Response essays have become fairly popular in the education system. These essays have become an almost indispensable part of the education system nowadays. Although to a person, the task of writing a response essay might seem to be very easy, it's not. For a student, it can be a fairly daunting task.
Let's talk about what exactly is a response essay. These essays are generally asked by the lecturers so that the students study carefully and come to know what they feel about something that they have read. There are certain things that these essays require the students to do. First and foremost, these essays require the students to interpret whatever they have read in their own way, independently and decide as to how well the text completes its purpose. Writing a good response paper is more challenging than it seems to be. Generally, people think of it as merely a matter of reading the text and interpreting it or understanding it. It is way more than that. While writing one of these papers, one needs to form an opinion about the text and also reflect it effectively in the essay. To write a good response essay, a student needs enough time to do the analysis and also contemplate the outcomes and put them together. In a response essay, it is expected out of the student to make a bridge between the subject or text and his own experience. If the student is studying multiple texts, he should also take into account as to how the texts relate to one another.
A response essay is not asked by the lecturer to test the student's ability to review a text or his ability to revisit the content or story. In fact, it is meant for the student to create an open and honest letter to the writer. A response essay can be thought of as a discussion, a conversation and even a dialogue. BUT it cannot be thought of as a review. It can be defined as a personal testimonial of the experiences of a person.
A response essay is basically an answer or a response to the work of a particular writer or author. It is an individual answer and can be termed as the approach of an individual to the ideas of a certain work.
There are a number of things that a student needs to keep in mind while writing a response essay. One needs to understand that there are some specific things expected out of him when he writes a response essay. For instance, when you write a response essay about some book or text or article that you have read in class, you will be expected to write in an informal sort of way, in a personal, first-person voice. This is what makes the response essays different from the formal reviews that we all are accustomed to writing. A response essay is always written in the first person. Unlike all the other formal modes of writing, response essays generally include phrases like "I thought" and "I believe". In fact, the use of these phrases is encouraged in a response essay.
Therefore, while writing a response essay, a student must be careful about some things. Some of the things that a student can do to write a good response essay are:
Although a response essay is quite different from all formal writings, there are some similar elements as well. For instance, in a response essay, although the student is expected to write in an informal way, he still needs to write a formal assessment of the work that he is observing... irrespective of what the work is. The work can be a film, a book or a work of some other art. In all the cases, a student needs to write a formal assessment as well in the response essay. In addition to this formal assessment, the student is also required to add his own personal experiences and reaction to the artwork. He is expected to add what all impressions did he have the work that he observed. For this, it is really necessary that the student reads the work for an understanding and try to observe it as much as possible. There is an entire process that needs to be followed. In the process of reading the text or the piece for an initial understanding, the student should mark the pages or points that he finds interesting or important with something like a sticky flag. Here, it is important to point out that many students think that it is not necessary to mark the pages or points. They think that they'll be able to remember all that they find interesting. The students should not commit this mistake. Even if one remembers some of the points, it is just not possible for one to remember everything that he finds interesting in a text. Therefore, one should make sure that he marks all that he wants to.
While this process of reading is going on and even after it has completed, the student should always go back to the marked pages and read them as many times as he can. It is important for the student to get these pages in the head as clearly as possible. One should stop to reflect often at these pages.
Then comes the time for the student to record his thoughts and impressions. Again, it is very important that the student notes and records his impressions and notes as soon as it comes to him. He should not rely on his ability to recall it when he needs it. The student should realize that these thoughts are the most important element of the response essay, and therefore they should be given importance and they should be recorded at once. All the thoughts and impressions that a student gets should be recorded as they are going to make the major part of the response essay.
After this is done, the student should start with developing the thesis for the response essay. The thesis very important for the response essay as it is the focused statement of the responses of the student. It is generally formed through the use of the work under observation to the personal experience of the author causing a special perception. One should be very careful while writing the thesis. The student should give information about the subject in question and also review the article simultaneously.
Once all this is done, write an outline and construct the essay.
Once the student is done with establishing an outline for the response paper, the next step will be creating the first draft of the response essay. While creating the first draft, one should include all the basic elements of a strong essay in it. Elements like good and structured body, a strong introductory sentence are really important for the essay.
Generally, in the case of a responses paper, the first sentence of the draft or the essay contains the name of the author as well as the title of the subject or the text that the student is responding to. One should make sure that these things are in their right place. Also, as already mentioned the last sentence of the first paragraph of the response essay should contain a thesis statement. One should be very careful while writing this statement. This thesis statement is very important as it makes the overall opinion of the statement clear on the subject. The student should make sure that it clearly gives away the opinion to the reader in the first look. Therefore, the first paragraph is very important with respect to the response of the student. While writing this, the student should make sure that every required thing falls into the right place.
The student should always keep in mind that he is writing a response essay and not any other formal writing. He should keep reminding himself that it is important for him to include his own opinion in the body of the response essay. If he does not do so, the entire meaning of writing the response essay is lost. This is especially necessary for the students who feel shy while using expressions like "I believe" or "I feel" in an essay. They need to understand that a response is one such writing where it is important and imperative that they use such expressions. It is through the use of these expressions only that the student will be able to express his personal reactions clearly and effectively on the paper. Also, these type of expressions is very helpful for somebody to grab the eye of the reader. Some of the expressions that can be used by the students while writing a response essay are:
There are many more expressions that the students can use. Moreover, one should not use these expressions just for the sake of using them. Instead, these expressions should be used only when the student feels in a way specific to an expression.
Also, one of the most common mistakes that the students commit while writing a response essay is to resort to insulting or making awful comments about the work without any clear explanation or the reason for it. Now, at this point, the reader needs to understand that there is nothing wrong with disliking a work or a text and critiquing it for the same. But what's wrong is presenting these critiques without any sort of explanation or reason. Therefore, the student should always make sure that he backs up his critique with solid and concrete explanations, reasons and examples.
Although a major part of what's already mentioned comes under the 'body' of the essay, still, there are some other things as well that the student should keep in mind while writing the body of the essay. It is imperative that the body of the essay contains paragraphs that support the thesis statement that the student has already given in the introductory paragraph of the essay. Also, it is in the body that the student should include his analysis and evaluation of all the major facets of the text or work under observation. The student can try focusing on some particular facets extensively to make the essay look motivated. Overall, the body of the essay should include a detailed discussion of the text or work in question and it should imperatively contain enough information that supports the thesis statement given by the student in the introductory paragraph.
Once the student is did with all this, it is time to conclude the essay. The mistake that the students commit while writing the conclusion is to take it lightly. It is important to understand that the conclusion is as important as the first paragraph and it cannot be taken lightly. It is important as it offers suggestion and connects the response of the student to the work or text that is under question. It should tell the readers how the real facets of the work have been taking into consideration while giving a response to the work and also while analyzing it. One can also use the conclusion to tell the readers in brief or give a summary of the essay that he has just written. The student can use this space to tell as to what all facets he has considered majorly and how has he gone about giving the response to the essay.
Therefore, the student should pay equal attention to the conclusion as well.
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