Essay Peer Critique (MB)

sample essay critiques (of student essay)

Your response is to be posted on the Message Board associated with this assignment

  • To see what & how peers are writing
  • To learn from each other's essays
  • To respond and provide help to a classmate for future writing
  • To note what works and what needs attention
  • To help your peers write better.
  • To help yourself become a better writer by becoming familiar with essay techniques
  •   note:
      The purpose of doing this critique is to help a peer in your class. Students only have access to the Discussion Board for
      the class they are in; therefore, critiquing a student not in your class is a waste of time. That student will never read your
      critique. If you critique a peer in another class no credit will be given.


  • Soon after the assignment closes a file containing all the essays submitted from both online classes will be sent to you via an email attachment. Essays are grouped according to class section: IN OR IN1.
  • Choose an essay to critique written by a peer in your class.
    A list of all students in your section is on the Homepage - People link
  • Notify the class of your choice on the Discussion Board when you are ready to do the critique (to avoid duplications) and immediately do the critique.
  • If all peers have been critiqued, critique your own.

1. Write a very brief sentence or two summary
It need not be lengthy, perhaps a few sentences just give a sense of what you are critiquing. Do not assume a reader has read the essay you will critique. Providing an overview so your critique has a context.
Do not retell the essay; (give a reader only enough to get an overall picture of what happened, what was described, argued etc..).

2. Write a critique
The purpose of a peer critique is to provide insight to the writer of how the reader is perceiving an essay. Additionally, it also is very beneficial to the peer doing the critique. It is often said that we learn a lot by teaching or instructing others. You are trying to help a writer become a better writer and in so doing help yourself learn what works and what doesn't. Being vague with compliments or criticisms is not helpful. You must be specific and forthcoming with as much information as you can provide. Both you and the writer will benefit form it. To help the writer and do a good critique consider the following. You are not answering questions; you are writing a critique, and you will be graded on your writing ability, helpfulness, and sincerity. What works or doesn't. How could it be better? Good writing inspires thought and gives a reader something to think about. Be honest with your peers. Giving unwarranted praise is very destructive, as is withholding a pat on the back. Be honest. Be analytical of the author's points. Think about it for a while before writing. Did you enjoy it, or was it a chore to read? Most importantly is there a worthwhile message? After all, that is the purpose to write an essay. If you were Bernarducci, what would you say to help this writer.

         Offer suggestions, give advice; what can you tell this writer to help make a better essay?

   Label it completely

  • your name & class section

  • name of the peer your are critiquing
    Paul vault - IN1A
    Critique of Brenda Smith's essay

In your critique think in terms of: 

  • Meaning -  what the author's implicitly and\or explicitly aims to say.

  • Writing Strategy - how the essay was constructed.

  • Language - what writing techniques were used

Consider the following for your critique
Essay Techniques Style Enjoyment & Message Grammatical Accuracy

Are all techniques  present? 
Do they enhance the message?
How can they be used better?
rhetorical devices
appropriate person?
use of advanced vocabulary
use of surprise
Focus on whatever will help most.
Avoid simplistic yes or no critique.
Do not be vague.
Do not use unclear terminologies
Did you enjoy it?
Did you get meaning?
If so, what?
Focus on whatever will help most;
Avoid simplistic yes or no critique.
Do not be vague.
Do not use unclear terminologies.
Are sentences accurate?
 Did sentences meet:
 Basic Grammatical Accuracy.
Yes or no answers are not helpful.
Explain thoughts completely.
Provide examples where necessary.

In addition to the above also consider the following if the essay is ARGUMENTATION\PERSUASION.
  • Is the argument clear? (what is the argument about)
  • Is the author's position clear? (which side the author is on)
  • Does the author consider and show respect for the other side, but still debunk anticipated arguments?
  • Is there plenty of concrete evidence to support the author's position?
  • Does the author use appropriate reference to logic and reasoning?
  • Does the author use appropriate reference to emotion?
  •  Are you convinced? If so, tell why - if not tell why not.

Below are some tips of What Not To Do

What not to do
The Thesis was good and had meaning. (this says nothing - what meaning?)
The message of self sufficiency stated in the thesis is one that we can all learn from. The author clearly believes that students are entirely responsible for their own education, and far too many of them rely too heavily on their teachers to teach them, when in fact  they should doing more active learning. This is a fine message to give to other young writers and all students.

