Wondering how to write an analytical essay? You’ve come to the right place. If you find yourself faced with the task of writing an analytical essay and you’re not even sure how to get past the essay question, it’s time to get some help.

When you receive those assignment instructions, but don’t really know what you’re doing, it’s common to feel like all hope is lost and you’re never going to be able to produce a well written essay. Especially if you’re not even sure what an analytical essay is. How are you supposed to know where to start?

Don’t give up – there is hope after all. If you’re feeling lost or confused, or just not interested in your assignment, we’re here to guide you through the process and show you how to write an analytical essay that will help you get the grade you need to succeed in your course, no matter what program you’re taking.

In this blog, we’re going to walk you through the basics, from learning what exactly an analytical essay is to writing a paper that is ready to impress. Let’s go ahead and jump right in.


Your first step in learning how to write an analytical essay is learning what exactly an analytical essay is.

The official analytical essay definition can be taken from the official definition of an analysis (from the separating of any material or abstract entity into its constituent elements, and using this process as a method of studying the nature of something or of determining its essential features and their relations. To make it an essay, this process is applied within your writing. But what does that really mean?

That’s pretty confusing, so let’s break it down.

In an analytical essay, you are going to analyze, critique, interpret, and/or dissect the main points of something. This could be an author or artist’s work, an event in history, or even a concept. To do this, you will break down the author or artist’s piece into smaller topics or subtopics, analyze them, and use them to formulate an argument or point about the text.

Don’t get caught up and confuse an analytical essay with a rhetorical analysis essay. They may both be based on the idea of an analysis, but they are two different things.

Essentially, in basic terms, your objective with this paper is to explain the significance of something and use specific points to showcase that. You’re not just summarizing what happened. You are presenting evidence or an argument about something.

For example, let’s say you’re writing about Lady Macbeth’s descent into madness in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. You’re not just going to write about the fact that she is going mad as she lays sick in bed and her doctor is treating her. Instead, you’re going to talk about the fact that she’s become so overwhelmed with guilt and regret that it has taken over her brain and caused her to go mad, and you’re going to show how this is represented with examples of symbolism, imagery, and other literary devices from the play.

In the words of the University of Toronto, “The analytic essay does not simply ask what, where and when; it asks why and how.”


As we mentioned above, an analytical essay digs deeper into a subject and requires you to look for the meaning, themes, sub-topics, or other messages. Instead of talking about what the subject is doing, you’re talking about why the subject is doing that and what this means on a bigger scale. Therefore, your professor is asking you to write this type of essay because they are testing your ability to interpret something and think about it critically.

Your professors want to see that you have the ability to look at something and make connections with it that go beyond just reading about it and memorizing facts. Critical thinking is a skill you’re probably going to need to use throughout your academic and professional career, and this is a great time to practice those skills.

To make yourself more motivated to finish your paper, you can think of this assignment as your professor helping set you up with important skills for the future instead of forcing you to write an essay you don’t want to write.


There are actually a few different types of analytical essays out there that you can choose from. It’s important to make sure you’re writing the type of essay that your professor is looking for – your goal is to get the highest mark possible, not lose marks on things that could have been avoided if you’d just followed the instructions in the first place.

Here are some of the more common types of analytical essays you might need to write in college or university:

● Literary analysis essay: A literary analysis essay is a type of analytical essay that focuses on a literary text, such as a play, book, or poem. With a literary analysis, you’ll need to closely examine the text and interpret it on a deeper level.

● Compare and contrast essay: In a compare and contrast essay, you’re going to do exactly that – compare and contrast two or more subjects to determine what their similarities and differences are, or where the authors agree or disagree.

● Cause and effect essay: A cause and effect essay looks at the factors that lead to an outcome, and then the results of that outcome. In other words, it’s an analysis of how one thing leads to another (or how the cause leads to the effect).

● Classification essay: A less common type of analytical essay you’ll encounter, the classification essay takes certain subjects or topics and organizes them into categories through an analysis of their characteristics, features, and so on.

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