Write Critical Thinking Essay
Hello, my name is Robin Banerjee and I'm a senior lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Sussex. I teach many first year, second year and third year students so if you come into the Psychology department I'm sure I'll see lots of you while you're here. Today I'm going to be talking a little bit about guidelines for writing essays. Now I'm sure that when you've got essays to write you'll find lots of different instructions to follow for the different assignments that you've got, and of course you'll have to pay attention to them. But what I'm going to give you today are some helpful guidelines which I hope will be useful to you as you set about the task of writing an essay.
1. Come up with a clear line of argument
Well, my first guideline for writing an essay is to make sure that you have a clear line of argument. If the essay title is in the form of a question -- this might seem obvious -- answer the question. Although it seems like an obvious point, I've read many essays where student simply don't answer the question. They'll talk about lots of things that relate to the question but they don't actually give you an answer to the question. So if the title is in the form of a question, make sure you answer the question. And even if the essay title isn't in the form of a question, make sure that you have something clear that you want to say. Don't just talk in general terms about the subject area. Make sure you have a clear point that you want to communicate in your essay.
2. Make it clear where you are going
All right, so my second major guideline for writing an essay is to make it clear where you are going. The reader needs to know what you're saying and needs to be aware of the path that you are taking in the essay. So don't wait until the very end of the essay to reveal the main point that you're trying to communicate. As I've said before the most important thing in an essay is to come up with a clear line of argument and it's important to tell the reader about that right at the beginning. So set out your plan for the essay at the outset and then use the rest of the essay to actually build up your argument. Use examples and evidence to support the points that you're making. Don't run through a whole range of different examples and pieces of evidence and theories and then at the end say the point that you want to make about it. Make the point first and then use the evidence to support it.
3. Plan your essay
Express your key points in complete sentences
My third guideline for writing an essay is to use a plan. Once you've done all your reading, once you've done all your research you need to step back from it and decide what you're going to say. Come up with your main line of argument, but plan your essay before you launch into the actual writing of the essay. That means that you need to decide exactly what your key points are. So you need a logical sequence of key points that actually build up your argument. It's really important when you've arrived at your key points, it's really important to express them in complete sentences. One of the mistakes that I often see students doing, and one of the things that makes plans a bit problematic for a lot of students, is that when they're coming up with their outline for their essay they just have a list of subject headings: First I'm going to be talking about this, then I'm going to be talking about that, and then last of all I'm going to talk about that. And actually that's not a very good plan, because when you go down to write something you don't know what you're going to say. You know what you're going to talk about, but you don't know what you're going to say about it. So the most important thing about the plan is to decide what your main points are and to express them in complete sentences -- not just what are you going to talk about but what are you going to say about it? Once you've got that sequence of key points expressed in complete sentences you should have a pretty good summary of your essay. And that should be able to stand alone as an answer to your essay question.
Select your evidence
Once you've decided on your sequence of key points, then you can start to flesh out your plan by listing the evidence that you're going to include for each key point. What examples are you going to draw on? What pieces of evidence or empirical work or theoretical work are you going to use to actually support each of those key points? Once you've actually done that you've got a really good framework for writing your essay: you know what your main argument is, you know what each key point is that you're going to use to support that argument, and in turn you know what key bits of evidence or examples or theories you're going to use to make each of those key points.
Review your choice of key points and evidence
One final point about the plans. If you look at your plan and you find that you've got nine, ten or even more key points then think again about whether they really need to stand separate from each other as different points. In an essay, and even in longer essays like 4,000 word essays, you'll usually only need to have a handful of key points. Remember the main objective is to support the main line of argument that you want to present to the reader. That doesn't mean that you have to cover absolutely everything that you've read. It may be the case that there will be material that you've read that really isn't relevant to the point that you want to make in this essay - so decide what the best pieces of evidence are to support the points that you actually want to make in this essay.
4. Ask someone else to read you essay
My next guideline for writing an essay is to make sure that you give it to someone else to read. It's really important to get a second opinion on your essay and sometimes when you've been working on an essay for a long time it can be really hard to adopt a fresh objective stance and look at your essay. So find someone, maybe a friend that you can bribe to read your essay, maybe a family member, long suffering flat mates - whoever you can. Get someone else to read the essay and to try and extract the main points. If you've done your job well -- if you started out with a good plan, with the key points expressed in complete sentences, and you based your essay on that plan -- then when you give that essay to someone else to read and you ask them, ‘Can you pull out the main points from this essay?', their extracted main points should look very similar to the main points that you had in your plan. So that would be a good sign that you've accomplished what you wanted to accomplish in the essay.
