Review Essay Ideas

Wait. Don’t tell me. You have to write an evaluation essay, don’t you? I bet you’re stumped for ideas, right?

No, I’m not psychic; it was just an educated guess. I thought you might be looking for topic ideas since you found your way to a blog post about evaluation essay topics.

I’ll make another educated guess and say your professor wants you to write about a unique subject, right? Are you thinking this is almost an impossible task?

It’s not. Before you panic and decide there’s nothing original left to write, take a deep breath and finish reading this post, as I’ve included 20 evaluation essay topics to spark your next paper.

Choosing an Evaluation Essay Topic

Writing an evaluation essay is a bit like writing a review: you need to describe both positive and negative aspects of your subject. An evaluation essay, however, is more specific than a review.

An evaluation essay requires you to develop and discuss specific criteria in order to properly evaluate the subject. (For more help with evaluation essays, read What Is an Evaluation Essay and Why Should You Care? and How to Use Critical Thinking in Your Essay and Write Smarter.)

When it comes to writing evaluation essays, some ideas are pretty standard, such as food, movies, places, and events. That’s not to say that you can’t write about these topics. You simply need to find a unique perspective.

How do you know which subject to choose?

Here are a few basic guidelines:

Pick a topic you know something about

Let’s say you decide to evaluate a restaurant. Don’t choose a trendy new French restaurant if you have no idea what French cuisine should taste like. Stick to something you know, whether it’s pizza and burgers, Indian food, or Mexican food.

Pick a topic you can revisit

Don’t evaluate a concert you went to a few years ago. You won’t remember all the details. Instead, pick a much more recent concert or pick a show you can see several times in order to evaluate it.

Pick a topic you care about

If you just watched a movie, and your initial reaction was “Eh, it’s ok” this is not the movie to choose as the subject of your evaluation essay. If you don’t care about the movie, you don’t care enough to write about it.

If you walked out of the theater saying “That was the worst movie I’ve ever seen,” you should seriously consider using the movie as the subject of your evaluation. Because you had such a strong reaction to the movie, you’ll have something to say in your evaluation.

Remember, an evaluation doesn’t have to always be positive. If you have strong feelings about a topic (either positive or negative), it’s likely a good candidate for an evaluation essay.

With these guidelines in mind, read these 20 evaluation essay topics to spark your next paper and pick a topic that sparks your interest!

20 Evaluation Essay Topics to Spark Your Next Paper

Don’t sit around waiting for a bolt of lightning to spark your interest. Use these topics to help you find the perfect idea.

5 Evaluation Essay Topics about Food

  1. A dining option on campus: Think about the variety of foods offered, the cost, and of course, the taste. You might consider how one dining establishment compares to a similar restaurant on campus.
  1. A local hangout: Perhaps the food is only part of the appeal to your favorite local hangout. You might also evaluate the atmosphere and who spends time there.
  1. Chinese takeout: Decide what it is you like or don’t like about the service, such as the speed of the delivery and whether or not the employees are friendly. Of course, taste, variety of menu items, and cost will likely be a part of your evaluation, too.
  1. A frozen meal: Value, appearance, and taste are certainly points to consider when evaluating any frozen food. Whether or not the meal is actually edible might be the biggest concern!
  1. A local deli: Consider the variety of lunch options offered, the quality of the food, and the size of the portions. Sometimes a cheap but mediocre sandwich that’s big enough to feed you and two friends (or you and one really hungry friend) beats a more expensive and better tasting meal.

