In an evaluation essay, you make judgments about people, ideas, and possible actions. You make your evaluation based on certain criteria that you develop. Organize the essay by discussing the criteria you used to make your judgment.
1. An adequately described subject. The writer should describe the subject of the essay in some detail, according to what he or she thinks the reader should know. Writers usually provide only enough information to allow their readers to accept their judgment. The emphasis, therefore, is on the authoritative voice of the writer. But if you were going to evaluate a book, your reader would need to know the author, the date of publication, what it was about, etc.
2. A judgment. The writer must assert him or herself by making a definitive judgment. This judgment should be the writer's thesis sentence. All other paragraphs should seek to prove the thesis, even if a writer must give a balanced appraisal by anticipating objections.
3. A convincing argument. After you state your judgment, present an argument based on reasonable criteria. "Reasonable criteria" means using standards that are generally used to describe something. For instance, if you are evaluating a mystery novel but using the criteria used to judge a self-help book, you might have difficulty. Writers should also provide evidence to make their argument. If you state that the mystery novel has a plot that is unlikely, then you must give several examples directly from the novel and tell why they are unlikely. Evidence should include description, examples, facts, statistics, and testimony of others. A writer may also chose to make comparisons when writing an evaluation. For instance, the mystery novel could be compared to an Agatha Christie novel to help clarify its strengths and weaknesses.
4. An impartial, reasonable tone. Some writers go out of their way to avoid an impartial or reasonable tone, especially when evaluating a movie, and sometimes it is desirable to allow the importance of your topic to be reflected in your tone. In business, however, it is usually best to be impartial. If you are evaluating a worker's performance, for instance, you don't want to be flippant or cute. Remember, the tone reflects on the writer not the person being evaluated.
5. A clear pattern of organization. As with other types of essays, it is best to make it clear where you are going. Start with a tight introduction, working from general to specific. Your judgment should be your thesis sentence and should lead into your argument.
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