5. Show originality in your essay
OK, my final guideline for writing an essay concerns originality. You'll probably see in most of the assessment criteria for essays in different subjects across the university that originality is one of the markers of first class essays. Can you show originality and flair in the way that you write your essay? Well, a lot of students often ask, ‘What do I do to show originality in an essay? Do I just say what my opinion is about the subject matter?' Well, partly -- but it's not just a matter of expressing your personal opinion without justification or rationale. Originality in an academic essay is all about the way that you interrogate the material in front of you and the way that you put the material together. So, regarding the first of those points, if you are dealing with evidence, examples, theories, other people's writing - question it, adopt a critical standpoint, evaluate it, don't just accept it at face value. Regarding the second point -- about how you put ideas together and how you put your points and evidence together in your essay -- that's a really important opportunity to show your originality. It's not so much about waiting until you get to the end of the essay and then coming up with - ‘well I think ... blah blah blah..' But it's about how you put the argument together. That's where you can really show your originality. Have you taken these theories, these different bits of evidence, the different readings that you've done, have you put them together in an interesting and innovative way to answer the question? That's how a student shows originality in an essay!
Critical thinking reflection paper is probably one of the most difficult tasks any student can get, because it involves multiple skills and processes, so you need to possess profound knowledge if you want to succeed in completing such sort of paper.
Once in a while we all hear how critical thinking is important in our daily life. It gives us a chance to evaluate the situation, reflect on possible outcome and manage all the material without prejudices. That is why most of the students find it difficult to process the information instead of simply rewriting the data from the books.
Critical thinking paper aims at showing student’s stream of thoughts instead of focusing on the structure or usefulness of facts. This type of assignment is given to show how author’s opinion changes, as new data appears. For example, you can support the idea of gun permission at first but change your mind as new sources are processed.
Critical thinking skill is difficult to master and it is impossible to write a proper essay without previous experience, so more and more students decide to turn to a writing company for help and forget about stress and missing the deadlines.
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How to write a college critical thinking essay
It is quite difficult to write critical thinking paper and you need to follow multiple rules to make sure that your assignment is completed according to all the guidelines and recommendations. However, it is not an impossible task and here are a few tips, which will help you complete an outstanding critical thinking paper:
- Create a thesis. Your whole work will be based on this idea, so you need to spend some time on deciding what you want to write about. There are multiple critical thinking research paper topics, so the best way to create a great paper is to think thoroughly on the subject you want to discuss;
- Develop an outline. It will greatly help you throughout the process, because informal thinking essays are hard to shape according to a structure or plan. You can use lists, mind maps or any other ways of creating an outline;
- Write an outstanding introduction. It is quite difficult to grab reader’s attention and involve him into the subject, so you need to avoid clichés to make sure that your paper is worth reading. Write a paragraph or two on the main idea of the essay and try to grab reader’s interest with fresh ideas;
- Write body paragraphs, following a clear structure. Every paragraph should be devoted to a particular idea or thought, supported by data, numbers or quotes;
- Come up with a strong conclusion. Take your time to go through your critical thinking essay again and catch its overall idea. Then write a paragraph or two, encouraging the reader to action or showing how the topic may influence their lives.
Critical thinking paper format
Writing a critical thinking essay slightly differs from the other types of assignments, so you should pay attention to the main criteria and the structure of the paper to avoid common mistakes. First, you need to remember that an essay is usually shorter, so you won’t have a chance to let your thoughts wander and hop from one topic to another. Be brief and precise.
Critical essays usually follow the same structure:
- Introduction, which explains the topic and is one/two paragraphs long;
- Body of an essay, which should contain as many paragraphs as needed to support your idea and provide all the arguments. Here you need to show the knowledge of the subject, discuss various approaches to the topic, based on researched material and outline main problems in the area. Make sure your research does not contain incomplete or contradictory data. Eventually, explain how the research has influenced your thoughts;
- Conclusion, which should consist of one or two paragraphs and contain general information on the main ideas of your essay.
A great way to form a proper argumentative essay is to treat it like a debate or conversation, when you need to assert your point of view. In such a way, you will be able to see your strong and weak points, as well as to avoid complexity of the construction.
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