How to Write a Text Response Essay: Structure & Tips 

It is essential for you to know how to write a text response essay that demonstrates your ability to express their opinions and ideas concisely. In text response essays are also  a great skill for you to learn to take with you into the work force and to further develop at university. 

What is a text response essay?

A text response essay is a style of writing where you share your reaction to something. It’s an opportunity to share your opinion with the world! 

A text response essay is specifically a response to a book that you read, but it can also be a response to a film that you watched, or a video game you played.

In order to get an A in English when writing a response, it is important that your essay gets the following points across to your audience: How you feel about what you read/saw/heard, what you agree or disagree with, can you identify with/relate to the situation? And the best way to evaluate the story. 

How do you structure a Text Response Essay?

When writing a text response essay, you start by introducing the text you will be responding to. Then in your body paragraphs you want to tell your audience how you feel about the text you are responding to, if you agree with it or disagree, how you may or may not identify with the text and how you evaluate it. Then in the conclusion, you restate your main point and sum up the main points. 

How to Write a Text Response Introduction

To begin with, you will set up the context. This will include the type of text you are responding to (is it a book? A play? A collection of poetry?), basic historical context (time, subject matter). 

Next explicitly outline your opinion. This must be clearly addressed in all aspects of the topic you are given. It also needs to demonstrate that you can think independently and uniquely. Finally, briefly introduce the topics you will be covering in your body paragraphs. 

Overall, try to keep your introduction to 3 to 4 sentences to keep your introduction clear and to the point, so your audience doesn’t lose interest. 

How to Write a Text Response Body Paragraph

When writing the body of your text response essay you should include 3 to 5 paragraphs. This allows you to be able to discuss your topics and your text in as much detail as possible. When writing your body paragraphs, it could be helpful to remember the acronym ‘TEEL’

Topic Sentence – Each paragraph should begin with this sentence; it serves as an introduction to your argument. It should engage with the topic you’ve been asked to discuss

Expand/example – After you have introduced your main point, you are going to expand on this and provide examples from the text you are responding to. 

Evidence – At this point you will be using your text to support your examples, essentially to prove what you have interpreted from the text.

Linking Sentence – At the end of each of your body paragraphs you should be linking back to your central theme/topic of your essay. 

Here is an example of a text response body paragraph: 

Early in the novel, London makes reference to Norm White, the resident groundskeeper of The Golden Age Convalescent Home. [Topic Sentence] Norm White hands Frank Gold a cigarette, ‘as if to say a man has the right to smoke in peace’. Here, there is a complete disregard for rule and convention, an idea that London emphasises throughout the text. This feature provides a counter-cultural experience for Frank, pushing him to realise that he is a strong human being rather than a mere victim. [Expand/Example] This is a clear contrast to the “babyishness” of the home and is used as evidence of true humanity in an era where society judged upon the unconventional. Frank yearns for a traditional Australian life after his trauma in Hungary; ‘his own memory…lodged like an attic in the front part of his brain’. Hedwiga and Julia Marai’s caring of him pushed him towards fear and reluctance to trust, yet also pressured him to seek acceptance in a world that ostracises him for his Jewish heritage and polio diagnosis. This here is why Frank desires a mature, adult connection – love that regards him as an equal human being. Frank seeks Elsa’s love and company as she too loathes being reduced to a victim, an object of pity. Frank thereafter uses humour to joke of his wounds; ‘we Jews have to be on the lookout’. Elsa sees ‘a look in his eyes that she recognised’, thus their bond enables both characters to heal. [Evidence] London alludes that Frank requires love and recognition not from the perspective of a sorrowful onlooker, rather he longs to be recognised as a mature adult. [Linking Sentence] 

How to Write a Text Response Essay Conclusion

Your conclusion should be short and sweet! You just need to restate and summarise the points you made in your body paragraphs! Remember to not add any new information to your conclusion. Sometimes as you are summing everything up, you can come across another point that you really want to talk about – and that is amazing! If this happens to you, make a new body paragraph! And then you can talk about it in your conclusion. It can also sometimes be unavoidable for your conclusion to sound very similar to your introduction and be a bit repetitive – this is ok! Just be sure to use different words from what you used in your introduction. 

Text Response Essay Writing Tips

When writing text responses essays, you should:

  • Always write in the present tense. 
  • Express complex ideas in several short sentences instead of long, this is more likely to control the reader’s interest.
  • Express simple ideas in longer, complex sentences. 
  • Tie everything back to the question. When preparing to write the essay the question asked should be dissected and at the forefront of your mind. 
  • Do not be afraid to make bold statements! 
  • Remember to consider how you feel about what you saw/read/heard, and to ask yourself if you agree or disagree with it! 

If you find yourself stuck, our English Tutors are here to help! 

Want to Excel in Your Text Response Essay Writing?

Using resources that are available to you are your greatest ally when it comes to writing your text response essay! There are great resources online such as YouTube Videos explaining how to get started and blog posts.

You also have access to your teacher and peers! Do not be afraid to ask your teacher for help – you are not going to get in trouble or made fun of for not knowing where to start. In fact, your teacher would be very excited to help you! It is why they are there after all! You can also utilise your peers! Set up a small study group with your friends and classmates! You can also get yourself a private tutor if you feel like you could use some extra help.

Need a helping hand writing a text response essay? A Team Tuition is here to help. With our tried and true tutoring methods, we can help you write impressive essays with our at-home and online tutoring. Find a tutor near you today!