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How to Write an Essay in 40 minutes An introduction to the principles of timed writing in an AP context.

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Presentation on theme: "How to Write an Essay in 40 minutes An introduction to the principles of timed writing in an AP context."— Presentation transcript:

1 How to Write an Essay in 40 minutes An introduction to the principles of timed writing in an AP context.

2 What are the stages of crafting an essay under time restrictions? There are basically three tasks that you need to complete when writing an essay in a condensed period of time: You need to plan your essay. You need to write your essay. You need to revise your essay. Neglecting any of these tasks will compromise your ability to be successful at timed writing in an AP context.

3 How much time should I spend on each stage of the process? depends, to a certain extent, on your strengths and weaknesses as a writer. Generally speaking, however, you should consider the following strategy for tackling a forty-minute essay: –Planning: 10 minutes –Writing: 25 minutes –Revising: 5 minutes

4 What is the logic behind the suggested 10-25-5 time frame? Dividing up the writing process for a timed essay into manageable units is a commonly suggested strategy. This division will give you a guide for organizing your ideas effectively, expressing them coherently, and revising them thoroughly, given the time constraints. This is only a suggested time frame—other possibilities are: 5-25-10, 5-30-5, or 8-24-8.

5 How do I plan my essay in no more than 10 minutes? Given the above, it is important that you decide 5 things within these 10 minutes: –What is being asked? –What will be proven? –What text works best for the question? –How will the essay prove the thesis? –How should the essay be structured?

6 Sample AP Essay Question (1990)‏ Choose a novel or play that depicts a conflict between a parent (or a parental figure) and a son or daughter. Write an essay in which you analyze the sources of the conflict and explain how the conflict contributes to the meaning of the work. Avoid plot summary.

7 Analyze the “question”! parent/child conflict (ONE relationship) from single work multiple sources of conflict how the conflict contributes to the meaning of the work CONFLICT SOURCES of conflict (YOU decide how many)‏ HOW conflict contributes to the MEANING of the WORK

8 What text should you choose? Think quickly about the texts that you’ve read over the past couple of years in class; Hamlet should come to mind as an obvious choice (since it features a number of parent/child relationships, each of which on its own provides ample material for analysis)‏ There are those who will tell you that this is a text to be avoided on an AP exam since so many students use it, but if you write a paper that’s worth a 9, that’s probably what you’re going to get, irrespective of the text choice. Now that a text is chosen, it’s time to move on…

9 What is your essay going to prove? It only took about a minute to make sure that you knew what you were being asked and to decide on a text, so you’re going to spend at least a few minutes figuring out what you want to prove. Thinking about Hamlet, you would likely choose the relationship between Hamlet and Claudius (child and “parental figure”) to examine (although other relationships are possible)‏ What you would not do, however, is spend more than a handful of seconds deciding which relationship to examine, because thinking about different relationships in the play is not what you are being asked to do. Now what we need is a statement that doesn’t merely regurgitate the language of the question…

10 In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the conflict between the Prince and his uncle reinforces the central message of the play: that we are constantly at war with others because we are constantly at war with ourselves. This is not your thesis statement, but only a part of it. It contains what you want to prove but only gives a vague suggestion of how you want to prove it. That part comes next…

11 How will your essay prove the statement you have just made? You have some time to think about this, since understanding what you’re being asked, choosing a text, and figuring out what your essay will prove have only taken a couple of minutes. You might consider a clustering diagram to get the “how” part of your thesis statement. It is, simply put, a series of connected bubbles that forms a diagram of relationships. It only takes a minute or two to put together.

12 CONFLICT = Hamlet vs.Claudius: Their conflict is psychological… Their conflict is political. Their conflict is familial. Elements of the conflict ~ OPTIONS: moral, familial, ethical, spiritual, political, and psychological … connect to the meaning of the play

13 What does my thesis look like? In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the familial, political, and psychological elements of the conflict between the Prince and his uncle serve to reinforce the central message of the play: that people are constantly at war with others because they are constantly at war within themselves. Once I have this, the essay becomes relatively self working. I know that my first paragraph will talk about how familial conflict between Hamlet and Claudius suggests that we are constantly at war with ourselves because we are constantly at war with others, and then paragraphs two and three will do the same, but respectively focus on political and psychological conflicts.

