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An In-Depth Look at the Synthesis Essay Question Preparing for the AP Language and Composition Exam.

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Presentation on theme: "An In-Depth Look at the Synthesis Essay Question Preparing for the AP Language and Composition Exam."— Presentation transcript:

1 An In-Depth Look at the Synthesis Essay Question Preparing for the AP Language and Composition Exam

2 Introduction to the Essay Questions  At first you will receive only the green booklet, and you will get 15 minutes to read the material and plan your essays.  Spend your 15 minutes well.  At the conclusion of the 15 minutes, you will be given a pink booklet. At this point you have two hours to write three essays

3 Scoring/Rubric  To simplify the rubric, the graders are primarily looking for three elements: Did the student answer the question? Did the writer’s point remain clear? Did the student use examples?

4 Did the student answer the question?  Make sure to address the prompt.  Just because it is eloquently written does not guarantee you staying on topic.  Be vigilant of this

5 Did the writer’s point remain clear?  There should be no confusion or uncertainty  Your argument should be clear from the first point through the conclusion.  Be wary of fancy words. Graders prefer a good idea that is expressed with the diction most relevant to the essay.

6 Did the student use examples?  You absolutely must include a minimum of three specific references or quotes in the synthesis essay.  If you do not have specific examples, your essay will receive no more than a lower half score (1- 4)

7 Scoring  In addition to those three essential elements, there are two more: Grammar  Graders expect you to be grammar fluent (but not necessarily perfect) Voice  Avoid dull writing  Avoid the five-paragraph mold  Have your own style, but don’t become so fixated on the beauty of your essay that you forget to answer the question

8 The Synthesis Essay  The synthesis essay has a triple purpose. It examines your ability to consider and support a rational argument. It also seeks to evaluate your ability to absorb, understand, and employ several sources on the same topic. It tests your ability to correctly cite the sources you have quoted or paraphrased in your argument.

9 The Process  It is strongly recommended that you use the 15 minute reading period to immediately look at the synthesis passages.  If there is time left over, read and make notes on the rhetorical analysis piece and argument question.

10 The Process  Read the initial question page carefully. There are three sections. (1) Direction: in this section you will find this crucial sentence: Your argument should be central; the sources should support this argument. Avoid merely summarizing sources. Your opinion is the most important aspect of this essay (therefore form one!) The sources you present in your argument are there to support and sustain your own ideas.

11 The Process  Beware: If you simply repeat what the sources had to say about the issue, you will always earn a lower-half score (1-4). This means that bringing your own examples to a synthesis essay is a good idea.  It’s not essential, but it does help demonstrate to the reader that you are presenting your own argument.

12 The Process  Read the initial question page carefully. There are three sections (2) Introduction: its purpose is to get you thinking about the issue by making general statements about the topic.  The introduction is not the prompt (3) Assignment: this is where you will find the prompt. The topic is hi-lighted in bold print.  Additionally, the assignment (prompt) will state that you must “synthesize at least three of the sources for support.”

13 Dealing with the Passages and Visuals  Identify certain elements right away such as: Is the source biased?  You can determine this by looking at the source itself – an article from Christian Century will have some inherent biases. Does the source’s date of publication have an effect on the relevance of the argument?  A passage written in 1975 about advertising is likely to be out of date today. What position does the author hold?  Determine if the author is for, against, or neutral about the topic. For what audience is the author writing?  Identify the target audience for the piece: women, men, businesspeople, etc.

14 Dealing with the Passages and Visuals  You should critically mark and annotate the passage by identifying three things: What is the point of view, thesis, or information offered? Are there any “quotables” – particularly succinct (short; concise) or stimulating phrases – you can use? Do you plan to use the piece or a portion of it to support your argument in some way?  You may decide this question after reading all or most of the passages – you are looking for three good ones.

15 Strategies for Approaching the Sources  Remember your time constraints; have a plan!  One approach might be to mark portions of the sources with plus or minus signs to indicate “pro” and “con” arguments.  Mark only those statements, ideas, or observations that strike you as particularly weighty or important so that you will be able to access them quickly as you write (i.e., don’t mark everything).

16 Strategies for Approaching the Sources (contd.)  Use a star or asterisk to mark the super- important elements that you don’t want to forget to cite.  You do not need to cite every source and, in fact, should not.  Be careful with charts, graphs, and other visual representations; they can be tricky to evaluate.

17 Strategies for Approaching the Sources (contd.)  A visual representation may look like it supports your position, but look at it very carefully to be sure.  Consider questions that are not adequately addressed in visuals such as adequate sample size, exclusion of important segments of the population, and so on, which might skew the results shown in the graphic.  Don’t take visuals at face value: Be prepared to evaluate them critically.  Also, be attentive to the ways that one source can inform or undercut another.

