AP Lang Essay Prep: How Your Essay Should Look

Welcome y’all.

So, as you all should know, there are three essays that you need to write for AP Lang.

  1. Synthesis
  2. Argumentative
  3. Rhetorical Analysis

 

Synthesis

If you’ve taken an AP history class, then you are in for an easy ride.

Synthesis is exactly like the DBQ except a whole lot easier because you’re only required to use three documents instead of the usual six. So your layout would look something similar to the DBQ, which is something like this:

  1. Intro (+2 points for contextualization)
  2. Thesis (+1 point for thesis/argument)
  3. Body
    1. Introduce/cite document (ex: [Doc A]) after summarizing
    2. HIPPO* (+1 point for HIPPO; required 4 out of 6 documents for full credit)
    3. Relate back to how document proves thesis (+1 point for cohesive argument)
    4. Repeat for however many docs you have
  4. Outside Knowledge (+1 point for knowledge not mentioned in text helping argument)
  5. Conclusion
    1. Restate thesis
    2. Restate each body paragraph into one sentence each

Except your synthesis should look something like this: (Keep in mind that there is no rubric for this so your essay is based on your rhetoric and organization more than a DBQ would be.)

  1. Intro
  2. Thesis
  3. Body
    1. Introduce/cite document
    2. Analyze and explain (kinda like HIPPO)
    3. Relate back to how document proves thesis
    4. Repeat for only 3 documents!!
  4.  Conclusion
    1. Restate thesis
    2. Restate each body paragraph into one sentence each
    3. End conclusion with broad and deep message that resonates throughout the audience

* Historical context, Intended audience, Purpose, Point of view, Outside information

 

Argumentative

Again, for argumentative essay, it’s exactly like the LEQ for AP US. You’re legit pulling knowledge out of your butt to argue for a claim. This is similar to synthesis except for the fact that you don’t have documents to facilitate your claim. This can be good or bad. Good because you’re not required to waste time on finding the documents that help your argument. Bad because you have to come up with your own evidence. There’s less structure for an argumentative essay, but the basic outline goes like this:

  1. Intro
  2. Thesis
  3. Body
    1. Clearly state the purpose of this body paragraph
    2. Analyze evidence you have provided
    3. Relate back to how evidence proves thesis
    4. Repeat for however much evidence you want to include, but remember the time limit!
  4. Conclusion
    1. Restate thesis
    2. Restate each body paragraph into one sentence each
    3. End conclusion with broad and deep message that resonates throughout the audience

Because an argumentative essay prompt can go in infinite directions based off of the evidence that you provide, this is a little vague, but an argumentative essay can easily be the most difficult one or a breeze depending on the prompt and how you want to structure your essay.

 

Rhetorical Analysis

This one is, in my opinion, the hardest one because I don’t have experience with this as I do with the other two in different classes. I ONLY FOUND OUT MUCH LATER THAT THIS IS YOUR USUAL SAT ESSAY. Done SAT before? Then no problem. Haven’t done SAT yet? You need this. My suggestion is that you should separate the analysis into beginning, middle, and end. What does the author do at the beginning of the passage to be persuasive? How does the author sound convincing in the middle of the passage? In what way does the author conclude his/her piece that’ll make the audience see his/her perspective? I usually outline my essay like this:

  1. Intro (SOAPS* it: introduce the document that you are analyzing)
  2. Thesis
  3. Body (analyze the most important persuasive tactics used—ask yourself, does that negligible metaphor used to persuade me more than the loaded words used to elicit some sort of feeling from me? Remember, you are on a time limit. Prioritize which rhetoric you want to go in-depth with.)
    1. Beginning
    2. Middle
    3. End
  4. Conclusion
    1. Restate thesis
    2. Restate each body paragraph into one sentence each
    3. End conclusion with broad and deep message that resonates throughout the audience

You can draw multiple parallels between many of the essays that I mentioned. Here are some pointers to always, always, ALWAYS remember when writing your essay.

  • You want to be flowery with your language a little. Show off. Throw a few words like “juxtaposition” or “plethora” or “effervescent” here and there. Utilize that vocabulary.
  • But don’t be too verbose. Do not overstep your boundaries. While you want to sound sophisticated, you also want to be succinct. Passive tone, being verbs, bland adjectives—all unnecessary. (NO “to be able to”!!)
  • Power of three. Reread the point above. “Passive tone, being verbs, bland adjectives”, it all just sounds so right. When listing items, don’t list two or four. Listing three gives a sort of unknown power that makes your writing sound… correct. There’s some sort of science behind this, I just don’t think it’s been figured out yet. This is an actual thing, though. Search it up.
  • Scaling along with being too wordy, try to avoid using the words “logos”, “pathos”, and “ethos” in your essay. While you are trying to show how an author uses these three points to persuade their audience, you can easily say how the author does so without explicitly saying it. Your grader will know what you’re talking about. Spend time analyzing what the author is doing rather than summarizing what the author is doing using these three terms. Show, not tell.
  • While these points seem counterintuitive and contradictory to each other, more practice will allow you to find that happy medium that will achieve all these points in no time! You just have to believe!!

*Speaker, Occasion, Audience, Purpose, Subject

Thanks for taking your time to read my lecture to you. Good luck to you all on the exam!

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