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AP Rhetoric and Writing Resources

Rhetoric is the study of effective thinking, writing, and speaking strategies; rhetoricians analyze and evaluate what works and what does not work in a specific context. Composition and rhetoric study writing contexts, how texts are created, how texts interact, and what features make up an effective written text. To be effective, a text must be developed and organized with a clear context and purpose in mind.

What is rhetoric?

Rhetoric is the study of effective speaking and writing. And the art of persuasion. And many other things.

In its long and vigorous history rhetoric has enjoyed many definitions, accommodated differing purposes, and varied widely in what it included. And yet, for most of its history it has maintained its fundamental character as a discipline for training students 1) to perceive how language is at work orally and in writing, and 2) to become proficient in applying the resources of language in their own speaking and writing.

Discerning how language is working in others' or one's own writing and speaking, one must (artificially) divide form and content, what is being said and how this is said. Because rhetoric examines so attentively the how of language, the methods and means of communication, it has sometimes been discounted as something only concerned with style or appearances, and not with the quality or content of communication. For many (such as Plato) rhetoric deals with the superficial at best, the deceptive at worst ("mere rhetoric"), when one might better attend to matters of substance, truth, or reason as attempted in dialectic or philosophy or religion.

Rhetoric has sometimes lived down to its critics, but as set forth from antiquity, rhetoric was a comprehensive art just as much concerned with what one could say as how one might say it. Indeed, a basic premise for rhetoric is the indivisibility of means from meaning; how one says something conveys meaning as much as what one says. Rhetoric studies the effectiveness of language comprehensively, including its emotional impact (see pathos), as much as its propositional content ( see logos). To see how language and thought worked together, however, it has first been necessary to artificially divide content and form.

Content/ Form

Rhetoric requires understanding a fundamental division between what is communicated through language and how this is communicated.

Aristotle phrased this as the difference between logos (the logical content of a speech) and lexis (the style and delivery of a speech). Roman authors such as Quintilian would make the same distinction by dividing consideration of things or substance, res, from consideration of verbal expression, verba.

Rhetorical Strategies/Devices

Elements creators of text use to put forth their arguments

Themes: Linking devices that hold a text together structurally, e.g. the battle between good and evil: the general idea or insight about life a writer wishes to express. All of the elements of literary terms contribute to theme. A simple theme can often be stated in a single sentence.

Repetition of certain words: Why, with all the words at his or her disposal, does a writer choose to repeat particular words?

Counterpoints: Contrasting ideas such as black/white, darkness/light, good/bad.

Imagery: language that evokes one or all of the five senses: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching.

Metaphor and symbolism: Non-literal, imaginative substitutions in which, for instance, a tree becomes a metaphor for family, or springtime symbolizes rebirth.

Characterization: The method used by a writer to develop a character. The method includes (1) showing the character's appearance, (2) displaying the character's actions, (3) revealing the character's thoughts, (4) letting the character speak, and (5) getting the reactions of others.

Plot development: Linear or fragmented, chronological or driven by a theme or some other unifying device.

Introduction and conclusion: Framing strategies.

Narrator: Usually first or third person. Is the narrator the same as the author?

Style, tone, voice: Gut reactions are useful here. Examine your own responses. What is it that makes you respond as you do? Are you the author’s intended audience? If not, who is? The attitude a writer takes towards a subject or character: serious, humorous, sarcastic, ironic, satirical, tongue-in-cheek, solemn, objective.

Analogy: The comparison of two pairs that have the same relationship. The key is to ascertain the relationship between the first so you can choose the correct second pair. Part to whole, opposites, results of are types of relationships you should find.

shells were to ancient culture as dollar bills are to modern culture OR shells: ancient culture ::  dollar bills: modern culture

Flashback: Action that interrupts to show an event that happened at an earlier time which is necessary to better understanding.

            Foreshadowing: The use of hints or clues to suggest what will happen later in literature.

            Hyperbole: Exaggeration or overstatement.

            I’ve told you a million times not to exaggerate.

            Personification: giving human qualities to animals or objects.

            a smiling moon, a jovial sun

Allusion: A reference to something real or fictional, to someone, some event, or something in the Bible, history, literature, or any phase of culture.

Example: The author alludes to Helen of Troy when discussing women who bring about ruin.

Irony: An expression, often humorous or sarcastic, that exposes perversity or absurdity.

For example, the fact that only teams from the U. S. and Canada play in the World Series® is ironic.

Oxymoron: A contradiction in terms, such as faithless devotion, searing cold, deafening silence, virtual reality, act naturally, peacekeeper missile, or larger half.

Paradox: Reveals a kind of truth which at first seems contradictory.

            Red wine is paradoxically good and bad for us.

            Symbolism: is using an object or action that means something more than its literal meaning.

            *The practice of representing things by means of symbols or of attributing symbolic meanings or significance to objects, events, or relationships.
            *A system of symbols or representations.
            *A symbolic meaning or representation.

            the bird of night (owl is a symbol of death)

Parody: A humorous exaggerated imitation, or travesty.

The film, Airplane! is a parody of 1970’s era disaster films. Austin Powers films parody James Bond-type spy films. Kung Fu Hustle - a movie by Steven Chow parodying Chinese wuxia films, as well as gangster films in general. Some examples of parody in classic literature include   "MacFlecknoe," by John Dryden ,A Tale of a Tub by Jonathan SwiftThe Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope,  Namby Pamby by Henry Carey, and  Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift.


Sarcasm: A cutting, often ironic remark intended to wound.

A form of wit that is marked by the use of sarcastic language and is intended to make its victim the butt of contempt or ridicule.

Satire: literary tone used to ridicule or make fun of human vice or weakness, often with the intent of correcting, or changing, the subject of the satiric attack. One of the most interesting features of satire is that it is almost universally believed to be a persuasive writing form. In actuality, it appears that most written satire actually fools most of its readers, so that, far from being persuasive, it is often not even understood.

  Aristotelian Appeals


Appeals to the head using logic, numbers, explanations, and facts. Through Logos, a writer aims at a person's intellect. The idea is that if you are logical, you will understand.


Appeals to the conscience, ethics, morals, standards, values, principles.


Appeals to the heart, emotions, sympathy, passions, sentimentality.



Persuasive Appeals

Persuasion, according to Aristotle and the many authorities that would echo him, is brought about through three kinds of proof (pistis) or persuasive appeal:


The appeal to reason.

pathos :

The appeal to emotion.

ethos :

The persuasive appeal of one's character.

Although they can be analyzed separately, these three appeals work together in combination toward persuasive ends.

Aristotle calls these "artistic" or "intrinsic" proofs—those that could be found by means of the art of rhetoric—in contrast to "nonartistic" or "extrinsic" proofs such as witnesses or contracts that are simply used by the speaker, not found through rhetoric.


Persuasive words

How are words used so as to get you to go along with what the speaker intends, perhaps without him or her having to really make a full case? (These do not, by themselves, mean his or her ideas don't deserve assent!!)

Anecdotes, Stories, Metaphors

These cast an issue in a favorable or unfavorable light, or can highlight or suppress certain aspects. They work by suggesting a likeness between a character and the listener, or a situation and the listener's. What is emphasized or suppressed is key.


One way of getting a child to eat her vegetables is to offer a "choice" "Would you like peas or spinach?" Regardless of the alternative chosen, your desired objective is met. "Which kind of environmental bureaucracy do you want -- one that stifles business and innovation, or one that burdens American industry with impossible extra costs?"


This works by getting you to accept both parts of a statement because of how they are linked; one part might be reasonable enough by itself, but. . .
"Unless you want the earth to turn to a barren crust, you must oppose corporate capitalist pigs, tooth and nail."


How does the author go about building a sense of friendliness and receptivity on the part of the audience? Some methods are friendly introductions ("my friends"), complimenting, showing respect, speaking the speakers 'language,' and conveying optimism. These are important communicative techniques! Rapport is important. We just have to be aware of its use in persuasive contexts.


A speaker may claim in many ways to be an authority; sometimes external checking of this is called for.


Humor has a great way of defusing our critical faculties. Not that it's bad in itself; it should just raise a red flag lest we go too far down the garden path on which someone wants to lead us.

Emotional words

Advertisers are especially keen about the emotional qualities of certain words, and the sway they can give a speaker, just by their associations. Consider the possible power of: winner, loser, infantile, powerful, lovely, courage, freedom, radical. How are these kinds of words employed to generate a certain response in the listener? What purposes are served?


How do you move a listener along to your conclusion? Certain phrases help a speaker move us from one idea to another, regardless of whether strong connection or evidence has been established. Don't let phrases like these lull your assessment of the argument: "Naturally..."; "Certainly then..."; "Surely..."; "Without question..."


Jacobs points out 3 ways posing questions helps a persuader do her work.
1. A question can substitute for a request (recall the peas and spinach).
2. While a listener is searching for an answer, the speaker can give his own answer to the question. The listener is more likely to accept it than if it were given as an assertion. 3. A question can have a suggestion embedded in it. Sales people skillfully use questions to lead the listener and control the discussion.


We've all heard "never say never"; any totalizing statement is likely to result in a fallacy. But words like "don't" and "must" creep in and can give a writer's statements and indisputable air.


The genetic fallacy

This is fallacy hinges on a confusion of causal explanation with rational justification. You may be able to explain how you came to hold a certain idea based on your past experience, such as upbringing, education, or many other factors. Thus, the causes of my belief that "2 is the square-root of 4" might include that I had to memorize this once. But this is not a justification of the belief; this would require instead that I furnish a mathematical proof (deductively valid set of inferences) to establish it. Reasoning that offers an explanation of the former sort in place of a justification of the latter sort commits the genetic fallacy. It is fallacious because the causes of someone's belief are not in general relevant to its truth or falsity. Rather, we should demand reasons. There are many forms of this fallacy. For example, some claim that because a belief in God is motivated by a need for a heavenly father to replace our mortal human parents. But even if this were true, it is logically irrelevant to the truth or falsity of the existence of God.

Argumentum ad hominem

This fallacy occurs when someone argues against a claim or position by attacking its holders in logically irrelevant ways. Even damaging and true accusations against the holder of a belief do not refute the belief! Often in environmental debate people think they can discredit a view by asserting that it is held by "wackos" or "corporate pigs" or "elitists." The point is not that name-calling is not nice; rather, who holds a belief is irrelevant to its truth. The error is not in criticizing someone on personal grounds, but in going from there to infer that some statement that this person believes is therefore false.

One exception is when the very fact that a person (perhaps a supposed authority or authority) holds a belief has been offered as a reason to accept it. In that case information calling the reliability of the person into question would, if true, be relevant to the argument.


This fallacy turns on switching the meanings of words used in the course of an argument. Consider the argument with two premises:
1. Only man is rational.
2. No woman is a man.
3. No woman is rational.
"Man" is used in 1. in the sense of the human species in comparison to others; in 2. it refers to one of the two human sexes; the argument equivocates or switches between them, causing an obviously false conclusion, even though it appears to logically follow. Carefully attend to the meanings of words in what you read!!! Once found, just substitute the ambiguous words with an unambiguous phrase and argument will be obviously invalid:
1. Only humans are rational.
2. No woman is male.
3. No woman is rational.
This fallacy becomes harder to spot the more abstract are the terms in the argument.

The black-or-white fallacy

(or the either-or fallacy, or the fallacy of thinking in extremes)

Some terms are vague in the sense that they may apply to a range of things that is not sharply defined. An area of permanent standing water is clearly a wetland; a dry mountain top clearly is not. But what about a field that is seasonally flooded? Where do you draw the line? No sharp one exists. For practical purposes we have to draw one, but any such line may be arbitrary in the sense that no conclusive reason can be given for drawing it exactly where we did.

But if one argues that since an area is not a lake it is not a wetland - since it is not in one category, it must be in the other extreme - commits this fallacy. Often justifications are offered for this move, such as "it's just a matter of degree" and "any line you draw is arbitrary." But differences of degree as well as of kind do exist in the world, and some differences of degree are just as important as differences of kind.

