development of the central idea of a paper.

B. Evidence

Students should provide evidence that supports the idea that they propose in the topic sentence. Basically, the evidence for all body paragraphs is the product of critical reading of an article, which allows writers to identify meaningful portions of a text. During the presentation of evidence, learners should ascertain that the contextual meaning of paraphrases or quotations is not lost because such a strategy will harm interpretations that follow after it. In turn, critical response essays must not contain lengthy or numerous quotations unless the meaning or intended effect of a quotation is not replicable upon paraphrasing.

C. Interpretation.

Interpretation segments of paragraphs allow authors to explain the significance of the evidence to the topic sentence. In a critical response essay, the interpretation is the equivalent of an author revealing the possible assumptions behind a text paraphrase and commenting on whether or not he or she finds them reasonable. Moreover, students make inferences concerning their meaning in the context of the entire narrative and its relation to the paragraph’s idea. In turn, learners should refrain from reading too much into a piece of evidence because it may result in false or unreasonable inferences.

D. Concluding Sentence

The concluding statement is the final sentence of any paragraph. In this case, the primary role of the concluding sentence is to emphasize the link between the topic sentence, evidence, interpretation, and the essay’s central idea. Also, the concluding statement should not contain an in-text citation because it does not introduce new evidence to support the topic sentence. Therefore, authors use concluding sentences to maintain the unity between body paragraphs and a critical response essay in its entirety.

3. Conclusion

The conclusion comprises of three core elements: a restatement of a thesis statement, a summary of the main points that authors present in body paragraphs, and closing remarks. In particular, the first statement of the conclusion draws the attention of the audience to the central idea, which an author proposes in a thesis statement. Then, students review the main points of a critical response essay to demonstrate that written arguments in body paragraphs adequately support a thesis statement. Moreover, writers should summarize the main points of a paper in the same order that they appear in the main part to guarantee that logical pattern in the body is readily discernible in summary. Finally, learners make their closing remarks, which creates a sense of wholesomeness in a critical response essay or ties a paper to a larger relevant discourse.

Example of Writing a Critical Response Essay

Topic: American Capitalism: The New Face of Slavery

I. Sample Introduction of a Critical Response Essay

Capitalism is a dominant characteristic of the American economy. In this case, Matthew Desmond’s article “In Order to Understand the Brutality of American Capitalism, You Have to Start on the Plantation” discusses the role of slavery in shaping contemporary business practices. Specifically, the author attempts to convince the audience that the brutality of American capitalism originates from slavery. In turn, Desmond lays a strong but simple foundation for his argument, which ensures that the audience can conceptualize the link between plantation slavery and contemporary American capitalistic practices.

II. Example of a Body in a Critical Response Essay

A. example of the first body paragraph: american capitalism.

Early in the article, Desmond informs readers of the high variability in the manifestation of capitalism in societies, which creates the impression that American capitalism is a choice. For example, Desmond (2019) argues that the brutality of American capitalism is simply one of the possible outcomes of a society built on capitalistic principles because other societies implement the same principles in a manner that is liberating, protective, and democratic. Moreover, Desmond begins his argument by eliminating a popular presumption that exploitation and oppression are unavoidable outcomes of capitalism. In turn, this strategic move to establish this fact is in the introductory section of the article because it invites the audience to rethink the meaning of capitalism. Furthermore, its plants doubt regarding the ‘true’ meaning of capitalism outside the context of American society.

B. Example of the Second Body Paragraph: American Capitalism: Slavery and American’s Economic Growth

After establishing that the perception of capitalism through the lens of American society has some bias, Desmond proceeds to provide detailed evidence to explain the attempt to camouflage the obvious link between slavery and America’s economic growth. For instance, Desmond (2019) notes the role of Alfred Chandler’s book, The Visible Hand, and Caitlin Rosenthal’s book, Accounting for Slavery, in breaking the link between management practices in plantations and modern corporations by suggesting that the current business practices are a consequence of the 19th-century railroad industry. In this case, Desmond uses this evidence to make a logical appeal to the audience, which makes his argument more convincing because he explains the reason behind the exclusion of slavery in the discourse on modern industry. As a result, Desmond dismisses one of the main counterarguments against his central argument, which increases his persuasive power.

C. Example of the Third Body Paragraph: Input vs. Output Dynamic

Desmond emphasizes the link between slavery and American capitalism to readers by using the simple input vs. output dynamic throughout the article. For example, Desmond (2019) compares the Plantation Record and Account Book to the heavy digital surveillance techniques in modern workplaces because they collect data, which the employers use to maximize productivity while minimizing inputs. In particular, the comparison reveals that employers did not stop the practice of reducing laborers into units of production with fixed productivity thresholds. Moreover, the constant repetition of the theme of low input and high output dominates the body paragraphs, which makes it nearly impossible for readers to lose sight of the link between slavery and business practices under American capitalism. In turn, the simplification of the underlying logic in Desmond’s argument ensures its clarity to the audience.

III. Sample Conclusion of a Critical Response Essay

Desmond carefully plans the presentation of his argument to the audience, which allows readers to follow the ideas easily. In particular, the author starts with a call for readers to set aside any presumptions concerning capitalism and its origin. Then, Desmond provides the audience with an alternative narrative with support from seminal texts in slavery and economics. On the whole, Desmond manages to convince the audience that the American capitalistic society is merely a replica rather than an aberration of slavery.

Citing Sources in a Critical Response Essay

A critical response essay contains specific thoughts of the article’s author and direct words of the text’s author. In this case, students must conduct proper documentation to ensure that readers of critical response essays can distinguish between these two types of ‘voices.’ Moreover, documentation prevents incidents of plagiarism. Usually, instructors mention a referencing technique that students should use in writing a critical response essay. However, if assignment instructions do not identify a specific documentation style, writers should use a referencing technique that is acceptable for scholarly writing in their disciplines.

In-text citation:

  • Parenthetical: (Desmond, 2019).
  • Narrative: Desmond (2019).
  • Desmond, M. (2019, August 12). In order to understand the brutality of American capitalism, you have to start on the plantation . New York Times.
  • Parenthetical: (Desmond par. 1).
  • Narrative: Desmond argues . . . (par. 1).

