The Evaluation Essay: A Quick Introduction and Topic Suggestions

evaluation essayIt’s happened to other students at one point or another – you’re sitting in class, taking notes, and your teacher assigns something you’ve never heard of. Or perhaps you have heard of it, but you haven’t written one in such a long time, you don’t even remember how to begin. Get a refresher on the evaluation essay, how to write it, and even find some topic suggestions and resources.

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What is an evaluation essay?

The evaluation essay is an essay that demonstrates the quality, or lack of quality, that a particular business, service, program, or product has. Some opinion will be involved, but the idea is to create a paper that doesn’t come off as sounding too opinionated. Rather, you’re going to want to write an essay that shows reasons and an unbiased opinion.

There are three particular items you’ll need to cover in order to convey this clearly. Those items are criteria, judgments, and evidence. Learn how to write quality paragraphs so that you get your point across.

  • Criteria

The criteria involves demonstrating the expected outcome. For example, if you intend to sign up for a wireless phone contract you expect both the product and the service to work as the business is stating it will. There are specific standards you expect from the phone based on what the company states the phone can do, and there are specific standards you expect from the service the company is offering based on the company’s own information.

Verizon Wireless boasts the largest 4G LTE network, and they have a large customer base. This large customer base would not stay with the company if their service failed, and many people do end up switching phone companies because of issues with service. Using the wireless phone example, there are specific criteria you could mention in your essay.

Regarding the service, you could summarize the company’s promotional pamphlet: quality of cell signal, customer service, price, services and items available to give greater ease of use, etc. You can do the same with the wireless phone you purchase using the company’s information about that particular phone: ease of use, battery life, price, technical support available, etc.

You would describe this criteria in your evaluation essay so that your reader knows the expectations of the service and product involved. Without it, your reader has no idea what was expected of these items and therefore cannot evaluate anything from what you write.

  • Judgment

The judgment describes whether or not the criteria are met. Using the example of the wireless phone service, if you can’t get a signal in your home that might show a lacking in the network the wireless provider offers and boasts of. If you call customer service in an attempt to clear up the issues you’re having and are met with sarcasm and scorn, that would also show that criteria are not being met.

However, you might receive excellent customer service in which the person is able to clear up your problem, and it would reveal a meeting of criteria. As for the phone, if you’ve had the phone for three months and notice that the battery lasts only half as long as the company boasted, this would be a lack of meeting criteria. Improve your writing with some advanced strategies.

  • Evidence

Without evidence, your evaluation essay becomes nothing more than your opinion about a product, service, or program. Evidence is what you use to support your judgment. If you’re going to say that a wireless carrier’s service is terrible, you’re going to have to explain why. Were your calls being dropped a lot? Did text messages not get sent? What exactly happened to make you decide that the wireless carrier had poor service?

The Layout of Your Essay

Like other types of essays, the evaluation essay requires an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. You can write it in the five-paragraph format with one introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a single concluding paragraph, but you can also write a far larger body as well. Your evaluation essay should also include a thesis, and that thesis will be your overall evaluation of whatever it was you evaluated.

Using the wireless carrier as an example again, if you were to write a thesis statement regarding a wireless carrier that provided poor cell service, poor customer service, but great prices, your thesis would likely be mostly negative stating that the wireless carrier did not meet many of the criteria of its company.

If you were to write a thesis statement regarding a wireless carrier that provided excellent cell service, excellent customer service, and high prices, your thesis would likely be more positive. You would then move on to cover these criteria in further detail in the body of your essay.

Each body paragraph should cover one criterion, and that criterion should be fully explained. You should include your judgment regarding that criterion and any evidence to support your judgment. Again, the idea is to avoid sounding too opinionated or biased. One way to prevent this is to avoid saying, “I think…” and other phrases like it.

Your conclusion will summarize everything you covered. More than likely, you will rephrase your thesis to drive your point home, and you can summarize each criteria you covered. You can also summarize the judgments and evidence that you have to support these judgments.

Selecting Your Topic

When selecting your topic, you’re going to want to focus on a specific service, product, policy, or business. Try to be as specific as possible. If you were to choose a school, you might want to focus on a certain part of the school like their classes, their food, or something else. Of course, selecting the right topic also depends on the length of your paper. If your paper is expected to be ten pages long, you might just have enough room to evaluate all of those topics on one specific school.

Here are a few topics you might want to consider:

  • evaluating a recent movie you saw
  • evaluating a restaurant you recently ate at
  • evaluating a student’s study schedule at a university compared to what a professor expects a student’s study schedule to look like
  • evaluating social media’s role in relationships
  • evaluating a book you recently read
  • evaluating a video game you played recently
  • evaluating an app on your phone and its use in your life

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