- "An evaluative essay sets out to evaluate something according to predetermined criteria. For an evaluation to be recognised as valid, both the subject to be evaluated and the criteria to be used to make the evaluation must be stated clearly."
The evaluative essay uses many of the techniques employed by the cause and effect essay and the comparison essay. However, the fact that an evaluative essay is working towards an emphatic judgement extends the importance of evidence.
In a literary essay, an evaluation might be working towards judgement of a novel or poem in terms of merit for the specified purpose; in this case, the evidence would be primarily textual. In a law essay, evidentiary support would be required to build a case and would primarily be drawn from witness statements, expert testimony etc. In a scientific essay, a thesis may be evaluated by related data and statistics etc. In all cases, the reliability of the evaluation is directly related to the quality of both the evidence and the writer’s analysis of that evidence.
Other areas connected to the writing of an evaluative essay include counter-argument which anticipates objections to the evaluation made and attempts to pre-empt these by suggesting how they might be addressed.
The evaluative essay is a common assessment tool, frequently employed by examiners. This is because it not only requires the writer to demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of a subject but also to show how such knowledge can be applied to a particular set of criteria. It also demonstrates the writer’s ability to formulate a thesis based on evaluation, follow through an evaluative argument to a logical conclusion and supply primary and background evidence to support the evaluation made.
The evaluative essay follows the same basic structure of other essays but the stress must be on the strength of the evidence to be evaluated and the ability of the writer to use this evidence effectively.
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