How To Write An Evaluation Essay

Essay paper writing

Academic writing


What is an Evaluation Essay

Evaluation essays represent a special type of writing not to be mixed up with any other: its clear distinction is the purpose to evaluate the quality of something important, and/or something the reader might be not informed about good enough. It can be a particular item: a type of food, a brand of cars, a cultural event, a specific kind of entertainment, a service, or a business. Practically, everything that people might do, can be evaluated, or needs an evaluation.

But as long as nobody is interested to learn about the writer’s biased opinion, this specific type of essay writing implies a need to come up with serious reasoning and argumentation. The reader should be able to form his own opinion basing on the evidence the writer presents. Hence, an evaluation essay requires certain skills, well-weighed approach to the topic and, in general, a very specific type of writing called evaluative.

Evaluative writing definition is quite simple: it is a type of writing used to present a judgment according to certain criteria the writer applies. The whole writing is built and styled basing on the certain criteria for evaluation essay. For example, before the insurance company issues your medical insurance policy, it should evaluate your health in its existing conditions. For this purpose, a set of reliable and workable evaluation criteria is used. In a way, the insurance company needs an evaluation essay on your health, and it must be written in the respective evaluative style: formal, logical, argumentative, with no unnecessary lyrical digressions. This is precisely the style the subject matter requires. However, writing an evaluation essay on other subjects can be somewhat different, and the styles could vary, of which we will talk a bit later.

How to Start an Evaluation Essay

Searching the web, you may find a lot of information on the topic of how to write an evaluation paper. Some authors even state that staring an evaluation essay is not difficult. In fact, if it is your first task of this kind, it is not easy at all. The beginning is always difficult, especially if you miss an important part of your preparations.

Here is a brief description of what you should take care about before you start to type your text.

Choosing Your Topic

It is not a problem if a ready topic is given to you. But in most cases, if you are a student, your professor would give you a choice which topic to select. Thus, you would need to start working on your evaluation essay first with the evaluation of the topics - just to pick up the right one. It is not going to be just one interesting or an intriguing topic with a splash headline, or the issue you have something to say about. The questions you should ask yourself are: am I able to provide a critical judgment? Can I come up with a strong set of criteria for this judgment? And, if negative: will I be able to research this topic thoroughly enough to be positive about these two questions?

It comes without saying that the topic you choose should be, first of all, interesting for you - in this case, the task will be easier to complete and your reader will be pleased to see your personal attitude and involvement with the subject. But you should remember that writing an evaluation essay is not like telling an interesting story. Coming up with critical judgment and using the respective criteria make the whole difference.

Developing your thesis statement

It is exactly what you should do once you have your topic selected. It is strongly advised not to come down to your thesis after you have started the writing. The evaluation essay thesis should come first. Make sure that the entire text of your essay works for this very statement. It can contain the evaluation and maybe some explanations of why this particular evaluation is important.

For example, if you evaluate the food quality offered by a local restaurant that pretends to be ‘ethnic’ your thesis might be that this particular restaurant is a nice attempt to present a variety of the respective dishes. Or, a failed attempt, or something in-between - depending on the kind of evaluation you provide.

Considering Your Criteria

Again, don’t start writing your text unless your criteria are not well thought through. After your thesis statement is formulated, mind the criteria because they represent your workable evaluation tool. Regarding that restaurant we just mentioned - you could choose such criteria: How tasty and/or healthy is the food? Is it reasonably priced? Does it really represent the ‘ethnic’ side of the cuisine offered? Does the interior correspond to the proclaimed specialization? Is the restaurant suitably located?

There is a threat to drown in the sea of many different criteria, because the more complex your evaluation object is, the more criteria are involved. In case you need to limit your evaluation to several criteria, or maybe even to one, you should state it separately in your intro, or possibly in the title: “Food quality in the new ethnic restaurant...”.

Gathering Your Evidence

This is the last thing you may want to do before writing. Remember that you need your evidence only to support your judgment and not to bind your viewpoint on your reader. Imagine you evaluate the things just in order to consult your readers, offering them to develop their own judgment basing on your evaluation, taking into account your viewpoint and the quality evidence you collected.

Don’t get discouraged because the bits and pieces of your evidence might contradict to each other. It is just a real-life situation when you need to reliably evaluate something important and your evidence is contradictory while you are still unable to clear the contradictions satisfactorily. It can be the case when you would need to come back to your thesis statement in order to alter it according to the new evidence you have gathered. In such situations, your evaluation essay might become even more interesting for you to write - and, respectively, you could count on having your reader more impressed.

Here are the main types of evaluation essays:

Critical Evaluation Essay

Practically every evaluation essay is somewhat critical as it is supposed to contain a certain portion of criticism. Otherwise, it is not an evaluation, but rather a dithyrambic essay - a genre you would hardly be assigned to write unless you write for advertising, product promotion, political solicitation or similar purposes. Sometimes, your critical evaluation can be very critical. But even if the latter is the case, you should try to find a bright side just to maintain some balance and not to leave an impression that your writing is prejudiced and you are just a petty fault-finder.

