AP English Language

Develop Strategies for Success


Introduction to the Argumentative Essay

Rating the Essays

High-Range Essays (9, 8)


• Correctly identifies Minow’s position regarding the power of television and other forms of mass communication

• Effectively presents a position about Minow’s own ideas

• Clear writer’s voice

• Successfully defends his or her position

• Presents carefully reasoned arguments making appropriate reference to specific examples from personal experience

• Clear and effective organization

• Effectively manipulates language

• Few, if any, syntactical errors

Mid-Range Essays (7, 6, 5)

• Correctly identifies Minow’s position and attitude about television and mass communications

• Understands the demands of the prompt

• Clearly states a position with regard to that of Minow

• Presents a generally adequate argument that makes use of appropriate examples

• Ideas clearly stated

• Less well-developed than the high-range essays

• A few lapses in diction and/or syntax

Low-Range Essays (4, 3, 2, 1)

• Inadequate response to the prompt

• Misunderstands, oversimplifies, or misrepresents Minow’s position

• Insufficient or inappropriate examples used to develop the writer’s position

• Lack of mature control of the elements of essay writing

For this argumentative essay, almost all of the writers understood that Minow was commenting on the power of television and were able to comment on the timeliness of his assertions. In their essays, student writers attempted to distinguish between good and bad effects of modern technology, especially the Internet, and many illustrated their claims with fine examples of the power of this technology. They recognized the potential for inciting violence, for learning, for conformity, and for influencing political opinions and outcomes. The majority only touched upon power and influence, but the high-range essays recognized the subtlety of the responsibility of television and the Internet.

Most, if not all, student writers agreed with Minow, but few offered any real examination of the need for responsibility with regard to the advances in technology. Some were cautious about First Amendment rights, and a few saw the government as the chief “overseer.”

Student A

This is a high-range essay for the following reasons:

• a strong, mature voice willing to be creative as well as analytical;

• clear statement about the writer’s position on Minow’s assertion;

• overall structure clearly defined through “scenes”;

• original illustrations and details to support writer’s position;

• tight focus;

• mature vocabulary and sentence structure; and

• brief response to Minow’s challenge about responsibility regarding the media.

This high-range essay, although brief, does the work of a mature, clear, and responsive writer. The assertion and support for it are well organized and developed in a very clear writer’s voice.

Student B

This is a mid-range essay for the following reasons:

• evidence that the writer understood the question and prompt;

• indication of a writer’s voice;

• does not connect all parts of the essay, especially in paragraph 3, with the topic;

• includes interesting and varied details and examples to support the thesis;

• some obviously incorrect assumptions [paragraph 4, sentence 2];

• a few problems with diction and syntax [fragment in paragraph 4, sentence 2]; [“slovenly” in paragraph 3, sentence 1], [“fervent” in paragraph 4, next to last sentence];

• an interesting style and content; and

• does not really address the responsibility issue.

This mid-range essay indicates a writer who is a risk taker and intellectually curious. At times, the writer’s enthusiasm seems to get in the way of a clear focus.