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How To Write An Analytical Essay

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An analytical essay is a piece of writing that provides a substantive analysis of a topic supported by evidence. This type of essay requires you to set an argument. Alternatively,  you could be asked to analyze a book, a movie, an article, a current or past event, among other works. For example, What were the causes of the American Civil War? Analytical essays require you to break down the topic into smaller bits to help the reader to understand your work. How to write an analytical essay isn’t about convincing the reader about something. Rather, its purpose is to have enough analysis to strengthen your argument to the readers.

Analytical essays are vital in reviewing literary text, especially if it has segments that may cause a challenge to a reader. Note that this type of essay explores both the negative and positive sides. To write an excellent analytical essay, it is important to know the different approaches one can take in writing one. To get more information on analytical essays, read on. 

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The Benefits Of An Analytical Essay

The skills learned from analytical writing are key to writing most college-level essays successfully. Not only do they help with this, but they also;

  • Help students boost their writing skills
  • Enhance their ability to think critically and analyze things
  • Assist students to analyze things with a healthy skepticism. This way they can understand every aspect of a certain problem

How To Choose a Good Essay Topic

How to write an analytical essay needs you to choose a good topic. This is important because it is the foundation of a good essay. You need a topic that will entice and engage the reader. A topic that is not only unique but one that will capture the reader’s attention and encourage them to read your essay till the conclusion. Remember, your topic should provide an adequate explanation of the content of the essay in a few carefully chosen words.


Sit down and come up with a list of topics for your analytical essay. These ideas are not from research but are based on your knowledge or your previous findings. After compiling your list, choose the best one. This way, you will even be able to make a thesis statement. 


Researching involves a series of activities aimed at gathering information from various sources. These sources might be books or articles from the internet. As a result, conducting research gives you a variety of topics to choose from. As you do your research, make sure you have enough examples to support your analysis. 


This means studying your topic in detail; then determining its factors, effects, causes, and importance. Analyzing helps you find a topic suitable for you without making random assumptions.


On the other hand, evaluating is the process that determines the importance and value of your findings. Evaluating is done once you are through with your analysis. This way, you can make a decision based on your result and findings.


Come up with a good interesting title/topic that will attract the attention of the reader. Consequently, it needs to be relevant to your subject of discussion. Your title should also tell the reader what your essay is about without them reading your entire work.

Steps To Take Before Writing An Analytical Essay

1. Find The Core of Your Analytical Essay

Know what your main agenda or the primary goal of your analysis is. In other words, understand your focus or what you want the reader to know. Recognizing the importance of your essay and what direction to follow will make your writing easier. 

2. Decide What You’ll Write About 

Read the instructions well to understand what is expected of you by the teacher. Finding a good topic will help you come up with a good essay. Knowing the type of analytical essay to write is also an important step. Remember, your topic needs to be meaningful. Similarly, it should have supporting evidence to back up your claims. 

3. Write An Essay Outline 

An outline is a useful guide that will help you organize your work. It gives you a good flow of ideas and makes navigating your work easy for the reader. Additionally, an outline also allows you to focus on the important points without leaving out any information. 

4. Formulate A Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is the main idea of your paper. It lets the reader know what your point of discussion is. Therefore, all your arguments must be tied to the thesis statement. This is why your thesis should be clear, concise, and to the point. For Instance, your thesis statement could be; Jerome Salinger’s The Catcher In The Rye is the most enlightening book of all times.

5. Find Additional Evidence 

The arguments you make in your essay must be supported by strong evidence. They make your paper stronger. To increase your chances of getting a higher grade, use more than one piece of evidence to back up your claims 

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Steps On How To Write An Analytical Essay

  • Understanding the approach to take
  • The writing process of an analytical essay

Understand The Approach To Take 

Depending on the essay question, you can take several approaches to write your analytical essay. While each of these approaches is a distinct one, they may overlap in some analytical essays. So which are these approaches, and how can you make the most of them to write a compelling analytical essay? Read on. 

The Definition Approach 

The Definition approach is one of the most common ways writers use to write an analytical essay. In this approach, the focus is on writing the definition of various parts of an idea as you try to break it down for your reader to understand.

The definition approach works best when writing a short essay but is also suitable for long essays. However, for long essays, you will need to combine this approach with another if you are helping the reader understand the concept you are analyzing. 

Additionally, when used for long essays, use this approach at specific stages of your essay. This variation allows you to use this approach to introduce a concept and then break it down further using another approach. 

The Cause And Effect Approach 

The cause and effect approach is also another effective method of analyzing a concept when writing an essay. In the cause and effect approach, the idea is to discuss the cause of a particular thing and contrast the same to its effect on another thing. 

While it may sound like you will be analyzing two concepts when you use this approach, the truth is that you will only be analyzing one. The idea is to study what causes that particular thing to happen and then compare its causes to its effects on other things. 

