How to Write a Reaction Essay
Have you read any good books lately? If the answer is yes, what made them good? And if the answer is no, why didn’t you enjoy them?
In a lot of cases, reaction essays start with prompts like these. Instead of arguing a position or persuading the reader, a reaction essay is all about your personal response to an event or a piece of media.
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What is a reaction essay?
A reaction essay is a written response to material or events in the world at large; this extensive list includes everything from books and movies to trends and events. The purpose of a reaction essay is to express your personal, subjective response to the material, but it’s not purely an opinion piece . In a reaction essay, you explain why the work made you feel the way you did, including specific points in the material to support your reaction.
A reaction essay should clearly state whether you agree with the position expressed by the creator of the work and provide your own thoughts about this position.
How is a reaction essay structured?
A reaction essay follows the same structure as other types of essays. This structure includes:
In your essay’s introduction, hook the reader with a captivating fact or thought and then introduce your topic. The introduction should mention the topic you’re reacting to and your overall reaction—there’s no need to go into detail about your reaction just yet. Succinctly state your reaction in a clear thesis statement. If your essay title asks a question, you should answer it in the intro paragraph.
Although it’s common for academic essays to contain three body paragraphs, this usually isn’t a requirement. Your reaction essay might need only two body paragraphs, or it might need four or five. These are the paragraphs that explain and support your thesis statement.
Each body paragraph should discuss one topic. For example, you might cite three specific chapters to support your reaction to a book. In your essay, dedicate one paragraph to each chapter you discuss.
In the conclusion section, summarize the points you discussed in the essay’s body paragraphs and restate your thesis statement. You don’t need to restate it word for word; reiterate it in a way that feels natural and appropriate after the body paragraphs.
List of citations
The last part of your reaction essay is your list of citations . After all, you’re reacting to a particular piece of material—so you need to cite it! Be sure to include all relevant information, such as the author or creator’s name and the work’s publisher. If you aren’t sure which style guide to use, ask your instructor. Depending on the course, you might be required to use MLA , APA , or Chicago style .
If you reference more than one piece of media in your essay, cite all of them. Depending on your subject, you might provide supporting evidence and quotations from other writers who’ve written about the subject to support your reaction. However, be sure to develop and support your own original conclusion, rather than just agreeing with other authors’ reactions to the work.
Types of reaction writing
Not all reaction essays are academic assignments. When you read a movie review, a restaurant critique, an editorial, a blog journal, or any other type of review, you’re reading a reaction essay.
For example, a movie review might discuss the film’s casting, score, story, and set design. The author might also compare the movie with other recent films or write about how the movie held up to their expectations. Reviews of other kinds of media, such as books, plays, and video games, also frequently discuss technical aspects of their subjects as well as the author’s personal feelings about their experience. For example, a video game review might discuss how well the game runs on various platforms, and a theater review might discuss the set design or the acoustics in the theater.
Another common type of reaction essay is an editorial. An editorial is a published opinion piece that can cover just about any human interest topic, such as proposed legislation, a trending issue, or a recent event. In an editorial, the author generally summarizes the topic, then provides relevant facts and statistics to support their opinion. Alongside these facts, they might also include personal experiences with the topic and their own subjective feelings about these experiences. Editorials are published in newspapers, magazines, and online.
3 reaction essay writing tips
1 understand the prompt.
You can’t effectively react to a prompt if you don’t understand the prompt. When you’re given a reaction essay prompt, read it carefully and make sure you’re clear on what it’s asking before you start brainstorming.
2 Use an essay outline
Before you write your reaction essay , write an outline . An outline is a “skeleton” version of your essay that shows the points you’ll cover in each paragraph. Writing an outline can help you organize your thoughts and develop a coherent structure for your essay, and when it comes time to write your first draft, the outline can serve as a guide to keep you on track.
3 Apply critical thinking
One of the most important aspects of a reaction essay is the criticism it provides. Keep in mind, criticism doesn’t necessarily mean pointing out your topic’s flaws—it simply means an analysis of the topic. As you brainstorm and write your outline, think carefully about what you’re reacting to and why you feel that way about it. What provoked these feelings? Did you expect to feel a certain way, and did your actual experience match this expectation?
