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Spend about 10 minutes reading the topic and the passage carefully and planning your essay. This organizational time is crucial to producing a high-scoring essay. Consider following these steps:
Read the topic's question carefully so that you know exactly what you're being asked to do.
Read the passage carefully, noting what ideas, evidence, and rhetorical devices are relevant to the specific essay prompt.
Conceive your thesis statement, which will go in your introductory paragraph.
Organize your body paragraphs, deciding what evidence from the passage you'll include (using multiple passages in the synthesis essay) or what appropriate examples you'll use from your knowledge of the world.
Take about 25 minutes to write the essay. If you've planned well, your writing should be fluent and continuous; avoid stopping to reread what you've written. In general, most high-scoring essays are at least two full pages of writing.
Save about 5 minutes to proofread your essay. This allows you time to catch the "honest mistakes" that can be corrected easily, such as a misspelled word or punctuation error. In addition, this time lets you set the essay to rest, knowing what you've written, so that you can go on to the next topic and give it your full attention.
Writing the Essay
A traditional essay includes an introduction, body, and conclusion. The body should be made up of several paragraphs, but the introduction and conclusion require only one paragraph each.
In your introduction, make sure that you include a strong, analytical thesis statement, a sentence that explains your paper's idea and defines the scope of your essay. Also, be sure that the introduction lets the reader know that you're on topic; use key phrases from the question if necessary. The introductory paragraph should be brief-only a few sentences are necessary to state your thesis. Definitely try to avoid merely repeating the topic in your thesis; instead, let the thesis present what it is that you will specifically analyze.
The body paragraphs are the heart of the essay. Each should be guided by a topic sentence that is a relevant part of the introductory thesis statement. For rhetorical analysis essays, always supply a great deal of relevant evidence from the passage to support your ideas; feel free to quote the passage liberally. In your argument essays, provide appropriate and sufficient evidence from the passage(s) and your knowledge of the world. Prove that you are capable of intelligent "civil discourse," a discussion of important ideas. However, always be sure to connect your ideas to the thesis. Explain exactly how the evidence presented leads to your thesis. Avoid obvious commentary. A medium- to low-scoring paper merely reports what's in the passage. A high-scoring paper makes relevant, insightful, analytical points about the passage. Remember to stay on topic.
Your conclusion, like your introduction, shouldn't be longwinded or elaborate. Do attempt, however, to provide more than mere summary; try to make a point beyond the obvious, which will indicate your essay's superiority. In other words, try to address the essay's greater importance in your conclusion. Of course, you should also keep in mind that a conclusion is not absolutely necessary in order to receive a high score. Never forget that your body paragraphs are more important than the conclusion, so don't slight them merely to add a conclusion.
Remember to save a few minutes to proofread and to correct misspelled words, revise punctuation errors, and replace an occasional word or phrase with a more dynamic one. Do not make major editing changes at this time. Trust your original planning of organization and ideas, and only correct any obvious errors that you spot.
Considering Different Essay Types
In your argumentation essays, which include the synthesis essay based on multiple passages and argument essay based on one passage, you want to show that you understand the author's point(s) and can respond intelligently. Comprehending the author's point involves a three-step process: (1) clarifying the claim the author makes, (2) examining the data and evidence the author uses, and (3) understanding the underlying assumptions behind the argument. The first two steps are usually directly stated or clearly implied; understanding what the author must believe, or what the author thinks the audience believes, is a bit harder. To intelligently respond to the author's ideas, keep in mind that the AP readers and college professors are impressed by the student who can conduct "civil discourse," a discussion that fully understands all sides before taking a stand. Avoid oversimplification and remember that judgment stops discussion. Let the reader watch your ideas develop instead of jumping to a conclusion and then spending the whole essay trying to justify it. Also be aware that you don't have to take only one side in an issue. Frequently, a very good essay demonstrates understanding of multiple sides of an issue and presents a "qualifying argument" that appreciates these many sides. Show awareness of culture, history, philosophy, and politics. Prove that you are in touch with your society and the world around you. The topics give you the opportunity to intelligently discuss issues; seize that opportunity and take advantage of it.
In your rhetorical analysis essays, be sure to accurately identify rhetorical and literary devices the author employs, and then examine how they create effects and help build the author's point. Intelligent analysis explores the depth of the author's ideas and how the author's presentation enhances those ideas. Be sure you understand the author's rhetorical purpose: Is it to persuade? To satirize some fault in society? To express ideas? Then dive into the depth of the author's thoughts and enjoy how good writing enhances interesting ideas. Like the argument essays, you'll want to liberally use the text, both implicitly and explicitly. A sophisticated writer embeds phrases from the text into his or her own sentences during discussion. Avoid copying complete sentences from the text; choose just the exact word or phrase that suits your purpose and analyze it within your own sentences.
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How to Encourage Students to Master the AP Lit Thesis
- December 1, 2021
- AP Literature , Writing
For years, I have used a Poem of the Week as part of my poetry instruction in AP Literature . Last year, because the pandemic resulted in hybrid instruction and only 50% (or fewer) of my kids were in class at a time, I wanted to be sure that I put some significant emphasis on AP Lit thesis writing.
