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Pierce's10th Grade Honors and 10th Grade IB Prep

Analytical writing
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Almost everything you wanted to know about analytical writing but were afraid to ask.



Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives defines analysis as “Breaking down material into its component parts so that it may be more easily understood.” The following “cue words” describe different aspects of analysis: examine, question, classify, research, distinguish/differentiate, interpret, debate, defend, map, refute, relate to, infer, characterize, conclude/draw conclusions, compare/contrast, similarities/differences ( p.2)

Analyzing [is]:

• Identifying evidence that supports the main argument or illustrates the main point, as well as any that seems to contradict it.

• Deciding whether the sources used are trustworthy.

• Identifying the writer’s underlying assumptions about the subject as well as any biases revealed in the text. — The St. Martin’s Handbook (3rd ed.). Andrea Lunsford and Robert Conners. St. Martin’s Press, 1995, p.10.

The Bedford Guide for College Writers gives several insights:

Analyzing is done by dividing the subject into its parts and then dealing with one part at a time (p 135).

Analysis helps readers understand something complex; they can more readily take in the subject in a series than in one gulp. ... You might need an informational analysis — tracing steps by which something takes place (p. 157).

Analysis is going deeply into a subject and providing convincing evidence for

your claims (p. 153).


Adapted from The Bedford Guide for College Writers (5th ed.). X.J. Kennedy et. al.

Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 1999 AND An American History Primer Richard L. Mumford. Harcourt,

Brace, Jovanovich, 1990.

I. Categorize and Classify—making sense of random information by organizing it in a rational, usable form such as chronological order, causes and effects (political, economic, social), and underlying and immediate causes and effects (Mumford, p.37)

A. Do you use the most logical principle to classify for your purpose?

B. Do you stick to one principle throughout?

C. Have you identified categories or parts that are similar?

D. Have you used the best order for your categories?

E. Have you given specific examples for your categories (X.J. Kennedy et. al. p.



II.  Explain similarities and differences in two sets of data—comparing and contrasting

Comparisons note resemblances between distinct and seemingly unrelated events and developments.

Contrasts note variations between seemingly related events and developments (Mumford, p.8).

A. Have you chosen MAJOR similarities and differences?

B. Have you used the same categories for each tern?

C. Do you always compare and contrast like things?

D. If you make a judgment between your subjects, have you treated both fairly (XE Kennedy, et. al. p.418)?


III.  Separate by causes and effects (po economic, social), and underlying and immediate causes and effects (Mumford, p.37)

A. Is your use of cause and effect clearly tied to the point you are trying to make?

B. Are the causes you have identified real causes? Can you find evidence to support them?

C. Are the effects you have identified real effects, or are they conjecture? Can you find evidence to support them?

D. Have you presented things logically and clearly, so your reader can follow and understand them easily (X.E. Kennedy et. al. p. 430)?


IV. Determine the relevance of evidence—is the information used related in an important way to the understanding of the topic or thesis (Mumford, p.24)

A. Does all your evidence support your point of view or main idea?

B. Have you included enough evidence to convince your reader (X.E. Kennedy, et al. p.430)?


V. Evaluate arguments

Analysis may require you to evaluate the different types of support a writer uses. See sheet titled “How to Evaluate Evidence.”


VI.  Analyze statistics—exactly what do the numbers tell and NOT tell us?

See sheet titled “How to Evaluate Evidence”.


VII.    Evaluate opposing opinions — what you should do if experts disagree.

A. Try to find the underlying reasons for the disagreement.

B. Apply the tests for expert opinion on the “How to Evaluate Evidence” sheet

C. Give reasons why one expert should be accepted over another OR

D. Explain why the disagreement cannot be resolved at this time.

Olin/Bone/Lipp 10/2001

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