Jumping to a conclusion

What's wrong with concluding something about all Western students on the basis of interviewing only 10? (It has to do with sampling.) Other variations have to do with generalizing to a wider set of claims that the evidence offered supports. Pesticide residues may be a cause of cancer, but they are probably not the cause.

Straw opponent

This common strategy occurs when instead of attacking one's opponent's actual beliefs, the speaker attacks a less defensible position that superficially resembles the position held by the opponent. Consider this argument:

Some environmentalists argue that the interests of nonhuman species should be given consideration in decisions about economic development. Every time there is an advance in industry, some animals may be harmed. But if we halt all economic growth and technological development, human beings will be forced to have far greater impacts on the environment that otherwise.

Clearly "halting all development" implies something quite different than does "given consideration."

Begging the question

If an argument depends for one of its reasons or assumptions on a statement that is identical or equivalent to the conclusion drawn, it is "circular" or "question-begging."

The Forest Service is corrupt, for the clear reason that it is sold out.

Such arguments really go nowhere!! Note that a suppressed or presupposed assumption might also be the conclusion, making this fallacy less obvious!

Loaded questions

This fallacy occurs in a question that assumes the truth of one or more fallacies, but doesn't offer evidence to support them. The listener is asked or led into a situation where response implies agreement with these assumptions. "Is your company still evading enforcement actions by the EPA?"

Misrepresentation of references

Detecting this fallacy requires knowing the true context or statement on which an argument depends for support. If an author advocating ecosystem management acknowledged a need to reduce the population of some animal in order to attain a more balanced species composition, it would be wrong to pull out one statement she may have made and suggest she is in favor of unconstrained hunting. This fallacy also applies to the uses of statistics; always examine the full context; ask what has been omitted, what else might have happened that explains or refutes a connection that has been "proven" with statistics.

Argument from ignorance

There is insufficient evidence to establish that pesticide residues cause cancer; therefore they do not cause it.

Ignorance or lack of proof or evidence shows neither truth or falsity!!

Post hoc ergo propter hoc

This Latin phrase means "after this, therefore because of this," and it denote the logical fallacy in arguing that one thing caused another just because it happened before it. It is a special case of the general problem of inferring causation from correlation. One example is the observation of increased stork sightings and increased births in a town in Germany over a period of 20 some years. Was there a causal relation? No, both observations were the result of a third factor, probably increased population levels.

Face value

Rather than offering any reasons, a persuader may try to get us to accept what he says on the basis of force of personality, intimidation or bullying, or appeal to a supposed authority who actually is not an expert on the subject. None of these bases should convince us.

Burden of proof

Normally, we want to see a convincing degree of proof before we accept a new view as true. Those promoting that view have "the burden of proof." Shifting the burden of proof to another party is an important strategy. In the case of health effects of pollution, for example, the situation in the US has been that for anyone to seek redress for exposure to pollution, they must prove that it cased their health problems. An alternative, advocated by some environmentalists, is that those proposing to undertake a polluting activity should have to first prove it is safe before being allowed to proceed. A problem arises because scientific knowledge is characterized not by absolute certainty, but by degrees of probability. Therefore the Precautionary Principle is favored by environmentalists: when the risks are great enough, the burden of proof should be with those proposing polluting or damaging activities. In other words, a cautious stance toward risk, and a concern for the magnitude of future damages, justify acceptance of a new idea (restraints on business as usual) despite lack of positive scientific proof. Showing probable harm is sufficient, in environmentalists' view, to err on the side of safety.

Just when a claim that proof is available that an activity is safe is a difficult matter to judge. When shifting the burden of proof to (or from) environmentalists is likely to remain a very particular decision in every case.

Ignoring the issue

Many a political candidate can be observed responding to a question by talking about something she or he wanted to talk about instead. When irrelevant considerations are raised as a way of distracting attention from valid arguments on the other side, the result is hardly a valid response.

Intent signals

These are things to look for in persuasive language that reveal possibly self-serving motivations. For some purposes self-interest is fine. But too much of it, especially in the apparent pursuit of helping others, should cause us to question the integrity of the speaker. Whether the presence of any of these in writing is cause for rejection requires analysis; their presence should call up further examination.

Us vs. Them

Does the speaker see two "sides," with the other side being in some way inferior or denigrated? This happens all the time in environmental discourse, and often tends to cloud the real issues, and impede useful analysis. Many techniques of propaganda employ this technique: name calling, touting how great it is to "belong," using one-sided testimonials of famous people, simplifying issues for slogans, emphasizing being on the right side of the competition.


Although there is nothing wrong with asserting superiority, it can suggest a need that is stronger than the desire to give a sound argument.

Absolute certainty

Science doesn't provide it; scholarly research doesn't. Mathematics has it, but only within its self-defined deductive systems. When someone asserts they know something with absolute certainty, it can really only be based on self-evidence, faith, or mythology.

Righteous indignation

To quote Jacobs (1994, p. 74):

When someone is so full of guiltless virtue and vengeance because of "unjust treatment," his information is likely to be biased and inaccurate. Ultimately, this could hurt a worthy cause. Admittedly, what is truth and what is worthy are difficult things to know. But if this is not appreciated by a persuader, it could indicate he has taken an easy path to his position. It shows he may not have carefully analyzed his assertions. It is not likely he has open-mindedly compared his ideas to other viewpoints. The listener should thus question his information.


Most groups demand some degree of allegiance of their members. Knowing the agenda of any groups with which a speaker affiliates herself is helpful. Some agendas are self-serving; some are more genuinely sincere. It's hard to know without finding out.

These books were the source of ideas presented above:

Jacobs, D. T. (1994). The bum's rush: The selling of environmental backlash. Boise, ID: Legendary.

Thomas, S. N. (1977). Logical reasoning in natural language. Seattle: ASUW.


I.         Tone shift:  often a change or shift in tone will be signaled by the following:

·         Key words (but, yet, nevertheless, however, although)

·         Punctuation (dashes, periods, colons)

·         Stanza and paragraph divisions

·         Changes in line and stanza or sentence length.

 II.       Style:  when analyzing style, consider the following:

A.      Diction (word choice):  describe diction by considering the following:

1.        Words may be monosyllabic (one syllable in length) or polysyllabic (more than one syllable in length).  The higher the ratio of polysyllabic words, the more difficult the content.

2.        Words may be mainly colloquial (slang), informal (conversational), formal (literary) or archaic (old fashioned).

3.        Words may be mainly concrete (specific) or abstract (general).

4.        Words may be euphonious (pleasant sounding), such as butterfly or cacophonous (harsh sounding), such as pus.

B.       Syntax (sentence structure):  describe the syntax by considering the following:

1.        Examine the sentence length.  Are the sentences telegraphic (shorter than five words in length), medium (approximately 18 words in length) or long and involved (30 or more words).  Does the sentence length fit the subject matter?  What variety of sentence length is present?

2.        Examine the sentence patterns.  Some elements to consider are:

a.        A declarative sentence makes a statement:  The king is sick.

b.       An imperative sentence gives a command:  Stand up.

c.        An interrogative sentence asks a question:  Is the king sick?

d.       An exclamatory sentence makes an exclamation:  The king is dead!

3.        Are sentences simple, compound, or complex?

a.        A simple sentence contains one subject and one verb:  the singer bowed to her adoring audience.

b.       A compound sentence contains two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or) or by a semicolon:  The singer bowed to the audience, but she sang no encores.

c.        A complex sentence contains an independent clause and one or more subordinate clauses:  You said that you would tell the truth.

d.       A compound-complex sentence contains two or more principal clauses and one or more subordinate clauses:  The singer bowed while the audience applauded, but she sang no encores.

C.       A loose sentence makes complete sense if brought to a close before the actual ending:  We reached Edmonton that morning after a turbulent flight and some exciting experiences.  A periodic sentence makes sense only when the end of the sentence is reached:  That morning, after a turbulent flight and some exciting experiences, we reached Edmonton.

D.      In a balanced sentence, the phrases or clauses balance each other by virtue of their likeness or structure, meaning and/or length:  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters.

E.       Natural order of a sentence:  the sentence is structured so that the subject comes before the predicate:  Oranges grow in California.  Inverted order (sentence inversion) involves constructing a sentence so that the predicate comes before the subject:  In California grow oranges.  This is a device in which normal sentence patterns are reversed to create an emphatic or rhythmic effect.  Split order of a sentence divides the predicate into two parts with the subject in the middle:  In California oranges grow.

F.       Juxtaposition is a poetic and rhetorical device in which normally unassociated ideas, words, or phrases are placed next to one another, creating an effect of surprise and wit:  The apparition of these faces in the crowd:/Petals on a wet, black bought (“In a Station of the Metro” by Ezra Pound).

G.       Parallel structure (parallelism) refers to a grammatical or structural similarity between sentences or parts of a sentence.  It involves an arrangement of words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs so that elements of equal importance are equally developed and similarly phrased:  He was walking, running, and jumping for joy.

H.      Repetition is a device in which words, sounds, and ideas are used more than once for the purpose of enhancing rhythm and creating emphasis:   . . . government of the people, by the people for the people . . .

I.         A rhetorical question is a question which expects no answer.  It is used to draw attention to a point and is generally stronger than a direct statement:  If Mr. Ferchoff is always fair, as you have said, why did he refuse to listen to Mrs. Baldwin’s arguments?

J.        Examine the following:

1.        sentence beginnings and endings:  is there a good variety or does a pattern emerge?

2.        the arrangement of ideas in a sentence.  Are they set out in a specific way for a purpose?

3.        the arrangement of ideas is a paragraph:  what is the structure?

 III.     Treatment of Subject Matter:  describe the author’s treatment of the subject matter by considering the following:  has the author been:

A.      Subjective?  Are conclusions based on opinions?  Are they rather personal in nature?

B.       Objective?  Are conclusions based on facts?  Are they impersonal or scientific?

C.       Supportive of the main idea?  If so, how does the author support claims?  Does the writer: 

1.        state opinions?

2.        report experience?

3.        report observations?

4.        refer to sources, such as statements by experts or statistical data?

 IV.     Figurative Language:

A.      Simile:  a comparison of two difference things or ideas using the words like or as:  a specifically stated comparison, the writer saying one thing is like another:  The warrior fought like a lion.

B.       A metaphor is a comparison without the use of like or as.  The writer specifically states that one thing is another.  It is usually a comparison between something that is real or concrete and something that is abstract:  Life is but a dream

C.      Personification is a kind of metaphor which gives inanimate objects or abstract ideas human characteristics:  The wind cried in the dark

D.      Hyperbole is a deliberate, extravagant, and often outrageous exaggeration.  It may be used for either serious or comic effect:  The shot that was heard ‘round the world.

E.       Understatement (Meiosis) is the opposite of hyperbole.  It is a kind of irony which deliberately represents something as much less than it really is:  I could probably manage to survive on a salary of $2,000,000 per year.

F.       Paradox is a statement which contradicts itself.  It may seem almost absurd.  Although it may seem to be at odds with ordinary experience, it usually turns out to have a coherent meaning and reveals a truth which is normally hidden:  The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.

G.       Oxymoron is a form of paradox which combines a pair of contrary terms into a single expression.  This combination usually serves the purpose of shocking the reader into awareness:  sweet sorrow.

H.      A pun is a play on words which are identical or similar in sound but which have sharply diverse meanings.  Puns may have serious as well as humorous uses  when Mercutio is bleeding to death in Romeo and Juliet, he says to his friends, “Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man.”

I.         Irony is the result of a statement saying one thing while meaning the opposite.  Its purpose is usually to criticize:  “It’s simple to stop smoking.  I’ve done it many times.”

J.        Sarcasm is a type of irony in which a person appears to be praising something while he is actually insulting the thing.  Its purpose is to injure or hurt:  “My parents are really cool.”


When you are asked to do a “rhetorical analysis” of a text, you are being asked to apply your critical reading skills to break down the “whole” of the text into the sum of its “parts.” You try to determine what the writer is trying to achieve, and what writing strategies he/she is using to try to achieve it.