The goal of critical thinking is to reach your own conclusion about the topic. This is why it’s impossible for your reaction to be wrong. Reactions are subjective, and as long as your writing supports your reaction, it’s valid.
Reaction essay example
Prompt: How does Netflix’s Bridgerton compare with Julia Quinn’s original novels?
Intro: Introduction to the TV and book series; a few important facts about both series, and a thesis statement clearly stating how the author feels the show compares with the novels on which it’s based.
Body paragraph 1: A discussion about how the Netflix series has a different timeline than the books do and how this affected the plot.
Body paragraph 2: The author’s reaction to the character of Queen Charlotte, a character specifically created for the Netflix series. This paragraph would discuss how the addition of a new, prominent character altered the story from the original.
Conclusion: A summary of the points the author made in the body paragraphs, followed by a reiteration of their feelings about Bridgerton as an adaptation of Julia Quinn’s novels.
Reaction essay FAQs
A reaction essay is an essay about your thoughts and feelings about a topic. It’s a response to a piece of media, such as a book, event, article, movie, or podcast.
A reaction essay follows the same structure as other types of essays. Here is an example of a five-paragraph reaction essay outline:
Not all reaction essays contain three body paragraphs. Some contain one or two, while others contain more than three.
What are some types of reaction writing?
- Book reviews
- Movie reviews
- Restaurant critiques
- Opinion blog posts
How to Write a Reaction Paper: Ultimate Guide with Sample
What is Reaction Paper: Defining the Term
What would be the most desired complement for the pieces you create if you were a writer or an artist? Would it be 'Amazing,' 'Wonderful,' or 'Captivating'? The art we come across daily that could be defined as 'Amazing' and 'Wonderful' are many in quantity. Therefore, they do not occupy our minds for a very long time and get lost in the pile of commonness.
'Thought-provoking,' on the other hand, is what every creator strives for. Thought-provoking pieces make us react to what we absorb and live rent-free in our minds. In an academic setting, a piece would not become a subject for discussion unless it makes people react to them. In this article, we will discuss what is reaction paper and how to write it.
A reaction paper is a written response to a book, article, movie, or other media form. It involves the writer's thoughts and feelings about the work and an analysis of its themes, characters, and other elements. The purpose of a reaction paper is to help the writer reflect on and critically evaluate the work and to communicate their insights and opinions to others.
A reaction paper typically comes with instructions that can be found in the course syllabus. You need to pay attention to the structure, grammar, and citations. Make sure you understand the requirements to avoid writing a Chicago-style reaction paper instead of an APA reaction paper.
In the article, you will find all the helpful tips for writing a perfect piece. Don't forget to explore our sample of reaction paper too.
How to Write a Reaction Paper: Helpful Tips
To write a reaction paper, it's crucial to approach the task with an open mind, actively engage with the material, and clearly articulate your thoughts and feelings. Unlike other academic assignments, a response paper requires you to stay focused on personal opinions, which makes it a relatively easy task. You just need to master its essence and general structure.
Next, we are going to offer you some helpful tips on how to write a reaction paper. If your due date is close, you can get help from our essay writing service online .
Understand the Point of a Reaction Paper
Even outside of the academic world, sharing unstructured opinions about something you do not know does not set a pleasant tone. When you share your personal opinion, people expect you to understand the subject well.
Make sure you understand what the goal of the reaction paper is. So next time you decide to write a psychology reaction paper, you deliver what readers expect – valuable, balanced analysis.
The goal of reaction papers is for students to develop critical thinking skills. A writer does not just react to a text but carefully analyzes the strength and weaknesses of the text, the author's intentions and thoughts, and whether the text accomplishes its objectives.
Understanding the point of the reaction paper helps to ensure that you stay within the scope of the assignment and do not stray into irrelevant or unrelated material. It also allows you to focus your response on the most pertinent aspects of the text and to present your personal opinion sharply and logically.
