Tips on How to Write a Good Reaction Paper


  • The first step of writing is easiest. You just have to share your opinion without thinking how it will look, what you should mention, and what may be missed. When all thoughts are already on paper, you should look through and pick the most important argument of your viewpoint.
  • Remember that your paper has to be critical. You analyze and evaluate. No summary is allowed. No one wants to read the retelling.
  • One of the main points of your paper is a thesis statement. When you decided how you would like to present your analysis, you can form a thesis now. It should show what you are going to analyze and criticize.
  • Organization is a must. The reaction paper has the same structure as the essay. You should already know that an essay consists of an introduction, a main body, and a conclusion. So when you are writing a reaction paper, you need to present all those parts. Also, you should pay attention to the paragraph structure when you write another argument. Every paragraph is a new idea. So many ideas you have, so many paragraphs you write.

Format of reaction paper

Beside the definition of a reaction paper, many scholars find it hard to understand its meaning even though they come across this paper a few times in their career. It is true that for every action there is always a reaction and the same does apply to reading.

When you are asked to write a reaction paper, you should not take it as being difficult at all because the examiner is just trying to test your ability to review the work of other authors and give personal opinions that are sensitive to the subject.

You may be asked to write a reaction paper indirectly, and you have to get the intention of the examiner fast. A good example is that you may be asked to give a critique about a certain subject, and this would constitute a reaction paper, or to write a review about a literature book; it also falls into the same group.

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A reaction paper is mainly based on response towards certain deeds in a story. Before getting to the reaction paper, one has to analyze the subject under investigation and acquire all the useful information before providing a critique on the matter.

The key thing in writing a reaction paper is giving an opinion on a subject and supporting your statement relevantly to the satisfaction of whoever would be reading your work. Let the reader be convinced that you are right and go by your opinion on the matter.

A reaction paper usually has two audiences, the first audience is the readers of your work and the second one is the referees who choose the appropriate articles to post. In most cases, reaction papers might be used in the future for references by other authors, and therefore you should come up with clear content.

A reaction paper adopts different formats depending on the instructions given. A reaction paper is divided into several parts. To organize your work, you have to understand every part of the essay and what it entails.

  1. The introduction – the introduction is the face of your paper and therefore as a writer you have to make sure that it looks attractive and increases the urgency of the reader to proceed to your body paragraphs. In the introduction, you have to give a small description of the author and the main problems and ideas on the story. It should not be too long, as it will be boring to the reader; a good introduction should have three to four sentences. Immediately after the introduction, you should write a thesis statement which should be clear and brief.
  2. The body is the main section, where all the ideas for your essay are explained. In your body paragraphs, you should start each one with a topic sentence. The topic sentence should reflect the idea to be described in the section. You should include appropriate sources to back up your opinions. In the body, you can add theoretical evidence to support your statement.
  3. The conclusion – in writing your conclusion you should link your thesis statement with a summary of the ideas in the body paragraphs. A good way of encrypting your conclusion is by touching on the major points in summary then wrapping up everything by clarifying your opinion.
  4. List of citations – while writing a reaction paper you have to include the citation for the sources you have used within your paper. The sources used should be credible and scholarly so that they can persuade the reader.

To advance your skills in writing a reaction paper, you have to go through various samples. When you read and analyze them, you can be able to note the common mistakes made by writers and avoid them in your work.

There are many reaction paper topics that one may be asked to write on, such as movies and novels. Most of papers samples are found in articles, journals, magazines and even educational websites. By going through various examples, you get exposed to different topics, and this improves your knowledge so that you cannot be taken aback when given any of them.

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Unfortunately, many students lack time and can’t complete their high school and college tasks on time. That is why more and more scholars prefer downloading a reaction paper example. With its help, they are able to understand the structure and get an overall idea how it should look like.

Remember, reaction paper sample is not cheating and it is a great tool to simplify the whole process of completing the assignment!

