Getting Ready to Write* AP Test Style!

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STEP ONE:
STAY COOL
» 55% of your total score comes from your writing.
That’s about 18% per essay, since there are three.
» You receive 120 minutes to write 3 brilliant
essays—that’s 40 minutes per brilliant essay… in
a row.
» You’ll be writing by hand. You will not have a
book to reference, though you’ll have a poem and
a passage for the close reading sections. [THIS IS
NOT ANYTHING LIKE GOOD LITERARY WRITING IN
COLLEGE; IN FACT, IT’S KIND OF BOGUS!]
Reading, thinking, writing,
practicing… dealing with a
demanding teacher…
You have all the tools you
need. You just need to use
them. In the right order. At
the right time. Quickly and
gracefully.
ANSWER THE QUESTION with a CLEAR,
INSIGHTFUL THESIS ABOUT THE TEXT’S
OVERALL MEANING. ARGUE TO PROVE the
thesis throughout with SUPPORTING
TEXTUAL EXAMPLES. BE INSIGHTFUL,
ACKNOWLEDGE COMPLEXITY, and SHOW the
INTENT OF THE AUTHOR AKA “PUPPET
MASTER.” In close reading, mention (subtly)
LITERARY DEVICES, fully INTERPRET
quotations, and comment on the USE OF
LANGUAGE. P.s. Stick to your thesis!
“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.”
OR
“The following passage is from the novel Middlemarch by George Eliot, the
pen name of Mary Ann Evans (1819–1880). In the passage, Rosamond and
Tertius Lydgate, a recently married couple, confront financial difficulties.
Read the passage carefully. Then write a well-developed essay in which you
analyze how Eliot portrays these two characters and their relationship as
husband and wife. You may wish to consider such literary devices as
narrative perspective and selection of detail.”
» CLARIFY: What does the prompt want me to talk about?
» THESIS: What are important literary/stylistic moves made
by the author and what specific message/meaning do
they create? (Make sure to address prompt.)
» ORGANIZE: 3+ examples of how thesis is shown by direct
quotations from the text—jot down/think up outline
» WRITE: Develop each paragraph. Put priority on strong
thesis; brief, clear intro; and fully interpreted direct
quotes that support the thesis. Make sure to get
“close”—if there’s a metaphor, why that metaphor?, etc.
(Conclusion if time).
» PROOF: Quickly scan for mistakes, try to “hear” the
words in your head as you re-read and edit.
In a novel by William Styron, a father tells his son that life “is a search for justice.” Choose a
character from a novel or play who responds in some significant way to justice or injustice.
Then write a well-developed essay in which you analyze the character’s understanding of
justice, the degree to which the character’s search for justice is successful, and the
significance of this search for the work as a whole. You may choose a work from the list
below or another work of comparable literary merit. Do not merely summarize the plot.
All the King’s Men
Atonement
The Bonesetter’s Daughter
The God of Small Things
King Lear
Medea
Native Son
The Poisonwood Bible
The Stranger
A Thousand Splendid Suns
All the Pretty Horses
Beloved
Crime and Punishment
The Grapes of Wrath
A Lesson Before Dying
The Merchant of Venice
No Country for Old Men
Set This House on Fire
Things Fall Apart
To Kill a Mockingbird
Antigone
The Blind Assassin
A Gathering of Old Men
Invisible Man
Light in August
Murder in the Cathedral
Oedipus Rex
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
A Thousand Acres
The Trial
» CLARIFY: What does the prompt want me to talk about?
» SELECT A TEXT: Which work do I know best that relates
strongly to the prompt?
» THESIS: What meaningful insight does the work offer
about the topic and how does the author achieve it?
» ORGANIZE: 3+ examples of how thesis is shown by
specific events or character actions in the text—jot
down/think up outline
» WRITE: Develop each paragraph. Put priority on strong
thesis; brief, clear intro; and body that supports the
thesis. (Conclusion if time).
» PROOF: Quickly scan for mistakes, try to “hear” the words
in your head as you re-read and edit.
» Know your poetry terms.
» Know how to find the subject of a sentence.
» Go back to practice tests and define any words in the
answer options that you don’t know.
» Prepare a “go-to” text or two for the open response
question, including some premade thesis statements.
» Go online and find some poems. Practice interpreting
them.
» Re-read some Tale of Two Cities to get your brain
warmed up for difficult prose.

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