What Response Essays Are and How to Tackle Them

What Response Essays Are and How to Tackle Them

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Writing a response essay might seem like a challenging task at first. Firstly, you need to understand to a great extent what the study that you are responding to is talking about and then make sure that you write an insightful, true to the source essay about it. Even if you need to write a response essay as part of your homework for faculty studies or high school assignments or you want to exercise your argumentative skills, it might seem like a lot of work at first. However, having in mind a clear structure of your future response essay is essential.

Before beginning to go through the main structure points that you need to check when writing a response essay, there are some tips that you need to know and that will help you lay your thoughts on paper in a more efficient way. First of all, after reading the essay or the article that you are responding to, you need to settle on whether you want to attack the ideas presented in that article or to agree with them. Based on that, you will structure the components of your response essay. For example, if your response essay is talking about protecting the environment and you want to show your agreement with the ideas presented in the original essay, then you should build your response essay around the idea of consolidating the thoughts in the main source.

Secondly, it is important that your readers clearly understand your position after reading your response essay. This means that you need to expose all possible arguments which might strengthen or attack the ideas presented in the main article. In order for you to achieve a strong position, it might be helpful to also expose a personal experience that can be related to the topic you are writing an essay about. This will not only make your argument points stronger but will also help your readers empathize with your writing. Also, it is important that you keep in mind that your response essay should be a response to something you have read, something that is a hot topic at the moment in various social contexts or something that has been debated for a long time and you want to present a new approach to things.

You also have to keep in mind that the more knowledge you show to your audience in your response essay about the author and the topic that is being debated, the more credibility you will gain. This is why it is important to also present a context in your response essay, such as details about the author and the paper you are choosing to respond to. Finally, after debating the ideas of the original text, you can also choose to talk about the effectiveness of the source text. It can be about how the main paper managed to reach the audience, if the writing style was effective, and how the author you are responding to had chosen to expose their ideas.

If we were to summarize the main points you should keep in mind before starting to tackle the components of a response essay, these would be:

  1. Make sure to clearly expose your position regarding the article or paper you are responding to
  2. Don’t forget to expose the personal experiences or thoughts that might help you relate to the matter in question and your reader to empathize with your way of writing
  3. Prove that you have knowledge about the author of the main text and can put your response essay in a context
  4. Evaluate the main text’s effectiveness and how it managed to reach the audience

Get Started: Write an Introduction

One important thing when writing a response essay is the way you structure the introduction. This is one of the key parts of your essay, as it embodies the topic you are about to debate and the premises you are basing your essay on. The introduction will make your audience decide if they want to keep reading your response essay or not. This is why it is important that you keep in mind the following tips:

  • Introduction is all about catching your audience’s attention
  • It should provide a brief description of the topic
  • You should be able to briefly summarize your thesis
  • Don’t forget to give a short description of the author and the article you are responding to

It might be the case that the source article that you are about to discuss contains several parts or has different ideas which can be debated and your response article refers only to a part of them. In this case, don’t forget to also mention this. Do not forget that you need to keep it short and catchy.

How to Make Your Introduction Catchy – Introduction Ideas

Writing a catchy introduction that will make your reader read the whole response article is challenging. This is why you will find here some ideas to start with, such as:

  • Making use of a statistic: some puzzling conclusion that researchers might have reached at some point and which is relevant to the topic you are about to respond to.
  • Citing someone who is related to the area of expertise of your topic or is known for having deep knowledge about the topic. The more popular the person you are citing is, the more efficient your introduction will be.
  • Story-telling or reproducing a dialogue might also help, provided they are relevant and short.
  • Starting with a question or with a situation regarding the topic you are about to talk about might also be a good introduction idea.

You might even want to combine some of these ideas and write your introduction based on an example and a statistic or any other possible combination. Whatever you choose, make sure it stays to the point and is catchy to the eye of the reader.

How You Can Connect Introduction to Conclusion

Another important aspect that you need to consider when writing your introduction to the response essay is that you need to somehow connect it to the conclusion. In order for you to achieve a perfectly cyclic response essay, you need to find a way to make the two feel correspondent. This will help your response essay have a “frame” and will help your writing style be more efficient.

It might be a bit difficult at first to start with an introduction and end with a conclusion that are connected, mostly if you want to write very long and thorough response essays. However, one important suggestion that might help is to always make sure that before starting off your response essay, you are clear about the ideas and position you want to present. This will help you avoid changing your position as you advance in writing your essay and make your introduction and conclusion connected, giving a sense of symmetry to your text.

Below you can find some examples of how you can connect your introduction with the conclusion:

  • If you are writing about the usage of mobile devices in our everyday life, you could start your introduction by exposing a real-life experience, maybe someone who is driving to work on a normal day and is stuck in traffic. You could start by asking your readers what they would do on their phones as they wait in traffic and end with several possible outcomes of this scenario.
  • If you are choosing to present an essay about a personal experience and you start with an introduction about how a certain day started in your life, you could end your essay with how that day ended. This way, you will make sure you keep your readers connected to the story and have their attention all throughout the essay.
  • If you decide to write about any other topic, such as a topic of national importance or even an environmental topic, you could start by stating the facts to which you want to draw the attention and end with the facts about the current situation or how it can be improved.

