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Mastering Essay Questions - The Synthesis Essay

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Jessica Erbe

on 12 June 2013

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Transcript of Mastering Essay Questions - The Synthesis Essay

Reading the Sources Cont.
Reading the Sources
Steps for Writing the Perfect Essay

Writing an Argument

Underline striking ideas and key words.
Read and determine the authors stance on the issue.
Pick a position with which you have the most compelling arguments to make.
Analyze what the visual source communicates.
Visual sources offer a wide range of information so interpretation may vary.
You should determine the:
-Date of publication
-Place of publication
-The intended audience
-Author's purpose
-Tone and language

Facts and ideas may be obsolete depending on the date.
Some sources will be more reliable than others.
Place of publication may show the trustworthiness of the source.
Knowing the intended audience can help assess the validity of the author.
Every writing has more than one purpose.
Finding out the purpose can help determine the legitimacy of the author.
Experimenting with new styles can help master the synthesis essay.
The synthesis essay is a mini-research paper.
You should use at least three sources.
You may use your own knowledge, observations, or experiences.
Using your own thinking adds a sense of depth to the essay.
You should Write an argument.
Introduce your position and support it with appropriate evidence.
You should refute opposing viewpoints.
In essays, avoid faulty reasoning.
Don't forget to cite sources.
Citing Sources
You should read sources with an open mind.
Then weigh all the evidence.
They offer a wide variety of points of views.
Analyze thoroughly
-Read to understand what the source has to say.
-Read to analyze the author's position on the issue.
-Read for evidence and data that help define your position.
-Then interpret any visual sources.
Use of Qualifying Words
Read this statement: The economic effects of gambling are
Generally is a qualifying word, which is used to make sentences less dogmatic
Without qualifying words, some words may imply that all things are good or bad.
An appropriate qualifier word will make a claim much more difficult to challenge.
Such qualifier words include: almost, frequently, generally, likely, and so forth.
Position Statement
Creating a set context for a thesis is often a good idea for most student essays; this is known as your
position statement.
In other words, you must find a statement that is
enough to
draw readers
into your essay before you state your main idea.
Then, you may use one of many techniques to apply it into your essay, which may include: brief anecdotes, provocative ideas, direct quotations, or interesting questions.
Position statements add a sense of depth to your essay, but
do not be pressured
to make one if you cannot for any reason.
Supporting Your Position/ How Much Evidence?
Each and every single paragraph
must contribute to the overall development of your thesis.
If you find something in your essay that fails to relate to the main idea,
take it out, or fix it!
Many students ask, how much evidence is enough in order to prove a point?
The rule of thumb is that
three distinct and relevant reasons
are usually enough to prove your point, but this can easily vary, based upon the issue itself and the reasons that are cited.
It is best if you place your least important or influential reason as the first body paragraph, and your most important reason as your last paragraph.
Refuting Opposing Viewpoints/Counterarguments
Avoiding Faulty Reasoning
Avoiding Faulty Reasoning (Part 2)
You may choose to write a counterargument, or a paragraph that points out weaknesses in evidence that disagrees with your position.
When looking for opposing evidence to build a counterargument upon, make sure to look for one that seems a bit too extreme or general.
Always remember not to over do your counterargument, as in tear their essay apart. The ideal essay will seem much more rational if it believes that some parts of the opposing reasoning is valid.
There is no rule that tells where the counterargument should be placed. Anticipate a spot in your essay where opposing arguments can be placed and refute them then and there.
The location of the counterargument is less important than the substance inside of it.
Evidence must support your thesis statement, but using your reasoning in an incorrect manner may do more harm than good.
To delve deeper into the matter, we must analyze inappropriate evidence found in a synthesis essay on tracking, or education based on ability.
Intelligent and capable students are often bored in mixed classes.
"The quality of education improves when students are homogeneously grouped."
This statement may relate to the statement above, but its broad generalization raises issues that are unrelated to the topic sentence above.
In your writing process, avoiding making any of the errors listed here:
Irrelevant Testimony:
Citing a person who has irrelevant importance to the main theme of the essay.

Snob Appeal:
To use status as a means of correct logical evidence.

Circular Reasoning:
Avoiding to answer the question by trying to work around it.

