Viewing All Flashcards for AP English Language Test Prep: Synthesis Essay
Multiple-choice - approximately 50-60 multiple-choice questions on 4 or 5 nonfiction selections. 3 essays (one synthesis essay, usually one analysis of a text, and usually one essay where students must form an argument)
Students have a 15-minute reading timeStudents then have 2 hours to write the three essays. Students may complete the essays in any order that they like. College Board suggests that students spend 40 minutes on each essay. Since the reading time is primarily for reading the synthesis prompt and sources, most students will spend 55 minutes (reading and writing) on the synthesis essay.
College Board suggests that students spend 40 minutes on each essay.
Since the 15-minute reading time is primarily for reading the synthesis prompt
and sources, most students will spend 55 minutes (reading and writing)
on the synthesis essay.
Students are given a prompt to consider an issue and then they must write an essay on that issue and use some of the provided sources to support their assertions. For example, students may be asked to examine 7-8 short articles and then write an essay about whether or not America should lower the voting age. The prompt may ask students to take a stand on the issue, or it may ask students to consider the concepts that must be considered before changing the voting age.
The synthesis essay is the newest type of essay on the AP English Language test. College Board introduced the essay approximately four years ago.
Since most colleges include the composition of research papers in their freshman English courses, some colleges were reluctant to exempt AP students from freshman English unless they had proof that AP students could write good research papers. College Board then included the synthesis essay in order to assess whether or not students can use sources skillfully in their writing.
Synthesis as used on the AP English Language exam means to read, evaluate, use, and cite sources.
AP readers (graders of the essays) want to see papers where students have *completed all sections of the prompt*have used the available texts to support their assertions*have examined the topic in depth*have written an interesting, organized, and insightful essay*have documented sources properly
Students differ in how much time it takes to complete each step of the process. Here's a guide for how much time to spend.15 - minutes - Read and annotate the sources during the reading period provided on the test. (If you finish in less than 15 minutes, go on to the next step.)10 minutes - Plan and organize your essay. Determine your thesis statement, introduction, which sources you will cite, and organization for your paper.25 minutes - Write your paper.5 minutes - Proofread your essay
The answer often depends on the topic. Occasionally, the topic will be of a more personal nature where it may be possible to write in first person and still write a good paper. Usually, however, the higher scores on the synthesis exam are made by students who take a more scholarly approach in their writing.Only use first-person if it is absolutely necessary. Here's an example of weak use of first person:"I think America's voting age should be lowered to 16 because my friends are well informed and should help decide who is elected."The sentence is stronger without the use of first-person:"America's voting age should be lowered to 16 because students at this age are well informed and should help decide who is elected."
Your paper should be long enough to cover all aspects of the prompt with supporting sources and analysis. It's impossible to state exactly how long the paper should be, but the best papers probably average 3-4 handwritten pages without skipping lines. Obviously, size of penmanship also determines how long papers are. Students who write only one or two pages probably do not offer enough analysis and support. Students who write 5 or 6 pages may have outstanding papers or they might write inferior papers because they are redundant or they are very "wordy" (takes 20 words to express the view that others relate in 10 words).
NoStudents are not required to memorize documentation styles for the test. The essay prompt gives students the format to use. For example, students will be told to document a source by referring to it as Source A or by the author's last name. As long as you give credit to each source, you will be fine. ExamplesSource A states that the minimum voting age in 65% of all countries is 16.Adams states that the minimum voting age in 65% of all countries is 16.The minimum voting age is 16 in 65% of all countries (Source A).The minimum voting age is 16 in 65% of all countries (Adams).
The essay prompt will state the minimum number of sources that students must use (cite) in their papers. For each synthesis essay administered so far, the instructions have required students to use at least 3 of the 6 or 7 provided sources. Be careful! The next AP English Language exam might require more. Read carefully!
Two of the biggest errors that students make are summarizing sources instead of using the sources to help analyze the topic and failure to provide sufficient analysis of the topic. Good papers must provide depth.
The Synthesis essay will provide all of the sources you will need to write a good paper. While it might be easier to write about a topic you know well, you are not penalized if you know nothing about the topic. You can read and analyze each source and have enough information to write a cogent, thoughtful, and insightful paper.
Certainly! If you can add information that will provide more analysis of the topic, use it. Since your argument should be central, inclusion of pertinent outside information will make your paper more interesting and provide more depth. However, don't forget to use the minimum number of required sources.
