How To Write An Effective Response Essay: Useful Hints For College Students





Basically a response paper is your chance to write a paper on your opinion about a subject. It has the feel of your average book review with the advantage that you are allowed to use the first person.

What you bring to this paper is your knowledge and experiences. From that base you explain how you personally understand the text that you have been assigned to comment on. This is not meant to be a test of your comprehension or a summary, you are being asked to interact with a paper and comment on your interaction.

In a way, you will be writing a compare and contrast essay – you compare your experiences against that of the authors and then you contrast how you agree or disagree with the points the author makes


How to set about the task


  1. First of all, read the assigned text. Then re-read it stopping every now and then to make a note on how a point the author asserted made you feel. Do you connect with it or does the attitude feel alien to your experience of life?

  2. Make sure you write down any anecdote of your life that resonates with what the author is saying. Is there a book you read with these ideas in it? – make a note of the title. These are good details to include.

  3. Pick one or two points to write about, depending on your word count. Chose the argument you intend to make in your paper.

  4. Outline your ideas and work them into a logical order to make your opinion worth listening to.

  5. As you write do not be afraid of “I think” or “I believe”. These are the whole purpose of this type of paper and they will be what your teacher is looking out for to make sure you understood the assignment.

  6. Two good phrases: “My favorite part …” and “I disliked …” Using these show you have read and interacted with the paper.

  7. Remember to include some quotes from the text, but do not over load your paper with the author’s words. This is about you and your feelings.

  8. Your introductory paragraph should include the title, author and which version of the text you read – your reader may have read a different edition. You may include a brief summary of the work as well as your thesis statement.

  9. As always revise and edit. The best grades are based on good presentation of your work.

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