14 Yeah, okay, but what about the introduction? … the funnel model is favoured ~ –Open with either a provocative question, famous quote, or something similarly intriguing –Allude to the scope and structure of the argument –Finish with the thesis your thesis should be the final sentence of the opening paragraph… …More information about how to construct an effective introduction using these methods can be found on the accompanying Day 2 PowerPoint that you were sent last week—please consult this document in your preparations for the exam!

15 Where are you in terms of your time frame now? Well, arriving at the thesis statement and having a rough outline should take you to the ten minute mark, leaving you twenty-five minutes for writing and five for revising. The best way now to tackle the body paragraphs is to use the technique of argument, support, and reflection, a.k.a. point, proof, comment / link Given the thesis statement for the Hamlet essay that we’ve just been looking at, we need to think about how an effective body paragraph might be structured relatively quickly.

16 Well, what does the first body paragraph look like? I restate the relevant portion of my thesis in different terms—this is my argument / point for this paragraph Hamlet’s conflict with Claudius over the issue of usurping his father’s place has Oedipal implications that reveal how fundamentally at war Hamlet is with himself. I then support this argument: Hamlet’s introduction in Act 1, Scene 2 shows his obvious distaste of the new domestic arrangement, followed quickly by his own self destructive musings. Hamlet wishes aloud that, “… this too too solid flesh would melt / Thaw and resolve itself into a dew, / Or that the everlasting had not fixed his canon ‘gainst self-slaughter.” I then reflect on this support of my argument: Indeed, Hamlet is so fixated on self-destruction because Claudius has taken his place in the Oedipal fantasy, murdering his father and marrying his mother. Of course, Hamlet can not ultimately kill himself, since to do so would risk a visit to that “undiscovered country / From whose bourne no traveler returns,” nor can he kill Claudius, since that would be akin to “self-slaughter.” Thus, he is at war with Claudius because he is so profoundly at war with himself.

17 What do the other two body paragraphs look like? Well, they’ll use point, proof, comment/link (a.k.a. argument, support, and reflection,) in much the same way—and remember, the AP readers will love to see you being able to incorporate direct quotations from the play! Even if each of your paragraphs presents a single argument, one or two pieces of supporting evidence, and a sentence or two of reflection, you’re going to generate enough text to have a chance at an 8 or 9. Some essays that achieve these marks are quite concise indeed!

18 How do I construct my conclusion? The conclusion of an AP essay does not need to go beyond three well-developed sentences. Ideally, you should restate your thesis in different terms, and then perhaps move on to show how your essay can be seen to pave the way for further reflection on the issues it raises. This avoids the stock summary that a reader doesn’t really want to see at the end of the paper.

19 How are you doing for time? You should have 5-10 minutes remaining in order to proofread and revise. Make sure that you read your text carefully, and that you ensure that each and every sentence is “easy” for the reader. If you come across a sentence that prompts you to say, “yeah…he or she should understand this,” you can be sure that the reader won’t. The sentences that an AP reader doesn’t have a problem with are the ones that you don’t even stop to consider revising because they make perfect sense.

20 REVISE Save your 5 minutes and use them to ensure: that every word is legible and punctuation clear person (3 rd ) and tense (present) are consistent quotes are eloquently incorporated into your text Sentence structure is clear, simple

21 What have we learned?-- Phase 1 You should have a time frame to approach a 40- minute essay. Use a 10-25-5, 8-24-8 or similar three-phase approach. Use a pre-writing strategy to put ideas immediately down on your paper. Develop a thesis in that first phase which indicates: what you are going to prove and how you are going to prove it. Don’t merely restate the question, since some AP readers use this to separate the 8’s and 9’s from the 6’s and 7’s. You should be responding to the prompt, not recopying it.

22 What have we learned?—Phase 2 Introduce your paper relatively quickly, creating a three or four sentence introduction that gets quickly to the thesis. Use the technique of argument, support, and reflection in each of your body paragraphs. Know direct quotations from works of literature you have studied in the past and which you might use on the open essay. These will be helpful in showcasing your knowledge of the literature you write about. Avoid spending more than about 25 minutes actually writing the essay. You need the time for planning and revising!

23 What have we learned?—Phase 3 Give at least five minutes for proofreading and revisions. If you realize that your conclusions don’t support your initial thesis, and that the latter needs some tweaking—tweak it! Make sure that the reader will not have to make frequent stops during the course of your paper to unpack your language. Use simple language to express complex ideas, not the other way around!

24 Good luck on the AP!


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