Essay writing tips ap language and Composition

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ESSAY WRITING TIPS AP Language and Composition

The following tips will guide you as you begin thinking about writing and analyzing an analysis essay.

  1. Read the topic several times and annotate the passage as your read, marking the important words. Make sure you understand the passage because the biggest mistake students make is they misunderstand the topic or write on only part of the assigned topic. Regardless of essay topic, your essay must show that you have a thorough understanding of the passage.

  1. Pay attention to the verbs in the topic. Are you supposed to analyze, discuss, compare, contrast, describe, prove, etc.?

  1. Make a brief sketch, outline, or cluster. Plan for at least three paragraphs: Brief introduction with thesis, one to two body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph which restates your main points.

  1. You only have 40 minutes per essay. You must pace yourself and not waste any time.

  1. You do not have time to craft a beautiful introduction paragraph. Instead, write a thesis statement and a couple of good sentences. Be sure to state both the author’s full name and title of the passage (if known).

  1. Begin each body paragraph with a topic statement that relates to the thesis. Within each paragraph, prove your point with specific examples from the text and connect the text to the topic with your own analysis. In other words, state what the author does in the text or shows in the text, and then explain why the author does this or what this information shows/proves. State, prove or support (with examples and quotations) and analyze. Your grade will suffer if you leave out one of these components.

  1. Use quotes as support - not topic sentences. Do not let quotes make up the bulk of your essay.

  1. Once you begin writing, try to maintain a continuous, logical, and focused flow. You may have new insights as you proceed, but try to connect continually where you began, where you are, and where you are going with your central idea.

  1. Use transitional phrases to make your paper flow and to connect thoughts.

  1. Read the topic again and make sure you are writing on topic. If you have wandered off topic, get back to the topic.

  1. Close the paper with a conclusion which restates the main points of the paper and provides closure. If you run out of time before you finish the conclusion, just write a one sentence conclusion. It will hurt your grade very little because you simply do not have time to write a good complete essay in 40 minutes.

  1. Watch the tone of your paper. Generally, the topic will require a serious, dignified response. Avoid sarcasm and humor unless the topic lends itself to these tones, and even, use humor and sarcasm only if you can do so skillfully without belittling the writing process or your reader.

  1. Don't present yourself as an immature writer.

    1. AP readers see beyond handwriting to the larger issues of style and content, but handwriting can reflect problems.

    2. Is the handwriting so excessively large or small that it is difficult to decipher?

    3. Is the handwriting excessively florid?

    4. If you have poor, difficult to read handwriting, strive to be certain the writing is clear enough to read.

    5. AP readers must grade 20+ essays an hour and your handwriting may affect attentiveness. Don't make it difficult for the reader to "see" your thinking

    6. Brief, scant responses are the worse error you can make as the AP reader is left with no way to evaluate your ability.

    7. Write neatly. If you make a mistake, place one line through the mistake (Don’t blot it out) and keep writing.

  1. Write in active voice.

  1. Write sentences that are smooth, flowing, clear, and sensible; avoid short, choppy sentences.

    1. Proofread to ensure that you have not omitted words that render sentences unclear or nonsensical.

    2. Proofread to make sure that your wording is not so confused, awkward, or ineffective that the reader cannot figure out what you are saying.

    3. Sentences which are sharp, precise, and clear but which at the same time show complexity characterize the best writing. Sentences whose structures enable you to express intricate, layered understandings effectively will mark you as a mature and capable writer.

    4. A fluent, clear style is a primary characteristic of higher level writing.

    5. Use sentence variety to develop a more sophisticated style.

  1. Avoid those serious errors, which will mark you as an unprepared writer.

  1. Run-ons

  2. Fragment

  3. Subject/verb agreement

  4. Usage (too, to and their/there)

  1. Spelling errors are serious, but a few are acceptable; too many may cost you points. Spelling errors combined with a lack of sentence control are more apt to count against you.

  1. State of being linking verbs

  1. Even if you are not finished with the essay, stop early so you have a couple of minutes to proofread the paper carefully.

  1. As the year progresses and you complete additional timed writings, you will find that they are much easier to write. You will then have time to work on some of the following skills:

    1. Incorporation of more sophisticated and varied vocabulary

    2. Sentence variety (both in the order of your words, in the length of your sentences, and in the types of sentences)

    3. Additional specific examples and analysis from the selection to support your thesis

    4. Interesting rhetorical strategies which will make your writing more compelling

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