Argumentative Essay AP Language and Composition Exam
What does the argumentative essay require of you? • Basically, you must do three things: • understand the nature of the position taken in the prompt; • take a specific stand—defend (agree), challenge (disagree), or qualify—with the assertion in the prompt; and • clearly and logically support your claim.
Defend, Challenge, Qualify -Do I think about this subject in the same way as the writer/speaker? (Defend/Agree) -Do I think the writer/speaker is totally wrong? (Challenge/Disagree) -Do I think some of what is said is correct and some incorrect and do I feel lucky? (Qualify)
Plan before you write! • Brainstorm a list of ideas, construct a chart, or create an outline…whatever it is, give yourself time to THINK about your position! • The kinds of support you need: • Facts/statistics - Details - Dialogue • Quotations - Definitions - Anecdotes • Contrast and comparison - Cause and Effect • Appeal to authority - Examples
Does it matter what tone is taken in your argumentative essay? • You can choose to be informal and personal, formal and objective, or even humorous and irreverent—just be certain your choice is appropriate for your purpose.
Will I be penalized for taking an unpopular, unexpected, irreverent, or bizarre position on the given issue? • As long as you are addressing the PROMPT and appropriately supporting your position, there is no danger of losing points on your essay. • Your essay is graded for process and mastery and manipulation of language, not for how close you come to the viewpoint of your reader.
Examining Changing Prompts • 2009--Consider this quotation about adversity from the Roman poet Horace. Then write an essay that defends, challenges, or qualifies Horace’s assertion about the role that adversity (financial or political hardship, danger, misfortune, etc.) plays in developing a person’s character. Support your argument with appropriate evidence from your reading, observations, or experience • 2010—Think about the implications of de Botton’s view of the role of humorists (cartoonists, stand-up comics, satirical writers, hosts of television programs, etc.). Then write an essay that defends, challenges, or qualifies de Botton’ claim about the vital role of humorists. Use specific, appropriate evidence to develop your position. • What is similar about these prompts?
2011 Prompt • The following passage is from the Rights of Man, a book written by the pamphleteer Thomas Paine in 1791. Born in England, Paine was an intellectual, a revolutionary, and a supporter of American independence from England. Read the passage carefully. The write an essay that examines the extent to which Paine’s characterization of America holds true today. Use appropriate evidence to support your argument. • How is this prompt different from the previous two? • How is it the same? • What does this tell us about the AP prompts?
Requirements for Evidence • Look at how the requirements for evidence have been worded in the last ten years. • 2001—support your argument with specific references to your reading, observation, or experience; 2002—support your argument with appropriate evidence; 2003—use specific evidence; 2004—use appropriate evidence; 2005--support your argument with appropriate evidence; 2006—support your view with appropriate evidence; 2007—support your position with evidence from your reading, observation, and/or experience; 2008—using appropriate evidence, write an essay
What do I know? • What does it mean to offer evidence from your observations, experience, or reading? • Observation Knowledge • History • Current events • Science • Technology • Music • Sports • Human behavior
Experience Personal experiences may be used as evidence, however, note what one “Chief Reader” said: • “Teachers need to help students understand the usefulness of a global view, to increase their awareness of the world beyond their own. Students need to recognize that examples drawn from a wider world may be stronger (than their own personal experiences)….When relating their personal experiences, students need to be mindful of the public nature of most argumentation. In such a context, the primary purpose of a personal narrative is rhetorical not confessional.”
Part of your ethos (credibility) as a writer is to select appropriate experiences if you choose to use them as evidence
Qualifying an Assertion • One of the strongest forms of persuasive essays • You force yourself to look at the issue from more angles than one • Shows that you respect others viewpoints • Shows that you consider points of view other than your own • All of these add to your credibility as a writer or your ETHOS
Qualifying is More Complicated! • Demands that students assess the nuances—subtle differences—and the complexities of the assertion
Reasonable People Can Disagree! • Wealthy people can buy their justice in our court system • The entertaining business is ruining society • One’s spoken language is a key to his/her identity • Americans are more materialistic than people in other countries • Our freedom is endangered when the government does not respect our basic rights to privacy
Qualifying Deals With— • “On the one hand” and “on the other hand” reasoning
That does not mean— • Showing both sides of an argument and leaving it there • You must change the audience’s mind or at least offer compelling evidence as to why a certain position is valid • If you merely present equal evidence on both sides of the issue, the purpose has changed from persuasion—attempting to sway someone’s opinion—to exposition—explaining an issue
Not understanding the task or the directions • Read the passage correctly • Don’t get caught up in tangential (to merely touch upon, to go off on tangents)issues • Look for the central thesis
Don’t merely paraphrase the passage • If you just explain what is being said, the highest you can score is a 4 and that is not a passing score! • Resist the temptation to tell what the passage is saying • Refer to the passage in as few words as possible • Don’t quote long sections of the passage
Not taking a definite stand • You must have a definite opinion and state that opinionclearly and unequivocally –don’t be ambiguous! • Take a stand and back it up with evidence
Using inappropriate or weak evidence to support your position AP readers are looking for writers to— • Write logically • Reason • Analyze • To find the best evidence
Writing a stylistic analysis of the passage instead of a persuasive essay • But I saw a bunch of rhetorical strategies!! • Remember that a defend, challenge, or qualify essay is meant to persuade!
Your task for Quarters 1, 2, and 3: • You will be given 3 argumentative in-class essays per quarter. • On-demand writing: You will not be given the prompt beforehand. • Practicing Timing Makes Perfect –According to College Board: Free Response — 3 essays; 2 hours plus a mandatory 15 minute reading period, The free response prompts test your skill in composition and require close reading, thoughtful rhetorical analysis, and purposeful argumentation. This section also includes a synthesis prompt that tests your ability to effectively compose an argument of your own by combining and citing several supplied sources, including at least one visual source.
Argumentative Practice Essay • Refer to your notes • Don’t take shortcuts • I’ll put times up on the board • You’ll get the whole 40 minutes to go through the entire process