As part of our weekly poem study, the Friday prompt became an AP-style poetry essay prompt. Students only needed to write a thesis. And early in the year, it became evident that our thesis statements needed work.
AP Literature Thesis Statements and “The Point”
When the College Board came out with the new rubrics in 2019, they set aside a point that is designated for the thesis. It’s one point and students either get it or they don’t. And truthfully, it is not that hard to “get” the point. Students must simply “provide a defensible interpretation in response to the prompt” which could be supported by the text (for more, see AP Central). So in other words, students must be able to find *something* in the text that they can write about beyond a summary.
Early on, I observed two things: 1. Not all AP Lit thesis statement are created equal (even if they do earn the point) and 2. Students needed help moving from making a base claim to making a strong claims that lead to better analysis later in the essay.
AP Lit Thesis Starting Points
At the beginning of the year, my kids were writing things like
- The author uses metaphors to reveal that life gives you new, and endless opportunities each and every day.
- Merriam’s use of her metaphor for a new day in “Metaphor” reveals her positive outlook on life.
- eve marriam’s use of metaphor shows that she feels that every day is new day to write your own story.
- Love can cause pain
- Lowell uses diction and figurative language to show her intimate and spiritual connection to her partner in the poem
- Through Lowell’s uses of poetic elements and techniques, she’s able to carefully convert the speaker’s complex relationship with whoever they’re addressing.
While indeed some of these would earn the thesis point, they do no convey the depth that a good, strong AP Lit thesis will. We want students to address the complexity of the text and these just don’t cut it.
The Issue of Complexity
So the first step in helping students to develop a strong thesis is to get beyond just repeating the topic with a few elements of author’s craft thrown in. They have to be sure that they are fully addressing the complexity of the topic highlighted by the task.
The first set of thesis statements above go with Eve Merriam’s poem “Metaphor.” This is my favorite poem to start the school year with because it reflects where we are. Each school year is also like a “new sheet of paper.”
We spend the week discussing the poem ( My daily prompts are available here. ) Then on Friday, I present students with the following prompt:
In Eve Merriam’s poem “Metaphor” (1986), the speaker portrays the blankness of a new day. In a well written essay, analyze how Merriam uses poetic elements and techniques to convey the speaker’s complex attitude toward life.
And while all of the above thesis statements DO say something about her attitude toward life, none of them get to how it is complex. So the first step is to get students thinking about contrasts within the poem and other elements that help add to the depth of the text. A good way to do this might be through the Interstate, Microscope and Compass Technique from Gina at Lit and More.
AP® Lit Literary Argument
Once students see complexity in a text, they can move into developing a more complex AP® literature thesis statement.
It is also important to remind them that the College Board calls these essays “literary argument.” And an argument is by definition something that has two sides. When we teach argument writing to our English 11 students in preparation for the New York State English Regents we encourage them to include the counterargument in their thesis. And although a literary argument doesn’t necessarily have a counterargument, it should have two sides. In other words, complexity.
In these early stages, it is sometimes useful to give the students complexity starters that they can use as the basis of their thesis statements. This is a list that I provide to my students:
- even though x, y is also true
- not only j, but also k
- although d, also e
- in contrast
This list along with other helpful tips on writing AP Literature Thesis Statements is included in my AP Thesis Anchor charts here .
AP® Lit Thesis Examples
As we work through the year, thesis statements that once read “love can cause pain” become
“Even though Edith Matilda Thomas’s poem entitled “Winter Sleep” appears to be a simplistic take about growing old she also uses poetic elements such as symbolism, diction, and parallel structure to convey a complex attitude towards aging as she looks back on her life.”
“Although the speaker is reflecting on the spring-like happiness of her youth, she understands that death is coming as she moves into the metaphorical winter of her life due to her old age.”
Building on Complexity
The key to helping students earn the thesis point on the AP Literature Rubric is to help them understand that they are writing a literary argument and that an argument by its very nature has two sides or two part. Then include both of those sides in your thesis.
For more help in AP Lit Writing, be sure to check out these other AP Lit Essay Writing Anchor Charts.
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Is there a way to get working links. Both the link to the poem and the link to the daily prompts are both broken and give an error message when clicked.
Thank you for bringing that to my attention. These links are fixed now.
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AP® English Literature
How to get a 9 on poetry analysis frq in ap® english literature.
- The Albert Team
- Last Updated On: March 1, 2022
Are you taking the AP® English Literature and Composition exam? If you’re taking the course or self-studying, you know the exam is going to be tough. Of course, you want to do your best and score a five on the exam. To do well on the AP® English Literature and Composition exam, you’ll need to score high on the essays. For that, you’ll need to write a complete, efficient essay that argues an accurate interpretation of the work under examination in the Free Response Question section.
The AP® English Literature and Composition exam consists of two sections, the first being a 55-question multiple choice portion worth 45% of the total test grade. This section tests your ability to read drama, verse, or prose fiction excerpts and answer questions about them. The second section worth 55% of the total score requires essay responses to three questions, demonstrating your ability to analyze literary works: a poem analysis, a prose fiction passage analysis, and a concept, issue, or element analysis of a literary work.
