How to Write an Evaluation Essay

(Updated on September 13, 2017 by Michelle Williams)

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An evaluation essay is one that rates or evaluates something—a book, a movie, a music album, or an employee's performance.  There is a nearly infinite number of topics that can be the subject when learning how to write an evaluation essay.  A review is merely one kind of evaluation essay.  Generally, when completing an evaluation essay, there's also no single correct answer to the main question of the report, which is to determine how good something is.  In most cases, there's some room for argument because people may have differing ideas about what constitutes a good example of the topic in question; people's ideas of what makes a good book, a good movie, a good album, etc. differ considerably, so when you're completing an evaluation essay you have to keep in mind that the personal criteria which you use in order to tell how good something is have to be kept in perspective alongside the criteria that are used by other people—an evaluation essay is a piece of subjective work.

How to Write an Evaluation EssayThe first thing to do while writing evaluation essays is to introduce the thing which is being evaluated.  You can start out by giving a little bit of background or history on the topic of the report, talking about the people who completed it, some of the thoughts that they have espoused in interviews discussing it, etc.  Give the reader some interesting facts about the topic, preferably ones which you can then integrate into the later stages.  Once you have completed an introduction for the topic of your evaluation, you need to tell the readers the terms that you'll be using to evaluate that topic.  While evaluation is subjective, one's opinion has to be based on objective principles that you can discuss, otherwise there would be little more to an evaluation essay than to say whether or not you thought something was good or bad and leave it at that.  Set up a framework via which you can compare the thing being reviewed in your document to other things of the same kind.  Recognize that while these may be your criteria for determining whether something like your topic is good or bad, others may have different criteria and have a differing opinion.  Leave some room for leeway by making it clear what you're basing your ideas on and under what conditions you think someone would be able to have a different opinion than yours.

Finally, outline the ways in which the topic of the evaluation essay either lives up to, or fails to live up to, the criteria you use for judging that kind of work.  Go through your list of points step-by-step and explain your reasoning to the reader.  When you finish writing your evaluation essay, the reader should have at least a few clear ideas about the objective nature of the topic which will allow the reader to have a sense of whether or not he/she would like the thing you're evaluating, even is he/she has different criteria for whether it's good.

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