Reading critically means more than just being moved, affected, informed, influenced, and persuaded by a piece of writing. Reading critically also means analyzing and understanding how the work has achieved its effect. Below is a list of questions to ask yourself when you begin to analyze a piece of prose. These questions can be used even if you’re being asked only to read the text rather than write a formal analysis.   Keep in mind that you don’t need to apply all of these questions to every text.   This rather exhaustive list is simply one method for getting you started on reading (and then writing) more critically.


1.    What is the general subject? Does the subject mean anything to you? Does it bring up any personal associations? Is the subject a controversial one?
2.    What is the thesis (the overall main point)? How does the thesis interpret/comment on the subject?
3.     What is the tone of the text? Do you react at an emotional level to the text? Does this reaction change at all throughout the text?
4.      What is the writer’s purpose? To explain? To inform? To anger? Persuade? Amuse? Motivate? Sadden? Ridicule? Anger? Is there more than one purpose? Does the purpose shift at all throughout the text?
5.     How does the writer develop his/her ideas? Narration? Description? Definition? Comparison? Analogy? Cause and Effect? Example? Why does the writer use these methods of development?
6.    How does the writer arrange his/her ideas? What are the patterns of arrangement? Particular to general? Broad to specific? Spatial? Chronological? Alternating? Block?
7.    Is the text unified and coherent? Are there adequate transitions? How do the transitions work?
8.   What is the sentence structure like in the text? Does the writer use fragments or run-ons? Declarative? Imperative? Interrogative? Exclamatory? Are they simple? Compound? Complex? Compound-complex? Short? Long? Loose? Periodic? Balanced? Parallel? Are there any patterns in the sentence structure? Can you make any connections between the patterns and the writer’s purpose?
9.    Does the writer use dialogue? Quotations? To what effect?
10.  How does the writer use diction? Is it formal? Informal? Technical? Jargon? Slang? Is the language connotative? Denotative? Is the language emotionally evocative? Does the language change throughout the piece? How does the language contribute to the writer’s aim?
11.  Is there anything unusual in the writer’s use of punctuation? What punctuation or other techniques of emphasis (italics, capitals, underlining, ellipses, parentheses) does the writer use? Is punctuation over- or under used? Which marks does the writer use when, and for what effects? Dashes to create a hasty breathlessness? Semi-colons for balance or contrast?
12.  Are important terms repeated throughout the text? Why?
13.  Are there any particularly vivid images that stand out? What effect do these images have on the writer’s purpose?
14.  Are devices of comparison used to convey or enhance meaning? Which tropes—similes, metaphors, personification, hyperbole, etc. does the writer use? When does he/she use them? Why?
15.  Does the writer use devices of humour? Puns? Irony? Sarcasm? Understatement? Parody? Is the effect comic relief? Pleasure? Hysteria? Ridicule?


1.       Don’t present yourself as an immature writer

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

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

·         Is the handwriting excessively florid?  

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

·         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

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

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

·         A very serious error is repeated comma splices – running two independent clauses together without a conjunction and with only a comma. (Run-on sentences omit the comma and present the same problem.)

·         Another serious error is repeated occurrences of sentence fragments.

·         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.

·         Errors of usage – e.g., affect/effect – affect how the readers evaluate your language competence.

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

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

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

·         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.  

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

·         Use sentence variety to develop a more sophisticated style.

4.       Pay attention to organization and content:  THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES.

·         Respond exactly to the question asked.  The literature and questions are logical and focused.  Your answer is in the question.  Accept that guidance; interpret and illustrate the question

·         Keep your focus clear throughout your essay; make certain the thoughts are in a logical sequence that is continually connected to the focus, thus yielding a unified essay.

·         Use specific details both to offer commentary and interpretation about the literary piece and to support and illustrate your points.

·         Explain through examples and comments on the details of the text.

·         Plan to spend about five minutes brainstorming and structuring your response; then write from your outline or list of ideas.  Think through your whole answer before you begin.

·         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.


Allegory—a narrative in which the characters, behavior, apd even the setting demonstrate multiple levels of meaning and significance. Often allegory is a universal symbol or personified abstraction, such as Cupid' portrayed as a chubby angel with a bow and arrows.

Alliteration—the sequential repetition of a similar initial sound, usually applied to consonants, usually in closely proximate stressed syllables: For instance, "She sells sea shells by the sea shore."

Allusion—a literary, historical, religious, or mythological reference. For example, one might contrast the life and tribulations of Frederick Douglass to the trials of Job.

Anaphora—the regular repetition of the same words or phrases at  the beginning of successive phrases of dauses.'The following is an example: 'To raise a happy, healthful, and. hopeful child, it takes a family, it  takes teachers; it  takes clergy; it takes business people; it takes community leaders; it takes those who protect our health and safety; it takes all of us" (Hillary Clinton, National Convention Address, 1996)

Antithesis—the juxtaposition of sharply contrasting ideas in balanced or parallel words, phrases grammatical structure, or ideas. For example, Alexander Pope reminds us that "To err is human, to forgive divine'

Aphorism—a concise statement designed to make a point or illustrate a commonly held belief. For example, "Spare the rod and spoil the child" is an aphorism. '

Apostrophe—an address or invocation to something inanimate—such as when the slave Frederick Douglass exclaims as he looks upon the ships in the Chesapeake Bay: "I would pour out my Soul's complaint, in my rude way, with an apostrophe to the moving multitude of ships"

Appeals to ... authority, emotion, or logic—rhetorical arguments in which the speaker claims to be an authority or expert in a field, or attempts to play upon the emotions, or appeals to the use of reason. Classically trained rhetoricians identify these appeals with their Greek names: ethos is authority, logos is logic, and pathos is emotion.


Assonance—the repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds, usually in successive or proximate words. The alliteration example also demonstrates assonance: "She sells sea shells by the sea shore.'


Asyndeton—a syntactical structure in which conjunctions are omitted in a series, usually producing more rapid prose. For example: 'Veni, vidi, i4ci (I came, I saw,! conquered)," supposedly said by Julius Caesar.


Attitude—the sense expressed by the tone of voice or the mood of a piece of writing; the author' toward his or her subject, characters, events, or theme. It might even be his 'or her feelings for the reader. AP English Exam essay prompts often require students to respond to some aspect of the attitude of the writer, speaker, or narrator.


Begging the question- an argumentative ploy where the arguer sidesteps the question or the conflict, evades or ignores the real question.


Canon—that which has been accepted as authentic, such as in canon law, or the "Canon according to the Theories of Einstein'


Chiasmus—a figure of speech and generally a syntactical structure wherein the order of the. terms in the first half of a parallel clause is reversed in the second. For example 'He thinks I am but a fool. A fool, perhaps I am'


Claim—in argumentation, an assertion of something as fact


Colloquial- term identifying the diction of the common, ordinary folks, especially in a specific region or area. For instance, -most people expect Southerners to use the colloquial expression, gall" to engage the attention of a group of people. In some parts of the United States, a  Coke® is a product of the Coca-Cola Company. In some parts of the country, coke means any type of carbonated beverage. Other people refer to Coke as "pop" or "soda pop." These are all colloquial terms for the drink.


Comparison and contrast—a mode of discourse in which two or more things are compared, contrasted, or both. On the 1993 English Language exam, students were asked to contrast two marriage proposals taken from literature, analyzed for the use the narrators made of rhetorical devices and their argumentative success.    


Conceit—a comparison of two unlikely things that is drawn out within a piece of literature, in particular an extended metaphor within a poem. However, conceits can also be used in non-fiction and prose. For instance, Richard Selzer's passage 'The Knife" compares the preparation and actions of surgery to preparing for and conducting a religious service or a sacred ritual.


Connotation—the implied, suggested, or underlying meaning of a word or phrase. It is opposite of denotation which is the "dictionary definition" of the word.


Consonance-4he repetition of two or more consonants with a change in the intervening vowels, such as pitter-patter, splish-splash, and click-clack.


Convention—an accepted manner, model, or tradition. For instance, Aristotle's conventions of tragedy.


Critique—an assessment or analysis of something,'such as a passage of writing, for the purpose of determining what it is, what its limitations are, and how it conforms to the standard of the genre.


Deductive reasoning (deduction)—the method of argument in which specific statements and conclusions are.drawn from general principals: movement from the general to the specific, in contrast to Inductive reasoning (induction).


Dialect—the language and speech idiosyncrasies of a specific area, region, or group. For example, Minnesotans say "you betcha" when they agree with you. Southerners refer to the gathering of folks as Yall" Although dialect is most often found in fiction, sometimes it is evident in speeches from a different era or from a different culture.


Diction—the specific word choice an author uses to persuade or convey tone, purpose, or effect The 1982 English Language exam included Adlai Stevenson's famous "Cat Bill" veto addressed to the Illinois State Senate. Cats roaming without leashes were "feline delinquency," and irritated citizen reactions were referred to as "small game hunts by zealous citizens." On the AP exam you must relate how a writers diction, combined with syntax, figurative language; literary devices, etc,' all come together to become the authors style.


Didactic—(from the Greek, meaning "good teaching") writing or speech is didactic when it has an instructive purpose or a lesson. It is often associated with a dry, pompous presentation, regardless of its innate value to the reader/listener. Some of Aesop's fables are didactic in that they maintain an underlying moral or social message.


Elegy--a poem or prose work that laments, or meditates upon the death of, a person or persons. Sometimes an elegy will end with words of consolation. Many public elegies were presented in the aftermath of 9/11.


Epistrophe—in rhetoric, the repetition of a phrase at the end of successive sentences. For example: "If women are healthy and educated, their families will flourish. If women are free from violence, their families will flourish. If women have a chance to work . their families will flourish." (Hillary Clinton, October 1, 1995)'


Epitaph—writing in praise of a-dead person, most often inscribed upon a headstone.


Ethos—in rhetoric, the appeal of a text to the credibility and character of the speaker, writer, or narrator. (Who is this person saying what, and what makes him able to say so?)


Eulogy—a speech or written passage in praise of a person; an oration in honor of a deceased person. Elegy laments; eulogy praises. Many eulogies were spoken in honor of the brave New York Fire Fighters who heroically lost their lives on 9/11.


Euphemism—an indirect, kinder, or less harsh or hurtful way of expressing unpleasant information. For instance, it is much nicer for a person who has just been given a pink slip to hear that she has been made redundant, rather than she has hereby been terminated.


Exposition—the interpretation or analysis of a text


Extended metaphor—a series of comparisons within a piece of writing. If they are consistently one concept this is also known as a conceit.


Figurative language/Figure of speech—figurative (in contrast to literal) language has levels of meaning expressed through figures of speech such 8,personification, metaphor, hyperbole, irony, oxymoron, litote, and others.


Flashback—(also                known as retrospection) an earlier event is inserted into the normal chronology the narration.


Genre—a type or class of literature, such as epic, narrative, poetry, biography, history.


Homily—a sermon, but more contemporary uses include any serious talk, speech, or lecture on moral or spiritual Iife. John Donne was known for his homilies, among other things.


Hyperbole—overstatement characterized by exaggerated language, usually to make a point or draw attention. If in a state of exhaustion you say "I'm really beat" that is hyperbole.


Imagery—broadly defined, any sensory detail or evocation in a work; more narrowly, the use of figurative language to evoke a feeling to call to mind an idea, or to describe an object Basically, imagery involves any or all of the five senses. A writer generally uses imagery in conjunction with other figures of speech, such as simile and metaphor. "Her cheeks were rosy and so was my love—bursting with fragrance and softness' Here metaphor is U'sed,'with the images of rosy cheeks (the visual color) and the smell and feel of roses.


Inductive reasoning (induction)—the method of, reasoning or argument in which general statements and conclusions are drawn from specific principals: movement from the specific to the general. In other words, a general supposition is made after investigating specific instances, a common logic used in scientific study. See Deductive reasoning.


Inference—a conclusion or proposition arrived at by considering facts, observations, or some other specific data. It is through inference—looking at the dues, learning the facts—that Sherlock Holmes was as able to solve the crimes.


Irony (ironic)—the contrast between what is stated explicitly and what is really meant The intended meaning Is often the opposite of what is stated, often suggesting light sarcasm. The most famous classical ironist is Jonathan Swift in his "Modest Proposal' Irony is used for many reasons, often to create poignancy or humor. There are three major types of irony:


  • Verbal irony—what the author/narrator says is actually the opposite of what is meant

  • Situational irony—when events end up the opposite of what is expected.

