What is a Reaction Paper?

Last updated on January 19th, 2018 at 12:42 pm

Reaction paper

Reaction or response paper is an essay in which you develop your point of view and explain your feelings on something you’ve read. Usually I would be a book or an article. Though, you can be given an assignment to write a response essay on the film or video as well.

Reaction paper is a common assignment as it aims to initiate:

– careful and thoughtful reading;
– some valuable research;
– attentive writing.
It also requires that students:

– analyze the chosen or given text;
– develop own arguments for or/and against the opinion of the author;
– support the response with the real-life examples.

If you don’t know how to start a reaction paper, here are the most important things that you should know. Start with reading or viewing the piece of content that you’ve chosen or was given. May be you will need to read or view it several times before starting writing a paper itself.


While reading or viewing what you are asked to make a response to, take into consideration the following issues:

  1. Concentrate on what you feel while reading or viewing that piece of content.
  2. Make a note about each argument presented by the author: if you agree or disagree.
  3. Imagine yourself in the same situation. Think what your decisions and reactions would be in the similar circumstances.
  4. Develop the possible ways of evaluation of that story. Try to consider it from the different angles.

All that will help you to understand how to write a reaction paper as well as to distinguish the most important issues to concentrate on.

What the reaction paper format would be like


First of all, it is a nice idea to make a reaction paper outline. It will keep you concentrated on the most important issues during your response, analysis and research. Also, unlike in the other types of papers, in a good reaction paper example you can find the following phrases which you may use as much as you require:
– My attitude to what I have read is….
– I believe/think/feel that…
– I agree/disagree with the author that…
– My personal opinion on this point is… and so on…

As any essay, reaction paper should consist of introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion.

In one or two paragraphs of the introduction you need to:

  1. Write the first sentence with the details about the piece of content that you examine (such as title of the book or article, its author(s) and year of publication).
  2. Provide a brief summary of what you have read in that piece of content in the next two or three sentences.
  3. Conclude with the thesis statement where you agree or disagree with the opinion of the author(s). You can also choose to make identifying or evaluating thesis statement. In any case it should be concise and focused.

Each body paragraph should concentrate on one idea or argument. The basic structure of your paragraphs would be based either on your agreement or disagreement with the point of view of the author(s). You can consider the following structure of the body paragraphs for you reaction paper:

  1. Start with the topic sentence which supports the thesis statement.
  2. Provide necessary details about your point or argument.
  3. Give an example that corresponds to that issue. Speak about something that you are familiar with, that was discussed during the lectures, case from the textbook, etc. You need to be sure that your example clearly supports the argument.
  4. Put a quotation when it is necessary.
  5. Finish with a summary sentence which would be at the same time a good transition for the next paragraph.

Your conclusion should not include any new information, but rather:
– restate your thesis statement and the major arguments that you were speaking about;
– focus on your overall reaction after reading that book or article (or viewing the film);
– predict the effects and consequences of what you react on.

To summarize, your reaction paper will be divided into 2 main activities – prewriting and organizing. If you want to understand how to write a reaction paper to an article or a video, during prewriting keep in mind the following tips:
– Write down the ideas that appear already during reading of the book/article or viewing of the video;
– Think if you have ever had the similar experience or imagine from where you can get a nice examples of the similar situations;
– Evaluate if the authors support their main arguments with proper evidence.

If you want to get to know how to write a reaction paper to a book or film, during organizing of your paper consider the following:
– The thesis statement should be written first of all, but later you put in as a final sentence of an introduction;
– Try to focus your ideas on the key points and make the topic sentences out of them;
– Develop your ideas thoughtfully and with proper evidence in the body paragraphs;
– Make the proper transitions between the paragraphs;
– Check if each topic sentence supports your thesis statement.

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