Academic Evaluations

Overall Claim

An overall claim or judgment is an evaluator's final decision about worth. When we evaluate, we make a general statement about the worth of objects, goods, services, or solutions to problems.

An overall claim or judgment in an evaluation can be as simple as "See this movie!" or "Brand X is a better buy than the name brand." It can also be complex, particularly when the evaluator recognizes certain conditions that affect the judgment: If citizens of our community want to improve air and water quality and are willing to forego 300 additional jobs, then we should not approve the new plant Acme is hoping to build here.


An overall claim or judgment usually requires qualification so that it seems balanced. If judgments are weighted too much to one side, they will sometimes mar the credibility of your argument. If your overall judgment is wholly positive, your evaluation will wind up sounding like propaganda or advertisement. If it is wholly negative, you might present yourself as overly critical, unfair, or undiplomatic. An example of a qualified claim or judgment might be the following: Although La Cocina is not without its faults, it is the best Mexican restaurant in town.

Qualifications are almost always positive additions to evaluative arguments, but writers must learn not to overuse them. If you make too many qualifications, your audience will be unable to determine your final position on your subject, and you will appear to be "waffling."

Example Text

Creating more parking lots is a possible solution to the horrendous traffic congestion in Taiwan's major cities. When a new building permit is issued, each building must include a certain number of spaces for parking. However, new construction takes time, and results will be seen only as new buildings are erected. This solution alone is inadequate for most of Taiwan's problem areas, which need a solution whose results will be noticed immediately.


Notice how this sentence at the end of the paragraph seems to be a formal "thesis" or "claim" which might drive the rest of the essay. Based on this claim, we would assume that the remainder of the essay will deal with the reasons why the proposed policy along is "inadequate," and will address other possible solutions.

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