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Lisa Monte

on 27 February 2014

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What does a synthesis prompt look like?
Four Essential Parts: Part 3
Assignment (will take one of two forms):
• A claim you must defend, qualify, or refute (take a position and make that position clear from the start)
– argue for
– take a side, but with reservations,
concerns, or exceptions. NOT EQUIVOCATION
(discussing both sides and deciding they’re equal)
– argue against
• A question demanding you examine different facets of a problem or situation (make it clear which aspects of the problem/situation you are going to address
• Both forms will clearly state, “synthesize at least three of the sources for support.”
Definitions & Applications
• Definition: combining the sources and the writer’s position
• Application: Generate your own, original thesis, but use the sources to support it.

• Definition: a cohesive, supported argument
• Application: Unify your argument around a thesis and support that thesis with adequate data. Cohesive = glue > Glue = thesis.

• Definition: accurately citing all sources
• Application: Whenever you use information from a source, cite it.
• WARNING! Don’t misread a source then try to use it to support a claim that it doesn’t really support.

Synthesis vs. Argument
Synthesis is similar to argument in that you make a claim, then support it.
• Argument: support comes from data stored in your head
• Synthesis: support comes from data stored in the sources

What does a synthesis prompt look like?
Four Essential Parts: Part 1
• Prompt based on several sources
• Synthesize the sources into a coherent, well-written essay
• Cite a minimum of three of the sources (to be safe, cite 4)
• Avoid mere paraphrase or summary
• Your argument should be central; use sources to support your argument

What does a synthesis prompt look like?
Four Essential Parts: Part 2
• A lead-in to the actual question/prompt
• Contextualizes and sets the tone for the upcoming question
• Background material (maybe); nothing that needs to be in your essay

Synthesis Definition
“For the purposes of scoring, synthesis refers to combining the sources and the writer’s position to form a cohesive, supported argument and accurately citing all sources.” – College Board

What does a synthesis prompt look like?
Four Essential Parts: Part 4
• Will vary in voice, time, and form
• Textbook materials, a news articles, editorials, glossary excerpts, etc.
• At least one nontextual source
o Chart or graph, political cartoon, photograph, piece of art, design on a t-shirt
o Can be used to support an argument or clarify an explanation

Using Sources
• AT LEAST three sources required
• Only two sources used = no higher than a score of 4
• No reward for using more than three sources, even if you use all six
• All sources will be valuable, but not all sources will be useful in your argument
• No requirement for particular sources; just use at least three that work best for your argument

Using Sources
You don’t have to agree with the sources to use them.
• Have a conversation with the sources.
• Be in control--don’t let the sources push you around.
• Understand the sources before you cite them.
• Use small quotations, snippets, and phrases, not long excerpts or full sentences.
• Don’t allow the quotation to disrupt your flow or grammar.
• Do NOT use personal anecdote in synthesis!

Using Sources
Be original! Don’t hodgepodge the sources into an argument then agree with it. CREATE your OWN argument then use the sources to support it.
TIP: Decide on your stance before you read the sources then take notes from the sources when you see your stance supported.

Citing Sources
Citation required in synthesis
• Parenthetical: (Source A), (Holland), or (Jones and McGee)
• Signal phrase: Joseph Holland notes that “even the severest of penalties fails to deter drivers from going over posted speed limits.”

Your Thesis Is the Boss
If you aren’t proving your thesis, what are you doing?

Everything in the essay must relate back to your thesis.

The thesis is the boss. Anything not working for the thesis should be fired.

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