From your course or review practices, you should know how to construct a clear, organized essay that defends a focused claim about the work under analysis. Your should structure your essay with a brief introduction that includes the thesis statement, followed by body paragraphs that further the thesis statement with detailed, well-discussed support, and a short concluding paragraph that reiterates and reinforces the thesis statement without repeating it. Clear organization, specific support, and full explanations or discussions are three critical components of high-scoring essays.
General Tips to Bettering Your Odds at a Nine on the AP® English Literature and Composition Exam.
Your teacher may have already told you how to approach the poetry analysis, but for the poetry essay, it’s important to keep the following in mind coming into the exam:
- Carefully read, review, and underline key to-do’s in the prompt.
- Briefly outline where you’re going to hit each prompt item–in other words, pencil out a specific order.
- Be sure you have a clear thesis that includes the terms mentioned in the instructions, literary devices, tone, and meaning.
- Include the author’s name and title of the poem in your thesis statement.
- Use quotes—lots of them—to exemplify the elements throughout the essay.
- Fully explain or discuss how your element examples support your thesis. A deeper, fuller, and focused explanation of fewer elements is better than a shallow discussion of more elements (shotgun approach).
- Avoid vague, general statements for a clear focus on the poem itself.
- Use transitions to connect sentences and paragraphs.
- Write in the present tense with generally good grammar.
- Keep your introduction and conclusion short, and don’t repeat your thesis verbatim in your conclusion.
The newly-released 2016 sample AP® English Literature and Composition exam questions, sample responses, and grading rubrics provide a valuable opportunity to analyze how to achieve high scores on each of the three Section II FRQ responses. However, for purposes of this examination, the Poetry Analysis strategies will be the focus. The poem for analysis in last year’s exam was “The Juggler” by Richard Wilbur, a modern American poet. Exam takers were asked to analyze the following:
- how the speaker in the poem describes the juggler
- what the description shows about the speaker
- how the poet uses imagery, figurative language, and tone to convey meaning
When you analyze the components of an influential essay, it’s helpful to compare all three sample answers provided by the CollegeBoard: the high scoring (A) essay, the mid-range scoring (B) essay, and the low scoring (C) essay. All three provide a teaching opportunity for achieving a nine on the poetry analysis essay.
Start with a Succinct Introduction that Includes Your Thesis Statement
The first sample essay, the A essay, quickly and succinctly introduces the author, title, thesis, elements, and devices. The writer’s introduction sentences are efficient: they contain no waste and give the reader a sense of the cohesiveness of the argument, including the role of each of the analyzed components in proving the thesis. The specificity of the details in the introduction shows that the writer is in control, with phrases like “frequent alliteration,” “off-kilter rhyme”, and “diction evoking an almost spiritual level of power”. The writer leaves nothing to guesswork.
The mid-range B essay introduction also cites some specific details in the poem, like “visual imagery (of the juggler and his balls), figurative language (the personification of the balls interacting with the juggler), and tone (the playful mood of the first two stanza)”. However, the writer wastes space and precious time (five whole lines!) with a vague and banal recitation of the prompt. The mid-range answer also doesn’t give the reader an understanding of an overarching thesis that he or she will use the elements and devices to support, merely a reference to the speaker’s “attitude”.
The third sample lacks cohesiveness, a thesis statement, and organization. The sentences read like a shotgun spray of facts and descriptions that give no direction to the reader of the writer’s approach: how he or she will use the elements and details listed to prove a thesis. The short, choppy sentences don’t connect, and the upshot is something so commonplace as Wilbur describes a talented juggler, who is also a powerful teacher. That doesn’t respond to the prompt, which requires an argument about what the juggler’s description reveals about the speaker.
To sum up, make introductions brief and compact, using specific details from the poem and a clear direction that address the call of the prompt. Writing counts. Short, choppy, disconnected sentences make an incoherent, unclear paragraph. Don’t waste time on sentences that don’t do the work ahead for you. Cut to the chase; be specific.
Use Clear Examples to Support Your Argument Points
The A answer first supports the thesis by pointing out that alliteration and rhyme scheme depict the mood and disconnection of both the speaker and the crowd. The writer does this by noting how alliteration appears when the juggler performs, but not before. The student also notes how the mood and connection to the crowd cohere when the juggler juggles, the balls defying gravity and uplifting the crowd with the balls. Then, the writer wraps up the first point about description, devices, and elements by concluding that the unusual rhyme scheme echoes the unusual feat of juggling and controlling the mood of the crowd.
With a clear focus on attaching devices to individually quoted phrases and poem details, the student leads the reader through the first pass at proving the attitude of the poem’s speaker while commenting on possible meanings the tone, attitude, and devices suggest. Again, the student uses clear, logical, and precise quotes and references to the poem without wasting time on unsupported statements. Specific illustrations anchor each point.
For example, the student identifies the end rhyme as an unusual effect that mimics the unusual and gravity-defiant balls. Tying up the first paragraph, the student then goes on to thoroughly explain the connection between the cited rhyme scheme, the unique defiance of gravity, and the effect on the speaker. The organizational plan is as follows: point (assertion), illustration, and explanation.
