How to Write a Great Response Essay

How to Write a Great Response Essay

How to Write a Great Response Essay


A response paper is an essay written after someone has read an article or piece of work. Students are often given this type of essay to evaluate their analyzing skills and reasoning. A response is a reaction paper that someone writes to reflect on what they felt or agreed on a specific text. Responses are often not more than five papers depending on the number of pages of the text in evaluation. A student is required to read the instructions given by an instructor for an exemplary paper.

Response papers need students to understand each text/ sentence they read before writing the essay. There are instances where the student will be required to respond to multiple texts. In such instances, the student needs to respond to all the texts and explain how they relate to each other. When giving responses, it is essential to align your thoughts and ideas into class readings and discussions for relevance. For instance, when you write a response for your fellow student's research paper, align your reasoning to information available on the topic chosen by the student and to what has been taught in class. 

When writing a response paper, keep in mind that you are sharing your personal views about a topic stating your beliefs and values. To make it easier, think about a response paper as an expression of your ideas to a writer of what you think about their paper. 

Questions You Need to Keep in Mind When Reading a Text to Responded to

  1. What is the author addressing? or What is the thesis statement/ main claim?  – try to identify the problem statement or themes that the paper is addressing. This information is normally located in the first few paragraphs of the paper. Understanding this will give you an easy time interpreting the whole paper. Also, identifying the thesis statement is a good way of understanding the writer's intentions at a glance. Reading a text with the thesis statement is easier as you will already have a rough idea of what the paper is all about. Please note that the thesis statement may not give you enough information on what you need to respond to, but it is a guideline and highlights or gives further details on the paper's/text's topic. Therefore, identify the paper's thesis statement and proceed to read the whole text. 

  2. What evidence has been used in the paper? – The type of evidence given will help a student determine whether they agree with the sentiments written in the document. If the evidence used convinces you, then you will agree with what the paper illustrates or demonstrates. It would help if you were well versed with the book's content to be able to give your stand. That is, you cannot agree to the information and not give reasons behind your decision. Therefore, with a good understanding of the topic's background, answering this question will be easier. 

  3. What are the strengths and challenges in this essay? - Identify points you feel have been done well and those you think require more explanation or evidence. You can develop counterarguments. As with any write-up, there are challenges a reader may notice. In your response, highlight them and suggest solutions. Also, identify the paper's strengths and highlight how they helped reinforce the paper's ideas and thoughts. 

  4. What are the thought/ideas the texts enlightens in you? – In this, you can address extra information that you have come up with related to the text you are responding to. That is, what have the texts brought up? Are you going to conduct more research? What are you going to explore? In your response, you can state the sections that interested you the most. In a comic book, you can state the character that stood out the most to you. Also, give accounts of the character and explain how and why that was the most exciting part of the book/text. A response aims to get a reader's opinions. Therefore, elucidating the most sparkling parts is a good way of giving good details. 

If you are responding to multiple texts, here are questions you need to answer when reading the text: 

  1. How do the contents of the texts relate to each other? Do the readers make a common argument? Where do they agree or disagree? What are the themes addressed in the texts, and how are they interconnected? – Explain points that you think connect all the authors, where you think they all agree or disagree. You can also explore areas that you think make one's argument strong than the other using evidence and critical analysis.

In responding to multiple texts, you need to show an in-depth understanding of all texts. By this, you can compare and contrast ideas and thoughts from the texts and finally review what you think. That is, what text compelled you the most and why in the text that did not entice you what can be improved in the subsequent versions. 

Remember that response papers need to be in-depth and show that you comprehend what you read. 

After reviewing the questions above, you can start your response paper. The following are the steps of writing the paper:

  1. The first step is reading the text to be responded to, keeping the questions above in mind. It is essential to take note of all important points of the paper. You can reread the text several times until you understand all of its content. 

  2. If you had noted down the ideas of the paper by answering the questions above, then the next step is writing the response's first draft. Responses are an informal type of response. It is essential to start the paper with an introduction, at least three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Be free to be as accessible as possible when writing a response paper. There are no restrictions to writing your thoughts in writing response essays. As long as your ideas align with the text's topic, you are good to go. Do not overthink what to write in your response paper; anything that comes to mind when you read an article is your response. That is, maybe reading a story of recent hurricane events in a city reminded you of a similar occurrence. Be free to highlight it. 

