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Chapter 3: Writing Mechanics Help
Chapter 12: Teaching Writing
Chapter 23: Teaching Reading
College English Composition: Help and Review
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What is an Evaluation Essay?

“To evaluate” means to judge the quality of something, but what is an evaluation essay? An evaluation essay, or evaluation argument essay, offers an opinion or a review of something.

There are many possible topics for an evaluation essay. Here are some possibilities:

  • A movie or other performance (concert, play, dance, etc.)
  • A restaurant or other place (store, museum, park, etc.)
  • A book or other product (car, phone, guitar, etc.)
  • A vacation or other experience (festival, tour, cooking class, etc.)

An evaluation essay is like an in-depth customer review.


Judgement, Criteria, and Evidence

Evaluative writing has three key elements: judgment, criteria, and evidence.

  • The judgment is the writer’s opinion on the topic.
  • The criteria are the reasons for the writer’s judgment.
  • The evidence is proof or information that provides support for the criteria.

Parts of the Evaluation Essay

There are three main parts to an evaluation essay: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. The three key elements (judgment, criteria, evidence) each appear within the parts of the essay.


The first paragraph of an essay is called the introduction. An introduction typically introduces the reader to the essay’s topic. An important component of the introduction in evaluative writing is background information. Background helps to establish the purpose of the essay by giving a brief summary of the essay’s topic. For instance, if a book is being evaluated in the essay, providing a brief summary of the book would be helpful to the reader. The background information should be provided in the beginning of the introduction, before the essay’s thesis.

Evaluative Thesis

The introduction also contains the essay’s thesis statement. The thesis statement is the main idea or the main argument of the essay.

In an evaluation essay, the evaluative thesis statement contains the first key element: the overall judgment. One may recall that the judgment is the writer’s overall opinion of the topic being evaluated in the essay. The thesis should state the writer’s overall judgment of the essay’s topic.

The thesis should also preview the second key element, the criteria; one may recall that the criteria are the reasons for the judgment.

Providing the overall judgment and criteria in the essay’s thesis statement helps to define the focus of the essay.


As previously stated, the criteria are the reasons for the writer’s overall judgment. The criteria should be briefly mentioned in the thesis statement, but these reasons will be expanded upon in the body, or main part, of the essay. One good method of organization is to cover one criterion per body paragraph. Therefore, a five paragraph essay would contain an introduction, three criterion discussed in three separate body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

An important thing to keep in mind is that each body paragraph should also contain the three elements: judgment, criteria, and evidence. To compose each body paragraph, the writer would begin by introducing one of the criteria. The next step would be to give a judgment or opinion on this criterion that caused the writer to arrive at the overall judgment. Lastly, the writer should provide evidence to support the judgment.

Tools for Effective Evidence

One method of providing supporting evidence in an evaluation argument essay is through comparing or contrasting the criterion to other examples. For instance, if one of the criterion is the limited menu at a particular restaurant, the writer could contrast the restaurant’s menu with another restaurant’s menu that provides more options. This would be effective evidence to support the judgment that the restaurant being evaluated does not provide enough menu choices.

Another method for incorporating supporting evidence is presenting counterarguments. Counterarguments are arguments that are against or opposed to one’s argument. Providing counterarguments can be helpful in situations in which the essay presents a controversial viewpoint. By presenting a known counterargument, the writer can acknowledge that the counterargument exists and then use evidence to dismantle it or explain why it is invalid. This is a powerful persuasive technique.


The conclusion is the last paragraph of an essay. The conclusion should drive home the main points of the essay. This is done by restating the essay’s overall judgment and reviewing the criteria for the overall judgment.

Evaluation Essay Example

Below is an example of the parts of an evaluation essay. One should note how the three key elements are incorporated into the three main parts of the essay.

