As readers evaluate the content and elements of a text, the focus shifts from constructing meaning to critically considering the text itself. Readers engaged in this process step back from a text in order to evaluate and critique it.

The text content, or meaning, may be evaluated and critiqued from a personal perspective or with an objective view. This process may require readers to make a justified judgment, drawing on their interpretations and weighing their understanding of the text against their understanding of the world—rejecting, accepting, or remaining neutral to the text’s representation. For example, readers may counter or confirm claims made in the text or make comparisons with ideas and information found in other sources.

In evaluating and critiquing elements of text structure and language, readers draw upon their knowledge of language usage, presentational features, and general or genre-specific features of texts.104 The text is considered as a way to convey ideas, feelings, and information.

Readers may reflect on the author’s language choices and devices for conveying meaning and judge their adequacy. Relying on their understanding of language conventions, readers may find weaknesses in how the text was written or recognize the successful use of the author’s craft. Further, readers may evaluate the mode used to impart information—both visual and textual features—and explain their functions (e.g., text boxes, pictures, or tables). In evaluating the organization of a text, readers draw upon their knowledge of text genre and structure. The extent of past reading experience and familiarity with the language are essential to each piece of this process.

For an item to be classified as “Evaluate and Critique,” an acceptable response to that item involves a judgement about some aspect of the text. For example, the item stem can present more than one point view where it is possible for students to argue either point of view (or both) based on the text or the item stem can ask for a judgement and the evidence to support it.

Reading tasks that may exemplify this type of text processing include the following:

  • Judging the completeness or clarity of information in the text;
  • Evaluating the likelihood that the events described could really happen;
  • Evaluating how likely an author’s argument would be to change what people think and do;
  • Judging how well the title of the text reflects the main theme;
  • Describing the effect of language features, such as metaphors or tone;
  • Describing the effect of the graphic elements in the text or website;
  • Determining the point of view or bias of the text or website; and
  • Determining an author’s perspective on the central topic.

The skills required to evaluate and critique online texts are very similar to those required for printed text. However, because anyone can publish anything on the internet, readers also must make judgments about the credibility of the source of the information as well as determine the perspective, point of view, and bias in the text.105,106 In addition, the visual and textual features on the internet tend to be much more varied than similar elements of printed text.

Online reading tasks that may exemplify this type of text processing include the following:

  • Critiquing the ease of finding information on a website; and
  • Judging the credibility of the information on the website.