We’ve taken you through ‘How to analyse’ and now we are going to take you through the slightly more complex skill of evaluating.

Evaluation is all about making a critical judgement. You would evaluate a film you watched at the cinema by weighing up its positives and negatives (acting, plot, and soundtrack, for example) in order to form an overall judgement about the film. In a similar way, fiction and non-fiction texts can also be evaluated.

A common misconception is to confuse evaluation with analysis. These are in fact two completely different skills and it is important to understand the distinction. Analysis is a process during which you interrogate the language and ask yourself why the writer has chosen it and how it affects the reader. Evaluation is taking this one step further: it asks you to comment on how well the writer achieves the effects they set out to create. Of course, you will not usually be able to come to this conclusion until you have analysed the language. Therefore, analysis can be thought of as a tool in the process of evaluation.

One of the best ways to show your examiner that you know how to evaluate is by using language of evaluation. We have lots of advice about how to do this on the Get My Grades Platform, but here is a taste of some of the vocabulary you might want to use:

          The writer effectively explores the themes of danger through…

          The writer powerfully uses the first person to…

          The writer’s skilful use of this metaphor helps to…

This type of vocabulary demonstrates that you have formed an opinion on how well the writer has managed to achieve a specific effect.

When you are evaluating a text, you are being asked to judge the writing of an author – quite a daunting prospect. Remember that you are usually being asked to evaluate a famous or well-respected piece of writing, so we wouldn’t advise having an overly-critical tone, mocking the writer’s language choices, or claiming that you could have done a better job yourself! To avoid these things, we advise using modal verbs such as ‘could’ and ‘might’ to soften your evaluation:

         The writer could have extended this metaphor further by…

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