Works Cited:

  • Desmond, Matthew. “In Order to Understand the Brutality of American Capitalism, You Have to Start on the Plantation.” New York Times , 14 Aug. 2019,

3. Harvard Referencing

  • Parenthetical: (Desmond 2019).

Reference List:

  • Desmond, M 2019, In order to understand the brutality of American capitalism, you have to start on the plantation . Available from: <>. [27 August 2020].

4. Chicago/Turabian

In-text citation (footnote):

  • 1. Matthew Desmond, “In Order to Understand the Brutality of American Capitalism, You Have to Start on the Plantation,” New York Times, August 14, 2019,


  • Desmond, Matthew. “In Order to Understand the Brutality of American Capitalism, You Have to Start on the Plantation.” New York Times. August 14, 2019.

Final Provisions on a Critical Response Essay

  • Critical reading is a precursor for writing an effective critical response essay.
  • Students must conduct adequate research on a topic to develop a proper understanding of a theme, even if only one article appears on the reference list.
  • Notetaking or annotation is a good practice that aids students in extracting meaning from an article.
  • Writers should plan for all activities in the writing process to ascertain that they have adequate time to move through all the stages.
  • An outline is an organizational tool, which learners must use to establish the sequence of ideas in a critical response essay.
  • The purpose of a critical response essay has a significant impact on the selection of evidence and the arrangement of body paragraphs.
  • Students should prioritize revision and editing, which represent opportunities to refine the content of an essay and remove mechanical issues.
  • Collaborative and individual revision are equally important because they play different roles in the writing of a critical response essay.
  • Evidence selection is dependent on the purpose and thesis statement of a critical response essay.

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How to Write a Critical Response Essay: Step-by-Step Guide

Graduating without sharpening your critical thinking skills can be detrimental to your future career goals. To spare you the trouble, college teachers assign critical response tasks to prepare learners for making rational decisions.

Critical response papers also help professors assess the knowledge of each student on a relevant topic. They expect learners to conduct an in-depth analysis of each source and present their opinions based on the information they managed to retrieve.

This article aims to help students who have no idea how to write critical response essays. It offers insight into academic structuring, formatting, and editing rules. Here is our step-by-step recipe for writing a critical response essay.

What Is a Critical Response Essay?

The critical response essay displays the writer’s reaction to a written work. By elaborating on the content of a book, article, or play, you should discuss the author’s style and strategy for achieving the intended purpose. Ideally, the paper requires you to conduct a rhetorical analysis, interpret the text, and synthesize findings.

Instead of sharing somebody else’s solution on the subject matter, here you present your argumentation. Unlike a descriptive essay, this paper should demonstrate your strong expository skills. Often, a custom writing service can prove helpful if you find your evaluation essay time-consuming. Offering a value judgment about a specific topic takes time to acquire.

Another thing you should consider is not just focusing on the flaws. Though this is not a comparison and contrast essay, you must also reveal the strengths and present them without exaggeration. What matters is to develop your perspective on the work and how it affects the readership through implicit and explicit writing means.

Besides assessing your ability to develop coherent argumentation, professors will also grade your paper composition skills. They want to ensure you can critically reflect on various literature pieces. Hence, it’s essential to learn to analyze your topic thoroughly. This way, you gain a deep understanding and can organize a meaningful text.

Critical Response Essay & Other Essay Types

Standard essays contain three main segments: introduction, main body, and conclusion. But any other aspect beyond this vague outline differs depending on the assigned type. And while your critical response resembles an opinion essay since it expresses your viewpoint, you must distinguish it from other kinds.

For example, let’s consider a classification essay or a process essay. The first only lists the features of a particular object or several concepts to group them into categories. The second explains how something happens in chronological order and lists the phases of a concrete process. Hence, these variants are purely objective and lack personal reflection.

A narrative essay is more descriptive, with a focal point to tell a story. Furthermore, there’s the definition essay, an expository writing that provides information about a specific term. The writer, while showcasing their personal interpretation, must avoid criticism of the matter. Professional personal statement writers can provide assistance in creating the best essay that reflects the writer’s individual opinion.

Finally, though you can find some resemblances with an argumentative paper, critical responses comprise two parts. First, you quickly make an analytical summary of the original work and then offer a critique of the author’s writing. When drafting, it’s advisable to refrain from an informal essay format.

What Is the Structure of a Critical Response Essay?

The critical essay will have a typical structure consisting of five paragraphs. It is the most effective and easiest to follow. Here’s a brief demonstration of what you should include in each segment.


The introductory paragraph reveals your main argument related to the analysis. You should also briefly summarize the piece to acquaint the reader with the text. The purpose of the introduction is to give context and show how you interpreted the literary work.

These paragraphs discuss the main themes in the book or article. In them, ensure you provide comments on the context, style, and layout. Moreover, include as many quotations from the first-hand text or other sources to support your interpretation.

However, finding memorable quotes and evidence in the original book can be challenging. If you have difficulties drafting a body paragraph, write your essay online with the help of a custom writing platform. These experts will help you show how you reached your conclusions.

This paragraph restates all your earlier points and how they make sense. Hence, try to bind all your comments together in an easily digestible way for your readers. The ultimate purpose is to help the audience understand your logic and unify the essay’s central idea with your interpretations.

Writing Steps of a Critical Response Essay

Writing Steps of a Critical Response Essay

If you wonder how to write a critical response, remember that it takes time and proper planning. You will have to address multiple data, draft ideas, and rewrite your essay fast and efficiently. Follow the methods below to organize better and get a high grade without putting too much pressure on your shoulders.

1. Pick a Topic

Professors usually choose the topic and help you grasp the focus of the research. Yet, in some cases, you might be able to select a theme you like. When deciding, ensure the book can provide several arguments, concepts, or phenomena to review. You should also consider if there’s enough available data for analysis.

2. Research and Gather Information

This assignment means you cannot base your argumentation on personal beliefs and preferences. Instead, you must be flexible and accept different opinions from acknowledged scholarly sources. Moreover, ensure you have a reliable basis for your comments.

In short, avoid questionable resources and be accurate when referencing. Finding a single article claiming the concept or idea is correct and undisputable isn’t enough. You must read and consult various sources and conduct a meticulous examination.

