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Evaluation Essay Writing A-Z: Taking the “Mystery” Out of the Essay Type

September 29, 2015 - Posted toWriting

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The Evaluation Essay- Getting at a Definition

When you write an essay for an English course, you are usually given a rubric by which the instructor will evaluate that essay and come up with a final grade. In effect, your instructor is using the same process that you will use when you have to evaluate something and write an essay on that evaluation. So, an evaluation essay is a piece of writing that will determine the quality of something – a product, a policy, a law, a book or movie, a restaurant, etc.

Evaluation essay assignment may come in a couple of varieties.

  1. You may be given something specific to evaluate (the topic), and you may also be given the criteria you are to use to make your decision about quality. For example, a literature instructor may ask that you evaluate the major character in a novel you have read. The criteria may be things like, “Was this character credible?” “Did the character remain consistent throughout the work?” “Did the actions and words of the character clearly reveal his/her nature, beliefs, and value systems?”
  2. At other times you may simply be given a topic. A political science professor may ask you to evaluate the Affordable Care Act, or the immigration platform of a particular candidate, or the Electoral College. In these instances you have a topic but you must develop the criteria.
  3. Still again, you may be assigned an evaluation essay, and both topic and criteria are up to you.

No matter which type of evaluation essay you may be assigned, however, there is a “no-fail” process that, if used, will result in a worthy piece. Use this process and the other evaluation essay writing tips you will find here, and you should be “good to go.”


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The Step-by-Step Process for Writing the Evaluation Essay

1. Identify and refine your topic. If not given, then you must find something to evaluate. Make a list of things about which you feel pretty knowledgeable – a movie or a book, a product, a law or a policy, a specific restaurant, a course you have taken, etc. Once you have decided on the topic, make a list of all of the details on that topic. You will use these later on.

2. Decide on your criteria for evaluation. If these have been given to you already, no problem. If not, then you will have to ask yourself some very specific questions:

  • What would be the ideal? This is a question you would ask if you were evaluating a product, a car, a restaurant, or a political leader, for example.
  • What is the purpose of this thing you are evaluating? This is a question you might ask about a law, a movie, an educational program, or a course.
  • Are there already established criteria in place for evaluating this thing? If a medical student is charged with evaluating the efficacy of a treatment plan for an infectious disease, for example, there are already criteria for evaluation of that treatment – perhaps lower temperature, increase in red blood cell count, and so forth.

Try to limit your criteria for evaluation to 3-4 aspects. After all, this is an essay not a major research work, and you will overwhelm yourself if you try to use more.

3. Use your criteria to evaluate the topic. As you do this, be certain that you use factual evidence as you make your judgments. If you are evaluating a specific cell phone, for example, one, of your criterion might be “coverage area.” If there are coverage area issues, then provide detail from your own experience, that of others you know, or a trusted consumer report document. If you are evaluating a documentary film, and the purpose of that film was to bring awareness to the issue of climate change, was that purpose achieved? How was that purpose achieved? What factual information was presented? Each of your criterion will be a body paragraph in your essay.

4. Come to an overall judgment. Based upon the criteria and evidence, what is you general opinion? Is this thing you evaluated serving the purpose for which it was written, produced, established? Is it effective for what it is supposed to achieve? This becomes your Thesis Statement.

5. The rest of the essay production occurs like any other essay. Prepare your body paragraphs, one on each criterion. Write your introduction, introducing you topic and providing your thesis statement – your overall judgement. Write your conclusion, providing a short summary of your evaluation and re-stating your thesis in another say.

Topic Ideas by Subject Field

If you must choose your own topic, here is a short list of some possibilities by subject.

  • English
  1. Evaluate the impact of ad slogans on consumerism
  2. Evaluate the film adaptation of a classical novel
  3. Evaluate the credibility of a plot line or a character from a novel
  • Social Sciences
  1. Evaluate how a historical novel accurately depicts the times
  2. Evaluate the implications of drones on future warfare
  3. Evaluate the effectiveness of the Electoral College
  4. Evaluate current policies on homelessness in 3 major cities
  5. Evaluate the value systems of the Millennials
  • Science
  1. Evaluate how designer children my impact society
  2. Evaluate the dangers of artificial intelligence
  • Education
  1. Evaluate the value of state-wide testing programs
  2. Evaluate sex education programs
  3. Evaluate home schooling
  • Technology
  1. Evaluate 3-4 similar apps
  2. Evaluate the use of computer-assisted instruction in the classroom
  • Business
  1. Evaluate the effectiveness of service leadership
  2. Evaluate the importance of content marketing strategies

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Do’s and Don’ts for Evaluation Essays

Here are a few things to think about as you craft you evaluation essay.

Do's Don'ts
  • Be sure you stick to the criteria you have set. It is easy to get off track in these essays
  • Don’t make sweeping statements they are hard to support
  • Make sure that you have provided evidence to support your judgments
  • Don’t choose topics that are too broad or that are too common the first will drive you crazy, and the second will make your essay boring


Be reasonable at writing your essay and leave emotion out of it. That's your key to a great writing.

Some Additional Key Points

You need to keep in mind the definitions of terms as you produce an evaluation essay:

  • Criteria = what is the ideal or the purpose of the thing you are evaluating?
  • Evidence = the details you use to form your judgment
  • Judgment = your opinion as to whether each criterion has been met.

You may have to conduct some research to get the factual evidence you need. Accept that and just get it done.

Your Takeaway

Evaluation essays should not scare you. Think of it this way. You have opinions about a lot of things; you have written persuasive essays in which you have had to take a stand and back it up with factual information. The only difference in writing an evaluation essay is that you determine what factors, or criteria, you are going to use to evaluate something. 

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