Learn How to Write an AP English Essay

An AP English essay is a type of paper commonly undertaken by college-level students. AP English is a demanding class that has two subdivisions. These are composition and English language as well as AP literature and composition. In the language course, the learners mainly study rhetoric while in the literature course, learning focuses mainly on literary analysis. Both examinations require adequate knowledge of how to compose a synthesis essay with an integrated AP format.

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The AP Language and Composition Essay Examinations

While undertaking this particular exam, students are supposed to compose three essays. Two of these give an analysis of a literary work. E.g., a short story excerpt, a narrative, or poetry. One of them is a discussion of a free response question on literature based on set texts. The actual examination has distinct portions. These include

  • Between 10 to 20 questions on contemporary prose or poetry
  • 10 to 20 questions on romantic or Victorian prose/poetry
  • About 5-10 questions on poetry composed during the Elizabethan era (17th Century)

NB: It is very rare to encounter literature and poetry beyond the 20th century or Middle English ages between circa 450-1600. Therefore, do not overburden yourself with studying these works of literature.

Tips on How to Write the AP English Literature Essay

Some students find the AP analysis more difficult to undertake compared to a free response paper. To effectively compose this type of essay, the tips below are highly valuable.

  • Practice how to read and understand any prose or poetry quickly. You can achieve this purpose by going through multiple poems from different ages.
  • Go through the questions before reading the literature. Make annotations by highlighting themes and keywords.
  • Ensure you have a complete understanding of the questions.

The AP English Composition and Language Essay

The AP English language and composition essay is examined in a paper consisting of four parts. These are a multiple-choice segment in addition to three essays namely: synthesis, argumentative, and persuasive papers. Substantially, AP English argumentative essays are similar to a typical argumentative essay. However, you must pay keen attention and write it with impeccable grammar, and your claims must have a logical structure.

Both the language and composition papers are rigorous and require proper writing skills in a manner that demonstrates prowess in literary analysis. Good grammar and structure alone are not enough to earn you the maximum score of 5.

How to Answer Prompts in AP English Language Papers

Prompts in AP English language are composed of one article that you are required to synthesize. Occasionally, AP English literature examinations come with a prompt. However, the exercise aims to give you the opportunity of building analytical works. The most imperative step you can take in preparation for the AP synthesis paper is to understand more about its format and conduct analysis on numerous examples for practical purposes before the examination.

The AP Examinations Rubric

The rubric for AP examinations is typically subdivided into three components. These are the high scoring essay, the mid-range essay and finally, the low-score essay.

The High-Range Essay

The high-range essay ranges from 8-9. It aims to develop a stance on the given topic effectively. Likewise, it should showcase a proper understanding of your texts. You must correctly evaluate sources and conclude. You must steer arguments and not the sources.

To earn high points, your arguments must be highly convincing. Do not make general assumptions but cite specific evidence for every point. Your essay must be well-constituted and exhibit clarity of thought. Lastly, take care not to make grammar and spelling errors.

Mid-Range Essay

The essay ranges from 5-7 points. The writer has developed a solid position on the assigned topic. He or she demonstrates a proper understanding of all the ideas identified across sources. The paper sufficiently summarizes sources and showcases control of the discussion. An essay that scores 5 points has less focus relative to an essay awarded 6 or 7 points. The argument does not have to be highly developed but should be sufficient enough.

Just like the high-range essay, these essays have adequately synthesized and cited sources. The paper satisfactorily answers the ‘so what?’ question. However, writers are free to make general assertions that are universally true. You can also cite your individual experience in addition to special evidence. Finally, avoid spelling and grammatical mistakes. Only the most complex papers are ranked as 7. Otherwise, a score of 5 is equivalent to 3 on an AP examination.

Low-Range Essay

The development of the topic’s position is below par. In most cases, the writer shows a poor understanding of ideas derived from sources and oversimplifies them. The entire paper contains poorly cited material, cites fewer sources than necessary or skips important citations. A score of 4 or a 3 shows some kind of argument but not adequately curated. A score of 2 does not have any argument at all whereas scores between 1 and 2 are riddled with excessive writing errors devoid of a significant claim.

How to Format Your AP Essay

The format utilized in an AP essay is highly similar to the format used in any essay. The introduction section needs to have a thesis statement that demonstrates your argument. The body needs to give an accurate illustration of points that support your argument. Lastly, the conclusion needs to give a summary of the essay. One major difference is that the three major constituents of the AP English language as well as composition essay ought to be present. These are;

  • A central argument accompanied by supportive evidence.
  • The AP English essay bases its focus on analyzing multiple perspectives
  • Conducting a rhetorical analysis, e. defining the author’s as well as their intentions in addition to the author’s claims are all components of the assignment.

Your body paragraphs form the core of the essay. Each paragraph needs a topic sentence that will serve as a guide to the ideas within that passage.

