An evaluation essay is a composition that offers value judgments about a particular subject according to a set of criteria. Also called evaluative writing, evaluative essay or report, and critical evaluation essay.
An evaluation essay or report is a type of argument that provides evidence to justify a writer's opinions about a subject.
"Any kind of review is essentially a piece of evaluative writing," says Allen S. Goose. "This type of writing calls for the critical thinking skills of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation" (8 Kinds of Writing, 2001).
- "Without good reasons for liking or disliking certain things, students can never get beyond being passive receivers of marketing, fickle consumers without a basis for their opinions. Writing evaluation papers asks them to question why they feel the way they do."
(Allison D. Smith, et al., Teaching in the Pop Culture Zone: Using Popular Culture in the Composition Classroom. Wadsworth, 2009)
How to Evaluate
- "If you are evaluating a piece of writing, then you are going to need to thoroughly read the work. While you read the work, keep in mind the criteria you are using to evaluate. The evaluative aspects may be: grammar, sentence structure, spelling, content, usage of sources, style, or many other things. Other things to consider when evaluating a piece of writing is whether the writing appealed to its target audience. Was there an emotional appeal? Did the author engage the audience, or was the piece lacking something?… "If you are evaluating anything else, use your head. You need to try, use, or test whatever thing you are evaluating. That means you should not evaluate a 2005 Chevrolet Corvette unless you have the $45,000 (or more) to buy one, or the money to rent one. You also need the know-how of driving a car of that power and a base of knowledge of other cars that you have tested to compare it to."
(Joe Torres, Rhetoric and Composition Study Guide. Global Media, 2007)
Identifying Criteria for an Evaluation
- "Make a list of prominent, widely recognized standards for judging your subject. If you do not know the standards usually used to evaluate your subject, you could do some research. For example, if you are reviewing a film, you could read a few recent film reviews online or in the library, noting the standards that reviewers typically use and the reasons that they assert for liking or disliking a film. If you are evaluating a soccer team or one winning (or losing) game, you could read a book on coaching soccer or talk to an experienced soccer coach to learn about what makes an excellent soccer team or winning game."
(Rise B. Axelrod and Charles R. Cooper, Axelrod & Cooper's Concise Guide to Writing, 4th ed. Bedford/St. Martin's, 2006)
Ways of Organizing an Evaluation Essay
- "One way to organize an evaluation essay is point-by-point: describe one element of the subject and then evaluate it; present the next element and evaluate it; and so on. Comparison/contrast could be an organizing structure as well, in which you evaluate something by comparing (or contrasting) it to a known item. Culinary and music reviews often use this strategy. Chronological organization can be used for evaluating an event (either current or historical). Sequential organization can be used when describing how something works and evaluating the effectiveness of the process, procedure, or mechanism. Spatial organization can be used for evaluating art or architecture in which you describe and evaluate one element of the artifact and then move spatially to the next major element to be described and evaluated."
(David S. Hogsette, Writing That Makes Sense: Critical Thinking in College Composition. Wipf and Stock, 2009)