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Analytical Essay Guide

  1. Preparing For Analysis

    1. Familiarize yourself with the following questions.  Your essay will be worth 100 points.  The point breakdown is as follows:  60 are for the analysis and 40 are for the quality of the written expression.

    2. After you have considered the questions, then read the article.  These questions will for the basis of your analytical essay. (Worth 30 out of 50 points per each essay)

      1. Concisely state the main argument (i.e., the central claim, thesis) made by the author(s) in the article.  Briefly explain why you believe it is the thesis.  (Worth 4 points)

      2. What is the full citation of the article?  (Worth 2 point)

        1. Include the author(s), article title, the name of the publishing journal, and original date of publication.  (This is found at the bottom of the article)

        2. If the publication was a book, include the name of the book, the editorís name, publishing co., place of publication, and book publication date.  (Do not include biographical information about the author in the paper.)

      3. Are there any flaws in the logic or clarity of the authorís argument?  (i.e. was the central claim understandable and explained clearly and reasonably by the author) If they were clear, say so, and if not, why? (Worth 4 points)

      4. What information does the author provide to support his/her argument?  Is the information convincingly supportive of the argument?  Why? (Worth 18 points)

      5. Identify and explain at least four (4) concepts or theories from the main chapter textbook, Archaeology: A Brief Introduction, which are pertinent to this article.  (Worth 8 points)

        1. Clearly identify the applicable concept or theory in each case. 

        2. Be sure to explain the concept or theory and the textbook page(s) where they are discussed.

      6. Consider such style elements as word choice, sentence structure, paragraph construction, and overall organization when reading the article.  How do any of these style elements affect the clarity of communication of the authorís ideas? (Address each of these points) (Worth 10 points)

      7. What words used in the article were new to you?  What do they mean? (Worth 4 points)

      8. What is the significance of the title of the article?  Does it fit the article?  Why? (Answer each question) (Worth 6 points)

      9. What did you personally like and/or dislike about the article?  (Be honest but brief.) (Worth 4 points)

  2. Read the article

    1. Read the article and answer the questions posed above. 

    2. REMEMBER:  The objective is not to summarize the article.  You are NOT describing the article, you are analyzing the article, although a minimal amount of description may be necessary to make your points. 

  3. Format the outline

    1. Now that you have your answers laid out to each of the questions, the next step is to organize your thoughts.  How do you want the body of the paper to flow? 

    2. Use logic as you structure your outline.  In other words, first your will want to identify the article, state the thesis, and then do further analysis on either the logic or clarity of the argument, the support of the argument, etcÖ

  4. Write the essay

    1. Write the essay in a computer and print it out, double space, with the letter size at 12 points.  Your paper should be no less than three pages and no longer than five (5) pages!  With an organized outline, the written essay will be easier to construct and much tighter. 

    2. Remember, essays must have three important elements:

      1. An introduction (with the thesis and a brief discussion about how you will lay out your arguments)

      2. The body (with your arguments and observations)

      3. A conclusion (Was the hypothesis in the article supported?  It is also a good place to discuss whether you liked or disliked the article.)

  5. Visit the writing center (optional)

    1. 40% of your essayís grade depends on the quality of its written expression (i.e., spelling, sentence construction, clarity, paragraph construction, and overall organization, with each section worth 8 points each.)  60% of the grade is on its content (i.e., how fully and accurately you answer the questions). You may wish to use the Writing Center.

    2. The Writing Center (3rd floor Accokeek Hall, PGCC) has tutors who can help you once you have written a rough draft.

    3. Call (301) 322-0478 to make an appointment with a tutor for a 30-minute session.  You may need to bring proof (student id card or a current tuition payment receipt.)

    4. You should not show up for the tutorial empty-handed and expect the tutor to tell you what to do. 

      1. Write a first draft on the computer and print it out, double-spaced. 

      2. Bring your assignment and your rough draft to the tutor.  Your tutor will be able to help you obtain the best grade with this information in hand.