How to Write a Critical Reaction Paper

By: Max Malak

16 min



How to Write a Critical Reaction Paper

How do you Define Critical Reaction Paper?

The critical paper is about logical thinking - how you interpret the acquired information. The way you see, hear, and think changes after a review. Students with a curious mindset, evaluate, compare, and interpret information by making sound judgments. If you think critically, your mind connects the traditional thoughts with modern concepts to develop the best judgments with evidence.

Remember, you should know how to write a paper with expository thinking. Many authors and writers apply stylistic and argumentative techniques to maintain the flow of an article. Your analytical, interpretive, and creative skills go into shaping the best response. Many students think that criticism is all about analysis. Indeed, it also creates an opportunity for you to challenge the author’s opinion.

If you want to be more creative, this article will help you stay on track with tips that will bloom your mindset and provide you an idea to play better with arguments.

What is The Critical Reaction Paper?

Critical reaction is the form of reflection in an academic context, where you utilize your analytical and interpretive skills to agree or disagree with the author’s study. How do you write a reaction paper? Writing a response paper is the extensive process of interpreting a single aspect into the broader context from multiple perspectives. You start the response article with a source analysis and move to the text process. Pre-writing, writing, and post-writing help you stay at the top of the game.

Comparing Critical Response Paper with Other Essay Types

Is there any difference between a reaction and other types of essays? You will find the visible difference by comparing critical writing with different kinds of writing. For example, a descriptive article is simple, you describe a situation without being analytical. You can present information but no wiles and profound knowledge.

The story for critical essays is hugely different from a descriptive essay. You should understand the author's concerns thoroughly to be on point while writing an argumentative response paper.

The argumentative response writing in academics is unique and evolving. In critical essays, you pose yourself as a disputant who supports or opposes presented musings with evidence. You identify the case's negative and positive aspects and associate relevant verdicts by cultivating a strong statement.

Key Goals

The authors set goals for writing a substantial reaction write-up. Goals help you to direct your thinking abilities to make professional and evidence-based judgments. Isn’t it interesting to strike the game with a clear understanding of critical research goals? The purpose is two-fold:

  • Classify and clarify the arguments of the article or book you read by enlightening the thoughts of the author;
  • Brainstorm your opinions and information to contend on the text.

The best way to debate is to build your argument around 5 “W’s”: What, Where, Why, Which, and Who. You prepare a summary or win the critical essay game with the focus on the author's argument. Keep your eyes on the criticism and be quick on responding to achieve success in a critique.

How Do You Understand The Topic And Criticism?

Ensure that you understand the topic before making any argument. This practice sometimes feels intimidating to criticize the highly experienced author or professional.

You can unquestionably claim anything to add to the given idea with a clear understanding of facts and criticism. For making a compelling argument, you should understand the topic with five crucial questions. Here, you take the guide.

Definitional Questions

Understanding the definitional concepts helps you evaluate the text from the theoretical perspective of the subject with the questions below.

  • Do you understand the text clearly?
  • Does the author’s approach to explain the concept is ambiguous or assists you in arguing your opinion?
  • Can you compare your opinion with author’s to make it meaningful?

Indication Questions

Supporting your criticism with facts and evidence adds value to your content. Critical reactions rely extensively on analytical reasoning. You make sure that you answer the following questions for better understanding.

  • Does the author support arguments with relevant evidence?
  • What do you consider? The author adopts the right path to support general points or not.
  • Can you identify bias judgments and evidence?

Academic Questions

For evaluating the topic, theoretical understanding is vital that you gather with the questions below.

  • Does the author understand his argument and subject?
  • What is the theoretical background of the author?
  • Does the argument effectively refer to the situation?

Policy-related Questions

You additionally focus on the implications of the article or book’s context from the author’s perspective. The questions below can help you hit the nail on the head:

  • What are the implications of the author’s argument?
  • Are those consequences positive or negative?
  • Does the author clarify this problem and support it with facts?