  3. The last step is editing the paper and checking whether it aligns with your instructor's requirement set. You need your response to be interesting to your reader. Therefore, ensure that you make it better by minimizing errors while also using simple language that lacks ambiguity and is straight to the point. 

Look at the response as a review of a piece of work. To get a better view, log into any book's website and look at the reviews. Do you see how people have highlighted their concerns and thoughts? That is how a response paper should look like. 

Response Essay Essential Elements 

  1. Organization 

The paper should have at least four-five paragraphs, but this depends on the requirements stated by your instructor. A good response should have a good organization of ideas well presented with minimal errors. In essence, organize your materials into a reaction of ideas from each paragraph. 

You need the author to understand your thought. The only way that can be done is by ensuring your work is organized, and your ideas are logically presented. 

  1. Transitions 

Cohesion in writing is essential. Use appropriate connectors to join ideas and thought into paragraphs. The flow of ideas is also crucial and should have demonstrated understanding of the write-up. Use the four basic standards of effective writing. That is coherence, error-free sentences, support, and precision. 

  1. Argumentation 

In this, argue why you agree or disagree with the sentiments in the text. Strong opinions are strongly argued out with examples, and if possible, personal experiences are shared. 

10 Tips of Writing an Excellent Response Paper (The Dos and Don'ts)

  1. The most essential tip in writing an excellent essay is to pay attention to instructions. Do not assume that all response papers will have the same requirements. Your instructor may be interested in seeing a particular element in your essay. Thus, it is good to always read the instructions carefully before reading and writing the response paper. 

  2. Extensively explain the main arguments and assumptions in the text you are responding to. Doing this will tell the writer that you actually read the text and understood it before giving an opinion. 

  3. When evaluating multiple texts, consider both sides of the argument. There are two scenarios to this aspect. Both texts might have taken the same side of an argument. In this case, you can address the other side of the argument. In case the texts address both sides of an argument, you can use the evidence presented to determine which side outweighs the other.

  4. Give your own opinions. Raise critical questions that the author can review later and evaluate your opinion using evidence. If you feel there are important points that have been left, address them while stating why you think they are significant to the study. 

  5. A response paper is not a summary paper. Thus, do not summarize the text but rather give a reaction to what you have read. 

  6. Do not ignore the point that you find hard to comprehend. Please do thorough research on those parts before you can dismiss them as they add value to your response. 

  7. Use quotations only when you feel the idea you are trying to bring out will not be fully comprehended or may be misinterpreted. Otherwise, avoid the use of many quotations. 

  8. Support every argument you make with logical reasoning and details. Using general statements such as "I found most of the parts of your research compelling" does not add value to your response paper. Try to be very specific and clear on what you are addressing. 

  9. Even though response papers are considered informal, ensure that you follow an essay's correct sentence and paragraph structure. For instance, a paragraph should have one main idea, which has been supported and explained using evidence.

  10. Cite information that you have gotten from outside sources. Failure to do this might compromise your work, as it will be considered plagiarized work. 

How do I Introduce a Reaction Paper 

When introducing a reaction paper, bear in mind all the elements of an introductory paragraph. That is a problem statement and a thesis statement. There is no difference when handling a reaction paper because the steps followed are the same, only that here you start by stating your stand. If reacting to a book, you can start by first talking about the book. Who is the author, what is he addressing in the book, and end it with a thesis statement stating your view on the work? 

How do I conclude a response paper?  

This is where the writer reaffirms the thesis statement and states whether you agree or disagree with the text you responded to. The other aspect that you can discuss is whether your point intertwines with that of the author. If that is not the case, start how the author's sentiment changed your perspective and support using examples. 

Remember that you do incite text in your concluding paragraph!

Examples of good conclusion statements in a response essay. 

  • Overall, I love the book and would love to see what you write in the future. 

  • Let us have coffee as we discuss male misogyny in detail sometime. 

  • I love your perspectives on climate change and would love to see you write more on the effects of burning fossil fuels.

Your conclusion statement will vary depending on the topic in question. 

Examples of Statements Used in Response Essays 

  • I love the way you introduce your research paper…

  • In the article, it was clear that the artist was trying to…

  • My favorite in this discussion was the part that addressed...because

  • The writer was [was not] successful in making me feel…

  •  I feel that this point would have been better explained using…

  • I was not too fond of the argument you made…

  • In my view, this should have been…

  • When reading this text, a reader can conclude that…

  • The author seems to address this motion using personal experiences…

  • The images shared seemed to…

  • I was specifically moved by the… 

  • I didn't understand the connection between 

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