  • Dramatic irony—in drama and fiction, facts or situations are known to the reader or audience but not to the characters.


    Isocolon—parallel structure in which the parallel elements are similar not only in grammatical structure, but also in length. For example, the Biblical admonition, "Many are called, but few are chosen," is an isocolon.


    Jargon—specialized or technical language of a trade, profession, or similar group. The computer industry, for example, has introduced much jargon into our vocabulary, such as geek, crash, interface, down, delete, virus, and bug.


    Juxtaposition—the location of one thing adjacent ' to or juxtaposed with another to create an effect, reveal an attitude, or accomplish some other purpose.


    Litote—a figure of speech that emphasizes its subject by conscious understatement, for instance, the understated "not bad" as a comment about something especially well done. George Orwell wrote, "Last week Isaw a woman flayed and you would hardly believe how much it altered her person for the worse'


    Loose sentence—(a term from syntax) a long sentence that starts with its main clause, which is followed by several dependent clauses and modifying phrases; for example, 'The child ran, frenzied and ignoring all hazards, as if being chased by demons'


    Metaphor–one thing pictured as if it were something else, suggesting a likeness or analogy. Metaphor is an implicit comparison or identification of one thing with another, without the use of a verbal signal such as like- or as. Shakespeare's Romeo says, "It is the east and Juliet is the sun," directly comparing Juliet to the sun. Sometimes the term metaphor is used as a general term for any figure of speech.


    Metonymy–a figure of speech in which an attribute or commonly associated feature is used to name or designate something, as in "Buckingham Palace announced today....


    Mode of discourse—the way in which information is presented in written or spoken form. The Greeks believed there were only four modes of discourse: narration, description, exposition (cause and effect, process analysis, comparison/contrast), and argumentation. Contemporary thought often includes other modes, such as personal observation and narrative reflection.


    Mood–a feeling or ambience resulting from the tone of a piece as well as the writer/narrator's attitude and point of view. It is a "feeling" that establishes the atmosphere in a work of literature or other discourse.


    Narrative–a mode of discourse that tells a story 6f some sort and it is based on sequences of connected events, usually presented in a straightforward, chronological framework.


    Onomatopoeia–a word capturing or approximating the sound of what it describes; 'buzz' is a good example. The purpose of these words is to make a passage more effective for the reader or listener; for example, "Recta whacked the ball over the fence and took her time walking the bases'


    Oxymoron–a figure of speech that combines two apparently contradictory elements as in "wise fool," "baggy tights," or "deafening silence'


    Paradox–a statement that -seems contradictory but may probably be true. A popular paradox from the 196Ys was that war protesters would "fight for peace!


    Parallel structure–the use of similar forms in writing for nouns, verbs, phrases, or thoughts, for example, lane enjoys reading, writing, and skiing.' in prose, parallel, recurrent syntactical similarity where several parts of a sentence or several sentences are expressed alike to show that their ideas are equal in importance. A Tale of Two Cities opens with 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. . .


    Pathos–that element in literature that stimulates pity or sorrow. In argument or persuasion it tends to the -evocation of pity from the reader/listener. Think of if as the 'poor starving children" approach to convincing you.


    Periodic sentence–a long sentence in which the main clause is not completed until the end; for example, 'Looking as if she were being chased by demons, ignoring all hazards, the child ran" "The child, who looked as if she were being chased by demons, frenzied and ignoring all hazards, ran"


    Personification–treating an abstraction or nonhuman object as if it were a person by endowing it

    with human features or qualities. William Wordsworth speaks of the stars 'Tossing their heads in I

    sprightly dance' Or, looking at a prose speech: "Once again the heart of America is heavy. The spirit of America weeps for a tragedy that denies the very meaning of our land" (Lyndon B. Johnson)


    Point of View—the relation in which a narrator/author stands to a subject of discourse. Point of view in nonfiction requires the reader to establish the historical perspective of what is being said.


    Prose—the ordinary form of written language without metrical structure.in contrast to verse and poetry.


    Realism—attempting to describe nature and life without idealization and with attention to detail. Mark Twain is an author of this school. Thoreau, with his romantic outlook toward nature is not


    Rebuttal/refutation—an argument technique wherein opposing arguments are anticipated and countered.


    Rhetoric—the art "of using words to persuade in writing or speaking. All types of writing may seek to persuade and rhetoricians study these genres for their persuasive qualities.


    Rhetorical question—a question that is asked simply for the sake of stylistic effect and is not expected to be answered.


    Sarcasm—a form of verbal irony in which apparent praise is actually critical. Sarcasm can be light, and gently poke fun at something, or it can be harsh, caustic, and mean.


    Satire—a literary work that holds up human failings to ridicule and censure. Jonathan Swift and George Orwell were 'masters of satire. Several years ago, the English Language exam included a satirical piece by columnist Ellen Goodman, 'Me Company Man," a satire attacking the strut : e for corporate survival by the little man. Arthur Miller exposed the same subject several decades ago in his tragic play, Death of a Salesman.


    Simile—a direct, explicit comparison .of one thing to another, usually using the words like or as to draw the connection. For instance, Charles Dickens wrote: 'There was a steamy mist in all the hollows, and it had roared in its forlornness up the hill likean evil spirit!


    Style—the manner in which a writer combines and arranges words, shapes ideas, and utilizes syntax and structure. It is the .distinctive manner of expression that represents that author's typical writing style. This is often queried on the English Language test In particular, when two passages on the same topic are presented, you must, pay the most attention to their styles.


    Symbolism—use of a person, place, thing event, or pattern that figuratively represents or "stands for" something else. Often the thing or idea represented is more abstract or general than the symbol, which is concrete. Everyone recognizes the symbol of the Golden Arches representing McDonald's", restaurants.


    Synecdoche—a figure of speech in which a -part signifies the whole, such as "50 masts" representing 50 ships or "100 heed of steer had to be moved to their grazing land'


    Syntax—the way words are put together to form phrases, clauses, and sentences. Syntax is sentence structure and how it influences the way the reader receives a particular piece of writing. It is important in establishing the tone of a piece and the attitude of the author/narrator. See Loose sentence, Parallel structure, and Periodic sentence.


    Theme–the central or dominant idea or focus of a work. The statement a passage makes about its subject


    Tone–the attitude the narrator/writer takes toward a subject and theme; the tenor of a piece of writing based on particular stylistic devices employed by the writer. Tone reflects the narrator/author's attitude.


    Voice–the acknowledged or unacknowledged source of the words of the story; the speaker's or narrator's particular "take" on an idea based on a particular passage and how all the elements of the style of the piece come together t6 express his or her feelings.


    Zeugma–a grammatically correct construction in which a word, usually a verb or adjective, is applied to two or more nouns without being repeated. Often used to comic effect (the thief took my wallet and the Fifth Avenue bus).




    The following passage is. followed by several questions not unlike those in the multiple-choice section of the English Language exam.


    The passage was written on the last night of 1849 by Florence Nightingale.  She was not only the premier mover in the profession of nursing, but also one of the first European women to travel into Egypt (1849-1850) and keep a detailed journal of her letters and reflections.


    My Dear People,

    Yes, I think your imagination has hardly followed me through the place where I have been spending the last night of the old year. Did you listen to it passing away and think of me? Where do you think I heard it sigh out its soul? In the dim unearthly colonnades of

    (5) Karnak, which stood and watched it, motionless, silent, and awful, as they had done for thousands of years, to whom, no doubt, thousands  of years seem but as a day. Would that I could call up Karnak before your eyes for one moment, but it "is beyond expression." No one could trust themselves with their imagination alone there. Gigantic shadows
    spring upon every side; "the dead are stirred up for thee to meet thee at thy coming, even

    (10) the chief ones of the earth", and they look out from among the columns, and you feel as terror-stricken to be there, miserable intruder, among these mighty dead, as if you had awakened the angel of the Last Day. Imagine six columns on either side, of which the last is almost out of sight, though they stand very near each other, while you look up to the stars from between them, as you would from a deep narrow gorge in the Alps, and then,

    (15) passing through 160   of these, ranged in eight aisles on either side, the end choked up with heaps of rubbish, this rubbish consisting of stones twenty and thirty fee long, so that it looks like a mountain fallen to ruin, not a  temple. How art thou fallen from heaven, oh Lucifer, son of the morning! He did exalt his throne above the stars of God; for I looked through a colonnade, and under the roof saw the deep blue sky and star shining brightly;

    (20) and as you look upon these mighty ruins, a voice seems continually saying to you.- And seekest though good things for thyself? Seek them not, for it there ought like-this ruin? One wonders that people come back from Egypt and live lives as they did before. Yet Karnak by'starlight is not to me painful: we had seen Luxor in the sunshine. I had expected-the temples of Thebes to be solemn, but Luxor was fearful. Rows of painted

    (25) columns, propylae, colossi, and—built up in the Holy Place—mud (not even huts, but) unroofed enclosures chalked- out,

    or rather mudded out, for families, with their one oven and broken earthen vessel; and, squatting on the ground among the painted hieroglyphs, creatures with large nose-rings, the children's eyes streaming with matter, on which the mothers let the flies rest, because "it is good for them", without an attempt to drive them

    (30) off, tattooed men on the ground, with camels feeding out of their laps, and nothing but a few doura stalks strewed for their beds,--I cannot describe the impression it makes: it is as if one were steering towards the sun, the glorious Eastern sun, arrayed in its golden clouds, and were to fine, on nearing it, that it were full—instead of glorified beings as one expected—of a race of dwarf cannibals, stained with blood and dressed in bones. The

    (35) contrast could not be more terrible than the savages of the Present in the temples of the Past at Luxor.

    But Karnak by starlight is peace; not peace and joy, but peace—solemn peace. You feel like spirits revisiting your former world, strange and fallen to ruins; but it has done its work, and there is nothing agonizing about it. Egypt should have no sun and no day, no

    (4o) human beings. It should always be seen in solitude and by night; one eternal night it should have, like Job's, and let the stars of the twilight be its lamps; neither let it see the dawning of the day.


    1. The mode of discourse that best describes this passage is

    A.        Exposition  B.  description  C.  argumentation  D.  comparison/ contrast.  E.  personal reflection and narration


    Answer (B) Although there.are certain elements of exposition and personal reflection, the predominant mode of discourse of this passage is that of description. Ms. Nightingale is telling her readers; the recipients of her letter, what she has seen and felt


    2. Because this is a letter sent to faraway recipients, the questions posed in paragraph 1 can be described as

    (A)    useless.  B.  imperative  C.interrogative  D.  rhetorical  E.  redundant


    Answer(D) Rhetorical questions are those asked by a speaker or writer that are used strictly for stylistic purposes—often bringing focus-or emphasis to a particular idea. The writer/speaker does not expect such questions to be answered. They are included strictly as a stylistic device.


    3. This passage relies upon the writer's appeal to the reader's reaction to

    A.       logic   B.  authority  C.  emotion  D.  humor  E.  sarcasm


    Answer (C)  The writer of this letter, Florence Nightingale, is appealing to her readers reacting emotionally to her vivid descriptions.


    4. In paragraph 2, references to the angel of the Last Day, line 12, and to Lucifer, line 18, is a stylistic device known-as

    A.       Oxymoron  B. onomatopoeia   C. metaphor          D. exaggeration       E. allusion


    Answer (E):An allusion is a reference to a literary, historical, religious, or mythological reference. In this case, the reference is to Judgment Day and to the fallen archangel Lucifer.


    5. The six columns on either side mentioned by the writer are described using a comparison that is known as

    A.    contrast.      B.   simile      C. metaphor      D. antithesis      E. juxtaposition


    Answer (B): The columns are compared to the Alps, and the phrase "as you would from           indicates that this is a simile, a comparison using like or as.


    6. The writer describes Karnak awaiting the dawning of a new year by using the stylistic  device of

               A.  metaphor   B. simile    C.  personification    D.  imagery     E. diction

    Answer (C)

    Although you might argue that metaphor and-imagery would work for this response, the AP exam is always looking for the most exact response. Consequently, (C), personification, is the most accurate response. Karnak seems to come alive as it stands motionless and silent, waiting for the advent of a new year.