The opening paragraph of the essay should state the topic and include a thesis statement. Weak papers often rephrase all of the information found in the essay prompt. Don't do this.A good way to begin the paper is to start with an anecdote or short story that illustrates the problem and then end the paragraph with the thesis statement. If the prompt asks students to take a stand on the issue, make sure you take a stand in your thesis.ExampleBecause most young adults are as well informed and interested in their country as are adults, America's voting age should be lowered to 16.If the prompt asks students to analyze the issues that should be considered before making a decision, list those issues in the same order as you will address them in your paper.ExampleBefore lowering the voting age to 16, Americans must first assess whether sixteen year olds are sufficiently mature, sufficiently interested, and sufficiently informed to vote.
Interesting, thoughtful, and insightful papers with outstanding introductions receive the highest scores. If your mind goes blank and you are running out of time, however, make your thesis statement (one sentence) your entire introduction. You won't make the highest grade, but if you thoroughly analyze the topic and provide sufficient use of the sources, you can still score around a 5 or 6 on your essay (out of 9 points). This may be high enough to receive an overall passing score on the AP English Language exam.
Yes! From the opening paragraph, readers start to form their impressions of student writing. First, they can tell how creative a student is by seeing if his paper opens like hundreds of other papers or if he uses a more interesting method.Readers can also tell when students make their arguments central by beginning a discussion of the topic or if they let the prompt and sources drive their papers by rephrasing the essay prompt.They can also tell how organized and logical students are, and from the thesis statement they can probably already tell if the student will address all areas of the prompt.
Only when necessary or interesting!Use a quotation only if it conveys enlightening information or is a quotation from an expert that illustrates a point you are making. When you use a quotation, it should be brief. If you quote extensively, your argument will not be central. It is possible to write an excellent paper that uses the minimum number of sources and never include a quotation.
Don't just drop in quotations or information without your own analysis. Provide a lead-in to set up the quotation or information, then list the quotation or information, and finally provide your analysis.ExampleMr. Sam Smith, Civics teacher at Harrison High School believes that many of his students are prepared to cast votes: "Each day I work with many students who are smart, informed, and better equipped to vote than many of the adults I know." While Mr. Smith believes that his students are ready to vote, does this mean that all 16 year olds should be given the vote? Are Mr. Smith's students indeed representative of all students at this age? What about the teenagers who do not even realize that a Congressional election is approaching?Note that this block includes a lead-in identifying the teacher, then the teacher's statement, followed by the writer's analysis.
Cite pertinent information in your own words and then give credit to the source.ExamplesSmith found that 77% of American sixteen year olds want to vote while only 32% of British sixteen year olds are enthusiastic about voting.American sixteen year olds are more than twice as likely to want to vote than their British counterparts (Smith).
YES! Only provide quotations when necessary. If you can cite the information briefly in your own words, do so. However, don't forget to give the source credit by citing the author's name or source in the lead-in to the information or in parenthetical documentation after the information.
Possibilities* provide more depth or more analysis of the topic* provide a more interesting introduction or conclusion* use good details and examples to support your statements* reduce summary of sources* use varied vocabulary and sentence structure
Write as neatly as possible in blue or black ink. Readers will do everything they can to try to read student papers because they know how quickly students must write to complete the test. If one reader can't read the penmanship in one paper, he will offer it to another reader to try. If the penmanship is so poor that no one can read it (rare), how can anyone grade it?
AP readers know that they are reading rough drafts of papers. Since students only have a few minutes to write each essay, no one expects to read pristine papers that include no errors. If you make an occasional error, readers will overlook it. If you make many errors, however, readers will think you have not mastered sufficient writing skills and will lower your score.
Again, readers know they are grading rough drafts of papers. Since you are not allowed to use a dictionary, your grade will not be lowered for an occasional misspelling. If you have many errors that distract the reader, however, your grade may be lowered.
Interesting question! Most students make two huge errors when writing the Synthesis essay: (1) They rephrase the question and the prompt in their introduction, and (2) they summarize the sources.Start your paper in an interesting way by providing an anecdote or attention grabber and then make YOUR argument central. If you do these two things well, your paper will be unique.
If you are taking an AP English Language course, your teacher will probably assign several previously administered essays. This is great practice. Take them seriously!Any assignment that you receive in any class that asks you to read carefully and consider the ideas of others will help you, particularly if you have to write an analysis of those topics.On your own, you can read an article that advances a view and then write a paragraph where you support that author's view. Then turn around and write a paragraph where you oppose the author's views. Make sure you give examples to support your statements.
Yes! Anytime you discuss a topic, particularly a controversial issue that has several sides, you are engaging in the deep analysis that you will need for the Synthesis essay.Want to practice for the exam and have a little fun? Choose a topic of interest, ask friends to find sources on both sides of that topic, and then get together and discuss the topic and the views you find in essays and articles. This in depth discussion will help train your mind for the Synthesis essay.