Other Methodologies

You can opt for other approaches as well. Some questions are:

  • Is the author consistent throughout the content? Does a conclusion argue other aspects with the consideration of future research?
  • Does the author use appropriate and easy-to-understand language to convey their message?
  • What do you think, if the author’s background relates to the subject written or not?

Do You Require Analytical Skills For Critical Reactions?

Ensure that you improve your analytical skills to challenge an argument impressively. Why do you require analytical skills? Because it helps you break down the complicated problem into various components to analyze, evaluate, interpret, and construct the rational dispute to extend the scope of an academic article or any other form of writing. Without a justified debate, you can’t be perfect in criticizing the author’s opinion.

Let’s Focus on the Sample of Reaction

What do you understand with the reaction? Response write-up portrays what you see, your agreement or disagreement with the author’s opinion, what you interpret from the situation and how you can broaden the scope of the previous statement, opinion, work, or article.

Here, you learn how to write a response paper. The reaction sample comprises four components introduction, body, conclusion, and various pieces of evidence to support your opinions. Remember, a response is a real struggle, but you can perform your level best with analytical skills and backing your ideas with concrete evidence. Dividing the document into four parts makes it more representative.

Introducing Reaction

How to start a paper? Begin with the introduction. Summarizing the prime agenda with the thesis statement captures the attention of the reader straight away. So, why don’t you make an introduction appealing with an excellent choice of words and arguments? Make sure that you put great effort into crafting an engaging introduction. Be on point and critical to let your work accompany a winning impression.

Supporting Facts

You begin actual work from the body part and utilize the analytical skills and reasoned based judgments to support the argument for validating your writing. Assisting the work with evidence, quotes, and sources add more meaning to the critical point of view. This part helps you evaluate, interpret, and criticize research sources for supporting positive or negative opinions, valid judgments. At the beginning of each paragraph, the topic sentence and correlation of the last sentence with another paragraph must be considered.


In this section, you have to be selective to put on the main arguments and ideas to summarize the text. Stay focused on your target audience, research questions, and outcomes while sharing the closing points. Restating reaction and commenting on the final response with its predicted effects serve as a striking way to close your written piece.

Referencing in The End

In a critical response paper, you make sure to support each dispute and opinion with valid and authentic references. You can gather those references and citations from primary and secondary resources. The primary ones are direct from interviews and surveys. You pick secondary sources from academic resources, magazines, internet sources and other indirect channels. This part strengthens the viability of the proposed reaction.

Why Do You Analyze Primary Sources?

Primary sources are first-hand sources, such as photographs, social media status; case records; newspapers; letters; music, and other related sources.

Professional writers, researchers, students, and historians utilize primary sources to be credible in critical writing. You can record the primary source from an individual’s experience and by asking questions to yourself. The following questions will guide you to collect preliminary data.

  • Why do you require primary material? What type and where can you find the related content? From the museum? Newspaper? Direct communication? Tweets?
  • Does your work demand popular opinion to back your arguments? You can collect data from Facebook and Tweeter approved accounts.
  • Do you require more authentic sources? Scholar or secondary resources?

While borrowing the content, make sure you utilize it in a way that appears easy to understand and to engage to your readers. It helps you to keep your audience hooked all the way. Think of using adequate sources to back your stand to advance writing credibility.

Pre-Writing Analysis for Sources and Notes

Before writing a critical reaction, you prepare the data beforehand by drafting the outline and sources in notes that help you better play with opinions. Primary sources act as the foundation in the response paper. You further interpret the primary resources by supporting those statements with the secondary sources to bolster your critique.

A pre-writing analysis is essential for merging expert opinions and reviews the actual need for sources to prepare initial notes. The questions you follow to direct your way to evaluate sources:

  • What sources tell you, and do they have any relevance?
  • What is the opinion of the author? Does it support your claim?
  • Do you find any biased assumptions?
  • Is the source of your targeted audience?
  • Do you review the limitations of the research?
  • Do you require both primary and secondary sources to back your thesis? Why?