    7. The fact that the writer is more comfortable "seeing" Karnak in the dark is an example of

    A.  situational irony  B.  verbal irony    C. dramatic irony    E.  juxtaposition  


    Answer (A)Situational irony is a contrast between what is expected and what really happens. In this case, it is truly ironic that the writer is most comfortable "seeing" a place in the dark in contrast to the bright light of day.          i               .


    8. "... ranged in eight aisles on either side, the end choked up with heaps of rubbish," lines 15-16, utilizes the stylistic device

    A.  allusion   B.  onomatopoeia    C.  anaphora    D.  alliteration    E.  assonance

    Answer (E):  Assonance is the repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds, usually in successive or proximate words. You can hear the assonance: "eight aisles on either side the end choked up with.. .


    9. Paragraph 2 (lines 8-22) contains all of the following stylistic devices EXCEPT

    A.  simile  B.  apostrophe  C. allusion  D.  rhetorical question  E.  hyperbole

    Answer (B)

    This paragraph contains a couple of similes, comparisons using like or as. It has an allusion to the Old Testament with the mention of Lucifer, and it uses a couple questions used for stylistic effect Finally, although the ruins are gargantuan, it is an exaggeration to compare it to a fallen mountain.

    10. Ms. Nightingale contrasts her reaction to the beauties of Karnak with'the horrors of

    A.  London streets at night  B.  alleys of Cairo at midnight  C.  horrors of Luxor in the daylight  D.  Egypt by moonlight

    E.  the Last Day of judgment

    Answer (C)

    Lines 23-36 describe the horrors that Ms. Nightingale had experienced during an earlier, daytime trip to Luxor.

    Multiple-choice sections that accompany reading passages rarely have this many questions asking about specific key terminology. Nevertheless, this should give you an idea of the types of questions you might be asked among the 50-55 questions found on your AP exam.




    ASSIGNMENT 2:  PRACTICE ESSAY (In-class assignment)

    Read Maya Angelou's essay "Graduation", and then write a 40-minute analytical essay on the following prompt:

    Read carefully paragraphs 1-5, and paragraphs 6-10, which comprise the opening of Maya Angelou’s essay “Graduation.”  Note differences in style and rhetoric.  Then write an essay in which you compare how Angelou uses those differences to achieve her purpose.
    Examples:  characterization, pacing, figurative language, etc.



    Born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1928, Maya Angelou has been a successful dancer, actor, poet, playwright, fiction writer, producer, director, newspaper editor, civil rights leader, and aca­demic, among other accomplishments. Her autobiographical book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969) was nominated for a National Book Award. In 1993 she delivered her poem, "On the Pulse of Morning," at the inauguration of President Clinton.

    "Graduation," from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, tells the story of Angelou 's high school graduation in Stamps, Arkansas. Of that day, she writes, "Oh, it was important, all right" (par. 5); as she tells the story, the importance of this day for Angelou grows beyond that, of the typical graduation. As you read, note the way she carefully brings the reader along with her as she re-creates the excitement and disap­pointment of that day and as she reflects on the significance of the moment that allowed her to say, "We were on top again. As always, again. We survived" (par. 61).


    The children in Stamps trembled visibly with anticipation. Some adults were excited too, but to be certain the whole young popula­tion had come down with graduation epidemic. Large classes were graduating from both tie grammar school and the high school. Even those who were years removed from their own day of glorious release were anxious to help with preparations as a kind of dry run. The junior students who were moving into the vacating classes' chairs were tradition-bound to show their tal­ents for leadership and management. They strutted through the school and around the campus exerting pressure on the lower grades. Their authority was so new that occasionally if they pressed a little too hard it had to be overlooked. After all, next term was coming, and it never hurt a sixth grader to have a play sister in the eighth grade, or a tenth-year student to be able to call a twelfth grader Bubba. So all was endured in a spirit of shared understanding. But the graduating classes themselves were the nobility. Like travelers with exotic destinations on their minds, the graduates were remarkably forgetful. They came to school without their books, or tablets or even pencils. Volunteers fell over themselves to secure replacements for the missing equip­ment. When accepted, the willing workers might or might not be thanked, and it was of no importance to the pregraduation rites. Even teachers were respectful of the now quiet and aging seniors, and tended to speak to them, if not as equals, as beings only slightly lower than themselves. After tests were returned and grades given, the student body, which acted like an extended fam­ily, knew who did well, who excelled, and what piteous ones had failed.

    Unlike the white high school, Lafayette County Training School distinguished itself by having neither lawn, nor hedges, nor tennis court, nor climbing ivy. Its two buildings (main class­rooms, the grade school and home economics) were set on a dirt hill with no fence to limit either its boundaries or those of border­ing farms. There was a large expanse to the left of the school which was used alternately as a baseball diamond or basketball court. Rusty hoops on swaying poles represented the permanent recreational equipment, although bats and balls could be bor­rowed from the P.E. teacher if the borrower was qualified and if the diamond wasn't occupied.

    Over this rocky area relieved by a few shady tall persimmon trees the graduating class walked. The girls often held hands and no longer bothered to speak to the lower students. There was a sadness about them, as if this old world was not their home and they were bound for hi her round. The boys, on the other hand, had become more friendly, more outgoing. A decided change from the closed attitude they projected while studying for finals. Now they seemed not ready to give up the old school, the familiar paths and classrooms. Only a small percentage would be continu­ing on to college—one of the South's A & M (agricultural and mechanical) schools, which trained Negro youths to be carpen­ters, farmers, handymen, masons, maids, cooks and baby nurses.  Their future rode heavily on their shoulders, and blinded them to the collective joy that had pervaded the lives of the boys and girls in the grammar school graduating class.

    Parents who could afford it had ordered new shoes and ready-Made clothes for themselves from Sears and Roebuck or Mont­gomery Ward. They also engaged the best seamstresses to make the floating graduating dresses and to cut down secondhand ,pants which would be pressed to a military slickness for the im­portant event.

    Oh, it was important, all right. Whitefolks would attend the ceremony, and two or three would speak of God and home, and the Southern way of life, and Mrs. Parsons, the principal's wife would play the graduation march while the lower-grade graduates paraded down the aisles and took their seats below the plat­form..  The high school seniors would wait in empty classrooms to make their dramatic entrance.

    In the Store I was the person of the moment. The birthday girl. The center. Bailey had graduated the year before, although to do so he had had to forfeit all pleasures to make up for his time lost in Baton Rouge.

    My class was wearing butter-yellow pique dresses, and Momma launched out on mine. She smocked the yoke into tiny crisscross­ing puckers, then shirred the rest of the bodice. Her dark fingers ducked in and out of the lemony cloth as she embroidered raised daisies around the hem. Before she considered herself finished she had added a crocheted cuff on the puff sleeves, and a pointy crocheted collar.

    I was going to be lovely. A walking model of all the various styles of fine hand sewing and it didn't worry me that I was only twelve years old and merely graduating from the eighth grade. Besides, many teachers in Arkansas Negro schools had only that diploma and were licensed to impart wisdom.

    The days had become longer and more noticeable. The faded beige of former times had been replaced with strong and sure col­ors. I began to see my classmates' clothes, their skin tones, and the dust that waved off pussy willows. Clouds that lazed across the sky were objects of great concern to me. Their shiftier shapes might have held a message that in my new happiness and with a little bit of time I'd soon decipher. During that period I looked at the arch of heaven so religiously my neck kept a steady ache.  I had taken to smiling more often, and my jaws hurt from the unaccustomed activity. Between the two physical sore spots, I suppose I could have been uncomfortable, but that was not the case. As a member of the winning team (the graduating class of 1940) I had outdistanced unpleasant sensations by miles. I was headed for the freedom of open fields.

        Youth and social approval allied themselves with me and we trammeled memories of slights and insults. The wind of our swift passage remodeled my features. Lost tears were pounded to mud and then to dust.  Years of withdrawal were brushed aside and left behind, as hanging ropes of parasitic moss.

        My work alone had awarded me a top place and I was going to be one of the first called in the graduating ceremonies. On the classroom blackboard, as well as on the bulletin board in the auditorium, there were blue stars and white stars and red stars. No absences, no tardinesses, and my academic work was among the best of the year. I could say the preamble to the Constitution even faster than Bailey. We timed ourselves often: "We the people of the United States in order to form a more perfect union . . ." I had memorized the Presidents of the United States from Washington to Roosevelt in chronological as well as alphabetical order.

    My hair pleased me too. Gradually the black mass had length­ened and thickened, so that it kept at last to its braided pattern, I and I didn't have to yank my scalp off when I tried to comb it.

    Louise and I had rehearsed the exercises until we tired out our­selves. Henry Reed was class valedictorian. He was a small, very black boy with hooded eyes, a long, broad nose and an oddly shaped head. I had admired him for years because each term he and I vied for the best grades in our class. Most often he bested me, but instead of being disappointed I was pleased that we shared top places between us. Like many Southern Black chil­dren, he lived with his grandmother, who was as strict as Momma and as kind as she knew how to be. He was courteous, respect­ful and soft-spoken to elders, but on the playground he chose to play the roughest games. I admired him. Anyone, I reckoned, sufficiently afraid or sufficiently dull could be polite. But to be able to operate at a top level with both adults and children was admirable.

    His valedictory speech was entitled "To Be or Not to Be." The rigid tenth-grade teacher had helped him write it. He'd been working on the dramatic stresses for months.

      . The weeks until graduation were filled with heady activities. A group of small children were to be presented in a play about but­tercups and daisies and bunny rabbits. They could be heard throughout the building practicing their hops and their little songs that sounded like silver bells. The older girls (nongradu­ates, of course) were assigned the task of making refreshments for the night's festivities. A tangy scent of ginger, cinnamon, nut­meg, and chocolate wafted around the home economics building a& the budding cooks made samples for themselves and their teachers.

    In every corner of the workshop, axes and saws split fresh tim­ber as the woodshop boys made sets and stage scenery. Only the graduates were left out of the general bustle. We were free to sit in the library at the back of the building or look in quite detachedly, naturally, on the measures being taken for our event.

    Even the minister preached on graduation the Sunday before. His subject was, "Let your light so shine that men will see your good works and praise your Father, Who is in Heaven." Although I the sermon was purported to be addressed to us, he used the occasion to speak to backsliders, gamblers and general ne'er-do-wells. But since he had called our names at the beginning of the service we were mollified.

    Among Negroes the tradition was to give presents to children going only from one grade to another. How much more impor­tant this was when the person was graduating at the top of the class. Uncle Willie and Momma had sent away for a Mickey Mouse watch like Bailey's. Louise gave me four embroidered handkerchiefs. (I gave her crocheted doilies.) Mrs. Sneed, the minister's wife, made me an undershirt to wear for graduation, and nearly every customer gave me a nickel or maybe even a dime with the instruction "Keep on moving to higher ground," or some such encouragement.

    Amazingly the great day finally dawned and I was out of bed before I knew it. I threw open the back door to see it more clearly, but Momma said, "Sister, come away from that door and put your robe on."

    I hoped the memory of that morning would never leave me. Sunlight was itself young, and the day had none of the insistence maturity would bring it in a few hours.  In my robe and barefoot in the backyard, under the cover of going to see about my new beans, I gave myself up to the gentle warmth and

    thanked God that no matter what evil I had done in my life He had allowed me to live to see this day. Somewhere in my fatalism I had expected to die, accidentally, and never have the chance to walk up the stairs in the auditorium and gracefully receive my hard-earned diploma. Out of God's merciful bosom I had won reprieve.

    Bailey came out in his robe and gave me a box wrapped in Christmas paper. He said he had saved his money for months to pay for it. It felt like a box of chocolates, but I knew Bailey wouldn't save money to buy candy when we had all we could want under our noses.

    He was as proud of the gift as I. It was a soft-leather-bound copy of a collection of poems by Edgar Allan Poe, or, as Bailey and I called him, "Eap." I turned to "Annabel Lee" and we walked up and down the garden rows, the cool dirt between our toes, reciting the beautifully sad lines.