Be ready to see that your reader may not agree with your critical evaluation. That is the reason why in this type of essays it is very important to be accurate in your judgment and convincing in your evidence. Try to provide a wider scope of facts supporting your viewpoint. Even if your reader eventually disagrees with your reasoning, he should appreciate your reasoning, your interest and your grip on the topic.

Self-Evaluation Essay

The task of writing a self-evaluation essay is very challenging. It can be given to the students at the end of the semester if your professor wants you to reflect and describe your own learning experience. But here you are not supposed to dive into lengthy descriptions. Remember that your writing is still evaluative, which means that you are still expected to deliver a clear thesis and support it with adequate evidence.

In a self-evaluation essay, it is recommended to recall your learning objectives as they were set at the beginning of the semester or maybe changed over that period of time, and then to check whether you were able to achieve your goals or not. Don’t claim you were utterly successful, even if you really were. Neither an excessive concentration on your failures is welcomed. Concentrate on your evaluative thesis and on the evidence you provide in order to show your well-balanced critical approach.

Evaluation Essay on a Movie

A movie evaluation essay is a challenging, ambitious and interesting task even if you are not going to become a professional movie critic. Film industry became a major factor influencing culture, common perception, and social conscience. This essay will show how deep and critical your thinking is, and how skillfully you work with the evaluation criteria you have selected.

Writing an evaluation essay about a movie can be a good reason and a valid pretext to enrich this quite restricted and perhaps even dry evaluative style with fancier rhetorical twists and turns of phrase. But avoid retelling the whole narrative and coming up with a spoiler. Remember to stick to your thesis statement and your supporting arguments.

It can be a good idea to refrain from writing about the whole movie. Instead, narrow your writing, and concentrate, for example, on only one of the film characters or on the performance of only one actor. Alternatively, you could evaluate the screenplay with the appropriate criteria: the overall quality of the dialogues, or on whether the events develop logically, too slowly or too fast, etc.

Restaurant Evaluation Essay

We have already touched upon the issue and basic agendas of writing restaurant evaluation essays. This task is not very complicated. But there are some pitfalls you should be aware of. One of them is a common mistake even good students often make. When they are given the task to write a restaurant evaluation essay, they write a restaurant review. While these two types of writing have certain similarities, they are different. Here are some head-ups for you on this:

  • Your restaurant evaluation essay requires in-depth analysis, while a review only reviews and generally informs, often quite superficially.
  • Even though your evaluative writing represents your own viewpoint, everything you claim to be true is supported by evidence. But the review is just a pure opinion of the author and requires no evidence.
  • The set of criteria you apply and the evidence you provide to support your thesis should be very strong in your essay, but the review does not require it.

Evaluation Argument Essay

You might have already noticed that there are very few essays you could reliably attribute to one or another kind. Many of them belong to a hybrid type of writing. “Evaluation argument essay” is exactly the case. Here you need to evaluate, and, at the same time, to present your argument.

This task is a bit more complicated as it tilts to scientific paper writing. You still present your thesis, use your well-weighed criteria, and provide your evidence. But you would also have to support your thesis with a good argument as well. Still staying within the evaluation essay format and not writing a scientific article, you apply a scientific approach and demonstrate the respective skills. Your evaluation essay introduction should also contain a challenging problem to which your thesis statement is a possible answer.

But don’t think this task is too complicated. It is not. There can be a simple topic, like “What is the best burger to eat in a fast food outlet”, but you should take it seriously. In the introduction paragraph, appeal to your reader straight from the first hooking sentence, as usual (fast food is a good topic providing plenty of ‘hooking’ ideas). Briefly talk about the importance of the topic, and explain why there is a need to pay some more attention to it. State the challenging problem (again, fast food  essay is very suitable for it as many people think it is a challenging problem itself), and then present your thesis statement as a possible answer to the question about the burgers.

Further, you proceed with your criteria and all the evidence you have found suitable to use and then go ahead with the argument to support your thesis. This relatively short evaluation argument essay you write, in fact, models a long read scientific article. It gives your reader the idea of how clear and structured your thinking is. What is more important - this simple exercise gives you a better understanding of whether you should consider research or scientific career in the future.

The Conclusion

Evaluation essays represent a very interesting and quite challenging class of assignments. Even more, writing such essays is useful as it helps you to develop some important habits and skills you would definitely need to perform a broad variety of tasks. Your writing will improve, your thinking will become clearer and better structured, and your blogs are going to be interesting to read. Once you master this kind of writing, you are definitely going to have many followers, your horizon and your circles will get broader and you will be glad to see that there are many people around you interested in your evaluations and opinions on different topics. 


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