Review Essay: Meaning, Structure, Tips

Meaning of a Review Essay

A review essay shows a writer’s feelings and opinions on the major themes and messages that an author tries to pass across in a piece of literature. It is a critical discussion and evaluation of a book where the writer’s opinion about the book is supported by concrete evidence from the book.

The review essay should be based on the opinions or analysis of other writers about the book. It requires two stages which are: developing an argument about the essay and writing a well-organized review. It can also be defined as the review of two or more readings covered in a course.

The purpose of this essay is to show students that they understand the arguments and main points of readings and also organize them into a coherent, integrated and thematic fashion. This type of essay does not aim to develop your research skills, thus, you are not expected to make research outside the papers you have been given. The key purpose of the paper is to develop your analytical and writing skills.

Oftentimes, the writings or readings that are to be reviewed by students are based on different topics thus the major challenge faced by students writing review essays is to find and make connections between these topics and make these writings speak to each other by reorganizing them focusing on a specific part of these writings. To do this, you have to present an argument that makes this reading to be in agreement and full dialogue with each other. Your intellectual ability is the major thing that is required for you to be able to do this. The aim is for you to try to come up with a central theme that runs through the text itself and while reviewing the readings the theme is still fully interpreted.

Important things you need to do before you start writing the introduction to the review essay. 

1. Come up With a Title

The title should show and reflect the focus of the whole essay. Decide between a declarative, descriptive or interrogative title.

2. Cite the Articles you are Working on

You must let your reader know the articles that your reviews are based upon. The citation of the article should be just below the title of the article, and it should be done properly. Do not skip a line between the citation and the first sentence.

3. Identify the Articles

Start your review by referring to the title and author of the article, the title of the journal and the year of publication in the first paragraph. Doing this will give anybody reading your review essay background information about what your essay is based on.

Structure of a Review Essay.

Just like all other types of essays, the structure of a review essay also consists of The Introduction, The Body and The Conclusion. 

• Introduction

The introduction should start with an identification sentence. The central theme and claims of the article or articles that you are reviewing should be mentioned here. Also, you need to put the thesis statement in the introduction. Here, the thesis statement can have more than one central idea. Since it might not be clearly stated in the article you are reviewing, you should try to come up with a suitable one that summarizes the major theme of your essay. The introduction should not be more than 10%-25% of the whole essay. It should be concluded with the thesis statement which should be on the last line of the introductory paragraph.

• The body

This is where you express your main points, arguments, and findings of the article in your own words, referring to the summary of the article for assistance. Show the reader how the article supports its claims and make your conclusions on the article. When you are writing the body of the essay, avoid writing in the first person pronouns and also do not cover specific examples, statistics or background information familiar to the experts in the field.

After you have read and understood the article correctly, use your knowledge to points out whether the article is clear and concise. Support your claims with evidence from the article, you can even use quotes from the article to back up your points. You can also show if the information provided by the author supports the main arguments of the essay. Identify a situation where the author has been biased and decide generally if you agree with the author or not and then give reasons for your decision.

• The conclusion

The final paragraph of the essay should conclude by summarizing all the major points of the articleReview Essay, as well as your opinions about the significance and accuracy of those points. You can also comment on the effect of further research on the subject that the article is based on. Finish the conclusion by restating your thesis statement.

Examples of Review Essay Topics:

1. Acceleration is a vector quantity

2. Anthropology article review

3. Geiger’s article

4. Japanese art appreciation

5. Three idiots.

You can base your article on any literary piece of your choice and choose the topic you think is best for the essay.

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