Humanities › English How to Write a Response Paper Share Flipboard Email Print Kiyoshi Hijiki / Getty Images English Writing Writing Essays Writing Research Papers Journalism English Grammar By Grace Fleming Education Expert M.Ed., Education Administration, University of Georgia B.A., History, Armstrong State University Grace Fleming, M.Ed., is a senior academic advisor at Georgia Southern University, where she helps students improve their academic performance and develop good study skills. our editorial process Grace Fleming Updated December 23, 2018 Most of the time when you are tasked with an essay about a book or article you've read for a class, you will be expected to write in a professional and impersonal voice. But the regular rules change a bit when you write a response paper. A response (or reaction) paper differs from the formal review primarily in that it is written in the first person. Unlike in more formal writing, the use of phrases like "I thought" and "I believe" is encouraged in a response paper. You'll still have a thesis and will need to back up your opinion with evidence from the work, but this type of paper spotlights your individual reaction as a reader or viewer. 01 of 04 Read and Respond Grace Fleming For a response paper, you still need to write a formal assessment of the work you're observing (this could be anything created, such as a film, a work of art, a piece of music, a speech, a marketing campaign, or a written work), but you will also add your own personal reaction and impressions to the report. The steps for completing a reaction or response paper are: Observe or read the piece for an initial understanding.Mark interesting pages with a sticky flag or take notes on the piece to capture your first impressions.Reread the marked pieces and your notes and stop to reflect often.Record your thoughts.Develop a thesis.Write an outline.Construct your essay. It may be helpful to imagine yourself watching a movie review as you're preparing your outline. You will use the same framework for your response paper: a summary of the work with several of your own thoughts and assessments mixed in. 02 of 04 The First Paragraph Grace Fleming After you have established an outline for your paper, you need to craft the first draft of the essay using all the basic elements found in any strong paper, including a strong introductory sentence. In the case of a reaction essay, the first sentence should contain both the title of the work to which you are responding and the name of the author. The last sentence of your introductory paragraph should contain a thesis statement. That statement will make your overall opinion very clear. 03 of 04 Stating Your Opinion Grace Fleming There's no need to feel shy about expressing your own opinion in a position paper, even though it may seem strange to write "I feel" or "I believe" in an essay. In the sample here, the writer analyzes and compares the plays but also manages to express personal reactions. There's a balance struck between discussing and critiquing the work (and its successful or unsuccessful execution) and expressing a reaction to it. 04 of 04 Sample Statements When writing a response essay, you can include statements like the following: I felt thatIn my opinionThe reader can conclude thatThe author seems toI did not likeThis aspect didn't work for me becauseThe images seemed toThe author was [was not] successful in making me feelI was especially moved byI didn't understand the connection betweenIt was clear that the artist was trying toThe soundtrack seemed tooMy favorite part was...because Tip: A common mistake in personal essays it to resort to insulting comments with no clear explanation or analysis. It's OK to critique the work you are responding to, but you still need to back up your feelings, thoughts, opinions, and reactions with concrete evidence and examples from the work. What prompted the reaction in you, how, and why? What didn't reach you and why?