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College and university students are required to write different types of writing assignments, and one of them is a response essay. A response essay, which can also be referred to as a reaction essay, is unique by its nature and differs from an ordinary review. Unlike many traditional academic papers, a response essay is usually rather informal as it is written in the first person. This type of writing assignments is focused on revealing one’s personal point of view regarding a movie, a piece of music, a speech, or any kind of written work. While a response paper represents a personal reaction to a particular work, you still have to develop a strong thesis and follow it throughout the whole paper by supporting your opinions with the evidence from this work.
If you need to write a response essay, you should consider its special requirements and other peculiarities, which strongly depend on the work you need to respond to. When developing a response essay, you should closely assess the work and focus on your personal reaction to it. At the same time, you may need to summarize the key points of this work to make your response easier to understand. The most important requirement for a response paper is that you should state your position. It means that you can criticize the work, agree or disagree with its main ideas, reflect on the feelings and thoughts that this work evokes, emphasize its strengths and weaknesses, or present your impressions in some other form. Also, like for any other writing assignment, the basic requirements for a response essay may include avoiding plagiarism, citing the sources, and adhering to a particular formatting style and structure.
A popular form of a response essay is a response to another person’s essay or post. If you respond to your classmate or groupmate’s post, the basic requirements can be a bit different. For instance, you have to address them by their name and either agree or disagree with their opinions. Also, you have to indicate both the strongest and the weakest parts of the post and suggest what can be improved. Finally, such a response usually poses some helpful open-ended questions to continue the discussion. At the same time, in this case, you are also required to back up your personal point of view with some relevant evidence and be precise in your evaluation.
Usually, a topic for a response essay depends on the work you analyze. Most typically, it is related to something you study in the class, and in this case, the topic for your response essay is obvious. Besides that, the topic, or even a list of topics, can be developed by your professor. In this case, all you need to do is to choose the one that seems the most relevant and appealing to you.
However, if you are free to choose any topic you want and have to develop it by yourself, you should follow some recommendations. First of all, the topic should be interesting and appealing to you. In this case, it will be easier to complete the assignment. Also, as you are required to express personal opinion in your response, it can be helpful to use the topic you have some background knowledge about. You should understand that it is impossible to write an effective response essay without closely examining the work you respond to. Thus, when choosing a topic, it is easier to dedicate your response to something that you have already watched or read and refresh it in your memory by reviewing if you have enough time. Developing a topic for your response essay can be easy once you have chosen the work you are going to analyze. However, in certain cases, when the response deals with only certain aspects of the work, it can be more effective to identify these aspects in the topic.
Here are some examples that may give you an idea of what to write about:
When the topic is chosen, you can start working on the material. However, before starting to write a response essay, you should take several steps to make the writing process easier and more effective. It is typical for completing a writing assignment to spend much time on the pre-writing activities. This preparation phase will help you gather your thoughts and concentrate on the topic while ensuring cohesion and logical structure of your paper. Here are some pre-writing tips that will be helpful for writing a response essay:
There are some useful questions you can ask yourself to organize your writing process and focus on the aspects you want to explore the most.
While writing a response essay, you should follow all the professor’s requirements concerning its structure. Typically, a response paper consists of an introduction, several body paragraphs, and a conclusion. If you use outside sources in your work, you should also include a reference page. All the ideas and arguments of your response essay should be presented logically and follow the thesis.
Usually, the first sentence of the introduction should include the title and the author of the work you analyze. Also, your introduction can contain some background information about this work, the author, or the problem it explores. If it is needed, you can briefly summarize the key facts of the work you respond to. In general, the introduction should be short and accurate to attract the readers and draw attention to the issues you are going to discuss.
The thesis statement is particularly important for an effective response essay. It should reflect your personal point of view on the work you analyze and combine all the main ideas that you are going to express later in the body paragraphs. It should state your position clearly and persuasively. The thesis statement is usually the last sentence of the introduction. All the following body paragraphs should be related to the thesis and develop it through the use of particular arguments and examples from the work.
Each body paragraph of your response paper should concentrate on a separate idea or aspect. All the ideas expressed in the response paper should be consistent with the thesis statement. Besides, all your personal opinions should be supported by the evidence from the work you analyze or from outside sources. If you respond to your classmate or groupmate’s post, your body paragraphs can highlight the strong and weak parts of this post with references, the grounding for your agreement or disagreement on the original writer’s opinion, your recommendations for improvements and further investigations, and questions that arise while reading the post.
In the conclusion, you should restate the idea expressed in the thesis statement. In this part of your paper, you can summarize the key points of your response and connect them together. It is particularly important not to include anything that was not stated in the essay before.
You should never forget about the post-writing stage of developing a writing assignment as it is especially significant in the writing process at large. During this stage, you have to be ready to make changes as it can considerably improve your paper. The main activities associated with the post-writing stage are revising and editing.
Fleming, G. (2018, December 23). Write an Effective Response Paper With These Tips. Retrieved February 5, 2019, from https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-write-a-response-paper-1857017
Guidelines for Responding to Your Classmates’ Writing. (n.d.). Retrieved February 5, 2019, from https://www.albany.edu/faculty/rpy95/eng303/response.html
Kearney, V. (2018, October 19). How to Write a Reading Response Essay. Retrieved February 5, 2019, from https://owlcation.com/academia/How-to-Write-a-Reading-Response-Essay
Learn How to Write a Response Paper : Guides – A Research Guide. (2018, July 06). Retrieved February 5, 2019, from https://www.aresearchguide.com/write-a-response-paper.html
Writing a Response or Reaction Paper (n.d.). Retrieved February 5, 2019, from http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/rwc/handouts/the-writing-process-1/invention/Writing-a-Response-or-Reaction-Paper