What not to do---use general undefined and unclear terms

ex: The essay flowed well. (flowed? ..doesn't mean anything)
Because of the proper use of pronoun references and skillful use of verbs, the writing was easy to follow. Additionally, the author
used lots of transitional phrases to establish the order of ideas (Time Order). This was particularly evident when she told of how the doctor's visit preceded her involvement in the confusion with the medical insurance company, Having that knowledge and the time the doctor's visit was established made it more clear that she was being treated unfairly. etc..............................

What not to do-----focus on yourself or convey vague general unclear meaning
ex: I enjoyed this essay. (that is nice to hear but not helpful; be specific. What helped you enjoy it?)
This essay was enjoyable because it can be related to any student situation. We all have lots to do during  a semester, and
all the great examples that this author provided made it very easy to visualize. The examples of trying to do homework, care for
a screaming child, and welcome her tired husband home from work with affection and attention really hit home. For many of us it is like looking in a mirror. What an interesting wake up call this provided. etc....................complete the thoughts.

What not to do-----be vague or say nothing

ex: It was well written (again nice to hear but not helpful: be specific.)
This essay was full of very interesting examples and sensory details. The examples were wonderfully illustrated with lots of vivid
sensory detail. I could picture the lake and the camping trip as if I were there eating hot dogs with the gang. I especially liked the
short story of how they all went fishing and fell into the lake; that was not only humorous, but it nicely let me better understand the
meaning of friendship that this essay portrayed. etc............


see: grading rubric to see how you will be graded for this assignment.

Submission Requirements

  • Label you Peer Critique correctly:
    Your Name & Section
       Author of essay being critiqued.
    Paul Vault - (IN or IN1)
       Critique of John Smith's essay

  • Align text left (do not force justify)

  • Single Spaced standard size 12 text.

To submit this assignment
This assignment is to be posted (submitted) on the associated Message Board.

see: How to submit a Message Board assignment

Failure to follow these submission requirements may result in a confused Professor, and in an unacceptable assignment

Sample completed essay critique (with accompanying student essay)

Example 1

The Accident, by Jessica Thompson

(the critique of this student essays is below the essay)

I witnessed an extremely tragic car accident several years ago, and still to this day, I can still picture the entire event. A bunch of us had gone whitewater rafting down the Lehigh valley in Pennsylvania. The night before we went dancing, everyone in the car was exhausted.  We were driving down Route 80, and a blue compact car decided to play games on the road. He continuously weaved in and out of traffic, braked periodically, and jetted across three lanes just to show-off. What a fool I thought then the grand ole' saying, "where's a cop when you need one, " popped into mind. Route 80 is this endless six-lane highway that stretches across the state of Pennsylvania. The highway has minimal stop areas and exits every 15 to 20 miles. It seems isolated from civilization. Plenty of wild flowers, brush, and evergreens line it. The sun just started to settle, and the roadway created a visual masterpiece. It must be so peaceful here when the roaring of the motors ceases. Suddenly, that same foolish blue compact distracted my attention.
     This car just wouldn't let up. He continued to be a nuisance. Now he decided to jackknife from the right lane all the way over to the left, making that exit. Unfortunately, a tractor-trailer was riding in the middle lane. This poor panic stricken driver swerved into the right lane, pulling his ten ton truck with him. Obviously, he didn't see the young couple from Ohio driving in their shiny new white Volvo. The truck ran directly over them. Piercing sounds of metal on metal, similar to someone scratching a chalkboard, is what was heard. The traffic had come to a complete standstill. I quickly hopped out of my car and ran over to the scene. I was surrounded by a confused and disillusioned mob. Physically, the truck driver appeared to be all right, mentally, I didn't want to know. You could hear screams coming from beneath the wreck. "They're alive, thank God," I whispered. The woman was in a state of panic and frustration; she hollered, "help, I can't get this seat belt off me, someone please help me. My husband is covered with blood, please don't let him die. HelpÖ.,"she continued. A group of men quickly crawled under the disaster. Out they rushed with the woman's husband. Someone then yelled, "Back away, it's going to blow." Sure enough; no sooner was this said when it happened. I thought I was watching some sort of volcano documentary. At first, a sound of a bomb going off was heard. This was followed by unidentified flying objects being disbursed through the air. Some flames were seen and lava started flowing all over the place. The woman, my God, she burned to death. The dense dark smoke clouded the entire area. There was an appalling smell in the air. It was so awful that you actually started gagging from the bitter taste it left in your mouth. I remembered learning that human flesh burning is an extremely putrid smell. The trailer had a colossal amount of lava surging from it now. Through conversation I learned that the truck was carrying cheese. I would have never imagined it could smell this dreadful.
     Finally, professional help arrived. You could hear their emergency sirens roaring, fire trucks, ambulances, police cars, and two of the hugest tow trucks I had ever seen. Almost immediately the fire was put out, and the man taken away by ambulance. They chain sawed what remained of the trailer in half to pull the car out. There sat the once new Volvo completely charred. Again they used a chainsaw to cut through the car. The rescue squad pulled out a body bag. Into this cold dark bag was put whatever remained of this poor woman. At this point, I could no longer watch. I started feeling queasy; I just couldn't look, so I turned away. I noticed several police officers in the wooded are. I later learned they were "combing" the woods looking for a baby or a small child that may have been thrown from the Volvo. I walked back to my car and sat there until traffic could move again. The horrible smell still lingered. The woman's voice was constantly echoing.
     Traffic eventually started to move again. The sun had gone down. No one was playing any games on the road. As a matter of fact, everyone seemed to be doing at least ten miles under the speed limit. I tuned into the local Pennsylvania radio station. Not surprisingly, they recapped the accident. The couple driving the Volvo were newlyweds, destined for New York on their honeymoon. They were married a meager 32 hours. The broadcast interviewed witnesses describing the blue compact, give or take a few details. I knew this guy would never be caught; I just prayed he heard the broadcast or read the paper, at least know what he did and be forced to live with the guilt.
     After seeing what I did, I couldn't sleep for two days. I think about these stupid games people play, no one enjoys then, and the loser pays a terrible price. Today, when I see one of those "blue compact' cars, I wonder will there be another loser. There is certainly never a winner.


