Adventures in Arguing 101

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Adventures in Arguing 101
AP Language
Journal Entry
Write at least a paragraph responding to
the following quote by American essayist
and social critic H. L. Mencken (1880–
1956):
“The average man does not want to be
free. He simply wants to be safe.”
The Steps
-
-
Read the prompt. You must summarize the author’s
argument.
Brainstorm for both sides. Rank arguments. Strongest
to weakest.
Create a thesis [that has something in it that you can
prove and shows that you understand that the issue is
complex.]
Make a brief outline. You should have at least 3 body
paragraphs. Go from weakest to strongest. Make
strong connections.
Intro needs to get the reader’s attention. Then hit him
in the nose with your thesis. The rest is an organized
attack. The more ideas, the better
Body paragraphs must be TIEA
Conclusion is like the grand-finale – it better be
something that the reader won’t forget.
1. READ THE PROMPT
2011 AP ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND COMPOSITION
FREE-RESPONSE QUESTIONS (Form B)
®
© 2011 The College Board.
Visit the College Board on the Web: www.collegeboard.org.
Question 3
(Suggested time—40 minutes. This question counts for onethird of the total essay section score.)
American essayist and social critic H. L. Mencken (1880–
1956) wrote, “The average man does not want to be free.
He simply wants to be safe.” In a well-written essay,
examine the extent to which Mencken’s observation
applies to contemporary society, supporting your
position with appropriate evidence.
2. BRAINSTORM FOR BOTH SIDES
Free
Safe
3. Create a Thesis
Although ______________(1)______________,
________________(2)__________________.
(1) Counterargument
(2) Your Claim
YOU MUST TAKE A SIDE!
ATO
ATO = Address the Opposition
You must allow for intelligent people who think
differently than you do.
Even though you firmly support one side, why
could smart people believe differently than you
do?
Without an ATO you will get no better than a 5.
4. Brief Outline
• You should have at least 2 body paragraphs [I prefer 3,
but 2 beefier paragraphs are better than 3 starved
ones]. Go from weakest to strongest. Make strong
connections.
5. Intro
• Start with a HOOK or your ATO
• ATO = Address the Opposition
[If you are running out of time, just start with
your thesis. ]
• AVOID Rhetorical Questions
6. Body Paragraph
Your example should prove your thesis. In a
convincing manner, show how this specific
concrete instance incarnates your argument.
INCARNATE IT!
[Put Flesh on It.]
7. Conclusion
• YOU MUST: Re-state your thesis, although you
may do so in a creative way.
• YOU SHOULD: Connect to the larger thematic
connection. If people prefer safety over
freedom, what implications has that had on
humanity?
• YOU MUST NOT: 1). Skip your conclusion
because you don’t have enough time 2.)
Contradict your claim

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