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Guide: How to write evaluative essays

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  • Subject area(s): Types of essay
  • Reading time: 2 minutes
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  • Published: 6 December 2019*
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  • Words: 402 (approx)
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The purpose of an evaluative essay is to teach students how to think critically and how to use examples to support their points. This essay is relatively simple and often enjoyable to write because everyone likes to give their opinions. As a result, professors and instructors often make the evaluative essay the first essay they assign in an introductory composition course.


Getting the tone right is critical for the evaluative essay. If the tone is too enthusiastically positive or scathingly negative, the audience may be less inclined to believe the author’s evaluation. It is essential to maintain an objective tone, even if the evaluation is largely positive or largely negative. This tone implies fairness and helps to build credibility with the audience.


The introduction of an evaluative essay should mention the item or idea being evaluated, and provide background information about it. For example, if a student is evaluating the book “Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins, they should explain that the book is the second book in the bestselling “Hunger Games” trilogy, as well as provide other pertinent background information about the book.

The thesis should explain the overall evaluation and provide the major criteria for evaluation. For example, “‘Catching Fire’ is an excellent book for older children and teens because it is fast-paced and has strong characters that are positive role models. However, the plot of ‘Catching Fire’ is not as absorbing as the first book in the series, ‘The Hunger Games.'”

Supporting Paragraphs

Each supporting paragraph should cover one of the criteria mentioned in the thesis. The paragraphs should have strong topic sentences that guide the reader as the author moves from criteria to criteria. If the instructor requires sources, the student should use those sources to support their evaluation. Examples of appropriate sources for an evaluative essay include well-known critics or experts, or well-regarded sources of reviews, such as “Consumer Reports.”


The conclusion of an evaluative essay usually provides a final recommendation based on the criteria they discussed in the essay. The author should state whether they would recommend the item, or whether they subscribe to the idea being evaluated. If they would recommend the item or idea, but only for a limited group of people or only under certain circumstances, they should make that clear. For example, a student might state “‘Catching Fire’ should be recommended reading for all students aged 12 to 18.”

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