AP English Language

Review the Knowledge You Need to Score High


Comprehensive Review—Synthesis


Summary: Examine the synthesis purpose and process.


Key Ideas

image Practice with reading and evaluating different types of texts from various mediums, including graphics.

image Work with summary, paraphrase, and inference.

image Learn different approaches to incorporating sources into the text of your essay.

Some Basics

What Is the Synthesis Essay?

Synthesis is the process in which you, as the writer, develop a thesis and, in the course of developing this thesis,

• you investigate a variety of sources, both print and visual;

• you choose which of these sources to include in your presentation;

• you respond to these sources and discuss how they relate to your position on the topic.

Note: A well-respected and experienced Advanced Placement English instructor, Jodi Rice, uses the following example to clarify the idea of synthesis: You’re having a dinner party, and you consult two recipes you’ve been given and use bits of each to create your own, new dish. You let your dinner guests know that you invented the dish, but that you used and combined recipes from your grandmother and from the newspaper. You don’t take credit for those two recipes, but you do take credit for what you did with them.


In the case of the AP Language exam, you only have time to write a first draft, and it must be clear, organized, logical, and thoughtful. In developing each of your major points, make certain to:

• Relate it to the thesis/claim

• Use specific examples (personal and otherwise)

• Use selected sources to support the major point

• Incorporate sources into the development of your point by using

— Attribution and introduction of cited sources

— Transitions

— Mix of direct quotations, summary, and paraphrases