Introduction to the ap lang Synthesis Essay Skills You Need First



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Introduction to the AP Lang Synthesis Essay

Skills You Need First

  • Passage analysis
  • Evaluate an argument
  • Write an argument
  • *You have been practicing each of these skills throughout your high school career.*

AP Lang Test Timing

  • 1 hour multiple choice
  • 15 minutes of reading *For synthesis segment*
  • Essay writing (3) 120 minutes total (+15 mins to read 9 sources on synthesis essay)

Remember!

  • The writing on an AP Lang/Composition exam should be equal to College Freshman Rhetoric. This means that students are responsible to the language of discourse (rhetoric). You may not only write using your opinion. Utilize the sources on the test and already in your “knowledge bank” to support your assertions.

Key #1

  • Student’s argument is central, but he/she must use text in support of argument.
  • Highest scores will be reasoned, or qualified, meaning it takes multiple perspectives into consideration.

Key #2

  • Use College Freshman Rhetoric
  • Use AP jargon when applicable
  • Go for complexity and depth to “beef up” your language of argument
  • Keep it formal – No “I think…”

Key #3

  • As you begin reading the sources, start with an inclination of your argument and hold it lightly as you read the sources.
  • You may change your position as you read on.
  • Read all the sources, but do so quickly.
  • Annotate the sources!

Class Exercise

  • The following is part of an actual prompt from the 2009 test. Read it. Before examining a few sources, note a preliminary argument you might make.
  • Introduction
  • Explorers and tales of explorations tend to capture the human imagination. However, such explorations have financial and ethical consequences. Space exploration is no exception.
  • Assignment
  • Read the following sources (including the introductory information) carefully. Then, in an essay that synthesizes at least three of the sources, develop a position about what issues should be considered most important in making decisions about space exploration.

Exercise

  • Examine the following source.
  • After doing so, add to/change/keep your argument made before you examined the source.

Continued

  • The Nation’s Medical Research Agency
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting medical research. Helping to lead the way toward important medical discoveries that improve people’s health and save lives, NIH scientists investigate ways to prevent disease as well as the causes, treatments, and even cures for common and rare diseases. Composed of 27 Institutes and Centers, the NIH provides leadership and financial support to researchers in every state and throughout the world. . . .In the past several decades, NIH-supported research, and its national programs to communicate the results of research, played a major role in achievements such as:
  • Death rates from heart disease and stroke fell by 40% and 51%, respectively, between 1975 and 2000.
  • The overall five-year survival rate for childhood cancers rose to nearly 80% during the 1990s from under 60% in the 1970s.
  • The number of AIDS-related deaths fell by about 70% between 1995 and 2001.
  • Sudden infant death syndrome rates fell by more than 50% between 1994 and 2000.
  • Infectious diseases—such as rubella, whooping cough, and pneumococcal pneumonia—that once killed and disabled millions of people are now prevented by vaccines.
  • Quality of life for 19 million Americans suffering with depression has improved as a result of more effective medication and psychotherapy.

Continued

  • Examine 2 more sources. Afterwards, note your argument in your notebook. Did it change at all? Stay the same?
  • The following is excerpted from an article about spreading infection via space.
  • Because extraterrestrial life may exist, planetary exploration could bring trouble if people are not careful enough. This danger was recognized decades ago, when astronauts ventured to the Moon. When the crews returned, they were quarantined to prevent “back contamination,” the hazard that some infectious extraterrestrial germ might be riding with them. The safety procedures were largely symbolic: After all, who knew the incubation period for some hypothetical other-worldly microbe? Whether the hardware and samples returned needed sterilization was also largely a matter of speculation. Subsequent planetary exploration has not involved astronauts, nor have samples or hardware been returned, so back contamination has not been an issue. But forward contamination—that is, the infection of alien ecosystems by terrestrial organisms hitchhiking on a spacecraft—is a distinct possibility.

Continued

Continued

  • You have reviewed only a few of the eight sources the actual exam gives you to respond to the prompt.
  • Perhaps your initial argument has already changed, perhaps not…
  • But…this should solidify the importance of reading every source, at least once.

