(Sample Provided for 2012 Composition Symposium)
Follow each stage of the writing process—brainstorming, outlining, drafting, and revising—to compose an evaluation essay in response to the following prompt: Pretend you are preparing to make an important purchase and need to evaluate your options before you buy. Examples of important purchases might include a new laptop, cell phone, tablet, vehicle, or the rental of an apartment. After you decide what your important purchase will be, you will conduct product research to narrow down your choices to the two best options. For your 3-5 page essay, you will compare and contrast your two options in order to make a decision about which one you will purchase.
Guidelines and Specifications:
- Your purpose for this evaluation essay is to compare and contrast the products in order to make a decision about which one is the best. You will first need to determine the most important qualities of the product. This will be the criteria on which you will base your decision. When you determine a list of criteria, select the 3-5 most important. The body of your essay will compare and contrast how each of your options measure up to your list of criteria.
- Your audience for this essay will be an imaginary committee that will award you with the product if you present a well-written, logical evaluation of your options. The imaginary committee is composed of wealthy philanthropists who would like to grant the wishes of a few well-deserving college students. In consideration of your audience, you should use a formal tone and first-person narration. You should not address the committee directly, but keep in mind that they represent an educated, professional audience.
- When deciding what type of product you want to evaluate for this project, come up with something you actually plan on purchasing in the future so that the project will actually be useful. The purchase doesn’t necessarily have to be something extremely expensive, but it does need to be something important to you. For example, the first time I assigned this essay I was pregnant with my daughter, so my example evaluation essay evaluates diaper bags. My criteria included size, weight, appearance, configuration of pockets, and cost because, for me, those were the most important qualities of a diaper bag.
- In order to narrow down your field of options, you will need to conduct some basic product research. The internet should provide you with all the information you need, but if you would like to visit a local store for a more hands-on approach, that may provide additional helpful information, but it is not required. So, for my product research, I searched the internet for diaper bags, and then when I found my two favorite, I printed all the product information for both of them in addition to any customer reviews I could locate.