How to Write an Analytical Essay by a Long Chalk
If you are still sitting with a blank piece of paper because you don’t know how to write an analytical paper, there is no reason to fall into despair. When the paper is due the next couple of days, you need to stop procrastinating! With our simple step-by-step guide and sample paragraph you will easily write your own analytical essay. So, let’s start!
What Is an Analytical Essay?
An analytical essay is a written work that evaluates or criticizes a book, a piece of music, a movie, or art. Usually students are asked to discuss the style, theme, and value of the work of art. The analytical essay is written to express thoughts and views on a particular issue in a compelling and persuasive manner. Analytical writing requires students to use critical thinking during the reading or viewing, and to deliver conclusions from it.
Analytical thinking is a person’s ability to use logic in analyzing information and making decisions. A person with good analytical skills is able to collect facts, analyze them, and build a chain of facts which would lead to correct conclusions (to the most probable results). From a practical point of view, analytical thinking is:
- The breakdown of information into separate components.
- A comprehensive analysis of these components, as well as initial information in general.
- The restoration of missing information through logical inferences.
This kind of paper shouldn’t be compared to a simple summary of text, but a more serious and thought-out work. For example, if your aim is to analyze the book, but you write only the description of the main characters, it doesn’t count. In your analytical essay you need not only present the short overview of the story, but also see deeper into the context of the text.
Steps to Writing an Analytical Essay
This paragraph is aimed to ease your writing process – you just need to complete steps one by one until you reach the finish. Surely you can skip some steps or make it in your own way, as we are here only to give you some recommendations and helpful tips.
Planning an Analytical Essay
Step 1. Plan your time. Many students frequently skip this step and write their essays just in a couple of hours before the deadline. For analytical essays students are asked to read a book or article and analyze it. If it is a book which is 400 pages or a scientific article which needs time to find definitions to certain words, you won’t be able to read it and make a complex analysis in one day. It is true you can write an analytical essay in a rush, but will it be good? If you want to write an A+ analytical essay, you should plan to write it ahead.
Step 2. Read the assignment. Don’t rush to write as soon as you read the assignment. Read your assignment attentively and multiple times through. It happens that a missed word can lead to a badly written essay, and you should spend more time to rewrite it. How long should your paper be? Do you need more research about the topic? Does your tutor ask for a particular format? Are you sure that your essay should be about a movie/novel/etc.?
Step 3. Decide on the topic. If your tutor hasn’t assigned you a particular book or historical event, you need to choose it on your own. For books it its advisable to pick a topic related to a hero’s actions or relationships, the motif of the story, or particular symbols. For a historical event, you can describe the crucial moments, premises of a particular event, or the influence of this event on further history. For academic articles analyze the scientific method or the outcomes of several investigations or experiments.
Step 4. Read the work. Read it carefully and attentively to get a clear understanding about the topic. This is one of the most important steps, as all your writing depends on how clearly you have understood the work that should be analyzed.
- Do some actions in the story have certain meanings?
- Does the story have a significant subtext?
- What phrases are the core of the story?
- What metaphors has the author used?
- What images appear multiple times?
- What is the target audience?
Make notes on the margins or in your notebook. This will help you find answers to questions or clarify points about the piece. Make sure that you have understood the meaning of words and phrases.
When you need to analyze text, no matter if it is fiction or non-fiction, you need to know how to make notes to better your writing and use your intellectual abilities more efficiently. Usually students are advised to use one of these note-taking strategies: pattern notes, which are used for evaluation, and linear notes, for analysis or structure. There is no need to use only one strategy, as you can combine them if you want to dig deeper into the topic. With these methods you will be able to see the problem more clearly and in proper detail.
Step 5. Find supporting material. An analytical essay requires from the writer to add supporting evidence or material for every paragraph. All materials that can accompany your analysis will be helpful: critical articles, movies related to the topic, and reviews.
For example, if you are analyzing a book, you can add the following evidence: quotations from the text, examples between text, and analysis of literary critics. For social studies and history you are welcome to add proofs like examples from primary sources, interpretations from academics, and examples of previous events based on prior examples. For science, use others’ experimental results and your own.