Indianapolis hosts many amazing restaurants serving a variety of cuisine for a variety of palettes. Big Catch, located in the center of downtown, is Indy’s newest seafood restaurant. The restaurant’s grand opening this past August was surrounded with much excitement from locals. Unfortunately, Big Catch does not live up to the hype. Big Catch’s menu, decor, and service designate it as a second-rate establishment.

  • This introduction to an evaluative essay contains the required elements. First, it begins by giving the reader background information on the restaurant so that even a reader who is not familiar with the restaurant can follow the essay. Second, the introduction ends with a thesis statement. The evaluative thesis in this example provides the writer’s overall judgment that the restaurant is second-rate. Finally, the thesis previews the main points, or criteria, that will be evaluated in the body of the essay: menu, decor, and service.

To begin with, Big Catch’s menu is limited and unimaginative. The menu includes conventional seafood options that one can get at most any restaurant, let alone seafood restaurants. Seafood lovers can choose from grilled or breaded shrimp, crab legs, lobster tail, lake perch, or salmon. Diners who do not want or cannot eat seafood have even less choices. The menu lists grilled chicken, a burger, and fettuccine alfredo as the only non-seafood options. Children will have an even harder time picking an entree as there is no children’s menu.

  • This evaluative essay body paragraph follows the methods outlined above. It discusses one of the criteria mentioned in the thesis statement, the menu. Secondly, it provides a judgment on the criteria: the menu is limited and unimaginative. Thirdly, it provides evidence to support the judgment by listing and discussing the menu’s options.

All in all, Big Catch is a mediocre seafood restaurant that is not worth experiencing. The limited and unimaginative menu, the stark decor, and the poor service place it beneath the surrounding restaurants in the heart of downtown Indy. Although Indianapolis has never been known for its seafood, Big Catch’s seafood sets a poor precedent.

  • This evaluative essay conclusion does the two main things that a conclusion should do: it restates the essay’s thesis statement and it reviews the main points, or criteria, of the essay.

Plan your essay by choosing a topic and formulating the overall judgment, criteria, and gathering evidence.


Tips for Evaluative Writing

  • The writer should choose a topic about which they feel strongly and already know something.
  • Before drafting the essay, the writer should create an organized outline with an overall judgment, criteria that led to the overall judgment, judgments of the criteria, and evidence for the criteria.
  • The essay should have an overall judgment of the topic that is stated in the thesis statement of the introduction.
  • The criteria, or reasons, for the overall judgment should be discussed in the body paragraphs. Discussing one criterion per body paragraph is recommended.
  • Each criterion, or reason, should also include a judgment. For example, if one criterion is the musical score of a movie, the writer should make a judgment about the music that is related to his or her overall judgment about the movie.
  • Each criterion must include evidence to prove or explain how the writer arrived at the judgment. For example, if the criterion is the multiple points of view of a book, and the judgment is that it is confusing, the writer must provide evidence from the novel that shows or explains how or why the points of view are confusing.
  • The overall judgment should be restated and the criteria should be summarized in the conclusion.

Lesson Summary

An evaluation essay offers an opinion or a review of something. Evaluative writing has three key elements: judgment, criteria, and evidence. The judgment is the writer’s opinion on the topic. The criteria are the reasons for the writer’s judgment. The evidence is proof or information that provides support for the criteria.

An evaluative essay should contain an introduction, body, and a conclusion. The introduction of the essay should contain background information on the topic to establish the purpose of the evaluation. The introduction should also contain a thesis statement that makes an overall judgment about the essay’s topic and previews the criteria that will be discussed in the essay. Doing these two things in the introduction helps to focus the critique.

The criteria should be discussed within separate paragraphs in the body, or main part, of the essay. Each body paragraph should also provide a judgment about each criterion as well as evidence that supports the judgment.

One method to effectively provide evidence is through comparing and contrasting the subject to other similar subjects. Another method is to provide counterarguments, or arguments against one’s opinion, and then provide evidence that disproves the counterargument.

The essay’s conclusion should restate the thesis and review the main points, namely the criteria.

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