Taking notes while examining the sources and associating a piece of evidence with your opinions help you organize the work stepwise and outline the right point at the right place. A perfect draft can save you from regretting later.

Write Critically with Steps

By observing various reaction paper examples, the write-ups begin with the summary of the author's works that leads to an argument. Students in schools, colleges, and universities practice critical review in essay writing assignments by comparing two (or more) books, stories, and other writing patterns to understand the content thoughtfully. For applying analytical thinking on text, you have to follow the writing outline for a reaction and remain focused on the prime list. You must avoid irrelevant information and vague statements in the report to be the best in explaining your aspect. The following sample for critical writing helps you to keep the interest of the reader with confirmation.

Summarizing Thoughts in the Beginning

The introduction is the heart of reaction writing from where you generate a dispute to reflect your understanding and perspectives. Remember, the introduction's length should ideally range between 10% and 15% of the word count. You should be concise and relevant to justify your thesis argument in the starting section. You start the opening with an overview of the content in focus and its purpose. Then, a short statement of about two lines highlights the focus of the paper with ideas. You always present an introduction by keeping your audience in mind - school students, authors, public, college students, and any other readers. This practice helps you interact with them directly. The opening paragraph comprises the thesis statement to establish a writing flow by connecting the summary with the body and conclusion.

Introduction Help

Either write something worth reading or don’t write. Always keep this in mind while writing an introduction because you need to be persuasive in the beginning and clear at the end. So, you can smoothly walk your reader through your piece of argument. You can take a guide from the summarized outline.

  • Initially, you present the author’s thoughts and the writing you reviewed while reading;
  • Secondly, you state the assessed writing's main point and share either you agree or disagree with the statement. You should mention the reasons for your decision;
  • Finally, the thesis statement wins the game of introduction by asserting the central claim of the work with justified reason.

An introduction is an important section that allows the reader to move forward. If you don’t get off to a good start, it will never finish on a good note.

Do You Know How to Generate Hook?

In the essay, the hook is a catchy sentence to grab the reader's attention in the opening part. Writers highly emphasize the hook to maintain the interest level of the reader and offer a hint. You keep hook sentences to make the introduction intriguing.

Why should your introduction ideally contain a hook? With a hook sentence, you spark an individual’s curiosity. Here, the reader will start to wonder what happens next. Some example of creating a pitchy hook sentence;

  • Use storytelling with exciting facts;
  • Mention statistics to be authentic with unusual information;
  • Take relevant and justified stance;
  • Tell how success looks for you;
  • Add value to the analyzed writing with supporting keys.

Pick a Thesis Statement

What is the spirit of a reaction paper? For sure, the thesis statement is.

Your thesis statement may depict either your agreement or disagreement, but it must persuade the reader to stay there. You additionally state the reasons and justifications to support your position. You declare the thesis aspect at the end of the introduction and before initiating an argument discussion. It tells the reader about the agenda and the context. Be sure to make it meticulous enough to maintain the readers’ thrust for reading forward.

Main Body and Paragraphs

After the opening paragraph, each body paragraph aligns with the thesis statement by justifying your stance. You have to consider four elements while writing a paragraph that starts with depicting the concluding remark to keep a smooth flow in the critical reaction paper.

What is Your Idea?

The idea draws on inspiration, opinion, and past learning to broaden the evaluated concept, the author’s opinion, and the article. You need to mention your key idea in the topic sentence that supports the thesis statement with additional details and facts. Consider reliable sources to support your position. You must add a logical statement in the topic sentence to urge the reader to go ahead and enjoy the content from a new perspective. Assure yourself that every topic sentence revolves around the central idea.

Support Idea with Evidence

Moving forward, you focus on backing the topic sentence with relevant sources, facts, stats, pieces of evidence, journal articles, and sharing the opinions of other authors to make it valid. While rephrasing the primary and secondary sources, you make sure that the context would not change, and you haven’t done any violation of writing policies. In argumentative works, you understand the importance of backing your arguments with authentic references to add meaningful content in the article. Supporting your thoughts with proofs makes you appear credible, as well as ethically responsible, writer.


