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Tackling the AP English Language and Composition Test
What does the word “rhetoric” mean? “Rhetoric” is a general term that refers to techniques and strategies used by an author to create meaning.
Description of the Test The exam takes three hours and 15 minutes. Part 1: Reading passages and answering multiple choice questions (60 minutes) Part 2: Writing three different essays (2 hours and 15 minutes)
Essay 1: (a synthesis essay) an argument for or against an issue presented with evidence from provided sources. Essay 2: (an analytical essay) an interpretation of a prose passage. Essay 3: (an argumentative essay) commenting on the validity of an opinion expressed. The suggested writing time for each essay is 40 minutes.
General Writing Strategies A good introduction that captures the reader’s attention is vital. All language is clear, interesting and correct. Rhetorical strategies are analyzed with insight and precision. Frequent references to the text, directly and indirectly, are made. Comments on tone, irony, diction, and the use of examples and how each contributes to the structure and meaning of the passage are made.
Tackling the Synthesis Question Think of the Synthesis essay as a mini research paper. Read all of the sources carefully and be ready to incorporate at least three of the sources in your essay. Consider each source in terms of when it was published, where it came from, and how objectively it is written (assess the validity). Gather at least three compelling reasons to support your position. Determine the order of your argument by working toward your BEST/STRONGEST point. Remember that your essay will be penalized for faulty reasoning and/or misinformation. Anticipate the other side of the argument and and show the counter argument to show the strength in your position. May sure to write your essay based on your interpretation of at least three sources and not just your personal opinion.
For a sample of a synthesis essay graded, go to http://www.education.com/study-help/article/sample-synthesis-essay-master- exam/?page=3http://www.education.com/study-help/article/sample-synthesis-essay-master-exam/?page=3
Tackling the Analytical Question Often the directions of an analytical essay will include “Then write an essay in which you analyze how the structure of the passage and use of language help convey the writer’s views.” You are being asked to analyze the passage’s structure or organization and its language. What is the order of ideas and why is the order important? Why did the author choose this diction, syntax, figure of speech, sentence structure, etc…?
For a sample of a graded argumentative essay, go to http://www.education.com/study-help/article/sample-student-essays4/
Tackling the Persuasive Essay Write a convincing argument that expresses your opinion and make it a calmly reasoned explanation. Do not be combative. Be mindful not to make it an emotional rant. The actual position you take on the issue isn’t as important as how you support your position. Draw from your knowledge, background, experience or observation. Always include more than one example.
AP Grading of Essays Each essay is scored on a scale of 0-9. Essays are read once and quickly assigned a score. Readers generally focus on what is done well. Grading includes a focus on organization, word choice and mechanics as well as content. Handwriting should not impact the grading. Well-developed essays are not supposed to be penalized if they are unfinished. Length is not a criterion for evaluation. Even marginal responses are judged according to the logic of the argument. Essays are seen as first drafts written under pressure in a 40-minute time frame.
Multiple Choice Questions ask about…… organization of a passage function of paragraphs transitions placement of words/paragraphs word order tone, mood, diction, repetition parallelism alliteration metaphors, similes, allusions, hyperbole, paradox, irony language and grammar Note: Answer ALL multiple choice questions on this test even if you have to guess.
Breaking down the Multiple Choice questions…... Before answering, read the question carefully, and put it in your own words. Then read it again and make sure you haven’t missed anything. Read the choices carefully. The best choice implies that one or more of the incorrect choices has/have partially correct information. Eliminate all choices that are incorrect. If a question refers to a line in the passage, reread it and the lines above and below. This may help you to eliminate answers. As you make your choice, look for evidence in the passage that supports your choice. If you are completely stumped, mark the question and return to it at the end. A new perspective may help.
What test-taking strategies work best for YOU? Read the questions (not the answer choices) before reading the passage. Skim the passage and then go to the questions. Refer back to the passage as you answer. Read the passage twice. First, skim the passage; then read the passage and take notes in the margins. Then tackle the questions.