Hands holding a pen and a magnifying glass over a science book João Silas

Analysis Exercise

Like the reading and writing processes, the process of analysis is recursive. You'll likely find yourself coming back to steps you thought you'd completed, or revisiting old ideas after you notice something new. As you go through the steps of the exercise below, feel free to go back to an earlier step as you get new ideas or see things differently.


  1. Paraphrase the section or essay you're analyzing
  2. Identify any claims or arguments and translate them into your own words. Your paraphrase should be fair and charitable; that is, if the author read your paraphrase, they would agree with everything you say.

  3. Examine and describe the essay or section
  4. Consider the following steps and questions:

  5. Turn your observations into questions
  6. Draft a list of questions about the relationships between different things you've observed. Aim for how, why and so what questions:

  7. Make a claim
  8. Use the details you noted in step 2 to answer a question from step 3. Your claim should advance a position about how the essay or section works and why understanding the text is interesting or important.