Step 6. Create an outline. The plan is not a necessary element of an analytical essay, but it will make the writing process easier. The phrases that you have underlined in your book, questions that you have written in the margins, and phrases that you have included in your outline are the basis of your future essay. Before proceeding directly to writing, try to organize your thoughts and pick details that will support your ideas. Then arrange you materials: what will come first, second, third. The best order is when the reader can easily follow your thoughts and understand the idea effortlessly.
Note. Don’t delete ideas that don’t fit the topic; save them just in case.
A general analytical essay outline looks like this:
2. Body consisting of three (or more) paragraphs
- topic sentence, analysis, evidence
- topic sentence, analysis, evidence
- topic sentence, analysis, evidence
A classical essay usually consists of an introduction, body, and conclusion. The following steps are only some of the ways you can organize your writing. If you have an idea for writing one of the body paragraphs, start with it. Also, writing an introduction at the end of the process is also a normal practice. If your paragraphs are structured as a classical essay, you are doing well.
Writing an Analytical Essay
Step 1. Writing a title. Create an interesting title that will reflect not only the topic of the work, but also the main point of your essay. Don’t forget to consider the audience that will be reading your essay. But don’t limit yourself only with the professor’s image. Imagine that you are writing the essay for classmates. Your role is to explain the work and how certain points relate to the thesis statement.
Step 2. Writing an introduction. The analytical essay introduction should make the topic clear to the reader, and hook them with an interesting fact and provoke interest. Here you need to state the thesis statement, subject matter, the purpose of your essay, and a brief description of the content. It’s important to state the main information about the work you are going to analyze in the subsequent paragraph: author, title, and a short overview in several sentences.
For example, if your topic is about “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keys, the introduction can look like this:
Flowers for Algernon is attributed to a science fiction drama. However, the element of fiction is small and subordinate, and the dramatic component is in the foreground. At first glance the novel is quite simple in understanding, and we see only a sad story. But in fact, the novel is full of philosophical ideas. Thirty-three year old Charlie Gordon is mentally retarded. At the same time, he has work, friends, and an irresistible desire to learn. He agrees to take part in a dangerous scientific experiment in the hope of becoming clever. This fantastic story has an amazing psychological force and makes you think about universal moral issues: do we have the right to conduct experiments on each other, what results can this lead to, and what price are we willing to pay for becoming “the smartest”?
Step 3. Writing a thesis. The content of the analytical essay will largely depend on what is chosen as a main idea or point (also called thesis). For example, if you need to analyze a book, you can consider artistic techniques the author uses or evaluate the problems raised in the story. For this reason, it is very important to accurately determine what exactly you are going to discuss in the essay.
For example, the theme of space and time in the early prose of James Joyce’s “Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man” is too broad and cannot be covered in the typical analytical essay word count. In this instance, you can use this thesis: “James Joyce sees the woman in three aspirations: purity, sex, and salvation.”
Step 4. Writing the main body. In the main part, you first need to present the strongest thesis, then analyze and argue your statement. You shouldn’t be tempted to summarize the book, as the primary goal of your essay is not to analyze it.
Turn on your imagination, as these paragraphs will be the core of your essay. If you have passed all steps from the planning section, you have already created an outline for your essay, so you can let it be the skeleton of your essay body. Every paragraph should have the same structure to make your text easy to read and understand.
It is necessary to focus on these points in each paragraph of the body:
- The topic sentence. Open every body paragraph with a topic sentence that will briefly state what this paragraph will discuss. For example, the topic sentence to “Flowers for Algernon” may sound like this: “As intelligence grows, Charlie becomes more and more alienated from people. He is constantly told that during his mental retardation he was good-natured, smiling, and had many friends. But he perfectly understands what the price of this ‘friendship’ was.”
- Take a side. You will want to pick a side in your argument. For example: “What is the price of such friends? It consists of the fact that Charlie attracted people only because he was an eternal whipping boy and was an easy target for constant jeers. In fact, this ‘friendship’ is all the same alienation, only not realized by a mentally retarded person.”
- Add evidence. Pick a piece of text that reinforce your thoughts. For example, to make evidence to the theme of Algernon’s loneliness you can use this quote: “Once again now I have the feeling of shame burning inside me. This intelligence has driven a wedge between me and all the people I once knew and loved… They’ve driven me out of the factory. Now I’m more alone than ever before…”
- Tie everything up. You should describe how evidence is connected with your point of view. In fact, Charlie wanted more to be loved than to become intelligent, as to give feelings to others and to receive the same feelings in return is life. He was deprived from this in both cases: being mentally retarded, and being a genius.