18 The Visual  It may take the form of a chart, table, photograph, political cartoon, or painting.  You should follow the same steps for analyzing the visual as you do when annotating the passages: Look for bias Datedness Position Audience Point of view And usefulness to your argument

19 Political Cartoons: More Than Meets The Eye How to Interpret the Basic Elements of Political Cartoons

20 What Are Political Cartoons?  Art form that serves as a source of opinion on society  Express viewpoints on political, economic, or social issues  Make use of humor, symbolism, historical events, and stereotypes

21 How To Read Them?  Artist’s viewpoint  Symbols  Captions  Humor and Satire  Historical Images

22 Artist’s Viewpoint: The purpose of any political cartoon is to express an opinion  What subject or issue is the artist commenting on?  How is the subject portrayed?  What feelings are suggested by the images?

23 What is the artist’s viewpoint of this cartoon?

24 Voter apathy: People who don’t vote will be in trouble with society. Heitzmann, W.R. (1980) Political cartoons: Scholastic social studies skills. New York: Scholastic, Inc.

25 Use of Symbols: Images that stand for something else  Symbols can stand for objects, places, groups of people, beliefs, character traits, or ideas  Common symbols for our country: *Uncle Sam=United States *Set of Scales=Justice or court system *Dollar bill=Money  Animals used as symbols *Donkey= the Democratic Party *Elephant= the Republican Party *Dove= Peace *Fox= Sly or untrustworthy

26 What Do These Symbols Mean?

27 Captions  Can help the reader understand the message, even if the symbols aren’t familiar.

28 Humor and Satire  Humor creates interest  Caricature: overemphasis of a person’s features  Irony: saying the opposite of what was really meant  Satire: the portrayal of a wrongdoing to that it becomes the object of ridicule  Stereotype: an oversimplified judgment of a group of people or objects

29 Humor and Satire Hakim, J. (1993). A history of us: An age of extremes. New York: Oxford University Press. Heitzmann, W.R. (1980) Political cartoons: Scholastic social studies skills. New York: Scholastic, Inc. Heitzmann, W.R. (1980) Political cartoons: Scholastic social studies skills. New York: Scholastic, Inc.

30 Historical Images  Artists include historical or literary images to help express viewpoints on current issues  Recognizing the historical or literary images is necessary to understand the meaning of the cartoon

31 Historical Images The angel of Teddy Roosevelt reacting to the news that Pres. Carter would turn over the control of the Panama Canal to the Panamanian government in 1999. Soldiers “guarding” the entrance to the United States to all immigrants except the Chinese following the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Heitzmann, W.R. (1980) Political cartoons: Scholastic social studies skills. New York: Scholastic, Inc. 078EPluribusUnumMain.htm

32 How Will We Use Cartoons?  Understand public opinion of a particular time period  Examine opposing views  Compare historical and contemporary issues  Let’s look at the visuals from synthesis essays and talk about purpose.

33 Practice Activity  Write a short response to each of the following graphics addressing the following: What is the claim or point being expressed in this visual? Evaluate its effectiveness in making that point? Are there any inconsistencies or fallacies?

34 Using Opposing Passages  It is always a good strategy to use passages that disagree with your point of view, especially if you are dealing with an “agree, disagree, or qualify*” prompt.  *Qualifying an argument allows room for reflection and interpretation and is crucial to creating a strong ethos. Categories of qualification:  Quantity: many, most, some  Frequency: often, usually, frequently  Probability: probably, unlikely  Proof: suggests, indicates, points to

35 One More Warning  Beware: do not put in so many quotes that the grader cannot find your argument.

36 Incorporate Citations Smoothly  Avoid stilted or awkward citation of sources.  Keep rules of sentence formation in mind when quoting sources (think about how you do this in your précis).  Do not paraphrase the sources; use them to support your position.  Think about how you can weave attribution of sources into your essays.

37 Incorporate Citations Smoothly (contd.)  Weak: “Source A says, ‘Women should be required to register for the draft.’ I agree with this statement.”  If your essay’s thesis is strong, there should be no need to say explicitly that you agree or disagree with any of the sources.  Avoid writing in first person.

38 Incorporate Citations Smoothly (contd.)  Weak: “Source A says, ‘Women should be required to register for the draft.’ This is a valid point.”  This is choppy and unsophisticated.  Slightly improved: “Source A says, ‘Women should be required to register for the draft,’ a valid point that emphasizes the inequality…”  Saying “Source A says…” still lacks sophistication and interest.

39 Practice Activity  With your partner, write three different sentences in which you incorporate a direct citation of the following sources without beginning a sentence with “Source A says” or any version thereof. On the topic of gun control laws:  “Eleven years [after Columbine], and Congress has failed to close the gun show loophole that made the carnage possible.” (NY Times editorial, 4/17/10)

40  On the topic of school sex education: “According to a nationwide survey taken by the Alan Guttmacher Institute of school superintendents…35% [of school districts] require abstinence to be taught as the only option for unmarried people, while either prohibiting discussion of contraception altogether or limiting discussion to contraceptive failure rates…” (Collins, Alagiri, Summers)

41  On banks targeting college students with offers of credit cards: “Credit card abuse has become such a problem that, in February 2010, the federal government recognized the importance of protecting college students from the consequences of misusing credit cards. They enacted legislation changing how credit card companies can do business with students.” (www.College

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