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AP English Language and Composition: How Your Essays Are Scored

Bonus AP Language and Composition Terms

❶The first section is an hour-long, question multiple-choice test based on the rhetorical techniques and strategies deployed in nonfiction passages. The combination of reasons, evidence, etc that an author uses to convince an audience of their position.

Exam Overview

Medium-High Score (6-7)
How to Write AP English Essay Prompts: Know the Challenge in Face!
AP English Language Essay Prompts & Grading Rubric

Be sure to review the Chief Reader Report. In this invaluable resource, the Chief Reader of the AP Exam compiles feedback from members of the reading leadership to describe how students performed on the FRQs, summarize typical student errors, and address specific concepts and content with which students have struggled the most that year. This is the core document for this course. It clearly lays out the course content and describes the exam and AP Program in general.

Exam Overview The AP English Language and Composition Exam includes multiple-choice and free-response questions that test essential skills covered in the course curriculum: Students read several texts about a topic and create an argument that synthesizes at least three of the sources to support their thesis. Students read a non-fiction text and analyze how the writer's language choices contribute to his or her purpose and intended meaning for the text. Students create an evidence-based argument that responds to a given topic.

Exam Questions and Scoring Information For free-response questions from prior exams, along with scoring information, check out the tables below.

The third sample response has been replaced with the appropriate text EE. Secure Exams for Classroom Use Includes sample student responses and scoring commentary. The evidence and explanations used are appropriate and convincing.

The prose demonstrates a consistent ability to control a wide range of the elements of effective writing but is not necessarily flawless. You thoroughly responded to the prompt, successfully using and citing at least three of the sources to support your argument. You supported your argument in a persuasive way. Your writing is competent, although there may be some minor errors. Essays earning a score of 7 meet the criteria for the score of 6 but provide more complete explanation, more thorough development, or a more mature prose style.

Essays earning a score of 6 adequately address the task in the prompt. They develop their argument by adequately synthesizing at least three of the sources. The evidence and explanations used are appropriate and sufficient. The language may contain lapses in diction or syntax, but generally the prose is clear. You responded to the prompt in a reasonable way. You used and cited at least 3 of the sources in creating your argument. You supported your argument in a reasonably persuasive way, although not as compellingly as an 8 essay.

Your writing is generally understandable. Essays earning a score of 5 address the task in the prompt. They develop their argument by synthesizing at least three sources, but how they use and explain sources is somewhat uneven, inconsistent, or limited. You did respond to the prompt. You used and cited at least 3 of the sources in creating your argument, but you did not use all of them particularly effectively.

The connection between the documents and your argument is underdeveloped. Your writing is mostly understandable but may have errors. Essays earning a score of 4 inadequately address the task in the prompt. They develop their argument by synthesizing at least two sources, but the evidence or explanations used may be inappropriate, insufficient, or unconvincing. You did not adequately respond to the prompt.

You used and cited at least two sources, but you did not effectively link them to your argument. Your essay may summarize sources instead of truly taking a position, or you may have misread the sources. Your writing is not consistently clear.

Essays earning a score of 3 meet the criteria for the score of 4 but demonstrate less success in addressing the task. They are less perceptive in their understanding of the sources, or their explanation or examples may be particularly limited or simplistic.

The essays may show less maturity in their control of writing. Your essay did not adequately respond to the prompt. Your interpretation of the sources is incorrect or your argument is overly simplistic. Your writing is overly basic or unclear. Essays earning a score of demonstrate little success in addressing the task in the prompt.

They may merely allude to knowledge gained from reading the sources rather than cite the sources themselves. These essays may misread the sources, fail to develop a position, or substitute a simpler task by merely summarizing or categorizing the sources or by merely responding to the prompt tangentially with unrelated, inaccurate, or inappropriate explanation. Essays that score 2 often demonstrate consistent weaknesses in writing, such as grammatical problems, a lack of development or organization, or a lack of control.

You barely addressed the prompt. You may not cite any sources directly, misunderstand the sources, never take a position, or write things that are not relevant to the prompt. Writing is very weak, including grammatical issues. Essays earning a score of 1 meet the criteria for the score of 2 but are undeveloped, especially simplistic in their explanation, weak in their control of writing, or do not allude to or cite even one source. Your writing barely addressed the prompt.