    Momma made a Sunday breakfast although it was only Friday. After we finished the blessing, I opened my eyes to find the watch on my plate. It was a dream of a day. Everything went smoothly and to my credit, I didn't have to be reminded or scolded for any­thing. Near evening I was too jittery to attend to chores, so Bailey volunteered to do all before his bath.

    Days before, we had made a sign for the Store, and as we turned out the lights Momma hung the cardboard over the door­knob. It read clearly: CLOSED, GRADUATION.

    My dress fitted perfectly and everyone said that I looked like a sunbeam in it. On the hill, going toward the school, Bailey walked behind with Uncle Willie, who muttered, "Go on, Ju." He wanted him to walk ahead with us because it embarrassed him to have to walk so slowly. Bailey said he'd let the ladies walk together, and the men would bring up the rear. We all laughed, nicely.

    Little children dashed by out of the dark like fireflies. Their crepe-paper dresses and butterfly wings were not made for run­ning and we heard more than one rip, dryly, and the regretful "uh uh" that followed.

    The school blazed without gaiety. The windows seemed cold and unfriendly from the lower hill. A sense of ill-fated timing crept over me, and if Momma hadn't reached for my hand I would have drifted back to Bailey and Uncle Willie, and possibly

    beyond. She made a few slow jokes about my feet getting cold, and tugged me along to the now-strange building.

    Around the front steps, assurance came back. There were my fellow "greats," the graduating class. Hair brushed back, legs oiled, new dresses and pressed pleats, fresh pocket handkerchiefs 2 and little handbags, all homesewn. Oh, we were up to snuff, all right. I joined my comrades and didn't even see my family go in to find seats in the crowded auditorium.

    The school band struck up a march and all classes filed in as had been rehearsed. We stood in front of our seats, as assigned, and on a signal from the choir director, we sat. No sooner had this been accomplished than the band started to play the national anthem. We rose again and sang the song, after which we re­cited the pledge of allegiance. We remained standing for a brief 2 minute before the choir director and the principal signaled to us, rather desperately I thought, to take our seats. The command was so unusual that our carefully rehearsed and smooth-running machine was thrown off. For a full minute we fumbled for our chairs and bumped into each other awkwardly. Habits change or solidify under pressure, so in our state of nervous tension we had been ready to follow our usual assembly pattern: the American national anthem, then the pledge of allegiance, then the song every Black person I knew called the Negro National Anthem. All done in the same key, with the same passion and most often standing on the same foot.

    Finding my seat at last, I was overcome with a presentiment of 30 worse things to come. Something unrehearsed, unplanned, was going to happen, and we were going to be made to look bad. I dis­tinctly remember being explicit in the choice of pronoun. It was "we," the graduating class, the unit, that concerned me then.

    The principal welcomed "parents and friends" and asked the Baptist minister to lead us in prayer. His invocation was brief and punchy, and for a second I thought we were getting on the high road to right action. When the principal came back to the dais, however, his voice had changed. Sounds always affected me pro­foundly and the principal's voice was one of my favorites. During assembly it melted and lowed weakly into the audience. It had not been in my plan to listen to him, but my curiosity was piqued and I straightened up to give him my attention.

    He was talking about Booker T. Washington, our "late great leader," who said we can be as close as the fingers on the hand, etc.... Then he said a few vague things about friendship and the friendship of kindly people to those less fortunate than them­selves. With that his voice nearly faded, thin, away. Like a river diminishing to a stream and then to a trickle. But he cleared his throat and said, "Our speaker tonight, who is also our friend, came from Texarkana to deliver the commencement address, but due to the irregularity of the train schedule, he's going to, as they say, 'speak and run."' He said that we understood and wanted the man to know that we were most grateful for the time he was able to give us and then something about how we were willing always to adjust to another's program, and without more ado—"I give you Mr. Edward Donleavy."

    Not one but two white men came through the door off-stage. The shorter one walked to the speaker's platform, and the tall one moved to the center seat and sat down. But that was our principal's seat, and already occupied. The dislodged gentleman bounced around for a long breath or two before the Baptist min­ister gave him his chair, then with more dignity than the situation deserved, the minister walked off the stage.

    Donleavy looked at the audience once (on reflection, I'm sure that he wanted only to reassure himself that we were really there), adjusted his glasses and began to read from a sheaf of papers.

    He was glad "to be here and to see the work going on just as it was in the other schools."

    At the first "Amen" from the audience I willed the offender to immediate death by choking on the word. But Amens and Yes, sir's began to fall around the room like rain through a ragged umbrella.

    He told us of the wonderful changes we children in Stamps had in store. The Central School (naturally, the white school was Central) had already been granted improvements that would be in use in the fall. A well-known artist was coming from Little Rock to teach art to them. They were going to have the newest microscopes and chemistry equipment for their laboratory. Mr. Donleavy didn't leave us long in the dark over who made these improvements available to Central High. Nor were we to be ignored in the general betterment scheme he had in mind.

    He said that he had pointed out to people at a very high level that one of the first-line football tacklers at Arkansas Agricultural and Mechanical College had graduated from good old Lafayette County Training School. Here fewer Amen's were heard. Those few that did break through lay dully in the air with the heaviness of habit.

    He went on to praise us. He went on to say how he had bragged that "one of the best basketball players at Fisk sank his first ball right here at Lafayette County Training School."

    The white kids were going to have a chance to become Galileos and Madame Curies and Edisons and Gauguins, and our boys (the girls weren't even in on it) would try to be Jesse Owenses and Joe Louises.

    Owens and the Brown Bomber were great heroes in our world, but what school official in the white-goddom of Little Rock had the right to decide that those two men must be our only heroes? Who decided that for Henry Reed to become a scientist he had to work like George Washington Carver, as a bootblack, to buy a lousy microscope? Bailey was obviously always going to be too small to be an athlete, so which concrete angel glued to what country seat had decided that if my brother wanted to become a lawyer he had to first pay penance for his skin by picking cotton and hoeing corn and studying correspondence books at night for twenty years?

    The man's dead words fell like bricks around the auditorium and too many settled in my belly.  Constrained by hard-leamed manners I couldn't look behind me, but to my left and right the proud graduating class of 1940 had dropped their heads.  Every girl in my row had found something new to do with her handkerchief.  Some folded the tiny squares into love knots, some into triangles, but most were wadding them, then pressing them flat on their yellow laps.

    On the dais, the ancient tragedy was bring replayed.  Professor Parsons sat, a sculptor's reject, rigid.  His large, heavy body seemed devoid of will or willingness, and his eyes said he was no longer with us.  The other teachers examined the flag (which was draped stage right) or their notes, or the windows which opened on our now-famous playing diamond.

    Graduation, the hush-hish magic time of frills and gifts and congratualtions and diplomas, was finished for me before my

    name was called. The accomplishment was nothing. The meticu­lous maps, drawn in three colors of ink, learning and spelling deca­syllabic words, memorizing the whole of The Rape of Lucrece — it was for nothing. Donleavy had exposed us.

    We were maids and farmers, handymen and washerwomen, and anything higher that we aspired to was farcical and pre­sumptuous.

    Then I wished that Gabriel Prosser and Nat Turner had killed all whitefolks in their beds and that Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated before the signing of the Emancipation Proclama­tion, and that Harriet Tubman had been killed by that blow on her head and Christopher Columbus had drowned in the Santa Maria.

    It was awful , to be a Negro and have no control over my life. It was brutal to be young and already trained to sit quietly and lis­ten to charges brought against my color with no chance of defense. We should all be dead. I thought I should like to see us all dead, one on top of the other. A pyramid of flesh with the white-folks on the bottom, as the broad base, then the Indians with their silly tomahawks and teepees and wigwams and treaties, the Negroes with their mops and recipes and cotton sacks and spiri­tuals sticking out of their mouths. The Dutch children should all stumble in their wooden shoes and break their necks. The French should choke to death on the Louisiana Purchase (1803) while silkworms ate all the Chinese with their stupid pigtails. As a species, we were an abomination. All of us.

    Donleavy was running for election, and assured our parents that if he won we could count on having the only colored paved playing field in that part of Arkansas. Also —he never looked up to acknowledge the grunts of acceptance —also, we were bound to get some new equipment for the home economics building and the workshop.

    He finished, and since there was no need to give any more than the most perfunctory thank-you's, he nodded to the men on the stage, and the tall white man who was never introduced joined him at the door. They left with the attitude that now they were off to something really important. (The graduation ceremonies at Lafayette County Training School had been a mere preliminary.)

    The ugliness they left was palpable. An uninvited guest who wouldn't leave. The choir was summoned and sang a modern arrangement of "Onward, Christian Soldiers," with new words pertaining to graduates seeking their place in the world. But it didn't work. Elouise, the daughter of the Baptist minister, recited "Invictus," and I could have cried at the impertinence of "I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul."

    My name had lost its ring of familiarity and I had to be nudged to go and receive my diploma. All my preparations had fled. I neither marched up to the stage like a conquering Amazon, nor did I look in the audience for Bailey's nod of approval. Marguerite Johnson, I heard the name again, my honors were read, there were noises in the audience of appreciation, and I took my place

    I thought about colors I hated: ecru, puce, lavender, beige and black‑

    There was shuffling and rustling around me, then Henry Reed was giving his valedictory address, "To Be or Not to Be." Hadn't he heard the whitefolks? We couldn't be, so the question was a waste of time. Henry's voice came out clear and strong. I feared to look at him. Hadn't he got the message? There was no "nobler in the mind" for Negroes because the world didn't think we had minds, and they let us know it. "Outrageous fortune"? Now, that was a joke. When the ceremony was over I had to tell Henry Reed some things. That is, if I still cared. Not "rub," Henry, "erase." "Ah, there's the erase." Us.

    Henry had been a good student in elocution. His voice rose on tides of promise and fell on waves of warnings. The English teacher had helped him to create a sermon winging through Hamlet's soliloquy. To be a man, a doer, a builder, a leader, or to be a tool, an unfunny joke, a crusher of funky toadstools. I mar­veled that Henry could go through with the speech as if we had a choice.

    I had been listening and silently rebutting each sentence with 55 my eyes closed; then there was a hush, which in an audience warns that something unplanned is happening. I looked up and saw Henry Reed, the conservative, the proper, the A student, turn his back to the audience and turn to us (the proud graduating class of 1940) and sing, nearly speaking,



    It was the poem written by James Weldon Johnson. It was the music composed by J. Rosamond Johnson. It was the Negro national anthem. Out of habit we were singing it.

    Our mothers and fathers stood in the dark hall and joined the hymn of encouragement. A kindergarten teacher led the small children onto the stage and the buttercups and daisies and bunny rabbits marked time and tried to follow:




    Each child I knew had learned that song with his ABC's and along with "Jesus Loves Me This I Know." But I personally had never heard it before. Never heard the words, despite the thou­sands of times I had sung them. Never thought they had anything to do with me.

    On the other hand, the words of Patrick Henry had made such an impression on me that I had been able to stretch myself tall and trembling and say, "I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death."

    And now I heard, really for the first time:



    While echoes of the song shivered in the air, Henry Reed bowed his head, said "Thank you," and returned to his place in the line. The tears that slipped down many faces were not wiped away in shame.

    We were on top again. As always, again. We survived. The depths had been icy and dark, but now a bright sun spoke to our souls. I was no longer simply a member of the proud graduating cTassof 1940; I was a proud member of the wonderful, beautiful Negro race.

    Oh, Black )Chown and unknown poets, how often have your auctioned wins sustained us? Who will compute the lonely nights ma4e less lonely by your songs, or the empty pots made less tragiciby your tales?

    If we Were a people much given to revealin secrets, we might raise monuments and sacrifice to the memori of our poets, but slavery cured us of that weakness. It may be enough, however, to ave it said that we survive in exact relationship to the dedication of our poets (include preachers, musicians, and blues singers).




    In part II of the English Language and Composition exam, you will have two hours to complete the three free response questions (40 minutes each).  Those tests will receive a 1-9 with the score of 9 being the best.

    Give the essay you are grading a score at the top based on what you have read and understood.

    In addition, to help further the learning of the writer, correct any errors that you may see on the exam.

