Defend, Qualify, Refute essays How do they differ? Analysis essays

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Defend, Qualify, Refute essays

How do they differ?

Analysis essays explain the rhetorical devices, structures, (compare-contrast, cause and effect, definition) figurative language used by the author and the reasons for the devices.

Defend Qualify refute choose a viewpoint on the prompt. Writers either agree or disagree with the prompt, or they can explain the merits of each (saying some of the claims are correct and others are incorrect.)

  • Create an argument

  • Understand the position or assertion

  • Agree, disagree, or qualify

  • Support your point of view

Work the prompt

  • Read and deconstruct the assignment

  • Highlight

  • Reread the assertion carefully it is very hard to score above a 5 if you misread the prompt.

Write the essay

  • Plan the essay

  • address the opposition (anticipated objection)

  • Allow for final remarks

  • Read aloud to yourself

  • Score your own essay


  • Refer specifically to the prompt—use the words that are given in the prompt

  • In your thesis clearly state your position on the given issue if you agree or disagree.


  • Make sure you take a paragraph to clearly summarize what the assertion is saying into your own words.

    • Use a variety of evidence—try to include at least three different examples with at least one of them being a novel of literary merit. (This will give you at least a six paragraph essay form)

    • Use examples that support your thesis. Don’t claim you disagree and then give examples that prove the assertion is true.

    • Fully explain your examples—figure about a paragraph for each specific example.

    • At some point make a connection between the prompt and real life experience.

    • Underline the title of novels.

    • Try to find evidence that is unique rather than using examples that everybody will cite.

Conclusion: Restate your position

  • Allude to your major points, but not as a mere listing, instead as a building to a climax (using parallelism might be effective here.)

  • Your purpose is to close the sale; to make sure the reader understands, nay agrees with your point.

  • Construct a powerful clincher sentence.

Problems with DRQ’s (as indicated by AP readers)

  • Not taking a clear position or wavering between positions

  • Substituting a thesis-oriented expository essay for an argumentative essay

  • Being reluctant to engage in verbal combat because "everyone's entitled to his or her own opinion," so there's nothing to argue about

  • Slipping out of focus by discussing imagery in general

  • Trying to argue about the topic by using evidence drawn from a literary reading list (for example, Othello, The Scarlet Letter) and sliding off topic into the theme of appearance and reality

  • Lacking clear connections between claims and the data, and the warrants needed to support them

  • Trying to analyze the author's rhetorical strategies or her style instead of arguing a point.

Argumentation Essay

When arguing a position one must first examine the question for the purpose of the response.

  • When asked to defend a position, one must explain the merits of the position--what makes it a workable, viable position. Supporting arguments would not merely restate, but actually develop the position.

  • When asked to refute a position, one must explain the problems with the position—why it is not a workable, viable position. Arguments should anticipate how the opposing reader might react to the supporting arguments and respond accordingly.

  • When asked to qualify a position, the writer recognizes the merits of a position (claim) but then proceeds to disagree with the position citing specific evidence. Avoid using concrete words such as all,, none, always, never.

Special Focus:

Writing Persuasively

The Morgan Horse Revisited: Using AP Samples for Revisions

Mary Jo Potts

Webb School

Knoxville, Tennessee

Prompt for DRQ question.

Contemporary life is marked by controversy. Choose a controversial local, national, or global issue with which you are familiar. Then, using appropriate evidence, write an essay that carefully considers the opposing positions on this controversy and proposes a solution or compromise.

The workshop materials included a range of responses representing various levels of student writing. But one lower-range example, a focus on impropriety in the Morgan Horse Association, caught the group’s attention in a striking way.

2004 AP English Language Exam, Question 2

Sample Essay P: The Morgan Horse

Eight years ago, a black horse was born. This horse grew up to be a great show horse. FCF Rhythm Nation, as he was named, was a born competitor, and received countless awards, including multiple world championships. Soon after his successful career as a show horse he was put up for stud as a breeding stallion, availible to mares all over the country. It must now be pointed out that FCF Rhythm Nation was a registered Morgan horse, and all the mares he bred to were Morgans as well. The Morgan horse, America’s first original breed of horse, is bred to be a great athelete, and bloodlines are carefully analyed to insure the best possible offspring.

“Nate” sired several foals, all of which went on to be successful show horses themselves and, in some cases, have offspring of their own. It was then discovered that Nate wasn’t a Morgan. In fact, he was half Saddlebred, an entirely different breed. As it turned out, the man who bred Nate in the first place knew. He purposely bred a Morgan stallion to a Saddlebred mare and, by changing the mare’s name and claiming she was a Morgan, registered Nate as a full-blooded Morgan.

The Morgan Horse Association panicked. Suddenly over 40 horses in the registry were found to be related to Nate, and therefore could not be considered Morgans. Intent on keeping the breed pure, the Association decided to remove the horses from the registry altogether, therefore forbidding them to compete or breed. Furious owners retaliated, and dozens of court hearings and lawsuits took place, eventually leaving the Association with under $1,000 in its bank account.

Finally, the American Morgan Horse Association won out over the course of two years of controversy. Still, the owners of the expelled horses need somewhere to compete. These horses had cost them thousands of dollars, and they refused to lose that amount of money in horses they couldn’t use. The Association discussed the situation and decided to create a special “open breed” competition at Morgan show. Now not only can these talented horses compete, but the Morgan Horse can remain pure.

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