How to Write a Book Report at College Level to Get You High Scores

Getting lost in the literary works of a great author is a truly gratifying experience. Hours could go by without a second thought because of how engrossed you are in their fictional world. This joy quickly dissipates at the prospect of having to write a report about it. It takes the fun out of the whole process, especially if you don’t know how to write a book report for the college-level.

The ability to analyze and critique a book is an acquired skill that takes years to hone. While there may not necessarily be a universal guide to writing a book report, there are specific requirements you need to learn.

Book report vs. book review: Are they the same thing?

Imagine writing a paper on a volume you’ve worked hard to read and understand. You're confident that you submitted a sterling paper that captured everything that was in the book. A few weeks go by, and you get back your graded paper. You're floored at the sight of a "D" and you have to double-check that it's not someone else's paper you're holding. When you enquire from your professor, he applauds your efforts but tells you that he asked for a book report and you handed in a review instead. You’re confused. What's the difference? 

Well, a book review requires a lengthy in-depth analysis. A book report, on the other hand, incorporates a much simpler structure. All you need to do is give an overview of the topical details and explore the general plot of the story. It also gives background information on the author and then proceeds to summarize all relevant information contained in your book. With that said, here's how to write a college-level book report.

Read the book

It might be tempting to skip this part, but it's fundamental to the entire process. If you think that reading the “Spark” notes on it or watching a movie based on your book will cut it, you’re sadly mistaken. You need to read the book and understand what the author’s goal is. Identify the main theme, follow the character development, and grasp the plot of the book.

Write a captivating introduction

Your book report introduction needs a paragraph that explains the title and author of the book you’re writing a report on. Include two to three sentences that give a brief overview of what your report will be exploring. While it is not necessary to write a thesis statement, it will go a long way in preventing you from straying off-topic by keeping your work focussed.

Add meat to your report

The main body of your report will consist of paragraphs. These will essentially be expanding any ideas you brought up in the overview. It needs to have the following subsections:


When you receive a book report assignment, your professor expects to see a summary of your book. Keep it short and straightforward. As a general rule of thumb is summaries should be no more than a third of your paper.


This section should explore the theme in depth. Discuss the author's motivation behind writing it. Keep referring to the instructions outlined so that you know exactly what you need to be analyzing. This is the number one reason why most students fail in their book reports. Don't be afraid to express what your interpretation of it was. Use direct quotations to support your arguments.


The concluding section needs to express your honest feelings about the book. Did you love it or hate it? If you loved it, what did you love about it? If you didn’t like it, what made you feel that way? Also, critique the author’s effectiveness in getting their point across. Finally, state whether or not you would recommend it to others.

Final revision

Before you hand in your final report, you must revise it to ensure that it is error-free and to check if you need to reword certain parts. Once you're through, take a couple of hours away from it and return later to review it with a fresh set of eyes. You'll catch mistakes that you otherwise would have missed. It helps to ask someone else to review it and get their honest feedback.

The bottom line

Learning how to write a book report is a gift that keeps on giving. It equips you with lifelong skills that enrich your reading experience. You'll be able to read literary and journalistic works and master the curiosity to decipher what the author's intent was.

However, if you’re still having a hard time, let our team of accomplished writers do that for you. Reach out to us today to get started.