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Acing the AP Test - The Tried and True

Acing the AP Test - The Tried and True

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Published by mmaurno
1994 - mastering the test
1994 - mastering the test

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Published by: mmaurno on Aug 13, 2009
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07/29/2013

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HOW TO ACE THE AP ENGLISH LIT TEST1994
Parts of this list were compiled during the 1994 AP English (Literature) Reading at TrinityUniversity, San Antonio Texas. Although its compilers read essays that answered only oneprompt, their suggestions apply to other parts of the test as well.
 
 The prompt which generated the essays being scored stated:
 
In some works of literature, a character who appears briefly, ordoes not appear at all, is a significant presence. Choose anovel or play of literary merit and write an essay in which youshow how such a character functions in the work. You maywish to discuss how the character affects action, theme, or thedevelopment of other characters. Avoid plot summary.
Here are the insights of some of the readers who scored the student essays:
 
1.
Read the prompt.
It hurts to give a low score to someone who misread the promptbut wrote a good essay. While readers try to reward students for what they do well, thestudent must answer the prompt.
 
2.
Do everything the prompt suggests.
This one suggested that the student "maywish to discuss" the character's effect on action, theme, or other characters' development.Most writers of top responses discussed the character's effect in all three areas.
 
3.
Think before you write.
On the AP LIT exam, which novel or play is the best for thisprompt? {On the AP LANGUAGE exam, which line of reasoning would be the mostpersuasive for the open-ended question? } Don't limit yourself to the supplied suggestions.Many of the best responses dealt with selections that were not on the list. Plan yourresponse. You needn't outline extensively, but a little organization will help you avoidextensive editing, such as crossing out lines or, in some cases, whole paragraphs. It's no funfor the reader to pick over the remains and try to decipher sentences crammed into themargins.
DON’T BE MESSY!
4.
Make a strong first impression
. Build your opening response artistically. Don'tparrot the prompt word for word.
THEN, try to make a strong impression again when you conclude. (Isuggest planning the beginning and ending thoroughly BEFORE writing the paper, but do it quickly!!)
***5
. Begin your response immediately
. Don't waste time and space withgeneralizations like, "There are many great novels, all of which have characters. . . ." Here'san example of a
creative opening
that immediately sets up a central idea/thesis:
 
An illuminated photograph of a father who "fell in love with longdistance" sits on the mantle of the Wingfields' apartment in TennesseeWilliams'
The Glass Menagerie
.
6.
Use clear transitions
that help the AP EXAM reader follow the flow of your essay.Keep your paragraphs
organized
; don't digress.
TIE EVERYTHING TO THE THESIS.
7. Every prompt ends with the statement, "
Avoid plot summary."
Believe it!! You shouldhave a brief precis at the beginning of your essay with relevant character descriptions. Youressay can follow selected plot sequences in the order in which they appear in the work, butyour central idea/thesis not the plot should dictate your overall organization. You are provingan assertion, not telling a story.
 

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