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The Synthesis Essay. DBQ versus Synthesis. DBQ. Synthesis. Documents provided Suggested Writing Time is 45 minutes Outside Information Required Expected to use more than ½ the documents Directions with statement or question. Sources provided Suggested Writing Time is 40 minutes

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dbq versus synthesis
DBQ versus Synthesis



  • Documents provided
  • Suggested Writing Time is 45 minutes
  • Outside Information Required
  • Expected to use more than ½ the documents
  • Directions with statement or question
  • Sources provided
  • Suggested Writing Time is 40 minutes
  • Outside information NOT required (but beneficial)
  • Must use a minimum of 3 sources
  • Prompt in 3 parts: Directions, Introduction, and Assignment
on the ap language test
On the AP Language Test
  • The writer is asked to create an argument using multiple sources to support the writer’s argument.
  • The writer’s argument and ideas should be forefront, NOT the sources.
  • The sources are “helps” to support the writer’s argument.
synthesis argument
Synthesis = Argument+
  • The synthesis essay is an argument essay that incorporates others’ ideas.
  • The structure of the synthesis essay is similar to the argument essay (for synthesis is an argument essay, after all).
    • Thesis (exactly the same)
    • 3 body paragraphs (with concession/refutationembedded in these paragraphs)
    • Conclusion (exactly the same)
to answer the synthesis question
To Answer the Synthesis Question

The Writer (you) will:

  • Answer what the prompt is asking you to consider, but also focus on ONE universal subject. What is the bigger idea (the abstract noun) that is being affected?
  • Use a variety of sources (min. 3) including non-print text (pictures, etc.) for support
  • Refute opposing arguments.
the writer will also
The Writer Will Also…
  • Summarize, paraphrase, and/or directly quote information from the documents.
  • Blend information from the documents into his or her ideas.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the documents when he or she uses the information.
  • CITE the sources
argument the most important element
Argument: The Most Important Element!
  • You MUST have a clearly defined perspective of the subject!
  • Make the sources work for YOU.
  • Support your opinion with valid information from your sources.
  • Concede strengths of opposing viewpoints.
  • Refute weaknesses of opposing viewpoints.
  • Identify the topic.
  • Identify the universal subject.
  • Before reading the documents, develop your own list of the pros and cons, the causes and effects, or the most important matters to consider for the topic.
examine the documents
  • What insight does the source give us about the topic?
  • From where does the source come? How might this factor in its purpose and/or bias?
  • Is the source for, against, or neutral in regard to the topic?
  • Does the source depend on logical, emotional, and/or ethical appeal?
annotate on the documents
  • Mark sentences/quotations that are especially insightful about the topic or reveal a bias toward it.
  • At the top or bottom of the page, (in a phrase) write down the position or main idea of the document.
criteria for analyzing visual texts
  • MEDIUM – Type of visual.
  • LINES – How do the lines work together to build a focal point in the image?
  • FOCUS – On what do the eyes seem to be drawn? What seems to be the most important part of the image?
  • CONTRAST – How does the image use color to emphasize or produce an emotional effect?
criteria for analyzing visual texts1
  • SYMBOLS – What familiar symbols are present, and what do they mean in this context?
  • WORDS/TITLES – If words or titles are present, how do they contribute to the overall meaning of the image?
  • ACTION – What activity occurs in the image, and how does this activity contribute to the image’s message?
criteria for analyzing visual texts2
  • CONTEXT – What do we know surrounding this image? How do the nuances of this image manifest in pop culture, politics, religion, etc.?
  • PLACEMENT OF IMAGES – Are certain images higher/lower/left/right of other images? Is this significant?
  • APPEALS CREATED– logical, emotional, ethical? Are there any biases?
back to brainstorming
  • Review your list of ideas. Add any new ideas that you learned from the documents.
  • Beside each idea in the list, write the letter of the document(s) that can help you support that idea.
  • If you can use a document to concede a point or refute a point, write down that letter, noting if it will be used to concede (AC) or refute (BR).
  • Decide your three best directions (reasons).
  • Ensure that you will be using at least 3 sources.
thesis inspired by the documents
Thesis Inspired by the Documents
  • Perhaps let common ideas in the documents inspire your thesis.
  • Perhaps let examples/reasons from the documents inspire the directions of your thesis.
  • Qualifier – (subordinate clause)
  • Claim – (your argument)
    • Topic (the topic of the prompt) + academic (causal) verb + universal truth
  • 3 Directions
    • Examples, reasons (not necessarily the 9 worlds)
thesis example
Thesis Example

