Patterns for Presenting Information


Many teachers regularly use critiques to find out whether you have read the material and to prepare you for exams. You could be asked to write critiques in any class. You may be asked to critique someone else's ideas, an excerpt, a book, a poem, a work of art, even a mathematical solution. Writing critiques improves your critical and analytical thinking and hones your evaluative skills. Where summaries are meant to represent the original source faithfully, critiques are meant to be a critical assessment of the reading material in light of your own understanding.

When you write a critique, you must do justice to your material. The objective is to present the material fairly and then apply critical thinking and judgment to its ideas. Each discipline commonly uses its own methodology and language for critiquing, so you should review critiques in your field and discuss them with your classmates or teacher to find good models. In fact, as part of your course work, you will probably learn the art of critiquing in your specialization.

In general, when you prepare to write a critique, you first read through the material. You'll want to decide the basis for your critique. What criteria and standards are you using to judge the material? Jot them down, spell them out clearly, and keep them in front of you while you draft your critique. Don't forget your thesis statement, or the main conclusion you draw in judging the material; the criteria, or the main aspects of the material to be evaluated; and the standards, or the ideals or principles, against which you are judging the material. Your critique may naturally take a general-to-specific organization or even a problem-solution pattern.