The mid-range sample also cites specific details of the poem, such as the “sky-blue” juggler, a color that suggests playfulness, but then only concludes that euphony shows the speaker’s attitude toward the juggler without making that connection clear with an explanation. The writer simply concludes without proving that assertion. Without further explanation or exemplification, the author demonstrates no knowledge of the term “euphony”.
Sample C also alludes to the “sky-blue” juggler but doesn’t explain the significance. In fact, the writer makes a string of details from the poem appear significant without actually revealing anything about the details the writer notes. They’re merely a string of details.
Discussion is Crucial to Connect Your Quotes and Examples to Your Argument Points
Rather than merely noting quoted phrases and lines without explanation, the A response takes the time to thoroughly discuss the meaning of the quoted words, phrases, and sentences used to exemplify his or her assertions. For example, the second paragraph begins with an assertion that the speaker’s view of the world is evident through the diction used when describing the juggler and the juggler’s act. Immediately, the writer supplies proof by directing the reader to the first and last stanzas to find “lens,” “dusk”, and “daily dark”.
The selection of these particular diction choices demonstrates the writer’s knowledge of the term “diction” and how to support a conclusion the student will make by the end of the sentence that the speaker’s attitude toward the world around him is “not the brightest”. The writer gives a follow-up sentence to further convince the reader of the previous point about the speaker’s dim view by adding, “All the words and phrases used just fall flat, filled with connotations of dullness…”
Using the transition, “however”, the A response goes on to further explain that the juggler’s description contrasts with that of the speaker’s in its lightness, by again providing both specifically-quoted words and complete one or two full sentence follow-ups to the examples. In that way, the writer clarifies the connection between the examples and their use and meaning. Nothing is left unexplained–unlike the B response, which claims Wilbur uses personification, then gives a case of a quoted passage about the balls not being “lighthearted”.
After mentioning the term, the B essay writer merely concludes that Wilbur used personification without making the connection between “lighthearted” and personification. The writer might have written one additional sentence to show that balls as inanimate objects don’t have the emotions to be cheery nor lighthearted, only humans do. Thus, Wilbur personifies the balls. Likewise short of support, the writer concludes that the “life” of the balls through personification adds to the mystery and wonder–without further identifying the wonder or whose wonder and how that wonder results from the life of the balls.
Write a Brief Conclusion
While it’s more important to provide a substantive, organized, and clear argument throughout the body paragraphs than it is to conclude, a conclusion provides a satisfying rounding out of the essay and last opportunity to hammer home the content of the preceding paragraphs. If you run out of time for a conclusion because of the thorough preceding paragraphs, that is not as fatal to your score as not concluding or not concluding as robustly as the A essay sample (See the B essay conclusion).
The A response not only provides a quick but sturdy recap of all the points made throughout the body paragraphs (without repeating the thesis statement) but also reinforces those points by repeating them as the final parting remarks to the reader. The writer demonstrates not only the points made but the order of their appearance, which also showcases the overall structure of the essay.
Finally, a conclusion compositionally rounds out a gracious essay–polite because it considers the reader. You don’t want your reader to have to work hard to understand any part of your essay. By repeating recapped points, you help the reader pull the argument together and wrap up.
Write in Complete Sentences with Proper Punctuation and Compositional Skills
Though pressed for time, it’s important to write an essay with clear, correctly punctuated sentences and properly spelled words. Strong compositional skills create a favorable impression to the reader, like using appropriate transitions or signals (however, therefore) to tie sentences and paragraphs together, making the relationships between sentences clear (“also”–adding information, “however”–contrasting an idea in the preceding sentence).
Starting each paragraph with a clear topic sentence that previews the main idea or focus of the paragraph helps you the writer and the reader keep track of each part of your argument. Each section furthers your points on the way to convincing your reader of your argument. If one point is unclear, unfocused, or grammatically unintelligible, like a house of cards, the entire argument crumbles. Good compositional skills help you lay it all out orderly, clearly, and fully.
For example, the A response begins the first body paragraph with “In the first and last stanzas, no alliteration beyond ‘daily dark’ appears, evoking a tone that could hardly be described as cheerful”. The sentence, with grammatically-correct commas inserted to section off the lead-in phrase, “In the first and last stanzas,” as well as the dependent clause at the sentence’s end, “evoking a tone that…,” gives a road map to the reader as to the paragraph’s design: alliteration, tone, darkness. Then the writer hits all three of those with a complete explanation.
The next paragraph begins with a rather clunky, unwieldy sentence that nevertheless does the same as the first–keys the reader to the first point regarding the speaker’s view of the world and the devices and elements used to do so. It’s clear the writer tackles the speaker’s view, the juggler’s depiction, and diction choice–both as promised from the beginning in the thesis statement of the introductory paragraph and per the prompt. The writer uses the transition “In the first and last stanzas”, to tie the topic sentence to the examples he or she will use to prove the topic sentence; then the writer is off to do the same in the next paragraph.
So by the time the conclusion takes the reader home, the writer has done all of the following:
- followed the prompt
- followed the propounded thesis statement in exact order promised
- provided a full discussion with examples
- included quotes proving each assertion
- used clear, grammatically correct sentences
- wrote paragraphs ordered by a thesis statement
- created topic sentences for each paragraph
- ensured each topic sentence furthered the ideas presented in the thesis statement
Have a Plan and Follow it
It’s easier than it sounds. To get a 9 on the poetry analysis essay in the AP® Literature and Composition exam, practice planning a response under strict time deadlines. Write as many practice essays as you can. Follow the same procedure each time.
