In the lesson, our professor Rebekah Hendershot goes through an introduction on the AP essay section. She starts by explaining the format and content of the essay section and then discusses who's reading these, why they matter and how the essays differ.
The essay section of this test gives you 120 minutes to answer three essay questions. That’s 40 minutes per essay.
Before you get that 120 minutes, you will be given a 15-minute reading period. Take advantage of this time to study the prompts and passages as closely as you can, and think about what positions you want to take and how you plan to argue those positions.
The essays count for 55 percent of your grade, but take two-thirds of your time on the test.
You will be given all the paper you need (including scratch paper) at the test site, but you will not be given writing implements. Remember to bring two or three blue or black ink pens with you to the test site.
Content of the Essay Section
You will have to write three kinds of essay.
Rhetorical analysis/expository: Analyze an author’s argument and point of view, and explain how the passage does whatever it does.
Argumentative essay: Support, refute, or qualify an author’s position on an issue.
Synthesis essay: Consider multiple sources and bring several of them together in a cogent essay explaining their common subject.
Who’s Reading These Essays?
The essay readers are high-school, college, and university instructors who take a week out of the year to read and score these essays.
They don’t know you personally and will not be familiar with your “style” of writing.
You don’t know them personally and cannot tailor your essay to their personal preferences.
The readers are working from examples of each score, agreed upon by the group.
Most essays are read at least twice, often by different readers, for consistency.
Readers give about 65% of the essays they read a middling score because they consider most of them mediocre.
Your job is to relieve the monotony and make your essay stand out!
Why Do These Essays Matter?
They make up 55% of your grade.
They’re your best chance to overcome multiple-choice anxiety.
They’re your opportunity to display your unique talents.
They’re your only chance to think outside the box.
Essays intimidate many students, so you will have an advantage over them if you practice ahead of time and go into the test confident of your abilities.
How Are These Essays Different?
AP test essays aren’t like the ones you write in class.
You won’t have a chance to revise.
You can’t study your subject matter in advance.
Thus, form and writing style matter as much (or more than) content.
You aren’t writing for someone you know.
You aren’t writing for someone who knows you.
Everyone is writing under exactly the same conditions!
AP Essay Section
Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.
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