At the end of each paragraph don’t forget to include transitional sentences to connect paragraphs and make your text flow. As a result, moving from one statement to another, you will gradually reveal the theme of your essay. But do not forget that the body paragraphs should not repeat each other in meaning and should disclose your main statement.
If you are analyzing a literary work, indicate the importance of the author’s work. A good idea is to add important details from the author’s biography and interesting moments of his or her life.
Step 5. Writing a conclusion. Often, writing a conclusion is considered the most difficult issue, requiring concentration of thought and attention. The conclusion is closely intertwined with the main part and the introduction, and doesn’t separate from them in style and content. The transition to it is a harmonious continuation of the work, reflecting its result in a brief form.
So, how can you write a conclusion for an analytical essay? For this type of essay you need to persuade your audience in the results of your analysis. The ending of your essay should leave a sense of completeness and full disclosure of the topic. Start with restating the thesis statement and summarizing the main points from the body paragraphs considering our previous advice.
For example, the conclusion to an analysis of “Flowers for Algernon” may look like this: “In conclusion, it can be said that this novel shows the rise and fall of the human spirit, and makes us think about how intellectual level transforms a person and radically changes relationships with people.”
This is only the beginning of a conclusion, written to give you an idea of how a conclusion can look. At the end, you can use the author’s quote to reinforce the main idea of your essay.
Finishing an Analytical Essay
Step 1. Make sure that the text does not have grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors. These errors can also be checked by using standard checking programs. Correct all points. If necessary, just make the changes. Try to achieve the integrity and harmony of the general narrative.
Step 2. Set the paper aside for a couple of hours or days depending on the deadline. Check the paper according to the points from this list:
- Are you sure that you have accurately responded to the specific instructions?
- Have you covered the topic in your work?
- Does your text stick to the central idea (thesis statement)?
- Make sure that you haven’t used slang and “I” statements.
- Does every part contribute to a better understanding of the topic?
- Make sure that evidence and quotations are in the right place and in appropriate format.
- Ensure that all information is properly referenced.
- Use appropriate transition words between ideas and phrases.
- Check your paper for plagiarism in the program that is approved by your college.
- Don’t forget that you can always ask your friends and tutors for help or advice.
Analytical Essay Sample
One of our writers has completed this analytical essay example to show you how a good essay should look. Don’t copy this paper, as it will not serve that purpose to you. Pay attention to this file and note how paragraphs are structured and how the author presents a particular point of view.
Click the images to see their full size.
Tips for Analytical Writing
- An essay with an outline is likely to be more coherent and clear than one without an outline. When you have a plan at hand you will speed up your writing process.
- Think outside the box. Five-paragraph essays may seem a cliché for your tutor, and if you want a high grade, think about a different organizing formula.
- Use your natural voice and try not to be pretentious. Don’t show your knowledge of SAT vocabulary; that won’t impress your reader.
- An analytical essay is more formal than informal, but you need to keep the balance between them – imagine that you are trying to explain complex things to your friends.
- Always leave time to reread your finished text. Set your paper aside for a couple of hours and read it with fresh eyes. It is possible that you have missed some mistakes even after several proofreading sessions.
- Keep only those sentences that add meaning to your text. Avoid adding sentences that don’t make sense only for the word count. An analytical essay should be aimed to be informative and concise.
- Using quotes is a great decision for your analytical essay. But you don’t need to put them everywhere. It is advisable to use them as evidence in paragraphs to support your ideas and thoughts. Sometimes you can use it in the introduction or conclusion, but only in case it really corresponds to the text.
- If you don’t know how to start writing the thesis statement, ask yourself a question: “What am I going to analyze?” Start by answering this question for your thesis statement.
- In each body paragraph try to see the issue from various points – in such a way you can find out new moments and evidence that should be considered.
Dear readers, we hope this information will be helpful when you will be writing your analytical essay. It is not a secret that success in academic writing goes only with constant practice.
Analytical skills are usually necessary in situations where a person is inclined to a scientific or writing activity, advocacy or medicine, or investigations or research, because the results of the activities will be used by other people, and these results must be flawless and unmistakable. By writing an analytical essay on your own, you will make a great step in developing your analytical skills. Don’t skip this chance. Live long and prosper!