How to Write an Analytical Essay: The Beginner’s Guide

Have you ever gotten a writing assignment that is just so boring you could scream? You know the kind, where you have to analyze some epic poem about a bunch of long-dead kings and dictators whose names you can’t even pronounce, or write an exposé on the effects of pollution on the everglades. These are the essays that make you want to just give up on writing altogether. But despair not, young essay-writer. By following a few handy steps and utilizing the guide provided below, you’ll be writing like a pro in no time!

See also: How to Write a Personal Essay

In this article, I’m going to take you through the process step-by-step, giving you some tips to make the writing process go faster and smoother.

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Why write an analytical essay?

You might wonder why in the world you would want to do such a thing. I can’t blame you. Essay writing isn’t the most fun thing to do in the world. In fact, some of you may be considering just opting out of this assignment and go play some video games instead.

But analytical essays can open up a whole new world for you, baby! No, I’m not talking about Narnia (although if you’re into that sort of thing, more power to you). I’m talking about college and future jobs!

You might think that in this modern-day and age, analytical writing isn’t necessary. Everyone has a keyboard or touch screen device and can just type out a quick email or message. But not everyone can do that.

For one thing, some people are just incredibly awkward when it comes to wording things. The “literacy gap” is still a problem in our society, and there are people who need help saying what they mean without all the “umms” and “likes” and other verbal tics. There is also a higher education gap in our society as well. Not everyone goes to college or even graduates high school. Some people need to learn good writing skills in order to advance in their jobs.

What is an analytical essay?

An analytical essay is an essay in which you are REQUIRED to analyze the material. This can be pretty broad and cover anything from history to science to literature to movies. The purpose of this kind of essay is to teach you how to read material (whatever it may be) and then give your opinions on it.

And since this is just an introduction to the basics, this will be a pretty easy essay. Don’t get used to it though! 😀

So without further ado, let’s begin!

The writing process

See also: Difference Between Paraphrasing and Summarizing

Step 1: Pick your subject

This is the easy part. Your teacher will give you a topic, or you can pick your own. If you pick it yourself, make sure it’s appropriate for your grade level! If you’re in high school and your topic is the role of bees in the local environment, be prepared to do a lot of research.

Once you have your topic, move on to step 2!

Step 2: Do research

If you need to, look up information about your topic. If it’s a writer, read some of their work and about them. If it’s a historic event, learn what you can about the facts surrounding it and the people involved. If it’s a concept, learn about its origins and how it has evolved over time.

Doing research is one of the most important parts of writing an analytical essay, so make sure you do it!

Step 3: Form an opinion

This is where most of you will probably struggle. Coming up with your opinion on a subject can be a hard thing to do, and even harder to do well. Once you have decided on your topic and done any research that you need to do, it’s time to form an opinion on the subject.

You need to pick a stance on the subject. Are you for it? Or are you against it? Whatever you think, back up your opinion with evidence from your research.

For example, let’s say that your topic is capital punishment (the killing of criminals or terrorists by the state as punishment for their crimes). You could be for it, meaning you believe that it reduces crime and leads to safer communities. You could be against it, meaning you believe that it doesn’t reduce crime and just leads to innocent people being put to death.

You need to pick one of these views and back it up with facts. Let’s go with the against viewpoint for this example. You could do your research and find out that many criminals sent to prison end up becoming more connected to learn from others inside and grow their criminal careers.

If they were still out on the streets, they wouldn’t have been able to commit more crimes!

The against viewpoint has a lot of research behind it, but it’s still just one viewpoint on the matter. Make sure you can argue both sides if asked!

Step 4: Writing

This is where you actually get to write your essay. Be creative with the formatting and order that you present your information in. You want to keep the reader interested!

Here’s what I would do, though it’s just one option out of many:


The first paragraph should include your thesis statement. This is a one-sentence answer to the question that you’re answering in your paper. For example, if you were writing an essay about whether or not capital punishment decreases crime, your thesis statement would be something like:

“The idea that the death penalty saves lives is pure fantasy, and has no basis in fact.”

Body paragraphs

Your first body paragraph should contain a quote from someone important related to your topic. (In this case, pro-capital punishment) Here’s an example of one:

“The only way to deter crime is through swift and sure execution” – Judge Justice Washington

This is to help prove that your opinion is valid. If people who made careers out of this stuff also think that your viewpoint is correct, there’s a good chance that you’ve picked the right argument to back up!

Next, your body paragraphs should describe facts and statistics that back up your view.

For example:

The average time between sentencing and execution is 10 years. That’s a lot of time for criminals to sit and think about their actions. Also, some criminals are so dim that they continue committing crimes while in prison! In fact, more criminals are killed each year by fellow prisoners than the total number of criminals that were executed that year. If the death penalty was a deterrent at all, it would surely be for those in prison as well!


Finally, your conclusion should reiterate your thesis statement and finish on a high note. It’s also common to see an opposing argument in the conclusion and then refute it quickly.

This is what I would do:

The death penalty does nothing to stop crime. It’s just the lazy solution that liberals came up with to make themselves feel better. If they really wanted to save lives, they’d put more money into the police force and the education system.

That’s it! You’re all finished!

Well… Almost. Now you have to proofread and edit your paper. This is the MOST important step, and it’s often the one that’s forgotten! Check your grammar and spelling over carefully. Do this at least three times to make sure you haven’t made any mistakes.

Once you’re confident that it’s correct, you can turn it in! Congratulations! 😀

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