Read the Text Right After It Has Been Assigned
Yes, the assignment asks for your reaction but not for an immediate one. Our first thoughts tend to be ambiguous, biased, and sometimes wrong. We need a certain amount of time to form our final opinions about the things we interact with.
Start absorbing the material right after you have been assigned to write a response essay. Give yourself time for thoughtful consideration. Read and reread, and research until you understand every part of it, from the author's objectives to how they executed it. Take notes and balance your perspective.
Make sure you develop a strong reaction statement that is thoughtful and not hot-headed. Gather the information that will support your arguments and structure them well. It should look more like a review and less like a comment on a movie website.
Speaking of films, below you will find a movie reaction paper example. You can also check out our article about discursive essay format .
Make a Note of Your Early Reactions
It is important to make notes of your first reaction. It helps you capture your initial thoughts and emotions on the subject. These early reactions are often the rawest and most honest representation of your feelings and can provide valuable insight into your perspective.
Writing down early reactions can also help you organize your ideas and identify key points you want to explore in your academic paper. Keep writing down your thoughts as you investigate the subject more to see how your ideas progress. It will help you ground your text in your personal experience and make the thesis clear. A meaningful and authentic reflection of your thoughts is what your instructor desires.
Knowing how a certain piece of art makes you feel and why is essential to the writing process. Keeping track of personal reactions can help you identify biases and preconceived notions. By acknowledging and examining your own biases, you can better understand your perspective and write a more balanced and nuanced paper. It can also help you identify areas where you need further research.
Check out our example of a reaction paper about a movie below and see all the tips above at work.
Select a Perspective
A perspective is a point of view that guides your analysis and provides a structure for your response paper. Selecting a perspective ensures that your paper is focused, organized, and offers insightful thoughts.
Before you start writing, consider different ways of looking at the topic and identify which perspective you feel most closely reflects your feelings. Consider the strengths and weaknesses of the selected perspective.
Getting into the author's shoes is never a bad idea. Think about the motif behind the piece, why the author structured it the way they did, and their objectives. This will allow you to see things clearly and put your analytical skills to craft a good reaction paper.
Before we start discussing the reaction paper template, there are a few more tips to share, so keep on reading. Or you can simply say ' do my homework for me ' and our professional writers will take the matter into their hands.
Define Your Thesis
A thesis statement acts as a roadmap for the rest of the paper and helps to guide the reader through the analysis. Defining your thesis is crucial because it provides a clear and concise statement of the main idea of a response paper. It can also help you stay on track and address the intended purpose.
Defining a thesis statement can be the most challenging task of writing a reaction paper. Start by gathering all the ideas and main points. Identify the notion you find most appealing. Consider its strengths and shortcomings and whether it effectively communicates the main idea.
Try to capture your thoughts in a single sentence that blossoms into a meaningful response essay.
Organize Your Sections
Gather scattered thoughts and give them structure. Response papers that are not properly organized fail to capture readers' attention and often cause frustration.
Avoid common mistakes and write a reaction paper that is easy to follow. Readers will better understand your argument and follow the flow of your analysis.
Create an outline that provides a clear framework for your response paper, including all the main sections and sub-sections. Give them a logical sequence. Start each section with a topic sentence followed by supporting facts, including quotes or examples. Then provide personal opinion and support it with a thorough analysis. Repeat these steps for each section.
Our short reaction paper example will show you how to structure your reaction essays.
Write the Final Version
The first draft is not going to do it. It will take you several tries to get your reaction essay right. The last version should have a strong thesis and be well-structured and polished.
The final version of the paper should be double-checked to ensure that it meets the requirements of the academic assignment and the expectations of your audience. Reread your response paper to make sure that you have a clear perspective, your arguments are logical and supported with facts, and they follow a strong structure.
Look for mistakes. If you find a section where you simply retell the text instead of offering your opinion and critically analyzing it, rewrite the piece until it makes perfect sense. The text should be unique but unbiased.
Writing such assignments may seem boring, but to make things easier for you, we decided to offer you how to write a reaction paper example that you can find below.
