Help on constructing Ap Lang/ Ap Us History essays?
Well, I need help on several aspects in constructing a well-written essay so I hope you came well prepared 😛
First and foremost, I am having a lot of trouble with time management when we have to write an essay in class. The thing is, it takes me a long time to process the question and figure out exactly how I want to answer it, and then when I do get started, my essay doesn’t seem to be going in the direction I want it to, so I always end up erasing half of the essay that I have constructed, so I rarely have the time to finish the concluding paragraph much less check over my essay. Could anyone give me some tips on how to become more efficient at time management/speeding up the thinking process/ and how to organize my thoughts on paper?
Another major problem I’ve had with the 40 minute essay is deciding how to pick and sort out relevant information from my experience, reading, or observation and arranging it in my essay, especially on topics such as:
Compare the differences in tension caused by Bacon’s Rebellion and The Salem Witch trials.
And the last questions I have: What do you write about in the introduction after the thesis? I have found that the theses I make are not too narrow, in fact, in fact my thesis probably makes up almost all my essay. I find that I have a lot of trouble coming up with anything more to add after that. I guess what I am really asking is, how specific do you get with the thesis?
I am really sorry for asking so many questions, but I just want to be able to write well. Any advice you give would be appreciated.
Okay, I have never taken a US History course but I have taken AP Lang and AP Lit, so I can tell you about how analysis essays work in those classes, which I guess would basically apply to US History essays too. First you need to know about how the essay is scored. The scores range from 0-9, and it’s almost impossible to get a 0-3 even if all you did was write two words and your name. Anything above a 5 is passing, a 6-8 is a great essay, and a 9 essay separates from an 8 essay in that it requires insight, sophisticated vocabulary and overall mastery of the English language.
There’s a pretty simple formula you can use while writing these essays that if you follow, you won’t get anything under a 6. First I’ll talk about the intro. In it, you need a thesis, and some general discussion of the topic. To formulate a thesis, you need three things: the author’s purpose, two methods or literary devices (like tone, diction, anecdotes, hyperboles etc.), and the words “in order to” or something like those. You don’t really want to have more than 2 devices because of time restraints. To put it together, your thesis would have this format: “The author (or author’s name) uses [device #1] and [device #2] in order to illustrate [the purpose of the piece]”
In the intro, you also need to include the vehicle (which is basically what kind of thing the author wrote; for example a letter, a short story, an anecdote, etc.), the author’s name, the piece’s name, and just a little bit of a discussion of what the thing is about. The intro definitely does not need to be long. All it has to do is carry forth its sole purpose, which is your thesis. Here’s an example of an intro that I just wrote for an essay:
“The Birthday Party by Katherine Brush is a short story that tells about a married couple celebrating the husband’s birthday in the form of a surprise by the wife, when the husband becomes embarrassed and expresses his displeasure towards the wife, causing her to despair. The author uses descriptive language and a mocking tone in order to illustrate the typical unhappy marriage between a man and a woman.”
That’s all you need. Don’t waste time trying to think of more junk to stuff in there because that’s what it’ll sound like: junk.
Next, you move on to your body paragraphs. You should have as many body paragraphs as you have devices in your intro. If you talked about descriptive diction and a mocking tone, you should have two body paragraphs, centering on descriptive diction and a mocking tone, respectively. Here’s the basic format of a body paragraph:
1) Body thesis (basically a sub-thesis that says what each device is used for)
2) Quote from the piece
3) Analysis of that quote, tying it back to your body thesis
4) Another quote
5) Analysis for the second quote, tying it back to the body thesis
6) Analysis of the entire paragraph, tying it back to the MAIN thesis.
The conclusion is easy. Just say something like, “Upon examining the evidence, one can conclude that [and then state your thesis again.” You can also throw in a little insight or a proverb or something that relates and ties everything together.
If you can take 10-15 minutes to just outside all the ingredients I just talked about from your piece, your essay will be a breeze. Just follow the formula, and if you have all the parts already picked out, the essay itself will definitely not take the entire time allotted. Just remember the most important rule: Stick to your thesis and never digress from it, or you’ll be erasing half your essay over and over. Don’t ever talk about anything that you didn’t mention in your thesis.