First, be sure to read the instructions carefully, highlighting the parts of the prompt you absolutely must cover. Then map out a scratch outline of the order you intend to cover each point in support of your argument. Try and include not only a clear thesis statement, written as a complete sentence but the topic sentences to each paragraph followed by the quotes and details you’ll use to support the topic sentences. Then follow your map faithfully.
Be sure to give yourself enough time to give your essay a brief re-read to catch mechanical errors, missing words, or necessary insertions to clarify an incomplete or unclear thought. With time, an organized approach, and plenty of practice, earning a nine on the poetry analysis is manageable. Be sure to ask your teacher or consult other resources, like albert.io’s Poetic Analysis practice essays, if you’re unsure how to identify poetic devices and elements in poetry, or need more practice writing a poetry analysis.
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How to Write the AP Lit Prose Essay + Example
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What is the ap lit prose essay, how will ap scores affect my college chances.
AP Literature and Composition (AP Lit), not to be confused with AP English Language and Composition (AP Lang), teaches students how to develop the ability to critically read and analyze literary texts. These texts include poetry, prose, and drama. Analysis is an essential component of this course and critical for the educational development of all students when it comes to college preparation. In this course, you can expect to see an added difficulty of texts and concepts, similar to the material one would see in a college literature course.
While not as popular as AP Lang, over 380,136 students took the class in 2019. However, the course is significantly more challenging, with only 49.7% of students receiving a score of three or higher on the exam. A staggeringly low 6.2% of students received a five on the exam.
The AP Lit exam is similar to the AP Lang exam in format, but covers different subject areas. The first section is multiple-choice questions based on five short passages. There are 55 questions to be answered in 1 hour. The passages will include at least two prose fiction passages and two poetry passages and will account for 45% of your total score. All possible answer choices can be found within the text, so you don’t need to come into the exam with prior knowledge of the passages to understand the work.
The second section contains three free-response essays to be finished in under two hours. This section accounts for 55% of the final score and includes three essay questions: the poetry analysis essay, the prose analysis essay, and the thematic analysis essay. Typically, a five-paragraph format will suffice for this type of writing. These essays are scored holistically from one to six points.
Today we will take a look at the AP Lit prose essay and discuss tips and tricks to master this section of the exam. We will also provide an example of a well-written essay for review.
The AP Lit prose essay is the second of the three essays included in the free-response section of the AP Lit exam, lasting around 40 minutes in total. A prose passage of approximately 500 to 700 words and a prompt will be given to guide your analytical essay. Worth about 18% of your total grade, the essay will be graded out of six points depending on the quality of your thesis (0-1 points), evidence and commentary (0-4 points), and sophistication (0-1 points).
While this exam seems extremely overwhelming, considering there are a total of three free-response essays to complete, with proper time management and practiced skills, this essay is manageable and straightforward. In order to enhance the time management aspect of the test to the best of your ability, it is essential to understand the following six key concepts.
1. Have a Clear Understanding of the Prompt and the Passage
Since the prose essay is testing your ability to analyze literature and construct an evidence-based argument, the most important thing you can do is make sure you understand the passage. That being said, you only have about 40 minutes for the whole essay so you can’t spend too much time reading the passage. Allot yourself 5-7 minutes to read the prompt and the passage and then another 3-5 minutes to plan your response.
As you read through the prompt and text, highlight, circle, and markup anything that stands out to you. Specifically, try to find lines in the passage that could bolster your argument since you will need to include in-text citations from the passage in your essay. Even if you don’t know exactly what your argument might be, it’s still helpful to have a variety of quotes to use depending on what direction you take your essay, so take note of whatever strikes you as important. Taking the time to annotate as you read will save you a lot of time later on because you won’t need to reread the passage to find examples when you are in the middle of writing.
Once you have a good grasp on the passage and a solid array of quotes to choose from, you should develop a rough outline of your essay. The prompt will provide 4-5 bullets that remind you of what to include in your essay, so you can use these to structure your outline. Start with a thesis, come up with 2-3 concrete claims to support your thesis, back up each claim with 1-2 pieces of evidence from the text, and write a brief explanation of how the evidence supports the claim.
2. Start with a Brief Introduction that Includes a Clear Thesis Statement
Having a strong thesis can help you stay focused and avoid tangents while writing. By deciding the relevant information you want to hit upon in your essay up front, you can prevent wasting precious time later on. Clear theses are also important for the reader because they direct their focus to your essential arguments.
In other words, it’s important to make the introduction brief and compact so your thesis statement shines through. The introduction should include details from the passage, like the author and title, but don’t waste too much time with extraneous details. Get to the heart of your essay as quick as possible.
