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Strategies For Enhancing Critical Essay Writing Skills

Often the feedback that students receive on their writing is to focus more on engaging critically with the research sources. Many teachers comment that students focus on description rather than critical analysis. If you are interested in learning how to hone your skills to be better at critical essay writing, then check this.

Critical writing versus descriptive writing

In order to really understand how to sharpen your strategies for critical writing, you must have a good understanding of both descriptive and critical writing. Characteristics of each are as follows:

What is descriptive writing?

  • Describing the setting of the event or research
  • Description of a piece of literature or art
  • A list of measurements that were taken
  • A description of the timing of the research
  • A summary of history as a background to an event, decision, or response
  • The biographical details of a main character or figure in the field of studies; an account of an event

What is critical writing?

  • Recognizing there are limitations of your own argument, evidence and conclusion
  • Clearly and confidently refusing to accept other writers’ conclusions until after you have evaluated the evidence and arguments they present
  • A balanced viewpoint and reasons why other writers’ conclusions should possibly be accepted or need to be cautiously accepted
  • Clearly presenting your own argument and evidence which results in your conclusion

In summary, descriptive writing doesn’t develop an argument. You are just describing the background or setting of something. You are giving a representation of something the way it appears to be, without investigating, analyzing, discussing or arguing anything.

It’s simple and easy to create descriptive writing. It is more about eloquent, descriptive words than it is about deep thinking and considering. When a critical essay is asked for and a descriptive essay is given, the marks received will plummet. As a descriptive writer you are only a reporter, you are only describing what was seen or experienced. As a critical writer you have to challenge yourself, you have to take a risk. You must think and evaluate, you must analyze and debate.

To help you think critically, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the quality of evidence I have read?
  • What is the key point of the author’s piece of written work? Did they present it in a clear and concise way?
  • Do I agree with what was said? Why or why not?

The more questions you ask yourself, the better you will get at critical writing.


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