AP English Language

STEP 3
Develop Strategies for Success

CHAPTER 7

Introduction to the Synthesis Essay

Writing the Conclusion

Now that you’ve written the intro and body paragraphs, you can’t just drop your pen or leave your laptop and walk away. You need to end your essay with a final remark. This concluding idea is the last pertinent thought you want your reader to remember.

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ATTENTION. ATTENTION. Avoid final paragraphs that are merely summaries. This is not a lengthy, complicated presentation. Your reader can remember what you’ve said in the previous paragraphs.

DO THIS NOW.

Spend about five minutes quickly writing the concluding paragraph. Keep in mind what you said in your introduction and what you developed as your major points in the body of your essay.

Now, take a look at our three sample conclusions.

In the case of this synthesis essay, you’ll recall that our writer wanted to make four major points. The body paragraphs developed three of those ideas. What to do with the fourth: “Use the Washington Times survey to support my position of leaning toward those who oppose this type of eminent domain.”

Our writer realizes this could be an important source to solidify the qualifying position, and it brings both sides of the argument together.

The decision is made. Use Source G to develop the concluding paragraph. The following are three sample conclusions that make use of the survey.

A

It seems that there is no right position in all circumstances. According to a Washington Times survey, 60% of the American public is against local governments having the power to seize private homes and businesses (Source G). However, there may be times when the greater good has to win the toss.

B

Finally, 60% of the responders to a Washington Times/ CNN survey opposed the right of eminent domain to local governments. Even though this may seem to be the most compelling position on this issue, there are going to be special circumstances when the greater good trumps private ownership.

C

Ultimately, I have to agree with the large majority of people who responded to recent polls conducted by both the Washington Times and CNN. When asked if local governments should be able to take over private homes and businesses, over 60% said “no” (Source G). But, I will have to be open to the possibility that public use and the greater good may, in some cases, be the only viable solution to a complicated problem.

Which of these concluding paragraphs is similar to yours? Are there any changes you would make in your ending? If so, what are they?

Sample Synthesis Essay from the Master Exam

The following is the complete essay that our writer developed for the eminent domain synthesis prompt, which is found in the Master exam.

Every time that my grandparents visit, I have to vacate my bedroom so that they can have a room of their own during their visit. It’s always a painful few days because I’m locked out of the room that I’ve decorated, the room that holds all of my things; it’s the room that’s “mine.” As my mother always says, “It’s for the good of the family.” But, no matter how much I feel deprived, I always know that I’ll have it back in a few days. However, the results would be different if she applied the principle of “eminent domain.” I would lose my room permanently, and it would be turned into a real guest room. I would not be a happy family member.

Because of this experience, I can empathize with the home owners affected by the recent 5:4 Supreme Court decision Kelo v. New London that cited a section of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that states, “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation” (Source A). The Court ruled that New London, Connecticut, was within its constitutional rights to take private property and give it to another private individual in order to further the economic development of the city (Source C).

Contrary to what the Court sees as “permissible public use” (Source C), I believe that a government taking a person’s home or business away and allowing another private individual or company to take it over goes against the idea of our private property rights. A good example of this is the situation in Lakewood, Ohio, where the mayor wants to condemn a retired couple’s home in order to make way for a privately owned, high-end condominium and shopping mall. As Jim Saleet said in his interview with 60 Minutes, “The bottom line is this is morally wrong … This is our home … We’re not blighted…. This is a close-knit, beautiful neighborhood” (Source B). The Saleets, who have paid off their mortgage, should be allowed to remain there as long as they want and pass it on to their children. Here, individual rights should prevail.

However, I must also take into consideration the need for cities and states to improve troubled urban areas and clear blighted sections with new construction, tax revenues, and jobs (Source E). If governments are blocked from arranging for needed improvements and income, decline of cities and other areas could result. For example, the mayor of Lakewood, Ohio, Madeleine Cain, claims that the city cannot make it without more tax money coming in. As she sees it, Lakewood needs more money to provide required services. “This is about Lakewood’s future. Lakewood cannot survive without a strengthened tax base,” Mayor Cain told 60 Minutes (Source B). Here, it sounds like the greater good should prevail.

Legal experts disagree about which of the two positions is the better one. Scott Bullock of the Institute for Justice sees the principle of eminent domain as an important one for government planning and building, but not for private development (Source E). On the other hand, John Echeverria, the executive director of the Georgetown Environmental Law and Policy Institute, sees a danger in legislators going to the extreme in the opposite direction and limiting essential powers of government. “The extremist position is a prescription for economic decline for many metropolitan areas around the country” (Source E).

Ultimately, I have to agree with the large majority of people who responded to recent polls conducted by both the Washington Times and CNN. When asked if local governments should be able to take over private homes and businesses, over 60% said “no” (Source G). But, I will have to be open to the possibility that public use and the greater good may, in some cases, be the only viable solution to a complicated problem.

Rubric for Eminent Domain Synthesis Essay

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9 essay has all the qualities of an 8 essay, and the writing style is especially impressive, as is the analysis and integration of the specifics related to eminent domain and the given sources.

An 8 essay effectively and cohesively addresses the prompt. It clearly takes a position on eminent domain and supports the argument using carefully integrated and appropriate evidence, including at least three of the given sources. The essay will also show the writer’s ability to control language.

7 essay has all the properties of a 6 essay, only with a more complete, well-developed, and integrated argument or a more mature writing style.

6 essay adequately addresses the prompt. The argument is on eminent domain and integrates, as well as makes use of, appropriate evidence, including at least three references from the given sources. These elements are less fully integrated and/or developed than scores in the 7, 8, or 9 range. The writer’s ideas are expressed with clarity, but the writing may have a few errors in syntax and/or diction.

5 essay demonstrates that the writer understands the prompt. The argument/claim/position about eminent domain is generally understandable, but the development and/or integration of appropriate evidence and at least three of the given sources are limited or uneven. The writer’s ideas are expressed clearly with a few errors in syntax or diction.

4 essay is not an adequate response to the prompt. The writer’s argument indicates a misunderstanding, an oversimplification, or a misrepresentation of the assigned task. The writer may use evidence that is inappropriate or insufficient to support the argument or may use fewer than three of the given sources. The writing presents the writer’s ideas, but may indicate immaturity of style and control.

3 essay is a lower 4 because it is even less effective in addressing the question. It is also less mature in its syntax and organization.

2 essay indicates little success in speaking to the prompt. The writer may misread the question, only summarize the given sources, fail to develop the required argument, or simply ignore the prompt and write about another topic. The writing may also lack organization and control of language and syntax. (Note: No matter how well written, a summary will never rate more than a 2.)

1 essay is a lower 2 because it is even more simplisticdisorganized, and lacking in control of language.