3. Use Clear Examples to Support Your Argument
One of the requirements AP Lit readers are looking for is your use of evidence. In order to satisfy this aspect of the rubric, you should make sure each body paragraph has at least 1-2 pieces of evidence, directly from the text, that relate to the claim that paragraph is making. Since the prose essay tests your ability to recognize and analyze literary elements and techniques, it’s often better to include smaller quotes. For example, when writing about the author’s use of imagery or diction you might pick out specific words and quote each word separately rather than quoting a large block of text. Smaller quotes clarify exactly what stood out to you so your reader can better understand what are you saying.
Including smaller quotes also allows you to include more evidence in your essay. Be careful though—having more quotes is not necessarily better! You will showcase your strength as a writer not by the number of quotes you manage to jam into a paragraph, but by the relevance of the quotes to your argument and explanation you provide. If the details don’t connect, they are merely just strings of details.
4. Discussion is Crucial to Connect Your Evidence to Your Argument
As the previous tip explained, citing phrases and words from the passage won’t get you anywhere if you don’t provide an explanation as to how your examples support the claim you are making. After each new piece of evidence is introduced, you should have a sentence or two that explains the significance of this quote to the piece as a whole.
This part of the paragraph is the “So what?” You’ve already stated the point you are trying to get across in the topic sentence and shared the examples from the text, so now show the reader why or how this quote demonstrates an effective use of a literary technique by the author. Sometimes students can get bogged down by the discussion and lose sight of the point they are trying to make. If this happens to you while writing, take a step back and ask yourself “Why did I include this quote? What does it contribute to the piece as a whole?” Write down your answer and you will be good to go.
5. Write a Brief Conclusion
While the critical part of the essay is to provide a substantive, organized, and clear argument throughout the body paragraphs, a conclusion provides a satisfying ending to the essay and the last opportunity to drive home your argument. If you run out of time for a conclusion because of extra time spent in the preceding paragraphs, do not worry, as that is not fatal to your score.
Without repeating your thesis statement word for word, find a way to return to the thesis statement by summing up your main points. This recap reinforces the arguments stated in the previous paragraphs, while all of the preceding paragraphs successfully proved the thesis statement.
6. Don’t Forget About Your Grammar
Though you will undoubtedly be pressed for time, it’s still important your essay is well-written with correct punctuating and spelling. Many students are able to write a strong thesis and include good evidence and commentary, but the final point on the rubric is for sophistication. This criteria is more holistic than the former ones which means you should have elevated thoughts and writing—no grammatical errors. While a lack of grammatical mistakes alone won’t earn you the sophistication point, it will leave the reader with a more favorable impression of you.
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Here are Nine Must-have Tips and Tricks to Get a Good Score on the Prose Essay:
- Carefully read, review, and underline key instruction s in the prompt.
- Briefly outlin e what you want to cover in your essay.
- Be sure to have a clear thesis that includes the terms mentioned in the instructions, literary devices, tone, and meaning.
- Include the author’s name and title in your introduction. Refer to characters by name.
- Quality over quantity when it comes to picking quotes! Better to have a smaller number of more detailed quotes than a large amount of vague ones.
- Fully explain how each piece of evidence supports your thesis .
- Focus on the literary techniques in the passage and avoid summarizing the plot.
- Use transitions to connect sentences and paragraphs.
- Keep your introduction and conclusion short, and don’t repeat your thesis verbatim in your conclusion.
Here is an example essay from 2020 that received a perfect 6:
 In this passage from a 1912 novel, the narrator wistfully details his childhood crush on a girl violinist. Through a motif of the allure of musical instruments, and abundant sensory details that summon a vivid image of the event of their meeting, the reader can infer that the narrator was utterly enraptured by his obsession in the moment, and upon later reflection cannot help but feel a combination of amusement and a resummoning of the moment’s passion.
 The overwhelming abundance of hyper-specific sensory details reveals to the reader that meeting his crush must have been an intensely powerful experience to create such a vivid memory. The narrator can picture the “half-dim church”, can hear the “clear wail” of the girl’s violin, can see “her eyes almost closing”, can smell a “faint but distinct fragrance.” Clearly, this moment of discovery was very impactful on the boy, because even later he can remember the experience in minute detail. However, these details may also not be entirely faithful to the original experience; they all possess a somewhat mysterious quality that shows how the narrator may be employing hyperbole to accentuate the girl’s allure. The church is “half-dim”, the eyes “almost closing” – all the details are held within an ethereal state of halfway, which also serves to emphasize that this is all told through memory. The first paragraph also introduces the central conciet of music. The narrator was drawn to the “tones she called forth” from her violin and wanted desperately to play her “accompaniment.” This serves the double role of sensory imagery (with the added effect of music being a powerful aural image) and metaphor, as the accompaniment stands in for the narrator’s true desire to be coupled with his newfound crush. The musical juxtaposition between the “heaving tremor of the organ” and the “clear wail” of her violin serves to further accentuate how the narrator percieved the girl as above all other things, as high as an angel. Clearly, the memory of his meeting his crush is a powerful one that left an indelible impact on the narrator.