Even though television has the ability to inform the electorate, more often, television tarnishes presidential debates and obscures the truth voters desperately need, by instead focusing on candidate image rather than policy, muckraking to garner ratings, and network biases and power.

qualifiertopicacademic verbuniversal truthdirections

organization of paragraph
Organization of Paragraph
  • Topic sentence
  • Explanation of the TWO examples/reasons that support the argument claim.
    • Includes information from more than one source (at least 2).
    • Indicates where information comes from with either lead in phrases or parenthetical citations
  • Connection of the example/reason to the claim
topic sentence
Topic Sentence
  • This is just like the argument topic sentence.

claim from thesis

+ direction (reason/example from the thesis)

+ connection to the universal subject

topic sentence example
Topic Sentence Example

Television demeans presidential debates by promoting mudslinging between candidates, which distorts the focus of the election and clouds the truth of candidates’ policies.

claimdirectionUS connection

organization of paragraph1
Organization of Paragraph
  • Topic sentence
  • Explanation of the TWO examples/reasons that support the argument claim.
    • Includes information from more than one source (at least 2).
    • Indicates where information comes from with either lead in phrases or parenthetical citations
  • Connection of the example/reason to the claim
paragraph modes of development
Paragraph Modes of Development
  • Compare/contrast – compare and contrast examples and reasons, especially considering the similar and dissimilar viewpoints in the documents. This mode can foster concession/refutation!
  • Cause/Effect– discuss any cause/effect relationships you see among examples and reasons and the universal subject.
consider modes of development
Consider Modes of Development
  • Exemplification – use appropriate examples from the 9 Worlds, including your experiences/observations.
  • Description – use imagery and carefully chosen diction to describe an appropriate event or instance to support your argument
  • Definition – define a word or concept to support the logic of your argument
caution do not stop drop and roll
Caution: Do NOT Stop, Drop, and Roll!


  • Stop – Abruptly end your ideas . . .
  • Drop – Choose a quote that is somewhat related to your ideas . . .
  • Roll – Move on to your next idea
Instead . . .
  • Transition – smoothly move from your idea, and prepare the reader for the quotation. This is where you want to use your transitional words/phrases.
  • Blend – fluidly move from your ideas to the summary, paraphrase, or quotation from the document
  • Comment – carefully explain the quotation or information briefly and/or explain how this source information supports your claim

Innovative technology in the classroom is clearly useful to engage students; however, unless a building is physically prepared through wires and networks to handle the surge in technology use, such innovations are useless. Local reporter Rostein reports on the innovations of Empire High School and the educational “risks” they are taking through the use of iBooks to replace traditional textbooks (Source A). While using iBooksto augment a student’s learning experience is certainly a beneficial use of technology in the educational setting, an iBook, or vast collection of iBooksfor that matter, is utterly unusable if a school’s wiring and network does not support such technology. A school may have dreams of technology becoming the “frosting on the cake” of the educational experience, but if the school does not have an “oven to bake that cake,” there will be no need for “frosting,” just as technology without a proper infrastructure is simply squandered plastic, wires, and metal (Source A).

  • Consider the following arrangement:
  • Introduction (thesis)
  • 2nd Strongest Point
  • Weakest Point
  • Strongest Point
  • Conclusion
  • Remind readers of the most significant universal subject(s) and how it connects to the overall topic.
  • Offer the reader insight into the greater significance and implications of the topic and universal subject. (Here, connect to the 9 Worlds.)
the parts of a conclusion
  • Topic sentence – Links the topic to the universal idea and reveals your overall insight.
  • Connecting commentary – Discusses the significance of the universal idea in relation to literature, life, and/or the human condition
  • Clincher sentence – Recapitulates the overall significance of the universal idea in a thought-provoking statement, perhaps a witticism or aphorism