Comprehensive Guide on How to Write a Response Paper Correctly


In a response paper, which is sometimes called a reaction paper, the task is to express your opinion about a book or an article you’ve read, a movie or a play you’ve seen, etc. Usually, when students are assigned a paper about a piece of writing or a film, they are supposed to use a professional, impersonal voice. With a response paper, you need to make a slight change. Such paper differs from a standard review in that it should be written in the first person. In a response paper, such phrases as “I believe” or “I think” are very encouraged, in contrast to the formal writing. While standard reviews normally give value statements, a response paper implies critical analysis along with personal touch.

If your experience in paper writing is limited, the task may seem challenging. Luckily, we can help you cope with difficulties you may stumble upon while working on a response paper. Read this detailed guide and find out how to write it easily and effectively.

How to Write a Response Paper Step-By-Step

To write a truly good response essay, you need to employ an individual approach that reveals your personality, your values, and attitude to what you’ve read or seen. The following several steps will lead you to a perfect response paper.

Step 1. Before you start writing your response.

Read the text you are supposed to analyze a few times. Make notes in the process: write down what seems important or particularly interesting. Highlight things that you agree or disagree with. Mark what evokes your strong emotional reactions and thoughts. These notes will serve as a basis for your response paper and provide the necessary focus. It doesn’t matter how you organize those notes at this stage, so focus more on content.

Step 2. Come up with a topic.

Yes, a response paper is also supposed to have a topic, like any other paper. Find something that seems the most interesting and determine your focus. The following questions may help you with it:

  1. What makes the text you’ve read or a film you’ve seen significant, distinguishable?
  2. What do you like or dislike about the text/movie?
  3. What details are the most memorable?
  4. Was everything clear to you – the idea, language, etc.?
  5. Would you recommend this book or movie to others?
  6. Does the material relate to your life and personal experiences?
  7. Does this work reflect any topics or issues of current interest?
  8. Does this work change your perspective or understanding of some issues?
  9. How does this material relate to the subject you study, to the topic you discussed in class?

Step 3. Start writing a response paper and create a strong introduction.

To evoke readers’ interest, you should work on a strong thesis statement. The introduction should reveal the focus of your paper and serve as a hook for the audience. Don’t forget to explain to the readers what you are responding to, who the author is.

Step 4. Proceed to the main body.

After you are finished with the proper introduction, start working on the main body. In your discussion, delve deep into the topic and divide ideas between several body paragraphs. Don’t stuff one paragraph with everything at once. Make sure your main body is consistent and has a natural flow.

Step 5. Conclude your response paper.

After the main body, your task is to create a proper conclusion. It will summarize all the discussed points and provide an inference. Conclusions should always be informative yet concise and to the point. The readers shouldn’t be asking, “so what?” after reading or hearing your conclusion. Most importantly, don’t introduce any new arguments in this section of your response paper.

Step 6. Edit and proofread the paper.

We recommend reading the whole text several times as some small mistakes aren’t noticeable at first. Change your paper’s formatting, structure, or tone if needed. Add what is missing or eliminate redundant information. Pay attention to grammar, punctuation, and spelling. If you are not sure about something, ask a friend or someone from your family to read the paper and provide feedback.

More Tips to Perfect Your Response Paper

To make the process of writing easier for yourself, consider creating an outline. This advice is applicable to any writing assignment. Outlines help organize the ideas and put them in order for your train of thought. If you follow a specific plan, it reduces the likelihood of missing some important point or a significant detail. An alphanumeric kind of outline is one of the most convenient types to use while working on academic papers.

Don’t put off the work. The earlier you start working on your response paper, the better the result will be. It would help if you left enough time for analysis, as well as proofreading.

Remember that the overall success of your response paper greatly depends on how you begin. A powerful thesis statement is your key to success. Find what may serve as a hook, which can grab the readers’ attention at once. However, be mindful of length: your introduction should be brief and informative at the same time.

Familiarize the audience with an article or book you are writing about, mention the author. Provide information on whether you share the author’s point of view or not.

Do not focus solely on one aspect of the work and do not neglect other important details. 

If you are working on a response paper for the first time, it is highly recommended to have a good example of such a paper in front of you. It will be something you can lean on, some kind of support.

Avoid repetitions and redundant details in your paper. Do not include the same information twice, even if you use different words. Lengthy explanations can be boring and discourage the reader from proceeding further. 

If any ideas begin popping up in your head in the process of reading, immediately write them down. If you save it for later, you may easily miss something worth mentioning. 

It is better to leave slang, vulgarism, and clichés out of your response paper. Of course, this type of writing assignment implies sharing your point of view, your emotional reactions and thoughts, but be careful with your language and be professional.

To back up your points, cite appropriate parts of the work you analyze. This will help the reader to understand what you mean.

Note that a conclusion is usually the most memorable part of any paper or speech. Readers may quickly forget what you said in one of your body paragraphs, but they will definitely remember how you finished. Try your best to create a powerful conclusion.

While expressing your opinion, don’t be shy. After all, this is your task to tell the readers what you think. Don’t be afraid to reveal your personality, your values, and worldview.

Adjust to your teacher’s requirements and provided guidelines. Make sure that you understand what is expected of you.

Never insult someone’s work or the author without explaining why you dislike it or disagree with it. Your task is to provide analysis and a well-grounded explanation of your viewpoint. Critique is okay, but make sure that your feelings and thoughts, dislikes, and disagreements are backed up with evidence. Always explain your reactions and personal opinions.

Revise your response paper the next day. If you start proofreading immediately after you finish writing, you may be too tired to notice minor mistakes or inconsistencies. Revisions and corrections work better with a clear head when you are well-rested and productive.

A Few Words to Sum Up

Writing a response paper may seem challenging, especially if you lack experience in academic paper writing. But you can learn how to write a good response by using the provided tips and guidelines. First, you need to understand what you are analyzing, get well familiar with the subject, and determine your paper’s focus. Make notes that will serve as the fundamental of your response. Create a plan and stick to it.

Make sure that your introduction is attention-grabbing and be consistent in your arguments. Finish with a strong summary and do not neglect the proofreading stage – leave enough time for it.

If you still struggle with your academic assignment, our specialists are the ones who can save you from anxiety and sleepless nights. We know that not every student possesses equally bright writing skills. For some, it is more difficult to put thoughts into words and organize them properly. We get it, and we offer you a helping hand. Entrust your tasks to us and receive brilliant results without delay.