AP English Language

STEP 5
Build Your Test-Taking Confidence

Sample Student Essays

Rubrics for Seattle Passage

High-Range Essay

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• Clearly identifies Seattle’s purpose and attitude

• Successfully and effectively analyzes the rhetorical strategies used to accomplish the author’s purpose

• Effectively cites specifics from the text to illustrate rhetorical devices and their meanings and effects on the oration

• Indicates a facility with organization

• Effectively manipulates language

• Few, if any, syntactical errors

Mid-Range Essay

• Correctly identifies Seattle’s purpose and attitude

• Understands the demands of the prompt

• Cites specific examples of rhetorical devices found in the text and effects on the oration

• Ideas clearly stated

• Less well-developed than the high-range essays

• A few lapses in diction or syntax

Low-Range Essay

• Inadequate response to the prompt

• Misunderstands, oversimplifies, or misrepresents Seattle’s purpose and attitude

• Insufficient or inappropriate use of examples to develop the demands of the prompt

• Lack of mature control of elements of essay writing

Students apparently found the question quite accessible. Most recognized the figurative language used in the passage and were able to incorporate examples into their essays. They were able to recognize the purpose and emotional appeal of Seattle’s oration. The more perceptive writers recognized the subtleties of Seattle’s manipulation of the situation—his implied sarcasm and his subtle threatening predictions.

Chief Seattle Passage—Student Sample A

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Chief Seattle Passage—Student Sample B

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Rating Student Sample A

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

• An immediate and clear indication of Seattle’s purpose and attitude

• Understanding and discussion of Seattle’s attitude and purpose (paragraph 2)

• Demonstration of a mature voice

• Thorough and effective connection between texts and insights (last two sentences of paragraph 2)

• Superior use of connective tissue—transitions and echo words (“in addition,” “despite his calm,” “acting respectfully,” “winning favor”)

• Refers to a variety of rhetorical strategies and devices to support the writer’s assertion (paragraph 3: rhetorical questions), (paragraph 3: cause and effect), (paragraph 4: details), (paragraph 4: figurative language)

• Mature perceptions and insights (paragraph 2, sentence 2), (paragraph 4, sentence 2), (paragraph 5, next to last sentence)

• Mature writing style (last sentence)

This high-range essay indicates the clear voice of a mature writer and reader. Once the writer has committed to Seattle’s purpose and attitude, the writer develops in each successive paragraph a supporting aspect of the stated purpose and/or attitude.

Rating Student Sample B

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

• Concise, on-target development of prompt

• Indicates an understanding of the oration

• Makes intelligent points, but does not always develop them or defend them (paragraph 3, last sentence)

• Each paragraph deals with a different strategy (paragraph 2: emotional details), (paragraph 3: rhetorical questions), (paragraph 4: simile), (paragraph 5: antithesis)

• Good connective tissue

• A few lapses in syntax and diction (paragraph 3, next to last sentence)

This essay is indicative of a writer who understands both the passage and the prompt. There is an adequate analysis of the rhetorical strategies and devices present in the text, and the student reaches for unique insights (paragraph 4, last sentence). The lack of development of a couple of the cited points places this essay squarely in the mid-range.

Rubric for the Affluenza 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 affluenza and the given sources.

An 8 essay effectively and cohesively addresses the prompt. It clearly takes a position on affluenza and supports the argument using carefully integrated and appropriate evidence, including at least three of the given sources. The essay also shows 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 centers on affluenza 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 affluenza 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 not appropriate or not sufficient to support the argument, or may use fewer than three of the given sources. The writing presents the writer’s ideas, but it 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.

Student A

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Student B

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Rating the Student Essays: Affluenza

Student A

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

• The essay opens dramatically, immediately catching the reader’s attention. It creatively defines the term and implies the argument to follow.

• The writer establishes a tone and voice through diction and allusion: shout, tweaked, Bergdorf, and eBay.

• The writer illustrates the argument by presenting an extended analogy.

• Following a rhetorical question that serves as a transitional device, the writer adeptly incorporates and comments on one of the sources.

• Personal examples and strong details and images continue to support and develop the writer’s position.

• The writer employs proper citation guidelines.

• The conclusion is especially effective because it enforces the opening, leaves the reader with the essence of the argument, and presents the writer’s thesis as a parting comment.

Student B

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

• The writer states a position on Americans being afflicted with affluenza: “The claim that Americans are never satisfied holds much validity and gains more validity as the economy continues to flourish.”

• The writer recognizes and addresses the demands of the prompt.

• The writer properly integrates transitions.

• Varied sentence structure is evident in the analysis.

• The development is organized into an orderly presentation.

• The essay presents a clear thesis in the next-to-last paragraph: “Money is what drives us to work extra hours, but what will that money buy us? Not happiness, but simply objects—objects that may bring us happiness for a day or so, but will never satisfy us in the long run.”

• The analysis of the writer’s sources is brief, leaving the reader looking for more development.

Rubrics for the Stegner Essay

High-Range Essay

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• Correctly identifies Stegner’s position and attitude regarding the environment and wilderness

• Effectively presents a position about Stegner’s position and attitude

• Clear writer’s voice

• Successfully defends his or her position

• Presents carefully reasoned arguments making reference to specific examples from personal experience, knowledge, reading

• Effectively manipulates language

• Few, if any, syntactical errors

Mid-Range Essay

• Correctly identifies Stegner’s position and attitude about the environment and wilderness

• Understands the demands of the prompt

• Clearly states the position of the writer

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

• Less well-developed than the high-range essay

• Ideas clearly stated

• A few lapses in diction or syntax

Low-Range Essay

• Inadequate response to the prompt

• Misunderstands, oversimplifies, or misrepresents Stegner’s position and attitude

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

• Lack of mature control of elements of essay writing

This prompt posed some difficulties for students. Many had a tendency to address only one aspect of it: the loss of wilderness. Often, they did not adequately connect this to the Brave New World concept of a human-controlled environment. The stronger writers included references to and discussions of the “reflection and rest” in their essays. Many student writers opposed Stegner’s position by expanding on the concept of wilderness. Those who agreed with Stegner cited pertinent illustrations ranging from the rain forest to gasoline princes to overpopulation and the ozone layer. Contradictory and qualifying essays relied heavily on humankind’s “frontier spirit” and artistic endeavors.

Stegner Passage—Student Sample A

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Stegner Passage—Student Sample B

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Rating Student Sample A

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

• Effectively covers the points made by Stegner in his statement

• Clearly takes a position regarding Stegner’s statement

• Thoroughly develops the argument with specific examples and historical references (paragraphs 2 and 3)

• Indicates and discusses the fallacy of Stegner’s statement (paragraphs 4 and 5)

• Good topic adherence

• Thorough development of the points of the writer’s argument

• Mature voice, diction, and syntax

This high-range essay was written by a student who is both confident and well-versed and one who has balanced the presentation with scientific and introspective illustrations in support of the argument.

Rating Student Sample B

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

• Clearly understands Stegner’s statement and the demands of the prompt

• Creative voice is present

• An interesting objectification of humanity (paragraph 2 —“Homo Sapiens”)

• Strong conclusion

• Linkage between man’s destruction of the wilderness and its consequences needs further development

• Development of the argument needs further support

• A few syntactical errors

• Lacks needed transitions

This student writer has a definite opinion to which he or she gives a strong voice. Although there is a strong, clear opening and conclusion, the body paragraphs containing the argument need further development.