AP English Language

STEP 3
Develop Strategies for Success

CHAPTER 6

Introduction to the Argumentative Essay

IN THIS CHAPTER

Summary: Examination of the argumentative essay and its purpose as it is presented in the AP English Language exam.

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Key Ideas

image Learn to take a position/stand on a situation (defend, qualify, refute) given in the argumentative prompt.

image Familiarize yourself with strategies to support your position.

image Learn the basics of constructing the argumentative essay in response to the AP English Language prompt.


Some Basics

The second type of essay on the Advanced English Language exam is the argumentative essay. Because it is often seen as a “giveaway,” many students believe it to be the easiest of the three essays to write. Unfortunately, too many students spend too little time in the actual planning of this essay and, as a result, present an underdeveloped, illogical, or off-topic piece. Although there is a great deal of latitude given for the response to the prompt, the argumentative essay demands careful reading and planning.

What Does the Argumentative Essay Require of Me?

Basically, you need to do three things:

• understand the nature of the position taken in the prompt;

• take a specific stand—agree, qualify, or disagree—with the assertion in the prompt; and

• clearly and logically support your claim.

What Does It Mean to Agree, Disagree, or Qualify?

An argumentative essay on the AP English Language and Composition exam will present you with an excerpt or a statement. Once you understand what the passage is saying, you have to ask yourself: Do I think about this subject in the same way as the writer/speaker? (Agree) Do I think the writer/speaker is totally wrong? (Disagree) Do I think some of what is said is correct and some incorrect? (Qualify) Regardless of the synonyms used, these are the three choices you will have.