Writing an evaluation requires thorough knowledge of the texts and/or topics which you are being asked to evaluate. You need to provide an overview of the texts and/or topics and then provide detailed discussion resulting in a balanced presentation supplemented by evidence correctly referenced according to the style required by your school, college or university. Writing an evaluation is not really difficult if you adhere strictly to the helpful guidelines set out below.
Preparing to Write an Evaluation
Before you begin, look carefully at the subjects you are being asked to evaluate and plan what you might want to say about each of them. This need only be done in note form and is really just to crystallise your thinking.
Next, you should begin to organise your ideas into a sort of ‘for and against’ list. Even though you are not actually looking to compare and contrast as such, doing this helps you to write a balanced evaluation.
Ensure that you are compiling the evaluation exactly according to the specifications of the question you are addressing. It might be that you are being asked to evaluate in a specific way or with a particular idea in mind and this will have an influence on the way you evaluate so be sure to familiarise yourself with the nature of the evaluation.
Writing an Evaluation
An evaluation is an academic essay and as such follows the same basic structure of other academic essays i.e.:
- main body
There is a difference in the content and style when writing an evaluation, however, as you are not being asked to formulate an argument, so much as present an assessment. This influences the construct because you need to follow through the evaluation with greater objectivity and need not take so firm a stance as you would in the average academic essay when writing an evaluation.
The introduction to an evaluation should provide an overview rather than a thesis statement. You would give some brief indication of the contents of each topic/text to be evaluated together with an indication of the methodology that you intend to adopt during the writing of your evaluation. End your introduction with a sentence that links to the opening paragraph of the main body of the evaluation.
The main body of your evaluation should be a series of linked paragraphs each one dealing with a different aspect of the evaluation whilst remaining connected to the central theme. It is a good idea at the planning stage of writing your evaluation to give each of the paragraphs of the main body a working subtitle which you may or may not choose to include in your final evaluation. This is particularly useful because you will find the collation of your thoughts and evidence more precisely defined if you work in this way.
Remember that it is really important when writing your evaluation that you cite your evidence in the required style. The two main formats for referencing are:
- parenthetical in text referencing linked to and identified by a reference list at the end of your evaluation (Harvard employs this style, for example)
- footnote in text referencing by means of superscript numeric identifiers linked/ attached to the reference itself, connected to a footnote at the bottom of the page on which it appears and identified by a bibliography at the end of your evaluation (Oxford uses this style, for example).
You must consult the referencing guide which should be available from your school, college or university (and be on view in the library), before you begin to write your evaluation as you will lose marks if you do not reference correctly.
When writing an evaluation, the main body builds by means of the reverse pyramid style i.e. it begins with the most important points of the evaluation and graduates down in a supplementary way with each connected paragraph appearing to complement the preceding ones.
The conclusion to writing an evaluation is very important and should be considered at the initial planning stage. As in the introduction you provided an overview of the texts/topics to be evaluated, here in the conclusion you need to provide a summation of the evaluation. You need to provide, also, a synthesis of your thinking together with some indication of what you feel might have been omitted from your evaluation suggesting reasons why this was done and also what might be attempted in the future under different criteria, perhaps. By including this in the conclusion to writing your evaluation, you are acknowledging its limits and indicating to the reader your awareness of them.
General Tips on Writing an Evaluation
- The importance of presenting any academic essay in clear, well-structured and coherent English cannot be overestimated and this is as true of writing an evaluation as elsewhere.
- Ensure that you proof-read your evaluation very thoroughly to avoid any possibility of errors in punctuation, grammar, spelling and/or punctuation.
- It is often a good idea to read your work aloud or ask a friend or colleague to proof-read your work before you submit it.
- You will need to reference your work with the opinions of others as stated earlier and you should ensure that you have not accidentally plagiarised someone else’s ideas by careless notation.
- It goes without saying that when writing an evaluation, as elsewhere, you should never deliberately plagiarise: it is illegal, immoral and you are bound to be discovered as schools, colleges and universities now employ very sophisticated methods of detection - so do not be tempted!
And Finally …
Remember that an evaluation is essentially an overview with astute inferences and qualitative judgements. If you plan carefully, structure efficiently, reference correctly and proof-read carefully there should be every chance that you will write an evaluation of which you can be very proud and which will gain you an impressive grade when your work is assessed. Adhering to the guidance given here should assist you in achieving this: ‘good luck’!