    9- Exemplary

    Same as the 8 essay, but these essays meeting a score of nine respond to the prompt in a particularly sophisticated manner.  The writer has shown impressive control over diction and grammar and has a solid train of thought.  Language is in appropriate voice.

    8-  Effective

    Essays that meet an eight respond to the prompt effectively.  They specifically and effectively address all that they are asked to address in the prompt, and they support their argument with appropriate evidence.  The prose demonstrates an ability to control a wide range of the elements of writing, but is not entirely flawless.

    7-  Well-done

    Essays that earn a score of 7 fit the description of essays that earn a score of 6, but provide a more complete explanation and argument or demonstrate a more mature prose style.

    6- Adequate

    Essays earning a score of 6 respond to the prompt adequately.  They address all that they are asked to address all that they are asked to address in the prompt:  they adequately argue the evidence and support the argument with adequate text.  The six essay may contain lapses in diction or syntax, but generally the writing is clear.

    5- Passing

    Essays earning a score of 6 respond to the prompt adequately.  They address what they are asked to address, however they may provide uneven, inconsistent or limited explanations, arguments and/ or evidence.  Usually conveys the writer's ideas.


    Essays earning this score responded to the prompt adequately.  They may have had difficulty pinpointing what they are asked to address in the text.  Evidence may be insufficient.  The prose generally conveys what the writer meant, but may suggest an immature control of writing.

    3- Uh-oh

    2-Little success

    1- Hmmmm.....

    0- on topic, but receives no credit (merely repeating the prompt, for example)

    ---  blank response that were off topic (i.e. "AP sucks")

    Changes to the 2007 AP English Language and Composition Exam

    Using Sources to Support an Argument
    Beginning in fall 2006, the AP English Language and Composition course should highlight research skills that will help align the AP course with first-year courses in college composition. Beginning in 2007, the free-response section of the exam will contain, as one of the three questions, a synthesis essay that asks students to use sources in support of an argument. This question will contain four to seven sources and a prompt that relates to these sources; in general, at least one of these sources will be an image (e.g. photo, cartoon, graph, etc.). Students will be asked to write essays that incorporate at least three to four of the sources into argumentative or analytical responses; the sources will be used to support the student's particular argument or position. An additional fifteen-minute reading time will be added to the exam to accommodate the increased reading load. The revised emphasis of the English Language and Composition course will also be reflected in the multiple choice section of the exam, which will contain questions about documentation or citation found in a passage.

    These changes to the exam support the way in which the informed use of research materials and the ability to synthesize varied sources (to evaluate, cite, and utilize source material) should be an integral part of the AP Language and Composition course. Students should move past assignments that allow for the uncritical citation of source material and, instead, take up projects that call on them to evaluate the legitimacy and purpose of sources used. One way to help students synthesize and evaluate texts in this way is the researched argumentative paper.

    Researched papers help students to formulate varied, informed arguments. Unlike the traditional research paper, in which works are often not evaluated, the researched paper asks students to consider the source as a text that has a particular audience and purpose in mind. Researched papers remind students that they must sort through disparate interpretations to analyze, reflect upon, and write about a topic.

    When students are asked to bring the experience and opinions of others into their essays in this way, they enter into conversations with other writers and thinkers. The results of such conversations are essays that use citations for substance rather than show, for dialogue rather than diatribe.

    Students should be expected, too, to expand their notions of text to include visuals. To support the increasing importance of graphics and visual images as texts (a relevance that will be reflected in the use of images in the exam), students should be asked to analyze how such images both relate to written texts and serve as alternative forms of text themselves.


    Rubric: Essay Question: Thoreau

    Analysis of Essay Question One

    This passage is, of course, from Thoreau's Walden. It is readily accessible, although some find it less than exciting to read and 'get into.' However; those who give it a chance will find that Thoreau's wonderful language and rich imagery offers an easy passage on which to respond.

    Scoring Guide for Question One

    9 Essays meet all of the criteria for 8 papers, and in addition, are especially full or apt in their analysis or demonstrate particularly impressive composition skills.

    8 Essays successfully analyze the rhetorical and stylistic strategies Thoreau employs to convey his attitude about Nature and the onset of spring. They refer to the passage directly or indirectly and explain convincingly how specific strategies such as imagery, tone, and figurative language contribute to an understanding of the writer's attitude. Their prose controls a wide range of effective writing but is not flawless.

    7 Essays fit the description of 6 essays but employ more complete analysis or demonstrate a more mature prose style.

    6 Essays adequately analyze how the stylistic devices Thoreau employs in his passage reveal his attitude about Nature and springtime. They refer to the passage directly or indirectly, and they recognize the narrator's attitude and how he conveys it by utilizing strategies such as choice of detail, tone, or figurative language. A few lapses in diction or syntax may be present, but generally the prose of 6 essays is dear.

    5 Essays analyze Thoreau's rhetorical techniques, but the development of those techniques of the understanding of Thoreau's attitude is limited or too simplistic. These essays may treat techniques superficially or develop ideas about the narrator's attitude inconsistently. A few lapses in diction or syntax may appear, but the prose in these essays usually conveys the writers' ideas adequately.

    4 Essays inadequately respond to the task of the prompt. They may misrepresent Thoreau's attitude or analyze rhetorical strategies inaccurately or with little understanding of how strategies reveal his attitude. Often the prose of these essays  suggest immature control over organization, diction, or syntax.

    3 Essays meet the criteria for the score of 4 but are less perceptive about how rhetorical strategies convey attitude or are less consistent in controlling the elements of writing.

    2 Essays are unsuccessful in analyzing how stylistic strategies convey Thoreau's attitude about Spring. These essays tend to pay little or cursory attention the specific features, and they may generalize, or simplify attitude and tone. They may simply paraphrase or comment on the passage without analyzing technique. The prose of 2 papers often reveals consistent weaknesses in writing such as a lack of development or organization, grammatical problems, or a lack of control.

    I Essays meet the criteria for the-score of 2 but are especially simplistic in their discussion or weak in controlling elements of language.




    Questions or Passage First

    Many debate the comparative wisdom of skimming the questions before reading the passage or of quickly reading the passage first and then tackling the questions. That is something that you will have to decide for yourself.

    If you are a slow reader, you may not have enough time to look at the questions first. You may have to eliminate that first step. On the other hand, some students find that skimming the questions really helps them to focus better when they read, so their reading time is actually shorter. While you ,practice the multiple-choice section in this book or look at passages and questions online at AP Central, try it both ways and decide what works best for you.

    Read Critically

    Whether you read the passage first or second, read actively and critically—that is, by marking key words and ideas.

    Know What the Question Asks

    Read the question carefully. Sometimes it helps to mark that as well, to help you to decide just what it is you are being asked.

    Predict an Answer

    Try to formulate the answer in your mind before you look at the choices given.

    Read Every Answer Choice

    Next, read every answer choice, even if the correct response jumps out at you right away. It is not unusual to have more than one acceptable answer but only one best answer.

    Don't Waste 'rime on Hard Questions

    If you have no clue about a question, skip it and move on to the next one. If you just need a bit of time to "work it out," mark it in the book and move on. Return to any you have marked before going on to the next passage. If you are pushing the time limit (an average of 12 minutes per passage for 5 passages; 15 minutes per passage for 4 passages), go on to the next passage and return at the end of the multiple-choice section if you have any time.

    Read the Explanations and Look for Patterns

    On practice sets, review your performance. Can you detect a pattern to your errors? If so, what do you need to do? What types of questions are you missing? Try to refurbish those shaky areas.

    Think Like the Test Maker

    In the following pages you will find a discussion of the types and characteristics of questions with some template sentences to give you an idea of how such categories might be expressed on the test You may be tempted to skip this part. However, one very ery valuable activity you can undertake in preparation for the AP English Language and Composition Exam is to create your own multiple-choice questions based on passages you may have in your textbook or from other sources. This is even more helpful—not to mention more interesting—if you can create these questions with some study cohorts from your AP English class. Perhaps you might want to work in partners and then have the partners swap their questions with each other to test your. skills.


    AP English Language and Composition test questions are surprisingly predictable. They fall into only a few categories, with a variety of approaches within each category. Once you are familiar with the basic types of questions, you will find your confidence growing and your response speed increasing. Since the multiple-choice section of the exam makes up 45 percent of your AP test score,.conquering multiple-choice questions is essential for your-success.

    The categories are:

    Main Idea

    These are very common questions on the exam. Often the first or last questions of a series have to do with main idea. What is the author saying? Can you restate it? That's what you need to do, at least in your mind. You might have to make a few marginal notes or you may find the main idea stated in one or two lines that you can underline. You will want to mark this somehow. Work on developing an annotation code that works for you.

    The main idea is tested using a variety of question stems:

    The author would most likely agree with which of the following?

    Thenarrator's/author's/ speaker's attitude can be described as ... The author would most/least likely agree that ...

    The writer has presented all of the following ideas EXCEPT

    We can infer that the author values the quality of ...

    The attitude of the narrator helps the writer create a mood of ... In context lines " most likely refer to ...


    Questions about rhetoric dominate the AP English exam. How does the language work in a passage? What are the point of view or the syntax and diction; how does the author express his tone,: what is the narrator's attitude? These are not words just to be thrown around recklessly. You need to understand how all or the elements synthesize together to make the entire passage. How does each "rhetorical device" affect the whole?

    Rhetoric questions appear in a variety of different forms:

    A shift in point of view is demonstrated by ...

    The repetitive syntax of lines serves to ...

    can best be said to represent

    The second sentence is unified by the writer's use of rhetorical device? The word "___" is the antecedent for..

    The style of the passage can best be -characterized as ...

    The author employs " _____" sentence structure to establish ... The tone of the passage changes when the writer ...

    Meaning and Purpose

    This is a common question in the multiple-choice questions. What is the purpose of the passage? How does it fit a meaning? Why was it written? Since so many of the passages on this exam are taken from nonfiction—speeches, letters, autobiographies, essays—usually the author had a very strong reason foe writing. Usually you can discover meaning by looking at the connotations of the author's words.

    You will have to determine how or why the specific word choice demonstrates the author's thematic intention(s)

    These questions also take a variety of forms:

               "_____"can best be defined as ...

    The purpose of lines "_____" can best be interpreted as ...

    The writer clarifies "_____"by ...

    The writer emphasizes "____" in order to ...

    By saying "_____"the author intends for us to understand that ...

    By " " the author most likely means ...

    The purpose of the sentence/paragraph/passage can best be summarized as ... The passage can be interpreted as meaning all of the following EXCEPT

    Structure and Organization

    How has the author organized his or her passage? Is there a consistency or a planned inconsistency that should be noted? Is this an argument? If so, is it deductive or inductive? Is this a personal observation? How is the information presented? Although there are not a lot of organization and structure questions in the multiple-choice section of the exam, you need to know what to expect when you are faced with one.

    Some sample forms for structure and organization questions are:

    The shift from "___" to"___" is seen by the author's use of ...

    In presenting the author's point the passage utilizes all of the following EXCEPT The speaker has included "___"in her argument in order to ...

    The type of argument employed by the author is most similar to which of the following? The passage can be said to move from "___" to "___"

    The "___" paragraph can be said to be "___" in relation to "___"

    The structure of this passage is primarily one of ...

    Rhetorical Modes

    Only a few questions about modes are on the test A mode (rhetorical mode, mode of discourse) simply means what type of writing has the author used? Is it description, narration, argumentation, comparison and contrast, etc? Sometimes understanding the author's choice of mode helps us to understand the author's purpose in writing.

    These questions may appear in such forms as:

    The author combines retrospection with which other rhetorical mode within this passage?


    The question types listed in this chapter do not constitute a complete list. You will most likely encounter questions that don't seem to fit into a category. It is important, however, to become familiar with the more common types of questions you will encounter. Just don't be so set on every question having to fit into a particular category that you get flustered when faced with one that does not.

    One thing you can always count on is that just when you think you have an AP test completely figured out, they will surprise you with something you never anticipated.


    You must practice applying the strategies as you work, in order to make them second nature by test day.