3. Prepare the Outline

Define your claim or thesis statement and think of a “catch” sentence that will attract the reader’s attention. You must also consider titling an essay and giving background data and facts. At this stage, it’s also recommendable to establish the number of body segments. This step will help you get a more precise writing plan you will later reinforce with examples and evidence.

4. Start Rough Drafting

When writing your first draft, consider dedicating each section to a distinct argument or supporting evidence that proves your point. Cite and give credit as appropriate and ensure your text flows seamlessly and logically. Also, anticipate objections from opponents by including statements grounding your criticism.

5. Revise and Edit

Typically, your rough draft will require polishing. The best approach is to sleep on it to reevaluate its quality in detail. Check the relevance of your thesis statement and argumentation and ensure your work is free of spelling and grammatical mistakes. Also, your sentences should be concise and straight to the point, without irrelevant facts or fillers.

The Dos and Don’ts in Critical Response Essay Writing

Check your work against the following dos and don’ts for a perfect written piece.

  • Pick an intriguing title.
  • Cite each source, including quotations and theoretical information.
  • Connect sentences by using transition words for an essay like “First,” “Second,” “Moreover,” or “Last” for a good flow.
  • Start writing in advance because last-minute works suffer from poor argumentation and grammar.
  • Each paragraph must contain an analysis of a different aspect.
  • Use active verbs and dynamic nouns.
  • Ask a friend or classmate to proofread your work and give constructive comments.
  • Check the plagiarism level to ensure it’s free of copied content.
  • Don’t exceed the specified word limit.
  • Follow professional formatting guidelines.
  • Your summary must be short and not introduce new information.
  • Avoid clichés and overusing idioms.
  • Add the cited bibliography at the end.

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Utilizing Extended Response Items to Enhance Student Learning

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"Extended response items" have traditionally been called "essay questions." An extended response item is an open-ended question that begins with some type of prompt. These questions allow students to write a response that arrives at a conclusion based on their specific knowledge of the topic. An extended response item takes considerable time and thought. It requires students not only to give an answer but also to explain the answer with as much in-depth detail as possible. In some cases, students not only have to give an answer and explain the answer, but they also have to show how they arrived at that answer.

Teachers love extended response items because they require students to construct an in-depth response that proves mastery or lack thereof. Teachers can then utilize this information to reteach gap concepts or build upon individual student strengths. Extended response items require students to demonstrate a higher depth of knowledge than they would need on a multiple choice item. Guessing is almost completely eliminated with an extended response item. A student either knows the information well enough to write about it or they do not. Extended response items also are a great way to assess and teach students grammar and writing. Students must be strong writers as an extended response item also tests a student's ability to write coherently and grammatically correct.

Extended response items require essential critical thinking skills. An essay, in a sense, is a riddle that students can solve using prior knowledge, making connections, and drawing conclusions. This is an invaluable skill for any student to have. Those who can master it have a better chance of being successful academically.  Any student who can successfully solve problems and craft well-written explanations of their solutions will be at the top of their class. 

Extended response items do have their shortcomings. They are not teacher friendly in that they are difficult to construct and score. Extended response items take a lot of valuable time to develop and grade. Additionally, they are difficult to score accurately. It can become difficult for teachers to remain objective when scoring an extended response item. Each student has a completely different response, and teachers must read the entire response looking for evidence that proves mastery. For this reason, teachers must develop an accurate rubric and follow it when scoring any extended response item.

An extended response assessment takes more time for students to complete than a multiple choice assessment . Students must first organize the information and construct a plan before they can actually begin responding to the item. This time-consuming process can take multiple class periods to complete depending on the specific nature of the item itself.

Extended response items can be constructed in more than one way. It can be passage-based, meaning that students are provided with one or more passages on a specific topic. This information can help them formulate a more thoughtful response. The student must utilize evidence from the passages to formulate and validate their response on the extended response item. The more traditional method is a straightforward, open-ended question on a topic or unit that has been covered in class. Students are not given a passage to assist them in constructing a response but instead must draw from memory their direct knowledge on the topic.

Teachers must remember that formulating a well written extended response is a skill in itself. Though they can be a great assessment tool, teachers must be prepared to spend the time to teach students how to write a formidable essay . This is not a skill that comes without hard work. Teachers must provide students with the multiple skills that are required to write successfully including sentence and paragraph structure, using proper grammar, pre-writing activities, editing, and revising. Teaching these skills must become part of the expected classroom routine for students to become proficient writers.

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  • How to write a critical response essay

Guide on how to write a critical response essay

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As we know, the writing of a critical response essay is often accompanied by confusion and various questions. From the student’s perspective, such a reaction is justified and cannot be condemned. You have probably heard of regular academic essays. However, hearing the term critical response writing may raise a few eyebrows. Where do you even begin when it comes to evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the work? Today, we are going to break down the key rules of critical essay writing.

What is a critical response essay

A critical response essay is based on your skills of evaluation and interpretation. It analyzes a literary work, an article, or even a movie. If you have read detailed book reviews before, you are already familiar with the definition of a critical essay. You may think that the goal of a critical essay is to judge the written piece; however, this is not entirely true.

Students will analyze the text, form an opinion, assess its strengths and weaknesses, and present evidence of their claim by using information from the original source. So, whats a critical essay? It is a thoughtful analysis of the concept that allows you to express your views without using heavy critique. A critical response essay requires students to use their analytical skills in writing.

Writing steps of a critical response essay

Before writing a critical response essay, you should know what an essay analysis is and what kind of paper is expected from you. Critical response essays need to be structured according to the rules of critical writing. This includes dividing your paper into several sections and working with each separately.

Analyze your source

How to write a critical essay and impress your teacher? We recommend starting with the original source and its assessment. The students will have to read the literary work and highlight its key points. If you want to know how to write critical response essay, you need an example.

Let’s say you’ve been given a book to reflect on. To make our critical essay informative, we will look at the work of fiction, as it offers more nuances for interpreting the characters. As an example, we will take a fantasy classic, A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R. R. Martin. The critical essay’s objective will be to assess the role of fantasy elements in Martin’s world-building.