Check Your Paper for Spelling and Grammar
Whether you are writing an argumentative essay or reaction essays, you should always have grammar in mind. A strong reaction statement and unique personal opinions won't matter if the sentences are not readable.
Check your grammar and spelling before submitting a reaction paper because these errors can detract from the overall quality of your piece. Grammatical errors can also indicate a lack of attention to detail, making it less likely that your paper will be taken seriously and achieve its intended purpose.
Poor grammar and spelling can negatively impact the reader's perception of your writing skills and ability to analyze and communicate complex ideas. Correct grammar can help you increase credibility and ensure that your thoughts and feelings on the subjects are effectively communicated and understood.
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Reaction Paper Outline
Now that you know all the little tips and tricks that go into writing a reaction paper, it's time to learn about its general outline. This will help you structure your response essay to create an easy flow, and your readers will be able to follow your complex thoughts.
A reaction paper outline includes an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Each section serves its purpose and is equally important. Each unit must meet the basic standards of written assignment, make specific points, and credit direct quotations using reaction paper APA format or other citing styles.
Reaction Paper Introduction
Putting pen to paper is always the hardest part of the writing process. But crafting a compelling text should not be a big challenge if you know how to start a reaction paper.
The introduction of a reaction paper is a vital aspect that sets the tone for the rest of the piece. A well-written introduction should provide background information, state the paper's purpose, and introduce the thesis statement. Remember, the introduction should not be too long. Don't risk boring the readers.
To write an effective introduction:
- Start by providing relevant context for the topic.
- Include an informative summary of the background information relevant to your analysis.
- Continue with clearly expressing the purpose of the paper.
- Explain what you hope to achieve and why.
- Finish your introduction by presenting a thesis statement that encapsulates your personal opinion and the paper's main points.
Reaction Paper Body
Next on the reaction papers format is the body paragraphs. After the compelling introduction, you are also expected to continue effective writing in the main body. This is where you share your honest thoughts on the major points and explain your stance.
As mentioned in our main tips, you must divide all your ideas into separate sections. Start each paragraph with a topic sentence reflecting the section's main theme. Briefly summarize the single aspect of the book or article you are about to discuss. Next, share your feelings about it and explain them. Support your ideas using quotes from reliable sources, and don't forget to cite them properly. Try to connect your reactions to the broader context.
Conclude each paragraph with a summary of your thoughts and feelings and connect them to the paper's main theme.
Do you wonder how to write a reaction paper to a video? The reaction paper format that this article provides works for any response essay and gets you high grades.
Reaction Paper Conclusion
The final aspect of the reaction paper format is an impressive conclusion. This is your final opportunity to gather up your thoughts and feelings and put them into a short summary. If you capture your raw emotions and why the piece made you feel that way, you will leave a lasting impression on the reader.
Start your conclusion by restating the reaction statement. Reaffirm the key points you made in the body sections and offer the new insights you have gained. But avoid any new information. The conclusion should not include information not already discussed in the text. And your reaction paper with a memorable statement that ties together the main ideas and provides closure for the readers.
Reaction Paper Example
Before you move on to explore our pestle analysis example , let us help you with your response essay even more.
What's better than telling you what to do? Yes, showing you how it's done. In our reaction paper example, you will see what an excellent reaction paper consists of and how small details can advance your essay.
Check out our sample reaction paper pdf below.
Our tips and tricks on how to write a compelling reaction paper will get you an A+. Reflect on your thoughts and feelings, be clear, support your ideas with evidence, and remain objective. Review our reaction paper sample and learn how to write a high-quality academic paper.
Get professional research paper writing services from our experienced writers to ensure high grades. We offer a wide range of aid, including nursing essay writing services . Contact us today for reliable and high-quality essay writing services.
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Each semester, you will probably be asked by at least one instructor to read a book or an article (or watch a TV show or a film) and to write a paper recording your response or reaction to the material. In these reports—often referred to as response or reaction papers—your instructor will most likely expect you to do two things: summarize the material and detail your reaction to it. The following pages explain both parts of a report.
