How to Write an Analytical Essay in 7 Simple Steps
Analytical essays provide a way to share your insights about a work of literature, scientific study, or historical event.
What Is an Analytical Essay?
An analytical essay is a piece of writing that provides substantive analysis of a topic. Analysis papers can be written about art, music, literary works, current events, historical events, politics, scientific research, and philosophy, among other topics. Analytical essays are common in academic settings, and they also appear in magazines, newspapers, academic journals, trade journals. A good analytical essay can explain and contextualize basic information for the benefit of a reader.
What Is the Purpose of an Analytical Essay?
Analytical essays serve two purposes, one for the reader and one for the writer. High school teachers and college professors assign analytical papers to help their students grow as writers and thinkers. Analytical papers boost a student's writing skills and enhance their comprehension of a particular topic.
Analytical essays also benefit readers. Newspapers and magazines routinely publish critical analysis essays to help their readers make sense of the news of the day. These types of essays enable authors, who may be experts in their fields, to educate their fellow citizens on matters of politics, economics, art, architecture, culture, and many other subjects of importance.
Analytical Essay vs. Descriptive Essay: What’s the Difference?
What sets an analytical essay apart from a descriptive essay is the author's point of view. Whereas analytical essays present an argument supported by evidence, descriptive essays tend to take the form of book summaries, film synopses, descriptive articles, and informative pamphlets that do not include analysis or opinion. Like a good analytical essay, a strong descriptive essay will highlight its main points, organize given topics into body paragraphs, and use logical transition. Ultimately, however, descriptive essays summarize facts, while analytical essays delve into interpretation.
How to Write an Analytical Essay in 7 Steps
The best analytical essays offer a clear point of view, are well organized around a main idea, address opposing arguments, and are thoroughly supported by primary and secondary sources. Here is a step-by-step guide for writing an analytical essay.
- Choose a point of view. No matter what you choose as your central point of view, prepare to anchor your entire analytical essay around a singular thesis statement.
- Write an introductory paragraph ending in a thesis statement. An excellent introduction can engage your reader’s interest, so take extra care on your opening paragraph. The best introductions start with a hook such as a rhetorical question or a bold statement and provide global context, outlining questions that your analysis will tackle. A good introduction conclude with a thesis statement that serves as the north star for the entire essay.
- Carefully organize the body of your essay. After your introductory paragraph, divide your essay into body paragraphs that delve into specific topics. All body paragraphs should serve the main goal of supporting your thesis statement, either by providing background information, digging into details, or providing contrasting viewpoints. The number of body paragraphs will vary depending on the scope of your essay. The structure of your essay is just as important as the subject of your essay, so take the time to plan each body paragraph.
- Craft clear topic sentences. Each main body paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that both introduces the topic of the specific paragraph, and ties it to your main thesis.
- Populate your essay with evidence. The main body of the essay should be filled with a mixture of substance and analysis. You won't convince your audience by making statements without solid evidence to back it up. Therefore, you must support the main points of your analysis with textual evidence taken from both primary and secondary sources. Use footnotes and endnotes as necessary.
- Provide space for contrasting opinions. You can make an argument stronger by acknowledging another point of view. Even if you do not agree with a critical perspective, you can still use a body paragraph to articulate that point of view. You can then refute that argument with additional evidence and reasoning, strengthening your thesis.
- Summarize your analysis in a concluding paragraph. Whether you're aiming for a good grade or just trying to give your audience a satisfying reading experience, wrap up your analytical essay with a concluding paragraph that recaps your argument. The concluding paragraph is not the place to introduce new evidence. Rather, it is the bow on your entire essay, reminding your reader of your most important points and leaving them with some final words for consideration.