How to Write a Strong Thesis

After making sure that you have caught your readers’ attention, it is all about making it clear to them what your position regarding the source article is. However, you should also provide a context to your response article by mentioning details about the author and the main ideas in the article that you have chosen to respond to. It can be that you are choosing to respond only partially, to a few of the ideas presented there, so this is the reason why it is important to clearly state the ideas of the article you want to respond to. Make sure to give an account of whatever it is debated in the article, by presenting the information in an objective way. At this point, it is more important for your readers to understand what you are trying to agree or disagree with than hear your personal opinion. Also, exposing the ideas of the source text in an objective, impersonal way will help your readers decide for themselves if the position you are taking is one that they would take or not.

Afterwards, it is vital that you expose what is known as “thesis statement” by allocating one paragraph in which you clearly state if you agree or disagree with the main topic presented in the source text. This should start with “I agree/I don’t agree with” and should be followed by a short and powerful message about the main reason why you are taking this position regarding that text.

The next step is to talk more about the reasons you are considering attacking or agreeing with the ideas presented in the original text. This can be done by either reviewing what the author is saying or just expanding on the main ideas. You can, for example, try to understand why the author has reached a certain conclusion that you are debating by trying to relate it to the author’s background or career. It can be that the author has chosen to promote oil drilling because they work in a factory that wants to make this process a sustainable one. It is important that you stay true to your debate and present the situation from both points of view: yours and the author’s.

How to Respond to Articles – Ideas

After tackling the introduction and the conclusion, the main body of your response essay is left to deal with. This is mainly the way in which you choose to present the source text and where you are standing regarding it. It is up to you if you choose to agree or disagree, however, what you have to keep in mind is that you need to be consistent and stay true to the topic you have chosen to debate.

One way to do that is to map the main three components of the response essay, namely, the introduction, body, and conclusion. Here are some helpful suggestions on how to structure your responding ideas:

  • Whether you agree or disagree, you can state 3 or more reasons for which you are doing so. Make sure to start each new paragraph and allocate enough space for your ideas to be clearly distinguished and stated.
  • If you are partially agreeing or disagreeing, make sure to always mention that so that your readers will clearly understand your position.
  • It is always important to see how the author’s ideas managed to reach the audience and in which ways the ideas were brought forward.

How to Better Structure the Body of the Response Essay

Make sure to utilize evidence to back-up your thesis. In order to do this, you can use quotes, author tags or simply rely on other readings and give references.

Make sure that you achieve a personal voice throughout the text. This can be done by differentiating yourself from the author and using author tags.

By using author tags, you communicate to your readers the fact that it is the author you are responding to who has a certain idea or it is their article that makes this reference. You can use any of these suggestions when talking about someone’s article:

  • The author mentions
  • The author refers to
  • The author is suggesting
  • The author writes
  • The author asks
  • The author recommends
  • The author is presenting
  • The author points out
  • The author relates
  • The author pleads
  • The author denies
  • The author’s remarks point to
  • The author explains

Write a Conclusion Your Readers Won’t Forget

One important thing to keep in mind when writing a conclusion to your response essay is that you shouldn’t repeat the arguments in the same form in which you have presented them in the body. Offering a conclusion to your response article is still needed, as this will help your readers make a clear decision whether they agree or disagree with the ideas presented in your response essay.

Besides making sure that your essay is built around a very powerful introduction and a conclusion that sums up the main ideas of your position regarding this essay, you can also:

  • Present the topic that you have been debating throughout the essay in a broader perspective; for example, if the topic you are tackling is national, you can connect this topic to the situation in other countries worldwide
  • Promote an organization or an event that has some influence on the topic you have been responding to
  • Present the current situation of the topic you are talking about and ring the alarm if anything needs to be done about it
  • Summarize how your arguments shed a new light on the topic

A Brief Summary of How a Response Essay Should Look Like

Keeping everything in mind, the essential parts of a response essay and the main suggestions that you have to keep in mind when starting to write are:

  1. Introduction
    • Paragraph 1: The first part of the introduction which needs to be vivid, catchy and reflect the point you are about to make.
    • Paragraph 2: Provide a context to your response essay: details about the source-text and the author and what the main points in the article are.
  2. Body
    • State your position regarding the ideas presented in the introduction and if you agree with the author’s take on the matter or not.
    • Clearly mention if you are going to question the author’s position or expand on the author’s account of the facts.
    • Give clear arguments pro or against the matter and allocate one paragraph to each of these arguments.
    • Use statistics, story-telling, research findings, scientific discoveries, and any other tools suggested in this article.
  3. Conclusion
    • Provide an insightful and catchy conclusion that correlates with the introduction you have chosen for your response essay.
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