Total Length: 1000 – 1200 words

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Summary/Strong Response

Your essay will include (1) a summary of the text (approximately 150-250 words), and (2) a strong response in which you speak back to that reading from your own critical thinking, personal experience, or values.You are not limited to a rhetorical critique, an ideas critique, or a personal reflection, but can think of your response as a “blended” approach where one or all of these strategies might appear in your paper. Envision your audience as fellow students or instructors who have not read the article and who might want to use it as a resource.

Elements of the Summary/Strong Response Essay

Introductory paragraph

  • Sets up the problem or topic as context for the introduction of your chosen text.
  • Introduces your text with the author’s name, title, context (where the article appeared), and author’s central claim or main idea.
  • Concludes with a tension-filled thesis that sets up clear expectations for the direction of your essay and gives your reader a sense of the points you will develop and discuss. Your thesis will express your judgment about the text in terms of rhetorical strategies, successes or problems, or possibly questions it has raised in your mind. See pp. 109-110 for sample thesis statements.

Summary of the article (150-250 words)

  • Retains the balance of the original essay. You can generally follow the order of the original essay, keeping the proportions of the summary roughly equivalent to the proportions of the original text.
  • Includes author tags to distinguish the author’s viewpoints from your own. The summary does not include your opinion.
  • Includes at least one direct quotation, folded into your own sentence. Use author tags and introductory phrases to incorporate direct quotes into your sentences.

Response paragraphs supporting your thesis

  • Relate to your thesis and organize your response for your reader.
  • Address the author’s argument, main points, and/or ideas
  • Relate logically to each other, easing your reader through your ideas with transitions.
  • Support your judgments with reasons and concrete evidence from the text or your own experience (examples/paraphrases/direct quotations).


  • Leaves the reader with a clear understanding of your stance toward the text. Consider also pointing your reader toward ideas beyond your own response to the text or a restatement of your thesis. Could you, for example, suggest how this text might be applied, or what its implications are, or how it contributes to the larger conversation surrounding the topic?

New page entitled Work Cited or References

  • Gives the formal citation for your article in MLA (Works Cited) or APA (References) format. You can find models for MLA and APA citations by consulting:
  • 1) your textbook, Ch. 20 ;
  • 2) the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL), or
  • 3) the Bedford/St. Martin’s Research & Documentation Guide

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