Explanations are extremely simple, writing is incredibly weak, or sources are not used or cited at all. Indicates an off-topic response, one that merely repeats the prompt, an entirely crossed-out response, a drawing, or a response in a language other than English.

Essays earning a score of 9 meet the criteria for the score of 8 and, in addition, are especially sophisticated in their argument, thorough in their development, or impressive in their control of language.

You achieved everything an 8 essay did, but the quality of either your argument or your writing is exceptional. They develop their analysis with evidence and explanations that are appropriate and convincing, referring to the passage explicitly or implicitly.

You successfully and persuasively analyzed the rhetoric of the excerpt in a way that is strongly supported by specific examples in the text. Your writing is versatile and strong.

You achieved everything a 6 essay did, but your argument was either better explained or supported or your writing was of a higher caliber. They develop their analysis with evidence and explanations that are appropriate and sufficient, referring to the passage explicitly or implicitly.

The essay may contain lapses in diction or syntax, but generally the prose is clear. You successfully analyzed the rhetoric of the excerpt, using appropriate references to the text. Your writing was generally understandable. The evidence or explanations used may be uneven, inconsistent, or limited. You analyzed the rhetoric of the excerpt, although evidence from the passage may have been poorly used or deployed.

These essays may misunderstand the passage, misrepresent the strategies the author uses, or may analyze these strategies insufficiently. The evidence or explanations used may be inappropriate, insufficient, or unconvincing.

You did not analyze the rhetoric in the passage in a reasonable way. Textual evidence may not be appropriate to the task at hand. The essays may show less maturity in control of writing. The writing may also be even more inconsistent or basic. These essays may misunderstand the prompt, misread the passage, fail to analyze the strategies used, or substitute a simpler task by responding to the prompt tangentially with unrelated, inaccurate, or inappropriate explanation.

The essays often demonstrate consistent weaknesses in writing, such as grammatical problems, a lack of development or organization, or a lack of control. You barely analyzed the passage. Writing is consistently weak. Essays earning a score of 1 meet the criteria for the score of 2 but are undeveloped, especially simplistic in their explanation, or weak in their control of language. A 1 essay is has similar weaknesses to a 2 essay, but is even more poorly supported or poorly written.

Essays earning a score of 9 meet the criteria for the score of 8 and, in addition, are especially sophisticated in their argument, thorough in their development, or particularly impressive in their control of language. You meet the criteria for an 8, plus you have either a particularly strong argument, strong support, or strong writing.

Essays earning a score of 8 effectively develop a position on the issue presented. The evidence and explanations used are appropriate and convincing, and the argument is especially coherent and well developed.

You persuasively address the prompt, using strong evidence to support your argument. Your writing is strong but not necessarily perfect. Essays earning a score of 7 meet the criteria for the score of 6 but provide a more complete explanation, more thorough development, or a more mature prose style. A 7 essay meets the criteria for a 6 essay but is either better-argued, better-supported, or more well-written.

Essays earning a score of 6 adequately develop a position on the issue presented. The evidence and explanations used are appropriate and sufficient, and the argument is coherent and adequately developed. The writing may contain lapses in diction or syntax, but generally the prose is clear. You reasonably address the prompt, using reasonable evidence to support your argument. Your writing is generally good but may have some mistakes. Essays earning a score of 5 develop a position on the issue presented.

You do address the prompt, although the support for your argument may be sparse or not wholly convincing. Your writing is usually clear, but not always. Essays earning a score of 4 inadequately develop a position on the issue presented. The argument may have lapses in coherence or be inadequately developed.

You do not adequately address the prompt or form a strong argument. Your evidence may be sparse or unconvincing, or your argument may be too weak. Essays earning a score of 3 meet the criteria for the score of 4 but demonstrate less success in developing a position on the issue.