To force a complex and controversial topic into a simple idea.

Going to the extremes:
Offers only the most extreme position, while ignoring anything else.
Incorporating Sources
Assessing the Validity of Sources
Assessing the Validity of Sources Cont.
How to Write a Synthesis Essay
Introducing Your Position
Fuzzy and over-complicated position weakens your essay.
Make your position specific enough to be the topic.
The position has to express your opinion.
Make it worthy of an argument.
It has to address the issue raised by the question.
Incorporate at least three sources in your essay.
No extra credit is given for additional sources.
The simplest way to use a source is to state your idea and back it up with a source.
Weave sources into your essay using
Direct quotes
Indirect quotes
Direct Quotes
Direct quotes are Word-for-word reproductions of material in a source.
Duplicate everything from the original source and use quotation marks.
Use an ellipsis to indicate where material has been deleted.
Use brackets to add words for clarity.
Indirect Quotes
An indirect quote reports an idea without quoting it word-for-word.
Caution: Use quotes sparingly and only to support your own ideas.
Another way to utilize sources is paraphrasing.
Restate the source's ideas with your own words.
The difference between paraphrasing and indirectly quoting is the syntax in which your idea is presented.
The sources on the exam are meant to stimulate thinking.
Demonstrate this by commenting on each source.
Commentary indicates that you understand that some sources have bias or ulterior motives.
Refrain from using crude language and treat all arguments with respect.
Effective commentary:
"The author of Source B offers a short-sighted view of..."
Cite every source you borrow, paraphrase, or adapt ideas.
No citation is needed for everyday factual material, but anything else should be cited.
Often, a brief parenthetical reference at the end of your statement is sufficient to cite a source.
John Smith argues that "The students are..."
You can also integrate sources more fluently into the text.
"Schoolwork is not the key to success..."(Smith).
There is one basic rule regarding plagiarism:
Don't do it.
It is dishonest and immoral - blatant theft.
To avoid plagiarism on the AP exam, give credit to your sources.
Err on the side of inclusion, not exclusion when citing sources.
A brilliant 9 essay could receive as low as a 2 if you fail to document sources.
Mastering Essay Questions
The Synthesis Essay
Rupan Bharanidaran
Jessica Erbe
Litawn Gan
Daniel Kim
James Oh
Project By:
Mastering Essay Questions
- 3 essays in 135 minutes (2 hours, 15 minutes)
- Choose and narrow your topic.
- Arrange ideas purposefully.
- Your goal should be to write a well organized, carefully reasoned, and effective essay.
* It should be ...
Steps for Writing the Perfect Essay
Stage 1: Prewriting
1. Read and analyze the prompt.
2. Create a thesis.
3. Plan supporting evidence.
4. Make sure you
answer the question
Stage 2: Composing
1. Introduce your thesis.
2. Develop your ideas and paragraphs.
3. Use effective word choice and varied sentence structure.
4. Incorporate the outside world into your conclusion.
Stage 3: Editing and Proofreading
1. Make sure your essay is
2. Create interest.
3. Ensure correct usage and fix mechanical errors.
- Each stage is not independent of the others. Sometimes they happen simultaneously.
* You can compose and proofread at the same time!
- Using about 10 minutes for prewriting is best.

- The best way to prepare to write the essays is to
* Develop a pattern that works for you, then practice it until it is second nature.
Pointers for Writing the Synthesis Essay
- You are given a prompt and several sources you will use to develop and support your argument.
* You must use 3 sources, but if you can incorporate more, then DO IT.
- You are given a 15 minute reading period and 40 minutes to write this essay.
* We suggest you write this essay first!
- Mark up the prompt and reread the question after you finish reading the sources.
- Take a strong position, and use the evidence to support your argument.
* Don't let the sources write your essay for you!
What It's About
- A synthesis essay is basically an argumentative essay, except you are given sources to use.
- Your thesis statement is the heart of your essay, and the rest of the essay is just meant to support it.
- Present a
of supporting evidence.
- Your choice of evidence can make or break your argument.
* Think of the audience that will be reading your essay when you present your evidence. What kind of evidence would convince the audience you are trying to reach?
- More important than the evidence you select to present is
you present it. Provide a wealth of commentary and present your supporting evidence clearly and logically.
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