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AP TEST TIPS. Multiple Choice Section: Approximately 55 questions covering four or five passages –Prose and poetry passages Time limit: 60 minutes Weight:

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Presentation on theme: "AP TEST TIPS. Multiple Choice Section: Approximately 55 questions covering four or five passages –Prose and poetry passages Time limit: 60 minutes Weight:"— Presentation transcript:


2 Multiple Choice Section: Approximately 55 questions covering four or five passages –Prose and poetry passages Time limit: 60 minutes Weight: 45% of total test score

3 Free Response Section Prompts –Analysis of a prose passage –Analysis of a poem –Open-ended question, usually related to a literary element Time limit: 120 minutes to write all three essays Weight: 55% of total score

4 AP SCORE QUALIFICATION 5 Extremely well qualified 4 Well qualified 3 Qualified 2 Possibly qualified 1 No recommendation AP Exam scores of 5 are equivalent to A grades in the corresponding college course. AP Exam scores of 4 are equivalent to grades of A–, B+ and B in college. AP Exam scores of 3 are equivalent to grades of B–, C+ and C in college.

5 Multiple Choice Section Read instructions carefully, paying particular attention to critical words like not, only, except, etc. Frequently check to make sure that the number of the question on your answer sheet corresponds to the number of the question in your exam booklet. –Double check your status about every ten questions or after each selection. Stay aware of the time

6 Multiple Choice Section Multiple-choice scores are based on the number of questions answered correctly Points are not deducted for incorrect answers, and no points are awarded for unanswered questions –Because points are not deducted for incorrect answers, you should answer all multiple-choice questions On any questions you do not know the answer to, eliminate as many choices as you can, and then select the best answer among the remaining choices

7 Free Response Q1 = Poetry Q2 = Prose Q3 = Open-ended

8 Q1 - Poetry Poetry could be anything from the 1600’s to poets writing today.

9 Question 1 (Suggested time—40 minutes. This question counts as one-third of the total essay section score.) Read carefully the following poem by Marilyn Nelson Waniek. Then write an essay analyzing how Waniek employs literary techniques to develop the complex meanings that the speaker attributes to The Century Quilt. You may wish to consider such elements as structure, imagery, and tone.

10 Q2 - Prose Excerpt or cutting from a novel or short story

11 Question 2 (Suggested time—40 minutes. This question counts as one-third of the total essay section score.) In the following passage from Maria Edgeworth’s 1801 novel, Belinda, the narrator provides a description of Clarence Hervey, one of the suitors of the novel’s protagonist, Belinda Portman. Mrs. Stanhope, Belinda’s aunt, hopes to improve her niece’s social prospects and therefore has arranged to have Belinda stay with the fashionable Lady Delacour. Read the passage carefully. Then write an essay in which you analyze Clarence Hervey’s complex character as Edgeworth develops it through such literary techniques as tone, point of view, and language.

12 Q3 – Open-ended Broad question that applies to many novels and plays. Choose a work of literary merit

13 Question 3 (Suggested time—40 minutes. This question counts as one-third of the total essay section score.) Palestinian American literary theorist and cultural critic Edward Said has written that “Exile is strangely compelling to think about but terrible to experience. It is the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place,between the self and its true home: its essential sadness can never be surmounted.” Yet Said has also said that exile can become “a potent, even enriching” experience. Select a novel, play, or epic in which a character experiences such a rift and becomes cut off from “home,” whether that home is the character’s birthplace, family, homeland, or other special place. Then write an essay in which you analyze how the character’s experience with exile is both alienating and enriching, and how this experience illuminates the meaning of the work as a whole. You may choose a work from the list below or one of comparable literary merit. Do not merely summarize the plot.


15 Those who read and score AP essays are trained to reward students for what they do well, rather than look for the little “missing pieces.” They recognize that essays are unrevised, first drafts. They also realize students are under great pressure (for example a student might mix character names in an otherwise solid essay and not be graded down.) Don’t worry about perfection. It’s okay to have cross outs, added sentences, etc. If you have time, you can reread your essays and do some editing. –Show your ability to argue a point

16 The essay should demonstrate what a student might do at the end of a college freshman course. Work to develop an idea and to show command of the material. Content is primary. Most AP essay questions ask you to analyze on a two level system--what did the author do (in terms of main idea, central attitude, or basic emotion evoked from the reader) and how did s/he do it (examining such elements as imagery, figurative language, diction, syntax, structure, or style)? Jot notes in the test booklet to generate ideas. –Q1 and Q2 write about lit techniques –Not required in Q3

17 In a 40-minute situation, you should study the problem (identify the focus of the question), read the selection, and start writing within 7 to 10 minutes. Be sure to focus on the question asked. Don’t bother with a “pretty” introduction, but do try to make a strong first impression. A strong opening states the focus of the question by offering a definitive observation which emerges from your own thinking. It answers the entire prompt in one or two sentences. If you don't know how to start, you can always parrot the prompt, but do this only if you must.

18 Examples of Introductions

19 Q2 Printed below is the complete text of a short story written in 1946 by Katherine Brush. Read the story carefully. Then write an essay in which you show how the author uses literary devices to achieve her purpose.

20 The birthday party by Katherine Brush gives a brief insightful description of one nameless couples’ celebratory dinner date. Though on the surface the story may seem ordinary and typical, through Brush’s use of imagery and third-person objectivity, she creates a very dismal atmosphere and somber mood. –Addresses both parts of prompt What did she do How did she do it –Could be more clear in discussing purpose –Unnecessary, but doesn’t hurt essay

21 Q2 Read the following passage from Joyce Carol Oates’ We Were the Mulvaneys (1996). Then in a well-organized essay, analyze the literary techniques Oates uses to characterize the speaker, Judd Mulvaney. Support your analysis with specific references to the passage.

