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How to Write a Response Paper: Expert Tips for Students’ Success

How to Write a Response Paper

August 10, 2022

Response paper writing is a specific type of scholarly task and has very little in common with a review paper. Usually, this type of assignment is composed in the first person. There are several approaches as to how to write a response paper. First of all, the writer is supposed to provide a distinct explanation of the case. Besides, it is vital to include personal reactions. There is room for writer’s subjective opinion, but all points should be supported with relevant evidence, especially if it is a reading response.

The writer should make a draft of the plan prior to starting writing. Make sure to prepare a list of all readings needed for the response paper. Start your work by reading books, magazines, articles or texts related to the paper topic. There are no special secrets for writing a response paper. Just remember, do not start any work unless you have profound understanding of the data that you have studied.

What is a Response Paper?

A lot of people have no clue how to answer the question, “What is a response paper?” Therefore, it is crucial to have correct perception of what this assignment is about and how to start writing it. Importantly, there are some peculiarities about writing a response essay. Some writers recommend making notes when going over the assigned book. These notes will serve as essential tips while writing the response paper outline. As in any other type of writing, the author must develop a thesis statement and make a list of the most valuable points and texts that support them. On the whole, you ought not to postpone this task till the last moment as this assignment requires time.

There is no room for general discussions or any ideas which are not related to the topic. All data you mention should be relevant.

The response essay has a typical essay structure. The introduction part should comprise the thesis statement as well as the title and writer’s name. Failure to include a thesis statement may result in a poor response paper. The core element of the response paper is the discussion of the attitude or overall reaction towards the article under discussion.

Make sure to state all ideas in a clear manner. The main discussion should occur in the main body of the response paper. That is where the writer is supposed to provide results of the analysis. Use citations to support your viewpoint. Apart from the main source, it is recommended to study secondary sources, especially if you are writing a critical response essay.

One should be aware of how to complete this type of assignment as it is a very popularly assigned task among professors. Every student is likely to be assigned one during the academic experience. So why is it so popular in various institutions? The task is aimed at checking students’ capability to gather and investigate information, analyze it, and make a summary of the research. Nonetheless, those who are aware of this assignment may find writing it a real challenge. We have prepared some key elements that are needed for a successful work. Following these simple tips will help a student get excellent results.

How to Write a Response Paper: from A to Z

Being assigned this task, many freshmen wonder how to write such a paper. But they have no clue what the actual response is. Therefore, one should understand that the main purpose of this assignment is to express one’s personal opinion after reading a book, an article, or some other text. Unlike what many people assume, the opinion may be either positive or negative. Of course, in order to express one’s attitude towards the piece of writing, it is essential to study the primary source. This document is to reflect readers’ level of comprehension. It is vital to find out what the writer was trying to communicate to the reader. Besides, it is necessary to highlight why the writer believes these ideas may be useful. Here are some of the points that will help you realize the purpose of the task or you may use some examples as well:

  • decide on whether you will or will not support the writer.
  • upport the opinion with real-life examples. Do not include any writer’s biographic information.

Four stages of writing a response paper. These guidelines will help you become an expert at this type of writing.

  1. Planning and drafting
    Make a list of key issues you would like to discuss. Make a draft plan of the paper. Evaluate the draft and add or remove some of the points to end up with the final plan. The next step will be to identify three to four arguments that you are going to support in the paper. A draft of the thesis statement is another element of planning.
  2. What to start with
    Introduce your topic; provide the final thesis statement and an overview of the ideas, which you will discuss in the body. Provide overall information about the case. Choose a proper response paper format.
  3. Writing the body
    The opening sentence should demonstrate what you are going to discuss in the ongoing paragraph. Support your opinion with examples from real life or any other sources that may be relevant to the topic. Create a smooth transition from one paragraph to the other.
  4. Conclusion
    Provide a brief summary of your arguments. Do not bring up any new ideas in this part of the essay.
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Response Paper Outline

Introductory Paragraph

As a rule, the introduction is composed of one or two paragraphs that provide background information on the topic and grab attention of the audience to the central question or the topic overall. An attention-grabber enables the student to attract attention of the audience to the most essential aspects of the paper. Also, you have to highlight the subject, state the main idea, and focus on aims and objectives of the paper. Depending on the type of assignment, you need to provide your own vision of the topic or opinion on the given questions.

The Main Body

Depending on the paper type and length, the number of the body paragraphs may vary from three to five on average. The body paragraphs are devoted to discussing, analyzing, or evaluating the main ideas of the assignment. In case of a response paper, you may focus body paragraphs on separate concepts or ideas you respond to. The first body paragraph may be devoted to the summary or synopsis of the article, book or movie you respond to. It is essential to provide supporting evidence and add quotes as a means of illustrating your response and opinion. Also, other body paragraphs may be devoted to your arguments on whether you agree or disagree with the ideas presented in the article, book, or movie. In the last body paragraph, you may add evaluations of the effectiveness of the article, its significance or impact on the audience. You can also share your viewpoint as to whether the message was powerful and convincing to you or not.


This is the final section of your paper, where you sum up your findings, thoughts, and arguments. You need to put emphasis on the most essential ideas and underline what was the most meaningful about the paper. Consider not to add any new ideas – just provide your final opinion of whether the piece you are responding to is worth attention, what was inspiring or appealing about it, etc.

Response Paper Format

When you want to succeed academically in your writing task, you ought not merely to know how to write a response paper but also how to format it. It is crucial to adhere to paper requirements and organize the paper in a clear and logical way. All data ought to be credible and accurate to meet all academic standards. Read on and find out the underlying demands for proper response essay formatting.

Make sure you provide all background and identifying information in the opening paragraph. Also, mention the title of the work you are responding to, the author’s name, date of release or publication, and other relevant information. The further information you provide has to summarize the main points, provide quotes, citations, and other supporting facts.

The body of the response paper has to be formatted in the following way:

  • Provide specific details from the article, book, or movie.
  • Add sufficient evidence to better explain and support your position.
  • Provide quotations to illustrate your point.

In terms of body paragraph formatting, you can follow the structure required in the paper instructions. As a rule, one starts with the author’s opinions and visions and continues with own perspective.

When writing a conclusion, organize the paragraph as follows:

  • summarize the main ideas of the paper in two or three sentences;
  • pinpoint to the outcome you have reached;
  • emphasize on supporting the main idea.

As a rule, the last sentences of the conclusion is to underline what you have derived from the piece you responded to and whether it has impacted you in some way or inspired to do something.

How to Write a Response Paper of Different Types

You can find a response paper example on the Internet and learn how to write a response paper of any requirements. You can find samples that focus on responding to one piece of literary or artwork or a few pieces. The difference in the approaches is that in the former option you focus merely on one article, book or movie assigned to you. In the latter option, you need to provide response to multiple articles, books or movies within one essay. However, when you use this multiple-response approach, try not to confuse it with comparison writing. Instead of synthesizing or analyzing the assigned texts or videos, you are to investigate the elements or aspects and respond to how they appear in different texts/ videos and what similar or different role they have. If you wonder how to write a response paper and structure it in a proper way, consider that you can use some effective pre-writing techniques. For instance, you may draw a table and put elements that differ among the given texts or videos.

Our professional writers receive a question from students as to how a response essay and a summary paper are different. To put it frankly, the former type of writing requires from students to demonstrate an analytical approach and critically respond to the video/ text, whereas the latter focuses merely on summarizing the piece and focusing on the central arguments. A great thing to keep in mind: whenever you need to evaluate something, it signifies that it is a response paper you are writing.

Take a look at the Response Paper Example PDF

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