The cause and effect approach is effective in analytical essays because it allows you to go to the root of a concept and reveal it to your reader. Once you do this, please do not leave the reader in suspense, but now they’ll understand how that concept affects other things. This approach is particularly effective for academic essays that require you to analyze a concept. 

The Classification Approach 

The classification approach is similar to the definition approach in (a) above. However, unlike the definition approach that only seeks to define a concept, the classification approach seeks to break it down further. 

The classification approach requires that you look for similar concepts elsewhere that you can then classify with the one you are analyzing. The idea here is to study the effect of a particular concept by relating it to other concepts that have similar characteristics. 

Students prefer using the classification approach when writing analytical essays because it eases the process of researching. Unlike the previous two approaches above, which may require you to conduct primary research, this approach works well with secondary research. 

The Writing Process of an Analytical Essay

The writing process for an analytical essay is similar to that used in writing other essays. The only major difference is in the body of the essay. For normal essays, the intention is to take a stand in the body of the essay. However, for analytical essays, the writer does not have to take a stand in the essay’s body. The writer only helps the reader understand the breakdown of a particular concept. 

To stick to the objective of the analysis paper, break down the topic into smaller parts. This way, you will be able to narrow down your analysis and research each separate point. As a result, it will be easy to introduce both pros and cons of the given issue.

Define The Main Goal of Your Analysis 

This answers the question, why are you writing your paper? Is your aim to compare and contrast the book and movie version of a particular work or is it to analyze the main character of a book?

Conduct Research 

How to write an analytical essay involves conducting research. This helps you gather more information on your topic. Therefore, you will be able to clarify the issues addressed in your analytical essay. Conducting research also means reviewing the literature you will be analyzing, for instance, a book.

Identify The Main Parts Of The Topic 

This involves a breakdown of your topic. For example, if you are analyzing a book, you can decide to talk about the theme, the characters, the setting, etc. 

Clearly Understand How Each Part Works 

An analytical essay is composed of various parts. Know what each segment expects you to discuss. Additionally, having an outline helps you understand how each part works. 

Identify The Links Between The Various Aspects Of The Topic

How will the different aspects of your topic merge to make one topic? This will help you have one essay that’s inclusive of all the information you have researched. 

Solve Your Main Problem 

Use the information gathered to explain a problem identified in the essay. 

How To Write An Analytical Essay: The Structure

An essay is composed of 3 main parts; the introduction, body, and conclusion. Therefore, to have an informative essay, consider the following;


An introduction has three key elements: the hook, background information, and thesis statement. A catchy opening hook will naturally glue the reader to your paper. Enough background information will let the reader understand what you will be exploring. For example, if you are writing an analytical essay about Shakespeare’s book Macbeth, give a fundamental summary of the book. After this, have a transition sentence to introduce your thesis statement. 


You can have three or more paragraphs in the body, depending on the complexity of your paper. Or the need to make your reader understand what you will be talking about. Remember, each paragraph covers a different topic analysis. 

Start your paragraph with a topic sentence. This Introduces the main point of the body paragraph in one sentence. Secondly, analyze your supporting evidence in one or two sentences, then discuss how the evidence supports your thesis statement. Find as much evidence as needed to prove your argument fully. Lastly, have a concluding sentence that states your analysis and its significance to the point of discussion.


A conclusion entails an entire summary of your analysis. State a summary of the main points explained in the body paragraph. Secondly, rephrase the thesis statement as stated in the introduction and then share your final thoughts on your idea. Do not introduce any new ideas in the conclusion. This will confuse the reader. When a reader reads your conclusion, they should know what your analytical essay was about. You can end the essay with a hook to make it more interesting and memorable. 


When writing an analytical essay, research is a crucial aspect of it all. Analytical essays are not opinions but rather display an understanding of a particular concept. It is therefore important that the writer conducts thorough research and masters a particular topic. Analytical essays will always test your comprehension of a particular topic and your proficiency at explaining it to others.

How long should an analytical essay be?

An analytical essay has an average of 500 words. However, it can be more than this depending on the instructions provided by the tutor and the complexity of the subject matter.

What is the purpose of an analytical essay?

To give in-depth information about a subject matter; make a contrast or similarities and explain the cause and effect. An analytical essay presents enough analysis to strengthen your argument to the readers.

How do you choose an analytical essay topic?

Here is how you choose an analytical essay topic:
1. Brainstorm on a topic that invokes emotion to be keen when expressing your opinions.
2. Do research depending on the number of sources you have at hand to get an idea of your topic.
3. Reflect on your handouts or notes to get relevant ideas to write on.

What should be in an analytical essay?

An analytical essay consists of three main parts the introduction, the main body, which should be about 3- 4 paragraphs, and the conclusion.

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