Summarize the notes

After you’ve read the piece and highlighted the parts of the text that meet your critical response essay demands, you can articulate your opinion on the subject. Do you agree with the author and their worldview? What are the parts of a typical reflective essay that you need to mention? Finding appropriate arguments will assist you in defining the key strengths and weaknesses of the literary work.

  • Think of a thesis statement . What is a response essay without a thesis statement? A thesis statement is the foundation of the text. To ensure you have an excellent thesis statement, think about the topic of your essay, what you have to say about the topic, and why the subject of your essay is important.
  • Include evidence . Your critical response essay has to include evidence or supporting details as a part of your analysis. Providing evidence to support the response can take different forms - from using direct quotations in favor of your argument to paraphrasing ideas and concepts.
  • Create an outline . An outline will allow you to examine the structure of your essay. You can think of your critical response essay outline as a map of your paper - it needs to show what information each paragraph will contain, the order in which your paragraphs will appear, and how all information is connected. You can use bullet points for an outline, as it will provide you with enough space to tweak your ideas without having to write complete paragraphs.
  • Make a draft . A critical essay is a piece of writing that cannot exist without a draft. A draft helps you organize your ideas in a way that makes sense and removes the fear of an empty page from a writer. Drafting is one of the most important steps in completing your essay. Here, you are supposed to use your outline ideas to create complete paragraphs. As you write your draft, keep the purpose of your essay in mind.

Editing and proofreading

Editing your critical response essay can clarify and improve your ideas, ensuring you have selected the right tone for the paper. Any grammar issues or stylistic errors you encounter while editing need to be corrected. In addition, you have to follow referencing standards for citation and bibliography. Proofreading your work will guarantee that the reader’s attention will not be diverted from the subject of your essay.

Knowing the answer to “What is a critical response essay?” may not always be enough to deal with your assignment. If you want to secure the best assistant to help you with your tasks, we suggest getting familiar with essay writing services reviews online. Reading the reviews and hiring an expert from will save you from stress. Just like seasoned professionals from, these writers will create your papers from scratch. Do you need your critical essay turned in before the established date free of grammatical or formatting errors? You can rely on a team of experts to follow the instructions in your paper to help you get the best grades.

Outline template for a critical response essay

If you have an assignment that says you must write a critical response essay with examples, the correct outline would be a good start. Here is the structure of a critical essay you can follow:


  • Your introduction must include the author's name and a publication date.
  • You need to describe the text you are introducing to the audience briefly.
  • Your introduction must present the essay's main idea and purpose.

The purpose of this critical response essay is to provide an analysis of the high fantasy genre in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and an assessment of the characters that fit the definition of this genre. The series focuses on different aspects of a pseudo-medieval society, including magic and realism, politics and human relationships, duty, and honor.

Body paragraphs

As you write critical response paragraphs for your essay, there is a certain order you need to adhere to if you wish to make your point:

  • Thesis statement . A thesis statement should present a personal take on the subject of a critical response essay. This is the part where you share an opinion with the readers and explain an idea your essay will be based on.
Martin’s take on a high fantasy genre is embodied in A Song of Ice and Fire, exploring the trope of good battling against evil as the very definition of good and evil is removed, leaving the audience to make their own judgment.
  • Analysis . What is critical response, and how can analyzing the text reflect it? Think about the characters, plot elements, and themes that prevail in the text. You can also share the author’s intentions conveyed through work of fiction. These observations should be supported with factual evidence.
Fantasy elements such as blood magic, dragonfire, wildfire, sorcery, and shadowbinding all fit within a high fantasy genre and serve to drive the plot of the story. The opening of the first novel plunges the reader into a world where the most terrifying concepts take human form, starting with the minor character’s collision with the White Walkers (A Game of Thrones, Prologue) to the appearance of dragons (A Game of Thrones, Daenerys).
  • Evaluation . How to write a critical response essay and not drown in the details? Evaluation will help you find your ground. To deliver a proper evaluation, you have to answer the question, “What is a critical response paper?” and understand how it can affect your writing style. An evaluation paragraph consists of assessing the text’s strengths and weaknesses.
The strengths of a high fantasy genre are extensive world-building, dedication to characters, and detailed descriptions. Weaknesses of a high fantasy genre are the multitude of characters and excessive use of poetic language. Martin’s prose is constructed in a way that does not diminish the effectiveness of his literary genius.
  • Response . Once you have established what is critical essay, you can formulate a response that will inform the readers about your opinion on the subject. You can share your impressions from reading the text and restate how the plot affected you and your perception.
Analyzing the text, I have noticed that each character has an individual motivation, which is not revealed immediately. Martin takes special care in building suspense for all his readers, unveiling their opportunistic views and manipulative intentions with subtlety.
  • Concluding statement . A concluding statement is an integral part of writing a response essay. It is also the final sentence of any paragraph. You don’t have to add any new information to your concluding statement, as it only serves to emphasize your earlier arguments:
A Song of Ice and Fire established an original approach to a high fantasy genre, combining politics with classic fantasy elements and encouraging you to read between the lines as you guess your favorite character’s plans and intentions.

Writing a conclusion for your critical response essay should make it easier for the readers to resonate with you on a personal level. Here, you are required to repeat your previous statements by forming a clear and coherent thesis or argument and summarize your points:

A Song of Ice and Fire is a masterful example of Martin’s dedication to the fantasy genre. The abundance of details leaves room for imagination and makes all his characters nuanced and realistic. The deeply humanizing aspect of Martin’s writing defines the outcome of the in-universe battle between good and evil and makes us sympathize with the so-called gray characters, painting them as neither heroic nor villainous.

Citing sources in a critical response essay

Whenever you write a critical response essay, you need to adhere to a certain formatting style. The formatting style is usually defined by your teacher, with MPA and MLA being the most popular styles. However, you will also come across the Chicago formatting style in the process:

  • MLA : Martin, George R. R., author. A Game of Thrones. New York: Bantam Books, 1996.
  • APA : Martin, George R. R., author. (1996). A Game of Thrones. New York: Bantam Books.
  • Chicago : Martin, George R. R., author. A Game of Thrones. New York: Bantam Books, 1996.

If you have a hard time understanding “What is a critical response essay?”, our guide is determined to assist you with this challenging assignment and improve your knowledge on the subject. Critical response essays have a specific structure that needs to be followed if you intend to make your teacher happy. By covering all the paragraphs in the right order, you will learn how to write reaction essay that expresses your opinion and provides arguments to support your views.