PART 1: A SUMMARY OF THE WORK
To develop the first part of a report, do the following:
- Identify the author and title of the work and include in parentheses the publisher and publication date. For magazines, give the date of publication.
- Write an informative summary of the material.
- Condense the content of the work by highlighting its main points and key supporting points.
- Use direct quotations from the work to illustrate important ideas.
- Summarize the material so that the reader gets a general sense of all key aspects of the original work.
- Do not discuss in great detail any single aspect of the work, and do not neglect to mention other equally important points.
- Also, keep the summary objective and factual. Do not include in the first part of the paper your personal reaction to the work; your subjective impression will form the basis of the second part of your paper.
PART 2: YOUR REACTION TO THE WORK
To develop the second part of a report, do the following:
- Focus on any or all of the following questions. Check with your instructor to see if s/he wants you to emphasize specific points.
- How is the assigned work related to ideas and concerns discussed in the course for which you are preparing the paper? For example, what points made in the course textbook, class discussions, or lectures are treated more fully in the work?
- How is the work related to problems in our present-day world?
- How is the material related to your life, experiences, feelings and ideas? For instance, what emotions did the work arouse in you?
- Did the work increase your understanding of a particular issue? Did it change your perspective in any way?
- Evaluate the merit of the work: the importance of its points, its accuracy, completeness, organization, and so on.
- You should also indicate here whether or not you would recommend the work to others, and why.
POINTS OF CONSIDERATION WHEN WRITING THE REPORT
Here are some important elements to consider as you prepare a report:
- Apply the four basic standards of effective writing (unity, support, coherence, and clear, error-free sentences) when writing the report.
- Make sure each major paragraph presents and then develops a single main point. For example, in the sample report that follows, the first paragraph summarizes the book, and the three paragraphs that follow detail three separate reactions of the student writer to the book. The student then closes the report with a short concluding paragraph.
- Support any general points you make or attitudes you express with specific reasons and details. Statements such as "I agree with many ideas in this article" or "I found the book very interesting" are meaningless without specific evidence that shows why you feel as you do. Look at the sample report closely to see how the main point or topic sentence of each paragraph is developed by specific supporting evidence.
- Organize your material. Follow the basic plan of organization explained above: a summary of one or more paragraphs, a reaction of two or more paragraphs, and a conclusion. Also, use transitions to make the relationships among ideas in the paper clear.
- Edit the paper carefully for errors in grammar, mechanics, punctuation, word use, and spelling.
- Cite paraphrased or quoted material from the book or article you are writing about, or from any other works, by using the appropriate documentation style. If you are unsure what documentation style is required or recommended, ask you instructor.
- You may use quotations in the summary and reaction parts of the paper, but do not rely on them too much. Use them only to emphasize key ideas.
- Publishing information can be incorporated parenthetically or at the bottom of the page in a footnote. Consult with your instructor to determine what publishing information is necessary and where it should be placed.
A SAMPLE RESPONSE OR REACTION PAPER
Here is a report written by a student in an introductory psychology course. Look at the paper closely to see how it follows the guidelines for report writing described above.
Part 1: Summary
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How to Write a Reaction Paper
Last Updated: September 15, 2022 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Rachel Scoggins, PhD . Rachel Scoggins is a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Lander University. Rachel's work has been presented at the South Atlantic Modern Language Association and the Georgia International Conference on Information Literacy. She received her PhD in Literary Studies from Georgia State University in 2016. There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 1,123,765 times.
A reaction or response paper requires the writer to analyze a text, then develop commentary related to it. It is a popular academic assignment because it requires thoughtful reading, research, and writing. You can learn how to write a reaction paper by following these writing tips.
Prewriting and Actively Reading
- When you respond to the text, back up your ideas with evidence from the text along with your own connection of ideas, texts, and overarching concepts. If you are asked to agree or disagree, you have to provide convincing evidence about why you feel this way.  X Research source
- If responding to multiple texts, you must analyze how the texts relate. If responding to one text, you probably should connect the text to overarching concepts and themes you have discussed in the class.
- The same assignment may also be given to films, lectures, field trips, labs, or even class discussions.
