How to Write a Response Essay
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How to Write a Response Essay

A reaction or response essay is very similar to formal reviews of artworks, articles, books, or entire genres. Response papers are written from the 1st person's point of view. It means that the writer should use phrases like “I believe”, “From my perspective”, and “I thought” when reviewing.


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Read and respond

In a response essay, students prepare a review of the item they have been assigned to observe, but they add their impressions and personal reaction to the report.

Six steps for completing a summary and response essay are:

  • Read or observe the piece for an initial understanding;
  • Try to re-read the piece and stop in order to reflect often;
  • Record your impressions and thoughts in your notes;
  • Create a thesis;
  • Prepare an outline;
  • Structure your essay.

The first paragraph

Once you are done with an outline for the paper, you will need to include a strong introduction paragraph since it is the basic element of every essay. According to response essay format, the first sentence needs to include the name of the author and the title of the object to which you are responding.

Usually, the last sentence of the introduction part is a thesis statement.

State your opinion

In a personal response essay, there is no need to be shy or feel uncomfortable while expressing own opinions, even though it may seem strange to write "I believe" or "I feel" in the essay. The professor is actually looking for such a response. In the given sample, the writer presents a good analysis and comparison of the plays, but also expresses personal reactions.

Sample statements

A response paper could address any kind of work, from a book to a piece of art or a film. When writing a response paper, you are suggested to include the following statements:

  • In my opinion;
  • I felt that;
  • The author seems to;
  • The reader can conclude that;
  • The images seemed to;
  • I did not like;
  • The author wasn’t successful in making me feel;
  • The author was doing well in making me feel;
  • I was specially moved by;
  • I did not get the connection between;
  • The sound track seemed too;
  • It was clear that the artist was trying to;
  • My favorite part was...because.

Remember that you can think of a response paper as a review that is part opinion and part analysis.

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