How to Write a Reaction Paper: 10 Essential Tips

If you are tasked with writing your first response paper, this guide can help. Here are tips on how to write a reaction paper for students.

High school or college students are often asked to write dozens of essays and papers while studying. This can be overwhelming and lead to losing confidence in one’s academic skills if someone starts to struggle in this area. Are you having such trouble, and would you like help to get off the ground?

Below, we discuss some of the finer details of how to write a reaction paper, one of the many types of paper you might need to create. With these reaction paper tips, you should be able to get rolling and finish them well in time for a hand-in. They might not make it a breeze, but they should take the edge off to make it a valuable and educational task for you in the long run.

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Consume the Original Media with Care

When your educator is considering topics for papers, they will often have a very good reason for choosing the media you will analyze. This may be its relevance to the current world, its historical context, a long tradition of experiencing it, or many other reasons. No matter what it may be, pay attention when taking it in.

If it is a book, read it in your own time and during school. Make notes as you go and ensure you understand what it is communicating explicitly and implicitly.

If it is a film, do not only enjoy the story but engage with its themes. Also, consider why the creators chose to film it as it is and consider the media from the point of view of other characters in the piece. Look into who created it, consider their reasons for creating it over and above money, and consider why they thought this film was good.

Analyze the Media for the Core Themes

As you take in the media, consider if the person or people who created it had any message they were trying to convey. This may be a moral, an attempt to make people see things from a new perspective or to teach people about a truth they believe in.

Even if this is not a fictional piece or a historical document such as a constitution, consider who the implied heroes are. Why did the writer use the language choices they did, and how did that affect the media?

What is the villain in the piece’s motivation? You may find yourself sympathizing with their point of view, though consider their means and methods to be the thing that makes them a villain. Or, they may not be villainous but only an antagonist to the heroic figures.

Even in something like the United States Declaration of Independence, for example, there is a lot to consider. You can think about the different reasons it had the language it did, the points it makes, and why these points are essential to the writers. You can also think about what the writers were trying to create at the time and why they thought this was the best way of going about it.

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Work Out How You Feel

When writing a thesis for papers, you might often need to leave out a lot of your feelings. Still, they are important to understand so you can know what the media drives you to think and believe.

Consider the possibility that your view of the subject is wrong; also consider that you are the one who is correct and the media is who is wrong. Think about how both make you feel about the topic they portray.

You can use these to guide the discussion you wish to have in two ways. First of all, you can use them to help you write about areas that interest you more. Second, you can also be aware of your biases and try to avoid writing emotionally, as that could affect how others read your paper.

Start Planning

The next thing you should do is begin creating a reaction paper outline. Think about the different points you want to make, and write them all down. Align them with any evidence you have so you can spread these concepts through the paper, along with things that might back you up.

Also, in short, ensure you are making a point. The last thing you want is to get several paragraphs in and then realize you are not analyzing it or coming to any sort of conclusion. Think about what you want to say in broad and specific terms.

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Create the Headers

Once you have your outline, start planning each header out. Your reaction paper format should include an introduction and conclusion header at the start and end. It should also delve into several different points throughout that support or talk against them.

Ensure the headers constitute a single train of thought, telling a “story” by how it starts, continues, then ends through the whole piece.

Begin With an Introduction

Your introduction should start with a hook to get people interested in the piece from the get-go. This could be a statistic, a quote, or even a very forward statement that draws heads.

From there, talk about what you intend to write about and what you want to do. This might be stating an intent to perform research or to discuss how someone or something was correct or incorrect. It could even discuss the nature of a theme in general and how the media portrayed it.

Write the Header Bodies

You can now go through each header, stating your thoughts about each section. Try not to repeat yourself through these areas, as it could harm the readability of the piece; it could confuse readers and break the flow of the paper.

This section is the meat of what you are writing. You want each header body to state and back up a single point you wish to make. Then, by the conclusion, what you are trying to say should already be obvious.

When you write these, also think about the evidence or quotes you have that you can use to back up your points. You can put them here or in an appropriate appendix at the end of your paper, depending on the demands of your education system.

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Conclude Thoughtfully

Your conclusion should reiterate your introduction’s core premise. It can then summarize your main arguments. As the reader goes through the conclusion, they should not doubt what their thoughts and beliefs are when it comes to the media.

The conclusion is also a great place to tie all your points together. Sometimes some headers might go off in different directions, so you can use this space to bring everything into one coherent point.

The one thing you should avoid doing here is bringing up any new thoughts or points. The conclusion should round out everything and not leave any loose ends. When you finish it off, end with a strong statement that leaves an impression on the person reading it, such as a quote, a question, or a call to action.

Edit the Work With Care

Once you have completed one reaction paper draft, review it and look for errors. Read the piece aloud and try to find areas where your writing does not live up to a good standard or where you repeat points. You can also often hear repeated words you can change to make the paper easier to read as a whole.

You might find some sections unnecessary or that you need to add to them to help make sense. If you do, try to ensure you keep the flow of the piece and it does not start to ramble.

If you are writing this paper on a computer instead of hand-writing it, now is also the perfect time to use a spell-checker and grammar checker.

Be Clear and Concise

One of the most important rules when it comes to how to write a response paper is to ensure you do not write too much for each point. Do not use one hundred words when ten will do to say the same thing.

Be very clear in what you are saying too. Be aware that adverbs can start to water down any point you make if you overuse them. Although, you should also understand their power to allow you to make a paper more unique and precise.

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More on How to Write a Reaction Paper

You can often apply many of these response paper tips to other things people may ask you to write in your academic career. Still, there are many more things to learn before you are a master of the written word. Luckily for you, we have many articles on how to continue to improve your work.

So, check out our blog for all the latest tips on how to write a reaction paper and impress your family and teachers today.

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Goodwall Team
Written By Goodwall Team
This article was written by the Goodwall team or by a contributor for publication on Goodwall. Goodwall is dedicated to helping students, entrepreneurs, and young professionals reach their full potential. We'll share thought-provoking and supportive articles on career advice, self-improvement, navigating the college landscape, climate action, social impact, and more. On the business side, we'll talk about SMB subjects related to community, diversity, talent acquisition, case studies, and enterprise.

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