A critical response essay is an analytical piece of writing that evaluates a text, providing both a summary and a thoughtful critique. It's essential for students as it fosters critical thinking skills, encourages engagement with complex ideas, and demonstrates the ability to articulate informed opinions.

Begin by thoroughly reading and annotating the text, taking note of key themes, arguments, and evidence. Then, formulate a thesis statement that reflects your interpretation and assessment of the text. Support your thesis with evidence from the text and additional scholarly sources, and structure your essay with an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion that synthesizes your analysis.

Focus on providing a balanced evaluation of the text, acknowledging both its strengths and weaknesses. Engage with the author's arguments and evidence thoughtfully, offering meaningful insights and interpretations. Additionally, ensure your writing is clear, concise, and well-supported, and always provide citations for any outside sources used.

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Utah Gov. Spencer Cox defends DEI stance in essay

Governor said his views on diversity, equity and inclusion have been misrepresented by some.

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Gov. Spencer Cox speaks to reporters at the PBS monthly news conference at the Eccles Broadcast Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Utah’s governor took to Substack , a blogging platform, on Friday to set the record straight about his views on diversity, equity and inclusion in a 5,000-word essay that includes complete verbatim answers to reporter questions and clarifies some “disingenuous media reports” and social media posts.

Responding to what he said were misleading characterizations, Gov. Spencer Cox offered up an essay titled, “An accounting of my actions on DEI,” which provides background and context for previous comments condemning some DEI practices, while embracing a better way forward espousing many of their principles.

For example, he defended his signing of a bill to overhaul state DEI programs to ensure resources for college students are meted out on the basis of individual need, not group identity.

“While nuance is a foreign concept in the politics of today,” Cox began, “I have not given up hope that explaining the thinking behind specific decisions I make — even those with which you may disagree — will help you understand the spirit with which I have recently taken those actions.”

Cox said: “While we have made great strides as a state and country, we must continue to work together to combat racism. There’s tremendous value in getting proximate with those who are different than we are and I’m grateful for the many partners who are working to make Utah a more inclusive place.”

Here are three main points the governor made.

Quotes were taken out of context

During his December PBS press conference , Cox was asked by a Deseret News reporter whether the Utah Legislature would take up the issue of DEI offices in public universities this session, as had recently been done in many other states.

Cox said state lawmakers needed to play a part in rolling back certain elements of DEI that had proven to be problematic. He singled out the practice of requiring diversity statements in hiring and promotions, saying it is “bordering on evil that we’re forcing people into having a political framework before they can even apply for a job by the state” — a statement he later apologized for.

In his essay, Cox said some outlets emphasized his use of the word “evil” and framed his comments as “attacking” efforts to increase diversity in the state. Cox said these articles neglected to provide fuller context for his comments, including what he said earlier in his response:

“I believe that diversity is very important. And I think it is a worthy goal. I think that inclusion is absolutely critical.”

Questioning DEI doesn’t equal being a racist

Cox said it should be possible to question the effectiveness of DEI programs, which cost the state millions of dollars each year despite little evidence backing their effectiveness, without being labeled a bigot.

“I’m so tired of the false choices,” Cox quoted himself saying in December’s press conference. “‘If you’re opposed to the kind of the identitarianism of DEI, then you’re racist.’ That’s not true. I care deeply about our brown kids and our black kids.”

In his essay, Cox cites a handful of experts that argue that DEI programs may actually increase feelings of division on campuses and wherever else they are implemented. He said the “majority of Americans” are “concerned about the growing and divisive political ideology behind DEI.”

“At the core of the issue is this simple question,” Cox wrote, “Can you be supportive of diversity and still raise concerns with the way in which $3.2 million in DEI operations are administered? If the answer is no, then I’m afraid many of us, myself included, will forever be cast as hypocrites, racists, or worse.”

New Utah bill goes beyond DEI to help struggling students

On Jan. 30, Utah lawmakers passed HB261 , Equal Opportunity Initiatives, which outlaws “discriminatory” DEI practices in all public institutions, including mandatory trainings, diversity statements, differential treatment based on personal identity characteristics, and maintaining offices under the title “diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

The bill also offers general language that commits continued funding for student success centers at universities as long as they ensure that resources are fully accessible to all struggling students. Cox, who signed HB261 the same day it passed with a veto-proof majority in both chambers, called this provision the “core of the bill.”

“If a student needs help, Utah colleges and universities will provide help without excluding any students,” he wrote Friday.

Cox commended the Legislature for going beyond the “easy” path of simply banning diversity statements or defunding DEI offices, as has been done in dozens of states around the country.

“Utah decided to chart a different path,” he wrote. “I’m grateful to the Legislature for not following the lead of other states that simply eliminated DEI funding with no alternative path for students who may be struggling.”

In his conclusion, Cox expressed optimism that the country can continue progressing toward the ideal of race-blind public institutions.

“Every day I am grateful for the countless Utahns who work to make our state a more inclusive place,” Cox said. “But this work can only be done by finding ways to get closer to each other — not further apart like the DEI of today requires.”

You can read the governor’s essay in full here .

Trump’s ‘Knock on the Door’

The former president and his aides are formulating plans to deport millions of migrants.

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Confrontations over immigration and border security are moving to the center of the struggle between the two parties, both in Washington, D.C., and beyond. And yet the most explosive immigration clash of all may still lie ahead.

In just the past few days, Washington has seen the collapse of a bipartisan Senate deal to toughen border security amid opposition from former President Donald Trump and the House Republican leadership, as well as a failed vote by House Republicans to impeach Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for allegedly refusing to enforce the nation’s immigration laws. Simultaneously, Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott, supported by more than a dozen other GOP governors, has renewed his attempts to seize greater control over immigration enforcement from the federal government.

Cumulatively these clashes demonstrate how much the terms of debate over immigration have moved to the right during President Joe Biden’s time in office. But even amid that overall shift, Trump is publicly discussing immigration plans for a second presidential term that could quickly become much more politically divisive than even anything separating the parties now.

