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AP Exam Hints and Strategies

AP Exam Hints and Strategies



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Published by: mmaurno on Aug 14, 2009
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The most crucial thing about diction or syntax is that it can produce the
overall tone
, the
predominant attitude
, or a
universal theme
that contributes to the
of a passage or work. When you discover a particular tone in a passage, you must go a step further to answer 
did you figure it out? The answer always goes back to the word choices (
or suchthings as the punctuation and the arrangement of the words (
Words that describe tone usually work for diction as well:
, etc. In other words, GIVE DICTION A NAME. If wording isawkward—which it sometimes is in discussing diction—use the word
:“diction that has the
of luxury, despair, or decay.”
When you evaluate passages from a selection, begin by circling the words and phrasesthat
something: define an attitude, develop a character, contribute to a theme, or create an overall tone. Don’t pile devices into your paper without any connection towhat they’re producing. Always stop and ask yourself,
“SO? SO? SO? What do they
Anytime you discuss or write about a passage, you MUST pull outquoted words and phrases to prove your point, whether it is to show examples of diction(or imagery) that create a certain mood o
(syntax) used for emphasis or hesitation. (SEE SYNTAX SECTION WHICH FOLLOWS.)
Additional resource – 
You may go to the web page listed below (or others like it,) to get ideasabout using quotations.http://www.gaston.cc.nc.us/gconline/eng131/QUOTE.html
Syntax, the way words are ordered and the punctuation used as guides for reading, has a purpose for aiding in analyzing a text. For instance,
 parallel structure
often hammers home a relevant point, and a
 periodic sentence
(an independent clausecoming at the end of phrases and dependent clauses) can create suspense, since the reader often has to labor through an abundance of description before getting to the main point.
You do not have to quote the entire sentence to illustrate the syntax or sentence structure.Some ideas might be as follows: “the many
 parenthetical expressions— 
such as ‘of course,’ ‘naturally,’ and ‘they all say’ – create an element of sarcasm”; or “the continual
of the beginning phrase ‘in the smoggy city’ emphasizes the main character’srevulsion at….” In the following example, however, you need the whole sentence tomake your point: “The sudden spurt of 
 short sentences
produces a staccato effect ,demonstrating his frenzied state of mind: ‘The idea gripped me; it rattled my psyche; Iwas overcome.’”
Strategy of the Five S’s and Passage Analysis—a Guide toClose Reading
Discover the
Key Sentences
. Preview the passage by reading the first sentence, the lastsentence, and by making a quick skimming in between to determine the scope of thework. By carrying out this step first, you are given a strategy for speed reading thatallows for effective pacing.
Discover the
. Look for such things as the number of speakers, the narrator’s point of view—first person (narrator as major character, narrator as minor character),third person (omniscient, limited omniscient, or objective). Unless specified otherwise,analyze from the speaker’s vantage point. Note anything that gives a clue as to thespeaker’s attitude.
Discover the
. What is happening? State this situation in one clear sentence.
Discover the
Major Shifts
in structure, syntax, or diction, such as wording that evokescertain images and connotations. Note tone changes that occur within these shifts.
Discover obvious clumps of effective
and their 
. Look for changes insentence length, the unusual use of punctuation such as italics or rhetorical questions.Mark this predominant syntax, it unusual texture. Often it will guide the reader to the part of the passage that conveys the most meaning—the crux.
Five S Annotation of the Passage— 
Study the prompt carefully and circle the key words of the prompt’s prongs.
Try to address the entire prompt in the introductory paragraph. Instead of simplyrepeating the prompt wording, state the specific attitude, character description, or tonerequested. Study vocabulary, especially adjectives, that will aid in describing tone,diction, and imagery.
Include as many of the Five S’s in the introductory paragraph as you need. Also includethe title of the work and the author’s name, if given.
Write the supporting paragraphs, using topic sentences that tie in to the prompt wording.
Use transitions between sentences and paragraphs.
Prove everything you say with clear references (quotations) from the passage.
Include commentary after the quotations so you are not merely throwing them out inisolation. Explain clearly what the quotations mean and how they relate to your topic.
End your paper with finesse and pizzazz. Often a well-placed quotation, especially fromthe crux, will produce a powerful ending statement.2

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