While students are not tested on any specific text on the AP English Language exam, most reading that you complete will help make you a faster and more analytical reader. Additionally, because the AP English Language exam asks students to investigate ideas, well-informed citizens generally perform better on the Synthesis essay. Reading newspapers and contemporary events magazines and even watching news programs may give you an edge over other students on the AP English Language exam.
Usually not!Students, however, who can implement some of those good strategies (figurative language, logos, pathos, deduction, logic, etc.) may write better essays.
Parts of newspaper articles, essays, magazine articles, research reports, graphs, tables, editorial cartoons, blog entries, etc.
Read the prompt carefully. Some prompts ask students to choose a side while other prompts ask students to look at the advantages and disadvantages of an issue. Make sure you address exactly what the essay directs you to include.
Reading visual texts (cartoons, videos, tables, photos, charts, etc) is a necessary skill in today's highly visual society.
Photos, editorial cartoons, general cartoons, tables, graphs, etc. Students who use information from these visual sources in their synthesis essays must document the source.
Because students have such a short time to write the synthesis essay, students will not have time to write an outstanding conclusion. Most conclusions, however, should restate the answers to the questions the prompt suggest.
Because of time constraints, students do not have time to write a beautiful conclusion. Practice leaving yourself at least one minute to write a one-sentence conclusion. Although it won't be a good conclusion, rewriting the thesis statement for the conclusion will at least provide closure.
Read the directions for the prompt. In most cases the directions will tell the student to choose his own examples. If this happens, you may include your own examples. However, make sure you also use the provided sources. If you add your own examples to those provided in the sources, you should have a good paper that will be slightly different from other papers.
While both the DBQ and the Synthesis essay require students to read and evaluate sources and then form an opinion on the provided topic, the DBQ requires students to include more information that they have acquired about the subject outside of class. Students writing the Synthesis essay do not have to have prior knowledge of the topic. The scores students receive on the DBQs are based on how well the student knows the topic. Synthesis essay scores are based on how well a student understand the complexity of the topic, how well he understands and can use the provided sources, and how well he can express his views and document sources in his writing. In short, the DBQ is content driven whereas the Synthesis essay is skill driven.
NO! Summarizing the sources is probably the biggest error that students make. YOUR argument should be central. Use information from the sources to support your statements. Or, advance your argument by including information from sources and then refute it. Students who summarize sources will write very long papers that may be well-written. However, that's not the goal for the Synthesis essay. Read the directions carefully and write a paper that analyzes the given topic. Do not summarize!
Students often want to ignore the sources that take the opposing side. However, the best papers have a conversation with the sources and consider both sides of an issue. If you have sources that counter your view, explain why you believe the source is incorrect.ExampleJones states that sixteen year olds should not be given the chance to vote in national elections because students at this age are apathetic and uninformed. While it is true that many students are apathetic and uninformed, isn't the same thing true for many older adults. While some sixteen year olds are more interested in their plans for Saturday night than in voting in national elections, many adults are also more interested in their Saturday golf or shopping outings than their voting responsibilities. Yellow highlights a student's use of an opposing opinion. Green highlights how the student uses this information to advance his own opinion.
Because the best papers will include more complexity, incorporate more outside examples and information, and exhibit a writing style that captures the reader's attention, the best papers will stand out from average papers. Thousands and thousands of students will simply reword the topic and provide little depth to an analysis of this topic. These papers will certainly be similar and bore AP readers.
AP readers know that students are pressed for time and only have time to write rough drafts. They know the papers will include mistakes. If you catch a mistake, draw one line through the mistake and then make the correction as neatly as possible. Don't blot out the mistakes because blots distract readers.
Don't worry about whether an AP reader agrees with your view. Your goal is to advance your ideas, and many of the prompts will ask you to write a persuasive paper. Your goal is to convince the reader to take a closer look at your side of an issue. Good writing will be rewarded regardless of the reader's personal views.
Good writing on the Synthesis essay should invite readers to consider all sides of an issue. Readers will not be offended unless students deliberately include information to offend readers. Good writing is not offensive because readers who find a paper offensive will stop reading. Don't worry about being offensive unless you plan to include profanity or use derogatory names to label people who oppose your ideas. As long as the tone of your paper remains respectful, you will not offend a reader.
NO!Each of the three required essays counts the same. Don't skip any of the essays. If you think the Synthesis essay is the hardest, you might save it until the last to write in the hopes that you will have more time to write the essay. Some students, however, may select to write their hardest essay first and get it over with.Do not skip any of the essays!
All writing that you complete before the exam will improve your writing skills. A quick writing activity that might help you is to select an article that looks at a controversial subject. Read the article and then using information from the article, write a paragraph that explains the views of the affirmative side of the issue and then write a paragraph that analyzes the opposing side of the issue. This activity will help train your mind to look at both sides of an issue while giving you the chance to use a source for support without summarizing the information.