Trump has repeatedly promised that, if reelected, he will pursue “the Largest Domestic Deportation Operation in History,” as he put it last month on social media . Inherently, such an effort would be politically explosive. That’s because any mass-deportation program would naturally focus on the largely minority areas of big Democratic-leaning cities where many undocumented immigrants have settled, such as Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, New York, and Phoenix.

“What this means is that the communities that are heavily Hispanic or Black, those marginalized communities are going to be living in absolute fear of a knock on the door, whether or not they are themselves undocumented,” David Leopold, a former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told me. “What he’s describing is a terrifying police state, the pretext of which is immigration.”

How Trump and his advisers intend to staff such a program would make a prospective Trump deportation campaign even more volatile. Stephen Miller, Trump’s top immigration adviser, has publicly declared that they would pursue such an enormous effort partly by creating a private red-state army under the president’s command. Miller says a reelected Trump intends to requisition National Guard troops from sympathetic Republican-controlled states and then deploy them into Democratic-run states whose governors refuse to cooperate with their deportation drive.

Such deployment of red-state forces into blue states, over the objections of their mayors and governors, would likely spark intense public protest and possibly even conflict with law-enforcement agencies under local control. And that conflict itself could become the justification for further insertion of federal forces into blue jurisdictions, notes Joseph Nunn, a counsel in the Liberty & National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School.

From his very first days as a national candidate in 2015, Trump has intermittently promised to pursue a massive deportation program against undocumented immigrants. As president, Trump moved in unprecedented ways to reduce the number of new arrivals in the country by restricting both legal and illegal immigration. But he never launched the huge “deportation force” or widespread removals that, he frequently promised, would uproot the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the United States during his time in office. Over Trump’s four years, in fact, his administration deported only about a third as many people from the nation’s interior as Barack Obama’s administration had over the previous four years, according to a study by the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute .

Read: The GOP’s true priority

Exactly why Trump never launched the comprehensive deportation program he promised is unclear even to some veterans of his administration. The best answer may be a combination of political resistance within Congress and in local governments, logistical difficulties, and internal opposition from the more mainstream conservative appointees who held key positions in his administration, particularly in his first years.

This time, though, Trump has been even more persistent than in the 2016 campaign in promising a sweeping deportation effort. (“Those Biden has let in should not get comfortable because they will be going home,” Trump posted on his Truth Social site last month .) Simultaneously, Miller has outlined much more explicit and detailed plans than Trump ever did in 2016 about how the administration would implement such a deportation program in a second term.

Dismissing these declarations as merely campaign bluster would be a mistake, Miles Taylor, who served as DHS chief of staff under Trump, told me in an interview. “If Stephen Miller says it, if Trump says it, it is very reasonable to assume that’s what they will try to do in a second term,” said Taylor, who later broke with Trump to write a New York Times op-ed and a book that declared him unfit for the job . (Taylor wrote the article and book anonymously, but later acknowledged that he was the author.)

Officials at DHS successfully resisted many of Miller’s most extreme immigration ideas during Trump’s term, Taylor said. But with the experience of Trump’s four years behind them, Taylor told me Trump and Miller would be in a much stronger position in 2025 to drive through militant ideas such as mass deportation and internment camps for undocumented migrants. “Stephen Miller has had the time and the battle scars to inform a very systematic strategy,” Taylor said.

Miller outlined the Trump team’s plans for a mass-deportation effort most extensively in an interview he did this past November on a podcast hosted by the conservative activist Charlie Kirk. In the interview, Miller suggested that another Trump administration would seek to remove as many as 10 million “foreign-national invaders” who he claims have entered the country under Biden.

To round up those migrants, Miller said, the administration would dispatch forces to “go around the country arresting illegal immigrants in large-scale raids.” Then, he said, it would build “large-scale staging grounds near the border, most likely in Texas,” to serve as internment camps for migrants designated for deportation. From these camps, he said, the administration would schedule near-constant flights returning migrants to their home countries. “So you create this efficiency by having these standing facilities where planes are moving off the runway constantly, probably military aircraft, some existing DHS assets,” Miller told Kirk.

In the interview, Miller acknowledged that removing migrants at this scale would be an immense undertaking, comparable in scale and complexity to “building the Panama Canal.” He said the administration would use multiple means to supplement the limited existing immigration-enforcement personnel available to them, primarily at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, better known as ICE. One would be to reassign personnel from other federal law-enforcement agencies such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the DEA. Another would be to “deputize” local police and sheriffs. And a third would be to requisition National Guard troops to participate in the deportation plans.

Miller offered two scenarios for enlisting National Guard troops in removing migrants. One would be in states where Republican governors want to cooperate. “You go to the red-state governors and you say, ‘Give us your National Guard,’” he said. “We will deputize them as immigration-enforcement officers.”

The second scenario, Miller said, would involve sending National Guard forces from nearby Republican-controlled states into what he called an “unfriendly state” whose governor would not willingly join the deportation program.

Read: The specter of family separation

Even those sweeping plans understate the magnitude of the effort that mass deportations would require, Jason Houser, a former chief of staff at ICE under Biden, told me. Removing 500,000 to 1 million migrants a year could require as many as 100,000–150,000 deputized enforcement officers, Houser believes. Staffing the internment camps and constant flights that Miller is contemplating could require 50,000 more people, Houser said. “If you want to deport a million a year—and I’m a Navy officer—you are talking a mobilization the size of a military deployment,” Houser told me.

Enormous legal resources would be required too. Immigration lawyers point out that even if Trump detained migrants through mass roundups, the administration would still need individual deportation orders from immigration courts for each person it wants to remove from the country. “It’s not as simple as sending Guardsmen in to arrest everyone who is illegal or undocumented,” said Leopold, the immigration lawyer.

All of this exceeds the staffing now available for immigration enforcement; ICE, Houser said, has only about 6,000 enforcement agents. To fill the gap, he said, Trump would need to transfer huge numbers of other federal law-enforcement agents, weakening the ability of agencies including the DEA, the FBI, and the U.S. Marshals Service to fulfill their principal responsibilities. And even then, Trump would still need support from the National Guard to reach the scale he’s discussing.

Even if Trump used National Guard troops in supporting roles, rather than to “break down doors” in pursuit of migrants, they would be thrust into highly contentious situations, Houser said.

