AP English Language

Review the Knowledge You Need to Score High


Comprehensive Review—Argument

Writing the Argument


While the multiple-choice section of the exam will present you with specific questions about specific texts, the argumentative essay in the second section of the test requires that you compose your own argument based on a given excerpt, quotation, statement, or anecdote.

You will have to plan and write your argument knowing that the AP reader will be evaluating your presentation based on the major points we have just reviewed.

How Should I Go About Writing My Argument?

We invite you to compose an argumentative essay based on the following prompt. We will take you through the prewriting process.

In a recent USA Today op-ed piece, titled “Poor Suffer from Lack of Internet Access,” Julianne Malveaux stated, “While the Internet has hardly caused the gap between the [lower and higher rungs on the economic ladder], it is one of the many things that have made the gap greater.”

—(Julianne Malveaux, USA Today, June 22, 2001)

In an effective, well-organized essay, defend, challenge, or qualify Ms. Malveaux’s assertion.

The Planning/Prewriting Process

What follows is an example of the prewriting process that addresses the given prompt.

1. Reread the prompt and highlight important terms, ideas, etc.

2. Take a position. Defend “it is one of the many things that have made the gap greater.”

3. My topic is: Internet is one cause of the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots.

4. My thesis statement is: I agree with Julianne Malveaux when she states that access to the Internet has widened the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

5. I will develop my argument using:

—personal anecdote

— specific examples of the gap (at least three)

— statistics and facts that I can remember from the news, and other sources

6. The specifics I will use to support my assertion are: (Make certain examples are introduced, discussed, and linked to my thesis.)

7. I will use the inductive technique to develop my argument.

8. I will end my argument with the image of a single child with her nose against a window peering into a room filled with children using computers. The child outside is not alone. Behind her are many, many others, and they all look as if they are growing more and more anxious and angry at being left outside.

This planning took about 10 to 12 minutes to develop. Based on this planning, writing the essay is easy. As a class assignment or as personal practice, you would:

• Write your first draft

• Have the initial argument checklist completed by one of your peers

• Complete your second draft

• Complete the revision activity either by yourself or with a member of your peer reading group

If you have practiced this process throughout the year or semester, when the AP English Language exam rolls around, you will find this kind of writing second nature to you.