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For more information, please see full course syllabus of AP English Literature & Composition
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Lecture Comments (1)

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Post by Joe Gahm on January 19, 2015

Does formal writing rules apply for this?

The Prose Essay

  • Passage Sources
    • The passages used for the prose essay come from the same sources as those used in the multiple-choice section, but usually there’s an effort to avoid duplication.
    • There may or may not be a brief introductory text telling you something about the passage.
    • There may or may not be footnotes.
    • The passage may or may not be abridged from the original.
  • Two Questions to Ask
    • Read the passage. Then ask yourself these two questions:
      • What does this passage mean?” (Don’t dwell on the literal meaning; focus on the emotional content, and DO NOT SUMMARIZE.)
      • How does the author make me understand that?” (This is the part where you talk about diction, imagery, pace, and all that stuff.)
  • Elements to Include
    • Content – What is this passage about? What happens? Why did the author choose this topic or these events?
    • Point of view – From whose point of view is this passage written? What effect does that have?
    • Characterization – How does the author describe the characters and bring them alive? What effect does this have on the reader?
    • Diction – What unusual word choices does the author make? What effect does this have?
    • Imagery – What pictures does the author create with his or her words? What effect does this have?
    • Metaphor – What metaphors does the author use? What effects do they have?
    • Oppositions – Look for places where the author puts two different elements together. The distinction may be obvious (hot and cold, inside and outside) or subtle (pity and horror, irony and satire), but it will probably be there. Address it.
  • Your Job is to Score Above a 5
    • ETS essay readers mentally divide essays (in the first few sentences, usually) into “above 5”, “5” and “below 5”.
    • Your first task is to get into that first category. Once you’re above 5, it’s all a matter of degree.
  • Tips and Tricks
    • Get your mechanics right—neat handwriting, correct grammar/spelling/punctuation, etc.
    • Make your first paragraph perfect.
    • Don’t wed yourself to your structure. If your ideas change as you’re writing, work it in. Perfectly structured essays are boring (and anything good written in just 40 minutes will not be perfectly structured).
    • Don’t restate the prompt. Paraphrase.
    • Don’t summarize. Use quotations to support your points, but analyze more than you quote.
    • Use clear transitions and topic sentences.
    • Don’t pad, and don’t ramble.
    • Have a hook and a conclusion.
  • The Ultimate Essay Secret
    • Be confident in your writing—no matter what you’re writing about!

The Prose 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.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Lesson Overview 0:10
  • Passage Sources 0:36
    • May be an introductory text
    • There may be footnotes
    • May be abridged from original
  • Two Questions to Ask 1:22
    • What does this passage mean?
    • How does the author make me understand that?
  • Elements to Include 2:18
    • Content
    • Point of View
    • Characterization
    • Diction
    • Imagery
    • Metaphor
    • Oppositions
  • Your Job is to Score Above a 5 4:28
  • Tips and Tricks 5:18
    • Get mechanics right
    • Make first paragraph perfect
    • Perfectly structured essays are boring
    • Don't restate the prompt
    • Don't summarize
    • Use clear transitions and topic sentences
    • Don't pad, don't ramble
    • Have a hook and conclusion
  • The Ultimate Essay Secret 8:10