English is a class students need to pass to graduate from high school and taking AP English can exempt them from some classes in college. This language class is designed to test many of your skills, for instance, synthesis abilities, how good of a writer you are, or how well you can understand the text.
The AP English essay is usually part of the final exam you have to take for your AP English Language or Literature Composition class. In this essay, you are to answer a rhetorical statement regarding a sample text or piece of literature.
For a better understanding of what is required of you in your AP English essay, we’ve created this guide with tips and advice that can come in handy during the exam. Also, for more information check our guide to AP English.
To get the skills needed to formulate a top-level essay, students need to prepare outside of class, learn how to properly interpret the prompts or questions about the given passage, provide an appropriate response with coherent evidence, cite sources correctly, and overall follow the College Board guidelines.
Writing The Essay
The AP English essay is structured like any other essay. These essays are a response to the prompts or questions asked. They will include an introduction - that includes your thesis statement - the body paragraphs and a conclusion. In general, most high-scoring essays are at least two full pages of writing.
The introduction is where you have your thesis statement, which is the heart of your essay. A strong thesis statement contains the main idea of your paper and the key arguments that you´ll support throughout the body paragraphs. This paragraph should be brief and detailed. Try to avoid sounding repetitive, instead be sure to present your ideas.
Then you have the body paragraphs, this is where you put in the text all the details, examples, and analysis. Students are required to support their answer to the question or prompt. In each paragraph, you will further develop a relevant part of your thesis statement.
As a student (and critical reader) remember to make your point through relevant, insightful, and analytical ideas about the topic, text, passage, or book assigned.
Don’t forget to go back to your thesis statement and keep your ideas on track with what you presented in the introduction. A common mistake is to forget about it and end up with an essay that doesn’t have a connection between the thesis and the body.
Finally, the last paragraph is your conclusion. Like the introduction, this paragraph should be a synthesis, short and concise. Here you present a quick summary with commentary that helps the reader wrap up the information you’ve given them.
This paragraph should never include new information or ideas, instead, it is where you show that you’ve expressed everything you wanted to and there is nothing else left for you to add.
Keep in mind that you are going to have around 40 minutes per essay, so you mustn’t waste time, every minute counts!
Here is a list of tips that will guide you with time management:
- Use the first 10 minutes to understand each of the prompts or questions, plan the essay, and write a compelling thesis statement. Be sure to read the statement carefully so that you know what they are asking of you.
- Take 25 minutes to write the essay. If you did the planning part mindfully then the rest of the essay should come easy and the writing fluent. Try not to stop to re-read each sentence, just keep writing.
- Save 5 minutes in the end to proofread your essay. This will allow you to catch some mistakes that you can correct, like punctuation errors or misspelled words.
- Reading through your work is always good if you have free time.
Lastly, keep in mind that each step is important for your essay to be worthy of an A. Be sure to cite your sources, use multiple references, and not write about things not present in the literary sample. Scoring a good grade should be a piece of cake if you follow these tips.
How To Prepare For The Exam
If you have an AP English exam coming up, you’re probably preparing yourself and studying for it. Students are used to freestyle essay writing when they make it to junior year and sometimes analysis writing can be intimidating. So here are multiple tips that will guide and prepare you for the AP English essay.
You need to learn how to read and analyze the literary sample quickly. This exam has a time limit and it is designed to test how agile you can be under a time constraint.
Practice as much as you can. Every talented person in the world will tell you this, practice makes perfect and AP English isn’t the exception.
It might be a good idea to find someone qualified (maybe a teacher or a friend who is good at essay writing) to proofread your practice essays. This way they can help you spot mistakes to watch out for during the actual exam.
Learn how to take notes as you read. Taking notes is an important step to take since it can make it easier for you to keep track of key ideas. Then you can take a look at the prompt or question and your notes and identify keywords and themes that help enhance your essay. If you constantly take notes as you read you’ll make it a habit and it will come in handy when writing your essay at the exam.
How To Craft A Thesis Statement
The thesis statement is one of the most important aspects of your essay. A strong thesis statement is going to put you on a path to develop a strong argumentative essay and score an A in the exam.
To write a good thesis you first have to understand the prompt or question and decide how to approach it in the essay. Understanding the prompt or question can be the tricky part, but you can get good at it if you practice.
Be sure to read an example or two and see how the writer answers different prompts or questions. This exam is designed to test your analytical skills, which you'll develop by reading, a lot.
A good thesis will answer the prompt or question with a disputable claim. The thesis usually follows this format: your argument plus 3 reasons or examples. You might say something like: Argument is true because of reason 1, reason 2, and reason 3.
Keep in mind that the thesis goes at the end of the introduction paragraph.
Creating a Strong Essay
There are a couple of factors that will mark the difference between a strong or weak analysis. Here is a quick list of things to make sure you have and do while writing your essay:
- Have a strong opening: Remember that the teacher will be reading dozens of essays, and the ones that will stand out are those where the opening is strong. Starting the essay with a hook sentence is always a good idea, this way you will catch your reader's eye right away. Don’t forget to introduce the title and author of the piece you’ll be analyzing in the essay in this first paragraph.
- Use topic sentences: These sentences will state a claim that helps as a guide for each paragraph. Be sure to reference the thesis statement in each of the topic sentences. A good way of starting these sentences is with transitions like “besides”, “on the other hand” and so on. This will better the flow of the essay.
- Find specific evidence that provides support to your argument: Your body paragraphs should have quotes and examples that will help you prove your thesis. This evidence will show that you know the content and how to discuss it. Don’t forget to use quotes that help you frame your argument better. Choose short examples and quotes, don’t use anything longer than three lines, maybe two.
There are other things that you should check to score a good grade before you finish this language or literature composition essay.
Know which statements need more in-depth explaining and what ideas are easy to explain in a line. For example, having a sentence that only says “the government can't handle public resources” is counterproductive since it sounds like an idea that can use more details.
You need to pay attention to grammar if you’re looking to score a higher grade.
Be sure to cite your sources, point out relevant information, and get on board with the challenge! Developing these skills will come in handy during your college years.
If you need more free info, here are more tips every student should know about passing AP English.