Critical review

You may be asked to write a ‘critical review’ of any type of text, such as a book, a journal article, or a chapter in a book. A critical review is often set to help you develop skills identifying an argument and judging its merits. You may be given specific criteria to use for reviewing the text, so do check your own assignment brief.

Scroll down for our recommended strategies and resources. 

Summary and evaluation

Most critical reviews will involve some summarising of the main argument of the text and some judgement about the quality and usefulness of the argument. The evaluation and judgement parts normally count for more marks. This guide gives you questions to help prompt both your summary and evaluation, plus an annotated example of a critical review:


Read the text carefully a number of times. Take notes on the author's argument and how well they have made this argument. Both of the guides below have useful questions to help structure your reading and your writing when doing a critical review. The first guide is suitable for most texts, and the second guide focuses on reviewing a journal article that presents primary research: 

Critical thinking

The basis of any critical review is being able to think critically about what you are reading. Have a look at our critical thinking page for more:

Book review / critical appraisal?

Confusingly, some names for assignments can overlap or be used to mean the same thing. You may have been asked to do a book review or a critical appraisal. While these often have similar approaches, there are some specific differences depending on your subject. Check with your lecturer if you aren’t sure what you are being asked to do.