Critique of "The Accident" by Jessica Thompson
(notice it begins with a brief summary followed by the critique)
     On a typical highway, on a typical sunny afternoon, Jessica witnessed a very tragic automobile accident between an unsuspecting truck driver and a very recently married couple. This provocative narrative begins with a description of the setting and, suddenly shifts to the inconsiderate and deadly antics of a careless driver who caused this horrific accident. This immature drive created a situation where the truck driver, though no fault of his own, ran over the newly married couple's car causing death and heartache. It concludes with a poignant message and reminder of what can happen when driving is not taken seriously.
     This narration begins with a very engaging introduction that sets the stage for the terrible events that follow. Jessica begins with a brief background to put the story into perspective. Because we have all been in similar driving situations, this techniques works nicely to draw the reader in and make it seem like an ordinary day. Then through the generous use of sensory detail she paints a vivid picture of the setting. The reader can almost smell the flowers and feel relaxed on this a trip with friends. Unexpectedly, she introduces a driver who seems to be tempting fate and not taking the responsibility of driving seriously. She cleverly says,
"Suddenly, that same foolish blue compact distracted my attention." At this point the introduction ends, and I couldn't wait to see what happened. As introductions go, this one was a great tease and made me eager to continue.

     As I read I was treated to a very coherent and well constructed narration. It begins with the truck driving directly over this unfortunate car, and through the use of dialogue and well supplied sensory details, I could practically hear the crunching and sense the panic. She states, ""Back away, it's going to blow." By using lots of transitional phrases, the author, whisked me through the frantic events, and even let me hear what she was thinking only this time through whispered personal dialogue. From the smell of the smoke to the sounds of the crash not much is left to the imagination. What also worked particularly well was Jessica's use of Figurative Language. By comparing it to a "volcano documentary" and showing us that when the truck exploded "lava flowed" I could imagine the scene.

     After all of this mayhem, help gets to the scene, and we hear the chainsaw cutting through the car to get to the woman trapped, but it is too late. At this point, I was pretty nauseous, but Jessica was not done, and wanted to make sure I understood what happened.  She splashes reality in my face, and simply states, " The rescue squad pulled out a body bag. Into this cold dark bag was put whatever remained of this poor woman." Through the use of dialogue, transition phrases, and brilliant sensory detail, I felt as if I saw this accident and wanted to find the driver of that blue compact car that cause all this horror and have him brought to justice. After the smoke clears and Jessica is calming me  down from all the action, she saves the worst for last and informs me that couple where just married and on their way to their honeymoon in their bright shiny new car. I think I  cried.

      At points the author made inappropriate reference to the reader, using "You" which I thought was not well thought out. After all, I was really engrossed in this story, and I had good regard for the author's use of language, This gaff was off-putting. Other than that, there were a few other minor sentences errors, but nothing so egregious to take away from my enjoyment and understanding of this tragedy

Eample 2

Critique of "Winning & Losing" by Jason Kapoor
(essay not provided because a good critique begins with a brief summary which should be sufficient for a reader to understand the critique.)