Key #4

  • Use at least the required minimum number of sources.
  • Usually it is 3 out of 8 or 9 possible sources.
  • Possible sources include:
    • Professional articles
    • Blogs
    • Pictures/ads
    • Graphs/charts
    • Editorials/opinion columns
    • Novel excerpts
    • Excerpts from nontextual sources (radio; tv broadcast)
    • Cartoons

Key #5

  • Attribute your sources
  • If you don’t attribute the sources you use, you will receive a score of 2, at best.

How to attribute sources

  • Attribution
  • Means you are not directly citing it.
  • Example: According to Source B…
  • Example: The Nixon/Kennedy debate was a good example of…(Source G).
  • It is recommended to use Source A/B…because it makes it easier on the scorers.

Attributing Sources continued

  • Direct Citation
  • Example: Mr. Koppel says…
  • You might use author’s names, especially when using direct quotes, but do not forget to also say which source (A/B, etc) the author was mentioned in.
  • Read the italicized print before reading each source, as the italics sum up what the source is.

Sample Source

  • Source F
  • Greenberg, Richard, and B. Randall Tufts. “Infecting
  • Other Worlds.” American Scientist Jul.-Aug. 2001.
  • 24 Feb. 2008
  • issues/num2/2001/7/infecting-other-worlds/1>.
  • The following is excerpted from an article about spreading infection via space.
  • Because extraterrestrial life may exist, planetary exploration could bring trouble if people are not careful enough. This danger was recognized decades ago, when astronauts ventured to the Moon. When the crews returned, they were quarantined to prevent “back contamination,” the hazard that some infectious extraterrestrial germ might be riding with them. The safety procedures were largely symbolic: After all, who knew the incubation period for some hypothetical other-worldly microbe? Whether the hardware and samples returned needed sterilization was also largely a matter of speculation. Subsequent planetary exploration has not involved astronauts, nor have samples or hardware been returned, so back contamination has not been an issue. But forward contamination—that is, the infection of alien ecosystems by terrestrial organisms hitchhiking on a spacecraft—is a distinct possibility.

Practice Prompt

  • Read the Directions. What exactly are they asking of you?
  • Directions: The following prompt is based on the accompanying eight sources.
  • This question requires you to synthesize a variety of sources into a coherent, well-written essay. When you synthesize sources, you refer to them to develop your position and cite them accurately. Your argument should be central; the sources should support the argument. Avoid merely summarizing sources. Remember to attribute both direct and indirect references.

Practice Prompt

  • Read the Introduction. Why is this included within the writing prompt?
  • Introduction
  • Explorers and tales of explorations tend to capture the human imagination. However, such explorations have financial and ethical consequences. Space exploration is no exception.

Practice Prompt

  • Read the Assignment. What exactly is it asking of you?
  • Assignment
  • Read the following sources (including the introductory information) carefully. Then, in an essay that synthesizes at least three of the sources, develop a position about what issues should be considered most important in making decisions about space exploration.
  • You may refer to the sources by their titles (Source A, Source B, etc.) or by the descriptions in parentheses.

Source Analysis Practice

  • Examine the following source. How might you use it in your essay?
  • Source B
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) photo
  • The following photo is taken from the NASA photo archive.

Practice 2

  • How might you use this source in your essay?
  • Source H
  • Roberts, Russell. “Funding Space Travel.” Morning
  • Edition. 26 Jan. 2004. National Public Radio.
  • Transcript. 19 Feb. 2008
  • .
  • The following excerpt is the text of an oral commentary aired on the radio.
  • I own a telescope.
  • I own a lot of books on the nighttime sky and cosmology and the big bang.
  • I get goose bumps when I see a picture of the earth from space.
  • The Imax space movies bring tears to my eyes.
  • But I get no thrill from the Bush plan to put Americans on Mars.
  • As much as I like space and the idea of people on Mars, I don’t see the case for using taxpayer money to get it done.
  • Don’t tell me about all the spin-off technologies . . . . Leave the money here on earth.

In conclusion…

  • The synthesis segment is the longest, most time consuming prompt, but not necessarily the most difficult.
  • You are simply forming a thesis.
  • Instead of conducting your own research, it has already been conducted for you, and it is available to you at your fingertips.
  • Your task is simply to use it effectively.



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