Transition words contribute towards the sense of the flow of your text helping you keep the reader engaged all along. While commenting on the other author’s article, you present the statement with “however”, “nevertheless”, “on the other hand”, “contrarily” and other suitable words to show your evident rejection. You can apply those words at the beginning and end of the clause, sentence, and paragraph. Make sure you avoid pronouns in transition statements as it confuses the reader. Transition interprets the varied perception, but it can be in favor of supporting words. Consequences, examples, and comparisons are other contributing factors that make your response paper more valid and worthwhile. With transition statements, you can create a thoughtful understanding for a reader by ensuring a logical flow.

Analysis is Important

Interpreting the mentioned opinions and evidence for a better thought process is crucial for a triumphant reaction. With relevant search and detailing, you explain your stance's significance and why the reader should bother about it. It pictures your work expressive, justified, and viable, leading the readers to invest their time. You can prove with evidence and interpretation that the author in question had a fallacious argument.

Now You Can Format Response Paper

After aligning each evidence and interpretation with your stated opinions, you need to format the paper. Start with an introduction, move to body paragraphs, and then a conclusion. You practice this writing pattern in each format, be it Harvard, APA, or MLA.

Harvard Formatting

Students, professionals, and researchers commonly use the Harvard style to format the assignments and academic and critical response papers. Use perfect fonts and margins while writing a Harvard paper. In academics, writers pick this format for philosophy, behavioral sciences, and human studies. Follow the formatting outline below:

  • Times New Roman or Arial 12 pt. Font;
  • Double spacing in the full paper;
  • Text aligned to the left;
  • 0.5 intended line at the start of the paragraph;
  • Align Headings in numbers;
  • 1-inch margin;
  • A title page, introduction, discussion, conclusion, and references along with subheadings.

APA Formatting

You can use APA format to present the paper visually appealing by organizing the headings with subheadings. The guideline illustrates below:

  • 12pt, Time New Roman font;
  • 1-inch page margin;
  • Use double-spacing on every page;
  • Insert running head;
  • Indent each paragraph with ½ inch;
  • Title page, content page, and references must include in the paper.

MLA Formatting

If you use MLA formatting, you need to be careful of the sensitive details while aligning the paper. Commonly schools, colleges, and universities ask students to utilize this format, particularly for assignments and response papers. Consider the formatting conventions as below:

  • Indent one inch from left;
  • Make 1-inch margins from the bottom, top, and sides;
  • Use any font type, but size must be 12;
  • Leave space after periods;
  • Headings and subheadings align accordingly with the biography list.

Bonus Tips to Design an Impressive Reaction Paper

For winning the claim with an appealing reaction paper, we are going to share a few bonus tips that can take the reaction to another level:

  • Before starting the critical analysis, you should recognize your aspects for the evaluated paper and the author’s intention for better understanding;
  • You have to generate a hooking sentence to grab the attention of the reader with a transparent background;
  • In a reaction paper, you should take a single stance; agree or disagree with the author’s intention and highlight your decision in the thesis statement to dictate the main idea of the writing;
  • Be perfect in organizing the paper for maintaining the reader’s interest and urge him to move forward with the same curiosity;
  • Drafting the paper before the final writing is the most important practice to structure the document appropriately. You have to go through with pre-writing and post writing process to offer the perfect piece of knowledge;
  • Don’t use vague thoughts and opinions to avoid generalized ideas;
  • Always support your estimations and judgments with a reliable and valid source of evidence to advance the writing credibility;
  • You should recheck the paper last to evade the repetition of concepts, typo errors, grammar mistakes, and formatting errors and edit the paper based on precise instructions.

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Max Malak

Product Manager

Here at Studybay, I work as a Head of Affiliates in the marketing department. I studied Liberal Arts and took related classes at Tokyo Sophia University. I believe that challenges are what make my job fun and exciting. That's why I like completing complex, complicated, and even weird tasks and then sharing my experience with colleagues.

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