The Ten Commandments of ap literature



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The Ten Commandments of AP Literature

I am the Prompt, thy Prompt; thou shalt have no other Prompt before me. Thou shalt read the Prompt with rapt attention; the Prompt is thy friend.  Thou shalt address the Prompt.  Thou shalt not just get the gist of the Prompt, nor shalt thou fight the Prompt or substitute thine own ideas for the Prompt or simply restate the Prompt.

  • I am the Prompt, thy Prompt; thou shalt have no other Prompt before me. Thou shalt read the Prompt with rapt attention; the Prompt is thy friend.  Thou shalt address the Prompt.  Thou shalt not just get the gist of the Prompt, nor shalt thou fight the Prompt or substitute thine own ideas for the Prompt or simply restate the Prompt.

Yea, though others around thee may be scribbling hastily, thou shalt not begin until thou hast planned profitably.  Verily, thou shalt not wander into the valley of clichés, but looketh deeper to behold the glory of insight. Thou shalt not postpone, omit, or bury thy Thesis Statement.

  • Yea, though others around thee may be scribbling hastily, thou shalt not begin until thou hast planned profitably.  Verily, thou shalt not wander into the valley of clichés, but looketh deeper to behold the glory of insight. Thou shalt not postpone, omit, or bury thy Thesis Statement.

Thou shalt not confuse complexity with confusion, or subtlety with indecisiveness; thou shalt not attribute thine own insensitivity or ignorance to authorial ineptitude.  The fact that thou gettest not the point doth not mean that the passage hath no point: thou hast missed the point.  Deal with it.

  • Thou shalt not confuse complexity with confusion, or subtlety with indecisiveness; thou shalt not attribute thine own insensitivity or ignorance to authorial ineptitude.  The fact that thou gettest not the point doth not mean that the passage hath no point: thou hast missed the point.  Deal with it.

Thou shalt not commit plot-summary, nor shalt thou cohabit with Reading Comprehension. Thou shalt not begin thy body paragraphs with plot events and known facts rather than thoughtful, supportable ideas that address the prompt*, for it is an abomination in my sight.

  • Thou shalt not commit plot-summary, nor shalt thou cohabit with Reading Comprehension. Thou shalt not begin thy body paragraphs with plot events and known facts rather than thoughtful, supportable ideas that address the prompt*, for it is an abomination in my sight.

A Paragon of a Topic Sentence, by J. Park, period 3 2012

  • Through Claudius’ desire for power, Shakespeare demonstrates the idea that the struggle for political prominence is an ultimately pointless and self-destructive dance that only egotistical fools take part in.

Thou shalt not merely identify literary, rhetorical, and stylistic devices in the passage and poem, but shalt show how they function and evaluate their effectiveness with “apt and specific” support.  

  • Thou shalt not merely identify literary, rhetorical, and stylistic devices in the passage and poem, but shalt show how they function and evaluate their effectiveness with “apt and specific” support.  

Thou shalt not commit free-floating generalization in the essays, but shall support and develop thy every assertion with details from the text whilst demonstrating a depth of analysis.

  • Thou shalt not commit free-floating generalization in the essays, but shall support and develop thy every assertion with details from the text whilst demonstrating a depth of analysis.

Thou shalt not finish early.  Thou shalt spend plenty of time planning thy essay responses and shalt save enough time at the end of the test to read them over for careless mistakes.

  • Thou shalt not finish early.  Thou shalt spend plenty of time planning thy essay responses and shalt save enough time at the end of the test to read them over for careless mistakes.

Thou shalt read every multiple choice question with the same exquisite care that thou devotest to the essay Prompt: thou shalt not just ‘get the drift.’  By the same token, thou shalt strive to read what the writer actually wrote, not what thou dost expect him or her to have written.

  • Thou shalt read every multiple choice question with the same exquisite care that thou devotest to the essay Prompt: thou shalt not just ‘get the drift.’  By the same token, thou shalt strive to read what the writer actually wrote, not what thou dost expect him or her to have written.

Thou shalt guess when thou knowest not the answer.  Thou shalt not do so blindly, but shalt listen to thy gut, eliminate, and make an educated guess.  Thou shalt not choose an answer simply because thou knoweth not the meaning. Feareth not to guess, for points can be gotten therewith.   

  • Thou shalt guess when thou knowest not the answer.  Thou shalt not do so blindly, but shalt listen to thy gut, eliminate, and make an educated guess.  Thou shalt not choose an answer simply because thou knoweth not the meaning. Feareth not to guess, for points can be gotten therewith.   

Thou shalt never permit thyself to become discouraged: I am the Prompt, thy Prompt. Thou shalt maintain thy focus, attention, and confidence.  Yea, though thou hast totally screwed up thy last essay, this essay maketh a fresh start.

  • Thou shalt never permit thyself to become discouraged: I am the Prompt, thy Prompt. Thou shalt maintain thy focus, attention, and confidence.  Yea, though thou hast totally screwed up thy last essay, this essay maketh a fresh start.
  • Adapted from Martin Beller’s 10 Commandments for AP Literature
  • Revisions by Carole Ford, Carole Hamilton, and Lisa K. Simmons, 2011
  • 2012 Revisions by M. Willshire 


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