Writing a Critical Paper

Oct 2, 2009 Filed under:Persuasive essay — admin @ 2:10 am

Writing a Critical Paper

As a student, you are well-qualified to judge the material you read. Detecting errors in logic is especially important. The most common errors you may encounter include:

  • Overgeneralizing: Sweeping statements that draw very general conclusions and don’t take into account all possibilities.
  • Oversimplifying: Reducing a complex subject by offering easy explanations.
  • Begging the question: Basing an argument or conclusion on the truth of a point that has not been proven.
  • Either-or reasoning: Many issues have more than 2 sides to them.
  • Playing to general sentiments: Also called ad populum, which means “to the crowd.” This fallacy involves playing to the general reader with commonly held sentiments, such as patriotism or religious fervor instead of discussing the actual issue.

We would like to introduce you a new section in our blog devoted to descriptive essay writing. You will find descriptive essay example as well as tips on writing argumentative essays!

Strategies for Critical Reading

When learning how to read critically, remember that it’s all right to be unsure about a text’s meaning or to change your mind about your interpretation for a text. Experienced readers often revise their opinions after they reflect on the ideas and synthesize new information. Since it can be a daunting task to understand the reading process, using some different strategies can help you become a critical reader. Some key strategies are:

  • Approach your reading with a reflective and questioning attitude.
  • Consider every angle of the subject and ask questions about what you find.
  • Think about the author’s purpose and how it relates to the audience.
  • Evaluate how well the author fulfilled the purpose and check for errors in reasoning. Remember, you don’t have to automatically accept what you read. Draw your own conclusions based on the evidence in the text and your evaluation of the writing.
  • Preview the material. First, look at the author and title. What do they suggest about what you are about to read? When reading material in the textbook, make sure that you read the headnotes for background information. You may also want to scan through the first paragraph to get an idea about the author’s style and subject matter.
  • Reread and study. One of the most valuable activities you can perform as an active reader is to make notation as you read the assigned passage.

Critical Paper Writing Advice

Looking at the sample marked essay in the textbook, you can see where the student had questions about the writing as well as where the author had important points. Don’t be afraid to write in your textbook. Although students are trained not to write in their books in high school, you should definitely make notations in your college textbooks. Some ways to notate the text include putting exclamation points next to surprising points, placing question marks next to points you don’t understand, underlining or highlighting important points, and noting remarks that occur to you as you read. There is not wrong or right way to notate a text; you should practice notating as you read the materials in this course to reinforce the main ideas that you are reading.