Reaction paper outline

A Report on Man’s Search for Meaning

Dr. Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning (New York: Washington Square Press, 1966) is both an autobiographical account of his years as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps and a presentation of his ideas about the meaning of life. The three years of deprivation and suffering he spent at Auschwitz and other Nazi camps led to the development of his theory of Logotherapy, which, very briefly, states that the primary force in human beings is «a striving to find a meaning in one’s life» (154). Without a meaning in life, Frankl feels, we experience emptiness and loneliness that lead to apathy and despair. This need for meaning was demonstrated to Frankl time and again with both himself and other prisoners who were faced with the horrors of camp existence. Frankl was able to sustain himself partly through the love he felt for his wife. In a moment of spiritual insight, he realized that his love was stronger and more meaningful than death, and would be a real and sustaining force within him even if he knew his wife was dead. Frankl’s comrades also had reasons to live that gave them strength. One had a child waiting for him; another was a scientist who was working on a series of books that needed to be finished. Finally, Frankl and his friends found meaning through their decision to accept and bear their fate with courage. He says that the words of Dostoevsky came frequently to mind: «There is one thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my suffering.»  When Frankl’s prison experience was over and he returned to his profession of psychiatry, he found that his theory of meaning held true not only for the prisoners but for all people. He has since had great success in working with patients by helping them locate in their own lives meanings of love, work, and suffering.

Some of the questions to ask yourself before you start a reaction paper include “what is my feeling about the intention of the writer of the book I am reviewing?” You have to understand the main objective of the author and know the feeling about it.

The start of any essay determines the score of the piece when grading it. If you go through various samples of reaction papers you will find out that the following guide is useful for starting your work:

  • The context – while starting your writing you should first introduce the reader to the topic through a small background story on this theme. The reader should be able to understand it so that when you begin giving your opinions, they are not left hanging.
  • The need – your readers should see the need for your opinion on the book or movie you are writing about, so you have a task of creating suspense to attract them to your work. You can do this by stating the significance of your opinion and how it impacts the lives of others.
  • Thesis statement – you have to include a thesis statement at the beginning of your writing. The thesis constitutes a summary of the piece you are reacting to, the major points of it and the contradiction in opinions for different people.
  • Details of the book – while writing about a book or a movie you have to introduce it to the reader by giving the name of the author and what the book is about. If it is a movie, you have to give the name of the movie and the characters to familiarize your reader with the piece. You also have to state the main objective of the movie or book that you are writing about in the introduction.

The common topics that you might be asked to write about is a literature book or a movie. Most students are usually asked to prepare a critique for a movie because, in the modern world, this is one of the trending entertainment resources that most people are fond of watching. Movies are influential to many people, and utilized to pass their information to the audience.

To come up with great content for your movie or book analysis, you have to:

– Watch a movie and note down the main points in the episodes. If it is a book, you have to reread it and get all the themes found in the story before you can start complementing on it.

– After reading/watching the piece, the next step is evaluating the story and figuring out the needs of the paper. You have to get back to the instructions given by your examiner. You may be asked to react to a specific part of the story, and you have to center your opinions to that section, so the instructions of the examiner are very key because your paper must reflect the question.

If you are asked to write on a specific part, then you will need to quote a sentence or theme of that region and relate it to the purpose of the author. There are two types of reactions you might be asked to write by your teacher.

First, you may be asked to give personal opinions concerning a certain theme in a book. In this case, the opinions that you give should be centered on your personal experience and the knowledge you have on the topic.

The second option is that you might be asked to write about the opinion of the author for the literature resource allocated. In this case, you will have to major your points on what the author was thinking concerning the idea and not your own opinions. You are restricted to talk about the theme depending on how it is brought up in the book.

After understanding the essence of the question, you have to reread the book and note the information that would be useful for your content. It is good to repeat this several times so that you can have all the story at your fingertips and it would help you to avoid writing the ideas that are not evident in the source given.

Writing a reaction paper is mainly based on how you feel or think about something. After reading through the paper, you should annotate the text so that you do not miss any essential information.

Explain the personal opinion about the piece and illustrate using evidence from credible sources. In your explanation, be certain to include examples to act as a backup to your statement.

The following statements could be used in a reaction/response paper. Complete as many statements as possible, from the list below, about what you just read.

My Reaction to What I Just Read Is That . . .

I think that

I see that

I feel that

It seems that

In my opinion,


A good quote is

In addition,

For example,





In conclusion,

What you’ve done in completing these statements is written a very rough reaction/response paper. Now it needs to be organized. Move ahead to the next section.