“You are talking about taking National Guard members out of their jobs in Texas and moving them into, say, Philadelphia and having them do mass stagings,” Houser said. “Literally as Philadelphians are leaving for work, or their kids are going to school, they are going to see mass-deportation centers with children and mothers who were just in the community working and thriving.” He predicts that Trump would be forced to convert warehouses or abandoned malls into temporary relocation centers for thousands of migrants.

Adam Goodman, a historian at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the author of The Deportation Machine , told me, “There’s no precedent of millions of people being removed in U.S. history in a short period of time.” The example Trump most often cites as a model is “Operation Wetback,” the mass-deportation program—named for a slur against Mexican Americans—launched by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1954. That program involved huge sweeps through not only workplaces, but also heavily Mexican American communities in cities such as Los Angeles. Yet even that effort, despite ensnaring an unknown number of legal residents, removed only about 250,000 people, Goodman said. To deport the larger numbers Trump is promising, he would need an operation of much greater scale and expense.

The Republican response to Texas’s standoff with the Biden administration offers Trump reason for optimism that red-state governors would support his ambitious immigration plans. So far, 14 Republican-controlled states have sent National Guard troops or other law-enforcement personnel to bolster Abbott in his ongoing efforts to assert more control over immigration issues . The Supreme Court last month overturned a lower-court decision that blocked federal agents from dismantling the razor-wire barriers Texas has been erecting along the border. But Abbott insists that he’ll build more of the barriers nonetheless. “We are expanding to further areas to make sure we will expand our level of deterrence,” Abbott declared last Sunday at a press conference near the border , where he was joined by 13 other GOP governors. Abbott has said he expects every red state to eventually send forces to back his efforts.

But the National Guard deployments to Texas still differ from the scenario that Miller has sketched. Abbott is welcoming the personnel that other states are sending to Texas. In that sense, this deployment is similar to the process under which George W. Bush, Obama, Trump, and now Biden utilized National Guard troops to support federal immigration-enforcement efforts in Texas and, at times, other border states: None of the governors of those states has opposed the use of those troops in their territory for that purpose.

The prospect of Trump dispatching red-state National Guard troops on deportation missions into blue states that oppose them is more akin to his actions during the racial-justice protests following the murder of George Floyd in summer 2020. At that point, Trump deployed National Guardsmen provided by 11 Republican governors to Washington, D.C., to quell the protests.

The governors provided those forces to Trump under what’s known as “hybrid status” for the National Guard (also known as Title 32 status). Under hybrid status, National Guard troops remain under the technical command of their state’s governor, even though they are executing a federal mission. Using troops in hybrid status isn’t particularly unusual; what made that deployment “unprecedented,” in Joseph Nunn’s phrase, is that the troops were deployed over the objection of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.

The hybrid status that Trump used in D.C. is probably the model the former president and Miller are hoping to use to send red-state National Guard forces into blue states that don’t want them, Nunn told me. But Nunn believes that federal courts would block any such effort. Trump could ignore the objections from the D.C. government because it’s not a state, but Nunn believes that if Trump sought to send troops in hybrid status from, say, Indiana to support deportation raids in Chicago, federal courts would say that violates Illinois’ constitutional rights. “Under the Constitution, the states are sovereign and coequal,” Nunn said. “One state cannot reach into another state and exercise governmental power there without the receiving state’s consent.”

But Trump could overcome that obstacle, Nunn said, through a straightforward, if more politically risky, alternative that he and his aides have already discussed. If Trump invoked the Insurrection Act, which dates back to 1792, he would have almost unlimited authority to use any military asset for his deportation program. Under the Insurrection Act, Trump could dispatch the Indiana National Guard into Illinois, take control of the Illinois National Guard for the job, or directly send in active-duty military forces, Nunn said.

“There are not a lot of meaningful criteria in the Insurrection Act for assessing whether a given situation warrants using it, and there is no mechanism in the law that allows the courts or Congress to check an abuse of the act,” Nunn told me. “There are quite literally no safeguards.”

Read: America’s immigration reckoning has arrived

The Insurrection Act is the legal tool presidents invoked to federalize control over state National Guards when southern governors used the troops to block racial integration. For Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act to instead target racial minorities through his deportation program might be even more politically combustible than sending in National Guard troops through hybrid status during the 2020 D.C. protests, Nunn said. But, like many other immigration and security experts I spoke with, Nunn believes those concerns are not likely to dissuade a reelected Trump from using the Insurrection Act if courts block his other options.

In fact, as I’ve written , a mass-deportation program staffed partially with red-state National Guard forces is only one of several ideas that Trump has embraced for introducing federal forces into blue jurisdictions over the objections of their local leaders. He’s also talked about sending federal personnel into blue cities to round up homeless people (and place them in camps as well) or just to fight crime. Invoking the Insurrection Act might be the necessary predicate for those initiatives as well.

These plans could produce scenes in American communities unmatched in our history. Leopold, to take one scenario raised by Miller in his interview, asks what would happen if the Republican governor of Virginia, at Trump’s request, sends National Guard troops into Maryland, but the Democratic governor of that state orders his National Guard to block their entry? Similarly, in a huge deportation sweep through a residential neighborhood in Los Angeles or Chicago, it’s easy to imagine frightened migrant families taking refuge in a church and a Democratic mayor ordering local police to surround the building. Would federal agents and National Guard troops sent by Trump try to push past the local police by force?

For all the tumult that the many disputes over immigration are now generating, these possibilities could prove far more disruptive, incendiary, and even violent.

“What we would expect to see in a second Trump presidency is governance by force,” Deana El-Mallawany, a counsel and the director of impact programs at Protect Democracy, a bipartisan group focused on threats to democracy, told me. “This is his retribution agenda. He is looking at ways to aggrandize and consolidate power within the presidency to do these extreme things, and going after marginalized groups first, like migrants and the homeless, is the way to expand that power, normalize it, and then wield it more broadly against everybody in our democracy.”


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What to Know About Indonesia’s Election

More than 100 million people are expected to vote. The country is a vibrant democracy, but some fear it risks sliding back toward a dark past.

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A woman holds a clipboard in a room full of identical white boxes, wrapped in plastic.

By Sui-Lee Wee

Reporting from Jakarta, Indonesia

The numbers are staggering.

