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Write a 750-1000-word (3-4 typed page) evaluation of a particular subject.  State your judgment clearly and back it up with a convincing argument based on standards of value that are appropriate for judging this kind of subject.  When evaluating your subject, argue for why the subject is good or bad.  Generally, you will need to fit your subject into a particular class that has particular criteria or standards by which members of that class are measured.  For example, you might argue whether or not La Tapatia  (your subject) is a good restaurant (the class or group the subject fits into).  You would determine what standards/criteria are appropriate for a good restaurant (i.e., food, variety, atmosphere, service, etc.) and show how well the particular restaurant meets your criteria.  Use the guidelines in chapter 14 of Practical Argument to help develop your essay.       

  • At the start of your essay, present your subject clearly:  state your subject explicitly (name the TV show, car, or whatever), and also give the reader enough information about your subject to understand your judgment without giving up too much information.  For example, if you’re reviewing a movie or a book, don’t give away the ending.        

  • Also, make a clear, BALANCED judgment.  Assert whether your subject is “good” or “bad.”  Even though you want to make a judgment, also acknowledge both the good and bad points about the subject--try to be impartial.  For example, if you’re evaluating a web site, you might argue that the graphics are great but the download time is too long.  Of course, you must make sure that your good points outweigh your bad points if you’re ultimately judging the web site as good and vice versa. Weighting of your criteria (explaining which criteria are most and least important) also helps clarify your judgment.        

  • However, you must go beyond simply stating that your subject is good or bad.  You must argue for your judgment: present appropriate reasons and argue with evidence and explanation to show why your subject is good or bad.  If your criteria or standards for evaluation aren’t clear, you might also need to explain them.  For example, if you are arguing that La Tapatia is a good restaurant because it has good food, excellent service, and a pleasant atmosphere, then you obviously don’t need to devote much time to justifying your standards.  However, if one of your main criteria is that it has a place for children to play, you would definitely need to explain why this is an important criterion for a good restaurant.        

  • As part of your argument, you MIGHT also need to anticipate objections or alternative judgments.  For example, if you want to argue that Apollo 13 is a good family film, you might discuss how the movie appears to be good for the entire family: the language is clean, the movie promotes responsible behavior, and the movie has a fairly simple story to follow.  These elements suggest that the movie is a good family-film.  However, someone might argue that Apollo 13 is not appropriate for small children because some of the situations are “too intense, frightening, or mature” for many youngsters.  You need to address this concern and show that despite these frightening scenes, the film is still appropriate for kids.  Anticipating readers' concerns definitely enhances your credibility.        

  • Another feature that can help your evaluation essays is a pointed comparison.  Compare your subject to other subjects in the same category.  For example, if you’re evaluating a Black Eyed Peas album, compare it to other albums that are in the same class (i.e., hip-hop, rap, dance, etc.).  Make sure your comparisons are pointed in that you focus on a particular criterion or standard and show how the Black Eyed Peas album has more variety in the tracks or has more intellectually stimulating lyrics.        

  • In your conclusion, sum up your argument and make a final judgment.  In this type of essay, the delayed thesis can be very effective.  However, the judgment you make should gradually become clear by the time you get to the end of the essay--it shouldn’t be a surprise. 

Topics:  Evaluate something in which you are  interested and SOMETHING THAT YOU CAN RE-VIST.  You might evaluate a movie, a restaurant, a book, a television show, a CD, a website, a software package, a class/teacher, a candidate for public office, an amusement park, a shopping mall, a magazine, a band, a bar, a counselor, or a program.  You must be able to see/experience it before writing the essay--it can’t be based on your memory of the thing. 

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