22 Oates has taken to heart the literary axiom show don’t tell. By writing the story in the first person, placing Judd Mulvaney as narrator, she gives the reader direct access to Judd’s thoughts, but allows for personal interpretations of Judd’s character. Oates does, however, have her own vision of Judd; she makes his characteristics known through the allusions Judd makes, his thoughts, his observation, and, happily, his own reflections on his character at that time. The narrator is, indeed, Judd, but an older Judd recounting an earlier experience. * What did she do How did she do it

23 Through dark imagery, Joyce Carol Oates illustrates the helplessly dread attitude of the young boy, Judd Mulvaney. In the novel, We Were the Mulvaneys, we experience the melancholy attitude of Judd in a “sky the color of lead and the light mostly drained.” In his dreary nature experience, he explains his fear of death, as well as his fears of losing the ones he loves to death. He fears his “helplessly moving forward” and when he expects comfort from Dad and Mike in their “mud-colored Ford pickup,” he only depressingly realizes they will die too. Oates parallels nature with the boy’s life to show the uneasy character of a boy who seems far too young to concern himself with death. * What did she do How did she do it

24 Try to finish strong with a solid ending. If you are running short of time, leave something out of the body and move on to the conclusion. Always deal with conclusions; it’s your last impression on the reader. Search by image Similar images Images may be subject to copyright.

25 In responding to the prose and poetry selections, write one body paragraph for each major section of the work. Sections are determined by shifts in setting, action, or time. Organize around factors of the piece of literature itself; show how the speaker’s thoughts change and move. (If you are unable to do this, organize around techniques or devices on which the questions ask you to focus, items like diction, figurative language, etc.).

26 Readers are not looking for a standard five-paragraph essay. –You might miss the movement of the piece Q1 and Q2 – start at the beginning of the selection and work your way through to the end. –It’s okay to skip around, but keep coming back –Better to use short paragraphs

27 Quote words and phrases so they are integrated within your piece. A quote of more than one line from the text is too much. If you need to reference more than one line, cite the line numbers.

28 In writing about the poetry question, direct your attention to certain elements addressed in the question. You should be able to discuss tone, point of view, imagery, figurative language, structure, syntax, who the speaker is, and poem’s impact on the reader. –Never say “the author felt” or “the author said.” Instead, refer to the speaker. The author is not necessarily the speaker

29 In writing about prose, you are asked to deal with some of the same items as in #7. Sometimes, contrasting passages are presented. Avoid the traps of rephrasing or retelling the passage with quotes, or listing, but not explaining. Show your thinking. –Don’t paraphrase – EXPLAIN –Don’t just retell – EXPLAIN –Remember, the person reading your essay will be very familiar with the passage. You don’t need to tell her what it’s about.

30 On question #3 (the open-ended question), be sure to follow the explicit directions. Note whether you are to write about a novel, a play, or either. Never write about a short story for #3. –Always choose a work of literary merit Not Twilight Books you’ve read in your English classes at MVHS will work –Have six books in mind when you walk into the test that you can write about for Q3

31 Remember, you are writing for someone who is familiar with the piece of literature. –They find three people who know your book well. They score it and take the average score. –Don’t worry about the reader. Think that whoever reads your essay knows the book as well as you do. Don’t write “Ceremony is a book about...”

32 Mechanical difficulties reduce the score only if they hamper communication. However, something VERY badly written can only be scored in the bottom half (no more than 4). –Watch spelling so you’re communicating in the English language –Don’t sweat commas –Do sweat periods

33 Be sure to budget your time and write on all three questions. You may write them in any order. Remember, you don’t have time to do rough drafts. Instead, use some time to generate material (make notes or an outline) in the test booklet itself. –Budget 40 minutes per question Wear a watch! Use all 120 minutes – you can always go back and edit –You can work in whatever order you want

34 The length of your answer is no guarantee of quality. –QUALITY NOT QUANTITY Usually, for this class, essays end up being ¾ to one page single-spaced.

35 Work for good penmanship. They can’t score it if they can’t read it. –Students have had their essays disqualified because scorers couldn’t read their writing This rarely happens, but it’s always a good idea to make sure to use your best handwriting!

36 Freudian and religious interpretations usually don’t score well. Don’t be cynical or demeaning, be too clever, or write around the question. Don’t start to preach or offer applications of the passage’s idea to the world in general. –NO: Elizabeth Bennett is really in love with her father. –NO: If this question weren’t so ridiculous, it might actually be worth discussing the symbolic elements in The Scarlet Letter. –NO: Jake really needs to find God. –NO: If everyone was more like Hester Prynne, the world would be a better place. Don't write "pity me" notes (such as "I was up all night" or "My grandma just died.") –You’ll just end up entertaining the readers

37 Write to express, not impress. Keep vocabulary and syntax within your zone of competence. Students who inflate their writing often inadvertently entertain, but seldom explain. –Use your academic voice Do not use what you think should be your academic voice VIP: Very Important Point

38 Rubric: How are essays graded? Well-supported interpretation of the book/passage/poem –Make sure to prove your point –If it’s in the book/passage you don’t have to prove it –If it’s your assumption, then prove it Darcy is arrogant – if Austen writes this it’s good. If she doesn’t, then prove it. Good content, well-written Both parts of the question answered –Essays that answer only one part can only score 4 or below

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