Practical Criticism Examples

Practical Criticism Writing HelpMy Writing Advice-Practical Criticism Examples


In my quest to continuously help you with writing advice, today I will walk you through the process of writing a practical criticism using a specific example so that you see the practical side of doing this exercise.

Gathering from the feedback visitors to this site have left, most students are very keen to learn the practical side of doing practical criticism properly. Bookmark this post
Practical Criticism Examples, for future reference. 


Writing a practical criticism seems to suggest that you need to channel all your energy into criticising a written piece of work. And to look out for all faults in a critical (negative) way. 


Many critics have a bad reputation as butchers who delight in ripping the work of others to pieces…Quote source: The Writers Bureau.

What exactly is practical criticism? 

I began to grasp the full concept of doing a practical criticism exercise after my English teacher revealed the secret to us. She walked us through the process step by step.  

I’ m also going to share with you the secret of what the process entails. To my surprise, the approach my teacher taught us turned out to be very simple and straightforward than I assumed.

Once you get a full grasp of how to apply the SIFT approach, you will do it effortlessly and get excellent results. Hopefully,
by the time you finish reading this post, you will know exactly how to critically analyse any piece of written work you are presented with, be it prose or a poem.

Let’s say you are given a poem or an extract of prose, for you to do a good practical criticism exercise, you must read it first. Read it with an understanding so that you are able to critically analyse the passage (even if you have come across the extract before in a book you have read, assume you have no any prior knowledge and you don’t know who the author is).

The purpose of doing practical criticism  

  1. To test students’ responsiveness to what they read.

  2. To test students’ knowledge of verse forms and technical language for describing and the effects they create.

  3. To objectively test the effects of literature on readers.

Common mistakes students make

Do you want to know where most students go wrong? When they are given an extract from a book which they have already read and already familiar with (in relation to the book theme, plot and storyline), there is a tendency for students to bring that background information into the practical criticism exercise. 

As a result, the student will critically analyse the extract while having this other information at the back of their mind like it is part of the extract.


How to do Practical Criticism correctly?

You are not supposed to source your ideas from the information outside the extract you are given. Treat the written piece of work as if you have come across it for the first time. And you don’t know any works the author might have written (outside the extract).

This means you must treat the extract as if you are reading it for the first time. 

Let’s Do The Exercise – Shall We! 

To demonstrate how you can write a practical criticism, read the article below I wrote to serve as a sample. 

So, for the purpose of this exercise let’s read first the article, Cheap Ticket Flights.


Poetry from Prose

It doesn’t mean you will only deal with articles. At times students get poems based on a descriptive passage they have chosen from a piece of literature they are reading. It depends on what piece of written work you are given to analyse.

SIFT approach for the Cheap Flights Article  

I will analyse the Cheap Flights article using the SIFT approach. SIFT is an acronym standing for.

(1) Sense
(2) Intention
(3) Feeling
(4) Tone 


SENSE – This is the summary of the extract. Begin your practical criticism process by writing the sense or summary of the passage you have just read.

For more information, check out the best way to write a summary 

The whole point of writing a summary is to test you if you have understood the passage. To prove your grasp of what you have read, you need to write the summary in your own words to show the vocabulary you have. Avoid reproducing the same words in the extract. 

Instead, use synonyms. Usually, you are given a specific number of words to target. After writing your summary, write the number of words you have used. 


How to Write Sense for Cheap Flights article – A Sample

The author is sharing her travel ordeals and how she finally bought a genuine flight ticket in the end, after  initially buying from a bogus website that posed as the official Ethiopian Airlines. This happened the time the author traveled abroad on an emergency trip without proper planning resulting in making hasty preparations. Finally, after a prolonged struggle, the author managed to get a genuine flight ticket with outsourced help. The author’s intention is to share lessons learned, that before you buy an air flight online you must cross check if the website is genuine (95 words). 

STEP 2 – INTENTION – A Sample for Cheap Flights

The intention is the author’s main message. What is the purpose of writing the extract, the message behind or poem? 

The author’s intention is to warn travellers of scam websites that are selling fake tickets. Also, the author wants to give advice through hints and tips. Also, to emphasize the importance of doing a thorough search to verify if an agent is genuine or fake before buying tickets online.

STEP 3 – FEELING- A Sample for Cheap Flights

Explain how the author uses words and how he describes things (level of skill shown) and how it makes you feel as a reader (the effect it has on you). 

