Review writing: what is meant by critical?

The students that struggle with writing reviews usually get hung up on what a critical review is. If you keep reading, you'll find about all about review and critical review writing. It really depends on your teacher, but there are some things that all critical reviews share. To create a review you have to evaluate and summarize a book or other text, or a movie. Most students are required to read or watch the entire thing they are reviewing either in class or on their own time. Then you'll be able to fairly represent the book or movie that you're reviewing.

A critical review doesn't mean that you're going to criticize the book in a bad way. In this situation, it means you need to question what you read and analyze it with your own judgement. Giving constructive (helpful) criticism is key here. Also, try to understand this book from another perspective such as similar books or theories related to the same subject.

Reading Critically for a Review

The first step is to read the book, of course. When you're reading it for the first time, it's important to already be in critical review mode and take notes. If there is anything you don't understand, look it up. As you finish each chapter, write a brief summary in your own words in case you don't remember the details of it later on. If you can, try to capture the meaning behind the words that the author was saying.

Writing the Analysis

Instead of trying to review all the details of the entire book, it's better to have a few key areas you're going to analyze. The focus here should be on both negative and positive things; try to balance them. Again, being critical is digging and explaining, not being mean.

Organizing a Critical Review

When you introduce the book in your review, specify the information that would convince someone to read it in the first place, such as title, author, the purpose of the book, and its genre or subject. Then summarize and critique the sections that you've been focusing on. This is where the meat, or main part of your critical review lies: with the analysis of the work itself. Your opinions and reasoning are important, but it isn't the focus here. Lastly, you need your judgement about the book and your final opinion.

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