5 Evaluation Essay Topics about Television and Movies

  1. A historical film: It’s common to review a film based on acting, directing, and storyline, but try a more original approach and evaluate a film on its historical accuracy and how it affects the film’s quality and viewers’ appreciation of the film. Does it matter if a battle scene is not historically accurate if it’s a riveting scene, or does it completely ruin the film?
  1. A recent movie remake: Of course you’ll have to watch both versions of the movie, but use this opportunity to evaluate whether or not the remake does justice to the original. Consider if the remake makes sweeping changes to the plot or updates the content in some way. Evaluate how this affects the movie.
  1. Popular music of another generation: Most of us listen to current popular music, but how does music from another era compare? Evaluate music from the 1980s (think big hair and heavy metal), the 1970s (disco anyone?), or even the 1960s (Beatlemania and protest songs) Consider the sounds, lyrics, and political commentary, and evaluate the music’s popularity and appeal.
  1. A reality TV show: The airwaves are full of reality TV, so pick one of your favorites (or one you can’t stand) and pay close attention to the production value and the actual realism of the show. How much of those shows is actual reality, and how much is clever production?
  1. A local news broadcast: Think about the quality of the programming and how it compares to national newscasts. Does the local broadcast have continued problems with cameras and microphones, or is the talent good enough to make it to the national market?

5 Evaluation Essay Topics about Technology

  1. Evaluate the latest smartphone or tablet: Consider the available features, cost, and how user-friendly it is.. Can your grandmother or your five-year-old brother figure out how to use it?
  1. A new or unique app: Perhaps you’re a fitness nut and want to evaluate the usefulness of a new fitness app. Maybe you’d like to evaluate the negative aspects of a health app that is simply a waste of your hard-earned money. Can you find a free app that’s more effective?
  1. A new gaming device: Does the new version blow the previous version away with its updated graphics? Are the supposed changes in the new system so small that it’s hardly worth spending any money on the device?
  1. Digital textbooks: Choose a digital textbook you’re using for a class and evaluate its effectiveness. You might focus on content, design and added features (such as links, videos, and interactive elements). You might also include the text’s cost as part of your evaluation. Are textbooks ever worth the cost?
  1. A website: Think about what it takes to make a good website. Color schemes, fonts sizes, and layout all affect usability. How easy it is to find information? If you can’t navigate the pages, and you find a number of broken links, it’s pretty easy to give the website a negative evaluation.

5 Evaluation Essay Topics about People

  1. Online relationships: Online-only relationships are very different from traditional, face-to-face relationships. Evaluate the quality of online relationships. Consider what role they play in people’s lives and how they compare to traditional relationships.
  1. A street performer: Does the performer have an original act that continually draws a large crowd? Consider the performer’s act, his or her talent, and the overall performance. What does the amount of tips the performer earns say about his or her talents and abilities?
  1. A coach: Evaluating wins and losses is a good place to start, but consider the coach’s demeanor and relationship with players, too. If most of the players don’t like the coach, yet the team wins games and championships, does this mean he or she is a good coach?
  1. A professor: I’m sure you have lots to say about your professors, so here’s your chance to evaluate one of them. Consider a professor’s effectiveness as a teacher, whether he or she is a difficult grader, and how much students enjoy the professor’s courses.
  1. A local politician: Think about the politician’s actions and how much he or she has actually accomplished while in office. Has he or she kept those campaign promises?

Decision Time

mattwi1s0n (flckr.com)

With all these great topics, I’m almost certain you’ve found one to spark your interest, so it’s time to make a decision and run with it.

One last piece of advice: Remember to keep a pen and paper (or tablet) handy to take notes about your subject! You don’t want to forget any important details!

Need some additional advice on choosing evaluation essay topics? Read this quick overview and this short article.

When you’re finished writing, make sure to have one of our Kibin editors evaluate and review your paper!

Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.

Get help writing your college application essays. Find this year's Common App writing prompts and popular essay questions used by individual colleges.

The college essay is your opportunity to show admissions officers who you are apart from your grades and test scores (and to distinguish yourself from the rest of a very talented applicant pool).

2018-19 Common App Essays

Nearly 700 colleges accept the The Common Application, which makes it easy to apply to multiple schools with just one form. If you are using the Common App to apply for college admission in 2017, you will have 250–650 words to respond to ONE of the following prompts:

  1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter  can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure.  How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  4. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma—anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
  5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

Tackling the Common App Essay Prompts

Prompt #1: Share your story.