More than 100 million people are expected to vote, many for the first time. They’ll do so in booths across thousands of islands and three time zones, hammering nails into ballots to mark their choices. And within hours, if history is any guide, the world will know the outcome of the biggest race of the day: the one for Indonesia’s presidency.

Indonesia, the world’s third-largest democracy, will hold its general election on Wednesday. Election Day is a national holiday, and on average, about 75 percent of eligible voters have turned out. In addition to the president, voters are choosing members of Parliament and local representatives.

This election season has raised fears that Indonesia, which was an authoritarian state not long ago, is in danger of sliding back toward its dark past. The potential ramifications extend far beyond the country’s borders. As one of the world’s biggest exporters of coal, nickel and palm oil, Indonesia has a large role to play in the climate change crisis.

And in the contest between the United States and China for influence in Asia, Indonesia is seen by U.S. officials as a “swing state.” Under President Joko Widodo, ties with China have deepened significantly, but he has also maintained strong defense relations with Washington.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is at stake?

The election is widely seen as a referendum on the legacy of Mr. Joko, who is stepping down after two five-year terms.

Often referred to as Jokowi, he remains extremely popular because he has transformed Indonesia into one of Southeast Asia’s biggest economic success stories. He ushered in a universal health care system, built more than 1,000 miles of roads and highways, and oversaw respectable economic growth of about 5 percent a year.

His supporters say his job is unfinished and that there are pressing issues, such as inequality and poverty, that still need to be addressed. Critics say democratic norms have eroded under Mr. Joko’s time in power and that he is now maneuvering to extend his influence even after he leaves office .

Mr. Joko appears to be backing Prabowo Subianto, a onetime rival who has been accused of human rights abuses, to become his successor, alarming even some of his supporters. The outcome of the election could determine the future of democracy in Indonesia, which has the world’s biggest Muslim population.

Who’s running for president?

For the first time in 15 years, voters will get to pick from three presidential candidates: Mr. Prabowo, the current defense minister; Anies Baswedan, the former governor of Jakarta; and Ganjar Pranowo, who ran Central Java.

Mr. Prabowo has touted himself as the continuity candidate, saying this month that Mr. Joko’s policies had been “very, very beneficial for all of the people.” But he is a polarizing choice.

To many Indonesians, Mr. Prabowo is associated with the dictator Suharto , who ruled with an iron fist over the country from the mid-1960s to the late 1990s. Mr. Prabowo was married to one of Suharto’s daughters and served as a general in his military, which was notorious for human rights violations. In 1998, Mr. Prabowo was discharged from the army for ordering the kidnappings of student activists.

But Mr. Prabowo has shored up support thanks to an image makeover and the implicit backing of Mr. Joko. Surveys show Mr. Prabowo with a wide lead in the polls, but it is less clear whether he will win enough votes across a broad base of provinces to land the presidency without having to go through a runoff election in June.

A large number of swing voters, by one count around 13 percent of the electorate, make the result hard to predict.

Mr. Ganjar of Central Java — the candidate fielded by Mr. Joko’s political party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle — has also promised to continue most of Mr. Joko’s policies, albeit with tweaks. He has been described as “Jokowi lite.” But analysts say he has struggled to define his message, and polls show his support topping off at around 20 percent.

Mr. Anies, the former Jakarta governor, is highly regarded in the capital for improving public transportation and managing the coronavirus pandemic, but his previous ties to radical Islamist preachers have raised concerns.

In recent weeks, though, Mr. Anies has drawn support from Gen Z voters and educated urbanites on a message of change, with some surveys showing he is slightly ahead of Mr. Ganjar. He has argued that a plan pushed by Mr. Joko to move the capital to another island would not lead to equitable development, and he has warned about the return of nepotism.

Why is the youth vote so important this time?

People under 40 account for more than half of all eligible voters, making them the biggest bloc in this election. Surveys have found that younger voters are concerned about the economy, education, employment and corruption.

To reach this cohort, the presidential hopefuls have turned to social media. Mr. Prabowo, the former general, has tried to rebrand himself as a gemoy, or cute, grandfather. TikTok has been flooded with videos of him dancing at rallies. This strategy has endeared him to some voters.

Many young people are unaware of the problematic aspects of Mr. Prabowo’s past, such as his role in the kidnapping of activists, because the history of Suharto-era human rights violations is not taught in schools.

Independent groups that run websites like “Bijak Memilih,” or Choose Wisely, are working to help younger voters by providing news and information. One reason they are doing so is some young voters have expressed skepticism about the independence of the country’s media outlets.

Mr. Anies is also using social media to drum up support, turning to an unlikely bloc: Indonesian K-pop fans. Many such supporters say they were taken by Mr. Anies after he emerged from a debate and did a TikTok livestream with his supporters, where, like a K-pop star, he answered questions about his love life and his favorite books.

What sets this election apart from others?

It is one of the world’s most complex single-day elections. About 205 million people are registered to vote in this sprawling archipelago of about 17,000 islands, roughly 7,000 of which are inhabited.

Six million election officials have begun fanning out across the country to ensure that as many people as possible get a chance to vote. Logistics are a headache in some places — requiring officials to travel on horseback or take boats or helicopters and trek for hours to deliver ballots to voters.

“It is a massive, colossal task,” said Yulianto Sudrajat, a member of Indonesia’s General Election Commission who is in charge of logistics.

Voters will mark their ballots by hammering nails into them, which election officials say is a fairer method than using a pen, since some Indonesians are unfamiliar with writing instruments. As the votes are counted, election officials hold the ballots up so people can see light shining through the holes.

In 2019, the process took such a toll that 894 election workers died, prompting the government to urge volunteers this time to undergo health screenings.

Although the official vote count takes weeks to confirm, the results are generally known by the end of the day, based on so-called quick counts, a kind of exit poll. After polling stations close at 1 p.m. Jakarta time, independent pollsters will tally ballots from a sampling of voting stations nationwide.

In previous elections, the quick counts — released by 5 p.m. — have accurately reflected the real results.

Rin Hindryati and Hasya Nindita contributed reporting.

Sui-Lee Wee is the Southeast Asia bureau chief for The Times, overseeing coverage of 11 countries in the region. More about Sui-Lee Wee


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