  • Are you able to feel it from the vocabulary the author uses?

  • Does the author’s writing skills give you a vivid picture? Avoid making generalized statements.

Avoid making some general comments

For instance, The author writes very well in this passage.” You need to pinpoint exactly what makes you feel the writing is good.

FEELING – A Sample for Cheap Flights

The author seems disappointed with what she did. I get this from the words the author uses, ‘stupid mistake and common thinking mistakes.’

These words imply a sense of regret and disappointment. 

‘I know I did a stupid mistake by going ahead to purchase a ticket online without carrying out the necessary checks.’

‘And, ‘I don’t know if its one of the common thinking mistakes our brains to make every day.’

Here the author seems frustrated by what people do. They keep repeating the same mistakes. Instead of learning valuable lessons and take the necessary precautions to avoid similar pitfalls, ‘prevention is better than cure.’


What is the tone that comes across through the author’s quality of voice? Is the author expressing his feelings or thoughts towards the person being spoken to?


In the end, the author seems to have hope for the future.

‘Hopefully, by sharing this, many people who are planning to travel in the future will not make the same silly mistakes, as I did.

Here the author seems pleased with her actions. At least the author has done something to solve this problem by sharing her lived experiences. Other travellers will learn and avoid making the same mistake after reading the story.

To conclude, I have received a lot of feedback from my previous post: How To Write A Practical Criticism Of Prose. The general consensus was this site visitors would want to hear more on this subject. So, in response I have written, ‘Practical Criticism Examples.’

Further reading: Practical Criticism Examples.

Please feel free to leave any questions you may have about my Practical Criticism Examples post. I will be more than happy to respond as soon as I possibly can.

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6 Comments to “Practical Criticism Examples”

  1. Tendy says:

    Hello, Femia, thank you so much for writing an excellent example of how to do or write a practical criticism step by step.
    It makes a lot of sense doing the exercise after reading your post. I like the way you have explained it in a simple and easy language to grasp.
    I will bookmark your post and I am pleased I will no longer struggle with my school homework when it comes to doing a practical criticism

    1. Femia says:

      Hello, Tendy, many thanks for leaving some valuable feedback on my post ‘Practical Criticism Example.’
      I am glad I have brought the solution to your homework problem.
      All the best for your studies.

  2. Hillary says:

    Hello, Femia
    I resonate with almost everything you said about writing a practical criticism.
    I am also one of the students who dislike doing the exercise so much.
    However, I don’t think I will remain the same after reading this post which takes me to step by step showing how I can do a practical criticism.
    I find your blog so informative.
    I have already seen where I was getting it all wrong. For example, treating extracts I am given to critically analyze as if they were information I already knew having read it elsewhere.
    Now I know that I need to deal with any given extract without bringing in the knowledge I have read elsewhere. Instead, I should view the extract before me as completely new as if I haven’t read it before.
    Thanks a lot for making me realise my mistakes.

    1. Femia says:

      Hello, first of all, thank you so much for stopping by and leaving some very encouraging comments.
      I am pleased to hear that you gained a few things from my post, ‘Practical Criticism example’.
      Keep on doing practice on how to use the SIFT approach. You will see that you become better with more practice that you do. All the best!
      Once again, thanks for stopping by.

  3. Ade says:

    Hi, I’m having a great difficulty understanding these questions. I need to know what I am expected to do.

    Attempt a thorough critique of the selected excerpt of drama narrative using practical criticism with copious examples.

    In the second question, he said: attempt a thorough critique of any of the selected excerpt of the dramatic genre using practical criticism with copious examples.

    I don’t know what I’m meant to do.

    1. Femia says:

      Hello, thank you for reading my post, ‘Practical Criticism Examples.’

      I am glad you found the information helpful.

      From what I gather from your question you need to do a critique or a practical criticism of the excerpt you are given. To do this practical criticism exercise, you do it in steps.

      Step 1 – Summarise the excerpt using your own words. The summary gives a background context.

      Step 2 – Explain what the author’s intention is or the main message behind (theme).

      Step 3 -How does the author make you feel through his/her use of language, imagery, metaphors or examples?

      Step 4 – What tone comes across, is it a tone of joy, celebrations or sorrow.

      Copious meaning is abundant in supply or quantity. For example, ‘she took copious notes.’

      You are supposed to give many examples.

      Hopefully, this answers your question. Please let me know if there is still something you need to be clarified.

      Once again, many thanks for stopping by.

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