Answer this prompt by reflecting on a hobby, facet of your personality, or experience that is genuinely meaningful and unique to you. Admissions officers want to feel connected to you and an honest, personal statement about who you are draws them in. Your love of superheroes, baking chops, or family history are all fair game if you can tie it back to who you are or what you believe in. Avoid a rehash of the accomplishments on your high school resume and choose something that the admissions committee will not discover when reading the rest of your application.

Prompt #2: Learning from obstacles.

You're trying to show colleges your best self, so it might seem counterintuitive to willingly acknowledge a time you struggled. But overcoming challenges demonstrates courage, grit, and perseverance! That’s why the last piece of this prompt is essential. The obstacle you write about can be large or small, but you must show the admissions committee how your perspective changed as a result.

Prompt #3: Challenging a belief.

Your answer to this question could focus on a time you stood up to others or an experience when your own preconceived view was challenged. Choose this prompt if you have a relevant—and specific!—experience to recount (and reflect on). A vague essay about a hot button issue doesn’t tell the admissions committee anything useful about YOU.

Prompt #4: Solving a problem.

This essay is designed to get at the heart of how you think and what makes you tick. Present a situation or quandary and show steps toward the solution. Admissions officers want insight into your thought process and the issues you grapple with, so explain how you became aware of the dilemma and how you tackled solving it. Don’t forget to explain why the problem is important to you!

Prompt #5: Personal growth.

Just like Prompt #2, the accomplishment or event you write about can be anything from a major milestone to a smaller "aha" moment. Describe the event or ccomplishment that shaped you but take care to also show what you learned or how you changed. Colleges are looking for a sense of maturity and introspection—pinpoint the transformation and demonstrate your personal growth. 

Prompt #6: What captivates you?

This prompt is an invitation to write about something you care about. (So avoid the pitfall of writing about what you think will impress the admission office versus what truly matters to you). Colleges are looking for curious students, who are thoughtful about the world around them. The "what or who do you turn to when you want to learn more” bit isn't an afterthought—it's a key piece of the prompt. Make sure you explain how you pursue your interest, as well.

Prompt #7: Topic of your choice.

This question might be for you if you have a dynamo personal essay from English class to share or were really inspired by a question from another college’s application. You can even write your own question! Whatever topic you land on, the essentials of a standout college essay still stand: 1.) Show the admissions committee who you are beyond grades and test scores  and 2.) Dig into your topic by asking yourself how and why. There isn’t a prompt to guide you, so you must ask yourself the questions that will get at the heart of the story you want to tell.

More College Essay Topics

Individual schools sometimes require supplemental essays. Here are a few popular application essay topics and some tips for how to approach them:

Describe a person you admire.

Avoid the urge to pen an ode to a beloved figure like Gandhi or Abraham Lincoln. The admissions committee doesn't need to be convinced they are influential people. Focus on yourself: Choose someone who has actually caused you to change your behavior or your worldview, and write about how this person influenced you .

Why do you want to attend this school?

Be honest and specific when you respond to this question. Avoid generalities like "to get a good liberal arts education” or “to develop career skills," and use details that show your interests: "I'm an aspiring doctor and your science department has a terrific reputation." Colleges are more likely to admit students who can articulate specific reasons why the school is a good fit for them beyond its reputation or ranking on any list. Use the college's website and literature to do your research about programs, professors, and other opportunities that appeal to you.

What is a book you love?

Your answer should not be a book report. Don't just summarize the plot; detail why you enjoyed this particular text and what it meant to you. What does your favorite book reveal about you? How do you identify with it, and how has it become personal to you?

Again, be honest in answering this question—don't choose a classic from your literature class or a piece of philosophy just because you think it will make you seem smarter. Writing fluently and passionately about a book close to you is always better than writing shakily or generally about a book that doesn't inspire you.

What is an extracurricular activity that has been meaningful to you?

Avoid slipping into clichés or generalities. Take this opportunity to really examine an experience that taught you something you didn't previously know about yourself, got you out of your comfort zone, or forced you to grow. Sometimes it's better to write about something that was hard for you because you learned something than it is to write about something that was easy for you because you think it sounds admirable. As with all essay questions, the most important thing is to tell a great story: how you discovered this activity, what drew you to it, and what it's shown you about yourself.


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