A reaction/response paper has an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.

  • The introduction should contain all the basic information in one or two paragraphs.
    Sentence 1: This sentence should give the title, author, and publication you read.

    Sentence 2, 3, and sometimes 4:

    These sentences give a brief summary of what you read (nutshell)
    Sentence 5: This sentence is your thesis statement. You agree, disagree, identify, or evaluate.

  • Your introduction should include a concise, one sentence, focused thesis. This is the focused statement of your reaction/response. More information on thesis statements is available.
  • The body should contain paragraphs that provide support for your thesis. Each paragraph should contain one idea. Topic sentences should support the thesis, and the final sentence of each paragraph should lead into the next paragraph.
    Topic Sentence
    detail — example —quotation —detail — example — quotation — detail — example — quotation — detail — example —quotation
    Summary Sentence

    You can structure your paragraphs in two ways:


  • The conclusion can be a restatement of what you said in your paper. It also be a comment which focuses your overall reaction. Finally, it can be a prediction of the effects of what you’re reacting to. Note: your conclusion should include no new information.

    More information on strategies for writing conclusions is available.

Understand the purpose of a reaction paper.

Reaction or response papers are assigned so that after reading a text, you will think carefully about what you feel or think about the text.


When you write a response paper, you need to evaluate the text’s strengths and weaknesses, along with if and how well the text accomplishes its objective. A reaction paper is not just a paper where you express your opinion. These papers require a close reading of the text that goes beyond the surface meaning. You must respond to implied ideas, and elaborate, evaluate, and analyze the author’s purpose and main points. In many cases, you can use the first-person «I» while writing reaction papers.


  • When you respond to the text, back up your ideas with evidence from the text along with your own connection of ideas, texts, and overarching concepts. If you are asked to agree or disagree, you have to provide convincing evidence about why you feel this way.[3]
  • If responding to multiple texts, you must analyze how the texts relate. If responding to one text, you probably should connect the text to overarching concepts and themes you have discussed in the class.
  • The same assignment may also be given to films, lectures, field trips, labs, or even class discussions.[4]
  • A reaction paper is not a summary of the text. It also does not state, «I liked this book because it was interesting» or «I hated this because it was boring.»[5]

How to Write a Reaction Paper in APA Format

Writing a reaction paper, as any other academic assignment, should follow a common structure. If you are not sure what guidelines to follow, you can always ask your professor. If not, just familiarize yourself with a widely accepted structure, presented below:

  • Introduction;
  • Body paragraphs;
  • Conclusions;
  • List of references.

You should always start your reaction paper with an introduction. It consists of the summary and the main questions you are going to discuss along the way. A perfect size of this section is three to four sentences.

Don’t forget to provide all details about the author, title and main characters. Your introductory section should end with a thesis statement, which provides the main goal of the work and needs to be supported in your body paragraphs.

Body paragraphs should contain your reaction on the material, whether it is a book, a movie or a TV show. You should not only explain your reaction but also back it with quotes from the sources. Analyze them and avoid being too subjective.

In addition, you can write several paragraphs with other reactions. You can use such phrases as ‘I think’, ‘I believe’ and so on.

Your conclusions should support a thesis statement and express your predictions for the future. It may include influence of the book or movie on the sphere, your class or target audience.


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Now you know how to write reaction paper and can describe any piece of literature or cinematography without any stress and worries, even if the deadline is approaching!

If you follow the steps below on how to write a reaction paper you will be able to complete your writing task with little or no dismay. This guide will touch on all aspects including how to write an introduction for a reaction paper.

Before you begin you need a topic that focuses on your reading of the text. If your teacher has not given one some of these may be interesting depending on your text.

A recreation paper related to childcare and family issues:

  • Parental negligence reflection forms causes for child obesity
  • Hyperactive children: role of environment and biological factors
  • Ethical, religious and legal aspects of LGBT adoption

A recreation paper related to mental health and behavior:

  • Causes and consequences of shyness of adults
  • Signs of emotional abuse
  • Effects of the brands and designer babies in modern society
  • Habits: how they are being formed and whether can be changed
  • Attractiveness and the changed perceptions

A recreation paper related to crime and society life:

  • Crimes in communities. Victims. The impact on people’s life
  • Solitary confinement: emotional effects within it

Choosing a topic that focuses on your reaction also will help you to write an introduction and thesis.

