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AP Lit Test: Essay Writing Basics

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Lisa Holmes

on 2 August 2013

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Transcript of AP Lit Test: Essay Writing Basics

Open and Closed Prompts Writing the AP Lit Essay When we analyze literature for the AP test, we are taking it apart to show how the parts contribute to the functioning of the whole. We are showing how the elements of literature create meaning. This is always the task, no matter how the prompt is worded, whether it's an open or closed prompt, no matter what kind of literature is being considered. The AP Lit Magic Question:

HOW DOES AUTHOR USE TECHNIQUES TO CREATE EFFECTS AND MEANINGS? "Techniques": Literary devices you can point to on the page--diction, syntax, images, metaphors, and so on. "Effects": Literary devices that happen in a reader's mind--tone, voice, style, atmosphere, characterization, and so on. "Meanings": Ideas about the world that the author means to communicate by writing a particular text. The AP Lit Magic Question:

HOW DOES AUTHOR USE TECHNIQUES TO CREATE EFFECTS AND MEANINGS? Why is this the "AP Magic Question"? The techniques are the "small parts" of a piece of literature that make it work. Consciously or subconsciously, authors use them to build effects and meanings. So when we analyze a work for the AP Lit Test, our job is to show how the "big function," or meaning, is being made possible by the smaller bits--the techniques and effects. So it doesn't matter what they ask you. No matter what they ask, you're going to tell them "Hey, here's how this author is using these techniques to create effects and meanings." Important Reminders! #2: Don't be a TOUR GUIDE.

A TOUR GUIDE focuses on the "what" of the text and just keeps pointing out what's there in the text, often doing so in the order s/he finds it in the text. But the AP readers aren't asking for a guided tour of what stuff you noticed while you were reading: "there's a metaphor in the first line," "in line three, personification is used," and so on. Pointing at stuff isn't analysis! You have to move from the "What" to the "How" and the "Why." How is the metaphor being used? Why? #3: Don't be a MAGPIE:

A MAGPIE is a bird that is fascinated by bright shiny objects. Don't fixate on one or two easy or interesting ideas and exclude important parts of the text from your analysis. A competent analysis considers the "big picture" and has a tenable (supportable, defensible) theory of the work as a whole. http://www.girlonarockinghorse.co.uk/glitter-nail-paint-for-magpie-gals-opi-by-katy-perry-last-friday-night/ http://www.clipartpal.com/clipart_pd/education/openbook_10970.html http://www.athenstourgreece.com/private-tour-booking-details/the-difference-between-a-tour-guide-and-a-driver-guide/ #1: CONNECT EVERYTHING TO MEANING WHETHER THEY ASK YOU TO OR NOT. Sometimes the question ("Prompt") won't obviously be asking about meaning. IT'S A TRICK. YOU STILL HAVE TO TALK ABOUT MEANING. Otherwise you aren't analyzing. #4 ANSWER THE PROMPT! The most common error on the AP Lit exam is failing to exactly and completely respond to the question asked--and you'll be penalized heavily for this error. #5: Use quoted evidence. Paraphrase is NOT CONSIDERED HIGH-QUALITY EVIDENCE for college-level work in literature. #6: Remember that you are writing a persuasive argument. Review the PowerPoint presentation on argumentation and ask as many questions as you need to until you fully understand the elements of effective argumentative writing. And now I will summarize the entire plot of The Great Gatsby! #7: Use the terminology of the field accurately and appropriately. You won't get as high a score if you don't know the correct literary terms for the aspects of literature you are discussing, or if you misuse terms. http://www.clker.com/clipart-4603.html http://www.clker.com/clipart-blank-wizard-template.html http://www.clker.com/clipart-13237.html
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