In the case of a rhetorical analysis essay, provide a lot of relevant supporting evidence for your ideas. You are at liberty to quote passages. When it comes to argumentative papers, give sufficient and appropriate evidence and your general knowledge as well. Demonstrate that you can carry out intellectual civil discourse. Make sure your ideas are closely connected to the thesis as possible. Thoroughly elucidate how the presented evidence leads back to your thesis statement. To score high points, you must make your essay insightful, relevant, and analyze the passage effectively.

The conclusion is not supposed to be too lengthy or elaborate. However, try to offer more than a basic summary; attempt to explain the obvious. This indicates a superior essay. To put it in other words, address the greater importance of the essay within your conclusion. However, note that the conclusion is not so critical in determining how high you score in the paper. The body paragraphs still carry more importance. Therefore, do not trim your body paragraphs for the sake of adding a conclusion.

Lastly, save some few minutes to go through the paper and correct spelling mistakes, punctuation errors, and replace overused phrases or words. Take care not to make massive editing changes during this time. Stick to your initial plan of ideas and organization. Only make corrections on the obvious errors you spot.

General Advice on How to Improve Your Scores in AP Essays

Have you been wondering how to tackle AP English language and composition papers more effectively? Consider the following tips below:

Skimming to Discover What to Focus On

Skimming questions before reading passages assists in maintaining focus on the relevant information. The act of skimming involves reading at a very high speed. Take note that during skimming, you are essentially taking a glance at the questions. Do not focus on memorizing the questions. The aim here is to take a glance so that you can properly focus while reading the passage. It is a good technique but needs frequent practice.

Active and Visual Reading

Active reading implies that you need to underline ideas and keywords as you read. This process assists in gaining a higher retention rate than passive reading whereby you merely let your eyes move back and forth throughout the page. Visual reading means creating a mental image of any actions within the passage. This is a highly valuable tool for eradicating any distractions during reading. A combination of both visual and active reading greatly enhances immediate concentration and retention of information.

Paraphrasing During Reading

This technique assists in understanding and memorizing the author’s ideas. Simply put, paraphrasing is explaining the writer’s ideas in your own understanding. It forms an essential skill required in understanding the literature piece. It keeps your brain actively occupied while reading. For any passage, you should paraphrase every paragraph as one unit. Thereafter paraphrase the writer’s general message that caters to all the remaining paragraphs.

Read Questions and Answer Choices Carefully

Never assume from your previous skimming that you understood all questions correctly. Ensure you understand precisely what the examiner is asking. Mark all letters representing incorrect answer choices as you read them. Do not spend time reading incorrect answers and ensure your choice is correct based on the passage you read.

Start Answering the Easier Questions

From frequent practice, you can learn how to determine the more difficult questions and the ones you can quickly answer. Use such knowledge as your strategy to obtain the most accurate answers.

Popular AP English Essay Topics

Here are five popular AP English essay topics that you may stumble upon in your course of study:

  • Instances of betrayal, the motive, and consequences in the play Macbeth
  • Love as a source of violence in the play Romeo and Juliet
  • Romeo and Juliet as a tragedy or romance tale
  • Beowulf leadership traits
  • Male dominance in Beowulf

AP Essay Sample

European History: World War 1

Toward the start of the twentieth century, the fate of Europe looked brilliant. European culture and civilization ruled the known world. Following 100 years of relative harmony and quick advances in science and innovation, the conviction prevailed that boundless advancement and development would likewise prompt a perpetual end to all wars. Underneath the surface, in any case, some powers were undermining this hopeful perspective of things to come: the union philosophies, patriotism budding in the Balkans, imperialism causing fierce rivalry in Africa and an ensuing arms race.

In August 1914, these powers joined to begin World War I, breaking the fantasies about a bright future and denoting the start of Europe’s twentieth-century decline. World War I crushed the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, The Russian and the German Empire. World War I, otherwise called the Great War, added to the weakening of France and Great Britain as their economies and populace were obliterated. The troopers who battled in the trenches of France and Germany turned out to be a piece of a lost age who were left hopeless.

World War I was a unique kind of war since it was battled on the European home front just as on the combat zone. The non-military personnel populace was compelled to do penances, for example, meatless Monday, and females entered the workforce to supplant men who had gone to fight. Industrialization and innovation likewise changed the strategies for fighting. Countries developed increasingly powerful weapons, for example, assault rifles and toxic gas, which brought about the demise of millions.

World War I additionally was a defining moment. By 1919, the world as it was in 1914 lay in vestiges and Europe’s map had changed to mirror the ascent of national states in Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. World War I annihilated the Russian Empire and prompted the ascent of Communism. Despotism in Italy and Nazism in German created ideologies antagonistic to Communism just as disappointment with the Versailles Peace Treaty.

The discontent of Italy and Germany, Russia’s ostracism from the harmony talks, and the hatred over the foundation of a Polish country, just as Japan’s dissenting the refusal of Western countries to acknowledge their assertion over mainland China, all led to outrage and harshness for the following 20 years. These emotions catalyzed World War II in 1939.

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