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The Rhetorical Analysis Essay

  • What is a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?
    • A rhetorical analysis essay is a type of essay that asks you to read between the lines of a text and discuss how the writer expresses himself or herself.
    • A rhetorical analysis essay prompt usually includes the words analyze, explain, and/or point of view.
  • What a Rhetorical Analysis Essay Isn’t
    • A rhetorical analysis essay is not a chance for you to show off your own rhetorical skills.
    • It is not an opportunity to refute or discredit the text (even if you disagree with it).
    • It is not a forum for you to expound upon your own ideas on the subject.
  • Read the Prompt Carefully (Twice)
    • The first time you read the prompt, just read to find out what kind of essay you’re writing. Look for the words analyze, explain, or point of view.
    • The second time, circle clues or key elements that you know or need to figure out. Are there unfamiliar names or terms? Is there relevant historical or contextual information?
  • Look for the Elements of Argument
    • You’re analyzing an argument, so you can expect the three elements (claim, warrant, and support) to be there. Find them!
    • The claim is especially important. If you’re going to analyze the writer’s rhetoric, you must know why that rhetoric is being employed.
    • Then look for how the author supports that claim. The devices he or she uses will be the focus of your essay.
  • Look for Point of View
    • Look for unusual language—especially if it’s loaded!
    • Ask yourself why the author chose the examples he or she did.
    • Keep the purpose of the text in mind at all times.
  • Look for Rhetorical Strategies
    • Example/Illustration
    • Classification
    • Comparison/Contrast
    • Analogy
    • Process Analysis
    • Cause & Effect
    • Definition
    • Description
    • Narration
    • Induction and Deduction

The Rhetorical Analysis Essay

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.

AP English Language and Composition