- A reaction paper is not a summary of the text. It also does not state, "I liked this book because it was interesting" or "I hated this because it was boring."  X Research source
- If you are unsure, ask the teacher to clarify what they expect from the assignment.
- You may be asked to react to the text in light of another text. If this is the case, you will want to use quotations from both texts in your writing.
- You may be asked to react to the text in the light of the class themes. For example, if you read a book in a Sociology of Gender Roles class, you will want to read, annotate, and react based on how gender roles are described in the book.
- You may be asked to react personally to the text. This is less common, but occasionally the teacher simply wants to know if you have read the text and thought about it. In this case, you should focus on your opinions of the book.
- One of the biggest mistakes that students make is waiting until the last minute to read and react. A reaction is a thoughtful consideration after reading and rereading several times.
- You may need to reread the text multiple times. First, to read and familiarize yourself with the text, then again to start thinking about the assignment and your reactions.
- Try completing some of the following sentences after you read: I think that..., I see that..., I feel that..., It seems that..., or In my opinion...
- What issues or problems does the author address?
- What is the author's main point?
- What points or assumptions does the author make, and how does she back that up?
- What are strengths and weaknesses? Where are problems with the argument?
- How do the texts relate? (if multiple texts)
- How do these ideas connect to the overall ideas of the class/unit/etc?
Drafting Your Essay
- When you finish, read back over what you've just written. Determine what your strongest and most convincing reactions are. Prioritize your points.
- Think about why the author has written the article or story as they have. Why did he structure things in this particular way? How does this relate to the outside world?  X Research source
- Your thesis will be one statement that explains what you will analyze, criticize, or try to prove about the text. It will force your reaction paper to remain focused.
- For example, if you are reacting to a theme in a book, you can split the paragraphs into how the setting, antagonist, and figurative imagery communicate the themes successfully or unsuccessfully.
- Draft paragraphs that introduce quotations, analyze them, and comment on them.
- A good way to think about structuring your paragraph is: detail, example/quotation, commentary/evaluation, repeat.
Writing Your Final Draft
- The last sentence of your introduction should be your thesis.
- Look for places where you simply report what the texts says instead of providing a critique or evaluation of what the text says.
- If you have been asked to give a statement about your personal opinion, the conclusion may be the best place to insert it. Some teachers may allow you to state the personal opinions in the body paragraphs. Make sure to double check with the teacher first.
- Read through for clarity. Are your sentences clear? Have you supported and fully argued your points? Is there any place where you're confusing?
- Look for things the author leaves out or raise counterarguments when an argument is weak. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Don't wait too long between reading the text and writing the paper. You don't want to forget important details. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- This paper is not autobiographical. It's not about how you feel, how you were in the same situation, or how this relates to your life. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
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- ↑ https://www.umgc.edu/current-students/learning-resources/writing-center/online-guide-to-writing/tutorial/chapter8/ch8-14
- ↑ http://www.esc.edu/online-writing-center/resources/academic-writing/types/summary-reaction-papers/
- ↑ http://utminers.utep.edu/omwilliamson/engl0310link/readerresponse.htm
- ↑ https://www.hunter.cuny.edu/rwc/handouts/the-writing-process-1/invention/Writing-a-Response-or-Reaction-Paper
- ↑ http://study.com/articles/Step-by-Step_Guide_to_Writing_a_Great_Reading_Response_Paper.html
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/quotations/
- ↑ https://success.uark.edu/get-help/student-resources/reaction-paper.php
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/introductions/
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/proofreading/proofreading_for_errors.html
About This Article
To write a reaction paper, start by carefully analyzing the thing you're supposed to be reacting to. Then, write down your initial reactions and thoughts. Try to come up with an angle for your paper, like that you disagree with the subject or that you think it has a deeper meaning. Once you've got an angle, summarize it in the introduction of your paper and use the body paragraphs to support it. Remember to use direct quotes and specific examples to back up what you're saying. When you're finished, reread your paper to make sure your angle is clear. If you want to learn how to set up topic sentences in your paragraphs from our Literary Studies Ph.D. co-author, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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