When you must write a reaction paper in your science classes, like psychology, your professor may want it in APA style, which in literature usually stands for the American Psychological Association. If this is the case, there are specific guidelines that you must follow to develop an APA reaction paper.

Some of the basics of a reaction paper in APA format are:

  • Title Page: Each title page must have a running head at the very top. On the first page the words “Running head” should proceed with the title, and on other pages, the running head will just have the title.
  • Abstract: You will then develop a small abstract summer of what the paperwork is about. This is right after your first page.
  • The Main Body: This is where the actual essay goes unless it is a lab report, then you must include an introduction, results, methods, and discussions.
  • References: Each source used in your paper must be listed on your resources page. Do not bold the word reference and center it on its own page. All References should also be in alphabetical order and the first line of each reference will be flush left.
  • References not only are on the reference page but cited in-text. This includes any tables, pictures, etc. If it is in your paper it must be on your reference page in APA style.

The layout of an APA paper may be daunting when you first write one, but if you start by breaking it down into smaller steps it will be easier and with the time you`ll get handy with creating good papers.

Sites that teach how to write a reaction paper in APA style are available, and if you need professional writers to help you with your college assignments, they are eager to face you in the right direction on developing your APA style paper together with any outline for reaction paper.

Look for those sites that offer examples that include an introduction, body of paragraphs with supporting evidence for a thesis that is effective and lead to a proven conclusion with reaction paper outline format.

Formatting gives every student a chance to create an outstanding paper, using previous experience and a clear plan of actions. With the help of such an outline, you will be able to see how the paper will look like and will be able to go from one paragraph to another smoothly.

A reaction paper consists of four main parts:

  1. Introduction;
  2. Body;
  3. Conclusions;
  4. List of citations and sources.
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This is only a sample, to get your own paper you need to:

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Introduction section is the face of your paper, so you need to pay extra attention to this part to gain interest of the reader. Here you should describe the author and the paper you are analyzing, the main ideas and problems you are going to discuss.

You should write at least three-four sentences about the original text and close the introduction section with your thesis, which will be discussed later in the paper. Make sure your statement is brief and straight to the point, because you will need to get back to it over and over again throughout your paper.

The second part of the paper is where the real work begins. You need to write down your thoughts on the main ideas of the paper, backed with appropriate quotes and sources. Remember to stick to the original article and always get back to it, while providing your personal thoughts.

Conclusions should be brief and contain information on your thesis and main ideas, which were shaped throughout the work. You can also refer to the target audience and the impact these conclusions may have on the society.

Writing a reaction paper can be a real challenge, but at the same time it will help you to improve your analytical skills and share your opinion with the world!


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In summary, this handout has covered prewriting and organizing strategies for reaction/response papers.

  • Prewriting
    • Read the article and jot down ideas.
    • How do you feel about what was said?
    • Do you agree or disagree with the author?
    • Have you had any applicable experience?
    • Have you read or heard anything that applies to this what the writer said in the article or book?
    • Does the evidence in the article support the statements the writer made?
  • Organizing
    • Write the thesis statement first.
    • Decide on the key points that will focus your ideas. These will be your topic sentences.
    • Develop your ideas by adding examples, quotations, and details to your paragraphs.
    • Make sure the last sentence of each paragraph leads into the next paragraph.
    • Check your thesis and make sure the topic sentence of each paragraph supports it.

The Summary

The first thing that you must do is summarize the text by writing the reaction paper outline format (or you can call it a sample). Developing your outline for the reaction paper will help keep you focused and your thoughts in order.

When you are finished reading your text, go back, and develop a summary based on these highlighted crumb trails you have created along the way. Include in your summary the following:

  • The author and title (publisher and publication date)
  • If you have been assigned a film or video podcast, you must include the maker of the film. Some movies have subtitles so that you can quote sections.
  • Quotations that you will want to use in the assignment including pg. number
  • Facts in objective-based detail of the work. You will get a chance to react later
  • Key ideas and points and what content supports them
  • Don’t get too informative in this summary, just the facts, keep it condensed
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