    Read the following passages and answer the questions that follow. Each represents a category or type of multiple-choice question that correspond to those typically found in the multiple-choice section of the AP English Language exam. Don't forget to practice the methods and strategies discussed in this chapter about reading the multiple-choice questions.


    Passage 1

    Money is the most important thing in the world. It represents health, strength, honor, generosity and beauty as conspicuously and undeniably as the want of it represents illness, weakness, disgrace, meanness and ugliness. Not the least of its virtues is that it destroys base people as certainly as it fortifies and dignifies noble people..

    From "Preface" to Major Barbara, George Bernard Shaw

    Passage 2

    And I remember that on the afternoon of Christmas Day, when the others sat around the fire and told each other that this was nothing, no nothing, to the great snow-bound and turkey-proud yule-long-crackling holly-berry-bedizined and kissing­under-the-mistletoe Christmas when they were children, I would go out, school-capped and gloved and mufflered, with my bright new boots squeaking, into the white world on to the seaward hill, to call on Jim and Dan and Jack and to walk with them through the silent snowscape of our town.     From "Memories of Christmas," Dylan Thomas

     Passage 3

    The church was very exciting. It took a long time for me to disengage myself from this excitement, and on the blindest, most visceral level, I never really have, and never will. There is no music like that music, no drama like the drama of the saints rejoicing, the sinners moaning, the tambourines racing, and all those voices coming together and crying holy unto the Lord.

    From The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin

    Passage 4

    Liberty? The true liberty of a man, you would say, consisted in his finding out, or being forced to find out, the right path, and to walk thereon. To learn, or to be taught, what work he actually was able for; and then by permission, persuasion, and even compulsion, to set about doing of the same! That is his true blessedness, honour, liberty and maximum of wellbeing; if liberty be not that, I for one have small care about liberty.

    From "Democracy," Thomas Carlyle

    Passage 5

    The stretcher-bearers come back from the lines, walking in off step, so that the burden will not be jounced too much, and the blood dripping from the canvas, brother and enemy in the stretchers, so long as they are hurt. And the walking wounded coming back with shattered arms and bandaged heads, the walking wounded struggling painfully to the rear.     

                            From "Battle Scene," John Steinbeck

    Passage 6

    The Idols of the Cave are the idols of the individual man. For everyone (besides the errors common to human nature in general) has a cave or den of his own, which refracts and discolors the light of nature; owing either to his own proper and peculiar nature or to his education and conservation with others; or to the reading of books, and the authority of those whom he esteems and admires; or to the differences of impressions, accordingly as they take place in a mind preoccupied and predisposed or in A mind indifferent and settled.                  

                                                               From "The Idols of the Mind," Francis Bacon


    Questions for Prose Analysis

    For each section, try to discover the author's purpose: why does he use the devices he does? What effect does he want and how does it relate to what he says?


    General:                             1. Describe the impression the whole passage makes upon you: its mood and tone.

                                                2. What is the most striking part of the passage?

    Diction:                              3. Are most of the words abstract or concrete? List some examples.

                         4. Are they unfamiliar or unusual words or usages? List them.

                         5. Does the passage use either first or second person pronouns?

                         6. Are verbs or verbals especially noticeable? List vivid examples.

                         7. Are adjectives or adverbs especially vivid? List examples. Syntax:   

                         8. Are the sentences especially long (over 20 words) or short (under eight  words)?

                        9. Are most sentences simple or compound? Are most sentences complex or compound-complex? Are there many prepositional

                         or verbal phrases?

                        10. Are there parallel series of three, four, or more than four?

    Rhetorical                           11. Does the passage have any strong images not already discussed? What senses are appealed to be the images?

    or Poetic                             12.  Does the passage have any strong images not already discussed? What senses are appealed to by the images?

    Devices:                              13  Does rhythm or pace reinforce meaning?

                        14. Is there alliteration, consonance, assonance, onomatopoeia, or repetition?


    ASSIGNMENT 5: Review the following essay question and essay.  Using the rubric, score the essay and be prepared to discuss in class.


    (Suggested time-40 minutes)

    The following letter was written by Sandy Kempner to his family while he was fighting in Vietnam. Read the letter carefully, analyzing the particular stylistic and rhetorical techniques Sandy uses to convey his attitude toward war. Be sure to consider whether or not this letter is a successful example of anti-war sentiment.

    2 September 1966

    Dear Mom, Dad, Shrub, the Egg and Peach:

    Sorry to be so long in writing, but I have just come back from an abortion called Operation Jackson. I spent a three-day "walk in the sun" (and paddies and fields and

    (5) mountains and impenetrable jungle and saw grass and ants, and screwed-up radios and no word, and deaf radio operators, and no chow, and too many C-rations, and blisters. and torn trousers and jungle rot, and wet socks and sprained ankles and no heels , and, and, and) for a battalion that walked on roads and dikes the whole way and a regiment that didn't even know where the battalion was, finished off by a 14,000-meter forced march on

    (10) a hard road. My God the epic poems I could write to that ambrosia of Marine Corps cuisine—peanut butter and/or hot coffee after three days of that! The only person in the whole battalion to see a *VC was, of course, me. I was walking along a trail doing a village sweep all alone, and here comes Charlie, rifle in hand, with not a care in the world until he sees

    (15) me, and then it's a race to see if he can get off the road before I can draw my .45 and get off an accurate shot (he won). Of course there was an incident when four snipers took on the battalion, which promptly, more to release the weight of all that unexpended ammunition than anything else, threw everything at them but the Missouri, and that would have been there too, except it could not get up the Sang Tra Bong [River]: So goes

    (20) about $50,000 worth of ammo. They probably played it up as a second Iwo Jima at home, but it wasn't.

    Then, two days after we got back, we played Indian Scout, and my platoon splashed its way through a rice paddy at 3:30 in the morning in a rainstorm to surround a hamlet which we managed to do somehow without alerting everyone in the district, which is

    (25) surprising as we made enough noise to wake up a Marine sentry. It was "very successful" since we managed to kill a few probably innocent civilians, found a few caves and burned a few houses, all a driving rainstorm. There's nothing more, I'm afraid.



    On 11 November 1966, Marion Lee (Sandy) Kempner was killed by shrapnel from a mine explosion. He was 24years old.

    Scoring Guide for Question I

    9 Essays meet all of the criteria for 8 papers, and in addition, are especially full or apt in their analysis or demonstrate particularly impressive composition skills.

    8 Essays successfully analyze the rhetorical and stylistic strategies the letter employs to convey the writer's attitude about the Vietnam War and Sandy's part in it. They refer to the passage directly or indirectly and explain convincingly how specific strategies such as imagery, tone and figurative language contribute to an understanding of the writer's attitude. Their prose controls a wide range of effective writing but is not flawless.

    7 Essays fit the description of 6 essays but employ more complete analysis or demonstrate a more mature prose style.

    6 Essays adequately analyze the stylistic devices the letter employs to reveal the writers attitude about the war in Vietnam and this part in the action. They refer to the passage directly or indirectly, and they recognize the narrator's attitude and how he conveys it by utilizing strategies such as choice of detail, tone, figurative language. A few lapses in diction or syntax may be present but generally the prose of 6 essays is clear.

    5 Essays analyze Sandy's rhetorical techniques, but the development of how these techniques work, or the understanding of Sandy's attitude is limited or too simplistic. These essays may treat techniques superficially or develop ideas about the narrator's attitude inconsistently. A few lapses in diction or syntax may appear, but the prose in these essays usually conveys the writers' ideas adequately.

    4 Essays inadequately respond to the task of the prompt.. They may misrepresent the writer's attitude of analyze rhetorical strategies inaccurately or with little understanding of how strategies reveal his attitude toward the War. Often the prose of these essays suggests immature control over organization, diction, or syntax.

              3 Essays meet the criteria for the score of 4 but are less perceptive about how rhetorical strategies convey attitude or are less consistent in controlling the elements of writing.

    2 Essays are unsuccessful in analyzing how stylistic strategies convey the writer's attitude about the War in Vietnam and his part in the war. These essays tend to pay little or cursory attention to the specific features, and they may generalize, or simplify attitude and tone. They may simply paraphrase or comment on the passage without analyzing technique. The prose of 2 papers often reveals consistent weaknesses in writing, such as a lack of development or organization, grammatical problems, or a lack of control.

    1 Essays earning a score of 1 meet the criteria for the score of 2 but are especially simplistic in their discussion or weak in controlling elements of language

    Robert's Response

    In class this year we read The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, which led to an exploration of a lot of different so-called war-related literature. Overall, I found most of it to be subtle and not too subtle war protest literature. This letter by Sandy, describing his numerous. experiences in Vietnam is no exception. He conveys a cynical and resentful attitude towards the Situation he is in. He utilizes humor, vivid imagery, sarcasm and other rhetorical devices to tell his family, and subsequently the rest of us, about the true nature of war.

    People have been writing about war for centuries—the early Greeks and Romans Spoke of war. War is present in many of Shakespeare's historical plays and he mentions it also in Hamlet and Macbeth. Many poets have written about war as well. A famous war poem that made a big impression on me is "Dulce Et Decorum Est" (World War I think). The powerful Imagery in that poem sure Stirred my anti-war feelings. In the last century or so, anti-war books such as Johnny Got His Gun and On the Beach and Hiroshima have made powerful anti-war statements. Of course,  the movie industry has done its part as well with classics such as Fallesafe and MASH. Sandy's letter from Vietnam fits right in with all of these classics. With not-so- subtle imagery and undeniable sarcasm, this, letter exposes us once again to the travesty of war.

    In his greeting Sandy reveals that he is homesick and hag much affection for his family—using their pet names. When he begins his letter, he trice to keep things light—probably not wanting to worry his family. However, by mentioning the recent maneuvers as an "abortion" we are quickly apprised of Sandy's bitterness over the futility of what they are doing. As he relays his recent adventures, we quickly see that this was definitely no "walk in the Sun" In fact, his tone is angry, only a few details, we are quickly able to understand the grueling nature of his missions. The abundant use of negatives emphasizes even more pessimistic feelings about what he is doing, (and likewise) what America is doing. "No word: "no chow" and "no heels" expre5oce how ineffectual they pre being. I can almost hear him add "no sense" as well. The reader is sucked into his frustration as he talks about blisters torn clothing, jungle rot and forced marches. How can we not sympathize with him?

    He tries to lighten things with a bit of comic relief about meals of peanut butter and coffee, but soon we realize that a daily diet of this is as bad as blisters and forced marches. Soon, however, even this attempt at humor le replaced by more frustration when he talks about his squadron's inability to effectively do much against the VC's. In fact, he implies that Charley seems not to have a care in the world until he sees the Americans. An inconsequential firelight settles nothing. The power of his description—the ridiculous battle with the snipers, expending $50,000 to no effect; throwing everything but the Missouri at the enemy—shows just how hopeless his situation is. All their efforts seem to have accomplished he says, almost as an aside, was to wake up a sleeping Marine sentry. (Perhaps if he had not been sleeping, there. would have been no cause for a battle?)

    By the end of the letter, Sandy may have realized that he has revealed too much of his emotion, frustration and even fear. He attempts a lighter mood by comparing the squadron to Indian scouts. Instead of well-trained soldiers, however, it sounds like he's with a group of inept Cub Scouts who don't know what they are doing or I even why they are doing it. Instead they manage to kill innocent bystanders and torch (innocent) houses. By now anyone reading this letter wants to scream and shout against such absurdity. The driving rain seems to be a metaphor for the driving futility of it all. Through his attempted humor, raw emotion, incredible imagery, clever sarcasm and total frustration, Sandy's, short letter to his family is an outstanding example of anti-war sentiment. His last words are the most poignant, "I'm afraid" are his last words. The ultimate futility of it all, however, is my knowing that barely two months later, this sensitive, young man, just trying to do his duty, was killed. Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patric Mori. What a travesty.


    Question 2
    (Suggested time-40 minutes. This question counts for one-third of the total essay section score.)

    The passage below is an excerpt from "On the Want of Money," an essay written by nineteenth-century author William Hazlitt. Read the passage carefully. Then write an essay in which you analyze the rhetorical strategies Hazlitt uses to develop his position about money.