AP English Language

STEP 3
Develop Strategies for Success

CHAPTER 6

Introduction to the Argumentative Essay

Working the Prompt

Before beginning to write, you MUST spend some time carefully reading and deconstructing the prompt. (We call this “working the prompt.”) Your success depends upon your clearly understanding what is expected of you.

Below is the prompt of the third essay on the Diagnostic/Master exam.

In his famous “Vast Wasteland” address to the National Association of Broadcasters in May of 1961, Newton Minow, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, spoke about the power of television to influence the taste, knowledge, and opinions of its viewers around the world. Carefully read the following, paying close attention to how timely it is today, especially in light of the worldwide Internet.

Minow ended his speech warning that “The power of instantaneous sight and sound is without precedent in mankind’s history. This is an awesome power. It has limitless capabilities for good—and for evil. And it carries with it awesome responsibilities—responsibilities which you and [the government] cannot escape …”

Using your own knowledge and your own experiences or reading, write a carefully constructed essay that defends, challenges, or qualifies Minow’s ideas.

DO THIS NOW.

Highlight the essential elements of the prompt.

(Time yourself.) How long did it take you?_________

Compare your highlighting of the prompt with ours.

In his famous Vast Wasteland address to the National Association of Broadcasters in May of 1961Newton Minow, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, spoke about the power of television to influence the taste, knowledge, and opinions of its viewers around the world. Carefully read the following, paying close attention to how timely it is today, especially in light of the worldwide Internet.

Minow ended his speech warning that “The power of instantaneous sight and sound is without precedent in mankind’s history. This is an awesome power. It has limitless capabilities for good—and for evil. And it carries with it awesome responsibilities—responsibilities whichyou and [the government] cannot escape …”

Using your own knowledge and your own experiences or reading, write a carefully constructed essay that defends, challenges, or qualifies Minow’s ideas.

For this prompt, anything else you may have highlighted is extraneous.

image

The prompt asks the student to defend, challenge, or qualify Minow’s ideas. Notice that it does NOT state “all,” “some,” or a “specific number.” Therefore, the student has freedom of choice. (This is similar to the “such as” instructions in other prompts.)