Important tips on how to start a reaction paper

Important tips on how to start a reaction paper

A reaction or response paper is not your usual essay assignment. Unlike most academic papers that require you to delve into research, a reaction paper demands that you read, analyze and develop a commentary on a particular text. It is such a common assignment in colleges and universities that you cannot think of evading the task, during which you will have to read thoughtfully, conduct a meticulous research and write a masterpiece to earn reasonable grade. For this to happen, you need hints on how to start a reaction paper. This will place you into a good position to develop your ideas logically and present a flawless paper.

In this handout, you will learn about the following areas:

  • Starting a reaction paper in an appealing way
  • What to do before you start your reaction paper
  • Mistakes to avoid when working on your reaction paper

This is a must-have toolkit, just for you. Take your time, relax and go over these great ideas. It could be what you need to turnaround your essay writing. Are you ready for this fact-finding journey about reaction papers? Let us go…

College Tips: How to start a reaction paper and grab everyone’s attention

Starting your paper can be a challenging task. This is because you do not know the impact of your initial statements. Again, you do not want to repel your audience with the first sentence on the blank paper. The dilemma can become more complex if you are working on a reaction paper, which requires you to reflect on what you have read, seen, or heard.

Reaction papers demand that you master the issues in the text, the style the author uses, the author’s weak and strong points among other aspects. While it is more of a personal opinion, you must remain objective in your analysis and judgment.

Before you think of how to start a reaction paper, your focus should turn to the text. Give it your best. Here are some guiding questions even as you master the text before you embark on writing:

Key Questions to ask before you start writing a reaction paper

  1. What is your feeling about the text you are reading?
  2. What aspects of the text do you agree or differ with?
  • Do you identify with the issue the author is addressing?
  1. How do you achieve an excellent evaluation of the story?

Keep the responses to these fundamental questions in mind as you work on you write your paper and all the previous hurdles you have experienced will be history.

Prewriting Stage: How to start a reaction paper with oomph

Prewriting stage is perhaps one of the key stages of having a great reaction paper. If you prepare well for your writing assignment, you will write the paper with ease, submit it in time and save a lot of time to have fun. After all, who doesn’t want free time?

The following ideas will help you lay a proper foundation for your paper:

IDEA1: Understand the meaning of a reaction paper – Most students score dismally in reaction paper writing because of lack of understanding.  A reaction paper is not a summary of a text. A reaction paper is not an opinion piece you send to a local daily. When writing a response paper, read the text carefully and evaluate the author’s success in passing across the message.

IDEA 2: Understand your assignment – The secret of excelling in writing essay is following instructions. Before you figure out how to start a reaction paper, ensure that you are aware of what your tutor wants from you. Remember that reaction papers differ. In addition, teachers give varying instructions to guide you as you work on your paper. Do not assume anything.

Some professors want you to give a personal response while others focus on a detailed evaluation of the work. Seek clarification in case anything in unclear to you.

IDEA 3: Read and reread the text – The basis of writing a good reaction paper is reading the text as many times as you want to understand what the author is saying. Unlike an ordinary essay, a reaction paper requires you to digest the content of the paper.

Give yourself enough time. Avoid the rush of start to write when you do not have a mastery of key issues in the text. To achieve this, avoid the last minute where students read and analyze a text in a single sitting; plan for your assignment.

IDEA 4: Put down your initial thoughts on the text – As you read, have a pen and paper to capture your initial feelings about the work. You will need these reactions when you begin piecing together your ideas. Try completing the following statements once you are through with your first reading. In my opinion…, I think that…, It seems that…, I see that…, I feel that…

IDEA 5: Annotate as you read – Remember to capture your thoughts in the text. You want to save time when writing. So, identify parts within the text, which spar a reaction in you. It will be impossible to develop a cohesive reaction paper in the absence of proper annotation.

With the above ideas, let us now look at a step-by-step approach of how to start a reaction paper. The procedure is brief and clear, with nothing to worry about. Take a look…

Only Three Steps to follow when starting a reaction paper

Is it hard to put down what you have seen or heard? With this document, reaction paper writing has never been this easy. Since everyone can write down their opinion, the steps in this section create a difference between professionalism and amateur response paper writing.

The beginning of your reaction paper sets the pace for the rest of your work. It is what will make your teacher read the entire essay. It is what will make you standout from a stark of hundreds of students. Let us see what you need to do…

When starting your reaction paper, do the following:

STEP 1: Introduce the event – Your first sentence of the reaction paper should capture the event in the text. Give background information about the event, including the name, time and place of the event.

The purpose of having this basic information is to orient your readers. Always remember that though we have intelligent writers, we have uninformed audience. At the end of the day, you can only master how to start a reaction paper if you know the needs of your readers.

STEP 2: Write something about the event – At this point, you have a lot to write. Do not be in a hurry to spill everything in your first paragraph. If you commit this writing crime, the reader will see no need of moving to subsequent sections of your paper.

Briefly write what you think is relevant to your readers. For example if it is a reaction, you may bring out its impact.

STEP 3: Explain the content of your paper – Readers are always anxious to know the outline of your paper. Wet their appetite by pinpointing key elements that form the basis of your reaction. Tell the reader the layout of your paper, to prepare their mind for the flesh of your response. Do not leave them to wander through your paper aimlessly.

These tips should help you understand how to start a reaction paper with a lot of ease. Let us look at an example and see how to apply these hints practically.

Example: Starting Reaction Paper

In the following example, the writer is reacting to Man’s Search for Meaning. Here is an excerpt of the paper’s introduction:

“Viktor E. Frankl narrates a personal story in Man’s Search for Meaning, detailing his experiences as in inmate in a concentration during the dreaded Holocaust. Through his essay-like story, the author gives an analysis of his argument as a medical practitioner and psychologist as well as a former detainee. This paper will analyze Frankl’s story and his core argument plus his writing style, bringing out any weaknesses in his account.”


In the example, the writer starts his reaction paper by identifying the text in question. This comes in the first sentence. He also gives the context of the text, the person behind the story and circumstances under which the events happened. In the closing remarks of the intro, the writer gives a roadmap of the essay.

You have all the principles of how to start a reaction paper. What remains is putting every bit of this guide into action. Let us know it goes.

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