Good writers have large vocabularies that make their writing more interesting and varied. If you have a strong command of more advanced words, your writing will exhibit this broad vocabulary. However, don't just throw out big words to make your paper "sound" better. This will make your writing appear forced, and unnatural inclusion of more sophisticated vocabulary often forces students to write complicated or obtuse prose.
You must use at least the minimum!If you write an outstanding paper but use below the required minimum number of sources, your score will be a 4 or lower out of a possible 9 sources. Read the directions carefully and use at least the minimum number of sources.
No! Students who use more sources may write papers that provide more analysis of the topic. However, use of additional sources will not automatically raise a student's score.
This is a difficult question to answer. No student will make a higher score simply because he writes a longer paper. However, students who write good papers may make higher scores if their papers are longer because they included additional analysis and more examples than other students. If papers were graded according to length, we wouldn't need AP readers to score them. A score could be assigned simply according to the length of the paper. A student can write an 8-page paper that is off topic and make a very low score, much lower than a one-page paper that is on topic.Look at this example.One student writes an excellent three-page paper that is on topic, analytical, persuasive, and documented with the necessary sources.Another student writes an excellent four-page paper that is on topic, analytical, persuasive, and documented with the necessary sources.Assuming that both papers are well written and that the penmanship size is comparable, the student with the longer paper will have a better score because he includes more analysis and examples than the three-page paper. Goal - answer the prompt and write as much as you possibly can during the provided time. Don't just write to make your paper longer! Include additional analysis and examples.
1 - Failure to address the prompt properly2 - Summarizing sources instead of synthesizing sources3 - Failure to cite minimum required sources4 - Failure to document sources properly5 - Failure to provide depth in analysis
In addition to assessing a student's writing skills, the Synthesis essay measures how deeply a student thinks. A deep thinker looks at all aspects of a problem or issue and considers multiple views. A simplistic essay exhibits a rudimentary, incomplete, or shallow understanding of a topic.
The AP Synthesis essay measures how well a student thinks and writes in comparison to students at the end of their first College English course. Students who write immature essays exhibit vocabulary, sentence structure, analysis, style, etc. that is comparable to younger high school students.
That depends!Humor when used well is always refreshing if the topic is appropriate for humor. However, have you ever heard someone who is not funny try to tell a joke? It's painful! If you can use humor to convey your ideas in a way that makes your paper interesting and still scholarly, use it. If the topic does not lend itself to humor or if you are not really a funny person, don't use humor because it will probably trivialize your paper.
Organization will be specific to each essay. All essays will have an introduction in the first paragraph and the conclusion in the final paragraph. Body paragraphs will address specific topics. Here's a possible organization for a topic that asks students to determine the factors that should be considered before lowering the voting age.Introduction to topic and thesis statement - first paragraph2nd paragraph - First and most important factor that should be considered3rd paragraph - Second factor that should be considered4 - 6 - other factors that should be consideredFinal paragraph - conclusion
No!Many students are taught to write 5-paragraph papers because this is an easy format for young students to understand and implement. As students mature, however, they will vary formats according to topics and purpose. Because of time constraints on the AP English exam, students may only have time to write cohesive papers that are 4 paragraphs. Other students may have time to write 7-8 paragraphs. That's fine!
As addressed on a previous card, students must use the minimum number of sources. If a paper contains no reference to any of the sources, the paper will receive a very low score, probably a 1 out of 9 points. Read the directions carefully.
Follow the directions for the prompt. All Synthesis essays so far have NOT asked students to include line numbers or page numbers. In most cases, inclusion of page or line numbers would not affect a score so long as students provide the author's name or source letter provided in the directions.
It would be a waste of time for students to spend so much time preparing for one essay if they would never use this form of writing after the test. All college students, however, will write multiple research papers and papers of analysis as undergraduate and graduate students. The Synthesis essay measures a writing skill that students must master and use throughout college.
These directions are used primarily on the Argument question on the AP English Language exam, but they may also appear on the Synthesis essay. Defend - explain why you agree with a statementChallenge - explain why the statement is incorrectQualify - explain why the statement is both true and false or only partially true or falseExamplesDefend - Abortion is always correct.Challenge - Abortion is always wrong.Qualify - Abortion is only right if the mother's health is in danger.
Your essay should advance your argument instead of relying on the ideas of the sources. If you rely primarily on the sources, you will start summarizing the sources, and that's a huge mistake. Keep an open mind as you consider the topic and read the sources, and then let your ideas control the paper you write.
The AP English Language exam is based on reading, writing, and thinking skills that students should study and improve throughout their years in school. Ideally, students will discuss controversial ideas each day and write about these ideas periodically. Since the Synthesis essay measures skills not facts, students cannot "cram" for the test a few days before they take it.