Essays earning a score of 2 demonstrate little success in developing a position on the issue. These essays may misunderstand the prompt, or substitute a simpler task by responding to the prompt tangentially with unrelated, inaccurate, or inappropriate explanation. The prose often demonstrates consistent weaknesses in writing, such as grammatical problems, a lack of development or organization, or a lack of coherence and control.

You barely addressed the assigned task. Your essay may misunderstand the prompt. Your evidence may be irrelevant or inaccurate. Your writing is weak on multiple levels. Essays earning a score of 1 meet the criteria for the score of 2 but are undeveloped, especially simplistic in their explanation and argument, weak in their control of language, or especially lacking in coherence.

As you can see, the synthesis rubric is focused on how you used sources, the analysis rubric is focused on how well you analyzed the text, and the argument rubric is focused on the strength of your argumentative writing without outside sources. Achieving a high score on an AP Lang and Comp essay is no easy feat. The average scores on essays last year were all under 5, with the Synthesis essay at about a 4. So even getting a 7 out of 9 is very impressive! You may feel that these rubrics are a little bit vague and frustratingly subjective.

And, indeed, what separates a 6 from a 7, a 7 from an 8, an 8 from a 9 may not be entirely clear in every case, no matter the pains taken by the College Board to standardize AP essay grading. That said, the general principles behind the rubrics— respond to the prompt, build a strong argument, and write well —hold up.

So some students used to more traditional English classes may be somewhat at a loss as to what to do to prepare. A major thing you can do to prepare for the AP Lang and Comp exam is to read nonfiction— particularly nonfiction that argues a position , whether explicitly like an op-ed or implicitly like many memoirs and personal essays.

Read a variety of non-fiction genres and topics, and pay attention to the following:. Thinking about these questions with all the reading you do will help you hone your rhetorical analysis skills. You also need to practice argumentative and persuasive writing. In particular, you should practice the writing styles that will be tested on the exam: You should be doing lots of writing assignments in your AP class to prepare, but thoughtful, additional writing will help.

When you are reading passages, both on the multiple-choice section and for the first two free-response questions, interact with the text! This will help you engage with the text and make it easier to answer questions or write an essay about the passage. The single most important thing you can do for yourself on the free-response section of the AP English Language exam is to spend a few minutes planning and outlining your essays before you start to write them.

Unlike on some other exams, where the content is the most important aspect of the essay, on the AP Language Exam, organization, a well-developed argument, and strong evidence are all critical to strong essay scores.

An outline will help you with all of these things. Another thing you can do to give your free responses an extra boost is to identify counterarguments to your position and address them within your essay. Address counterarguments properly or they might get returned to sender! The exam has two sections. The first section is an hour-long, question multiple-choice test based on the rhetorical techniques and strategies deployed in nonfiction passages.

The second section is a two-hour free-response section with a minute initial reading period with three essay questions: Your total raw score will be converted to a scaled score from Taking the AP Literature exam? Taking other AP exams?

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AP English Language and Composition Course Description— This is the core document for this course. It clearly lays out the course content and describes the exam and AP Program in general.

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The Ultimate List of AP English Language Tips March 15, , pm The AP Language and Composition exam tests your ability to not only read content, but also to analyze what you have read and draw conclusions to present in an argument.

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AP English Language Prep Tips. Unlike its cousin, the AP English Literature and Composition exam, the AP Language and Composition exam (and course) have very little to do with fiction or poetry. So some students used to more traditional English classes may be somewhat at a loss as to what to do to prepare. AP English Language and Composition is a course in the study of rhetoric ap language and composition essay help taken in high school. Cracking the AP English Language & Composition Exam, Edition: Explore timing and format for the AP English Language and Composition Exam, and review sample questions, scoring guidelines, and sample student responses This ap language and composition essay.

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Are you ready to face tricky AP English essay prompts? If not, this mini-guide will get you ready for the challenge – discover expert tips and examples! Having some powerful AP English essay examples on hands may help to write a winning personal statement – these challenges have a lot in common. AP English Language and Composition. Discover how AP can help Discover how AP can help Begin Page Content. AP English Language and Composition and using the text judiciously — you should have little trouble writing your essays on the AP Exam. Practice in other kinds of writing — narrative, argument, exposition, and personal writing — all have their place alongside.