 Upon reflecting on this memory and the period of obsession that followed, the narrator cannot help but feel amused at the lengths to which his younger self would go; this is communicated to the reader with some playful irony and bemused yet earnest tone. The narrator claims to have made his “first and last attempts at poetry” in devotion to his crush, and jokes that he did not know to be “ashamed” at the quality of his poetry. This playful tone pokes fun at his childhood self for being an inexperienced poet, yet also acknowledges the very real passion that the poetry stemmed from. The narrator goes on to mention his “successful” endeavor to conceal his crush from his friends and the girl; this holds an ironic tone because the narrator immediately admits that his attempts to hide it were ill-fated and all parties were very aware of his feelings. The narrator also recalls his younger self jumping to hyperbolic extremes when imagining what he would do if betrayed by his love, calling her a “heartless jade” to ironically play along with the memory. Despite all this irony, the narrator does also truly comprehend the depths of his past self’s infatuation and finds it moving. The narrator begins the second paragraph with a sentence that moves urgently, emphasizing the myriad ways the boy was obsessed. He also remarks, somewhat wistfully, that the experience of having this crush “moved [him] to a degree which now [he] can hardly think of as possible.” Clearly, upon reflection the narrator feels a combination of amusement at the silliness of his former self and wistful respect for the emotion that the crush stirred within him.
 In this passage, the narrator has a multifaceted emotional response while remembering an experience that was very impactful on him. The meaning of the work is that when we look back on our memories (especially those of intense passion), added perspective can modify or augment how those experiences make us feel
More essay examples, score sheets, and commentaries can be found at College Board .
While AP Scores help to boost your weighted GPA, or give you the option to get college credit, AP Scores don’t have a strong effect on your admissions chances . However, colleges can still see your self-reported scores, so you might not want to automatically send scores to colleges if they are lower than a 3. That being said, admissions officers care far more about your grade in an AP class than your score on the exam.
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AP Lit: Poetry Overview
6 min read • november 18, 2021
AP English Lit: Poetry Analysis
There are three types of free-response questions on the AP Literature exam. You will be given 120 minutes to write all three essays, so you should take approximately 40 minutes to write each one. The entire free-response section is worth 55% of your total exam score.
Question 1, that you will see first on the exam, will be a poetry analysis prompt. You will need to read a given poem of 100 to 300 words and a prompt to guide your analytical essay about the poem. The prompt will help you figure out what to look for as you read the poem.
So we’re all on the same page, here are the most important definitions you need to know that are necessary to understand any discussion of poetry analysis.
- analyze: examine the passage closely for details that help you interpret and explain the question topic (i.e. breaking down how the poem was put together)
- complexity: the thematic, character or structural tensions or conflicts that are present in any poem
- thesis: the claim that establishes your line of reasoning and interpretation of the text
2011 AP English Literature and Composition Exam Q1 (from CollegeBoard.org)
The following poem is by the contemporary poet Li-Young Lee. Read the poem carefully. Then write a well-developed essay in which you analyze how the poet conveys the complex relationship of the father and the son through the use of literary devices such as point of view and structure.
See how the prompt asks about the “complex relationship of the father and son”? This helps you to know how to approach the poem and how to annotate it as you read it. The italics at the end of the prompt are to note specific literary devices that are given in older prompts that you might use to practice, but will not be given in 2020. However, the prompt will always give you:
- time period of publication
- a thematic, topical or structural aspect (abstract topic) to analyze
It is helpful to underline or circle these three elements to prepare you to read the poem. The prompt will always tell you to look for the literary devices or elements that the poet uses to create the thematic/topical/structural aspect of the poem.
Reading the Poem
Now that you know what you’re looking for, read the poem . As you read, annotate the poem for elements of the abstract topic that the author has created. Make sure that you are also making connections between the topic and the literary devices.
🎥 Watch: AP Lit - How to Read a Poem
- figurative language
- shifts in tone, meaning or language
- poetic structure and form
- diction and syntax that connect to the topic.
In the following 1919 poem by Claude McKay, the speaker discusses courage in the face of death. Read the poem carefully. Then, in a well-written essay, analyze how McKay uses poetic elements and techniques to develop his message about death during conflict.
In this prompt, you are directed toward McKay’s topic and can determine that he is delivering a message about it, so as you read, you would annotate for not only the topic (death) but his message to his audience.
When you have read through the poem (twice if possible!), you will have an idea of what you want to write about. Then it is time to write your thesis .
🎥 Watch: AP Lit - Theme Statements and Thesis Statements
Not to alarm you, but your thesis might be the most important part of your essay. It establishes what you’re going to say, and whether or not you’re going to be able to back it up with the poetic evidence. It should be about a sentence long (it could be a couple, but no more), and clearly state:
- the claim you’re making about the poem -- directly about the abstract topic given and defensible with the poetic devices in the poem
- your original interpretation of the poem that is not a summary
If you were given the following prompt ( Example 3 ) ...
In the following poem by William Shakespeare (1609), the speaker reflects on the passing of time. Read the poem carefully. Then, in a well-written essay, analyze how Shakespeare uses poetic elements and structure to convey his complex understanding of time.
...then your thesis would clearly state your interpretation of his understanding of time and the complexity of the understanding (or, why is it confusing/complex?), and probably the poetic elements that created this complexity and understanding.
