Are you arguing with me?: Adding the ‘critical’ to your critical analysis

You will have been developing the art of essay writing throughout your school life. As you start to write more mature and sophisticated essays you need the language to be able to do this properly.

Firstly there is a language (which I call ‘critical words’) that introduces an argument. By ‘argument’ I mean the assessment or evaluation of any point made. So for example in Philosophy an argument would be raised once you have presented a philosophical perspective, point or idea. In order to make it clear to your reader/ examiner that you are showing evidence of evaluation, which is necessary for top marks (not just stating facts or other people’s perspectives) use critical words.

To raise a strength supporting a point you have made options are:Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 11.44.06

So for example: Wiles presents a strong argument because… or William James raises a valuable point because…)

To raise a weakness, issue or problem against a point you have made options are:Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 11.25.56

So for example: Freud’s arguments can be seen as unreliable because… or Plato’s ideas on the soul are unlikely because

Layering of evaluation is necessary for A/B grades. What I mean by this is once you have your first strength or weakness (evaluative foundations) you must then build upon this point, bringing in a name, concept or idea that supports or criticises this point. This can be achieved through using words such as:

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 11.34.47

So for example: This is reinforced by Swinburne who argues…. Or In contrast to Freud, even though a psychologist as well, William James would argue…)

Remember: Do not state evaluation (Freud criticises this… Dawkins would say…) because you are not demonstrating the impact that these critics have. Listing lots of names is NOT evaluation! You must critique whether these points are valuable, interesting, relevant (using critical words) and what impact this then has on the original point you made.

For further ideas and support see: How to Improve your Essay Technique: A-Level DCT Mock Exam, Avoid ‘name dumping’: Developing A02 and Curve Ball: Assessment Lesson!

For further guidance in developing your essay technique just click on the image below to download this product quickly and safely (for a small charge).


To view all available teacher and student materials click on: R.S Resources. This digital goods store will allow you to quickly and safely download all materials (for a small charge). These include PowerPoints, lesson packs (with all worksheets and activities) key knowledge test packs (with answers), essay writing skills pack, revision packs and much more. I am always uploading new materials (as and when I cover them with my students) so it is worth checking regularly. These are all the materials I use with my own students, so they are tried and tested and available for you to download, keep and adapt over the years.



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