     Kapoor begins this essay speaking about the skills children are taught involving winning and losing. More specifically, sportsmanship. According to Kapoor, sportsmanship is taught from a young age. A parent is to teach their child sportsmanship by playing  with the child, losing, and then showing the child a good example of how a loser behaves. Kappor goes on to say that as a school aged child it is necessary to have sportsmanship skills. She gives an example of school aged children demonstrating sportsmanship by taking a knee when a member of the opposing team is hurt or injured. Kapoor explains that there is a drastic decrease in the presence of sportsmanship once the child, now a young adult, enters high school and college. She claims that the act of taking a knee when a member of the opposing team is injured, no longer takes place. She concludes to say that if players behaved in a more sportsmanship like manner, all people would find sporting events more enjoyable. 
     Kapoor's introduction seemed as if there was a bit too much information for an introduction. After reading the essay I could not get a grasp of what  exactly her thesis was. In Kapoor's essay, there was very little use of transitional words which made it diffcult to follow. There were a few instances where Kapoor's sentences seemed as though they were missing a word. I believe it would be possible for Kapoor to improve her writing by paying close attention when proof reading or allowing someone else to proofread for her. Sometimes it can be hard to find mistakes in one's own work, because as the writer, one assumes what it should say and believes that it does. Kapoor should also work more on unity. Within each paragraph not all the supporting sentences seemed to go along with what I assumed the main idea of the paragraph to be. Kapoor used the rhetorical device of rhetorical questioning in her conclusion. Her tone seemed to be subjective, opinionated, and outspoken. She appropriately followed the rule for 3rd person. The direction Kapoor took on the topic of sportsmanship was interesting. Yet, unfortunately, due to my struggle in following this essay and the confusion I felt over the purpose of Kapoor's conclusion, I did not find this essay to be enjoyable.

Example 3

Critique of "Advertising" by Samantha Whitehall
(essay not provided because a good critique begins with a brief summary which should be sufficient for a reader to understand the critique.)

     In this essay the author writes how product advertisements are ruining todayís youth. He says that this is due to the fact that advertising is a lie to get children to buy products. Many ads depict childrenís favorite celebrities using a specific product, while in reality that celebrity would probably never even use the product.  The author goes on to say that many advertisements show only the positive without telling the negative. Numerous ads depict a product in use with the user have a good time without stating that the product can potentially be a death hazard if used incorrectly. The author also says that advertising sends the wrong message to children regarding where and on what to spend their money. He supports this statement by stating how advertisement tell children to buy the product immediately before the product is gone, while in two months the product will be half the price. The author ends his essay by saying that companies do not evaluate their strategies of selling products, since this simple method works, even though sometimes it really is the worst possible method they could choose from.
     The introduction to this essay definitely has the grabber component to it. The author starts off with the statement that product advertisements are ruining the youth of today. It makes the reader want to read on and see why and how advertisements are ruining the youth of today. The authorís thesis is clearly stated in his introduction. Upon reading the introduction the reader can immediately know that the essay is about the way advertising today is brainwashing children.
     The author concludes his essay in a way that wraps everything up very nicely. His conclusion is written in a way that makes readers stop and think. He brings out the point that companies will continue to pull the children the way they want. This can make a reader stop and think of a way to try to prevent this from happening.
     The authorís paragraphs are set up in a way that all have only one main idea, which makes it easy for the reader to follow along. He has three main ideas with three separate paragraphs that have supporting sentences to support the main idea. Not all of the paragraphs have concluding sentences, which makes the transition from one paragraph to the next a little clumsy. All of the authorís paragraphs clearly support the thesis that advertising today is brainwashing children. This idea is very well developed throughout the essay.
     The authorís order of paragraphs is clear which enhances the meaning. He clearly breaks down the various negative ways advertisements are ruining the youth. The authorís order of support is clear within paragraphs. I like the way he brings supporting examples. When the author says that advertising companies are breaking into the minds of children in showing a product in such a positive light that the negatives are never explained, he brings excellent examples such as play-Doh and Moon Sand.
     The author uses the rhetorical method of examples which is well chosen, very clear, and supports meaning. I like the way he explains so clearly the way advertising companies tell children they have to buy a certain product before itís gone, while if that child would wait a few more months that product would be on sale for half the price. Most of the authorís sentences are accurate and grammatically correct.
     This essay proved to be extremely interesting and thought-provoking. It makes the reader stand back and reflect on the idiocies of advertising.