Watch: AP Lit - Complexity in Poetry
As you may know, the rubric for AP Lit essays has changed from a 9-point holistic rubric to a 6-point analytical rubric. A perfect score is broken down as follows:
- 1 point for your thesis
- 4 points for your evidence and commentary
- 1 point for sophistication
The rubric that College Board AP exam readers will use is one whole page per category. 😦 For now, let’s dive into what each category means.
You cannot earn a partial point for your thesis -- you either earn a point or you do not. If you write a thesis statement that interprets the poem according to the prompt in a way that is defensible according to the poem: 1 point. In other words, you write a claim that can be defended by the poem.
If your thesis is too general, summarizes or describes the poem, or restates the prompt only, you will not earn a point.
Evidence and Commentary Points
You can earn up to 4 points for evidence and commentary. All of your evidence needs to be integrated and relevant, and all of your commentaries should connect your evidence to your prompt-based thesis.
If you write paragraphs that are unrelated to the prompt and/or the passage, you will earn a 0 in this category.
If you summarize the poem or describe its content, you will earn 1 point. You will also earn one point if you refer to the literary techniques (that you found in your annotation) but do not explain them or connect them to the poem and your claim/thesis.
If you have some relevant evidence, connected weakly to some explanation and argument, you will earn 2 points. This includes inaccurate commentary or misinterpreted evidence. 😕
You will earn 3 points for a solid job of selecting evidence and connecting it to your claim. This means your line of reasoning is supported, and your evidence contains literary elements that you connect succinctly to the abstract topic you were given.
For consistent, persuasive support of your claim that uses significant and specific evidence, you will earn the full 4 points ! You would have examined more than one literary device/technique’s use throughout the poem, and organized your essay in order to best defend your claim.
This point is new and very hard to pin down. It is only one point, which means you earn it or you don’t. But your sophistication in your essay can be found in your writing style, your claim and/or your support of your claim. Earning this point means that your argument was complex as well as responded appropriately to the complexity of the poem.
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- How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples
How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples
Published on January 11, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on August 15, 2023 by Eoghan Ryan.
A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . It usually comes near the end of your introduction .
Your thesis will look a bit different depending on the type of essay you’re writing. But the thesis statement should always clearly state the main idea you want to get across. Everything else in your essay should relate back to this idea.
You can write your thesis statement by following four simple steps:
- Start with a question
- Write your initial answer
- Develop your answer
- Refine your thesis statement
Table of contents
What is a thesis statement, placement of the thesis statement, step 1: start with a question, step 2: write your initial answer, step 3: develop your answer, step 4: refine your thesis statement, types of thesis statements, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about thesis statements.
A thesis statement summarizes the central points of your essay. It is a signpost telling the reader what the essay will argue and why.
The best thesis statements are:
- Concise: A good thesis statement is short and sweet—don’t use more words than necessary. State your point clearly and directly in one or two sentences.
- Contentious: Your thesis shouldn’t be a simple statement of fact that everyone already knows. A good thesis statement is a claim that requires further evidence or analysis to back it up.
- Coherent: Everything mentioned in your thesis statement must be supported and explained in the rest of your paper.
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The thesis statement generally appears at the end of your essay introduction or research paper introduction .
The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts and among young people more generally is hotly debated. For many who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education: the internet facilitates easier access to information, exposure to different perspectives, and a flexible learning environment for both students and teachers.
You should come up with an initial thesis, sometimes called a working thesis , early in the writing process . As soon as you’ve decided on your essay topic , you need to work out what you want to say about it—a clear thesis will give your essay direction and structure.
You might already have a question in your assignment, but if not, try to come up with your own. What would you like to find out or decide about your topic?
For example, you might ask:
After some initial research, you can formulate a tentative answer to this question. At this stage it can be simple, and it should guide the research process and writing process .
Now you need to consider why this is your answer and how you will convince your reader to agree with you. As you read more about your topic and begin writing, your answer should get more detailed.
In your essay about the internet and education, the thesis states your position and sketches out the key arguments you’ll use to support it.
The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education because it facilitates easier access to information.
In your essay about braille, the thesis statement summarizes the key historical development that you’ll explain.
The invention of braille in the 19th century transformed the lives of blind people, allowing them to participate more actively in public life.
A strong thesis statement should tell the reader:
- Why you hold this position
- What they’ll learn from your essay
- The key points of your argument or narrative
The final thesis statement doesn’t just state your position, but summarizes your overall argument or the entire topic you’re going to explain. To strengthen a weak thesis statement, it can help to consider the broader context of your topic.
These examples are more specific and show that you’ll explore your topic in depth.
Your thesis statement should match the goals of your essay, which vary depending on the type of essay you’re writing:
- In an argumentative essay , your thesis statement should take a strong position. Your aim in the essay is to convince your reader of this thesis based on evidence and logical reasoning.
- In an expository essay , you’ll aim to explain the facts of a topic or process. Your thesis statement doesn’t have to include a strong opinion in this case, but it should clearly state the central point you want to make, and mention the key elements you’ll explain.
If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!
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A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.
The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:
- It gives your writing direction and focus.
- It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.
Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.
Follow these four steps to come up with a thesis statement :
- Ask a question about your topic .
- Write your initial answer.
- Develop your answer by including reasons.
- Refine your answer, adding more detail and nuance.
The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .
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